Recently on Trending with Timmerie, Father Nathan Cromly joined Timmerie to discuss how we can have conversations and bridge the gaps that have formed in relationships with friends and family due to recent conflict. Father Nathan is the founder and president of Eagle Eyes Ministry and the St. John Leadership Institute.
Timmerie began the conversation by talking about the rifts that have split families due to polarizing issues like mask policy, vaccination status, political party, and religious stance. “So how do we work toward healing this division?” she asked. “You know,” said Father Nathan, “I think the very first thing is to recognize that this is actually a moment of opportunity for us. I think a lot of the discourse focuses on a type of despair or complaining about this situation when actually, this is why Christ calls us as Christians.” Our problems become vicious cycles when we fail to recognize the opportunity to be standout Christians. If we give in to the narrative of negativity, we lose.
Timmerie agreed, saying that we can often stonewall people around us by getting too stuck in our ways of thinking. We forget to have a sense of perspective in talking with those who don’t share our views. She said we spend all this time on the internet learning about new things, new perspectives, and we fill our brain with so much information – much of it useless – that we lose the ability to focus that information into functional socialization. We don’t know how to be human, how to be courteous and understanding. Where a conversation could normally be enjoyable and educational, it turns into this dreaded thing that nobody wants engage in.
Father Nathan said that he notices that many people tend to regurgitate the opposite side of whatever their counterpart is saying, just as they heard it on the news or the internet. Whether it’s factual or not is not the point. The point is that the conversation or debate has lost its personal touch. There’s no nuance to account for personality types, personal situations, past experiences.
We need to see through the argument and the ideas themselves and see the person on either side. “So, when someone brings the [craziest] ideas forward in a militant fashion, usually there’s a person behind there and if we can manage to touch their heart and their inner motivation for why they’re saying those things or why they think that those things are important, we find a pathway where we actually meet them because most of the time, we agree on why it’s important,” said Father Nathan. “We just don’t agree on the way to apply it.”
Timmerie continued the thought, conceding that this is somewhat like a war, a war of ideas. But we as Christians have not come to conquer others and impose our will or thoughts on others. We have come to show others the way, the truth, and the light. “We’re not about winning wars. We’re about winning hearts and minds,” she said.
There’s such a strange aura surrounding the idea of “truth” these days that it’s almost perceived as a negative concept. “Truth is what divides. Truth is what offends. Truth isn’t as important as feelings.” In reality, truth is about union and peace-giving. Father said that we are at war, but we are at war for the person across from us, not against them.
When we go about these discussions and conversations in the future, we should keep several things in mind. Number one, there is a whole person on the other side with personal experiences, knowledge, and personality, the entirety of which we may not know or understand. Number two, we should converse from a point of humanity and not with the regurgitated words of someone who is fighting for numbers and not hearts. And number three, perceive each encounter as an opportunity to help that person become who they are more fully. Find the Christ in that person before finding ways to win an argument.
Listen to the full interview below:
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