This year, I found myself very ‘checked in’ during Super Bowl Sunday. I have to admit that normally I am only there for the food and the company. This year was different.
I was a part of a project that filmed a commercial especially for the Super Bowl. However, after jumping through all of their legal department’s hoops, Fox never gave us approval. They also never told us we weren’t approved, they left us without answers. Could it have been because the nature of our topic was controversial?
Did you know a 30 second commercial on Fox during the Super Bowl costs 5 million dollars? That is the price you pay to be in front of over 100 million people. As I watched the Super Bowl this year, I saw many controversial issues being aired. Politics, gun control, men in drag and sexuality to name a few. Our commercial was a pro-life campaign, another controversial topic.
Since then, I have been thinking about moments in life when we disagree with each other over a topic. My husband likes football but he is not necessarily loyal to a particular team. However, if you are a loyal fan of your team and at our house for the Super Bowl, he will cheer (loudly) for the other team just to keep competition heavy in the air surrounding the wings and chips.
There are so many things in life that we can disagree on.
I have begun to keep my eyes and ears open to hear how people handle disagreements. While I was in Starbucks last week, two women were having a deep conversation over marriage decisions. I caught snippets of their conversation and although they didn’t agree, they were able to talk in a very civil way. Not trying to change each other’s mind but listening and sharing respectfully. It made quite an impression on me.
On the contrary, I also hear people arguing about political views, sanctity of life, gun control, vaccines, and so much more on social media, including false eye lashes. Women can scrap over how fluffy or curly lashes should be. Seriously, an anonymous group can go to war and say some hateful things over just about anything.
Would they say the same things face to face?
The focus that I have had over the past couple weeks has led me to ask one specific question.
Can we love someone, even when their views are different than ours?
My first thought was, YES! Of course, we can. But do we?
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.1 Corinthians 13:4-8
In this passage, Paul gives 8 qualities of what love is and 8 qualities of what love is not. As we approach divisive topics in conversation with others, which list are we speaking out of?
I wonder if one of the reasons we don’t always disagree well is because of fear. Fear of different beliefs, fear of being outwitted, or even the fear of someone else being right.
Do we love well when we are in fear?
What I did not hear in the lady’s conversation at Starbucks was fear. Neither was afraid their belief about marriage decisions said anything about them personally or that their personal value was on the line. They each shared their strong opinions and perspective without fear or combat.
How do you love someone when you strongly disagree?
Paul gave us a great picture of love that we can apply in the midst of these types of conversations.
As I have been studying Pauls words over the past couple weeks, I believe there are 4 tools that we can use to help us love and be more like those women at Starbucks.
1. Stay Curious
One way to stay curious is by asking questions. Questions help us learn the ‘WHY’ behind someone’s perspective. One Super Bowl commercial was about gun control. Even if you don’t favor gun control, hearing the ‘why’ of the mother who lost her son to gun violence ignites empathy that helps us understand why she is so passionate. Stay curious about someone’s perspective by asking questions.
When you look them in the eye, you are listening. Let them talk, don’t interrupt. Allow them to finish their point. Instead of searching for evidence that contradicts their point of view, simply listen and hear what they have to say and try to put yourself in their shoes.
3. Find Common Ground
If you catch yourself entering a conversation with someone that has opposing views, look for common ground. Let’s say the conversation is about politics. We can both agree that we care about the direction the country is going. When you dig deeper, you can always find a point where both of you agree. Look for those places, highlight them and build your relationship from there.
4. Evict Fear, Invite Love
If we evict fear from our minds during conversations, texts or social media responses, we are able to be curious, listen and find common ground. When we invite love into the disagreement, we honor and respect each other. Remember, the person in front of you is made in the image of God. They are far more than their stance on a particular topic.
Love never fails.