Over the course of the last few months, I have found myself in several conversations with the same underlying subject: tolerance.
I find it interesting that so many have come to see tolerance as a loaded, ugly word, a compromise to their morals, ethics or faith.
I just don't see it that way.
I tolerate people every single day.
I put up with my children when their behavior is bad. I put up with my husband when he has had a bad day and gets agitated by every little thing the kids do or don't do. I put up with people who are sports fanatics, while I do not enjoy sports all that much. I tolerate parents who make different decisions than I would in parenting their children. I put up with whatever music our church is singing that particular week, even if it isn't exactly what I would have chosen. I put up with the irritating lady in line at Starbucks who had twenty minutes to figure out what she wanted but is now at the front, holding up the line, slowly perusing the menu. For the love.
I tolerate differences in politics and faith, too.
None of that means I have to enjoy, embrace, or agree with our differences. It just means that I have enough respect for another human being that I can refrain from being ugly, hateful and divisive. It also means I can not shove that irritating lady out of the way so I can get my coffee before I turn fifty.
To take this a little further, I disagree in many areas with people who share my faith. There are some pastors, speakers, authors and musicians out there that drive me bonkers. Like Mark Driscoll, who I find crude, or Douglas Wilson, who I think is borderline misogynistic and hyper-patriarchal, or authors Mike and Debi Pearl who write parenting books that make me cringe.
And I have a lot of friends who just love these guys. They quote them, talk about them, read their books and post all about them on facebook. I tolerate that too.
Granted, occasionally when I think something is waaaaay out there, I might say something, trying to be as gentle as possible. But at the end of the day, if we don't see eye-to-eye, I am not going to accuse my friends of being less committed to their faith than I am, tell them that they are stupid for coming to a different conclusion from mine, or say that I simply can not associate with them because we can not agree on every point.
Yes, I have actually had this happen to me. This week.
I wonder sometimes if the reason why we feel we need to correct everyone, the reason we get so angry about the things we disagree with, is that we have some insecurities ourselves?
I don't know. I'm no shrink. But what I do know is that we need not fear our differences. We do not have to agree on everything, but we should not confuse listening and trying to understand another person's heart with compromise and defeat. And I believe we should listen in order to understand, not just in order to reply.
I believe we ought to treat others, whatever their views are, in the same way we would like to be treated.
We all have our own point of view and many of us want to share it with the world. There is nothing wrong with that. A lot of my friends disagree with me strongly in regard to politics, non-violence, and faith. I have a couple of friends who think I am going off the deep end while, ironically, I feel I am becoming closer and more in tune with the heart of Jesus than ever before.
My wish is for us all to be able to disagree well. To treat one another with respect and kindness, even when we stand as polar opposites on issues. I wish there was a good word for what I mean. Oh yeah, there is: