Five Minute Friday: Complete

Worn Out

Gentle Reader,

I distract myself when it hurts. Never one to enjoy “the feels,” I do what I can to regulate my emotions via outside sources, instead of, well, feeling them. Nature, nurture, whatever. Doesn’t matter. It’s part of my programming, one that antidepressants and therapy assist in changing. Maybe someday I’ll get there.

Kate says: complete.

Go.

I deleted all of the posts on my personal Facebook page. Am contemplating doing the same over on Twitter. I keep telling myself that it’s because I want a fresh start. I want to wipe everything clean and begin again. And that is true. But not all true. And not a good truth.

Fear has surrounded me, you see. A nice, complete circle. No beginning, no end.

Don’t post that.

Don’t write that.

Don’t say that.

Don’t share that. 

So if I delete everything, then nobody will know. So-called conservatives can’t get mad at me because I think monuments to the Confederacy belong in museums, that journalists are not your enemies, and that Donald Trump is not a good president. So-called liberals can’t get mad at me because I believe in the literal resurrection of Christ, that marriage as ordained by God is restricted to one man and one woman, and that Scripture is reliable and accurate. And nobody, on any side of anything, can get mad at me for my “Yes, I preach the Gospel but I also live and let live and work hard to love people whoever and whatever they are because I’m really not into ‘Christianizing’ anything” approach. (By the way, the labels “conservative” and “liberal” have just about lost all meaning. Let’s retire them).

Because I’m tired.

Tired of people being mad at me.

And THAT makes me mad.

So I place my figurative foot on this figurative soapbox and stand, knees knocking, toes trembling, hands sweaty. I look at the circle, the one that grows tighter with each passing day. I let my head fall back and I roar:

PEOPLE. DO. NOT. HAVE. TO. AGREE. WITH. YOU. IN. ORDER. FOR. YOU. TO. BE. KIND.

ECHO. CHAMBERS. ARE. BAD.

LEARN. TO. LISTEN. TO. OPPOSING. VIEWS.

GOSSIP. IS. EVIL. STOP. IT. GROW. UP.

IF. YOU. DON’T. LIKE. WHAT. I. WRITE. THEN. DON’T. READ.

OR. IF. YOU. WANT. TO. FOLLOW, BUT. DON’T. LIKE. WHAT. I. WRITE, THEN. MAKE. A. COMPELLING. FACTUAL. SCRIPTURAL. COUNTERARGUMENT. (NO. EMOTIONAL. APPEALS. AND. RAGING. DO. NOT. COUNT).

JESUS. IS. NOT. A. REPUBLICAN.

JESUS. IS. NOT. A. DEMOCRAT.

I want to wipe the slate clean because I want to hide. Just the other day I told my husband, “I want to go unnoticed.” And that, dear reader, is just as wrong as wanting all the attention all the time. Pushing people aside to take center stage, whatever the cost, is the lie of pride. Running away, never taking a stand, is the lie of fear.

The circle morphs into a lasso and yanks me off of the box, beating me into the ground, punch after punch, until I hardly know which way is up. I’m laying there, sweat and blood pooling in the dust, and the heat rises in my chest. Damn it. Who is anyone to tell me that I cannot speak freely when they themselves exercise that freedom? Who is anyone to tell me to stop telling the truth, to stop drawing us back to Scripture, to what God says? Who died and made anyone the social media, blogging, internet, even thought king?

My eyes look past the complete circle, to the place where freedom reigns.

I’m not there yet.

But I will be.

Stop.

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Five Minute Friday: Crowd

Against

Gentle Reader,

It’s been a week of glorious Autumn weather. I’ve been wearing socks. I put on a beanie for my walk this morning. The air is crisp. Leaves on the trees begin to change color, subtly for now, waiting a few more weeks to put on their full, glorious display.

I’m so glad the seasons turn. Goodbye, Summer. I don’t miss you.

Kate says: crowd.

Go.

I’m an adult. On an intellectual level, I understand that I should not care what others think. I cannot look to the crowd for a sense of identity, place, purpose or value. Further, I am a Christian, one who went to school to get a degree that enables me to use the fancy words like “justification” and “sanctification.” I understand that the One to whom I am ultimately accountable is the One who matters. I understand that I must listen to His views (commands, really) and live accordingly.

I’m also human. So of course I care. Not to the degree I did as a teenager, when I was desperate to fit in. But even at 34, it stinks to be ostracized. To find yourself in the minority. To know that there’s rumors and whispers fluttering behind your back. To have your confidence greatly shaken.

Tonight during the #FMFParty chat, Kate said to me:

I’m sorry, friend. Remember: We don’t need to have confidence in OUR ability, only in HIS ability . . .

Something I remind myself of often these days, but was grateful to hear from a sister. It’s a hard hole to climb out of, this one I find myself in. Doubts push down on me. Fear presses from the side.

Anita chimed in:

I have confidence in your ability! You wield words like a conductor wields a baton.

Brought me to my (figurative) knees. I want to use words that way. I want to create prose (and occasionally poetry) that is both beautiful and useful. I want to, somehow, some way, glorify God.

Then I said, to a couple of new(er) writers:

You belong here. Your words matter. Pull up a chair and stay at the table.

I read those words aloud. And I’ll be real: I wonder if they apply to me, too.

There’s been a crowd that tells me that I don’t belong, that I don’t matter and that I need to leave the table if I choose not to conform. Satan, the Accuser of God’s Children, echoes their sentiments. Give up. Give in. Shut up. How tempting it is, because there’s pain in rejection. Tempting, too, to allow seeds of bitterness to take root.

God speaks:

I am not really writing to tell you of any new command, brothers of mine. It is the old, original command which you had at the beginning; it is the old message which you have heard before. And yet as I give it to you again I know that it is true – in your life as it was in His. For the darkness is beginning to lift and the true light is now shining in the world. Anyone who claims to be “in the light” and hates his brother is, in fact, still in complete darkness. The man who loves his brother lives and moves in the light, and has no reason to stumble. But the man who hates his brother is shut off from the light and gropes his way in the dark without seeing where he is going. To move in the dark is to move blindfold.

– 1 John 2:7-11 (Phillips)

If I give up, give in and shut up, I am moving in the dark. If I indulge in bitterness and wallow in hatred, I am moving in the dark. If I want to be in the light – and I do – I can’t hit back at the crowd. Nor can I allow them to imprison me in fear. I have to keep climbing out of the hole, fixing my eyes upon Christ, the One Who promises to complete the work He began in me.

The One Who made me a writer.

With Him, I am never alone, though the crowd may not go with me.

Stop.

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Photo Credit: Remi Yuan
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Review: Paperless Post

Invite

Gentle Reader,

Many years ago, not quite during the age of the dinosaur, but next to it, Chris and I spent hours arguing and wrestling with our rinky-dink printer, trying to get our wedding invitations ready. We had little money. The clearance aisle at Target was our best friend; we bought a half-off package of “save the date” cards and thought we could do everything ourselves. (Note: I did not know that it was, apparently, bad etiquette to use “save the date” cards as wedding invitations. I remain puzzled by this. If a “save the date” card has all of the necessary information, why is a separate invitation necessary? Why is a “save the date” card necessary if one sends out an invitation? So many questions). And it was easy enough to type out what we wanted to say: names, date, location. Simple and clean.

But printing?

That almost ruined our marriage before it began. The card had to be lined up just right in the tray. Couldn’t put in more than one card at a time because that would cause a jam. The ink smeared at one point, evidenced by the faint fingerprints scattered across a handful of the cards. It was awful.

I wish that something like Paperless Post had existed back then.

Paperless Post combines the ease of email with the beauty of traditional stationary. Though an online format, this is neither a plain “e-vite” nor a complicated Facebook “event.” With multiple, customizeable designs available, the user is only limited by imagination when it comes to creating unique, beautiful invitations. If none of the many layouts strike the eye, then build one from scratch, using personal photos.

Once the invitation and virtual envelope are just right, simply enter the name and email address of each person you want to include in the event. Prices vary, depending on design and the number of people invited, but on average it costs five “coins” to send the lovely, special note. Each coin costs around $2.00. Up front, this may seem steep, but don’t forget that stamps are unnecessary and whatever is sent out is exactly what is wanted, not a compromise or something “settled” on.

If you absolutely must have something “concrete,” Paperless Post also has you covered, with Paper Source. Again, all of the designs are customizable, though not to the extent the strictly online versions are. Prices are competitive, coming in at roughly the same amount as what you would pay in a box store, with many options being cheaper, particularly if you browse the sale catalog.

I recommend Paperless Post, particularly for those who are engaged in community service work, which usually involves fundraisers. These invitations are a great way to get the word out without breaking the bank.

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Five Minute Friday: Way

Conversation

Gentle Reader,

Back at the chat tonight for the first time in over a month. How I have missed them. There’s an encouragement that only a writer can give to another writer. She gets it. He knows the struggle. Tonight this community of far-flung wordsmiths affirmed my abilities and told me to keep going. Because, you see, the temptation to quit is always there, but sometimes, on some days, it’s stronger. It’s been a mighty weight for awhile now. Just pack it all in. Fall silent.

I am so grateful for these people. They helped me push against that weight tonight.

Plus, where else can you talk about collecting spit and the joys of curly hair in humid weather?

Kate says: way.

Go.

Dang but do we live in a “my way or no way” culture. Which is odd, because we’re supposed to be all about tolerance and respect. Except the tolerance and respect really only extends to those inside the circle. Those who are the same. Somebody comes in as a challenger and forget it. The tongue-gloves come off. Verbal punches fly fast and thick.

No, this is not me claiming persecution. Christians in the United States haven’t the slightest idea what persecution is.

This is me stepping back and taking stock of the last month. I’ve written about touchy subjects. Spent hours thinking and talking about weighty issues. Reading – always reading – trying to find that place between being informed about current events and becoming utterly overwhelmed. All that, I don’t mind. I like it, in fact. Sign me up.

What I don’t like is hostility.

At this point I believe that all Americans, and especially Christians who live in America, should be made to take a logic and critical thinking class. This was one of the first courses I took during my first semester of college, way back during the time of the dinosaur. We spent hours learning the difference between modus ponens and modus tollens. Got into immediate trouble if we dared allow ad hominem to dance upon our tongues. Were introduced to the No True Scotsman and told to stay away from him. Our professor wrote sentences from news stories on the chalkboard and made us deconstruct them, forcing us to learn to appreciate a good argument or line of thinking, even if we ultimately disagreed with it.

Perhaps a political science class is in order as well. Preferably with a very cranky teacher who rarely gives anyone a grade higher than “B” and requires formal debates. No “because” in his class. You make a statement, you’d better be able to defend that statement, no emotional appeals allowed, and if you can site legal precedent, so much the better.

And definitely, absolutely, certainly theology classes. A lot of them. Staring with hermeneutics.

As I think about the events of the past weeks, I see that, above all, we have to remain teachable. Humble. Open to considering another point of view. Always remembering that none of us knows everything all the time.

Stop.

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