When we think of love, we often imagine our own interpretation of what love is. This often reflects not only our love languages but our orientational identities as well. This means that if a man is attracted to women, his understanding of how love is fulfilled and lived out will include another woman and vice versa for different people. Given the experience of love that is unique to one person versus another, there has historically and today been a disconnect on how to interact with those who don’t love the same way others do.
Somewhere along the line of the privilege to love one another, we added in our own *unless they live differently than I.* This rings true to Christians and non-Christians alike. The opportunity to love has become less about loving thy neighbor and more about severing intimate or deep connections with those who don’t believe the same things as them. While this isn’t the case for every single person, it happens often enough that it must be addressed. How does a Christian coexist with those that live differently than they? How does a gay or trans person coexist with those that could never comprehend their lifestyle? The coin has two sides and the goal of the outcome is that neither side is viewed as inferior to the other.
The most common reason for discomfort around those that don’t believe in the same things or live the same way as others are not understanding that experience for themselves. Each person has their own way about life and experiences and the way in which they interpret events happening around them. For one person’s perspective to be good and make sense to them does not mean that another person will feel and respond the exact same way, though it is common that one usually expects another to comprehend things similarly. The reality, however, is that each person’s beliefs, worldview, and interpretation are unique to them. Because of this, I propose some self-reflection upon interacting with those with who we may not see eye to eye with.
First, it is of utmost importance that we take a moment to think of our experience, whether that be negative or positive, and how it has shaped the ideas we hold personally about a worldview someone is sharing or putting on display. Jumping to conclusions and reacting in defense or anger is one of the easiest things to do in this life and taking a moment to listen to what someone else is saying and removing our own involvement to hear there’s makes any interaction that much more informative. Second, consider your education and environmental influence. Say you have one person who was raised to be very open-minded and actively listen to the voices of others while the person they are speaking to grew up in an environment that displayed only black and white thinking. Assuming another person learned the same way as you are a dangerous place to begin any conversation; instead, consider your personal learned experiences and upbringing and remember that someone else’s has a very low chance of being the same as yours. Lastly, I want to welcome the intimidating task of unlearning.
This word does not mean to dispose of everything you have ever learned and start new, nor does it mean that what you have learned thus far is of no value. Your beliefs and stance matter. It has shaped who you are today and how you approach day-to-day situations as well as your character. What it does mean is that when one is presented with new information, it is ok to add that information to what was already known and wrestle with that new information and how it may possibly modify what was previously recognized. Simply put, let’s normalize changing our minds when given new information or observations.
Living in North Idaho sits differently with every person you ask. There’s much to do and lots to be seen. North Idaho has been a quiet and conservative home to many for years and years. As anyone can see, this is no longer the case. The once small towns keep growing as traffic continues to get busier each day while another new business opens on the corner with every new month. With the growth of people also comes a larger presence of queer folk. Unsettling to some who have come to value the conservative nature of North Idaho, people exist in all forms and it is of great hope I want that to be celebrated instead of harmed. What I leave you with today is a simple encouragement to consider your experience next to another’s. To the trans person who is angry the church exists, the Christian who holds contempt against others in secrecy, the parents who pray it never happens to their child, and the radical still questioning why any of it matters, it is not always up to us to understand, but it is up to us to love others well.
About Morgen Buck:
Passionate about creative writing, Morgen plans to speak to the topics she cares most about including mental health, human rights, advocacy, and person-to-person connection.
Morgen's hope with volunteering with the NIPA is that the bridge that divides people can be diminished through creating safe spaces for people to ask questions and challenge their thinking as well as encouraging new connections and relationships.