I am continuing to enjoy “Champagne for the Soul.” I read a passage for today and was really challenged by something the author said. “In today’s polite and airbrushed society, it is entirely possible to sleep walk through life…” For whatever reason, that phrase hit me hard in the gut. Sleepwalking through life is something I am more guilty of than I would care to admit.
But it is true, isn’t it? We live in the midwest and “Iowa Nice” is a fact of life. The majority of people in Iowa are unfailingly kind and polite, which is something I love about living here. But the greatest fear, in my opinion, that people have in Iowa is… having a hard conversation.
I’m not talking a knockdown, drag-em-out kind of argument either. I am talking about authentic communication with another human being. I am talking about conversations like “Hey, when you said that, it really hurt my feelings.” Or “Hey, I want to challenge you about something you said. It sounded a little off base.” We in Iowa are so afraid of confronting people, challenging them to deeper and fuller thinking and living. We would much rather sweep it under the rug, forget about it and move on.
But rather than make for a more enjoyable life, not communicating authentically with people leads to shallow, superficial living. We have trained ourselves to ignore our feelings (believing that they are wholly deceitful), take the path of least resistance (thinking it will enhance our quality of life) and maintain the comfortable status quo. I know there is a huge social pressure to be kind, polite and respectful, but those good things must not come at the expense of being dishonest or deceitful.
I believe God wants His people to awake to fuller living, the kind of abundant life that Jesus promised and modeled for us in the Gospels. Jesus was certainly not one to shy away from confrontation even as He modeled what it meant to take the log out of His own eye to see clearly to remove the specks in others. Jesus was not an exception to His own rules, rather, He demonstrated for us what it looked like when all of those virtues and commands were synthesized into one human being.
Do we need to be kind and respectful? Yes. Do we need to give others the benefit of the doubt and examine our own heart motives first? Absolutely. But our job is also to help refine one another into the image of Christ. “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” goes the Proverb. We all have blind spots and we need people we can count on to loving expose them to us. We all have a tendency to sleepwalk through life and we need to be alarm clocks for one another, exhorting each other to make the most of the time God has given to us.