Do you ever wonder, as I do, will the beloved community just show up one day? Are you waiting for people to simply “get it”? Do slow progress and endless votes annoy and unnerve you? Have you become impatient for us to simply treat one another with mutual respect? Many times my answers to these questions have been “Yes!”
Then, after I calm myself and re-establish equilibrium, I remember that it is through conversation and sharing ourselves that hearts are opened and possibilities are realized. Staying in the conversation is key.
“My prayer is that we will love each other enough to enter into dialogue – even when, and especially when, it feels uncomfortable.”
Daring to begin conversations that we think of as difficult exposes us to the risk of conflict and upset. However, the experience of upset accompanies circumstances and issues that really matter. When people care, are invested and have a stake in the outcome, they express conviction and passion.
I have grown to appreciate the process of hearing people out, listening to the discomfort, and honoring disagreements because deepened commitment is often the result. Unanimous agreement may seem desirable and an easy path to our aspirations. However, creating space for congregant and leader to be honest and even to share what may cause them to feel stuck – this is particularly true of sexuality and gender issues – is a tremendous blessing. In our How to begin and Educate my faith community sections of the Many Voices website, you will find guidance and tips on how to open up these conversations.
Justice work often requires us to take steps on our own and to dare to speak when it would be easier to keep silent. I sometimes forget my first steps when I felt uncertain, fearful, and reluctant to broach the subject of human sexuality in church. Our humility and remembering allows us to hear other’s concerns.
Love and acceptance are major themes in the gospel narratives about Jesus. Love of God, love of self and love of neighbor are named essential and a formula to surpass a world of “sin.” My prayer is that we will love each other enough to enter into dialogue – even when, and especially when, it feels uncomfortable.