Monday, May 2, 2016

Think Before You Christian Cliché

We Christians have our own super "special" lingo, don't we? Catch phrases. Robotic messages. Automated responses, if you will. 



We JUST LOVE our clever & catchy phrases. Don't we, though? We print them on bumper stickers and plaster them on our minivans. We see 99 of them on greeting cards, so we take one down and pass it around, 98 cheesy greeting cards on the wall. We tattoo them on ourselves and immediately Instagram them {well, the Christians that are OK with tattoos do; I'm sure the other Christians have some clever phrase referring to the tattooed heathens}. 



I'm not that best at thinking before I speak. I say things, often, that sounded so much better in my head than how it sounded out loud in front of EVERYONE. Bless it. I'm accustomed to placing my foot in my mouth. I'm not completely trained, but I'm workin' on it. 



Sometimes it takes going through tough times to realize how dumb some of these phrases are. 



When I was told "God must have a reason" for not giving me more children, I sat back and considered it. Maybe He was keeping me less busy to continue my education? Love other people's kids? Maybe He wanted to keep more money in our house to give away to people who needed it? Maybe there was something to what she said.



AND THEN SHE SAID "maybe you have some sin in your life that He's wanting you to resolve. He'll do whatever it takes to get your attention."


Um. Say what?!



Honestly, I am not speechless often, but I was completely speechless in that moment. I am GRATEFUL I was at a loss for words and completely frozen, or I may have just ended up in jail for any number of charges. Kidding. Kinda. There are babies born every day to women addicted to drugs, women who violently abuse them, women who don't even want them… and I do not believe for a second that God chooses infertility to correct sin. If that were the case, why are so many babies born to unfit mothers? Biology. Illnesses. That's why. There are intravenous heroin addicts that don't have stage 4 endometriosis or Hashimoto's thyroiditis or any of the other diagnoses that I do. Plain & simple. 



I've seen a grieving mother who had a stillborn baby be told that "God needed another flower in His beautiful garden." 


ARE YOU KIDDING?! 



I do not worship a God who rips a sweet child from a loving mother's arms to add to His beautiful garden of dead babies. Sorry for being so angry, but clueless Christians spouting off crap like this really gets my blood boiling. I used to get angry because statements like that make me & other Christians look bad, but I now realize I get so mad because it ultimately makes God look bad. Not only does it make Him look BAD, it makes Him look like someone He is NOT.



This poor mother was grieving. This poor Christian mother was probably asking herself "why God, WHY?!" The explanation offered to her was not only offensive to that poor woman, it was an outright crazy character assassination on God. God does not shrug his shoulders at this woman's tear-stained face and say "Sorry, I needed another one for my garden. It's all for the greater good. Come and look at my garden. Your baby was better off here in my garden than with you." 



No ma'am. Nope. Negative ghost rider. And… bye Felicia!



Another phrase we spread around like peanut butter is blessed. Any little good thing suddenly becomes cosmic & vast and turns into something that is "blessed". And if it's something BIG, Lordamercy you're MEGABLESSED. Blessity blessed blessed blessed. #TooBlessedToBeStessed. Bless you. Bless all of you. Bless the sweet little children. Bless us. Bless everyone. 



Well, wait. Not everyone. Bless everyone that isn't stricken by disease. Bless everyone that isn't infertile. Bless everyone that hasn't been laid off. Bless everyone that wasn't abused. Bless everyone that isn't financially stable. Bless everyone that isn't grieving. Bless everyone who isn't single. Bless everyone that isn't struggling.



I guess if you're widowed, abandoned, abused, poor, sick, or if you're in some other way afflicted, you aren't… blessed? Or maybe you're LESS blessed? Blessless? I don't know what you'd call it, but I also know that there's no bumper sticker for that.



When we say that we are "blessed", what do we base that on? It's always tangible things. A job that's totally secure. Food in the pantry. A roof over our heads. A healthy family. Money in the bank. BLAH BLAH BLAH. {Insert whatever worldly tangible object that makes you feel secure here}.



But what if I don't? Or what if I did, and then it all fell apart? What then? 



No longer do I feel blessed, and my foundation of faith is wobbly at best. When my outlook of God's love/blessings come from worldly things & tangible security, then I'm looking at God completely out of context. And because I'm expecting God to be something He's not, it's only natural to become overwhelmed with doubt or consumed with depression when those things are threatened or taken away.



I'm not saying I'm not blessed. I'm just saying I'm not blessed for the reasons the world leads me to believe. 



--I am blessed because I am a wreck. I am nowhere near perfect. My heart is hardened to things it shouldn't be. I say offensive things like what I just wrote about. I am foolish and proud and lean hard on my own understanding. I am stubborn and I can hold a grudge longer than I'd care to admit. And yet, I was offered redemption. For nothing. No questions asked.

--I am blessed because when I am overcome by fear or sorrow, I have comfort that is beyond what this world can provide. Though the world may fail me, He will not. On the darkest nights when I had the heaviest of hearts and couldn't even find words to pray, I have breathlessly cried out into the void and He has given me peace that surpasses all understanding.

--I am blessed because though the world may reject me, I belong. I am the daughter of the highest King.

--I am blessed because I am given hope in a hopelessly broken world.

--I am blessed because I have been given life after death. I was promised that the end of my life on Earth isn't the end for me.

--I am blessed because though I feel like a hopeless hot mess that would make Jesus recoil in horror, he instead looks into the ugliest, messiest darkest parts of me and says "I can help you clean that up if you want to".

--I am blessed because though I may have been chained to the bondage of brokenness, God cuts those chains and sets me free.



I have a healthy {and friggin' cute} family. I have a roof over my head. I am kept warm in the winter and cool in the summer. My pantry is overflowing. I have a car that runs reliably. I have money in the bank. I have a closet overflowing with clothes I don't need because I couldn't pass up the cuteness. And for these things, God, I am grateful. But I am no more deserving than someone who doesn't have these things. I am just LUCKY for material comforts.



But I am blessed for other reasons. I have been claimed. Redeemed. Restored. And rescued from this world, and from myself. 



This Gospel… this good news, it is mine, and I do not deserve it. So therefore, I am blessed by it. The Gospel is also yours, dearest one. The Gospel isn't contingent on material wealth, physical health, or any other factor. The rich & the poor both have access to it. The healthy & the dying can both claim it. It has claimed us. Called us by name. Given us a new identity. We are all equally able to be restored by it. 



That is our constant. Our solid ground. Our north star. It is the only thing that can provide peace in times of turmoil. It is the only thing that strengthens those that have been broken and weakened. It's the only thing that endures all things & all seasons. 



So use the word blessed. Spread it around like Nutella. Put on on your bumper stickers & your coffee cups. Tattoo it on yourself. Just make sure you know what you're saying. It doesn't mean that God "blessed" you with a promotion, a championship win, an open floor plan, or other worldly ideas of success. 





And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: 
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

~Matthew 5:1-10



Jesus didn't say blessed are the rich. He didn't say blessed are the healthy. He didn't say blessed are the trendy. He didn't say blessed are the popular. He didn't say blessed are the comfortable. 



You are blessed because no matter how far you've fallen, no matter how far you've strayed, you are so fiercely and deeply loved that every last drop of your brokenness was redeemed. THAT is a blessing. A new house or a clean bill of health or any comfort the world can offer can never even be on the same playing field. I'm not saying I haven't also misused the word, I'm just challenging {all of us} Christians to think through our lingo & clichés before we give people the wrong idea of what our God is about.

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