January 15, 2016

Trust, Unity, Restoration: Creating One Body in Christ

Blog Archives:

 Reflection by Guillermo Yan Alfonso, Director of Learning at COCREF, EduDeo’s partner in the Dominican Republic. Shared as part of a recent ‘Walking together’ course on conflict resolution.

“If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” - 1 Corinthians 12:26

We often think that those of us who are different from us are difficult.  They don’t think the same way, they don’t do things the same way and we feel uncomfortable with them.  However, Scripture calls us to be one body (though many parts). How does this happen?

The beauty of difference is the call to understand that the different parts of the body together create a greater whole than its pieces. I may not think the same way as you or do things the same way but the real challenge is to realize that I have an obligation to be connected to you.  How can I be connected if I don’t agree with you?

"The beauty of difference is the call to understand that the different parts of the body together create a greater whole than its pieces."

This week, we are learning new ways to speak with each other, new ways to tell the truth in love.  If I do not have the courage to learn these new ways, then I will continue to be disconnected to others who are different from me. The real change needs to happen internally with myself.  I need to put on new eyeglasses or change my thinking from being adversarial to asking questions. Instead of assuming that the other person will impose their ways of thinking on me, I need to invite conversation, clarification and move into listening.

We need protocols and scripts to help us create safe spaces for people to tell their stories, their ideas, give their critique. We may use “I like; I wonder; I suggest” but sometimes we need facilitators to help us with very difficult situations. The idea is to find ways to build trust and to build community.  The idea of restorative practice is to understand that difference can actually grow connection and strength in our communities.   

I once had a colleague who I just avoided. I knew he was the contrarian. I avoided talking with him.  I didn’t believe he could change.  One of my greatest sorrows is that the relationship with him never was healed nor could I ever be honest with him. Restorative practice training would have been so helpful to create a bridge to him.

"One of my greatest sorrows is that the relationship with him never was healed nor could I ever be honest with him. Restorative practice training would have been so helpful to create a bridge to him."

As we move through these restorative practices training, the goal is become people of love, to know ourselves more clearly, to understand our wounds and to understand others.  I look forward to learning more!

To learn more about the recent ‘Walking Together’ project led by Diane Stronks and Ann Martin, visit the project page here.

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