By Conference Minister Diane Weible.
If you have spent most of COVID alone in your home, you may find yourself talking to yourself more than you used to. I know I have. (Sometimes I even listen to what I have to say!) For those who live with others, you may still be struggling with a need for the variety of voices that surrounded your pre-pandemic. Hopefully, we also are talking to God and listening to the way Spirit is speaking to us. That is fundamental to our faith and our spiritual life.
Struggling with the solitude of just one voice, or a few voices, can be a dangerous place, even when we have developed Spiritual practices that strengthen our ability to listen to God.
If discerning for ourselves what we think and believe is one way of being present in the world and listening to God and Spirit in our life is a second way, we also need to remember a very important third aspect of relationship—Community. If I am only listening to myself and to God, I am not receiving the gift of being part of a community that may offer me another way of looking at a situation or another viewpoint that differs from my own. It robs me of the chance to learn from others how God may be speaking to them and how that may translate to something important I need to understand about the world around me.
COVID has made this third voice harder to hear, no matter how many times a day we Zoom. The voice of community can be very supportive when what we hear agrees with our own voice or what we hear God saying to us resonates with what we want to hear. In the same way, it can also be hard to hear when it differs from what we believe or want to believe; what we hear or want to hear.
I recently heard someone speak about the value of listening to what Community is telling us. When community is telling us something that contradicts with what we think is the truth or makes us uncomfortable, I see that as an invitation to lean in and listen for what we might be missing.
If one person tells me something that differs with what I believe, I can say, “well, we disagree.” If multiple people are saying something that differs from what I believe is truth, that is when I need to pay careful attention to what is being said. Is this something that I need to look at from a different lens; something I need to hear in a new way; something that is calling for my attention?
Community offers us a gift. I encourage you to seek it out this week and joyfully unwrap it. Listening to a differing opinion does not force you to change what you believe. It does, however, offer the opportunity for growth—growth in the strength of what you already believe, what you need to pay attention to, and what Spirit may be nudging you to learn.