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Faith & Culture,  Love Wins,  Relationships

It’s okay to disagree – valuing relationships over theology, culture and loads of other stuff

For most of my life, I thought when it came to God, Jesus and the holy Bible, I had to always be right. Considering another point of view was darn near close to entertaining demons.

 

These were the subjects that there could be no disagreement on. After all, that was grounds for heresy.

 

I liked everything neat, orderly and absolute. After all, if I was certain of things God-related, then my worries of life should be all but small, right? And when someone stepped on the toes of my perfectly organized beliefs I was afraid (for them of course) and determined to set them straight – because after all, I had figured everything out.

 

An interesting thing about life is that it is continually a teacher; if we let it be.

 

Every person, interaction and new experience has the ability to stretch us and grow us. As life hit me, many of my structured beliefs began to crack. The absolute, black and white world I lived in buckled under the weight of messy people and messy situations. The two could not stand arm in arm.

 

I soon realized life and people and situations…..are anything but black and white.

 

For example:

 

It’s easy to believe those who don’t claim “Jesus” are destined for hell, until your new co-worker is a Buddhist and lives more of the Christian lifestyle than any of your “Christian” friends. It’s easy to say God damns all gay people to hell, until your child comes out.

 

It’s easy to whitewash everyone with different political beliefs as agents of satan, until you fall in love with someone who votes differently than you. It’s easy to say everyone who commits adultery is a terrible person until it’s your best friend….and the situation is just complicated.

 

It’s easy to say everyone who has an abortion is guilty of committing murder, until you listen to the story of a 14 year old who was raped by her father and believed he would rape her child as well….

 

It’s easy to say pre-marital sex is the ultimate no-no, until it’s you.

 

Yes, it is far easier to point the finger and label things we don’t understand or have context of, as wrong or sinful. Rather than to look inward and explore how many areas of grey and free-passes we extend to ourselves.

 

Yes, life is anything but black and white.

 

As I’ve grown and eaten loads of humility, I’ve learned I don’t know everything. In fact, I may never know everything, especially when it comes to God and what he absolutely would or would not approve of.

 

Because God is so much bigger than me…and that.

 

In walking the roads I have traveled, I encountered God in profound ways. The same God I knew when I was a teenager is the same God I know now – it’s just gotten so much better.

 

The beliefs and opinions I hold now, I have not come to lightly. They developed over years of wrestling with scripture and God and Spirit (and people) until I landed in a bloody pool of tears. The words and beliefs I share now come from a place of depth that I do not expect everyone to understand.

 

And that is okay.

 

However, the more open I’ve become about my progressive beliefs, the more bothered my previous friends and followers became. I receive messages, emails and texts from former friends who are “concerned” about me and my faith.

 

But, I always find it a bit strange when someone who hasn’t talked to you in years, all of the sudden reaches out to “correct” something you said on Facebook. (I’m always like, ummm, hi?? Nice to hear from you??)

 

And why is that? Why do they not choose to reach out when they learn my marriage is falling apart, but instead reach out when I post something they feel goes against their “set beliefs”? I imagine they must think there can’t be any disagreement about God either…and maybe the rest of my life doesn’t matter as much as that…

 

As for me, I’ve chosen to live my life built on relationships – not built on an agreed statement of beliefs.

 

Because, that is how Jesus lived. He was surrounded by people of many different backgrounds and beliefs. He didn’t shun those who thought differently or who asked questions (unlike the religious camp). Instead, he broke bread with all kinds of people and connected with them.

 

Maybe that is why he stood up for the woman caught in adultery? Maybe that is why he healed the sick without asking for a confession of faith (even on the Sabbath)? Maybe that is why he (as a Jew) talked to a Samaritan woman as an equal and didn’t shame her? Maybe that is why he told a story of a “good Samaritan” which in that culture didn’t exist?

 

Maybe that is why Jesus continually challenged stereotypes and religious no-no’s; because he existed in an area that wasn’t so black and white – he existed with humans.

 

One of my favorite things about the Jewish culture is how they debate and view learning. In an article, The Art of Debate: Jewish Style it states, “In traditional Jewish books of learning, the concepts of beginning and end do not exist. It is all about the middle — about the dialogues, the discourse, the exchange of ideas…” They will wrestle and wrestle over scripture, over ideas, over theology – and walk out the best of friends.

 

Because they believe debate – disagreements – are good, healthy and OKAY.

 

And so, it’s now become my mantra to be comfortable with disagreements. I’ve embraced the idea that having differing views is okay – healthy even – so long as it is respectful. That we can be friends even if we don’t agree on everything; in fact we may be even better friends, because we will probably challenge and stretch eachother.

 

Because we all come with contexts and experiences of our own.

 

Each of us have traveled journeys unique to us. And, I trust that your beliefs (whatever they may be) have not come without grueling experiences – which is why I respect them and would not try to change them. They are possibly experiences that I can learn from.

 

Your journey is valid. And so is mine. We are all traveling on this wild, road together. When we encounter differences, we can set the tone for how they go. We can choose whether someone will leave feeling our love or feeling judged and like we carry a better-than attitude. We can pause and remember there is more to the person in front of us than our disagreement.

 

Fear is the ultimate enemy of love. Choose not to fear what you may not relate to or understand. Instead, press in and be a good listener – who knows, you may actually learn something.

 

It’s okay for someone to believe differently than you. It’s even okay to disagree. The world will not fall apart. I promise 🙂

 

Anna

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author. Blogger. Speaker. Momma to 4.

18 Comments

  • Sara Lamberto

    Amen…very well said. I am over the Christian rigidity lie. It is so freeing to let go of that. Although I do find myself pointing it out to those who are being rigid so I obviously still have work to do in this area 😁

    • Anna Dimmel

      Yes! It is so freeing. Like you, I have to remind myself to not be rigid towards others who are being rigid. lol We are all continually learning. Hugs!!

  • Mari

    The thing about this is this: when someone you otherwise could be happy with holds a set of beliefs that clash directly with yours, sometimes that person’s resulting actions hurt the relationship. They may not personally affect you or your family — after all, what does a Blue Lives Matter supporter actually change for a white girl living in the ‘burbs? — but the choice that person has made to openly value X people over Y might be one that you can’t support, and not supporting that choice can lead to arguments about it, and then your whole life is bickering and drama.

    Or say your life has taught you that one way of having relationships is painful, but the people around you think that way of doing things is great and keep enthusing about it. I think it’s all right to pull back from those people and take care of yourself, because otherwise you turn into a woman who, five years after the relationship actually ended, still doesn’t trust people enough to put herself back out there. (Hi. Yes, the answer to “who hurt you?” is actually “Them!” And I should write about that on my own blog!)

    Just… I can respect when someone’s not on board with me and what I think, and needs to not be around me. We would probably have a terrible time together anyway.

    Wishing you, no irony, lots of peace!

  • Jasmine Ruigrok

    The thing is; I don’t think this is a case of either/or. We so easily fall into this trap as we grow in our faith and life experiences. It’s not that there is no line, and that sin is not black-and-white. I believe we can fall too far into the extreme ends of the scale when we’re thinking either/or; we become far too lax and liberal in our understanding of grace that neuters its power to transform our lives, or we become high-functioning legalists that brand people in an instant. The truth is that it is both/and. Yes, sin exists. The Bible is clear about what God thinks of sex in all its forms, the sanctity of life, and many other things. However, within the context of relationship, we can have empathy and compassion for the hearts involved in these sins, and come alongside people to point them to Christ, not to label their sin. The sentences you opened this article with are very clearly either/or, but the truth is that *both* can coexist within love. Jesus is not about strict standards, nor is He about us doing whatever feels right. He is about redemption and transformation. We love others best when we remember both His righteousness and His love.

  • Larry McKnight

    I have a question I like asking my friends…especially my friends who are pastors (as I am). “How comfortable are you with ‘the part’ you don’t know?” After all, the apostle Paul clarifies without qualification, “…we know in part.” More often than not it starts a nervous but interesting–and I hope, profitable–dialogue. Bless you sister on your honest journey.

  • Billie

    When I first started reading your blogs, I thought you were way out in left field. One of those weird, believe the bible how it suits me sort of person. Then I found out loved ones were gay. This opened my eyes to really think hard on what Christ wants. I question myself and my beliefs about what the bibles says. I know my old churchgoing friends will think I need prayers for wayward thinking, but you know what.? I pray to Christ that His will be done and I leave the rest alone. When I come before God on judgement day, will He ask how well I judged how others live or how well I showed His love. We all know the answer, don’t we. It is all about Galatians 5:14.

    • Anna Dimmel

      I just so appreciate your honesty. Sincerely! I chuckled a bit at your original thoughts, although I’m pretty sure you aren’t alone in them! As you said, love is the ultimate destination. It’s a beautiful thing once we are free to embrace it. Hugs to you!

  • Kimberly L Beasley

    It’s okay to disagree….as long as it’s done respectfully….we can still be friends!!! OMGosh, the whole world needs to read this article, because America has become “my way or the highway” and that is judgemental, self-righteous and wrong!!! Just posted/shared this on FB. Also, thank you for this: “But, I always find it a bit strange when someone who hasn’t talked to you in years, all of the sudden reaches out to “correct” something you said on Facebook. (I’m always like, ummm, hi?? Nice to hear from you??)” This happened to me when my husband and I separated several years ago. All of a sudden, my siblings and in-laws knew all about who I am and what I am, etc., etc., but not ONE of them had even talked to me in over a YEAR. I was devestated, but have since forgiven and moved on. It’s was just nice to read that someone else has experienced this (sorry!!).

    • Anna Dimmel

      Girl you are speaking my language! So sorry you experienced similar things – it can be so tough! But, forgiveness is so healing. Thank you for sharing!!Much love to you!!

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