What a year. The ups and downs have been dizzying, and just when we catch our breath, it seems something else grabs our attention and requires more tough decisions, critical thinking, life-or-death answers to hard questions. This season has taken its toll on most of us. And for many, it has also left some of our relationships in tatters. Each issue that arises seems to divide. And it can be tough to see our dear friends, family, neighbors, land on opposite sides of an issue. What do you do? I heard a quote recently that helped me navigate this often heart-wrenching, anger-inducing problem: In his book, “How to Think”, Alan Jacobs wrote that you should consider hanging out with “people who are not so much like-minded as like-hearted.” The Key to Friendship in 2020: Look at the Heart.
The Key to Friendship in 2020: Look at the Heart
It’s easy to love those around us when we believe we’re in lock-step. We’re voting for the same people, donate to the same causes and even have the same pizza order – hanging with them is easy! But, when faced with all that has come at us in the last months, we’ve been surprised to find that those identical food orders might come with a side of not “social distancing” how we would like, or being a little too vocal about their thoughts on a particular candidate… What do you do? Look at the heart.
Now, I am absolutely not condoning the support of hate, misinformation, or dangerous behavior. Firm boundaries and a challenging response are absolutely important in certain circumstances. But, I am saying that you might not need to “unfollow” your entire friend list, either. Is the heart of your friend with different views still turned toward compassion, support of their families, grace, justice, and peace – even if it is walked out differently than yours? Are they doing their best to make decisions for their children, spouses, livelihoods, and neighborhoods, that may look very different than your own?…
The Heart of the Matter
In a 2018 interview expanding on this concept, Jacobs went on to say:
…“when I decided who do I want to be talking with on social media, I realized it wasn’t necessarily the people who agreed with me about all of my religious beliefs or political beliefs. What I wanted was people who were generous. And kind. And caring.”
Wow. For me, this was such an encouraging idea! Instead of grinding internally over not only my own personal decisions and ideologies that we have been called to scrutinize this year but those of all of my friends (via social media, because of course, we can’t even talk this all out face-to-face right now), I can be freed up a bit to do a simple heart-check instead. Though not ALWAYS clear-cut, I found it much easier to find connection and understanding with those I am in a relationship with, even when we don’t see perfectly eye-to-eye.
So, this is my challenge: Instead of blocking everyone who makes you yell across the room, “Babe! Can you BELIEVE what Bob just shared?! Once it is socially acceptable, he is NEVER stepping foot in this house again” Or, “You need to call your great-great-uncle Larry and tell him to delete that IMMEDIATELY!”, pause for a moment. Take a breath. And look at the heart.