My brain feels like it’s going to explode right now.
I am livid.
So instead of biting off a well-intentioned person’s virtual head and risking appearing wildly unstable among my friends and acquaintances, I’m going to attempt to give language to some of my emotions here. This is my attempt to gain some clarity before I respond (or elect NOT to.)
Consider yourself warned.
I’m working to broaden my descriptive language when my emotional right brain takes over. At the same time, explicits nurture my sensitive nature like nothing else (THEY FEEL SO GOOD!) Therefore…you might encounter F-bombs ahead. I’m working on it. Promise. (*** edited to add*** I did pretty well, in my humble opinion.)
Here’s what went down:
A well-meaning (I’m trying to give her the benefit of the doubt) family friend who I haven’t seen in person in at least two decades just reprimanded me for never saying “I’ll pray for you” on Facebook.
Let that marinate for a short minute.
I received a private message from her.
Good thing I don’t have high blood pressure.
And yes, I am quite aware that I’m having an extreme reaction to this scenario.
I’ll attempt to explain my feelings on the matter and hopefully gain some much-needed insight into myself while possibly providing a bit of understanding for people who might be tempted to judge others and try to mask that judging by calling it Christian witnessing.
Allow me to break down what transpired:
A mutual Facebook friend who is going through something excruciatingly heavy posted an update about her situation. I adore this woman and my heart is breaking for her. Words feel futile, yet I felt compelled to offer something.
I kept it brief but said something to the effect of I’m so sorry you’re going through this. Please know you’re in our family’s thoughts and I’m sending so much love your way.
Not five minutes later I get a ding that I have a private message. Again, I have not laid eyes on the private messenger in two decades, and the last interaction I remember was when I was around fourteen:
Viv, I love that we’ve been able to re-connect on Facebook. I can’t help but notice that your messages are painfully secular. You were blessed with such a gift for stringing words together. Language is your artistic medium, and I want to encourage you to use your God-given talent in a way that honors our Lord and Savior.
Y’all still with me?
I’ve had a lot of issues with the loud and proud Christians of late, and I say that as someone raised in a cultural Christian home, meaning I went to church regularly, and my family celebrated all the Christian holidays. I learned Bible verses at Sunday School and at Vacation Bible School during the summer. We weren’t there every time the doors were open, and my parents didn’t talk about God and church constantly at home. Still, it was a part of my life growing up.
I was born to well-educated professionals who encouraged critical thinking and taught me to ask questions, particularly of those who claimed to have all the answers. My mother gave me the gift of childlike wonder and taught me to see good in everyone and every situation, while my dad encouraged me to maintain a healthy sense of skepticism and to never believe everything I was told. In many ways it was a nice balance.
“Dig deeper,” he used to say.
I have spent most of my adulthood searching for truth.
For most of my 20s and early 30s I considered myself agnostic, even though the term didn’t feel exactly right.
Religious doctrine and dogma bother me. I’m not sure I know a more accurate way to explain it. It doesn’t sit well with me. Yet, I dig deep and continually try religion because it’s a huge part of the culture where I live. I’m currently at peace spiritually and understand that I’ll never have all the answers and that’s okay.
I am deeply spiritual. I feel a grand sense of connection to the world around me — the natural world, people, animals, etc., and I feel strongly that there is something at play that we can’t necessarily explain or fully understand, and I’m good with that.
I also have a hunger to connect regularly with like-minded people. Church provides that…until it doesn’t. And trust me, I have tried. And I’ll likely try again. I haven’t attended church regularly since we moved just over a year ago, and I’ve been missing it.
But damn if what happened today doesn’t make me want say screw church and screw the loud-mouthed, sanctimonious Christians. And I know a lot of my feelings are heightened because of this dreadful political climate and upcoming election. I really can’t go there at the moment…
Here’s what bothers me:
The woman who private-messaged me knows nothing of my heart or my relationship with God or how often I’m “in the Word.”
She knows NOTHING about me other than what she’s cherry picked from a couple of comments I’ve made on social media — ON SOMEONE ELSE’S PAGE. I don’t know that I’ve EVER made a comment on any of her posts or pictures. I’m rarely on Facebook, and I hide people who post gobs of political crap (whether I agree or not), so I’m not bombarded with zen-zapping updates.
And while I’m at it, what the hell is it to her if I choose words that she infers as “secular?”
You wanna know what I have a problem with?
People who fill up Facebook with God-language and then post demeaning hate-filled bullshit. It’s hypocritical and discrediting.
I have a problem with people who support Donald Trump, claiming he’ll make America great again and bring back values we’re all lacking, while selectively overlooking the fact that he’s a woman-groping racist.
I have a problem with people who see the world through their eyes only and can’t wrap their heads around the fact that their reality isn’t everyone’s reality.
This woman doesn’t like my “secular” language.
I don’t like that she lacks empathy — the ability to place herself in another’s shoes.
I really don’t like that she’s judgmental as FUCK (okay, I warned you…) and then claims that it’s “our job as Christians to call out sin and witness to non-believers.”
I think I’m done.
When I started writing this, I had planned to go deeper into why I have a problem with the way people describe and portray prayer — it’s not a wishlist.
I don’t know everything about God nor do I claim to, but I’m pretty certain he/she isn’t exactly some wish-granting Rumpelstiltskin who spins straw into gold. (I could also be totally wrong. I KNOW.)
AND…while I’m at it, just because I don’t tell everyone on social media that I’m praying for them doesn’t mean that I’m not.
I’ll have to continue in a future post, but I’ll summarize quickly what I think is irritating me. I grew up learning that as long as I prayed, all my problems would be magically solved. Granted, that’s not actually what I was taught, but that’s how I interpreted the lessons — and I’ve had enough conversations with friends to know I’m not the only child who got that take-away from Sunday School. Once experience and hard knocks taught me differently, I dropped church and God like hot rocks because I felt like I had been misled and lied to for years.
Here’s what I know about social media:
I don’t know where every single person I interact with is in terms of their path/journey. It’s not my job to shove my beliefs and doctrine down their throats.
I will continue offering LOVE to my friends — both virtually and in person.
I will continue doing what I can to lift them up when they’re in a low place.
I have never been a fan of unfriending people I disagree with, but lately I’m re-thinking some of that. I’m fine with people sharing their beliefs on their page, and I have no problem with this woman writing a note of encouragement telling a mutual friend she’s praying for her.
But a line was crossed today and it’s making me re-think keeping “friends” who send judgey-ass private messages.
Perhaps I’m not as evolved as I’d like to be, and yes, I realize that I only have control over myself and my reactions, but frankly, I wish she had minded her own business and prayed for me in private.
The whole situation left me perplexed and shaking my head. I’m not sure what to think which is why I’m still mulling it all over.
I unfriend people in a heartbeat who post blatant hate — especially if it’s racist or misogynistic in nature and have done my share of this in the past.
This situation today is a little different. I sincerely believe she was speaking from a place of love; we simply have different views/beliefs. I dig different and I respect her beliefs. At the same time, I’m not a fan of what she did. I feel misunderstood and infringed upon, and I think her private message defeated her purpose.
The good news is that I’m not livid anymore, just slightly annoyed. Thanks for reading if you made it all the way through.
Has anything like this ever happened to you? Do tell. I’m listening!