In My Humble Opinion

Nov 15, 2016 by

The other day, a friend asked my opinion on a controversial topic. With fear and trembling I shared just enough so she’d know where I stood. She’d proved herself to be a person who would respect my answer even if she didn’t agree. I mean REALLY, not “You have a right to your opinion. Now let me educate you on why you’re wrong.” She listened. We had a good discussion. Then we ordered breakfast and moved on to more pleasant subjects.

I really appreciated that she asked! I appreciated even more that she listened without trying to change my mind and politely shared her thoughts.

The last time I’d inserted my view into a political conversation the results reminded me why I rarely get involved in them. I was still recovering from an election week from … well, you know. I’d never witnessed so much ugliness on both sides, so much gloom and doom when we needed reminders of Who is still in charge. When I noticed that a wise reminder to pray for our leaders received a mean “Why should I?” reply, I logged out of Facebook for the day.

The whole thing did something to my heart.

I considered what God might want me to take away from it all.

live-at-peace_small

I grew up on the election-season standard, “Don’t ask adults who they plan to vote for. It’s supposed to be private.” Nathan got the same speech. I’d honored that tradition by keeping my presidential ballot between me and God.

My silence had more to do with fear than good manners. I have friends and family members on both sides. No matter who I supported I’d be conspiring with the enemy according to someone.

I might be labeled.

Someone might even ask, “How can you call yourself a Christian?”

My silence had more to do with fear than good manners. Click To Tweet

In high school we were required to take public speaking, which included debating. I dreaded debate. It felt too much like confrontation. We didn’t confront in our house. We only talked politics when opinionated friends visited, and in those cases my sisters and I sat spellbound from the pure wonder of it and my parents listened without rebutting their guests.

At least our high school debates had rules. Personal attacks weren’t allowed. After the debate ended we ate lunch together, still friends, and went back to discussing whether or not we were allowed to see R-rated movies and accusing anyone on a diet of being anorexic.

When I joined a new Bible study after moving, one thing I loved most about it was that we stayed focused on the Bible, how Jesus responded to things, and what God was doing in our everyday lives. The discussion never got heated because we stayed away from divisive topics. Everyone felt safe to share their thoughts.

The discussion over breakfast reminded me that “I respect your opinion” comes through in our actions when divisive issues do come up—our willingness to listen, our attitude, our tone, the assumptions we make about those who think differently, how we talk about those who think differently. When we model respect, we free others to open up. Sometimes we even learn something. Thank you, Lilia!

When we model respect, we free others to open up. Sometimes we even learn something. Click To Tweet

As much as I want to become more confident in the convictions I have a right to, I pray that I will know when it’s necessary to verbalize them and when to keep quiet for the sake of peace. When I do make them known, I never want my delivery to leave a quieter friend afraid to share hers or feeling attacked by my extreme statements.

Whether we’re talking politics, the Bible, church, or our favorite books, I hope I never leave a friend wondering if I consider her less informed, less smart, less discerning, less committed to Jesus, less concerned about others’ rights, less anything.

What do we gain in that?

How does that build relationships?

How will that help calm the chaos?

What does it say about our faith?

How does it reflect Christ?

 

As we all recover from last week, my prayer is that we will spread messages of grace and hope that reveal Who we follow.

How comfortable have you felt sharing your views lately? Click To Tweet

How comfortable have you felt sharing your views lately? How respectful have you been of those on the other side? (Be honest. If it makes you feel any better I’ve been guilty of judging those who’ve been extremely vocal.) How might you better reflect Christ as we move into this uncertain future?

 

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18 (NIV)

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6 Comments

  1. Everyone needs to read this post. Thanks for encouraging us to calm down.

  2. Respect is so key to ALL conversations! I don’t mind talking about difficult topics when I feel I’m being heard. I used to just keep my mouth shut so I wasn’t a “disagreeable” person. I’m learning to speak up a bit more now, and this is a great reminder to practice the respect I want to receive. It should always be safe between brothers and sisters in Christ to have a voice that might differ from others.

    • Jeanette Hanscome

      I used to just keep my mouth shut too. I’m learned to respectfully slip in my opinion when I feel it’s safe, but I always test the waters first.

  3. Cherie

    Thank you, Jeanette. This is beautifully written and I find it healing after this bitter election season. I ventured out into the world of opinion and debate and I got swallowed whole a few times. I was so discouraged because I thought I was being respectful but I was pounced on and devoured on more than one occasion. I came to the conclusion that more important that voicing my opinion was to make peace.

    • Jeanette Hanscome

      Isn’t it interesting how the recent election season has redefined “I respect your opinion” and “a friendly debate”? It’s so sad. I’m sorry that you got devoured! But as you said, sometimes making peace is more important than voicing our opinion. Our world needs people who understand when it’s best to be quiet, knowing we still have a right to what we think. After all, just because we have the right to do or say something doesn’t mean we should at that particular moment.

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