#WhyIDidntReport…Because You Might #BelieveHer

Last week, the hashtag #WhyIDidntReport was trending on Twitter, so women could share their stories of assault that happened years ago and went unreported, for various reasons…

The theory is that women generally don’t feel safe enough to seek help from the police or other authorities because they’re worried “The Patriarchy” will protect men by brushing off the female victims.

Thus, another popular hashtag cropped up recently, urging society to #BelieveHer.

In watching these Twitter campaigns unfold,  I was angry at first… then I was sad… then I was conflicted…

And now I feel angry/sad/conflicted all over again, knowing how odd it sounds to a new reader that a movement meant for empowering women could make me–a woman–feel such negative emotions.

But I decided this morning that sharing my own reasons for not reporting might go a long way in clearing up a few things.

So…

Here is Why I Didn’t Report:

#1. I was too young to realize it wasn’t normal.  Even now, as an adult, it feels awkward using the word “abuse” without adding qualifiers, such as “It could have been worse.”  For years, I assumed EVERYONE was abused like me.

#2. I depended on my abuser for care, and my abuser wasn’t bad ALL the time.  Therefore, since the damaging memories were mixed with very good ones, I was torn… and I still am.

#3.  I was taught Christians must forgive those who hurt them.  (I know I’m not the only one who has wrestled with the line between forgiveness and enabling future abuse.  So my heart goes out to anyone in this boat–struggling between grace and justice! It’s hard!)

But here’s the most important reason, and it’s why I STILL Haven’t reported:

#4.  My abuser was a woman, and society doesn’t know how to handle stories about Female Monsters.

I understand why certain people fear The Patriarchy–Really, I do.

Feminists are afraid of the old Patriarchy for the exact same reason I am afraid of the Matriarchy they’ve built to replace it.

They don’t want men to have “too much” power, because they’ve seen, first hand, what horrible injustices can be committed by men.

I don’t want women to have “too much” power because of the same first-hand experiences with aggressive females.

It was a woman who made me doubt my self worth. It was a woman who taught me to walk on eggshells in order to placate an unpredictable temper.  It was a woman who filled my mind with warnings of “you’re lucky to have me” and “you won’t survive without me” and “they’ll never believe you.”

And, after all these years, I still wonder if she’s right…

If I sought help, would she be held accountable (to the same standard as an abusive man) and encouraged to do the hard work of rehabilitation?  Or would she be given an excuse, such as “She’s in pain, too” or “Nobody Is Perfect”?

Would I be encouraged for the healing I’ve achieved, despite the lack of remorse all of these years–or would I be dismissed because my abuser cries more easily than I, and because she has more practice manipulating The System?

When the time comes that men are viewed as default aggressors–and all women are assumed trustworthy–will you believe me?

Or will you #BelieveHer?


Addendum: I wanted to add a few links as examples of things that have angered/scared/saddened me lately.  Perhaps it goes without say that the unfounded accusations against Judge Kavanaugh have been pretty upsetting.  I see my abuser in women like Dr. Ford, who rewrite history and then genuinely believe their own lies.  I see my abuser in girls who make up stories about sexual abuse for the attention. I see my abuser in women who are presented with DNA evidence that they’re wrong, and still won’t accept responsibility.  (Go ahead and click that last one.  Loretta and Dean appeared on the Dr. Phil show after Dean was cleared of all charges, yet Loretta STILL believes he’s guilty.)

I know what happens when we try to bring up these examples to Feminists. We’re told cases of lying females are “rare” and that they only muddy the waters in the conversation about justice.

So, again, THAT’S why I’m reluctant to report…

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Seriously, New Girl, You Don’t Want Me to Get Angry…

It’s an odd time to be a woman in this culture.  We’re being told how oppressive the Patriarchal system is and how difficult it is for women to have their voices heard…but we’re being told these things by dozens of women speaking at huge conferences and promoting their BEST-SELLING BOOKS.

Think about that for a second.

How long are women going to enjoy having the loudest voices in the culture before they realize the Patriarchy isn’t holding them back at all?

Or maybe they already know they are fueling gender wars by tackling a problem that doesn’t exist, but they just don’t care because being a “Jesus Feminist” gives them the kind of power and attention they want?

It’s a publisher’s dream:  a woman who grew up in the church and now leans politically Left. They can write things like “unexpected” and “fresh” on the book cover!

They know how to promote a Liberal Christian because they’ve done it over and over and over and over and over and over.

Let’s list the female authors who’ve somehow managed to convince readers they are unique, shall we?

-Glennon Doyle

-Jen Hatmaker

-Rachel Held Evans

-Sarah Bessey

-Nadia Bolz-Weber

-Anne LaMott

-Jory Micah, apparently.

(What? You’ve never heard of the last one?  I hadn’t either, until her promoted ads started appearing in my Facebook feed last night.  But I’ll come back to that.)

Ladies–we need to talk.

We need to discuss the fact that men aren’t the ones regularly elevating themselves to places of power by speaking on MY behalf…   

You are. 

Men aren’t the ones leading the discussion on families/relationships using outdated social justice philosophies as their justification.

You are.

(Althought Rob Bell and John Pavlovitz are happy to join you.)

The loudest voices are yours.  YOUR books and blog posts and conferences, worth millions of dollars, are absolutely dominating the Christian culture, and you’re drowning out those of us who have something different to say.

Of course, you still talk about male-dominated systems because it’s a talking point that sells.   But you’re cutting off and shouting above a rising number of female critics who are figuring out what’s happening here.

We don’t like being used.

——-

You female authors, with your pop-psych advice and a spritz of Christianese flavor, I see what you’re doing.  You are winning in the marketing arena.

There’s no sound doctrine in what you say or write. You are led by feelings rather than critical thought.  And you have created an almost-impenetrable wall around yourselves based on the lie that anyone who judges you is a hater…but whenever YOU judge someone, your anger is righteous and just.

Here’s a screenshot to illustrate perfectly:

10.6.18 Get Angry

 

I thought about censoring the names of the women in this conversation. But then I realized, this page was being PROMOTED IN MY NEWSFEED.  Surely Jory Micah won’t mind if I share her opinions with my readers, because what she has to say is so damn* important!

(*Please note: I’m speaking the language of the Edgy-Girl-With-A-Church-Background. Now I just need to wait to be contacted by an agent.) 😉

Get angry, she says.  Let your Righteous Anger rage! Never mind what the Bible says about human anger NEVER leading to righteousness…  Anyone who dares quote from the book of James is a misogynist, probably.

They say they want anger–but what they really want is agreement. Don’t believe me? Why don’t you try to offer constructive criticism to one of the women on that list?

I bet you you’ll end up being accused of  “mocking” or “judging” or just “trying to bring them down.”

10.6.18 Get Angry (1)

I bet you’ll be told you’re not acting very Christlike when you try to hold a Jesus Feminist accountable for HER bad behavior.

She will decide exactly when and why a person is allowed to be angry, thank you very much.  🙂

I’m very familiar with this type of “Sheology,” so I don’t have much hope for a level-headed conversation about doctrine.  It’s difficult engaging with individuals who are always ready to accuse others of “intellectualism,” as if being smart is a bad thing.  I’ll save myself some frustration and just avoid anyone who openly admits her litmus test when judging me is her own feelings, rather than an objectively sound argument in pursuit of TRUTH.

So, the only truth arrow I’ll attempt to send into Feminist Fortess is this one:  you don’t speak for us. 

Hey–new girl–you don’t speak for me.  You shattered that glass steeple years ago, and now you’re holding broken shards to the necks of innocent men, while you indulge your carnal temper fits…

You think anger is a good way to get attention? Okay.  Well, I’m pretty angry myself.

But I’m still working on patience and self-control. (You know? Fruits of the Spirit?)  So I’m not just going to explode all over you and then ask my logical husband to rationalize it later.

If you’ll kindly stop lecturing about how abused American women are for just a second, I hope you’ll hear THIS American woman say very clearly: you’re the one doing much of the abusing.

Teaching women to follow their “intuition.” Teaching women to identify as victims. Teaching them to put their trust in social movements rather than thousands of years of Christian philosophy about the mind and heart….?  (Mind=good. Heart=wicked.  Sorry.)

The message you’re sending is wrong, and you’re hurting people.

On the plus side, you’ve helpfully admitted that logic isn’t your strong suit, so I don’t have to bother building a rational case.    I’ll simply ask that you stop calling yourself an advocate for women, because I’m a woman, and I feel that you’re doing more damage than you realize.

As I sit here, looking at my list of rich, powerful female leaders, God has laid something on my heart which I need to share:

For the sake of our Savior and of the people being led astray by the abundance of poor reasoning in your superficial books, please…

Please stop promoting yourself, girls.

Please take an antacid for whatever is bubbling deep down inside that causes you to write the stupid and irresponsible things you put on social media.

And please stop talking and writing until you have something reasonable to say.

Alcoholics Aren’t Better than Rapists

This was brought to my attention today. It’s a helpful anecdote (from “ScaryMommy”) to teach young girls that–even when they’re completely irresponsible–they shouldn’t be blamed for bad situations:

“When I was a freshman in college, I got very, very drunk at a frat party. So drunk that when my friend and I introduced ourselves to some guys, they asked which one of us was Jen and I didn’t know. One of the guys brought me into an empty bedroom and kissed me. After a minute, I started to panic and told him I wanted to leave. So he stepped aside and let me go. How do I remember this if I was so drunk? Because, as soon as I left that room, I recognized how profoundly lucky I was.

I was drunk. I was in a dangerous situation. But I wasn’t raped that night because that guy wasn’t a rapist.

After college, I moved to New York. Once, after spending a night drinking and smoking pot with some friends, I decided to take the subway home. I got on the F train in the Lower East Side and only needed to take it a few stops to my Brooklyn apartment.

Instead, I passed out. A conductor woke me at Coney Island, the end of the line. Amazingly, no one had touched me.

Even though I was passed out and dressed provocatively, I wasn’t raped because there were no rapists on the subway.

Dangerous situations don’t cause rape. Skimpy clothes don’t cause rape. Alcohol doesn’t cause rape. Drugs don’t cause rape. The only thing that causes rape is a rapist.”

There are a couple things wrong with this story.  For one, this woman clearly had a bad relationship with alcohol, which she’s overlooking in order to make a point about “rapists.”  I sincerely hope she’s seeking help for her drinking problem. But I’m concerned she may be too distracted with teaching “rapists” how to fight their temptations and ultimately be more self-controlled than she is…

The other problem is thinking that most humans are basically good, and that only a handful of Bad Guys (called “Rapists”) need to be held accountable for making the world a worse place.   These Bad Guys are bad, all the way to their core…unlike the skimpy-dressing, pot-smoking party girls, who are still Good Guys despite a few poor choices.

It’s a problem when we use another person’s issues to cover up our own. But I think it will be easier for me to make both of these points if I tell the same story from the man’s perpective.

Tell me if this college boy’s sermon should get an “amen”:

“When I was a freshman in college, I got very, very drunk at a frat party. So drunk that when a friend and I introduced ourselves to some girls, they asked which one of us was Brett, and I honestly didn’t know.   One of the girls brought me into an empty room and shoved me down on the bed.   I blacked out after that, but I had her panties when I woke up the next morning.

How do I remember, if I was drunk?  Because…it scared me knowing a girl I’ve never met before may tell a different story. I was drunk, and I was in a dangerous situation with a total stranger.  That would have been the worst night of my life, if that girl was a liar.

After college, I moved to New York. Once, after spending a night drinking and smoking pot with some friends, I decided to take the subway home. I only needed to take it a few stops to my Brooklyn apartment.  But, I passed out…

So far, no one has told me I was violent or beligerent on that train.  No one has accused me of making sexual remarks to other passengers that I can’t remember.

Maybe I should try running for public office and see if THAT jogs any “memories”…

Haha–no, seriously. Dangerous situations don’t cause false accusations. Alcohol doesn’t cause false accusations. Being an irresponsible man who can’t remember huge chunks of his life doesn’t cause false allegations. The only thing that causes a false allegation is A LIAR…”

Does my little anecdote make it easier to see the truth and the falsehood of this logic?

Sure–liars are responsible for lies.

But when people regularly, unapologetically shut down parts of their brains and rub against people they barely know, can we really pick just one person to “blame” for miscommunication…poor decisions…and conflicting memories?

Why should I believe that a woman’s drunken recollections are more reliable than a man’s?

Here’s the bad news for girls who lived wild college years:  you only want to talk about “rapists” because you think your alcoholism is better.   Maybe you assume your drunken sexual behavior is kind of cute and fun? (Of course, you can’t remember for sure.)

But all of your rationalizing and justification can’t convince me that you would NEVER do, say, or remember anything wrong while under the influence.  You’re trying too hard to convince the world that there’s a huge difference between black-hearted rapists and college girls who are full of sugar and spice.

Nope.

Nope.

Nope.

Unfortunately, that’s not how it works.  Evolution didn’t create Bad Guys (them) and Good Guys (Us).

The truth is that Monsters lie dormant inside every one, and they’re constantly pointing their hairy fingers at others.

Some monsters really like sex.

Some monsters like attention.

And some monsters really like the power that comes from playing the victim.

(Many monsters like all three.)

It’s very difficult to defeat the arrogant, self-focused, holier-than-thou Monster, even with full strength and sober judgment.  But it’s almost impossible to chain that beast when you spend every weekend drinking away your senses and making excuses for it.

Girls–get help for your partying problems. And stop believing the lying Monster who tells you that drunk boys still have more responsibility for their bad behavior than you do.

You’re both being stupid.  Clean it up.

Women Fart, Too

I remember the first time my little brother learned that girls fart. It was our Grandma who taught him.

But I’ll come back to the story in a minute…

Recently Trevor Noah (at the Daily Show) made some remarks about never really knowing how a person behaves behind closed doors.  Lots of people have come forward to defend Judge Kavanaugh as a good man with a solid reputation–which prompted Noah to make the following statement:

“In society, we’re seeing this over and over again–whether it’s Bill Cosby, Les Moonves, Brett Kavanaugh–and I’m not saying Kavanaugh is guilty of anything. But what we’re seeing is that people struggle to understand that two things can be true and [seem] contradictory at the same time. You could know somebody as a great person, and they could also be doing something you don’t know about, that makes them someone you wouldn’t recognize…”

I want to be clear: I agree wholeheartedly with this point.  People struggle to understand that certain people, regardless of image, may be capable of doing extrememly horrible things…

My only question is, why does he only name Kavanaugh in his example–failing to mention that his accuser, Christine Ford, “could” also be two-faced?

Of course, I’m not saying Ford is guilty of anything.  I’m just saying it seems that some people struggle to understand it’s possible for her to be an influential professor to some…a broken victim to others…and also have a vindictive streak that her friends wouldn’t recognize.

It seems Trevor Noah (and many others) can’t wrap their minds around the possibility of a woman who lies.  

On one hand, I think it’s kind of nice that most men I know are quick to give women the benefit of the doubt. (As a woman, especially, it’s nice to be assumed morally-superior and basically innocent until indesputably proven guilty.)  But, there is a downside when I think of what this means for the boys/men I love.

Whenever people talk generally about bad behavior, they’re most likely picturing a male sinner in their minds.  And even when we discuss the fact that people can surprise us with their inner beast, we STILL probably aren’t picturing our female friends doing anything evil.

It’s much easier to believe men are pigs than women are… (Even the men who have doubts about Ford’s story still tend to say things like “She was confused,” or “she’s being manipulated by the Democrats…”)

Noah Trevor doesn’t seem to have considered that Ford could have the same problem that Cosby and Moonves have:  she has internal issues, regardless of exterior appearances.

That’s why I’m thinking about my brother and my grandma…and farts.

At first, the idea of women farting simply didn’t compute for Tim. He had trouble accepting that even soft-spoken, good-smelling girls have moments where they aren’t sweet.

I’ll never forget the day our Grandma looked him dead in the eye and said, “I fart quite a bit!” And he giggled before realizing she was serious and scrambling to make sense of the news.

Finally he decided that maybe Grandma farts A LITTLE, but girl gas still can’t be as loud and offensive as guy gas.  He still couldn’t accept the reality without assuring himself that males farts are still worse.

All that to say, I agree with the sentiment that you never know what someone may be hiding. I’m not saying Ford is guilty of anything. Just remember she COULD be a smart, generous, bubbly person to you and a manipulative life-destroyer to someone else.

If justice is ever going to be served, we can’t give one sex the benefit of the doubt over and above the other.   We MUST understand (and fully agree) that both men and women make terrible decisions and behave selfishly.

When there’s a stink in the air, it’s natural to suspect the man. But that bias flies in the face of real justice.

Take it from me, son.   Women fart quite a bit.

Girl Fart

Today “Me” Counsels Younger “Me”

Today Me:  There’s a very special guest in my head-space/blog-space today… it’s the younger version of myself!  The girl who nags her boyfriend-turned-husband but always has a good reason for it; the girl whose marriage regularly includes crying and seething and ordering Luke to sleep on the couch (if he’s lucky and she doesn’t kick him out of the house completely!)

Wait, what’s that you say? You didn’t know that girl even existed?

Well, stay tuned, Reader.   You’re in for a treat!

Here with me, right now, is a newly-married woman of just 20-years-old–Amanda Rose (Branyan) McKinney, but not exactly as you know her.  She’s not long out of highschool…not yet a “McMommy”…and not yet willing to admit that, perhaps, some of the issues in her young relationship are hers.

Welcome, Younger Me!

Younger Me:    Thanks, it’s great to be here! I’m a writer, too, you know?

Today Me:  Yes–and a very good one.  Just be careful. It’s not good to let talent go to your head.

Younger Me:  Good advice.  I wouldn’t want to look back in ten years and realize I’ve started talking to myself.

Today Me:  Yeah, this is a little weird. But it seemed like a good idea at 2:30 this morning.

Younger Me:  Oh, do we still wake up in the middle of the night unable to sleep until we write a little bit?

Today Me:  Well, mostly we wake in the middle of the night to feed babies. But, yeah, occassionally the nagging muse still comes to visit.  And that brings me to what I want to talk about, Younger.  Nagging.  So why don’t you tell me about your marriage?

Younger Me:  Seriously?  I’m Younger, but I recognize a leading question when I hear one.  I’m not trying to be “nagging” toward Luke.  But either something is seriously wrong with our marriage, or something is seriously wrong with ME.

Today Me:  Go on…

Younger Me:  Well, if it were anyone else, I might have trouble confessing this. But since I’m talking to myself, I guess I’ll admit it: sometimes I wonder if I have some kind of mental illness.

Today Me:  Why would you think that?

Younger Me: I just get sooo angry with Luke! And, once I’m angry, I start saying things I don’t even mean…but it’s like my mouth stops working and I CAN’T say “I’m sorry” or “Let’s just start this conversation over” or ANYTHING except angry words.  In those moments, when I’m trying to express my feelings and he doesn’t understand, I want to throw my hands in the air and walk out. I used to do that fairly often when we were dating. (Once I slammed down my engagement ring in a dramatic fashion and threatened to walk 9 miles back to my house. I made it less than a block before he was able to coax me back inside. But that’s only because I realized when the cold air hit me that it was going to be a terrible walk home, so I let him take me back inside.)  Now that we’re married, quitting isn’t supposed to be an option. Even threatening to quit is wrong.  But I find myself doing/saying more and more unfair and outageous things just to help him understand I’m unhappy!  And we’re no closer to figuring out the source of my unhappiness in the first place.

Today Me:  I have good news, my young friend.   You are NOT crazy.   And, even better:  the source of your unhappiness is yourself.

Younger Me:  (*scoffs)  How is that better news, exactly?

Today Me:  Come on, be honest with yourself. Which is better news for a control freak:  you have to wait for Luke to fix this?  Or you can fix this on your own?

Younger Me:  Go on…

Today Me:  Sweetie, I know you’re not trying to nag your husband.  But when the Bible warns it’s better to live on the corner of the roof than with a nagging wife, it’s talking about you.  I know, it stings to hear. But it’s true, and there’s more: When you cry and preach and cry some more, then finally send Luke to the couch (or out the door), you’re doing him a favor.  In those moments, he’s glad to be there–away from your verbal mistreatment.   Of course, you always insist you want him to be truthful. But what would happen if he said, truthfully, “Yes, I sleep perfectly fine on the couch, once you’re done unloading on me.  My life is peaceful except when you want to ‘talk’ about something.”

Younger Me:   See, what you’re saying sounds reasonable.  But, it’s not hard to talk about it now because I’m not already worked up.  It’s different when I’m angry. When I’m upset, I can’t hear truth.  How can I fix this myself if I get so angry that Luke can’t even say what you just said without making it worse?

Today Me:  Two things: learn how to manage your anger so you don’t get to that point, AND stop expecting Luke to say what you’re already able to say to yourself. 

Younger Me:  That’s an interesting suggestion, I think… BUT, what about the fact that Luke is supposed to be the leader of our family?  He’s supposed to take charge!   Yet I barely ever see him. And, when I do, he’s usually cram-studying for a test he almost forgot about OR watching football like some teenager.  I don’t think he realizes he’s not a bachelor anymore. He has a wife who needs him!

Today Me:  I’m sorry, who did you say was leading the family again?

Younger Me:  Luke is supposed to. But God gives women more sensitive feelings, so they can be the barometers of the relationship.  My Marriage Barometer has been sensing problems for a long time now!  SOMETHING IS WRONG!

Today Me:  Oh, Honey, put all those marriage “enrichment” books in that file cabinet marked “T-R-A-S-H.”   An over-abundance of pop-psychology advice, disguised as biblical truth, only confuses you further and makes things WORSE.  Haven’t you noticed?

Younger Me:  Yeah, the books aren’t helping because Luke won’t read them! He doesn’t love me enough, and he’s not a strong enough leader to put in the effort!

Today Me:    No.  He won’t read them because he’s not the one who’s unhappy. And, as the leader of the family, he will decide what steps to take if/when he thinks it needs “enriched.”  The solution is simple.  (Not easy, but simple.)   Put yourself in Luke’s position and imagine being married to yourself.  Stop thinking about your needs long enough to remember that Luke needs a wife who is emotionally responsible. Then, treat him the way you would want to be treated. Look for ways to treat serve him.  Do this when you feel like it and when you don’t.

And, most importantly… (Are you listening? This is going to change your life.)  MOST IMPORTANTLY: when you have a yucky feeling crop up on that “marriage barometer” of yours, wait it out. JUST WAIT.

Younger Me:  Just wait?  As in, sit there feeling terrible and struggling under the surface, while Luke enjoys his football game?  You mean LIE to him if he asks what’s wrong???

Today Me:  Just. Wait. Don’t SAY anything.  Become a third-person observer of your feelings, like a weather man watching the clouds go past.   You will notice that the sun is covered; the atmosphere might begin to feel cold and rainy.  You may even acknowledge that you’re feeling unpleasant. But JUST WAIT! The clouds will move along again, all by themselves. You don’t have to do or say anything for the sun to return!

More to the point: stop blaming Luke for the rain.  Weather happens whether he’s “leading” the way you think he should or not, so stop looking for another person to blame…

Younger Me:  All of this just feels so crazy. What kind of stable human feels sad or angry or even a little “off” for no reason?  This is exactly why I said I must be crazy!

Today Me:  You mean what kind of human has complex and often contradictory feelings?  Uh…all of them.  Fear not. This isn’t pathological.  Furthermore, who said it was for “no reason?”  I said your feelings aren’t meant to be used to grade Luke’s leadership skills. I didn’t say your feelings are completely without purpose.

Younger Me:    But what in the world could be the purpose of giving me feelings that I’m not supposed to share with my husband?!

Today Me:  Ah, that’s something we can ponder together another day… You and I will have time to work on several ideas and theories, while we’re waiting for the sun to return.  Or sometimes even while the sun is still out!  We love to ponder. I hope you’ll come back again sometime so we can record more of our conversations.

Younger Me:  Right now, I’m feeling a little annoyed that my feelings are being invalidated. Honestly, I don’t feel like being cooperative…

Today Me:  Just wait.

That’s Not All “You Say” !

If you haven’t heard the song all the relevant churches are singing right now, here’s Lauren Daigle’s “You Say:”

That’s nice, isn’t it?
“You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
You say I am held when I am falling short
When I don’t belong, oh You say that I am Yours
And I believe… What You say of me…”
We like to sing songs about the nice things God says to people, and that’s great. 
Really!
The only problem is, I’m worried some folks sitting in church might feel left out.   
First of all, there are those of us who don’t struggle with the “sin” of feeling like we don’t measure up.  (That used to be called “humility.”)
Some of us struggle with something the Bible actually talks about: pride.   And, so we feel weird singing, “I keep fighting voices in my head saying I’m not enough,” because–well–that’s not true.   
I’m pretty darn pleased with myself most of the time. And God has some things to say about THAT.
Maybe it’s awkward to think about it, but not EVERYTHING God says to humans is quite so sweet and encouraging as Lauren Daigle’s song. 
The Bible talks about Wolves in Sheeps Clothing and Pharisees and Goats, all of whom presumably sit in our churches every Sunday, singing right along with us… but the current lyrics to “You Say” don’t apply nicely to them.
So I thought I’d help out by adding another verse.
Here are some addition lyrics, incorporating a few of The Father’s less popular “sayings.” (Scripture references included in parenthesis.)
 
“You say depart from me, although I didn’t know you were thirsty.” (Matt 25:41)
“You say the gate is narrow, even when I think you’re kidding.” (Matt 7:13)
“You say beware of false teaching, but I hope songs don’t apply.” (Matt 16:6)
“When I turn you into a Teddy Bear–oh–you say Fear God.” (Matt. 10:28)

And I believe what you say!…

Okay, I realize perhaps the rhythm needs some work.
But, I’m open to working with a more gifted musician to improve this chorus, because I’m sure it’s going to be a hit!
Hundreds of thousands of people are singing about the things God says every week, and I think it’s worth at least mentioning some of HIS OTHER, less catchy quotes.
Go ahead and leave your general comments below, and/or let me know if you’re interested in buying the copyright to this.
😉

That’s Not Nice

Sometimes I know exactly what I’m expected to say/do in order to be considered a “nice person.”  But saying/doing those things feels unnatural.

Maybe examples are needed:

It feels unnatural for me to make small talk.

When someone says, “My sister’s husband’s brother is starting a business, and he could really use prayers,” I get super awkward.

At that point, I’m thinking, “I’m supposed to tell her that’s interesting! Tell her you’ll pray for her, Amanda!”

But…

I’m not at all interested.

And I literally have no idea WHAT to pray in that situation.   (I guess, “God bless So-and-so’s sister’s husband’s brother’s business”…  ???)

I know I’m obligated, culturally, to smile and nod at whatever someone says, as long as they are smiling and nodding themselves.  But if they are frowning and saying that something is sad, I should frown and agree with their sadness, too.

Either way, agreement is key!

…even if I happen to disagree with whatever they’re saying…

It’s frustrating!

Because I end up arguing with myself between what I’m expected to say and what I’d rather say.   And, even as I’m writing now, I’m not sure where to land.

As much as I believe that feelings shouldn’t be trusted and humans should discipline themselves to do what doesn’t come naturally– I still FEEL icky and fake when I obediently do what society expects me to do.  I still FEEL like a sell-out when I pout empathetically and lament, “I’m so sorry you have been tired lately!” instead of  pointing out, “I’ve got four kids and one of them is teething, but some of us choose not to dwell on it.”

Should I practice being “nicer” regardless of whether or not I want to do it?

Should I say/do what is socially expected of me, as an act of service and self-sacrifice?

Or did God make me the way I am–sort of awkward–because He has a job for me that doesn’t require a magnetic personality and lots of fans?

Maybe I should just keep being weird (which some consider “not nice”)  because my equally weird friends love me this way.

I go back and forth all the time.


 

I’ve read the book How to Win Friends and Influence People.

It tells me that I can earn goodwill by offering a listening ear and generally making others feel good about themselves. Dale Carnegie recommends that I make every person I meet believe he/she is the most important person in the room.

Yet, I struggle.

For two reasons:

#1. Attempting to change minds this way feels slimey. It seems like a trick. What makes me better than a propoganda-touting politician, who kisses butts and wins elections on charm alone?  What makes me better than a salesman, who is willing to say whatever it takes to make you comfortable so he can get what he wants from you?    I don’t want to sell myself in exchange for popularity, because I don’t like the types of people who seem to have done so already.

#2.  I don’t really want to be friends with people who talk about themselves (and their sister’s husband’s niece’s asthma) constantly. So why would would I want to “win” them?

Again–I know how that sounds!

It doesn’t sound very nice!

Sometimes I know exactly what I’m supposed to say/do in order to demonstrate niceness, and one of those things is to keep certain thoughts to myself.

But the truth is, I don’t want to be friends with certain people.  That’s how I feel.

I can hear my words through the filter of someone who won’t appreciate this post, and I understand that they expect me to be friendly. They will think I’m just being mean, for no reason.

Perhaps they will think to themselves how glad they are that we’re not friends, and then they will go smile and nod and pretend to care about the poodle of a cousin’s gardener, who is a much better person than me.

But, for the rest of my readers, I hope I’m making sense:

Being ‘nice’ feels like a cheap trick humans play on each other when they’re too stubborn or lazy or corrupt to build relationships on something more substantive.

I don’t want to practice social niceties, because I don’t want more people in the world just saying what they’re “supposed” to say.  I want honest, thoughtful, judgmental friends.

Be honest and judgmental:  do you think I need to suck it up and be “nice” anyway? 🙂