R-E-S-P-E-C-T | Find Out What it Means to Me

Dyrehaven Forest

As I sit here drinking a succulent Danish mocha surrounded by candles and what is actually termed 'post-modernism jukebox' music my artistic self bids me to write and screams "Write you fool!" through my core so that's us.

Denmark is a very liberal nation to put it lightly. Anything and everything goes here. It's very different from what I'm used to, but I don't think America is far from being this liberal. The Danes, I would say in my limited perspective, pride themselves on welcoming any and every kind of people. While sometimes this has surprised me, I have to say that I have learned so much from the way their culture is built on respect. The Danes are content to let people have their own opinions and not have to prove that their personal opinion is better. This a far cry from America where you begin talking about religion or politics and you have to run and find shelter before the conversation blows up.

Having grown up in a southern Baptist church in a Christian homeschool circle,  I've unknowingly adopted certain views about groups of people - views filled with prejudice and judgment, some of that prejudice and judgement warranted, but most of it not. I would not attribute all of this view to me and how I grew up but rather with American society as a whole. Tolerance and equality are preached in America, now more than ever, but never actually realized. In my experience, someone has said they respect my view and don't agree with it which is totally ok, but then follow that statement up with why and how my belief is wrong all the while insulting me and my intelligence. Americans have this innate need to prove things. We are not very good at agreeing to disagree and this leads to conversations like the one above where someone's intelligence is insulted. This needs to change!

One of my favorite things about studying abroad, especially in Denmark, has been to be exposed to different worldviews, many of which I don't agree with, but I can still respect. One of my good friends here in Copenhagen is bisexual and in almost everything, she has opposite views from me. But you know what? We actually laugh about how different we are and then we begin discussing our understanding of life, the universe and everything but without getting angry, being disrespectful or rude. As two intelligent adults, we are just interested in knowing more about each others worldviews and sharing about our life. Everyone has a desire to be understood and to share about themselves so that others can understand them and we are connecting on a human level by talking about what life means to us.

Antagonistic conversations rarely help any situtation or friendship, rather they serve to drive friends and family members apart. As Christians we are called to love everyone - even our enemies! Some may think I've become more tolerant/accepting over this semester abroad because I've been "indoctrinated by worldly ideals" since anything goes in Denmark. What's really happened is that my snap judgments and privileged prejudices and opinions have been erased and I've begun to see people who I wouldn't normally associate with/agree with clearly as Jesus sees them. They are people who live life like me, go through similar things and have the same hopes and dreams that I do. I'll admit that I used to judge people quite a lot - I never shared my judgement with others, but nevertheless I still judged when it wasn't right to judge and that's wrong.

I've definitely seen some things in Denmark/abroad that disturbed me to my very core but from being exposed to that I've been forced to examine my responses and actions to such things. At the same time, my views and perspective of people has changed from judging them right away to seeking to understand them and get to know them and for that I'm grateful for my time here in Denmark.

Jesus calls you to love. Passing automatic judgment is the opposite of that. What did Christ do? He went and spent time with those who the society rejected - lepers, tax collectors, sinners. What did He do? He got into their world, sought to understand them and then loved them and challenged them right where they were.

We as Christians are called to this same path and it's taken me traveling all the way to Copenhagen to live here for five months for me to even begin to see clearly and scratch the surface of this crucial concept. I'm not even close to understanding yet, but God has changed my heart and opened my eyes and I hope He challenges you to open your eyes as well.

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