A quick introduction for those who don’t know me. I am Darren’s wife of almost 25 years and mom to our three beautiful daughters. I’ve been a Christian for most of my life and trust in the power of the One who created me. I am a people-pleasing, procrastinating perfectionist. I love a good cup of coffee (particularly if accompanied by conversation with a friend). I struggle with conflict. My immediate, most common responses to dissension: silence, disengagement, and burying hurts in the deep recesses of my soul, where they fester and boil until I erupt over some random little thing – like a messy kitchen counter. I crave peace in relationships. I desire for my words and actions to be for the good of others – building others up instead of tearing others down. I’m learning to engage my voice instead of retreating to silence.
I closely follow the conversations that ensue after Darren shares one of his blog posts regarding President Trump. It is no surprise that emotions run high on this subject. Unfortunately, the conversations often turn contentious and, at times, caustic. On the off chance that others are created like me, I decided to step out from behind the editor’s screen and add my own words to the conversation…and perhaps encourage you to join in.
My post does not directly address our current President, his character, policy or campaign platform. Rather, it focuses on how we, as fellow Americans converse with one another about these things. I would ask you to consider the following: are you genuinely interested in meaningful conversation? Do you conscientiously review your words before you hit enter?* Do you think about the people on the other side of your screen? Will your words diminish or insult them? Will your words create a rift in a relationship? How will your words land on the heart of the person reading your comments? Will the “shock and awe” phrases you’ve chosen cause others to disengage from the conversation? Will your words fan the flame of grace-filled conversation or douse the embers, bringing the conversation to a screeching halt, just so you can have the last word?
We live in a time where many conversations are rife with disharmony – particularly political ones conducted on social media. Together, we can create a social media world where the “bouncing ellipsis” means the continuation of a meaningful conversation – where everyone weighs their comments on the scales of relationship (rather than beating others into oblivion with their harsh comments – causing others in the conversation to retreat into silence); a world where grace-filled conversation replaces harsh words.
If we expect our government representatives to cross the aisle and work together – then, how dare we not do the same. May we choose to speak the truth in love…remembering that we need to have everyone’s voices in the conversation. There simply must be a place for everyone at the table of civil conversation.
*Darren & I often employ Google Docs to help with this. Rather than typing directly into the Facebook comment section, open a Google Doc and add your keystrokes there. Next – the most important step – let it sit for an hour or two, or even better: overnight. When you come back to it, review it with the potential readers in mind. Ask yourself, will my words advance this conversation, or are they better left unsaid?