My brother -in -law, Ken, who lives in Imnaha, Oregon, tells this awesome story of going into the local bar, grocery store, community library (all in one cuz it’s a small town), with a book about rattlesnakes. He was going to exchange the book in the community library, bar, store for another book, because he loves to read. He was new in town so everyone at the bar eyed him. Ken walked up to the bar area, placed the book on the shelf, and one of the guys at the bar saw the book about rattlesnakes and asked, “Is it fer um or agen um?”
Ken was puzzled, and he did not quite understand what the dude was saying. He gave the guy a puzzled look and the guy asked again, “Is the book fer um or agen um?”
Ken finally figured out what the guy was asking and simply replied, “It’s about them.”
A very good friend once said to me that you can’t control what others think and say. We all have an opinion and our opinion is most likely going to offend someone. As my girls get older and learn to express themselves, they are learning that expression comes with a cost. Sometimes they are misunderstood, sometimes they find community through expression, and there are times my girls don’t have an opinion at all and are simply trying to find their way. They are learning that what some see as black and white, others see as grey. They are faced with the question “is it fer em or again em?” and they are learning the answer is not as simple as it seems.
I think sometimes the question is wrong. “Are you for them or against them?” Really should be “Are you about them?” “Are you about loving them?”
It’s difficult when others don’t share our same passion or belief for something whether its politics, religion, justice, or simply a book or movie. We have a choice to listen or react. We can go on the attack, do a little name calling, write a post to get our anger out, Facebook, rally the troops, gossip, on and on. I see this in my girls too. I see them want to go to the fight, but I want them to learn to be wise and pour grace on others. None of us are perfect. Yes, people say stupid stuff, yes, people don’t always react appropriately, but we can either pour water on that fire or pour gasoline. I want my girls to take the high road….Unfortunately, they don’t always witness people, yes…even adults around them doing this, so its easy to go for the ugly.
As I have been coaching my girls and listening to their stories from school, I realize that they are trying to work out their faith in a messy world…me too! As they deal with others who are very passionate over issues, my girls are having to decide what is important, what is valuable and where their faith fits in. It’s not alway easy. Passion can be good and I see how passion has helped my kids care for those who live in poverty. But if our passion goes to the judgement of others, then we won’t have voice, because nobody will want to listen….well, that is not true, only those who agree with us will listen. What good is that?
If we force people to answer the question…”Are ya fer em or agen em?” We might just confuse them when really….. the question should be “Do you love them?”
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