Monday, January 30, 2017

In response ...

I've been sick; just a cold/flu probably. But it packed a punch and I've been off work and in bed for a week. 
It was the headache, really, that did me in. Felt like the back of my head had been bashed in with a baseball bat while someone else was pulling my eyeballs out of my face with a teaspoon. Six days of it. 

It's finally subsiding today; everything's moved into my chest, so if listening to someone cough their lungs out is annoying for you, we probably shouldn't meet up for coffee this week. 

With my eyes and my head being the main problem, I haven't spent any time looking at screens. So recent Facebook and Twitter dramas have mostly passed me by. (I've been keeping myself entertained by giving my imagination full reign. Sadly, it's been nothing but dark memories and bleak fantasies. Which has been disappointing, but maybe to be expected in January, when laying on a lumpy twin mattress, hopped up on an assortment of pain relievers?)

I was reminded again, vividly, this past week, how hard it is to pray when you're in pain. It takes energy to overlook the discomfort and concentrate on a conversation with the Almighty. My thoughts bounced all over the place, from one not-very-friendly spot to another and it was hard to set those negative imaginings aside and pray for the people I love. One night in particular, midway through this adventure, I was up all night dealing with nightmares and by the time morning broke, I was covered in sweat and convinced I would die alone and lonely. Everyone hated me because I am a horrible human being. 

Wow. That accelerated so fast. Haha. From having a simple cold to being despised then dead in three easy steps. There's no accounting for what happens to one's mind when one feels like crap.

Anyway, like I said, the worst is behind me, and yesterday I spent some time poking around various social media platforms. Instagram really is the gentlest and kindest one out there right now. Mostly pretty pictures of sunsets and babies and puppies and face-selfies. Easy on the mind as you scroll through, slowly. 

President Trump has been busy while I've been sleeping, yes? 

My Facebook feed is filled with news, stories, opinions, and images about his actions and the world's reactions. Well, yours, probably, is just as cluttered. The response. The response, tho. So passionate. So personal. So polarizing. 

Like this:

"While millions of you Christian parents sit in church tomorrow and sing about your devotion to Jesus while YOUR children are nearby playing, laughing, eating snacks, and being told they matter—consider this and your need for repentance."

The photo and comment above were on my friend's facebook page on Saturday night. 
(The original post received 61,000 likes.) 

The tears were immediate and heart-felt.
My friend is not a church-going, Bible-believing gal, so this post of hers, was aimed in my general direction and hit the target.

The words in that post are haunting me.
The anger and accusations scare me.
The judgement and misunderstanding overwhelm me.

I have been thinking about/praying for an appropriate response for the past 24 hours.

I will probably make more of a mess of this than I intend to, but here goes:

I believe that God created us because He loves us. He gave us the freedom to choose to have a relationship with Him, or not. Those that do? Are called Christians.

I am a Christian. I am a mom. I am a daughter, a sister, a friend, a mom-in-law, a photographer, a blogger, a Pokemon catcher, a pray-er, a movie-watcher, a 'thinking-of-you' texter, a tweeter, an instagrammer, a tourist, a night-owl, an avid reader, a sunset adorer, a sea-wall walker, a non-swimmer, a non-coffee-drinker, a sinner, an over-eater, a day-dreamer, a house-hunter, a list-maker, a sun-worshipper, a fan-girl, an introvert, an organizer, and a church goer.

I go to church,

And the church that I go to? And the churches that my friends and family go to? All have supported and sponsored refugees this year.

So while we stand and sing worship songs to Jesus, the refugees who we've been able to help, are either sitting in the pews right beside us, with their children in tow, or are close-by in their new living arrangements, adjusting to the freedoms in this new country. And those we are still waiting to bring over? Are in our prayers. And our efforts.

The thing with churches? Is that they're made up of people. Imperfect, yet like-minded people. People who have a common purpose and passion. People who love. People who say sorry. People who repent. People who want to help.

The thing with churches? They get stuff done. Because if a gathering of like-minded people, all with different gifts and strengths, but with a common purpose, sees an opportunity to act justly and show mercy? They will.

Churches support inner city soup kitchens and drug rehab centers. Churches build third world country orphanages and dig fresh water wells. Churches build houses in Mexico and offer temporary housing to homeless teens in Abbotsford. Churches send relief to communities stricken by natural disasters. Some churches offer assistance to families with special needs kids. Some churches offer car care to single moms in their community. Some churches run nursing homes and senior care centres.

"While millions of you Christian parents sit in church tomorrow and sing about your devotion to Jesus while YOUR children are nearby playing, laughing, eating snacks, and being told they matter—consider this and your need for repentance."

I'm wondering if the writer of that original Facebook post, and the 64,000 people who shared it, have an awareness of what the church is doing besides Sunday morning singing and snacks? I'm wondering if the original writer or the 64,000 sharers knows how many refugees have been sponsored by various church and Christian organizations? Or how many of us Christians are supporting organizations that provide housing and education to new immigrants?

I'm not saying we don't need to repent.
We do.
We all do.
Every. Damn. Day.
Because despite our good intentions and despite our longing to be perfect, we screw up. We're selfish. And scared. And uninformed. And deceitful. And impatient. And a bit lazy. And a tad two-faced. And just generally evil some times.

I'd like to believe that we end our days saying sorry for the shit we did wrong and asking for help to do better after we've slept awhile.

Dear God,

Oh what a mess we're in.
We're just not looking after the earth or each other the way we should.
How come we keep making bad decisions? Are we the most selfish era of humans ever?
I'm sorry.
Sorry that my focus always seems to be on me and mine.
Sorry that the urgency of local/personal issues overwhelms me so that I don't sit back and look at the bigger, global picture very often. Thank you that there are people who do. Remind me to look to them for guidance. Nudge me to respond.
Sorry that I haven't been a good rep of what You've been doing; I suck at Christian PR. Give me words to share the stories. People are watching and I've been lazy. I'm sorry.
People are suffering; show me what to do next. Please protect and keep those who are affected by the USA's latest immigration law. Comfort families that are torn apart, bring peace to those who are frightened, open doors of opportunity to the lawyers and lawmakers who are trying to help.

God I pray for wisdom.
And boldness.
And forgiveness.


Three things I'm thankful for:

1. Grateful for friends who challenge and sharpen. Life would be dull and boring if all my friends where exactly like me. Solomon knew what he was talking about when he said, "As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend."

2. Thankful for smart people, kind people, generous people. Thankful for Canada.

3. Happy and glad that my headache is mostly gone.

"While millions of you Christian parents sit in church tomorrow and sing about your devotion to Jesus while YOUR children are nearby playing, laughing, eating snacks, and being told they matter—consider this and your need for repentance."


Constance said...

Amen. I humbly join you in this chastening and in your prayer. Thank you for putting this into words.

ramblin'andie said...

Thank you for articulating so well what I am not able to.

Susan said...

Amen and Amen!!! Thank you SO much for giving me some better ways to say what I am thinking when confronted with that same kind of misinformation about Christians like me and our response to the refugee crisis etc.
Bless you!

September said...

Well said. I wasn't in church on Sunday and haven't been in church on Sunday for almost two years. And me not being in church (singing and eating snacks?) doesn't mean I'm doing something meaningful for those who suffer. It's not either/or. I was running a few loads of laundry while I washed dishes and filled a box of garage sale items. So I'm just as guilty as all the Christians in church, I guess.
Everything happening on Facebook is overwhelming. There's so much anger and hate. Social media has really changed the game.

Kim N. said...

Thanks for this Jane. I too take to heart posts similar to the one you shared. To be sure, we Christians could, and should be doing more, and I feel the challenge and sting in their criticism. No excuses.
As you pointed out though, there are (and have been historically) many Christians who are out there doing good, locally and abroad, helping refugees, working in other hard places of the world in total anonymity. No Facebook postings, no PR team, just quietly doing the stuff Jesus said to do, in the way he said to do it, as best they can. These faithful ones don't make the news very often and so the louder ones who are in the news look like the norm for Christians. It's kind of frustrating.
I really appreciate the challenge of this thoughtful post!