I love the wisdom of Jeff Turner (pictured above), and I have shared many of his writings on my blog before.
In this piece, Jeff talks about how we feel when we try to get across the message of Grace, into an environment where our listeners have only ever known the shackles and straitjackets of hard Religion. And then he gives some wise advice on how to deal with the way our message is received.
I need say no more. Over to you, Jeff:
“For those of you who have embarked upon the journey of thinking for yourself, asking difficult theological and philosophical questions, and as a result have experienced backlash and opposition, may I make a suggestion? Do not expect for people to be immediately receptive and understanding. Do not expect for them to be as enthusiastic about the whole thing as you are. Don’t expect them to thank you for opening their eyes, or rescuing them from poisonous doctrine. Don’t expect for a single argument to change their minds and hearts, when it likely took you years to get to where you are.
“I know that it’s upsetting when people don’t receive what you’re saying or thinking, but you should not place the burden of needing to be a perfect responder on them in the first place. When you decide to stop seeing people as being obligated to support you, their lack of support stops hurting so bad, and you can get on with the business of growing. I see so many people who start on this journey and then get sucked into the black hole of anger and resentment towards those who aren’t all that pleased with where they’re going and what they’re saying. Their speech goes from that of a child thrilled by the things they’re discovering, to that of an angry teenager.
“Look, you have to walk your own path, and you have to let others walk theirs. No one is obligated to applaud you for your bravery, or even to respect your beliefs. Should they? Yes, sure. But are they required to? No, and you shouldn’t expect them to. Follow truth where it leads you, and don’t get hung up and hampered by those who disagree. They are not your enemies, and you are not theirs. If they see you as one, let that be their problem, and one you allow them the space to have.
“One thing I’ve learned over the course of my faith journey is that the fewer expectations I place on others, the better. I know that respect *must be earned, and it’s the only sort I want anyways. I don’t want you to respect my beliefs because you have to. I want you to respect me because of how I handle myself, and then possibly consider the validity of my beliefs because I’m able to present them rationally and articulately. If you choose to do otherwise, well, it’s no skin off my back, and you exercised your autonomy. Well done. I am not going to allow my entire being to form around the opposition of others, though.
“Seriously. I daily see people talk endlessly about their detractors, and how triggered they are by their…detractions. You are not owed respect. Don’t act like you are. Journey your journey, and when others disrespect that journey, listen to their criticisms, and then keep on moving forward.
“You will never grow up if you embrace a childish mindset as though it were a virtue.
Excellent. Link to the original Facebook post is here.