How Can We Stay Close If We Don’t Communicate?

Should We Always Avoid Confrontation?

Are we retreating deeper into our separate corners instead of staying in common, open spaces? 

(But I’m not talking about social-distancing! Please social distance. I’m talking about communication-distancing.)

Are we losing communication with people who don’t think like us?

I find myself sometimes shutting out the opposition altogether. If someone frustrates me on Facebook or constantly believes the “wrong” thing on Twitter, I mute them or temporarily snooze them for 30 days (I highly recommend this feature on FB). 

And maybe that’s okay. It’s just social media, after all. I need to protect my mental and spiritual health, as well as my relationships. Sometimes stepping away from the chaos is the right thing to do.

But should I avoid all confrontation in real life, too?

Don’t Stay Too Far Apart

When we rub against each other in person (not literally of course; this is 2020), our opinions can provoke harsh thoughts from others, or worse, harsh words.

But should we shut it all down? Stop talking about things if we disagree?

If we can’t talk to each other, hash it out, even get noisy about it when we’re too exasperated for anything else (Lord, forgive us), what’s left?

How can we come back together if we stay so far apart?

I like staying in my bubble. It’s comfortable there. No conflict. No disagreements. No ugly-stirrings-inside-me that I have to calm down.

But my bubble is small. And the world is large.

If we’re to love the world, we have to puncture our bubbles and go into the world.

  • Red and blue. Together.
  • Black and white. Together.
  • Christian and Muslim and Atheist and Hindu and Jewish. Together.

And if we’re to tell the world about the love of God, we have to be the love of God.

Let’s not run away from the people we disagree with.

Let’s keep each other’s best interests at heart. Learn to talk to each other again, trust each other again, and love each other again.

It’s what we’re made to do. It’s who we are. It’s who I want to be.

*   ~  *  ~  *  ~  *

Still in the Same Family

In Eugene Peterson’s short devotional, A Month of Sundays, he talks about the two brothers in the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Peterson points out that when the older son talks to his father, he refers to his younger brother as “This son of yours,” instead of “this brother of mine.”

  • The older brother “would not associate with anyone who had behaved so badly.” (Is this me?)
  • “He would not be tainted by any kinship with a prodigal. (Is this me?)
  • “The prodigal was his father’s son but not his brother’s brother.” (Is this me?)

“But when he denied brotherhood, he also forfeited sonship.”

Please don’t let this be me. I don’t want to forfeit my sonship because I deny my brotherhood.

Remember we are still members of the same family. We still have the same Father.

We are still brothers and sisters. Let’s not give up on each other.

Let’s linger together a little longer.

Are you struggling, too, with people on the “other side”? Share how you’re coping.

Article by David Brooks:

My thanks to Net Galley + WaterBrook
& Multnomah for A Month of Sundays

11 thoughts on “How Can We Stay Close If We Don’t Communicate?

  1. Martha Jane Orlando

    Lisa, I remind myself often that we are all God’s children, and that we should treat one another with respect and dignity. I do wish things weren’t so polarized right now, but with God’s help, we can recover and truly be one nation under God.

  2. Theresa Boedeker

    It’s helpful for me to remind myself we are all different. Have different opinions. Are at different places in life and in our growth process. And God loves us all. I won’t convince someone of anything or even have a conversation with them if I don’t first have a relationship with them. If we don’t respect each other and listen to each other.

  3. Laurie

    So funny…we were just talking about this topic yesterday at book club (on Zoom). I have muted voices on FB too – some I agree with and some I don’t – if they promote hate or ridicule others. Bill and I have a group of 4 other couples we have been friends with for at least 40 years. The 4 other couples have a different political affiliation than we do, but for some reason, it doesn’t cause a rift in our relationships. We can even joke about politics. W do all have the same Father. Let us promote love, not hate or division.

  4. Anita Ojeda

    It’s so important that we don’t get entrenched in our bubbles. I’m having to work just as hard at this (not writing off people who think differently) as I do at filtering my words to make sure I don’t offend or through my white privilege around. That pesky privilege shows up in all. the. places.

  5. Lynn D. Morrissey

    Thank you for wise words, deep insights as usual. I so appreciate you, Lisa, and your perspective. You always make me think. I have some friends who are not Christians, and I greatly appreciate their compassion and humanity. I appreciate that they feel I’ve “earned the right,” if you will, to speak to them from a Christian perspective. While at this juncture, they don’t agree, I can’t tell you how happy I am that they have listened. I love them, and thank God they are in my life.

    I think you will appreciate this essay by Jerome Daley. I’d never heard of a “mandorla” before but I think it applies to what you are saying. And I love almonds! I also love his book, SoulSpace.

    Wishing you and yours a very blessed Thanksgiving. I remain thankful to and for you!

  6. Barbara Harper

    This is such a hard thing to balance. I’ve “muted” some people, too–not so much the ones I have some disagreement with, but the ones who rant about their views every day. But as a country, it seems we have forgotten how to disagree civilly. We need to relearn before the country is torn apart.

    There’s even some political disagreement within our own family, and every family gathering I try to pray that we’ll all remember that we have stronger and deeper connections than political affiliations.

  7. A spirit of simplicity

    My family is split politically. I’m certainly not going to “block” them from my life. I just choose to avoid certain topics of conversation. I love my mum for who she is even though I don’t agree with her political views. As for those who are not in my immediate family I stop and ask myself what the goal of a communication or conversation is. If there is disagreement then it’s important to understand what the disagreement is about. Sometimes we can look beyond the differences and other times we have to walk away from certain people.

  8. Mary Geisen

    This is very convicting. I am the person who snoozes others but I do it out of self-protection. You have just challenged me to step out of my bubble in order to communicate and learn from those I disagree with.

  9. Jean Wise

    Yes I confess I have stayed away from a few people due to the heated political scene. I have two very vocal friends that I wasn’t sure how to handle so distance with the excuse of covid has helped keep peace. Yet you remind me and challenge me to be mindful of rebuilding that bridge as covid hopefully fades with a vaccine and time with friends become a possibility once again. I feel hope!!

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