Thursday, June 21, 2012

If you don't have anything nice to say...

I have a friend at church. I've always liked her, she's been nice to me. One time I "confessed" one of my struggles, one of my imperfections to her and she just shrugged it off. She's never even brought it up again. It simply doesn't matter to her. I wouldn't call this particular "confession" a huge deal accept that I've been on the wrong end of harsh judgement on it more than once. Another time I actually SWORE in front of her. She didn't even blink. I about dropped dead from embarassment, but she just handled it with grace. When I whine about my current neck injury she never says "Well if you just had faith..." Nope. She pretty much nods her head and says yeah, you know what? That does suck. She's a friend, she loves me right where I'm at with all my quirks and imperfections and *gasp* struggles with sin. Huh. Just imagine that, a human being who CLAIMS TO BE A CHRISTIAN struggles with sin??? Well kids, I'm just trying to be real here.

My sin is no worse and no better than yours. It's all rebellion in the eyes of God. Some of the stuff we judge each other on isn't even SIN. It's just the same old middle school bullies all grown up still screaming "You're ugly. You're not as good as me. You're dumb. I'm cooler than you." Except now we're a little more covert about it. Now we gossip in the name of God. We wound each other on Facebook and we tweet a bunch of cryptic crap with full knowledge that we will get asked what we mean, then we get to play self-righteous martyr and respond with "I don't want to mention names..." or "I'm going to be the bigger person and just drop it..." We put this stuff out there knowing all the other malicious back-biters and gossips won't be able to resist asking for more info and giving us all that yummy attention we crave, knowing that the target of our poisioned barbs will see our hateful words and know with out a doubt they are under attack and defenseless because if they DARE to defend themselves they will also have outed themselves to the hundreds of faceless judges reading our filthy hateful garbage.

I have very few "friends" at church. I'll admit, I'm afraid of you my "sisters". I do have a few treasured souls I call friend. They are beautiful. They are flawed. They *gasp* struggle with sin, and emotional issues, and life. But they love. They love because they have not forgotten what Jesus forgave in them. They love because they remember the love God showed them in their darkest hour. They are kind. They are authentic. They are merciful.

My friend from the first part of this post was recently a victim of the catty christians and the born-again bullies that the unsaved world often credits with their distaste and distance from all things church and all things God. It breaks my heart. I think it breaks God's heart too.

Yep. I'm afraid to let you see the real me. I'm afraid to share my scars with you. I will never invite you to my home because I don't think it will meet your standards. Shoot, it doesn't even meet mine. I will never come to your "home party" because I can't afford to buy what they're selling. I will never tell you about my pain or my shame or my struggles because you will tell others. Or post it on Facebook. Or tweet it.

My mother always used to say "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." I wish everybody would heed the words of my mom. There would certainly be less broken hearts in the church and more butts in the pews if we just did that much.

16 comments:

  1. You know... I think people display others faults to keep attention away from their own. Maybe even to keep from focusing their own faults themselves. Funny thing is, our own faults are the only ones we can really do any thing about.

    If you want to display someones flaws, display your own... It's really quite enlightening, and somewhat therapeutic.

    If you really have to get in someone else's business, why not display what is good about that person? Why not post something nice for the world to see? You only make yourself seem ignorant to us smart folk when you post your back-biting B.S. When you degrade someone else you really only degrade yourself.

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  2. Thanks, Jon. I'm so glad you took the time to comment. I hope you know I appreciate your opinion and input. I'm hoping some other people will join in and post their thoughts here but... well let's just say I'm not holding my breath. I'm probably not the only one afraid of the backlash.

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  3. I couldn't agree more! This is exactly turns the world off to christianity. This is what is pointed out in the media. The look at the hypocritical bigots and say "whoa....this is not for me".
    These "gossiping, finger pointing, holier than...thou, so-called christians" just don't get it!
    They are like the Pharisees that wanted to stone the woman for adultory; " Let he who is without sin cast the first stone."
    Do they forget that Jesus came to redeem sinners?
    Do they forget God's loving grace?
    Do they forget that we all fall short of the glory of God?
    Do they forget "Judge not, "lest ye be judged".

    Unfortunately, it is questionable whether those who act this way are even christians at all? Warming a bentch will not save you a seat in heaven. They may fool the world, but they cannot fool God Almighty he and he alone knows their hearts.
    Thank you very much for posting this Traci!

    Kelly

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  4. best blog ive read in a long time.....I love anything real, and meaty, and deep. and brave. there's a wonderful dual message (not sure if that was your intent or not) in this piece of work.....thanks for this Traci....
    Steve

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  5. So this is part of a conversation the guy above, Steve, and I had on Facebook. Steve pulls no punches and I admire his openness and the fact that you always know where Steve stands on things. After the comment above I asked Steve what he saw as the dual message. I just loved his response. Here it is:

    "I loved the example of your friend and how accepting/loving she was/is. everybody sins. i said godamm once on facebook (ok more than once) and I could not beleive the amount of messages I got in private about taking God's name in vain.
    and I said really? are you out there interceding? feeding people? clothing people? discipling? mentoring? risking? cause if you are not but you call yourself a christian, YOU are the one taking his name in vain. they didint get it.
    i recently made some comments about how much I loathe classes and books and videos that are supposed to teach people how to be authentic christians. because to me thats as disingenious as can be. you dont teach authenticity, you BE authentic. Authentic as in "this is who I am and this is what Ive got today and this is when I struggle and this is where I falter and this is what I think God is letting me experience...." You put the costume away, actually you burn it.
    we dont really want authenticity. we just want to toss the word around."


    He's right. He's right on the money. Ya gotta love that guy.

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  6. Great blog Traci....I don't know how to not post Anonymously..lol..so this is Christa:)

    I really hope that people get your heart here...I don't think you mean to bash anyone or bash "christians"...I think you mean to point out something this is terribly wrong with a lot of us. I appreciate your honesty....and on top of it, you are so good at writing what you feel.

    Thank you for being honest and open and putting into words what I find myself thinking when I read some of this facebook stuff. I hope I'm more like your friend than not...

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    1. Christa, thank you so much. I worked very hard on this not to point fingers or bash christians. It's hard to write a blog that says "Don't be writin' nasty crap about your sisters" without feeling like you're in a glass house throwing big old boulders. I'm glad you got it.

      Just the very fact that you "got it", and were appreciative of the message, by definition makes you more like my friend than not. You could have hucked a big ol' rock back at me... :)

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    2. So ok, in a way I did bash christians but I want to make it known that this is not the overwhelming majority. This is a small minority that you will encounter any time there is a large group of people. That includes people outside the church as well. However, it is extremely troubling to me that we have this problem in the church. We're supposed to set the standard for love. This isn't loving, it's hurtful.

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  7. Well...I wasn't going to mention it, but since you brought it up, heres that big ol' rock....I can't believe you SWORE! LOL:)

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  8. I love reading what you write. :) You challenge me. Well, I detest this kind of stuff, but to be honest, I'm guilty of it. I think the more social media we get, it just makes it easier to judge and complain. On the other hand, I have witnessed social media to be comforting when prayers are needed or encouragement. Great blog, Traci. Helps us to prune and grow.

    Bridget :)

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    1. Aww Bridget... you're one of those few people I call friend! We're all guilty. We've all said things we shouldn't, we've all been guilty of a little "meanness" now and again. I just think the whole social media thing makes it way more painful, way more detrimental. I'm just praying for all the people involved. I'm praying for me too. That God will use this as an opportunity to grow me in mercy and love. Heaven knows I could use a little more of that.

      As we heard recently social media is neutral, neither good nor bad. It's us as humans that put the good/bad spin on it. I'm just hoping to remind people, myself included that we need to put LOVE above everything else.

      You're awesome Bridget! You inspire and encourage me in ways I'm sure you're not even aware of. I hope Rich knows how lucky he is!

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  9. I love you Traci, you are the realist woman I know - If more people were like you, there wouldn't be hurt. I love that you can write this - so well put and so right on the money! Just today I got a "judgment" message - it's disheartening to feel like being real is just too messy for church people. Honestly, my life is one, big, hot mess. But God is big enough to handle me, and it. Unfortunately, His KIDS aren't. Sticks and stones and all... until their life gets messy, they have NO idea and even then, they will justify why it's different for THEM.
    Anyway, thanks for the awesomeness that is YOU!
    Jenn Strickland

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    1. Well, Jen I'm glad not everyone is like me! I'm capable of hurting people too. I've done it before and will no doubt do it again. It's human nature. I really hope I learn and grow from this.

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  10. Hi, your blog really touches me, have been reading it for a while... Just wanted you to know about a website i started ReadYourBiblesChurch.com... It's a place for Bible study guides.. I also put a forum in that can be viewed from a mobile device.. I couldn't find where to contact you privately so I'm commenting, hope that is okay. :) God Bless! Jenn.

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    1. Jenn, thanks for reading and for taking the time to comment. I will check out your site. Thanks for letting me know you're here!

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