Kraig and my family backgrounds are similar in many ways, not the least of which is a family love of loud, intense discussions. Other people might translate these as arguments, but really, they are healthy debates...sometimes they're not even debates because everyone is "arguing" on the same side. These discussions typically take place over the table, so we combine good food with a good talk. Body and soul are fed as a result.
When rubber meets the road, all of the siblings, spouses, and parents in each of our families (fifteen total) agree on the fundamentals. Our core beliefs are the same, and unshakable. But there is no doubt that these core values have played out differently in all of our lives, especially as we have grown older and the paths God has taken us down have varied. Inevitable. And so, inevitably, some of the discussions really are arguments as we wrangle about different takes on how we should be living out our lives as followers of Jesus Christ.
In the past few weeks Kraig and I have had a couple of these arguments (not new topics, by the way) with two of his brothers and to a certain extent, their wives. I could wax eloquently on the topics and get very passionate and/or hot-headed, but the topics aren't my point. My point, and what amazes me every time, is that even though we do hotly debate these issues we come out in the end still being family that loves each other. The topic eventually gets interrupted by something else, and life goes on and we laugh and talk and live and love.
When Kraig's oldest brother and family were here the other week we had a good ol' hash out of one of these topics probably for an hour or so. We didn't exhaust it by any means (though I felt I expressed myself quite well, thank you very much :) ), but finally the talk was side-railed by something or other, and we never got back to it, but life went on merrily from there and we had a great week together. Just today we had another discussion (different brother, different topic). This is an issue that Kraig and this brother have bantered time and time again, and neither has shifted in his view. For that matter, I agree with Kraig and my sis-in-law agrees with her hubby, and we haven't changed our opinions either. Believe it or not, we're also close friends and I'd trust her with anything. We get into the debate a bit as well, but it does get hot and I find I have to step back at times or my ego gets a little fried. Now of course Kraig and my view is the right one--absolutely--but we are willing to listen the other side. Well, maybe. Actually, the reality is we are each listening to the other side, but at this point in time, for whatever reason, neither side will agree.
I suppose some would consider this a tragedy, and that if we were truly loving and (dare I use the word) tolerant of each other, we would all agree on everything. But I don't see it that way. If we were just being self-centered and wanting to ram our point home, then yes, that would be a problem. But I don't think this is simply family bull-headedness (though we all have plenty of that); I really think it is also a healthy expression of who we are in Christ. We are different parts of one Body, and he is using each of us where we are to interact the most effectively with the people in our lives. If we all sang the same tune, we would only have one audience....
So yeah, sometimes we bruise each others egos in our efforts to pound our viewpoint home. Those are the times when we either have to apologize, or, if we have been the one bruised, get over it. I sometimes have to remind myself that my family whom I dearly love still loves me even when they're arguing with me. In fact, sometimes we are arguing so fiercely because the topic is one we do feel is vital to the health and well-being of the ones we love, and if they don't agree with us, they aren't enjoying all that God has planned for them. And that would be a tragedy, so they'd better listen! LOL! Oh, the joys of family! Oh, the wonder of the Body!
I wonder if we'll still have debates in heaven....