About a month ago I attended a two-day summit on marketing new and social media with editors from popular publications such as Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, National Geographic and others. I sat there taking notes for a few hours before I realized I was the only one taking notes. Wondering what I was missing, I began to scan the room more carefully and noticed that some were taking notes just not on paper. They were taking notes on their smartphones. Times sure have changed, and it brought into focus the generation gap between us. I’m certain, if I asked them, why they preferred taking notes that way as opposed to my way; they would have given me a list, and I would have felt more uncomfortable.
There have been many discussions, among my children, about how I need to step up my game to align with the times. They think their way is better than my way and I resist them as they try to impose it on me whatever it may be. How often do we find ourselves looking crooked at someone who does not do things the way we do them? It is easy to learn something new and then scoff at those who haven’t or just don’t see what we see. It reminds me of a story I heard once about St. Bonaventure and St. Thomas Aquinas. They were both studying at college sharing many of the same classes, but held very different positions on concepts of Theology. They argued all the time over almost everything. Their disputes got so heavy; there is a legend that St. Bonaventure locked St. Aquinas in his basement and wouldn’t let him out until he changed his position and saw things the way he did. Well…as you can imagine it didn’t work, and they both got over it and went on to become saints and doctors of the church held in high esteem today. I like this story because it shows that even when we stoop low in our human weakness we can still be forgiven and become saints.
This story also reminds me of how often I do the same dumb thing when I wrestle with God because I want Him to see things my way. I want him to do things that I want him to do when I want him to do it. Writing this I can hear how immature and ridiculous this sounds and it is, and I know better, yet I still find myself at times in this position. Bonaventure discovered as did I, the Holy Spirit is working through others the same way that it is working with me even if I don’t agree with or even like a person much. It is when we respect the Holy Spirit working in that person in spite of our differences that a bridge can be made leading others to Christ.
Building the bridge takes swallowing our pride and becoming humility. Easier said than done I know because the simple truth is Bridges get stomped on. The word Humility as a noun form of the adjective “humble”; also “humbleness.” Old French, Latin, humilis (lowly, low to the ground” humus (ground, dirt). So humility is associated with dirt and if you are a visual learner, please excuse my graphic use of pictures depicting what you can expect when you become “dirt” in humility.
It doesn’t look very pretty does it? Nor does it look like anything we would want to be a part of right? I guess this is why Jesus sweats blood, but like the scripture says, I tell you the truth unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels–a plentiful harvest of new lives. John 12:24
When we take the focus off of ourselves and onto others in humility accepting the dung without grumbling and wrestling with God, then we can produce the harvest for the Lord. This upcoming Lent I invite you to build bridges of humility with me. It won’t be easy, but if we share our stories and progress along the way we will encourage one another to complete our bridges.
Here is a good article on defusing an argument over a disagreement http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2015/02/11/how-to-defuse-an-argument/