Opinions Welcome (As Long as they are the Same as Mine)
I don’t usually publically rant. To my glazed-over husband? All the time. With my mother clucking back on the other end of the line? More than is probably healthy. In a public forum where people might actually disagree with me? I totally avoid that whole scene . . . at least I used to.
This past weekend I ran the Hood to Coast relay. It was the 30 year anniversary of the race and everyone had high expectations. What we encountered was less than satisfying. Race directors completely abandoned their 29-year formula, creating a two-day event marked with traffic jams and chaos.
I ran the same race last year, even blogged about it. My memories of that race were fond; captain underpants, men in bras, some European in checkered spandex. This year I ended the race determined to never speak of it again.
At least I thought I was determined.
Hours after returning from the race, Run Oregon posted on Facebook that they were looking for stories from Hood to Coast. I jumped on the opportunity. Sleep deprived and a little jilted I wrote in.
I admit now it was a little snarky despite my effort to bring humor . . . like when I compared the race (known as the “Mother of all Relays”) to Octomom. Any remorse I had, however, disappeared when my post got published on Oregon Live (a live blog connected to the largest newspaper in the state). They even referred to me as a guest blogger. Exciting stuff for a blogger with 9 followers. Suddenly I had the potential for thousands of readers.
Thousands of readers who may not agree with me. Thousands of readers who were one click away from the comment box.
My excitement turned to fear. What if people didn’t like what I wrote? What if they were as snarky as I was? What if they didn’t get the whole Octomom reference?
Having an opinion is always a risk, a risk I don’t often take. I took that risk for once and it wasn’t so bad. There were people whose experience did not match mine, people who thought I was too harsh. Some agreed whole heartedly, others just appreciated the laugh. I watched as the comments streamed in (I was even tweeted for the first time ever), and I saw a beautiful thing happen. As others shared their experiences, brought their opinions, a larger picture came into view. I saw other sides of the race, reasoned out solutions, found hope to replace my dissention.
For 16 years I have followed the Christian faith. I have often struggled with the fear of opinions. The church too often seeks to make everyone agree, to ignore experiences and insights in order to avoid conflict.
Jesus asked for opinions. Who do you say . . . ? What do you want . . . ?
I get that there are fundamentals of the faith, things to not depart from. Yet I wonder if we would understand those fundamentals more deeply if we listened to one another, heard the experiences and opinions of one another, broadened our vision of God through one another. What if we asked each other the same questions that Jesus asked.
Can you imagine the forum created from the single question of Christ to His disciples: Who do you say that I am?
We fear opinions because we fear what will happen if we disagree with one another. Job faced the opinions of his friends . . . he disagreed . . . and found strength in what he knew to be true about God. Paul and Barnabas disagreed on the vision that God had . . . they parted ways and doubled the Kingdom of God . . . each was right in what God had spoken. Martin Luther nailed his thoughts to the door of the church (an early form of blogging) and returned the faith to the fundamentals from which they had strayed.
It makes no sense to fear expressing what we think or feel about God. We may not always be right, but there is power in creating conversation about Him. Opinions and experiences can be life changing if we are willing to learn from them. Even more so when we use them to answer the question: who do you say that He is?