It’s the time of year when thanksgiving and celebration should abound, but this year there’s still intense contention in the air following the bitter showdown between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton — an electoral battle that deeply divided the nation.
During a time when family should be coming together in unity, there are reports of cancelled Thanksgiving celebrations, guests being uninvited and other unanticipated dramas, as individuals and families grapple with the political fallout that continues to reverberate just weeks after the Nov. 8 election.
But, despite the dreaded intensity, there’s a way to survive the inevitable political talks that are sure to unfold during Thanksgiving dinner, while showing deep respect for one another, pastor and author Angelia Waite said in a recent interview.
Waite, pastor of Restoration Church in Madison, Alabama, and author of “Bomb Pops, Blow Dryers & Butterfly Kisses,” told “The Church Boys” podcast it’s essential people work hard to ensure there’s peace around the dinner table.
“It’s one thing to de-friend people on Facebook, but it’s another to cut family ties,” she said. “This should be a celebration of family — not a political debate, but very few people are going to go cold turkey on political debate.”
Waite went on to say, though, that she believes it’s important to hear one another out and to have these tough conversations, specifically calling on Christians to lead that charge.
Listen to Waite explain how to survive Thanksgiving below:
“There’s a level of tension and pressure that’s natural around the holiday and so you’re bringing family together,” she said. “We’re bringing all these different thoughts and opinions to the table and, if you’re like me, there’s always that one uncle who’s a bit unfiltered.”
So, let’s say that uncle gets a bit too unfiltered — or let’s say the political comments about Trump or Clinton feel painfully overwhelming or spark a little anger. In such a case, Waite said it’s important to think before responding.
“The first thing you do is take a really deep breath … and have an extra piece of pie,” she quipped, while going on to make a very serious point. “Allow that filter rather than be in attack mode — actually take that breath and try to listen without bringing correction.”
Waite said family events should be safe for people to express their views with one another in a calm and respectful manner.
While she believes God wants humanity to be of one mind when it comes to the gospel, outside of that she said diversity is to be celebrated, pointing to Genesis 11 and the Tower of Babel to show that God dispersed people into their own environments and cultures, rather than allowing everyone to be the same.
“That is our very first example of diversity and how God’s heart is towards it,” she said. “He loves it.”
Waite pointed to her own experience at Restoration Church, where she serves as senior associate pastor, noting that 60 percent of the congregation is African American, 30 percent is caucasian and the other 10 percent is “other” (comprised of 34 different nationalities, in fact). Diversity, it seems, is one of the church’s hallmarks.
“The person sitting to your left or right (in the pews) probably didn’t vote like you,” she said. “We’ve chosen to embrace rather than just tolerate each other.”
In the end, Waite said she believes people must love one another “beyond our differences,” and called on Christians to lead the way, whether that be at the Thanksgiving table, in the pews or in other arenas in life.
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