I've been watching a bunch of TED Talks on YouTube as of late, trying to learn from people as I begin speaking more and more, and I thought that it would be so cool to give a TED Talk myself one day!
Just in case you don't know, TED is an organization that shares ideas, usually by giving different speakers a platform to share different ideas.
I've learned a great deal in the year that I've kept up this blog, and in the few months that I've started traveling to speak and share more of my story with people.
One of the biggest lessons that I've learned is that, I'm not here to convert people, nor to make myself look good or become some sort of "Catholic celebrity." I'm here to share ideas that I think could revolutionize the planet, and hopefully bring peace and healing to people.
I think that that's something worth sharing.
One of the best conversations that I have every had about the topic of homosexuality, was with a now good friend of mine, who identifies as gay.
For privacy reasons, we'll call him Steven.
I had no interest in hitting Steven over the head with Bible quotes, or trying to get him to believe what I do.
I simply wanted to sit down with him, having him share his story with me, and listen to him in an intentional way, hopefully making him feel seen, known, and loved.
It's very easy to reject people when we don't see them as people. If we see them as some roadblock between us and where we're trying to go or what we're trying to get done, or even as less than human, they become what we selfishly and arrogantly project onto them, so that we don't feel obligated to be bothered with them.
But if we recognize their humanity, see them as a person, just like us, things begin to change.
In high school, I thought I could convert anyone. I mean, of course I could! I finished my Catholic Apologetics final in under 20 minutes!
I very quickly and harshly had this dream dashed when I lost one of my best friends because I kept trying to force Church doctrine down her throat.
It was then that I realized that something had to change.
First, I realized that I wasn't about to convert anyone. That's not my job -- never has been, never will be.
If ANYTHING, I can sow seeds that the Holy Spirit can then come behind me and water and nurture. Maybe then, something can grow.
But even this shouldn't be my overall goal.
In my conversation with Steven, I listened to him. I listened with the intention of understanding him, and his experiences. I listened with the intention of loving him where he was, of making my heart a place where he could come in and rest, where he wouldn't be judged, or shamed, or neglected.
We disagreed on many things, yes, but he and I were still able to have a very fruitful conversation. I got to know him, he got to know me, and we were not only able to share ideas, but we were able to share our very selves with the other person.
While growing my ministry, I've recalled time and time again a Bible verse that I've grown to love.
These words from the Apostle Paul are exactly what I hope to do in my ministerial efforts:
"With such affection for you, we were determined to share with you not only the gospel of God, but our very selves as well, so dearly beloved had you become to us."
1 Thessalonians 2:8
People have become very beloved to me. All people are so worth seeing, so worth knowing, and so worth loving.
I think that would be a very cool idea to share not only on the TED stage, but also with anyone who is willing to listen.