Freedom in Christ. This little idea has been flitting through my mind on a regular basis for a while now, and has significantly shaped my view of life and faith.
I have developed over time into "that girl" who avoids talking about politics with almost everyone and refrains from offering many opinions on controversial subjects, even feeling guilty and anxious when offering unasked-for advice or opinions. I have always been a "people-pleaser" to an extent but was not always this cautious about putting my ideas out into the world.
Could it be that I have been burned by others who give me advice or a long list of do's and don'ts without delicacy? Have I been burned by times that I have done so with good intentions and been hurt by the response? Maybe a little bit, but I think the real reason I hesitate these days is actually based in the knowledge that as Christians we are free to follow where the Spirit is leading us through His word and through the advice of godly men and women around us.
I have some very strong opinions about a variety of topics, including religion and faith, politics, parenting, social justice and how the church should interact with the poor, marriage and sexuality, and assorted other categories. My lack of desire to share many of these opinions stems in part from my belief that while there are definitely areas of black and white (for example, saving faith in Christ as the only way to salvation, the sin of abortion and the clear statements in Scripture about the inability to be a long-term homosexual Christian), there are many areas that fall between the lines, and there are many things that are black and white that receive an overabundance of attention from the Christian community while other equally evil sins go unnoticed and undiscussed.
I also know the proclivity of my own heart toward sin, idolatry, and legalism. I know how easy it is to allow my opinion on those very issues to dictate how I respond to others, when the ruler of my life should not be my opinion on this or that, but the King of Kings, who longs to gather His children to Himself through my representation of His love, justice, and mercy. He is the judge, but what a merciful judge He is, to have stepped down to earth and taken the death penalty in my place.
When I think of all that I have and all that I shouldn't have, the crucial issues of life are made clear. How is what I say and do bringing fame and glory to a Christ who said "the first shall be last and the last shall be first"? How are my actions imitating the Lord who "did not count equality with God something to be grasped but made himself nothing, taking the nature of a servant"?
Is trying to convince other moms that one way is right in diapering, feeding, sleeping the best way to do that? Or is it better to come alongside, show by example, answer questions graciously when asked, and living "in peace as far as I am able"?
I do, however, find great value in discussing, seeking to understand and be understood, and learning about the very loved ones God has placed in my life. Mutual respect and understanding are foundational for me to have any conversation or dialogue about differing opinions - and I think this is one major reason I avoid these topics on facebook (and avoid twitter altogether). After thinking about it for some time, I decided that a blog is a much more comfortable arena for me to "think aloud," because it allows for more space, is easier to track back to older posts, and is typically not a space where friends of friends of friends are likely to chime in without discretion (i.e., leave a one-line derogatory comment). Therefore, I plan on giving voice to a few of my more thought out ideas in the next few posts if I get a chance, but this post was the most important one for me, to lay the groundwork for my thoughts on how, given such freedom in Christ as to follow where the Spirit leads each of us, I can strive to find value in the opinions of others, regardless of what Jesse and I find best for our own family. Some topics that are pushing around in my head: the recent campaign and upcoming elections, hospital births, homemaking vs working outside the home as a mom of young kids, money, vaccinations, and food. I may or may not get to all of these, but every time I sit down to write, I want to move into a deeper topic than just what is going on in my mundane life. I'm seeking an outlet for the things I am thinking and learning about, and have felt so hesitant to put myself out there in that way, because I don't want others who disagree with my thoughts to feel judged, angry, or hurt - and I don't particularly enjoy feeling that way either. So, keeping the freedom I have found in Christ at the forefront, I charge ahead, hoping that others will offer me the same grace and love I hope to offer as well.