It may seem like we disagree, but in my life there is space for both. Cambodia, for example… I’m without words to describe it right now– but a lot of soaking and listening beyond the conversations to hear the sounds of the streets and the trees.
That to say, understand that some of us may find ourselves on both sides of what seems like a fence.
Last week Melinda shared
her tendency for interactive processing, or working through new ideas by
discussing them. It proved to me that rebels come in all varieties, because my tendency is not to process things this way. I tend to lean towards:
We’ll be sitting and having coffee. A previously undiscussed theological issue comes up, almost definitely from you. You’ll know I have an interest in it, but I seem evasive. I’ll change the subject or throw you a minor bone in the hopes of placating you. You’ll shoot me a look that says Why aren’t we talking about this? What’s the problem?
The problem is I haven’t had enough time to figure out what I think about it. You see, I have no interest in discussing anything I haven’t thought through myself. Maybe I don’t even know what I think, and if that’s the case you can bet I will not be discussing it. When I encounter an issue I haven’t formulated my thoughts on, I hope it doesn’t come up in conversation until I’ve read the relevant books and spent a good amount of time staring at the ceiling late at night working it over in my mind.
Thoughts for rebels:
Rachel Held Evans says she would rather be accused of not bathing enough than of being uninformed, and I can relate. One of the biggest weaknesses of independent processors is pride. We hate looking dumb. This can motivate us to educate ourselves and think through our beliefs, but it can also make us arrogant and uncooperative. Your independent thinking is a great asset, but don’t allow it to lead you to disconnect from those around you. It is a challenge for me to trust people enough to admit when I don’t know much about what they’re saying, but I’ve found vulnerability begets vulnerability. A lot of people can sometimes be intimidated by independent processors. If we can admit our uncertainty on an issue to others in trust, they are more likely to return that trust and show grace in allowing us to work through the issue.
Thoughts for churches:
Independent processors can be great for helping you find the problems in a theory/idea. When you present a theory or idea to an independent processor they might talk about it with you right away, but if you pay attention you’ll find they’re mostly just gathering information. They’re not giving much in return initially. They will take it home, work through all the contingencies and consequences of the idea, read some trusted authors, think about it extensively, lose some sleep, and return to you with more thoughts than you probably wanted. But they’ll provide you with a better analysis than you might have otherwise received. Don’t put them on the spot. Independent processors can be pretty defensive. If you make them feel uninformed, they won’t want to talk to you the next time. Give them time and space. Give them an idea you’re working on but don’t an urgent response to, allow them to work through it, and you will find them to be a wonderful source of critical evaluation.