The Art of Mirriam Neal

A Thought About Opinions

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Do you feel like everyone on your Facebook feed is angry? Is everybody you follow on Instagram posting empowering quotes with political hashtags you may or may not agree with? Do you feel like people who used to be fun are now social justice warriors who – let’s face it – won’t shut up?

I’m right there with ya. I think we all feel like this in one way or another – social media is overflowing with overnight ‘experts’ and people we meet up with for coffee can only talk about Trump or the Women’s March. Pick a topic, any topic – everyone has an opinion. Probably more than one.

I was on the home page of a website I frequent, staring at their new post about what the Affordable Care Act means for me. I’ll be honest – I was annoyed. Politics have their place, but this was a lifestyle website, for Pete’s sake. They’re supposed to write articles about food, fashion, careers, and how to stop procrastinating.

So I sat cross-legged with my coffee in hand, frowning and attempting to ignore the tsunami of clamoring opinions across the web, wondering whether I should take to Facebook or Tumblr and state exactly how annoyed I was. Immediately a single thought crossed my mind – God doesn’t care about your opinion.

‘Excuse YOU,’ I thought, indignant, but that was as far as I got. My mind raced back through a lifetime of studying the Bible – and trying to live it as well as I can – and I came up with zilch. I couldn’t remember a single passage that claimed God cared about my opinion. I couldn’t even remember a verse vaguely hinting at the idea. We’re asked to pray for what we need and want, to listen, hope, have faith, and to live with truth and love.

Never once are we told that our opinions matter. Never once are we told to go forth and rant on Facebook. Never once are we told to spread the good news of Exactly How We Feel.

We aren’t told not to have opinions (I love a good opinion) but neither are we told to go around throwing them at everyone who disagrees with us. It can be so tempting, though, can’t it? To get caught up in the minutae of the moment – of the arguments, the statements, the posts and tweets that we just. Can’t. Leave. Alone.

We’re told to cast our cares on God, to hand them over because he cares enough to take them, to help us deal with them, to nudge us past them. And for those of us who feel very strongly about many things, opinions can definitely be a burden. We feel a little like Doctor Horrible, paraphrased – the world is a mess, and we just need to fix it.

And stating our opinion as fact and triumphantly hitting ‘enter’ is definitely going to fix everything, right? Well, probably not. In fact, in the grand scheme of things, that comment you made stating your opinion (and potentially sparking a heated argument) did nothing but cause momentary friction before fading into the vast abyss of moments wasted, of time you could have spent sending someone an encouraging thought or an uplifting quote. You could have said a quick prayer or read a page in a novel. You could have done so many things – things that help or improve someone or something. We could have done something better, something productive.

Someone said ‘Growing up means realizing how many conversations don’t require your opinion,’ and if that’s true, then we live in a world sadly lacking in ‘grown-ups.’

So the next time something sparks my annoyance, the next time I’m tempted to rattle off my obviously necessary opinion where it won’t matter anyway, I’m going to take a moment. I’m going to throw my opinion at the feet of my savior, and chances are, it won’t get tossed back to me. And that’s okay.

I’m pretty sure I can find a better way to spend three minutes anyway.

 

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