Friday, July 20, 2018

The Hitch

There's a phenomenon I've come to refer to as "the hitch." It happens when I'm talking to a friend, often it's a Christian friend, and I start talking from the heart, maybe about something I'm struggling with, or maybe it's about how my views on homosexuality have changed. Suddenly they're not listening anymore. Their head tilts ever so slightly, and I can see the wheels turning, the formulation of a counter argument as to why I shouldn't feel the way I feel or think the way I think, a bible verse at the ready. I get it. I used to be that person, head tilted, ready to take advantage of a God-ordained moment to share "truth." I might even have felt obliged to do so, fearing the person's very soul depended on that moment, their salvation in my hands.

I don't think God works that way. (Did your head just tilt?) I believe I'm called to listen and to love. And I'm so beaten down, I can't take anyone's salvation as my responsibility. But I can be a safe place to share what's truly troubling someone, to love unconditionally even when I disagree with what they're saying. I can nod in agreement with the struggle. I can support the person without interjecting my thoughts or sharing a bible verse. God will have to work out the salvation part.

Because here's the truth: people stop talking when they feel judged, and the hitch is judgment in a nutshell. When I keep my head upright and listen with my mouth shut, I keep the door open to future conversations.

What we all need is people around us who will listen. Just listen. Without judgment. Without the need to share a differing opinion. There's always time for that. Later. And only after a specific request for said opinion, to be shared with care and love.

In the meantime, ditch the hitch.