Sunday, February 19, 2006

Babies, Bath Water and Those Drains

"Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry..." ... James 1:19

It's funny-sad... You mention certain well-known people, ones who have their own talk shows, tv ministries, radio programs or those who write controversial books or newspaper columns and so often certain people bristle and exclaim, "Oh, I never listen to that person! He/she believes _________ and I totally disagree, so I stopped listening to him/her years ago."

And whenever people say something like that to me, or I read it online, immediately a picture flashes through my mind: I see babies spinning down bathtub drains. You know, because of that old saying, "Don't throw out the baby with the bath water."

I guess I'm sensitive to that attitude because I used to be the same way, always holding my ten-foot pole up to anyone I disagreed with and avoiding their words like proverbial plagues. And now when I look back, I see that fear was involved. Fear that untruths would tackle me and make me believe in them, even against my will. Fear that gullibility would cause me to eat up and devour any little tasty, foreign morsel... and doom me forever.

And well, let me say here that there are still things, teachings, I avoid even to this day, namely, anything I perceive as being contrary to the Bible. I'm not talking about opening myself up to that which is, hands down, evil or anti-God.

No. But what I'm saying is that these past few years I have loosened up. I've begun listening to people who I don't agree with 100%, people from way different backgrounds and thought--and I have grown. I've discovered that every person has something to say, something to teach, even if it's as basic as, "Don't do what I have done. Don't let this happen to you."

But usually, the lessons are much greater, much more varied and I come away glad that I'm no longer filtering what I hear by a sort of fear factor. I'm no longer turning the tv channel just because a friend told me that she can't stand that person... I'm no longer avoiding that tv ministry or that newspaper column just because a group of people or a blogger told me that the celebrity said or did _________ (fill in the blank).

No, because again, every person has something to teach me. All people have experiences which I can learn from. Every person has bits and pieces of wisdom just waiting for the taking--and perhaps they are bits and pieces I would gain no other way. Maybe God places these sometimes controversial people/movies/books in my path at just the perfect moments and then stands back to watch what I do with them. Will I look past my prejudices, judgments and handed-down ideas and learn something new? Will I listen long enough to actually come to care about that person or group and then pray for them out of compassion?

Perfect love casts out all fear... And I'm finding the less I fear the differences in others and their beliefs, the more I am growing as a person because of the lessons each of us are placed here upon Earth to teach.

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