I can’t remember his name, but my daughter might. I certainly recall the experience, however. We were sitting at the long, white bench-style lunch table, enjoying school chicken nuggets and broccoli. She was in second grade, and I stopped in that day to have lunch with my girl. Chicken nuggets and broccoli weren’t so bad. Cooked broccoli at home was a staple at our dinner table, topped with a little melted cheese. Oh, so good! Alissa liked broccoli (and still does). As she was munching away at the green bunches on her plate, the boy on the other side of her reacted. “Ewww broccoli! Everyone who likes broccoli is stupid.”
Really? Because I like broccoli I’m stupid? I guess so, in his second-grade mind. It was clear he did not like broccoli. It was also clear he was trying to make Alissa–and everyone around him–not like broccoli, too. She paused for a minute, looked at him, and kept on eating. (That’s my girl!) This was eighteen years ago.
Am I stupid for liking what I like, including broccoli?
Not so long ago I was reminded of this very experience. My husband and I were sitting with others at dinner. Somehow the conversation turned to politics. Oh, great. One person loudly spoke up and said, “Anyone who supports __________ (a current presidential candidate) must be beyond stupid.” This confirms it. I must be stupid! Someone should have told me this before now! My husband and I shot sideways glances at each other and kept our mouths shut. This was not a debate we wanted any part of.
This got me thinking, however. Do I ever do this? Do I ever look at someone else’s differing preferences and judge them negatively? Have I ever made someone feel “less than” for liking something different than I like? For supporting a different candidate than I support? What about for choosing something different than I would choose? Or for living life differently than I live? Or for believing something different than I believe? Unfortunately, I think I have. I think I sometimes still do.
What gives me the right to judge?
Nothing, actually. I don’t have the right to judge another. Let alone, call another stupid. Because, let’s face it, I’ve done many a stupid thing in my life!
Know this—there is One who stands supreme as Judge and Lawgiver. He alone is able to save and to destroy, so who are you to step in and try to judge another?James 4:12 VOICE
Whether its broccoli, or a presidential candidate, or the wearing of a mask or no mask, or anything else. Just because someone’s preferences are different than mine, doesn’t mean I should think of her differently, or unfriend her, or try to change her, or make her feel “less than.” I can still be her friend, even if we don’t agree.
Right? Am I the only one who thinks this way?
Even if I may not execute it perfectly, am I the only one who deep-down believes this? Because the bashing I see on social media tells me I might be. The putting down of one another for differences of opinions is disheartening. The calling of names, the disrespect shown to each other, the hatred I see is all depressing and discouraging and down-right demoralizing.
I refuse to be a part of it.
I’m still a work in progress in all of this, because honestly, sometimes I just know my preference or way or choice is right! (But, I’ve been known to be wrong… a lot.) And you probably think yours is too. We all likely do. So, maybe we just need to give each other a little grace, a little love, and a little understanding.
Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out.Colossians 4:6 MSG
How about we build each other up instead of tearing each other down?
Instead of condemning another’s preferences, choices, or beliefs (and calling her stupid), what if we chose to respond differently?
You like broccoli? Tell me why you like it.
You like that presidential candidate? Tell me more.
You prefer to wear (or not wear) a mask in public? Why is that important to you?
We can listen, be open, and get to know why that person believes the way she does, without judgement, condemnation, or calling her names.
No one is stupid for liking broccoli.
Or anything else for that matter. And when I mess up, which I likely will, will you gently give me a nudge? Will you show me grace? Will you refrain from calling me stupid? Because, goodness, I sure would appreciate it. I will do the same for you, friend.
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I feel that same. I know I sin and frequently ask God for forgiveness and to change my heart. I also constantly ask for guidance. Name calling is not the way. Open communication is. Thank you for bringing out front.
Open communication is imperative for us in our relationships, isn’t it?! I’m with you, Deb. I frequently ask God for forgiveness and correction. I mess up often! Glad we can encourage one another in this! Bless you!
Truth! The next time someone spouts one of their absolutist comments, I’ll calmly ask them if they like broccoli ;). Maybe it will turn down the heat of the moment and allow us to disagree with grace.
Anita, that makes me smile! I’m going to think of you the next time that happens to me! Thanks for being here, friend. You are a gift!