What Shall We Bring?

Being Miss “I need it to be perfect before it hits the page,” I’ve had this site for years and posted only once or twice. This year, I promised myself that I would start posting on a regular basis. One can’t be a writer without writing. There’s certainly plenty in my head about which to write. I love to write as any of you who have ever received a text from me can testify! I also have plenty of opinions, shallow and deep. So what’s the problem?

Deep in my heart, I know what keeps me from publicly stating opinions. It’s a combination of wanting to be perfect, not wanting to be wrong about any fact or issue, wanting to save the world and deciding that if I can’t, I’ll just be depressed and do nothing, a bit of procrastination, and a lot of fear. Fear of what? Fear of not being liked. Fear of rejection.

Recently, I wrote a rare Facebook post and I began by noting my gratitude for having friends and family who range from rabid religious and political conservatives to rabid religious and political liberals. I am grateful for that as it keeps me from demonizing anyone at any given time. On so many divisive issues, I can picture a friendly face with any combination of views. I can picture hands and hear voices that have helped, nurtured, or encouraged me and I desperately want it to stay that way. I like to be liked and I love to be loved.

Yet, I know that I have no control over how other people feel, act, or react. I only have a modicum of control over how I feel, act, or react. So in the midst of universal, national, and personal communities divided by ideologies, mistrust, and fear, I can only set forth opinions if I take the risk of not being liked, of unintentionally hurting someone, or of even receiving nasty, hateful messages. I must take a step out of fear. I must use the gifts God has given me to speak and to write and to do so at the times and with the words I believe God desires. I don’t always hear those words clearly. Like anyone else, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of voices in my head – voices from family, friends, teachers, so-called history books, television, and any other number of sources that compete with the voice in my heart. But I will try to hear God’s words and I pray have the humility to admit when I get it wrong and to apologize when I speak in ways that are hurtful, not helpful.

In the post Dinner Anyone?, I noted that I am a dinner party person not a cocktail party person when it comes to how I prefer to engage in conversation. So to continue the analogy, if this blog is a dinner party, what shall we bring? I hope that we will bring our hearts and our minds and do so at the same time. That may sound easy but it’s actually quite difficult. For the things about which we are the most passionate are often the things we also do not want disturbed and thinking causes disruption. It’s also difficult because the most important things in life require the most intense thought, often with a realization that there is no one answer. We’ve become people who want answers. We want them short and immediate. We want to know that if we spend the effort of exerting thought and passion something is going to come from it, something we can witness and witness now.

Bringing our hearts and our minds to any issue requires acknowledging and accepting the fact that we may never witness the good our efforts bring. As people of faith, we can only try to do what we believe God is calling on us to do and let God take it from there. I believe that God only calls on us to do what will be good for us and for others. I also believe that since we have free will, we can have a negative impact, intentionally or unintentionally, on our own good efforts and those of others. For example, with this blog, I can listen to my heart and write about what arouses my passions. I can listen to my head and try to run those feelings and words through a number of lenses and perspectives. Then, I can bring heart and head together to write and let the words go where they may and inspire who they inspire. I cannot control who ultimately sees or hears those words or how anyone interprets or responds to those words. I cannot control if or when those words will have a positive impact on any person. I certainly cannot explain positions or answer questions when those questions are not asked. I can bring heart and head together to know that I am entitled to have my thoughts and opinions, that those thoughts and opinions are valid, and that everyone else is also so entitled. All that said, let us share our first meal together.

Amani,

La Ronda

Dinner Anyone?

For those of you, who do not like reading long posts, I can only say that I will try to have an audio version of these. For those who do not like hearing or reading long posts, I can only suggest tuning in as bedtime reading, a morning devotional, or a waiting in line or commercial break activity. Sometimes I say meaningful things in a sentence or two but rarely. You see, I have come to own who I am and I am not a cocktail party person. I am a dinner party person.

What’s the difference? Cocktail party people are people who go to cocktail parties and observe cocktail party etiquette by speaking only briefly to any person and then moving on. They may speak to that person again during the event but still only briefly. Cocktail parties are about meeting and speaking to as many people as possible and not preventing other people from doing the same. One of the judges I worked for many years ago was an expert at cocktail parties. He would circle around two or three times before I made one round. He did so with grace, never appearing to cut anyone off. And at the end of the event, he would have learned new things, shared new things, and connected with new people and old friends.

I, on the other hand, prefer to learn or share more with one or two people at any one time. Thus, I prefer a dinner party to a cocktail party. It’s not about the food; it’s about the depth of conversation. I also have always been a person who people feel comfortable talking to in depth. This has been true as a pastor, a preacher, a chaplain, a graduate student, an airplane passenger, and even back in elementary school. Sometimes I end up talking to a cocktail person who thinks they’re in dinner party mode and I hear the same thing over and over again. I am getting better at gracefully ending those conversations but it’s a slow process. All this to say three things about my blogs:

1) I write the same way as I socialize. For me, engaging in meaningful discussions usually takes time, even on social media;

2) I hope you will find ways to engage. If you have thoughts on how I can help you do that, let me know. Are there easier formats to access, ways to post, give feedback, etc.? Let me know;

3) I promise to engage as well — to read, think about, and pray about the thoughts you choose to share.

Amani,

La Ronda