At the beginning of the year I started following a new political account on Instagram. Her name is Sharon McMahon, and she is a former government teacher who spends her days sharing the facts with her almost 600k followers. I’ve learned more from her in the past four months about government than I did in the previous 35 years of my life. But this post isn’t about government, politics, or even current events – it’s about a concept she keeps coming back to that we need more of in our lives.
I’ve always thought that comment boxes on the internet are the absolute worst places. Read an article you love then look at the comments to see tons of people agree with you – and you won’t find them. Just hatred thrown at the author, anyone who agrees with the author, and anyone who might remotely look like, believe the same, or read the article. It’s where we’re our worst selves.
It’s common knowledge (or used to be) that we don’t discuss politics and religion with strangers, family members, first dates, or anyone really. I don’t think that actually helps us though. We need to figure out how to have healthy conversations around these topics because they are important. Conversations that have both sides leaving with their dignity in place!
Most people would consider themselves excellent listeners. In my experience that’s not always the case. I find myself saying “I’m not sure you heard what I meant, let me try again” pretty frequently. I also find myself saying, “Did you mean ….?” a lot. It’s not just about intention, it’s about connection. How are we connecting to one another in the midst of our conversation?
Culture is made from conversations. How we relate to others happens through conversations. What if we completely changed the way we spoke to one another? Do you think we could transform the culture? I do! Let’s start transforming conversations!!
Whether we’re bad with names or good with names, it’s important to know that names matter. How can we be called a family is we don’t even know each other’s names? If I didn’t know my siblings or first cousins names, would you consider me part of that family? Yet, most of us don’t know the names of the people in our parish families!
People dislike ‘evangelization’ because they think it’s taking your soapbox to the corner, getting on it, and shouting some truth. But the real work of evangelization happens in the every day conversations, in the times when those around us show us their wounds and ask us to walk with them as they heal.