Opinions are like belly buttons. Or at least that’s the saying I learned growing up. Brandon only recently informed me, accompanied by belts of laughter, he actually heard it phrased another way. Nevertheless, he encouraged me to keep with what I knew. It didn’t take too much thinking to figure out maybe opinions were like something else too. However, allow me to complete the thought.
Opinions are like belly buttons, everyone’s got one.
Another thing I learned growing up is to keep my opinions to myself. It was thought to be impolite to be so opinionated. Just consider the humility of generations before who didn’t want to make anything about themselves. They diverted from being the center of attention. Which included things like avoiding having their picture taken, and waiting for someone to ask their opinion before offering it.
Can you imagine? Keeping our opinions to ourselves? Can you imagine it being considered rude voicing our position?
Today that is quite unimaginable. Our access to so seamlessly express ourselves through our various social media outlets is the cultural norm for individualism. Ironically, the goal of providing an avenue to be more socially connected has provided for a disconnection of humanity. As we make it about us, we make it less about others.
Inward-focused versus outward-focused. Self-focused versus others-focused.
When reading through comments I often wonder, “Would my friend say that to another friend if we were all sitting around the table together? Would they offer their opinion so boldly if it were face-to-face?” We jump on the opportunity to speak our mind without often asking ourselves how it sounds.
What fire are we fueling?
Are we fueling human connection, friendship and kindness? Do we have an outward-focused mindset when we interact with others, whether by text message, email, social media, phone call or physical presence?
Or possibly, are we fueling a fire of division? Are any of our written or verbal contributions sowing seeds of hate?
It’s been a consideration I’ve made during my scrolling, reading, watching and interacting. And it’s a discussion I was able to have with the kids after Brooklyn introduced us all to a song bringing the subject front and center.
Dear Hate written by Maren Morris, Tom Douglas and David Hodges, and performed by Morris herself with Vince Gill, is a beautifully artistic way of delivering truths from Genesis to Revelation into a three and a half minute message.
Here were some of the questions I asked the kids?
- Do you know why the lyrics say, “you were there in the garden, like a snake in the grass?”
Their answer—"yes, that is the devil".
- Do you know why the lyrics say “Dear Hate” addressing hate as a person?
Their answer—yes, because satan, the devil is hate.
- Do you know who she’s singing about when she sings “Dear Love?”
Their answer—"yes, that is God."
- Do you know why the song ends with “Love’s gonna conquer all?”
That one stumped them just a bit. And I was able to remind them of the message of Revelation. That Love, who is God, will conquer death and hades. God, who is love, wins.
This song was released in the aftermath of the Las Vegas shootings. And the horror of hate continues to wreck havoc across our screens. Just this morning after getting the kids off to school, I turned on the news while I ate a quick breakfast.
A random shooting in a Colorado Wal-Mart.
A truck attack on pedestrians in Manhattan.
Our world doesn’t have time to process the effects of such hatred before we are informed of more, before images bombard our screens of the devastation it leaves in it’s wake.
In a world filled with violence and cruelty, where a disregard for human life is a reality we are living, what do we possibly have to contribute individually?
We have the option to weigh out whether our ideas, judgments, views, thoughts and attitudes are imbedded with similar disregard. I don’t know anyone who would literally take a life, but I see people massacre with their words without reserve. I read comments baited with division; comments that are inconsiderate and hurtful and I ask, “Does our opinion really matter that much?”
The answer? No. No, they don’t. In complete transparency, not even the words of this post matter that much.
Inspiration. Joy. Strength. Encouragement.
Those are the qualities I hope to leave behind. Of course I’m not going to agree with anything-that-goes. Of course I have opinions, thoughts, ideas and values I hold close and intend to teach my children. And included with those are these two thoughts—
One, try to avoid using the word “hate.” Aim for “I detest” or “I don’t like.” Hate is such a strong word and it comes from the enemy.
Second, you’re opinion isn’t more important than people. Consider others before voicing your thoughts.
I John 4:16 ESV So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. GOD IS LOVE, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
I John 4:20 ESV If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar, for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.