Roseanne and Other Twitter Nightmares

Roseanne’s racist tweet gets her show canned. Bill Maher apologizes for using racial slur. Alec Baldwin viciously slams gay reporter. Joy Behar equates Christianity with mental illness.  Trump…well, you know. And on, and on, and on…

The attacks are personal. They’re not about issues. Neither are they about seeking resolution. They are personal and cruel. Most are distasteful and horrid digs at a person or a culture, revolving around race, sexual orientation, disability, looks, or any number of physical or characteristic attributes.

 But they are not about issues.

 Issues themselves are boring and don’t grab headlines. Shocking slams get attention.

 Looking over social media, it’s clear that very few people have honor or mores (look it up, this is not a typo). There is no civilized discourse, or honorable interaction. Everything said is meant to grab attention and to feed or sway an audience.

 And, we are the audience. We’re the suckers lapping it up.

 I’m reminded of a story my husband told me. His dad, after a long career in the Air Force, lived out his work life in the corporate world. He nabbed a gig at an American plant of a Japanese company. Now, anyone who has worked for Japanese companies understands their unique culture of comingling capitalistic big business with Japanese cultural protocols. It can make for some interesting situations. My father-in-law worked on the team reorganizing a new inventory system. He became alarmed at the lack of security, and when questioning his superior, the response was, “We will rely on honor.” To which, my father-in-law replied, “Sir, we’re Americans, we have no honor.” The losses that first year were so great that they shut down the entire program.

 I can hear his sentiment ringing in my head as I read the latest scandals: we have no honor.

 As a collective, we don’t.

 But as an individual, we can.

 You, me, your neighbor, your co-worker, your spouse, your friend, your mother, your brother…we can EACH have honor in this dishonorable world.

 How? 

 The honorable thing to do when someone else doesn’t have honor is not to fight back, but to turn off that person. Unfollow or unfriend them. Unplug from Social Media. Stop listening to the news. Stop scanning the latest headlines. When we’re stuck in the Troll-dom of responding to every headline, every tweet, post, quote, or opinion piece, we’re part of the problem, not the solution. We allow the garbage to thrive.

 But, if I don’t respond, no one will!

 No. If you DO respond, you’re not changing them, you’re giving them an audience. You’re giving them a platform, an opportunity to be the most talked about issue of the day.

 Don’t give them that power. Unplug. Take a walk. Meet a friend for coffee. Do your work. Laugh with your family and friends. Volunteer. Give back. 

 But, don’t continue to feed the negativity.

 They have no honor. But YOU can.

 “Etiquette is the science of living. It embraces ethics. It is honor.” ~Emily Post, etiquette author

Expectations and the Devil’s Tramping Ground

Devil’s Tramping Ground, photo courtesy of northcarolinaghosts.com

One of my biggest disappointments was one of my own making: expecting someone to be something they were not.

Have you ever had that? Have you ever put expectations on someone else, only to have them disappoint again and again?

It hurts. And, yet, they are not the ones hurting us, we are the ones hurting us.

Unrealistic—or even realistic—expectations silently placed on a friend or family member will merely sow seeds of resentment as that person fails to live up to what we’ve imagined. They aren’t purposefully hurting us, they are simply going about their lives, living as they choose.

There’s a place a few miles from here called the Devil’s Tramping Ground. It’s a spot of earth where nothing grows, and legend is that anything planted there will wither and die. It looks real enough, and “ghost hunters” have detected anomalies (whatever that means), but it’s mostly a place to visit for a lark or to drink beer, as evidenced by the empty cans on the trail.

When we sow our seeds of expectation in a Devil’s Tramping Ground, we cannot expect fresh, verdant shoots. Planting our hopes on someone else’s behavior, no matter how “right” it seems to us, will not end well…for us.

Like my father once told me, if you want to make sure people don’t disappoint you, don’t expect anything out of them!

Oh, true. Sadly, true. Even when we expect them to do the right thing. Even when we expect them to live up to their role, as mother, wife, sister, friend…titles don’t ensure our needs are met. I have friends bending over backwards for some of the most vile people on the planet simply because they hold the title of mother or father. Titles are worthless. Behavior determines role.

The next time someone disappoints us, we need to perform a forensic analysis. What were our expectations? Were they realistic? Did the person know what was expected? (Not merely could they assume, but did they actually know?) Is the current behavior linked to past behavior? Should we really be surprised, or does it just feel good to “be hurt.”

Sometimes playing the victim can have its own rewards, so we need to be careful with how we handle hurt. We can’t wear it like a mantle. We need to turn to God. God promises to comfort us. God promises to care for us in our hurts.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” ~2 Corinthians 1:3-4

The next time we’re about to place expectations on another, we need to ask ourselves if it’s warranted. By forgoing placing expectations, we can avoid being hurt. But, since we’re human, we’re bound to do it again, so the next time we’re hurt or disappointed, we need to turn to God for comfort.

And, then, try not to do again.

So much easier said than done.

The Cure is God

Image courtesy of Virtue Online

I’m in news fatigue and it’s hit me hard.

Wars, violent “demonstrations,” child abuse, sexual abuse, murder, missing persons, protests, slander, holier-than-thou liberals and conservatives, Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Fascist Socialists, and people so sure that they can solve ______ by banning _____, or by their own will, ingenuity or prowess, it’s enough to make one sick. Everyone is so sure that their idea is the ultimate solution and they, alone, are the ones to fix the issue.

Problem is: they can’t.

We can’t.

Only God can.

We all need more God.

While the Christian religion has been hijacked and is misrepresented and maligned in the world, those who wish its destruction don’t factor in the truth that religion isn’t God; only God is God.

The more we self-centeredly believe that we, on our own, will solve a problem, the farther away that goal becomes. We were born to need God.  It’s in our DNA.  We are wired to rely on God.

And, when we do, when we give it up to Him to solve, and fix, and help, and comfort, He appears in our woes in miraculous ways. He’s not a genie to snap His fingers and make the problem go away. Instead, He guides us along a path we hadn’t considered to live, even in the strife, and welcomes us into a peace we never thought possible.

So, for a better life: turn off the news. Stop listening to the media and the talking heads, politicians and activists, and start listening to God. He will lead you to a wonderful place, even in your storm, that you never realized existed.

It’s Going Great…Then, WHAM!

Cartoon by Maria Scrivan, Tribune Content Agency, LLC

My friend posted on Facebook, asking, “So how come every time things are going great something bad happens?”

It seems that way, right? I mean, we’re tootling along, following that proverbial primrose path, the sun is shining, the birds are singing, the tank is clean (Nemo, anyone?), and then WHAM—we get smacked down like a bird flying into glass waking up stunned and immobile on the ground.

But, is that really how it is? It may seem like it, but what we can forget is: that’s life. Life is a roller coaster, up and down and all around. Good things and bad things happen, sometimes simultaneously. Like Frankie sang, “You’re riding high in April; Shot down in May!”

One way we can offset the feeling of having the wind knocked out of our sails is to realize that not everything is going to come off perfectly. Our lives in alignment and chugging smoothly along with our days is not our normal. Here is where gratitude enters the picture.

When we are grateful for our lives going well, in little and big things, we can see the peaks more clearly. When we don’t accept the peaks as our base point, as our normal life, but as gifts, lovely and divinely offered, we appreciate them.

Got fresh water from the tap today? Is your belly full, do you have clothes, did you laugh? Did the lights come on when you flipped the switch?

We do ourselves a disservice when one million and one things in our days happen flawlessly yet we concentrate on the few that went wrong. That doesn’t mean that a Stage 4 cancer diagnosis or a child’s death isn’t cause for our world turning upside down, but I’m not talking about disasters. I’m talking about fender benders, inconveniences and annoyances.

While I was writing this blog post, my keyboard stopped working. I spent a good portion of my morning trying to fix the issue. I did, but I let it derail me. Not totally, I took a break and worked on a project I need to finish by next week that didn’t require a computer. But, even with the knowledge, yes, even as I’m writing about it, even as I’m fervent about it, I still let the snag get to me.

Like you, perhaps, I’m a work in progress.

So, we need to remember, in all things: perfection is not our base line. When we embrace that, we can more easily handle this roller coaster called life, with its ups and downs and all overs. And, maybe with some effort, we can even learn to enjoy the ride.

As long as my keyboard works…and my car starts…and, well, I’d better re-read this post and try again.

Being Known

Nothing drives home the need of being actively involved in a small group at a large church so much as experiencing a life-altering event and having your posse mobilize on your behalf. Or, likewise, the opposite.

As a small group leader, I spend some amount of time encouraging members to attend our meetings. Life gets in the way, of course, travel, work, activities, family…you name it! Our lives are busy.

Still, there are those who stop coming, for one reason or another, and they fall off the radar, yet they don’t want to be taken off the roster.  Just in case. The other members soon forget they’re a part of the group, or new ones join having never met them. Their names take on a distant ring not a familiar tone.

In their minds, they’re still “part of the group.”

My heart breaks for those people, because they aren’t known. They might be remembered, but no one really knows who they are. They aren’t sharing in the intimacy happening weekly. They’re simply a name on the roster.

I had one such woman contact me today. She got some devastating news and she was distraught. She asked for prayers and I immediately sent out a group notice. And, I have zero doubt that our group, whether they remember her or even know her, will pray for her.

But, how much more valuable would it be for her to reach out on her own? To speak directly to the women she knows, loves and spends time with? How much more reassuring would it feel to personally receive their heartfelt responses?

One might get a Meal Train started, or offer to take and pickup her kids from extra curriculars.  Another might invite her out to lunch or coffee. Someone might start taking donations for gift cards.  Any number of things might occur when the group is involved.

I’m not saying those things won’t happen. Our group is full of caring, loving women who pitch in to take care of others. But, we have only so much bandwidth to give to this, that, and a hundred other things. Many noble things that require attention.

The desire to help is there. It is. We help strangers all the time.

But, how much more impactful could it be to know without a doubt that your group has your back?

And, they tell you that personally.

P.S. I just received two inquiries from my prayer request email to my group as to how they can help me and what can they do. I was pretty clear that the request was from the other woman, not me. However, there would have been zero doubt if the woman had contacted the group herself…