I used to love the Spice Girls. I even had a CD, until I gave it away for free to someone to prove I didn’t like the Spice Girls (because liking them at that point was “uncool”). I immediately regretted doing it, because I did really like them. But, I gave in to what others wanted or expected of me, instead of claiming my own interests without regard to how others would receive me (assuming that if they didn’t accept or share my interests, that they would not accept or befriend me).
Over the years I’ve gotten more comfortable in my own skin…enough to claim my own interests and desires, sometimes with maddening boldness that surprises and sometimes offends others. There are certain things that I know that I do not like, and that I am willing to do my own thing instead of joining others’ in that thing that I do not like. Though it hurts sometimes to be the one in the crowd who is different (especially when that being different earns you various labels, especially as a female), sometimes it is most liberating…not just for me, but for others in the group who may have not wanted to do that thing but who didn’t speak up (for any multitude of reasons).
In my conflict resolution studies I discovered that healthy communication really is the key to positively transforming conflict in ways that benefit everyone involved. When people can be open and honest about what they want, they are able to sit down together, name what they want, and discuss their interests and desires in ways that help depersonalize the issue at hand and lead towards a more collaborative and often creative outcome. If that open communication isn’t there, it’s easier to objectify and demonize the other party.
So much of conflict resolution practices involve facilitating conversations and setting the stage for healthy communication to take place. Yet, it’s still somewhat acceptable in our culture to deny certain persons the space to express their interests and desires. Moreover, those who perhaps grew up in settings where they weren’t allowed the space to freely express themselves are still trapped by those voices who shut them down. I see it in church meetings, in community settings, in friend circles, in family dynamics especially.
I believe each person has value and sacred worth and a voice to be shared and to be heard. I believe that God created us “good” and that we have the capacity to love, to be loved, and to do good. Yet, we shut each other down, we deny others’ a voice and often even shut ourselves down and deny our own voices to be heard.
I wonder what the world would look like if we all could experience the fullness of God’s love in a way that transformed our being together so that we could all fully love one another and all realize our sacred worth. It sounds impossible. Yet, it also sounds a lot like the Kingdom of God. I believe it is possible. More so, I believe God calls us to it, each day. To love one another, to value one another, to share the voice that God has given us, to embody God’s love; to build the Kingdom here on earth. That’s what I really really want.
What are your interests/desires? How do you express them?
How do you limit (or honor) others’ voices?
How do you contribute to co-creating God’s Kingdom here on earth each day?