In an email a few weeks back, a dear friend of mine referred to "the issues that are tearing America apart." The issues she was referring to, abortion and same sex marriage, are the hot button topics of today, as well as a particular struggle in my friendship with this wonderful lady.
And before you sink into fight-or-flight mode: I won't be discussing either of those topics today. You're welcome.
But that term she used: the issues tearing America apart. It stuck with me, bothered me like a fly buzzing about my ear. I'll admit: initially I was offended because, as much as I love her, she and I have different views on those two subjects and I thought maybe she was blaming me for personally tearing America apart. But after re-reading her words and praying about it, I realized that was probably not what she meant. Relief! I could let it go.
Nope. Could. not. let. it. go. (Confession: I'm a little obsessive when it comes to these types of conversations.)
Finally I decided to stop being annoyed and start actively figuring it out. Time to ponder those words, to sit down and have a chat with the buzzing fly, as it were. I turned the words over in my head, intentionally testing theories and trying to determine exactly what about that phrase was such a nuisance to me. I had very little luck and was in fact becoming even more annoyed with the whole thing. Hey, just because I'm obsessive doesn't mean I enjoy it.
Funny how I find so many of my own answers in the lessons I teach my kids. (Also somewhat humbling that I can't just be a big girl and "durn thunk it up" on my own.) As I was mulling all this over, the girls got into a death match over possession of some toy. I don't even remember what the toy was. All I remember was saying, in a voice chock-full of exasperation, "There should be no thing that comes between you! NO! THING!"
And there it was. No THING can "come" between us, or "tear" us apart. Things are inanimate and can't move on their own. Issues, ideas, ideals: these are all things. They behave as we treat them and they go where they're told. If I decide to pick up the issue of abortion and put it between me and a loved one, it isn't abortion that's tearing us apart.
That's a pretty tough pill to swallow for a passionate and moderately political gal like me. I'm one of the ones creating this mess? Harrumph. Even though my friend probably didn't mean it that way, it turns she was halfway right. I am tearing America apart by putting the issues between us.
The next obvious question becomes: What should I put between myself and others instead of "issues" and pride and sarcasm and know-it-all-ness? (Lord knows if you take something away you've got to put something in its place, right?)
So far I can only come up with one worthwhile answer:
Love. Love is the only thing that belongs between 2 human beings. And you and I? We're the only ones who can put it there.
You can find Part 2 here.