Why I Am A Fence-Sitter

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priefert-ponderosa-fence-3I struggle today to articulate all the emotions coursing through my veins today for I am a fence sitter. I straddle many worlds of opinions, never firmly landing my feet in any one camp solidly. With all this political rhetoric flying around I feel like it’s my duty to decide on a camp. With theology strongholds being wielded at each other like deadly weapons I just want to duck and leave the game and declare officially, “If this is Christianity, count me out.”

I struggle as I watch the marching women waving signs that say “Love Trumps hate” because I agree, can’t imagine why we all don’t agree and why all camps aren’t walking together. I struggle as I read Facebook posts like this: (this gets graphic so read on knowing you’ve been warned!) “I just heard an interview with a Christian missionary who was at the inauguration. She said that she believed Trump would help our country return to Christian values. Could someone please explain how she might think this? Please. ‘Cuz last time I checked, grabbing pussy was not a Christian value.” This, of course, spawned a lot of logical and rational responses pitting “those that love and accept” against those that don’t (Christians) – these were their words but clearly, Jesus is not being represented as who He is to many onlookers if their conclusions based on a missionary lead them further from Christ. And honestly, this missionaries comment led me further from Christianity too (but I cling to Christ). Perhaps this missionaries comment led Christ further from Christianity.

Because when I read in Matthew: This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ and in 1 Corinthians it elevates love to it’s rightful status on top: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” I struggle because if this is how we are to live and breathe and interact with humanity than why all these divided camps?  God really does have great stuff to share with the people of this planet but we are getting in the way and the message is getting distorted and some of us camp cheerleaders are unintentionally preventing the message from being able to change lives like it can so powerfully do. 

I straddle both camps because I want to live a life that lives to glorify God and not myself, that lives to love with open arms whoever you are and whatever you believe, that cares about this planet and how we treat it but also cares about the lesbians that live down the street.   How could the same God that created this planet and created each human life not want us to care about and advocate for these things which he brought forth? (But to believe this keeps me up on my fence).

By choosing to take strong stands in our camps we are missing the point – relationship with each person that crosses our path, genuine conversations, kindness, love, and even acceptance are what matters.  We are so sure we are right (no matter what camp we are in) that we are killing relationships before they can start. We talk to each other to persuade and teach. What ever happened to talking with each other to listen and learn? I can truly learn a new truth, a new perspective, and a new insight from people in all sorts of camps (but learning doesn’t happen if I am talking).

By spouting our strong opinions (such as crazy notions that Republican = Christian or belief in global warming is somehow anti-Christian) we are losing our neighbors because they (and sometimes rightly so) think we are just crazy. We don’t listen well. Because we think we “know” we don’t need to listen. Because we don’t listen we don’t gain friends with anyone but those who think just like us. This way of living makes for deeper trenches between the camps. Bridges burned. Motes with flesh-eating piranhas dividing us.

This week has been hard. It gets a little uncomfortable with two feet dangling on either side of the fence. Conversations so quickly get heated as people from each side spew their rhetoric. From my vantage point, I am staying right where I am because it allows me to have friends from all walks of life, beliefs, and perspectives. I am blessed to have rich conversations with all sorts of people because hopefully, they are feeling safe and not judged to think the way they do. And their ideas add depth to my ever-forming ones. It allows me to love and enjoy people, listen and learn versus converse to try to teach my “obviously correct” position, and hopefully, in the end, shine a little Jesus.

My only belief right now that I can say I know for sure is this: the older I get the more I realize how little I know.

And this belief keeps my ever-ready-to-learn-and-grow-spirit content on my perch on the fence.

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4 thoughts on “Why I Am A Fence-Sitter

    Diane said:
    January 22, 2017 at 1:40 am

    This is an incredible piece. While I too believe that these rallies are serving no one nor are they uplifting God, I also believe that we need to get involved. I would like to see OBAMA care fixed. I am going to try to get involved in that issue. But I will do it with respect for others.

      oneillauthor responded:
      January 22, 2017 at 4:10 am

      I am not writing this to speak against the rallies. They are promoting love and equality for so many of the groups that have been taking a beating in the political scene. But people on all sides of these issues are so strongly opinionated that the simple act of listening to each other and learning is getting lost. I want to hold on to my opinions loosely so that I am able to keep growing, stay in conversation with people, and not create walls. As Madeline L’Engle poignantly said, “I do not think that I will ever reach a stage when I will say, “This is what I believe. Finished.” What I believe is alive … and open to growth”.

    Timothy Klinkenberg said:
    January 22, 2017 at 3:17 am

    AS Jesus said on the cross “God forgive them for they know not what they do”.

      oneillauthor responded:
      January 22, 2017 at 4:14 am

      Jesus did say it best!

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