Monthly Archives: August 2018

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? 🙂

Love Doesn’t Tingle

James,

It’s tough knowing how to say something like this. Honestly, it would be easier not to say anything at all. But I believe I have the responsibility to confront issues in the Church as well as treating others the way I want to be treated.

I’ve spent several weeks debating, and I’ve finally decided (if it were me) I would want to know if people had a problem with things I was writing in public. I hope this will be received in the spirit it’s intended, as a fellow Christ-lover who wants to see God glorified in all things.

So, here it goes.

I believe there are several things you’ve written on Facebook about your first marriage and your current engagement, which are bringing shame to The Body of Christ.

The first thing that disappointed me was a message written “to the woman who let him go.” (Specifically, it bothers me that your new girl posted a public declaration to your ex-wife, Krista, which boiled down to “You lose; I win.”) I’ve seen these types of things posted on Facebook before, and I find them completely tasteless.

“You failed” and “I’ll do better!”

What the heck? Seriously?

You ought to have removed the post…or put some balance on it…or said ANYTHING other than thanking her for “doing things to me that I’ve never felt before!”

Because–seriously–that’s something a 15-year-old might say to the girl he’s taking to homecoming.

If one of my daughters wrote to another woman saying, “I will never make the same mistakes you did” we would have a loooooong talk about WHY she thinks she’s going to have a better outcome than the last girl. God willing, by the time my young ladies are 20-something, they wouldn’t even think about posting “Thanks for letting him walk out of your life” because the Holy Spirit will stop them before I have to.

Saying “You Failed” and “I’ll do better” is bragging at best, and mean-spirited at worst. No good can possibly come from it.

This is especially true when the last wife didn’t “fail.” She was abandoned by an unfaithful husband. What a foolish thing to write.

But the shameful posts didn’t end there.

As I kept scrolling on your wall, I saw many references to “The ONE” and “best I’ve ever felt” and “happiest I’ve ever been,” which made me realize you think love is a feeling.

Again, if any of my siblings or my children talked like this I would warn them that the idea of “The One” is wrong and dangerous. I would tell them to start thinking with their minds–and stop following that tingly thing.

When we believe God created a special person just for us, then we can assume we’ve married the WRONG “one” as soon as the relationship sucks.

(And relationships ALWAYS suck eventually…)

Judging the status of a relationship based on how it makes us feel is selfish and wrong. If Jesus had acted on his feelings, he would have passed the cup of responsibility to somewhere else instead of sacrificing himself.

Furthermore, what’s with all the talk about “God’s plan?” As if God is the one who pulls people apart, through adultery, when he wants to see them happier with someone else? Are you suggesting Krista wasn’t your soul mate, so now God is fixing everything the way it was supposed to be?

That’s the kind of nonsense we end up preaching when we think God speaks to us through our feelings.

We convince ourselves it was a “mistake” when we married Ms. Wrong… and it was a “mistake” when our friends told us not to divorce her and we did anyway… but, then, it wasn’t really a mistake because it was just God’s way of leading us to Ms. Right!

8.9.18 Only Satan Brings Up the Past

Blech. Don’t get me started on all the “amen”s from Christians who are too cowardly to tell you the truth.

The “love of your life” is whoever you CHOOSE to lay down your life for. You promised to sacrifice for Krista. But you are making yourself a liar with every step you take toward following temporary feelings for another woman instead. That’s the wrong choice.

Perhaps you will go ahead and marry Breanna despite the fact that it’s a sin. (Not a past sin…it’s a current, premeditated decision to remarry immorally.) Perhaps you will continue your pattern of using women for your own emotional gratification–mistakenly calling it “love”–instead of choosing the self-denying path.

Perhaps you will throw yourselves a party regardless of what wise counselors have to say.

But, if that’s the case, then at the very least I must ask that you stop sharing fine-sounding quotes from secular support groups and pretending it’s Christian teaching. Please stop leading the weak astray with your poor understanding of how love and grace and forgiveness work.

I realize I could take some flak for speaking. (There are some people who think Christianity is about raising their hands or typing “amen.” And they don’t like when one part of the Body holds another accountable for hurting us.) But I have the support of those who want The Church members to have healthy relationships, both with God and each other.

Since love is an action, and not a tingly feeling, I’m doing my best to love you right now. I’m trying to love you AND Breanna AND Krista AND the young Christians you are damaging with your magnetic personality and shallow theology.

I’m praying that you’ll consider all of this through the lens of Proverbs 27:6–because I think you have a difficult decision to make: whether you’re going to accept difficult criticism from a real friend, or if you’re going to tell everyone I’m speaking for Satan because you prefer kisses from fans instead…

I’m asking God to help each of us grow in wisdom and discernment, so that all of our choices will be God-centered rather than self-centered.

Because of Him,

Amanda