Of course, that’s what you’re reading.
It was spoken with harshness. I tried to build a bridge through casual conversation about what we were reading. It can often work as a non-threatening way to share. But it didn’t work. I asked what he was reading. He said a little of this and a little of that. He returned the question. I don’t remember the specific book, but it had a Christian perspective. And that’s where the sharp dismissal came. What I was reading was something he had recently decided to reject. So the conversation was over. His aversion to anything he had left behind included me. He could dismiss people easily because he could dismiss aspects of their lives easily.
We can respond better. We can be authentic in our own views without being dismissive of people who hold other views. For example, “Since it sounds like something I might not read, tell me what you like about it.” We can respect a person without agreeing on everything. We find value in the person despite having different values. It’s possible, and it’s essential if we are going to stop isolating people and creating divides where we could build bridges.
Creating small circles in which we are comfortable helps affirm ourselves. We can even deceive ourselves into thinking we are growing, but growth often comes through challenges—not being defensive but engaging. We often make assumptions that excuse us from engaging. If we engage in curious conversations, some of our own assumptions might be called into question. And if they are? As difficult as that process can be for us, it can also clarify our position. We might become more clear and also more humble.
That’s typically what an authentic exchange and conversation toward truth leads to. It softens our heart. It opens our mind. It resolves a strength that is appropriate, not evasive or overplayed. It purifies our soul. Some people aren’t ready for it. It’s too much. It requires too much. But let’s not let that be an excuse. Let’s ask questions and engage with people in respectful ways. What you learn about the other person will help you in a variety of relationships. What you learn about yourself with help you in even more.