Last week in our youth group a question was posed to the middle school students "what would you do with a million dollars if you had to spend it on others?". The students had different answers, all thoughtful. Some wanted to donate to cancer research. One wanted to give to help find a cure for epilepsy. Another wanted to give it help impoverished children in Guatemala. The list went on. As I listened to the students and knew some of their histories, something became clear. Each of them had their own life experiences and those experiences are what fed into their desire to give in different ways. Two of those students had grandparents battling cancer. One had a family member with epilepsy. Another had gone on a missions trip to Guatemala and had seen the poverty and the poorest of the poor. We naturally are drawn to want to help where we have been impacted either directly or indirectly.
And so it goes with many of our views. If anyone were to sit and talk with me one on one they would quickly discover why I have a passion for children of divorce, why I am against abortion and why I have great compassion for the poor. They would learn that my faith has brought me through some of the most difficult times in my life and is what sustains me daily. They would also understand why mental health is so important to me and why when someone makes a joke about it or minimizes it, it stings a little. I am certain that most of you would walk away understanding my heart and have a greater compassion for my point of view. You may not change yours. Why? Because you have your own experiences that shape who you are. But hopefully you would leave the conversation knowing me better, understanding who I am and gain an understanding of another point of view. I have been grouped into the masses for some of my views. Because I believe one way on some, I am assumed to believe another on others. We are very complex human beings. I hesitate even sharing my views because of backlash from my non-Christian friends AND my Christian friends. The judgement goes both ways. We need to stop minimizing each other and start trying to understand each other, or at the very least, come to believe the best in one another.
I am convinced we need more coffee dates and less social media feeds. Get out from behind the keyboards (says the woman behind the keyboard). Ask that friend...or person you call "friend" on social media...that thinks differently than you for coffee. Talk to them. Ask them their thoughts. Share with them yours. Maybe, just maybe, you will both walk away a little changed, a little enlightened and little less hateful.