On being uncomfortable on purpose this new year...
Awkward silences make us feel clammy and unsure of ourselves, they make us feel embarrassed and out of sync. Moving to a new school, a new job, a new town, state or country can make us feel timid and out of sorts, everything is new, everything is changed, nothing is in place as it should be, nothing is as we expect. Chronic pain can make us feel squirmy, unsure of our own skin, out of place in our own bodies, something is not working right, some part is off, some system is on the fritz.
Doing new things, stretching our familiar areas of normalcy can be very demanding. Taking dancing lessons, public speaking, trying new food, cooking for guests for the first time, looking toward a totally new career. Perhaps going back to school for the first time in years.
It is with a new year in mind that I am encouraged, and I hope you, the reader, will be to, to try things that stretch you. It's easy to be comfortable and I have one specific area in mind. Stretch your spiritual truths. I'm not advocating abandoning orthodox beliefs, and I'm not encouraging heresy by any means. What I am encouraging is learning from books you wouldn't normally read, listening to speakers you wouldn't normally tune into and engaging in conversation with people from different backgrounds and beliefs.
I worked at a restaurant many years ago and got to meet the coolest, nicest guy I've met in a long time. He was in the military and liked a lot of the same music I did, we talked about a lot of things. He was a very cool Mormon. Did we talk about religion? Yes, but not all the time. We talked about Jesus, and we talked about his family and mine, and we also discussed Nirvana and Pearl Jam. I didn't convert him but I shared the gospel with him over a period of time. I also got to learn a little bit about Mormonism but not a lot because he didn't force it down my throat.
I've talked with people who grew up in conservative Christian homes who are now simply, “spiritual but not religious” and I've known Buddhists who used to be ministers in Evangelical churches. I've known Catholics and Evangelicals who share a lot of close views with me but also hold some that I most certainly do not.
One way to approach differences is to be ok with being uncomfortable. When we get uncomfortable our instinct is to numb it, run away, throw it out, ignore it or run away from it. Read a book you disagree with, invite a person from a different background to your home, listen to a different perspective with an open mind and an open heart. You might be surprised what you learn about yourself.