Friday, April 11, 2014

Tread Lightly... A Plea for Grace and Discernment

You know what I'd like to be doing right now? Sleeping.
This was not one of those blog posts where the thought came to me and I rushed to find paper and write it down before I excitedly pulled out my laptop and formulated an inspirational outline of my thoughts.
In fact this was not a post I wanted to write at all...

You see, this isn't something I have come out on the other side of and can wisely say “here's what God taught me, let me help you through it.”

If anything, my authority on this subject rests largely in the fact that I am the biggest of failures in this area. I admit it, hand held high in the air, it's me. I fail regularly at this and that is the closest to any wisdom I have on the matter.

So with a heavy heart, I write. I write for me as much as for you and I plead with you to extend grace as you read what is likely one of the rawest blog posts I've written. It won't be polished or pretty, but it will be my heart.

In the last week or so, my world was greatly impacted by a private situation that was blasted on news media of all sorts. Within 12 hours, a private issue became a matter of international news.

For me, it's not a “situation” or an “issue,” I don't have the luxury to remove myself from the situation and see it as clearly as I wish I could because it is a part of my life. I am living it out in the very moments I type this post.

As an employee of Timberlake Christian School, I quickly became the target of substantial amounts of hate alongside each of my loving, kind coworkers.

For us, it's far more than a headline-

It's the reason we have been bashed, threatened and labeled
It's the reason I now enter work with a grateful glance and hopeful hello to the officer who spends all day ensuring our safety amidst the many received threats
It's the reason I have spent many a night in the last week wide awake, wondering, praying and battling with my beliefs
It's the reason I've bit my tongue hard and the reason I've wished I could reel back in my words and erase any trace
It's the reason I've sat awake with tears in my eyes and a pit in my stomach because there are real people, very real people on both sides of this and every issue who are oh so wounded and broken

Today, Pastor Bryan released a lengthy and detailed statement filled with grace, love and integrity. Reading his words and being reminded of the strength and depth of the love that I am surrounded with at work was like water to this thirsty, anxious soul.

(You can read his letter, which outlines the situation with accuracy and grace here:

For me though, the lessons I've been learning this week go so much farther than this situation and or the many others we are daily bombarded with, from the World Vision controversy to the Noah movie or the resignation of two prominent pastors and the hundreds of other controversial issues I could list, there is much more to be learned.

We (or should I say I? this one is so preaching to the choir) need to learn to tread lightly with our words. If Satan is the lion who seeks to kill and destroy, I believe his den with this generation is the internet. We need to learn to have these deep, meaningful and even important conversations in the correct contexts. If you really respect someone enough to discuss and argue your opinions, do it in a face to face situation in which words and intentions are far less likely to be misconstrued. Do it within the relationships that you have gained the respect and the right to speak truth into someone's life. These are the only discussions that lead to any real change in mindset anyway. 

You know when the last time I saw someone change their mind because of a well worded comment on social media was? Never. Social media is not the evil, it's how we use it. Issues of the heart were never meant to be debated this way.

 And while we're on this can I go ahead and publicly apologize? I've sought to be very cautious with my words in these last couple of weeks, but I'm sure that I have said or typed something that was not loving, kind, or a reflection of Christ. And for that, I'm sorry. Walk with me on this journey of growth and maturity with my words. Even as I decided whether or not to publish this post, I asked for prayer and sent it to the people who have earned the right to speak truth in my life and I asked them to check me and help me examine my motives and my words. I'm a work in progress. 

Ultimately, most of the things we fight about are gray issues, I'm not sure we will ever come to a conclusion, but what I do fear will happen is that Satan will effectively accomplish his goal by distracting us through petty arguments. Our role as the church is not determined by the changing trends, opinions or news. We rest and find our unity in the unchanging Word of God and I pray that we never forget that.  When I wake up tomorrow, regardless of the latest headline, debate, or public failure of Christians, my job will remain the same. We're called to go and make disciples and to be known by our love and I pray that will be true. 

I refuse to be a battleground or a platform for hate. Satan does not need anymore voices in this battle. The comments are open, but I urge you to use wisdom, discernment and love in your responses and know that if not, I will delete them. You are entitled to your opinion, but as I stated, I will not allow this forum to be used for hate. Please, write your own blogs in indignant disagreement with me if you choose, but as this is my space, I will monitor and I will delete anything hateful. Please let's lay down our weapons at the altar and pick up the burdens of our brothers and sisters instead. Let's refuse to be voices of hate, but let's lighten each other's loads and extend the version of grace we expect to receive.

I believe in you church, I know you're still there, brimming with potential. And maybe, maybe some of you are feeling heavy with words you've already spewed and cannot take back. I've been there. Say I'm sorry and move on. Do not be defined by yesterday's regrets, but by tomorrow's potential. Because His grace covers all of us, from the angry, sword raising arrow slinging, recovering Christian to the many faces in media whose lives are turned upside down and criticized. God loves each of us and His grace is big enough for us. I pray that we will be a generation and a voice remembered for our love and not our arguments. I pray that we will lay down our need to be “right” in honor of a king who laid down everything on our behalf. 

So there it is, the post I didn't want to write. What I wanted to do was craft a series of strongly worded Facebook statuses and comments parading my version of the “truth” for everyone and putting people in their place, but what would it accomplish? When surrounded by an issue on which I could not legally and professionally comment on my opinion, I quickly learned how small and insignificant my opinion really is in the grand scheme of things.

The truth, as if any of us will ever discover it all on any issue, does not need my defending and even if it did, I'm not so sure I'm a worthy defender. 

So, last week, I learned a lot to just shut the screen and get on my knees, because that's where hearts really begin to change and little did I know, mine was first on the list.

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