Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Let's Just Be Friends

There are such great divides in our world, our nation, our churches, our families, and our homes. Building bridges is hard, but rewarding work. In times past, I have been praised by friends outside the LDS faith for being a bridge builder. For a while I seemed to be able to reach in either direction--to my faithful LDS friends with understanding and to my friends of other faith traditions. I felt solidly in both camps. But the division has grown and the polarization more extreme. I've had to retreat to one side for a while to heal with understanding hearts who can bolster me until I can become a bridge again. Sometimes the place on the other side of the bridge isn't a safe place. Because being a bridge requires an amazing ability to walk in another person's shoes, and to really see the world through their eyes. It's called empathy. The only way to be truly empathic is to strip away the pride and to really hear what someone has to say. To really understand that our experiences, our privilege or lack of privilege, our backgrounds, our hardships, our joys--everything we learn and see and do shapes us and forms who we are. But sometimes we think that everyone should think and feel the same way we do. Sometimes our own agenda screams so loudly in our brains that we can't hear someone else's heart. It's not easy. 
We/I stand on one side of a great chasm and can't understand how the person on the other side could possibly believe what they believe. And they are also looking across at me and thinking the same thing. Empathy--building bridges is the only way to have a relationship. And the relationships that are vital to us require that empathy if they are to survive. 
I recently heard of a friend who has left the LDS church telling another friend who has chosen to stay actively engaged in the LDS church that she was crazy to do so. I've heard of other friends who are active in the faith lecture friends who have left about following the prophet and warnings of eternal damnation.  Most people are more subtle than these extremes. But really, I'm the only one who knows what's best for me. And you are the only person who knows what's best for you. So let's just be friends. 

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