Thursday / August 11 / 2011
[Guest Post] What nature can teach us about lines in the sand
Today’s guest post comes to us from my husband Skip Smaldone. Skip is a musician, alcohol and substance abuse counselor, church music director, and literary enthusiast. He bills himself as generally restless, a pun master, die-hard New York Jets fan — oh, and Zack’s hot dog addict (a fave in upstate NY).
When I was a child, we vacationed on the beaches of Florida every year. One of the things I most looked forward to was playing in the sand, building elaborate castles and writing messages. You see the problem, of course. The tide would come and swallow up my handiwork and erase my clever messages.
Over the years of navigating life and relationships, I’ve come to give my own lines in the sand a lot less credence. In my younger days, I drew lines in the sand about things I believed to be true (read: things I knew were ‘dead on right’). I had no reason to listen to other opinions, viewpoints, or philosophies – I had decided.
As I grew older, I began to see (and appreciate) the ebb and flow of life — especially with regards to my personal growth and spirituality. I traded rigid, regimented, and linear for open, growing and changing, and fluid.
Recently Donna posted a three-part series called “When Being Gay Isn’t So Gay”. I loved it. It was a reflection not only of our current viewpoint, but of the long, ongoing erasing of our own lines in the sand. The reactions she received were fascinating, the dialogue vibrant. But it was the reaction of one particular long term friend that caught my interest.
This long term, ‘Christian’ friend wrote to Donna, expounding on how “wrong” and “evil” homosexuality is, being clear that gay people are hellbound unless they repent.
Donna responded with a heartfelt, thought provoking, respectful response, thanking our friend for being honest enough to share her thoughts. But unfortunately, because this friend had drawn a line in the sand, Donna’s response was quickly dismissed.
The rigidity of the line in the sand was compounded in our friend’s closing remarks, which included a promise she would pray for Donna and all unbelievers, who are so clearly deceived by society and Satan.
It’s not so much what this person believes that is the problem. The problem is that her (or anyone’s) line in the sand makes it impossible to hear anyone with a differing view.
I have made the intentional decision to become more comfortable with allowing tides to erase my lines in the sand on a regular basis, enabling me to see perspectives that would otherwise be obstructed. This process has given me the opportunity to reevaluate my opinions and positions on many important things. Some have been reinforced, some have been completely turned around. I’m grateful for both.
With openness comes empathy, understanding, and perhaps most importantly — grace.
It’s time for us to stop drawing lines in the sand. We need to step back and actually listen to one another (not just wait for others to stop talking so we can share our wealth of wisdom).
At the very least, we’ll have less sand in our shoes.