Monday, June 27, 2011

Facebook Platitudes - Just Say No!


So, I was having a bit a rough day over the weekend. I know the small stuff shouldn't bother me, but there are days when I've had enough. Saturday was one such day.

Honestly, if you're going to go to the trouble of hating me, I'd just as soon it be for something I actually did to you personally. I don't even mind those of you who violently disagree with my opinions and beliefs. But if you use gossip to form an opinion about a person, and then you use that "information" to destroy that person's reputation - well that behavior is quite honestly at the bottom of the dung heap.

The weekend brought new, unexpected drama to my life, and I wasn't happy. I posted my frustration for all the world to see on Facebook - never a smart thing. 

Well, I got more than a few responses. My cousin believes she's a prophet. Every few months she sends me a note detailing a new and ugly thing the Lord has "shown" her while "in the spirit". At first I tried arguing with her, but that didn't work. She said, "when you decide to see the truth, my dear cousin, I'm here." 

Then I tried ignoring my cousin's prophetic ramblings, but they got louder. She took my silence as proof that satan has control over me.

Sadly, I don't respond well to her prophecies and platitudes. I'm easily frustrated by her.

It's easy to see why non-believers see us as crack-pots and arrogant know-it-all's. We assume we know more than they do. We sometimes gloss over their concerns with religious gobbly-gook when a spiritual answer is not even needed.

I've included a snippet of my Facebook post, and a few of the responses, including those from my cousin. She seems to be making wild assumptions. Among them is her apparent belief that she has the answer to finding joy, but I don't. She also throws in the small fact that someone wants to kill her? What?

We've got to love people. Telling them that the way they're feeling is "not true" is probably not the best approach. Get off the pew, people! Love. Respond. Act.

Me (on Facebook):
Not gonna lie...some days are harder than others. Life has taught me that liars win, cheaters come out on top, thieves never have to pay restitution, a reputation stolen can NEVER be replaced, and there are NO defenders for the strong! Please don't respond with spiritual platitudes. Respond with action! #takingresponsibility
Saturday at 3:30pm · Privacy: 

  • Friend, Friend and Friend like this.

    • Friend:  It sucks when cheaters win.
      Saturday at 3:34pm

    • Friend:  I've told myself before, when I've had moments like this, "I know where I'll end up after death and at least I have a clean conscience when I meet my maker." I hope that isn't a spiritual platitude for you. It's what got me thru the tough time after my divorce when I wanted to sink down to my ex'es level. He seemed to win all the battles with his dirty play.
      Saturday at 3:45pm · 

    • Cousin: 

      This in NOT true! I am a perfect example ... certain people have lied about me but truth prevailed! People who have cheated in my circle have been spanked by Father God! There are people stealing from me right now but I dont care b/c the Lord will deal with them! Family members have tried to ruin my reputation but character and integrity won ... it didnt happen over night but every step towards Jesus has been worth it! There is someone in my life right now who wants to kill me but I refuse to carry a gun b/c God is my Defender and He does protect the strong! When I first became a Christian many said it wouldnt last and they called me a "Holy Roller" but now they call me for prayer ... so God is good ... ALL THE TIME! I know this isnt what you wanted to hear but maybe its what you needed to hear, because I love you and sometimes we just need to be reminded of the TRUTH b/c it sets you free!

      Saturday at 3:53pm ·

    • Me:   I'm expressing what LIFE has taught me. Not God, not the Bible, not Jesus - LIFE. TODAY is a hard day. TODAY is a HARD day. It IS true that there are no defenders for the strong (in my opinion).  I never said I was denying God's truth - I'm talking about LIFE!!!
      Saturday at 4:06pm ·

    • Cousin:  I wish you would let me show you how to find JOY on hard days!
      Saturday at 4:10pm · 

    • Me:   I never said I didn't have joy. I just said today is a hard day. That's all I said. TODAY is a hard day. That's all.
      Saturday at 4:35pm ·

    • Friend:  I love how honest you are about everything you're feeling because I have those rough days sometimes and it's good to see someone so refreshingly honest about things.
      Saturday at 4:38pm ·

    • Me:   THANK YOU!!
      Saturday at 4:39pm ·

    • Friend:   You're welcome. :)
      Saturday at 4:41pm ·

    • Cousin:  Ok, just trying to help!
      Saturday at 4:48pm 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Character Revealed

A friend posted the following quote as his Facebook status today:  "It is impossible to learn anything important about anyone until we get him or her to disagree with us; it is only in contradiction that character is disclosed." Sydney J. Harris

Sydney J. Harris (14 September 1917 - 8 December 1986) was an American journalist for the Chicago Daily News, and the Chicago Sun-Times. But, this isn't about Mr. Harris. This is about disagreements and character.

It is no secret that Christians often use the Bible as an excuse to behave badly. I've written about many a "believer" who manipulates scripture for his or her own nefarious activities. It's shameful.

Pharisaical people are also great at twisting scripture to support their actions when others disagree with them. How great it must be to toss all personal responsibility onto God. You don't like the way I lead my ministry, raise my kids, honor my spouse, treat my neighbor, or do my job? Well, "God led me to do it this way". Who's going to argue with that logic?

It'd be awesome if my employer would let me palm off my responsibilities in that manner. I could not show up for work all week and say, "God spoke to me, and He told me I should take a few days off to refresh, renew, and fellowship with him." Hmmm...I wonder how that would go over with my boss? And yet, I've had Sunday School teachers use that exact excuse for not showing up on Sunday mornings with nary a phone call to cover their shift. And they get away with it!

I'm pretty sure God calls us to honor our commitments. 

Most of us sit in our church pews, bow our heads during prayer, raise our hands during worship, and drop a few bucks in the offering plate. And yet, there are people - brothers and sisters - sitting on the other side of the room with whom we argue and disagree. How we handle those conflicts is a reflection of our character.

The fact that we have misunderstandings and squabbles is a part of the human condition and most often unavoidable. How we deal with discord and strife, however, is a reflection of our character. When we blame God for our junk, we are a poor reflection of God's character. The majority of Christ followers would agree that God is perfect, so how can we blame our imperfection on Him?

It's not okay to use God as a cover for what I lack in personal character and honor. Owning up to my mistakes is hard and painful, but nothing of real value is ever easy. 

Now, let's get off the pew, take personal ownership of our successes AND our failures, and let's take seriously the task of developing strong characters within. Remember, it is in times of disagreement and dissension that our character is disclosed. We aren't fooling anyone. God longs to shine through us.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

When Did I Stop Believing?

When did this happen?

When was it, exactly, that I woke up and realized I could no longer defend "The Church"?

I was raised in a family that went to church every single weekend and at least once during the week. Mom played the piano and Dad operated the soundboard (when he wasn't napping during the sermon). My siblings and I sang, read scripture, and even served as greeters.

As I grew, I began to see and recognize The Church had its flaws. My childhood minister had an affair with the head deacon's wife and they eventually married. Come to think of it - most of my early spiritual leaders were a bit more randy then my naive pre-teen self could ever have imagined. The Church was not immune to scandal and gossip.

Even with its faults, I saw the good and gave grace to the bad. I bought into the bumper sticker mentality that said, Not Perfect, Just Forgiven. I praised the virtues of an almighty God who was powerful enough to create the entire world and everything in it, yet gentle and personal enough to love little ol' me and live in my imperfect heart.

And then - and I don't know exactly when it was - I stopped making excuses for The Church. We are messed up. We don't need to put stickers on the shiny bumper of our brand new SUVs. The whole universe knows we're not perfect. They also believe us to be Pharisaical hypocrites, judgmental bigots, critical homophobes, and crazy loons. 

Do they have a case? Are we those things?

I love The Father. He has rescued my family and me from unimaginable chaos. He delivered us from the prison of a gravely dysfunctional church body.

We've been called to be salt and light. But too much salt kills the flavor and drowns the uniqueness of the very food it's supposed to enhance. So often, I think that's what we think our job is - to smother anyone who believes differently and who acts in opposition to our haughty perceived perfection. 

We've got to knock that crap off!

I'll keep searching for the good, and speaking out against the bad. The Church is broken and I'm not gonna fix it all by myself. I can, however, be salt and light to a world searching and to a church hurting.

Today I choose to get off the pew!