I have a friend and former colleague from our long-ago mutual fund marketing days. Noreen joined the company after I did, and given her natural sales skills and brains, she did very well.
We had not been close friends, but Noreen got along with everybody, and I was part of everybody. So we were friends.
I was always impressed with Noreen, because she is very smart, very funny, and very tough. She took no garbage from anyone and still managed to get along with everyone. Not an easy line to walk, especially in the investment business in the 80's for a young woman. She made it look easy.
I left that company in 1995 and we lost touch until a couple of years ago when I found her on Facebook.
I got married and raised my family in Massachusetts. Noreen got married and raised her family in Illinois.
As I have gotten to know her again on Facebook, I've learned a few things about her. She has a great husband and two kids, a boy and a girl. They have had more than their share of health scares, the details of which I won't get into but suffice to say the outcomes were miraculously good.
What now impressed me about her response to those crises was how Noreen, who was not the patient in either of the medical emergencies, immediately sought prayers from her Facebook friends. She knew that prayers helped and she needed a lot of them for her family.
I do not know if her Christian faith was new since I had known her in Boston all those years ago, or if she had grown up in the Church. But whenever she got her faith, she got it strong.
She is a subscriber to this blog, and follows my Facebook author page. She commented on my last post, which was probably more politically slanted than I am used to writing. I learned that she and I did not agree on presidential politics.
She wrote a very detailed explanation of where she disagreed with what I wrote and why. She cited scripture verses from both Old and New Testaments, as well as Middle Eastern history. She pointed me to a YouTube video providing additional context.
In response, I felt compelled to do as good a job - as respectfully as she did - with my reasoning. I expanded on my point of view, and why I feel as I do.
I am not here to tell you that I now plan to vote for Noreen's candidate. And I am pretty confident that she will not support mine.
But in our exchange, I found some hope. We are both passionate about the state of our country. We are even more passionate about our Christian faith. We are diametric opposites on the political spectrum, but we are strongly in sync in our spiritual commitment.
But even if we didn't agree on our faith, and were just as opposite politically, we managed to have a respectful give and take, without rancor, name-calling, condescension, easy dismissal and evident disdain that mark most political debate these days. That didn't mean surrendering - it was the best debate I've had on anything in quite a while.
I hope others are having these kinds of discussions. Our country is so divided, and there is so much anger, distrust, and extremism that it's worrisome. If you followed politics on Twitter, you would come away convinced that one side or the other was from Hell, here to destroy life as we know it, and establish Satan's beachhead in your backyard.
There are elements that would like to wreak that kind of destruction, but they are by no means a majority. The majority of Americans are like Noreen and me. Raising and loving our families, and we just want to live free, worship God, make a living, and do the best we can for those we love. We have much in common and as far as I know just this one disagreement. I think that's true for many of us.
Lord, thank you for my friend Noreen and for the idea of writing about our Facebook debate. I pray that you use our words as an example of how vigorous disagreement need not be uncivil or disrespectful. That two people can exchange ideas, still disagree, and remain friends.
Thank you for the hope that this exchange of ideas gave me and I hope it gives others.
Thank you for giving us all the most important thing in common: that we were all created by you so that you could love us and we could love you.
Let us leverage that common thread to help sow peace throughout our families, towns, states, countries and the world.
In Jesus' healing name, we pray, AMEN!
God bless you and thank you for reading.
Jim Donaher is a writer, blogger, and author of the soon to be published, "Call Him, He's Home: Learning Prayer to Start and Grow Your Relationship with God" Click the title to read an excerpt.
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