Like many “Millennials” out there I have experienced a significant shift in how I view my own spirituality. Unlike many “Millennials” out there, however, I have this nagging voice prompting me to work toward the art of building bridges. What I mean by that is that I don’t want to throw up the middle finger and say “peace out!” to those who inhabit the churches, schools, and theological camps I have experienced a shift away from.
It sounds so “butterflies and unicorns” to say that I want to build bridges. Truthfully it is often annoying as hell. I usually end up being stuck between a dogmatically non-dogmatic progressive and a dogmatically conservative Evangelical. While the two pieces of “land” I am trying to build a bridge upon duke it out, I often find myself encouraging civil discourse to no avail.
Honestly, it’s not our fault. Where have we been given a better example to draw from? Politics? Popular Christian Leaders? The truth is, we have been told over and over again that if you don’t stand your ground you are essentially forsaking Christ Himself. And standing our ground, we are told, means proving the haters wrong. It doesn’t really involve listening to one another or seeking friendship and unity above all else. (For those of you who like Scripture references, try this one out for size…) So what is a poor bridge builder to do with two uncooperative islands? A bit melodramatic, I know.
A few like-minded folks have worked hard to put together a list of guiding principles when engaging someone in Dignified Dialogue, a conversation (Most often when you disagree about significant issues) where maintaining mutual dignity is of utmost importance as opposed to “winning” the argument. I will leave you with this list. May we all (myself included) learn to keep these in mind the next time we are faced with the opportunity to build a bridge rather than further isolate each other.
- Please remember each person sharing here is a Child of God, uniquely made in God’s Image. Treat each other accordingly.
- We are all in different places in our faith & life, so please don’t judge, try to fix, give unsolicited advice, or scripturize. It never helps.
- Stick with our own opinions & story by using “i” statements instead of generalizations.
- Be kind & listen. There’s a lot we can learn from each other in different ways.