Well, it seems I’m getting thrown into the growth process a little earlier than I anticipated.
For years now I’ve had a tendency to put relationship before theology. This is far better than the alternative, but the personal effect on me is that often, even when someone I know well has an opinion that I think is completely wrong-headed, I can tend to just keep my mouth shut and let them think I agree.
There’s a reason that I keep my mouth shut if I can. Once I choose to wade into a dispute, I’m probably going to jump on what I see as stupidity with less graciousness as I should. I argue like my Dad’s family; I’m a Horswood with all that goes with it. It truly is nothing personal; I’m going after your ideas, not you personally. But I’ve noticed that very few people are able to cope with Horswood-style “take no prisoners” debating without taking it personally, so I’ve tended to shut my mouth when dealing with face-to-face differences of opinion on important issues. In the relative anonymity of the blogosphere I’m a lot more vociferous.
There is, too, certainly a time and a place for just keeping your mouth shut. It does not help anyone to get into arguments with people with whom you have limited relationship. Some heavy freight is too much for as-yet fragile, formative relational bridges to bear.
However, there are people in my life that I’ve known for a long time, yet I have always refrained from saying what I really think around them. They are people of strong and rigid opinions, and I do not relish a fight. I tell myself that I don’t want to damage the relationship. I love these people, even if they are blissfully unaware of just how little we agree in practice.
But I’ve become convicted that bending myself into pretzel shapes to suit other people’s strong opinions is not something I need to be doing, especially when it crosses my own conviction lines.
So I’ve reached a decision that I’m not going to do that any more. I’m going to be polite, I’m going to keep on listening, I’m going to keep on loving. But I am not going to compromise and ignore my own core beliefs in order to pretend that I agree with someone I love and know well when I don’t.
I’d appreciate your prayers, dear blogosphere. This has the potential to be one of the most difficult things I have ever done.
Oh, and I should probably also say that I’m not talking about my wife 🙂