I still explore my beliefs on the subject and take a position, but for the sake of a fruitful debate, my heart wants to find the point where we all agree. If I manage to find it, I try to view both points from the perspective of the common point. Sometimes, I'll even go to the point of explaining both points from that common perspective in the hopes that both sides will experience empathy toward each other. In my best-case-scenario, we would end up with a win-win situation, where each person can edify the other's beliefs, or even reach a comprimise.
Too often, debates don't ever reach this point. It breaks my heart when this happens, especially when debates end so badly that grudges are held. Recently, I've been disappointed by the result of debates more often than not.
Like many of my other gut instincts, I've experienced this need to find common ground for many years, but I haven't been able to define it. A few days ago, a large aspect of this was defined for me.
I've said it before, but I'll say it again. I am extremely lucky to be brought up the way I was. My parents were and are strong Christians, and they raised my brother and I to always learn and grow in all aspects of our life. Right now, I can see 2 major benefits of my upbringing.
First, I seem to have pretty good instincts. Because of the principals that were ingrained into me by my parents, and because of the relationship with the Holy Spirit that I was taught to nurture, I have learned to be confident in these instincts. I don't say this to brag, especially because this isn't anything I created in myself, or through any of my own efforts. But I've noticed that when I instinctively know what is right and wrong, and when I pray through the journey of acting on these instincts, they take me somewhere better than where I was. It helps me to trust that I'm on the right track, even when I can't see all of the road signs
Second, I'm not alone in my identity as a Dawson. I have an older brother who is a lot like me. We have different jobs and different hobbies, but we have this amazing connection. When we sit in a room and discuss something we're both interested in, I feel this synergy. We have the same principals and the same moral code, so similar that I haven't experienced this close a connection with anyone else, and we have the same way of wondering about the unknowns in our world.
Since I'm the younger brother, he always operated at a maturity level higher than mine. Of course, this gap gets smaller as we get older, but the differences between us have also become more defined. He went to college for a ministry degree, studying scripture and doctrines to get to the root of the issues of faith we all struggle with. He will admit before anyone that he doesn't have it all figured out, but he has this vocabulary, this way of expressing himself that exceeds anything I have within me.
A few days ago, he defined some of my instincts in one of his own posts. He defined our sense of wonder in the world. He defined this ingrained desire to explore the unknown, to find answers, to see the world through new eyes. He defined what I feel when I explore, whether it's a mountain trail or a political road fraught with potholes.
This wonder is an amazing part of my character that The Creator set up in me, and that my parents brought out in me. I've learned that this is why my heart breaks when people refuse to look at the world through someone else's eyes, or chooses to assert their opinions instead of asking questions of others. I want my sense of wonder to rub off on someone, the way it was rubbed off on me. I want people to experience the childlike joy found in a spirit of curiosity.
I'll leave you with a quote from my brother's post, which sums up my thoughts better than I ever could:
"Jesus said something I've not been able to get out of my head for a few years now: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:3). I don't think "become like little children" means going back to a day when someone else zips your jacket and wipes your nose. I think Jesus has something else in mind. When I look at [my daughter], I see so many things I've lost as I've grown up. Now, I can't help but think as I watch her everyday: What if reclaiming our childlike wonder is the true foundation of life under Christ?"
Always moving forward,
P.S.: The full blog post referenced today can be found at http://aaroniswondering.blogspot.com/2013/04/introduction-big-blue-chairs.html