Five Minute Friday: Grow

Along the Way @ mlsgregg.com

Gentle Reader,

Wicked headache yesterday. Spent my time curled up on the couch, attempting to sleep it off. The dogs made sure to get up in my face to see if they could provide any comfort by way of hot breath and calloused paws. The husband brought me an iced coffee in the hope that a jolt of caffeine would soothe the pain. Pain pills and ice packs later, I’m upright but not entirely human.

Kate says: grow.

Go.

I’m taking a break from social media.

Facebook and Twitter can be great things. I’ve connected with wonderful people across the miles through those platforms. My church family shares prayer requests and praises on our group page. There are times when social media is beautiful.

Then there are times, like right now, when it’s a time-sucking waste. I don’t care what dress some flash-in-the-pan celebrity wore to the latest narcissistic awards show. (How is that even a trending news item, anyway?) I don’t care that someone to whom I barely spoke in high school wants to be friends now. I don’t care about Farmville or whatever it is the kids are playing these days. I don’t care about David Avocado Wolfe and his octaves of sunlight and other ridiculousness that is relentlessly shared.

But I stay engaged, despite the not caring. Because I want to be distracted. From what is good and better. From what I need to focus on right now.

Growing up is hard to do. Again, social media is not the great ill of the world. It’s a useful tool. Did you read that correctly? A tool. Not a means of measuring the quality of friendship. Not a way to feed the gnawing hunger for recognition. Not a good use of the hours we have been given when other duties and delights are clearly shoved to the background.

I have a love-hate thing going on here and I’ve crossed into the “hate” phase. In a world of immediacy, I crave distance. Quiet. While I’ll never completely abandon social media, especially as a blogger, it’s time for me to take a soul inventory. What needs to go? What needs to stay? What should be added? How is God directing me to order my days so that He can grow me into the woman He wants me to be?

I don’t have clear answers to those questions, but this I do know: The feeds don’t satisfy. They are junk food, empty calories. I need substance.

Stop.

My journey to faith. (15)

Photo Credit: Alexander Filonchick

This is Not How We Behave

Just keep spamming, just keep spamming (2)

Gentle Reader,

I’ve been hanging out amongst the residents of the interwebs for a long time now. This blog has existed, in one form or another, for seven years. Before that I enjoyed myself thoroughly on the Amazon Christianity discussion forum. Before that was MySpace. (Remember Tom?)

Online life can be fun, engaging and surprisingly deep.

It can also be disheartening. Even nasty.

On Sunday night I briefly wrote about the howling over Focus on the Family’s small article (actually a Q&A piece) regarding vaccination in their magazine, Thriving Family. The response of a certain intensely opinionated blogger* caught my attention. This blogger is out-and-out offended that nobody from Focus on the Family has picked up on or crafted a statement about the response. While avoiding telling anyone to engage in bad web etiquette, this blogger made sure to say that it was important for any followers who were equally offended to publicly explain on the Focus on the Family Facebook page why support is being withdrawn. The people have taken up the torch.

The flames leap high.

It’s shameless fit-throwing. While I do not think that anyone has to be a fan of Focus on the Family in order to be a Christian, what is happening on the organization’s page is sad. Negative, one-star reviews are popping up and right and left because this blogger has purposefully stirred the pot on an issue that should not be this heated or divisive. This is not a litmus test of salvation. Yet every time a new post comes up in the feed, no matter what it’s about, followers of this blogger comment with a link to the response. All because Focus on the Family maintains a position of supporting vaccination (and medicine in general; some comments are mixed) and because nobody in the organization has opened up a forum for debate.

Except Focus on the Family isn’t obligated to publish an in-depth, thesis-length piece on vaccinations. Or medicine. Or why the sky isn’t purple. They aren’t obligated to respond to every single person with access to a computer and a blog. Such a thing would be nigh unto impossible.

So the ranting? It’s distracting. It’s immature.

Again, you don’t have to be a fan of the organization to be a Christian. But you also don’t need to flame a group that has worked for decades to help families. If their stance on vaccination bothers you, fine. Great. Don’t listen to their programs, purchase their materials or send them money. Move on.

Spamming and trolling never win an argument. Never. Like I said, I’ve been around the internet for a long time. I’ve made connections with many bloggers and site operators. And we just lurv spam. We just adore trolls. Send me a link once and I’ll gladly look. Engage in honest, respectful dialogue with me and I’ll talk. I’ll listen. The second you start screaming is the second I think you’re a nutcase, an attention-seeker or just plain arrogant and want nothing to do with you. Shouting only makes me close my ears. Everyone else I know who operates online feels the same.

Christians, this is NOT how we behave. We do not throw fits. We do not engage in histrionics. We do not get so everlastingly full of ourselves that we work, however cunningly, to undercut a legitimate ministry. These are the attitudes and antics of toddlers, not Spirit-filled adults.

Worse, it’s what one non-believer called “Christian cannibalism” as she watched the fracas unfold.

It’s the Enemy cackling with glee.

My journey to faith. (15)

* I am choosing to not share the name of this person because I don’t want to drive traffic to the site or the blog’s Facebook page. Based on the information provided in this post, you can figure it out for yourself. Please do. Go and make your own decision. Feel absolutely free to disagree with everything I’ve written. Feel free to tell me what you think.

I realize that I walk a fine line here. I don’t want to tear this blogger or this blogger’s followers to pieces. I don’t question their salvation or the sincerity of their beliefs regarding vaccinations and medicine. I don’t deny them the right to voice their opinions in an appropriate manner. Nevertheless, what they are doing is wrong.

How do I know? I chose to interact with them. It was a highly discouraging experience.

And why is this so clearly under my skin and dear to my heart? Why have I written several posts in the last few months about illness and medicine? Because my body is torn apart every day. The bodies of many I love are torn apart every day. We struggle. We suffer. We simply don’t need the additional stress of the ever-growing health-and-wealth, just-eat-organic-and-you’ll-be-fine-no-matter-what, Jesus-doesn’t-want-you-to-go-to-the-doctor-ever-ever, vaccines-are-black-magic juggernaut. I can’t stand by and let it roll on unchecked.

31 Days in the Quiet: Meddlesome

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Gentle Reader,

The word for “quiet” in the passage that I have been contemplating this month is the Greek “hesuchia” (hay-soo-khee-ah), which is “quietness; description of the life of one who stays at home doing his own work, and does not officiously meddle with the affairs of others.”

I love that word, officiously. It means “assertive of authority in an annoyingly domineering way, esp. with regard to petty or trivial matters; intrusively enthusiastic in offering help or advice; interfering.”

In our all-too connected world, it’s easy to meddle in other people’s lives. I’m not even sure we’re aware when we’re doing it. Someone posts something on Facebook, drops a curious tweet, posts a blog. We think that we’re entitled to offer an opinion. And maybe occasionally we are; surely a loving, sound word of advice or a differing view expressed respectfully in the context of a solid relationship can be good things. However, I think that all too often we skip from engaging in dialogue and go into that domineering mode. I know I certainly have.

The truth is, we’re too obsessed with each other. The smallest of molehills becomes the largest of mountains in the space of seconds. I know I need to pursue discernment when it comes to what I do and don’t comment on, whether in the virtual universe or in that of flesh-and-blood.

I think we all do.

My journey to faith. (15)

For all posts in the 31 Days in the Quiet series, go here.