I had taken a break awhile back from my morning walks but got back to them in July. Of course I’d start back when its boiling hot! Thankfully, its been bearable in the early morning hours. Last week was actually very lovely, low 70’s, slight breeze. Unfortunately, the warmer temperatures have returned this week.
As I’ve related before, the thing about my morning walks are they give me so much time to simply think and roll things around in my mind.
I pass a good number of different kinds of folks on my walks. Some are older like myself, some are younger. Some are couples, many are singles. Some are rollerblading, some are on bicycles. Some are walking their dogs, and even one pushes her dog in a baby carriage! It really is quite a variety. Some are in their own heads, some are anxious to say “good morning.”
When passing these people it just seems to pop into my mind about what they are like, who they are, what they do, where they come from, what’s important to them, what makes them happy, what makes them sad.
All of this got me thinking about the great divide in our world today. We choose up sides based on how we categorize people. Why do we do that? How do we come to decide who it is we like or dislike, who we can get along with, and who we want nothing to do with?
I’ve learned over the years, my first reaction to people is not always the best gauge on how I will feel about them as I get to know them better. My first reaction is usually based on how they look, how they carry themself, how they interact with others. Of course at that moment I haven’t considered what their life is like, what motivates them, what agitates them, what gives them comfort, what pushes their buttons-so to speak.
I wonder what it would be like if every person we met, we gave them the full opportunity to get to know them before we categorized how we feel about them? In my time, I have dealt with a great many people from all walks of life. I haven’t liked them all, but as I think back on it, I haven’t always given each one the time and attention before I formed my opinion, and thus slotted them into the like or dislike category.
Jesus didn’t seem to do that. He came across a good many people, and he knew them even maybe better than they knew themselves. He accepted them for who they were, not who he wished they would be. What if we could do that? What if we could accept people as they are and love them just that way?
What if both political parties in our country could find the places where they agree and start from there in trying to “form a more perfect union,” as our Constitution states? Would our country and its people be different if we acted out with one another from a starting premise that we love each other? Would we go the extra mile to see the other person’s point of view? Would we concentrate on what we don’t like in each other, or would we find what we do like and work from there?
As a follower of Jesus, it seems to me I should be encouraged to act as he has taught me. With each person, I should start from the premise of love. If I start there, is that enough? I mean, if I start from love and work on that, do I really have that much time and energy to get to what I don’t like? Or does concentrating on loving them where they are take up all my time? If I love you, and that is my starting point, it really doesn’t leave much room for me to find what I don’t like, what I disagree with, or what makes me want to put you on the other side of the divide.
To be sure, we are always going to have disagreements with one another. We are not ever going to agree 100%. Even in those times of disagreement though, can we still remember we love that person? Can our love for them help us to be more understanding? Can our love give us the impetus to seek compromise so that both sides can live in harmony?
In recent years, it seems to me we have just given ourselves permission to “let it all hang out,” as my daddy would have said. We let come out whatever is rolling around in our head. Maybe if we let what should be rolling around in our heart and spirit come out first, we will find a better way.
I’m praying as the cooler temperatures descend upon us, we will let the love of Jesus well up in our thoughts, our speech, our actions. May God move us and shape us into a more loving community.
Your fellow traveler on the Way,