Sunday, November 11, 2012

In which I'm all "why can't we be friends?"

So, I've been seeing a lot of talk about politics lately. It's like there's been some kind of big event in America or something this week? Like, an election maybe? I don't know, I'm just a girl.

I've been a little fascinated with it, actually. In a "train wreck" fascination way, but fascination, just the same. My Facebook and Twitter feeds have ranged from uninhibited celebration complete with proverbial "in yo face"s, to passive aggressive jabs at the other side, to all-out aggressive rants toward the other side, to overly-dramatic "THE WORLD IS ENDING"s, to nervous, panicky "God is in controls" that convey more worry than actual confidence that He is.

It's an interesting thing, basically having insight into everyone's brains. Thanks, social media. But I wasn't going to blog about it, no sir. I can keep my mouth shut! Have self-control! Am adult!

And then I listened to this episode of This American Life, and it put me over the edge on the "I NEED TO BLOG ABOUT THIS FOR GOODNESS SAKE" scale. Because an entire act of the episode was devoted to the ways politics are interfering with friendships and families. Listen to it, and I hope you come away as horrified as I am.

People choose to end contact with those they love with because they are too petty to find a shred of something they have in common or try to see something from somebody else's view.


Because no politics - nay, NO ARGUMENTS AT ALL, are worth losing your relationships over. Seriously. They're just not. If you can't handle it, don't bring up politics. That's how I handle my parents all the time. It works, trust me.

And to be perfectly frank, if you feel strongly enough about something that you think you should trash a relationship over it, then you should really re-evaluate your priorities. We can coexist with very different opinions and beliefs, I promise.

The other day, the reading was in Galatians 5, and this passage stopped me dead in my tracks:

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another.

I read it over and over. I highlighted it. I programmed a reminder into my phone to go off once a day.

Use your freedom to serve one another in love.

(That reminder is really irritating when it inevitably beeps in the middle of my being a jerk.)

I'm not really great at using my freedom to serve others. And when I do serve others, it's not always in love.

With my husband, it can be in "here's your damn dinner that you wouldn't get up and get yourself," or "I guess I'll do the dishes because YOU'RE NEVER GOING TO DO THEM," and at work, it can be "if you want to make stupid changes to my clearly awesome creative project then fine, it's your funeral," and with strangers it can be "I guess you're going to cut me off in traffic anyway so please, go ahead, you jerk-hole."

And that's not really service at all, is it? That's not even close to love.

So, I'm learning to use my freedom correctly.

Beware of destroying one another.

I have a feeling that using our freedom to serve one another in love would eliminate whatever problems we have with our loved ones' politics. I have a feeling we wouldn't be so quick to throw away relationships if we focused on loving our neighbors as ourselves. If we didn't use our freedoms to satisfy our sinful natures.

How are you using your freedom?
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