Many of you probably didn’t even notice, or if you did, didn’t think much of it.
But I’ve been slowly distancing myself from Facebook.
I like to keep up with everyone, but at a certain point, it began to bring a lot of pain and frustration.
There were two main reasons:
1) Shiny, Perfectly Happy Lives
2) Nasty Incendiary Dehumanizing Comments
1) Shiny, Perfectly Happy Lives
I’m incredibly happy for the dozen or so women in my circle of friends who are pregnant right now. I’m excited about their futures, their children, all of it. I love them, so I celebrate with them.
But each post about each stage of their pregnancies – or the pregnancies of their friends, which seem to be shared regularly as well – is quite painful for me. Because we have also been trying, but having no success.
Some of them have done me the courtesy of joining with me in my journey, praying for me, giving me a personal call or message before the glorious announcements on FB. But most of them haven’t.
But what made it worse was some of the comments I received when I shared my hurt with others – “Get over it, be happy for them, it just takes time.” Or “Just because you’re having a hard time doesn’t mean you get to kill their joy.” The general consensus was that if I was hurting, it was because I was selfish and a bad person – that I should just suck it up, and pretend that everything was ok so that the other person wouldn’t feel awkward.
And 85% of the time, I’m content to rejoice with those who rejoice. But what ever happened to the other half of the equation? What happened to mourning with those who mourn?
Why shouldn’t someone feel awkward about making a broad impersonal pregnancy announcement to people, knowing that one in four women has suffered a miscarriage? That’s part of living in a society in which we care for one another, and share in one another’s burdens.
It’s like I’m shamed and guilty because I’m hurting – because it is difficult. Maybe I’m not the most gracious loser, but perhaps there is a space for gracious winners as well.
I’m just as guilty of this as anyone else, posting uber-happy reports without considering how others might find it.
But there is also this shame and stigma – especially around the area of infertility & miscarriage – that we don’t talk about and we don’t even have any language to understand or express what the pain is like. And society as a whole would much rather celebrate little babies than sit in the dust with those of us without. So perhaps those of us in pain need to be more honest about what we are experiencing. Perhaps we need to communicate more clearly our struggles and frustrations.
That’s what I’m trying to do a little bit here.
I know that many of my single friends feel the same way about weddings.
I know that people I know without jobs feel the same way about promotions.
I know that people in financial hardship don’t like seeing the posts about new purchases and vacations.
For every cause to celebrate, we have people in our community who are struggling with the opposite.
For every pregnancy, there is barrenness.
For each promotion, there is someone under the stress of a pink slip.
For those in flourishing, there are those in hardship.
But it is much easier on FB to just shine the happy light all the time. I’m pretty guilty of this as well. But perhaps our dialogue needs to remember that there are humans in our midst online. As a guy said in a video I posted earlier today – “insert a little humanity into our corner of the internet.”
I think it’s important to rejoice with those who rejoice – and I do it about 85% of the time. But I think I’d really appreciate it if sometimes people would remember to mourn with those who mourn. Sometimes, I would really love for my friends to come and sit with me in the dust – recognizing that this season isn’t as easy for me. Some of my friends are amazing at this. And I’m grateful for them.
I just ask that perhaps in the future we consider those things as well. Remember the people behind the posts.
2) Nasty Incendiary Dehumanizing
With the election coming up, it’s gotten worse, but it’s already been horrific. With dozens of different causes or protests or campaigns, the primary language of the people is slander. The things coming out of other people’s mouths are horrific and dehumanizing.
The Pro-Life people dehumanize the Planned Parenthood people, and then the rhetoric comes right back and nobody is really being ‘tolerant’ anymore.
The War on Women dehumanizes women, but then we dehumanize the male lawmakers who are perpetrating the injustice.
Democrats dehumanize the Republicans, and nasty tidbits get flung around like excrement.
My faith gets slandered, but it’s ok, because it’s ok to slander my faith these days. My friends justify it by saying “but it’s not *your* faith we’re criticizing” – but it is, because it’s my community, my tradition.
There are people behind these labels.
We go in nasty little circles, and have completely lost any sense of simply honor, dignity and respect for one another. The way that we say things to one another would never fly in person, but we don’t care, because we have to “win” the argument on Facebook.
I just can’t be part of these discussions anymore. It breaks my heart to see Christians crucifying non-believers online, while my liberal ‘tolerant’ friends crucify my faith. It hurts me to see men and women slinging hatred at each other instead of working together to find a solution. It is tragic that people with different economic ideas cannot work together and try to find common ground instead of demonizing those who disagree.
All in all, both reasons boil down to a recent deterioration of humanity online. And as a peace-builder, a peace-maker, someone who loves peace in all its forms and theological depth and complexity, I just cannot participate in it fully anymore.
I hope, if nothing else, that this can inspire you to think a bit more clearly and regularly about the people behind the posts. The men and women who are diverse and lovely. The ones who have rich lives that deserves our honor and respect – even if we disagree with them.Read More
Sometimes the world closes in. There’s darkness and despair. A spark of life only seems like a painful burn in the silence. There is so little light and sometimes that light is more like the tracers you see behind your eyelids on a bright day. There one moment, drifting away the next. And you’re left to choose between two horrible things. You can’t see a way of escape.
You want to choose life – but you don’t feel as if you have any life to choose.
And you might not want to right now. Maybe where you are feels safe, it’s known. In your mind, in your heart, you believe that you are precisely where you deserve to be. It’s your very own fault that you stand in the midst of this sea of discontent and unquiet.
Maybe you made bad decisions in the past. You lashed out when you wanted to draw yourself in. Maybe you chased after joy in the small immediate moments, regardless of the cost, because you didn’t believe that the deeper joy was yours to grasp or run to. Maybe you believe deep down that this is the very best that you could hope for.
And it’s not really that bad, after all.
There are moments when you hear your name whispered and it’s like light filtering through the dust and darkness of the closet of your soul. And then there are the fleeting moments of contentment or pleasure that send signals of life through you. And you remember for just a moment what life could be like or have just a moment where everything goes precisely right.
Until it doesn’t…Read More
We live in the idle world of the everyday, praying for something more, something meaningful for which to live. And when those things don’t come, we always hold onto the hope that someday they will appear. But do they? There is always hope, but sometimes that hope seems so distant and so unlikely.
We find something, someone to cling to. They give us hope in this dark, dreary world, where war is always just around the corner and fear is a part of our daily lives. We listen to announcements about curfews and curses. We spend half our lives in pursuit of a goal that will never satisfy. Until we, like the precious money we so covet, are completely spent. We lose our emotions, our willingness, our courage.
And I still want to get hurt.
Because I was willing to be vulnerable and to trust my hope.
Because I was willing to open the floodgates and invite someone else in.
Because I wanted something more.
I knew deep down inside that the pain and anguish that I would inevitably feel would dissipate to be replaced with strength. Nothing loved is ever lost or perished. I will not allow myself to live in fear of pain. I will not allow myself the luxury of regret.
I’m not sure how to describe this amazing woman in only 300 words. To put it simply, she saved my life. I first met her on a visit to one of my dearest friends in Portland, Oregon. They were roommates. I was in a not-so-healthy relationship. Well, by not-so-healthy I mean pretty downright awful. This visit was something of an escape for me. It was one of the first trips I had taken on my own since meeting him. We went for drinks and appetizers at Applebees and I sat talking to her. She was everything I wished that I could be: strong, confident, funny, and completely kick-ass. By kick-ass, I mean she knows enough martial arts to literally kick anyone’s ass. Absolutely brilliant, I tell you. We went to the Grand Prix for some racing, and I made the decision to move to Portland. Spur of the moment, but absolutely certain. Put a deposit on an apartment and promised to be up by the end of the month.
And I was. But I did not come alone. And then, I entered into the dark time. I had an excellent paying job, but we still couldn’t keep our heads above water. I didn’t know where my money was going every month. Credit cards racked up, and the household nastiness escalated. Every Sunday evening, we would go to a mutual friend’s house for steak and X-Files, and this woman became someone I could trust. Someone who could be honest with me.
One evening, she invited me out to a dinner. It was a celebration for a Rape Crisis Hotline. She and I had a long discussion that evening about her own experiences of powerlessness, and then she said something to me that I will never forget. She said, “Katie, we don’t like the way that he treats you. You deserve better. Do you realize that you aren’t happy? You may be content, but you used to be radiant, and now you’re just surviving. You don’t have to live like this. We will love and support you through this.” I spent the next long period of time justifying everything, trying to make excuses. But not much later, when the walls came crashing down, my world began to spin out of control, and my heart was in little pieces on the ground, her words came back to me. “You deserve better…you don’t have to live like this…you aren’t happy.” And I realized she was right.
I’ve never thanked her properly for being brave that way. For standing up for me, when I couldn’t stand up for myself.Read More
Someone I care about is dying.
And I simply don’t want to imagine a world without him.
In life, we sometimes gain extra ‘family’ members along the way. Bob was this kind of a man to me. He was a spiritual and intellectual ‘father’ who helped me navigate my way to completion of my degree. He is compassionate, highly ethical, funny, gregarious, wise, challenging, and joyful. Really one of those rare gems who make the world a more wonderful place simply by existing.
Based on the ancient doctor Luke’s telling of the story of the Transfiguration of Jesus:
Read the ancient text here
In this text in Luke, we have the Transfiguration. At first glance, it seems like a simple tale of Jesus’ glory revealed. But as I was trying to read more closely, I noticed a few things.
First, Moses and Elijah don’t just appear to cheer Jesus on. God does that himself a few verses later. Verse 31 talks about an Exodus and fulfillment. Considering that Luke puts this story between two stories about his prediction about his death, this makes a great deal of sense. Because Moses and Elijah are probably the best two people that God could have sent to Jesus to help him understand his mission there.
Moses – the son of unfulfilled promises and Elijah – the son of silence and glory…