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Happy Valentine's Day!

By Belinda

 20-21God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.

   Glory to God in the church!
   Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus!
   Glory down all the generations!
   Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes! (Ephesians 3:20, The Message)

I love this verse and The Message paraphrase brings it alive. It's a perfect fit for my thoughts on relationships today.

Have you ever noticed how in life partners and friendships we are attracted to personalities that are different to our own? "Opposites attract," so the saying goes, and it is true. We see in that other, something we instinctively admire--something we don't have in the measure he/she does, if at all.

But it's not long before the rosy haze wears off and we wonder why our friend/spouse doesn't see the world the way we do. The differences we loved can grate with time, as if they are something negative.

How hard it can be to remember that difference is a gift. That is evident by observing God's magnificent variety in nature.He intended difference--colour; spice; rainbows--the wonder of different personalities.

What if we celebrated difference in one another?

What if we fully accepted one another's differences and even honoured them?

What if we refused ever again to make a joke about the style or personality of someone that is different to our own?

What if we respected who God made others as a holy thing and not to be touched except with trembling hands?

A few years ago our church ran the Alpha course; designed to reach people who have never set foot in a church or  seriously considered God. Paul and I went through training to host a group in our home. After viewing a video each week, we asked questions designed to elicit discussion, but were not  supposed to engage in "teaching" or giving "expert opinions." The point was to gently give space for people to talk and air their beliefs. The videos did an excellent job of presenting the case for faith. If someone expressed what we thought was an outrageous opinion, we were taught to simply say something like, "That's very interesting," so that we kept the conversation going.

I think there's something there that I could transpose onto my current conversations with friends! Differing people have differing points of view. If I could listen better without trying to wave the banner for my own viewpoint so emphatically, I would be the richer.

So I thank God today for my relationships in all of their splendid diversity, and I aim, with God's help to be better at expressing that gratitude in my words, attitudes and actions.

I'm going to try saying, "That's very interesting," more often--and mean it.


Susan said…
Happy Valentine's Day to you, too!

This is not about refraining from expressing a difference of opinion or a difference in perspective, right? It's about respecting the differences. The best growing happens when a friend challenges your thinking, but doesn't necessarily expect you to change to their point of view. It's all about respect, isn't it? "This is how I see things, but whatever you decide for yourself in the end, I will support you and if its because you're different than me, that's okay. You can count on me to support your right to be different and to have a different perspective."

I don't mind being challenged as long as people don't expect me to be just like them in the end... That's part of guarding your heart, I think... protecting who God made you in the midst of pressure from others to change to be more like them. It's the image of Jesus we are being conformed to. Not the image of Susan - or Belinda, or whoever...

I can't wait until Dave wades in on this one. I'm really looking forward to hearing what he has to say...

I love this! Got me thinking. :)
Belinda said…
Yes Susan, that's exactly what I meant but didn't express as well as you did. Thanks for clarifying. I don't mean that the difference of opinion should be held back. For me it's more about really listening better to that opinion that's coming my way, and then giving back a reflection more respectfully and not from the viewpoint of my view being "right," just the way I see it.

Well, I'm glad you didn't say, "That's very interesting!" :)
Lizzie said…
What church do you attend? If you don't mind me asking.
Belinda, forgive me for beginning with telling you what I thought when I came to your blog today. My first reaction was to notice that the background to your blog today is exactly like the pair of boxer shorts I saw in Walmart the other day. My thought, exactly, was, 'Oh, my, Belinda has a boxer shorts background on Valentines Day' and then I laughed.

Now, I agree that we all need to give people time to express their beliefs. I know that my impulsive way of speaking - in which I can assume the end of someone's sentence and instead of listening to what they are saying, rush to contradict it, needs to be curbed. Discussion should actually be discussion.

I just think that we all need to have a line that, when crossed, sparks us to action. There are some things that aren't 'interesting' they are 'hateful' or 'hurtful' or 'bigoted'. This means that I am, I believe, required by the example of the life Jesus lived, to respond. I think that there are those who will expound over little issues of doctrine but fall silent in the face of racist, sexist, homophobic or disphobic words and ideals. To me, silence there is consent. My blog today is about this very issue.

I think I'm getting too much of a reputation on your blog if Susan is now reading and thinking ... what's Dave going to say ...!

So I didn't disagree with you at all here. Because if I did, we'd have to call it the Boxer Rebellion.
Angcat said…
Hi Belinda,
Happy Hearts to you too.

These are great comments.

When I read your post, I thought "If you say 'that's interesting' to something I say, I will feel that you are holding back.
I much prefer honesty in relationship. Not brutal, unkind honesty. We've all had that and no one needs it. But friendly dialogue or challenge on any topic is great.

Iron sharpens iron, but it is in the use of the iron that we are truly sharpened or or repelled.

Keep posting...
Belinda said…
Lizzie, I go to a Pentecostal church. It is a small country church of 100 or so, with lots of young families and teenagers, a diverse mixture of different types of people who I love, but I prefer to call myself simply "Christian" or a "Christ follower."

Susan and I both work for a transdenominational non profit agency, and what richness there is in the diversity of that! Side by side we work, a foretaste of heaven--mostly! Ha ha! :) We focus on our common foundation in Christ and the values we hold as a result.
Belinda said…
Dave, boxer shorts??? :) ha ha! Now I'll see them everywhere--all day. Heart covered boxer shorts. Wal Mart boxer shorts. And I'll be smiling.

And I agree so much with what you said. We do" major on the minors;" wax passionate on that which doesn't matter and then stay silent on those things that do. I hope that I have courage to speak up when it matters.

And yes, your reputation does precede you! :)
Belinda said…
Hi Ang,
Yes, no holding back when God is in it, but with gentleness and freedom. Letting one another consider and ultimately take it to God.

The point I didn't make as well as I meant to was to honour difference in personality. To not be all about one style being right, but to accept one another in our different ways of being in the world.
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

In case you have forgotten,
Remember Valentine's Day,
Give cards, candy or flowers,
And celebrate it every day!

Happy Valentine’s Day!
Belinda said…
Thanks for your comment Puzzling Christian. That's the perfect scripture for today.

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