Meet Pastor Dan
Pastor Dan Forsgren and his family arrived in North Idaho October, 2014. Dan and Sarah have been married for 18 years, and have three children: Donny (16), Karis (12), and William (10).
Leading this Coeur d'Alene congregation includes Sunday morning messages to our children, and all manner of faith formation, including the occasional stint as a Christmas extra!
Have you found it difficult to talk with people these days? I don’t mean talking with your spouse or significant other, but maybe including conversations with those who are closest to us fits into this topic as well. What I am trying to get towards is how difficult it seems to be able to have a conversation with someone who might have a differing opinion than you do on any number of “hot topics”. I’m not quite sure why I still do it, but I will scroll through Facebook usually daily. I don’t think I could tell you why I ever started a Facebook page, some vague idea of trying to stay connected across both time and distance, with family and friends. I have told myself that it is just so easy to share pictures, to keep us with folks that I probably wouldn’t have the opportunity to otherwise; but the reality is that I get awfully uncomfortable with the online social media world. I know folks who use social media seemingly 24/7, these people have embraced the lifestyle, and I’m glad for them. But for me, instead of being a way to stay connected over time and distance, I find that I have become a silent observer.
I hesitate to comment on posts. I will “like” a post or a photo now and then, but to post something myself…I don’t think anyone cares what I made for supper last night. This is how I’ve approached social media from the moment I signed up for it. If I happen to post something, rest assured that I have struggled internally whether I should make such a permanent commitment to the internet. It might sound silly, but I am concerned with what goes out there, out into the world of websites, out into social media, out into the seemingly endlessness of the internet.
Lately, my apprehension feels vindicated. When I scroll through Facebook, I find a lot of thoughts, personal thoughts, communal thoughts, unguided thoughts, unintelligent thoughts. Let me be clear, I believe 100% in the need and benefits of expressing ourselves. What gives me pause is the manner in which that need of ours is presented to the world. I believe we have traded the ability to communicate with others for a virtual soapbox and an “it’s my right to say whatever I want” attitude.
I have done a number of hours of pre-marital counseling with couples, and the one single thing we end up spending more time than anything else on is communication. Often the issues surrounding communication end up lying in our ability or lack of ability to listen. This is not really our fault as a people, we have a predisposition towards ourselves. Original sin teaches us that; that we tend to be concerned with our own self, self-interests, selfishness, self-centeredness. And that is not a bad thing, it is wired into us, into our very innate desire for self-preservation. For this reason, any behavior to the contrary needs to be learned.
That is where I see the breakdown in our ability to communicate, rooted in our own feelings of self preservation to the detriment of all else. Suddenly our neighbor’s feelings and thoughts no longer matter, and we find ourselves closing off any attempt to connect, any attempt to even hear an idea that opposes what we hold to be true. More often than not though, in these cases, truth is hardly ever absolute, and is influenced by what we want to be true…the truth as we see it.
The idea of a person who votes blue versus a person who votes red is not a cosmic good versus evil type of battle; things are rarely that simple. Instead, what if we took the time to try to understand why a person holds on to a position so tightly. What if we listened with compassion instead of ignoring with contempt? We can understand what, how, and why an individual believes or feels a certain way without vilifying either them or their position.
Obviously, this little article is not going to change the world, but imagine what would happen, what could happen, if folks from opposing perspectives could have an open conversation instead of shutting each other down. I believe communication in our country is broken, in that the valuation of self is held over and above the value of our neighbor. The result is that true community gets lost in the mix. I believe conversations can be had while convictions are still held. I believe there is a better way.
Pastor Dan Forsgren