I open my computer, and it’s a not-so-gentle reminder of the hiatus we’ve had (and needed) from seeing everyone’s extreme opinions about the latest hot topic — which appears to be almost everything.
This is not a real example but something like this:
Caption: Look at this cinnamon roll! (Photo of a bakery item the size of the moon, next to a hot cup of coffee, flower arrangement, and open Bible)
Comment 1: Yum!
Comment 2: LOL, gluten is bad for you!
Comment 3: I ate a donut last week, and it gave me an infection in my big toe. Look at this (photo attached).
Comment 4: My Aunt was a donut maker, and she’s also a (insert political affiliation), so we don’t eat them anymore. No thanks, can’t be associated with them!
Comment 5: Ok, HUMBLE brag with the Bible *eyeroll emoji*
I feel my chest tighten and notice I’m holding my breath. I don’t want to do this again. I don’t want to do this anymore.
I miss big parties, and I miss traveling like we used to. I miss seeing people’s smiles, and I miss about a trillion other little things I took for granted. But mostly I miss not feeling so willingly divided and anxious about relational stress as we approach the fall and winter. And before I can even use language to describe this anxiety, my body responds for me, and I wear my shoulders as ear muffs. My breath quickens. I wince. My brows furrow, blood rushes to my cheeks, or my stomach hurts. If you’re human with a beating heart, you probably know what I’m talking about.
I close the computer and think about it all day: Why are people like this? Why can’t we just stop treating each other like this? I wish “she” wouldn’t have mentioned that — that makes me mad. But the more I think on it, the more I think about the human condition we need saving from: our own selves. Before you throw tomatoes at me, I didn’t come up with this idea.
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.
James 4:1-3 (ESV)
Ouch. That one convicted me so badly I memorized it this summer to prepare me for the fall and the potential heated debates to come. And let me say, when I’m about to actively run into an argument after reading Cousin Fred’s entire comments section in his latest fire-breathing post, I take a deep belly breath and consume truth that comes from a living and active God. I am the problem. Forgive me, Lord, for wanting to murder someone with my words, for believing I am more worthy of your gift of grace than he is. Give me the supernatural power to love someone I feel is my enemy. I can’t do this on my own.
As believers, we should be people marked not by fear, hatred, or murderous words but by peace. We should have a desire for unity instead of desiring and actively seeking out division with our words. We should have the markings of self control and love, not unbridled tongues which have the power to set the world on fire. I don’t know if I really believed that until last year, but haven’t we all seen the power of our tongues and how they hold the power of life and death?
Lest this start to feel a bit depressing, as we all have a personal account of our own devastating losses this year, including close relationships, we actually do have great hope.
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.
John 16:32-33 (ESV)
Read that verse again. Notice how your body responds to the truth. It’s quite different from scrolling through a social media feed. Maybe like mine, your shoulders come down and your breath slows. And as the words of Scripture settle into my heart, I see things more clearly now: We are too quick to wander into the most dangerous of places with our words and thoughts, thinking we know the better path. But God is our Good Shepherd. He actively looks to bring us back to Himself, reorient our hearts toward Him, and give us the peace of His guidance, care, and protection — even from ourselves.
We are not on our own when we face difficult circumstances and conversations or when we have to navigate complicated relationships and feelings. When we see ourselves and others with the right perspective, we remember that our words, whether written in a comment or spoken out loud, have the power to give life and speak truth.Leave a Comment