What do we have in common?

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Continuing our deeper discussion on bridge-building is discussing the concept Look for what you have in common. This is pretty self-explanatory, but it’s harder than it looks. It relies, as all parts of bridge-building do, on the last concept about being eager to listen. It’s only as you get the other person to talk that you can find out what you might have in common.

Bridge-building is all about connecting and you can’t connect over what you don’t know, so you have to get good at questions and at getting someone to talk. Show an interest in what they want to talk about even if you aren’t interested. This is where faking it may be required — at least in the beginning.

Chandler and I have spirituality in common, but on entirely different terms. I’ve got to figure out what spirituality is to him and how he wants to talk about it, and if he doesn’t want to talk about it — which is more often the case — I have to figure out how else we can get to what is spiritual to him. Maybe it’s in a song, or a hike, or through photography, or another friend who can verbalize what Chandler can only get at with his emotions. Honestly, I’m still trying to figure this one out, but I do know that if I require him to accept spirituality on my terms, we’re not going to get anywhere. Listen. Listen. Study. Think. Listen.

Pam Mark Hall shared with us how she and her mother ended up in the home of a Mormon when she had to evacuate her home in Oroville for a few days because of the threatened breakdown of the Oroville Dam. There were a number of churches in nearby Chico that opened their homes to evacuees. Did it matter that it was a Mormon church that volunteered, and many of the members opened up their homes to their neighbors? At that point, do you turn it down? No, you accept, and in the process, you find out what you have in common, which Pam said was a lot. I think she even used the words “sweet fellowship.”

Marti still tells the story of how when I was first getting to know her, she had some of her apartment neighbors over and one was an atheist. The discussion had turned tense as some Christians were trying to argue with him, and I stepped in and suggested we start out by finding what we could agree on, and the whole mood changed. Take this approach and you might be surprised to find out people are closer to being believers than you imagined.

Hey … we’re all human. If nothing else, that is always a place to start.

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One Response to What do we have in common?

  1. Sandie says:

    We forget (conveniently maybe?) where we were and who we were when we met Jesus. We forget that there was a person/persons who took the time to find where they could connect with us…who met us where we were and didn’t expect anything of us. It was a long, winding path for me and someone took the time and had the grace to travel it with me…to understand me…kind of like Jesus. You sang it,” Jesus is the only way, but there’s more than one way to Jesus.” That also tells me there’s more than one way to let Him live and work through us. God forbid we would all become clones devoted to living up to some image that has no place in spiritual reality. It’s a tough world out there – tougher than the world we knew in the 70’s when we met Jesus. It’s more raw and unkind; it’s more brash and disrespectful; it’s ‘in-your-face’ violence is being passed on to the next generation of believers. It will take a different breed of believers to stand in it, let alone prevail against it. We old-timers had better listen and learn; otherwise we are old news and obsolete. I learned this the hard way when I began my work with teens – in truth there were times it would be difficult to tell the difference between me and them. But the truth and integrity of the Holy Spirit was always there for those who cared/dared to look below the surface. And the fruit was there…for me and them…always.

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