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Think Outside the Box

I've thought for weeks on end how to eloquently say what I'm feeling, how to express my sorrow and sentiments for what our world, our nation, is carrying right now.

In reality, no words do it justice.

But maybe it's a good thing I can't quite wrap my head around what I want to express or how I feel because that would ultimately confine what's really at stake here.

I don't want to sit here and blab about the reality of COVID, masks, social justice, living eco-friendly, etc., (all things I find really important to continue learning about and taking positive strides toward) because I first want to identify HOW we can have much needed conversations, effectively. Identifying ways to make positive steps first will likely (or at least I hope) help opinions and views be better received than just getting frustrated going on a Facebook rant. Don't get wrong though - sharing and refining your opinions, listening to others, and having conversations is necessary, but there are ways to be more effective.

When I let my mind wander through all the things going wrong with 2020, in our world, or in our nation, I continue to come back to two questions: Why is this happening? And what are we going to do to fix it?

In any circumstance, I think it boils down to the fact that spiritual warfare is at play. Satan knows he can't have our eternity but he knows he can distract us on earth. "He prowls like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." (1 Peter 5:8) And with each individual, he knows what is going to keep you from pursing a holy solution. To the church, I urge you to recognize division caused by spiritual warfare, and when you identify it, use that opportunity to bring unity. Satan is using a variety of situations in our world to further push people apart, trying to make sin the center and not Jesus.

Believers, if your current perspective or thought process is causing you to stumble, create division, unwillingness to hear someone else, or not love others, I encourage you to ask God to open your heart and be receptive to what he has to say. Remember, we don't have to agree with everyone, but how many issues would be resolved (or at least progress made) if we were willing to see how others may feel rather than only listening to people who agree with us? We cannot sit here in our own selfishness and obstinance and expect people to listen to us too. And this goes with any topic of discussion - whether or not pineapple goes on pizza to masks, social justice, etc.

Whatever end of the spectrum you're on, or maybe you're in the middle, and maybe it's different for each issue, I urge you to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry (James 1:19). Believer or not, I think this is great advice.

Because what would happen if we first were quick to listen, then slow to speak, and finally slow to become angry? Ears that are quick to listen allow us to be open minded, not just hearing what someone else is saying, but truly listening and seeing how another person sees an issue. If we're slow to speak, we're able to collect our thoughts together, think rationally and respond in a calm, productive manner. And finally, if we're slow to become angry, it's likely the person on the other side of the conversation will better listen or receive to what we have to say.

I would also encourage you to know what YOU believe, not what you grew up to believe because your parents told you or the type of community you lived it. Challenge those beliefs and back them up with facts. What does scripture say about these issues? What does God say about these issues? What are statements that are true verses opinion? Think outside the box. It's okay to change your mind on issues. Continue to educate yourself and learn.

Above all, know that we aren't always going to agree with everyone, and that's okay. But something we should ALL agree on is to love our neighbor as ourselves. That means we need to be selfless, willing to listen, love, honor, serve, and value others the way Jesus sees them. We need to remember that we all are created in His image. Not just some of us.

What would happen if we truly loved others the way we love ourselves? What if we saw people for what's on the inside, celebrating what's on the outside because diversity doesn't divide, it unifies. What if we looked at those who oppose us, don't think like us, don't look like us, and beyond, and loved them the way we want to be? How much more unity would we bring, how many people would come to know Jesus?

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