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So often the world seeks to divide us by appealing to our sense of identity and individualization. For instance, we may identify with our political party, viewpoint, being female, or our style of dress.
This, in and of itself, is not bad per se; it’s when we identify with these things in such a way as to allow these things to rip the fabric of our relationships and community to shreds and tear us apart from each other that a true conflict begins. We are meant to be together in enriching, quality relationships founded on growth, love, and closeness. Apostle Paul in Hebrews 10:24-25 perfectly captures this when he writes: “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
So we must strive for unity in relationships, togetherness in the community founded on peaceful acts, and being each others’ coach—cheering each other on in this thing called life.
But, how do we do strive for all of these things when social media and the news and everything else is pushing us away from each other? When, for whatever reason, we or someone else takes it personal if there is differing opinions or attitudes?
Here are two tips you can put into practice that can bring you closer to a person when you feel a wedge starting to form between yourself and another:
Number 1: Go to your essence.
***Your essence is love. Your essence is not your opinion about the President or whether you agree with capitalism more than socialism. Those are opinions based on external, changeable circumstances. What is internal and unchangeable is love—true, unconditional love does not alter. So, next time you feel yourself becoming heated or offended by someone’s opinion that differs from you or you sense this in another—choose love, compassion, kindness—and let go of any label you identify that seeks to separate you from another.
Number 2: Find commonality.
***Have you ever met someone for the first time and realized you have everything in common with that person? You watch the same shows, are reading the same books, walk every morning outside at 6am, and you think so much alike—it’s as if you share a brain. What does that feel like? An instant bond that makes you feel warm inside and places a smile on your face, right? That’s what tends to happen when we find things in common with each and share these things. So instead of focusing on what separates you from another, focus on what brings the two of you closer and sharing that with the other. Plus, you may get a walking buddy in the process!
There you have it! What’s most important in all of this is to remain calm, collected, kind, and gentle. And if you feel especially triggered by another’s opinion than take a detached, curious view as to why someone may think that way rather then a subjective, emotion-driven view. Remember, we all want to feel loved and we all hurt and suffer.
So why not add to love no matter the circumstance? And in doing so, we not only become everything Jesus envisioned us to be, we also become one with Jesus’ Spirit. That alone makes it all worthwhile!