I wrote an article for my local paper.

A few people loved it. However, not everyone liked it. I realized quickly that when talking about controversial topics, not everyone will hear a new opinion. Especially, if that new opinion challenges their ethos.

The following week, the newspaper released two “letters to the editor” in response to my article. What fascinated me is that their critiques had nothing to do with my actual argument. They built strawman to tear down.

I did not mention We Care, Right to Life or Jan Buechler in my article. Nor was I familiar with these programs (I didn’t grow up in Kokomo). They were defending something that I wasn’t talking about.
Once again bringing up “Right to Life,” which I did not discuss. The author brings up an anecdote about Joe Biden in order to invalidate my argument. They assumed I supported Biden, which I did not explicitly say. Next the author defended Donald Trump, whom I did not mention in my article either.

If these two critiques read my article with open eyes and ears, they would have found a call to vote with intelligence, research, and conviction. My article was not simply about presidential candidates, but about every elected official. I did not tell them to vote for Joe Biden. I did not diss Donald Trump. They read between the lines and made assumptions.

We seem to look for ways for others to offend us. We don’t have the habit of listening to learn or understand. Rather, we listen to respond.

This miscommunication happens in so many forms; typically when we aren’t talking face to face.

My first goal, as a Christian, is to love everyone I come into contact with. We do not have to agree on a single thing for me to show you God’s love. I want to care for your humanity first. Part of caring for your humanity is to learn from the other’s experiences. As I hear your story, I can connect it to my journey with God.

Ultimately, I want a conversation. I want to engage in thought. Israel, the name of God’s people in the Hebrew Bible, means “to wrestle.” I want to wrestle with thoughts together rather than coming in claiming solutions. I don’t have all the answers about God or how to live perfectly as a Christian. I do claim the intention of listening for God to surprise me with a new perspective through each conversation. Admittedly, it may take me a while to absorb that lesson in order to adjust my thoughts and actions.

My summary of the whole article-writing-experience is to remain open to dialogue. Listen, consider, converse, listen some more and adjust.

May the Spirit of God continue to reach our hearts and minds. May we be susceptible to changing our minds when God gives us a chance to grow.

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