The word I’m tired of hearing

GRAPHIC Colossians 3-14

I’ve been scrolling through social media, deeply disturbed by much of what I’ve read—even the opinions of people who are kind and generous, even the ones with whom I agree. I finally figured out why.

Because there is one word that I hear over and over, and it doesn’t belong at all: BUT.

And it makes me tired of the whole discussion.

Don’t get me wrong. We NEED to talk.

But not in the same way we have been.

Somehow our country has gone from united to divided. Every single issue has become us vs. them. We can no longer offer an opinion without tacking on a judgment. We hear things like this: I think gay people should have rights, BUT I think homosexuality is a sin. I do not discriminate BUT I am not responsible for what happens. I like him BUT he is a Muslim. I thought she was a Christian BUT she voted for Obama.

I think the BUT needs to go away.

When did we as a country decide that it’s not just okay but expected to contribute our own personal judgment or assessment of every issue? Not all that long ago people could be friends with those with different faiths. Respect the office of President of the US, even of an opposing political party, without agreeing with the policies or actions of the person holding the office. Disagree on opinions yet still have civil conversations. Hold an open-minded dialog to gather information in order to make informed decisions. But now, particularly through our friends on social media, we insulate ourselves, surrounding ourselves with those who have like-minded views. As soon as the opinions diverge, we click unfriend.

We use people’s views as a way to classify them. Are they a Christian? A Muslim? An atheist? Are they LGBTQ or straight? Are they black or white? Democrat or Republican? As soon as we can classify them into a category that we are not in, we disregard what they have to say.

I don’t understand the prevalent mentality in which we post things to defend our own point of view—not to enlighten others but to use as a trump card. Ha! They agree with me! Take that! I’m not going to cheer when the witty Christian outsmarts the atheist or despair when science diverges from my faith. I’m not going to buy into the concept that being a follower of Jesus dictates which political party I must support. I’m not going to let myself be categorized according to just one aspect of who I am, and I’m going to try very hard not to do that to someone else.

Don’t get me wrong. I have strong opinions and I’m not afraid to share them, and I’ve lost a few blog followers as a result. I do want to know where you’re coming from—not as a way to categorize you but as a way to ground what you’re about to say. I enjoy debate, but I try not to engage those who I sense will not be respectful or kind. I try to be careful about when and how to have those discussions, because I think they are important and I want to treat them respectfully—and because in the last few years I’ve found myself going to great lengths to avoid drama.

And right now what I feel is that nobody is listening. I don’t want to talk when I have to shout to be heard. When each comment sparks a venomous attack. When every single topic comes down to an immediate assessment regarding whose side the speaker is on—ours or theirs.

God calls us to unity. Every single classification or difference, every battle, every tragedy or triumph seems to further fragment us—as a country, as a community, as a church.

To be frank, when a discussion comes down to us vs. them, it’s probably not going to be very productive. It is only when we realize that we are all in this together, only when we strive to improve life for all of us as a whole, only when we are willing to offer respect and dignity and compassion and understanding in equal measure to what we expect to receive, that any of this talking is going to do any good for anyone.

So for now, I’m remaining quiet on the big things happening in the world around me, but it’s not because I don’t care. It’s because I don’t know the answers and I don’t want to add fuel to the fire. Instead, I’m adopting these words from the Bible as my prayer and my hope. Will you join me?

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:12-17, NIV

Amen.

8 Responses to “The word I’m tired of hearing”

  1. […] The word I’m tired of hearing […]

  2. I just wrote this lengthy comment, and when I was done, I was informed of an error (bad email), so if this happens to be a duplicate, sorry! I hope I can remember all that I said. First, I want to say that this is well said-tastefully communicated. I too have been silent in social media. My sole post today was pictures from our weekly hike on the AT. As soon as I stepped into the woods today, I felt all the cares of the word slip off my shoulders (thankfully, the pack stayed on!).

    At first, I wondered if I was hiding, or my silence was a symptom of something greater, like fear (Come on, Christian, stand up for what you believe in!) But as I read comment after comment, and have slowly watched profile pictures take on a rainbow overtone, I realized that I’m silent because I just don’t have anything different to say. I was so disgusted with what I’ve seen on Facebook, that I am seriously considering deactivating my account.

    I have friends on both ends of the spectrum-GLB and Liberal supporters of them to Conservative Christians. Each posts appropriately. When I was in the woods today, I pondered that. Why do people insist on posting these aggressive comments (both camps)? Are they trying to sway others who believe differently? Are they trying to get them to defect and come over to their side? Or are they trying to defend their beliefs? It’s like a war or a contest or something. It all comes down to opinions. Each person’s post is that person’s opinion. Even if it’s backed by scripture, or a judge’s ruling, it’s still an opinion. Sorry if that upsets my Christian friends, and hey, I may be wrong, but I believe that what you believe is your opinion. And opinions are what divide us.

    So I will remain silent, because I refuse to be a part of the circus. And that’s what this feels like to me. A circus. Instead, I’ll keep going into the woods, because that’s where God meets me, speaks to me gives me insight.

    This is the best thing I’ve read in two days, Kelly. Thanks for your bravery in posting it.

    • I understand all that you’re saying. Sounds like we’re in similar places. Praying for you—and me—and all of us to listen for God’s wisdom and insight about so many things. The woods sound wonderful :-).

  3. Kallie C. says:

    Kelly,

    I appreciate so much of what you wrote here. I honestly feel so confused and like I have been through some kind of war over this past weekend. For me, I read plenty of supportive commentary and saw plenty of non supportive. I saw gracious commentary on both sides. I saw fearful, vengeful posting on one side and vindictive, merciless on the other. It was all the above on my feeds. For me personally, the day was a mixture of a huge celebration given I have several close friends that it impacted dearly, but also a sorrowful day due to the recent violent events that led to the nationally televised funeral falling on the same day. It was such a mixture of emotions for me.

    I was honest about my emotions on my own social media feeds. I took hits for that. So what I thought was just mere reflections of my own, even while not meaning to start a debate or anything, turned into one anyways. One that involved family and for me has turned into a weekend of conversations with different family members, where I now feel very much on the outside and questioning if my writing or any speaking/activity on social media is worth this. Anyways, its a long story and I digress, but I guess my heart is trying to figure out when is silence and peace and avoiding conflict for the purpose of taking the higher road the better way and when is it running for fear of conflict or being honest or being brave or being vulnerable? When I started writing and speaking up more over the past two years, it has everything to do with me learning to be brave enough to speak, to be brave enough to be vulnerable and authentic no matter how I engage with people around me whether in person or online. But now I question if maybe even that has just got caught up and all people hear are clashing cymbals. I just don’t know right now, and feel so confused.

    Thank you for your post. As always your words were so timely and comforting.

    Kallie C.

    • I’m sorry for all that your posts unleashed in your life… I have strong opinions and want to say things, but with all the poor behavior I feel like anything good is going to get drowned out. Maybe I’m wrong—someone has to speak up. But I guess as strongly as I feel about particular things, they’re my opinions and I don’t feel confident enough that I know what needs to be said. But I DO know people are behaving atrociously, and I think that grieves God more than anything else. I was afraid to post about this, but I decided that even if I didn’t speak up about other things, I could confidently speak about this. Still, people disagree with me, and that’s OK. Hang in there. Yes, it IS brave to speak up, and I’m proud of you for facing that fear… even if the results are disappointing.

  4. Tammy says:

    Thank you for your well worded post, I too have read and wondered why I have not said a word. I felt maybe I lacked bravery but later I thought it has become who is right and wron and who can we get on our sides. I was saddened by all the unkindness on both sides. I was reminded as I was reading in his word that God is the same. He doesn’t change and his word holds true.

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