Remember as a kid ‘choosing sides’ for playground or backyard games? The two best athletes would be the ‘captains’ and each would take a turn choosing someone for their respective team. For me this was always a painful experience because I had almost no athletic ability and little desire to improve. Usually it came down to “We’ll take the girl with the broken leg if you’ll take Wilhelm” or something equally humiliating. Sometimes if my best friend was the ‘captain’, I would get chosen maybe only second or third last (thanks Alan – we’re still friends after almost 50 years!). Regardless, ‘choosing sides’ was NEVER a happy occasion for me.
I sometimes feel that I’m still being picked for a team (or not picked – as the case may be). I am not a person that hides his feelings well. I suffer no fools. When I am unhappy with someone it is usually pretty well known by everyone within a ten mile radius. I consider myself to be a progressive and can be outspoken about politics, religion, the environment and human rights. I am often at odds with many of my conservative neighbors, friends and family members. (And I think some ‘Tea Party” people might live next door). The result – PEOPLE DON’T ALWAYS WANT ME ON THEIR TEAM!
And in life we’re constantly ‘choosing sides’ it seems. At work. At home. At church. I feel that I’m relentlessly being asked to “be with me or against me!” by someone – if I don’t agree with EVERYTHING that they believe in, advocate for, purchase or admire, then I must be against EVERYTHING that they believe in, etc., etc. Can’t I be “for them” about some stuff and “against them” about a lot of other stuff and still be a friend? I don’t always agree with myself about EVERYTHING – it’s called changing my mind.
I like to think that I’m open-minded (but not so open-minded that my brains will fall out) and I like to find common ground wherever possible. There are some absolutes in my life but a lot of my beliefs are pretty fluid and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Life is about change and my opinions are shaped by my experiences both good and bad. This is why I journal – so that along my journey I can stop and look back at what I once thought (or thought that I once thought) in the past.
In his book ”Through Seasons of the Heart” John Powell writes, “There’s an old Christian tradition that God sends each person into this world with a special message to deliver, a special song to sing for others, a special act of love to bestow.”
So the next time I’m asked to ‘choose sides’ or the next time that I’m ostracized for not accepting THE TRUTH, I’ll try to remember that it doesn’t really matter. No one else can tell my story. What I have learned is that God has made each of us uniquely qualified to share our good news with the world. Each of us has an obligation to tell our own story of faith.
Tell your story. Sing your song. Be Christ to others. Share the love that God has for you. That’s the side I choose to be on.