Note: I started this post (along with many others) weeks ago, but I just couldn't tell where it was going. I couldn't get a handle on my own thoughts. Funny how God is never early but always right on time with His lessons. When will I learn that??
Life is messy. Isn't it?
Baby eating an Oreo messy.
And sometimes, even with the greatest of intentions, stuff happens and you have to get your hands dirty.
Relationship conflicts happen.
Neighborly disputes take place.
Family arguments blow up.
People disappoint you.
Loved ones hurt your feelings.
Your kids break your heart.
And the little bubble you've worked so hard to insulate yourself within pops.
And you are forced to do the hard thing. Dig in. Get involved. Make some conscious decisions.
That being said, though (and I actually HATE that phrase...) I am learning that I don't always have to take responsibility for the hurts or wounds.
I can still aid in supporting or facilitating healing without taking on the burden myself.
But life is messy.
No matter what you do or how you try to protect yourself, life is messy.
Relationships where we actually put ourselves out there are messy.
Parent-child relationships are messy.
Neighbor involvement can be messy.
Any time you are allowed into someone else's life it can get messy--and usually does.
And while I believe this to be a fundamental truth, there are some things that we don't have to take to heart and get all flustered over.
Maybe this is just me.
I can't even comment on a Facebook Page (think USA TODAY) anymore without getting raked over the coals by people with a different opinion.
Posting something controversial? Forget it. There are sure to be some who will feel invited and obligated to share why your view is wrong. To insult you. To tear you to shreds.
So I have started to live a little bit behind a shield.
I've stopped getting involved where I see controversy.
I keep my mouth shut when I see people making horrible, life altering decisions.
I keep it to myself when I witness injustice because it's not my place. I don't need to be involved. It isn't my business.
To each his own.
Judge not lest ye be judged.
People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.
Safe. Insulated. Un-involved.
Non-judgmental. Unbiased. Impartial.
Or is it?
Are we keeping our mouths shut because we truly don't want to offend or is it because we're too afraid to speak up and stand our ground on something? Are we trying to let others "find their own way" or are we simply too scared to speak the Truth?
I'm watching a situation play out on Facebook right now. I've seen MANY situations like this play out in real life and on social media.
Blasted, confounded, wondrous and beautiful Facebook.
I've watched as families are destroyed and children are left behind and I've said nothing.
I know these people.
In many cases, I care about these people.
I see the wreckage.
I see the horrible example they are showing their children.
Friendships have been broken. Families torn apart. And children left wondering what happened to everything they've been taught.
And I've sat silent.
Or worse...I've been the one cheering them on with "Yeah! Don't listen to anyone else! As long as you're happy, that's all that matters!"
"Don't let others make you feel bad! They're just jealous!"
"Kids are resilient. They'll bounce back. They know you love them!"
And I've smiled and eagerly welcomed them into my life while throwing up my hands and saying things like, "Who am I to judge?"
But when I step back and get very quiet with myself, I see the truth.
The truth is that there is a DIFFERENCE between JUDGING and SPEAKING THE TRUTH IN LOVE.
Not only SHOULD I speak to these people in my life who I have a relationship with, but I am OBLIGATED to do so if I have ever proclaimed to care about them.
But I think where I get all tied up and become paralyzed is when I FEAR that I will be met with anger or hostility. And I probably will. I find that when confronted with an area that I am lacking in, my defenses pop up immediately. I think that's true for most of us. So, if I go poking sticks in people's hornet's nests, there's bound to be an angry bee.
But should that stop me?
As long as I am actually speaking the truth in LOVE.
How do I do that?
I'll look to 1 Corinthians 13 for that answer. (Message Version)
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
And I tell you what...after reading that I realize going to someone in anger, in exasperation, in disgust, in prejudice, in annoyance, or in any other way than complete humility, will lose them before I even open my mouth.
So it is kind of a balancing act in how we approach people. And I think it's perfectly understandable why the "Church" has given up so many times in doing so.
If you speak up, you're labeled "judgmental". If you sit silent, you're labeled "passive" and "watered down."
There is no winning.
Unless we seek to see others through Christ's eyes and pray for wisdom and guidance in how we open the conversation. Unless we pray for the others' heart to be softened so that they "hear" us without having walls of defense lifted. Unless we genuinely care about the people we're speaking to. Unless we put our thoughts and desires second to Christ's.
Easy Peazy Lemon Squeezy.
Not really. One of the hardest things I've ever done. And there is no room for pride. I'm usually so busy tripping on my own pride and rehearsing all the reasons why I am better than the other person that I fail to offer the Love that makes these conversations effective and genuine.
Today I'm making a decision to seek God's will first and pray that I can swallow my massive pride in these situations and know that I am protected by God when I engage in these conversations--if He is truly leading me to them. If it's just my own nebby-ness or selfish ambition, that will be sorely evident the moment I open my mouth.
I'm not so hot at this. In fact, I am a HOT MESS at this. But I think it's part of what God has been working on in me for the past...forever. One of the reasons He has made me fall silent on the blog. In that time, I have had some situations pop up in my life that offer me an object lesson in this. And I hate it. As far as tests from God, I'd much rather be offered a mirror and be told to make "fog" than given a comprehensive Final on everything I've learned from the beginning. But God is nothing if not thorough.
So...here I go. Weaving my way through this minefield of relationships using faith.