Authenticity

“Love Wins” and the Confederate Flag

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Recently we spent a week away to get a break from the stress and struggles of work/life.  We had no wifi while on vacation, and perhaps that was a good thing. What I was able to see on my newsfeed – at random moments and locations during the week – made me sad and frustrated.
So much dissension. So much division. So much immaturity and selfishness.

With all of the controversy surrounding flags and gay marriage this past week It seems that, if someone disagrees with another person’s opinion/choices/convictions, then they are “hateful”, “stupid”, “prejudiced”, and to be immediately unfriended. Really?

As has been so prevalent of late, it seems that if one person flies a flag according to the heritage they’ve learned – and another sees it as a hurtful reminder of things or a symbol of division – then those two individuals cannot ever abide in the same “space” as friends, family, or comrades. The ONLY possible explanation is that one or the other is filled with hatred, bigotry, and evil.

Or if one agrees with the Supreme Court decision – and another does not – then those two individuals also cannot possibly occupy the same “space”, the same family, or the same circle of friends. One or the other of them MUST have a heart filled with spite, ugliness, and (again) hatred.

So let me make sure I’ve got this right. You cannot rightly hold a differing opinion from another person in your life. It can’t be rationally discussed. The differences can’t be reasonably heard. No agreement, compromise, or even agreement-to-disagree can be reached. Having different opinions causes such a breach in the relationship that it cannot be overcome – and the relationship is set aside because someone doesn’t think, act, believe, speak, just like you do. Is that how it is?

What a very boring, predictable, immature, and narrow-minded life that thought process dictates.
To surround oneself with only those who are a mirror image is to design a life void of creativity, challenge, and critical thinking. To only be around those who think and act as we do is to stifle any chance for growth or increasing in maturity. To demand that those you know be no different… hold no different opinion/conviction… and to characterize them with unkind and hateful labels, if they dare to think differently, is arrogant and prideful.

When you have walked every step that someone else has walked, and you have heard – and really listened to – the experiences, learnings, and cultural biases that have brought them their convictions and opinions, then, and only then, can you begin to understand whether someone’s heart is truly evil and knowingly full of hatred. I can guarantee that, the majority of the time, that is not the case.

However it’s much easier to spew venom towards someone who disagrees with us than it is to have REAL, HONEST give-and-take conversation in order to learn from one another.

Last time I checked it was entirely possible to disagree with someone’s lifestyle, choices, or thoughts and still love that person and/or treat them with respect and dignity as a God-created human being. If you find that isn’t possible, no matter which side of an issue you stand upon, perhaps a SELF-examination is needed.

Time to grow up.

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Can’t We All Just Get Along?

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11056543_10152919842641179_8700559709711379137_oAs the internet is overrun with the story of the Duggar family’s skeletons in the closet, and Caitlyn Jenner (formerly Bruce) coming out, the opinions and commentaries are on the verge of “breaking” the internet.  Opinions range from staunch defense of the Duggar Family or Jenner’s choices, to absolute outrage about the same.  There are those who attribute every perceived failure to Obama and the Democrats – or to Conservatives and Republicans (which, btw, are not one in the same).  Others cannot voice their opinion without it being done via creating an argument that blames the issue on religion and either the belief in God, or the lack thereof.  Still others seem to have lost all sense of decorum, dignity, respect for others, or even self-respect and spew their thoughts with vile words, profanity, and crass indifference to the feelings of any family members who may be hurt, or offended, by their damaging words.  Disagreeing with “popular opinion” earns the labels of “hate mongers” or “bigot”, “Intolerant” or “ignorant”.

It’s a disturbing trend.  A quick and violent shove towards mind-numbing same-ness and lack of sufferance for those who dare to be different – or at least those who dare to express their opinions that differ from the supposedly moral, or immoral, majority.

Can we put our big girl/boy britches on and grow up?!

Disagreement with an opinion, no matter how popular that opinion, does not equal “hate speech” in an intelligent and thinking society. Simply disagreeing with someone – or their lifestyle – does not indicate hatred or evil. It is entirely possible to disagree, even vehemently, yet continue to treat one another with civility, respect, dignity, and fierce love.

This, my friends, is why we were designed with a mind, will, and emotions rather than created as clones of one another all marching in the same direction and step. What would be the point and purpose?

Will we always agree? Of course not.

Should we be free to express our varying opinions? With respect, kindness, and appropriateness – absolutely.

Will we convince others to agree with our feelings? At times we may.

When someone disagrees with us, and will never agree with us, is this a sign of an evil heart or villainous motives? Come on. Really?

And this one is specifically for those who claim “Christ-follower”….
Is it our responsibility to condemn others “outside the faith”, convince them of perceived wrongs, and convict them in the courts of our minds and social media feeds? No. It is not.
It is our responsibility to point them to the heart of Christ through our own actions, words, faith, and evident love. The rest is between them and their Father, God.

Why intolerantly crying for tolerance – from either side of the opinion – when what we really want is for everyone to think, act, and be as we are or they’re wrong, Wrong, WRONG?

For the sake of intelligent thought and growing up, let’s give room for mature and civil disagreement without cutting people off, arrogantly “unfriending” those who have other opinions, calling names, and resorting to overall petty immature arguments.

Please.

PS Christ-followers: (Holding fellow Christ-followers accountable to scripture is another thing entirely. We’d better be doing that – with all love and humility – or we can’t truly love one another well)

The Facebook Facade. Aka: Will the Real “Me” Please Stand Up?

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There used to be a show on television called To Tell The Truth.  Contestants would hear the stories of 3 people, all using the same name, and would have to guess which of the 3 was “the real thing”.  The host, Bob Collyer, would then say “Would the real ……. please stand up!?”  And the suspense would build as each would pretend to stand until, finally, the REAL character would stand to the delight of whichever contestant – and television viewers – had guessed correctly.  Seems things may not have changed so much these days.

I often read and hear comments about how people are not “real” on Facebook.  There are frequent conversations about how social media sites are used as finely fabricated facades where life, with all of it’s reality and ugliness, can be hidden behind sweet sentiments, splendidly sublime statuses, and skillfully spoken scriptures.  The REAL character never even has to appear.  It’s always a guessing game for the reader or follower, wondering what’s true and what’s not.

Social media may, indeed, present the perfect opportunity to “fake it ’til you make it”.  It’s the ideal place to post only words that will present the exact image you’ve always wanted.  Paint the picture of a peaceful and loving, calm, spiritual life where the wind doesn’t blow, you’re never caught in a storm, and your relationships are love-story worthy.  Roadblocks?  What the heck are those?  They don’t exist in the smooth journey that is your social media universe on display. After all, only those who are closest to you will know if you’re presenting a glossier picture than reality.  Though they may call you out, it’s typically not in a public forum like Facebook.  And if it is, you have the power to hide it from your timeline, delete their comments, or – if it’s really critical to save face – unfriend or block them.  Social media can, indeed, be the superb symposium to be who you’ve always dreamed of being through substantial and stylishly stated scripts.

But why on earth is that even a thing?

In my not so humble opinion, that is just too much work.  Putting on airs.  Hiding behind fake personas.  Pretending to be always loving.  Always cheery.  Always mature.  Always spiritual.  With the perfect family… husband… job… budget… life… church…  In other words, lying.  Publicly.  Spreading a bald-faced, straight-up, contrived-behind-the-computer lie by presenting only the “good” parts of life.

That’s called a half-truth.  Aka: A lie.

So let’s get real.  Or rather, let ME get real for a few minutes and words.  (Because sometimes the best example we can use is ourselves.)

Yes, I post scriptures on my timeline.  I post kudos and prayers, good thoughts and feel good stories, inspirational quotes and funny anecdotes about my Shmexy and my kids.  I post it all.  And I have a strong conviction about everything that is posted under my name. I enjoy being able to connect with people this way, and giving them a little window into life with the “Ferrell fam”, or trying to inspire, teach, and lead through examples and statuses.

Does that mean that I have a cute little cookie-cutter life of bubble gum, smiley faces, and never-wavering faith?  Or a life that is always filled with roses and sweet-sounding words? Psssshh. Hardly.

I’m still a flesh and blood woman who doesn’t like her many curves, forgets to brush her teeth, and wears her bras until the underwire breaks and cuts into her flesh – just to avoid spending the ridiculous amount of money required to replace them. I’ve been known to wear unflattering spandex, mismatched socks, and torn underwear… but not at the same time.  (I know.  My husband always tells me how very sexy that is.)

I’ve also been known to smell a pair of jeans or shirt to see if it’s wearable, because who has time to do laundry every single day?  I’ve burned dinner, exploded soda cans in the freezer (just yesterday), fed the dogs cat food and the cats dog food, forgotten to clean the litter box (until a sudden “gift” in the floor somewhere reminded me), and piled up load after load of clean clothes on the pool table because I didn’t want to fold them.

There are hairballs in the corner of each step of my house because my cats are fur mongers.  I walk past them and look at them disturbed, but not enough to do anything about it right at the moment.  And my bathroom sink – that I fixed myself [insert applause here] can still be knocked off the cabinet because I’ve never silicone’d it down firmly.

I still pass unfair judgments on people, get road rage now and then, and eat fast food when I’m too lazy to cook – and regret it within minutes.  I, quite often, talk/groan/snore/make noises when I sleep.  I get angry at little things, ignore big things, and will graciously avoid conflict until it’s absolutely positively necessary… unless, of course, we’re close family.  Then it’s on like Donkey Kong if I get mad at you.

I also question God, get disheartened, worry about my children, and sometimes feel quite bitter with just how God does things. I don’t always forgive well.  I tend to be more affected by words than I should on occasion, and I spend too much time doing things that don’t really matter – like playing A-words or Text Twist on the computer.  I’ve struggled with porn addiction in my past, am still insecure about my looks, and really have to “take a chill pill” when I am suddenly interrupted while focused – because I can be so very task-oriented.

And I’m not afraid to tell any of those things.  Here, in person, or on social media.  What would be the purpose of hiding them?

Romans 8:1-2 says: “Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.” (Message)

Another version says: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” (NIV)

Relationship with Christ + Reprieval from Condemnation/Retribution = Release to be REAL

And Romans 8:33-38 says “The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture….I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.” (Message)

I. Love. This.

It says “Do you think anything is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us?… Absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love….”

So…[thoughtful posture]

If the One Who created us and gave His life for us isn’t threatened by our angry outbursts or arrogant times, doesn’t hate us for what we struggle with, and can never be so disgusted with what we’ve done that He stops loving us, then why hide who we really are?  Why hunker down behind an invisible wall, that is social media, and pretend to be something we’re not?  Who are we afraid will discover the “reality of me”?

The God of the Universe already knows us.  Really KNOWS us.  And He won’t stop loving us.  So why sweat the girl down the street who may struggle with some of the same things you do… or maybe even bigger-seeming things?

Keep posting the good things in your life!  After all, scripture says to think on -meditate on – good things. (Philippians 4:8)

Don’t stop posting verses, quotes, or sayings that inspire you, minister to you, or speak loudly to your soul. Keep encouraging yourself and others with strong words of truth.  Continue with the adorable photos of your kittens and kids.  Just season it with “real-ness”!

Give others virtual entrance into the messy, dust-covered, rooms of your house – and heart – now and then.  Authenticity is much less difficult than carrying around that shield of “superior-looking stuff” (I so wanted to use a different word there!) to make yourself look plastic-Barbie perfect.  He knows the real you.  Don’t you think it’s about time you allow others to?

Will the real “Me” please stand up?

Who Are You – Really?

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When your words and actions can continue to be consistent – regardless of who is present, or who is no longer in your presence – that is when integrity follows you.

When your opinion of another remains the same – regardless of who is present, or who is no longer in your presence – that is when you can be trusted with relationships.

When it isn’t necessary to play the victim role or the pity card for attention – regardless of who is present, or who is no longer in your presence – that is when you are strong in character… and in internal stature.

When your personality and values do not change – regardless of who is present, or who is no longer in your presence – that is when you carry yourself with authenticity.

When you no longer need to “keep up with the Jones” – regardless of who is present, or who is no longer in your presence – that is when your security is not in things, and you have learned to be content.

When your convictions remain firm – regardless of who is present, or who is no longer in your presence – that is when your beliefs are your own, and not wavering with the winds.

When your worship and wonder of God remains outside of Sunday mornings – regardless of who is present, or who is no longer in your presence – that is when your “love relationship” is with God and not 4 walls of brick and mortar.

Who are you?

Taking no thought of who is present…… or who has walked away……..

Who are you?

Whose Approval Do You Seek?

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“I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” – Jesus (John 5:43-44)

Ouch! How often do we “receive glory” from one another – in the form of adulation, approval, applause, affirmation and adoration – and place that “glory”, or opinion, above the opinion that Christ holds of us?

We will receive the praise, and even criticisms, of man and take it to heart, allowing it to inflate our heads or damage our souls. However, when Christ says that He loves us, we question how that is possible. After all, we KNOW ourselves. And when Christ says that we are forgiven from our past and that He “remembers our sins no more” when we repent, we refuse to receive that forgiveness and, instead, allow our minds to be tortuously haunted by the enemy of our souls who would like nothing more than for us to be running scared and beaten by guilt and shame.
OR when His Holy Spirit reminds us of things in our lives that are keeping us from drawing near to Christ – or becoming more like Him – yet friends/family/society says “Its okay”, “Its no big deal”, or the ever-popular “Its your life/body do what feels right”, we receive the “glory” from man instead of the loving admonition from God… because it’s easier, more comfortable, and MUCH more pleasing to our ears and ego.

As long as our most valuable approval comes from men then we will never, not EVER, recognize and relax in who God created us to be. Which means that we will never, not EVER, be comfortable in our own skin or with our own unique set of gifts/talents.
What a miserable way to live… constantly changing opinions, convictions, and even appearance, to avoid being beaten around the head by the ever-wavering opinions of man.

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Regarding our pasts:
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. – Psalm 139:13-16

In other words He KNOWs us better than we know ourselves

Regarding our value to Him:
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. – 1 John 4:10

And although He KNOWs us – and everything we have ever done or said – He still sacrificed Christ for us

Regarding His love for us:
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38-39

He loves us and – despite things that we have said or done that may have wounded His heart or the hearts and lives of others – He never stops loving us.

Regarding His sacrifice for us:
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—BY GRACE YOU HAVE BEEN SAVED…..For by grace you have been saved through faith. And THIS IS NOT YOUR OWN DOING; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. – Ephesians 2:4-9 (ESV)

No, we truly didn’t deserve His sacrifice. Yet He gave His own life for us – in our undeserving state – because of His great love. If we deserved it, or could earn it, then Christ’s sacrifice was for naught.

Regarding our “nows” and our futures:
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! – 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT)

And when we receive His undeserved GRACE and FORGIVENESS, and commit our lives to following His will… not perfectly, but with the purpose of becoming like Him… then our past is no longer thought of by Him

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When we open our hearts and minds to understand that Christ GAVE Himself up to one of the most painful, shameful, “senseless” deaths in order that we might recognize how very much He treasures us, what sense does it make to seek the adulation… the “glory”… of man instead of the approval of God?

And why put the words/opinions of man above the words/opinions of God – Who gave all that we might rest in who HE created us to be?

In Galatians 1:10 Paul writes: “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

Go back and read Romans 8:28-29 again……..  Seriously.  Go read it…….

These 2 verses remind us that there is nothing that we can do to change how very much we are loved by Christ.
The love of man changes as quickly as the seasons and is as unstable as the winds.
The love of God never wavers.

Receive His “glory” and grace. Accept yourself how HE sees you.

Allow HIS opinion to be what governs your mind, will, emotions, actions, and speech. You may find yourself enjoying the freedom. I pray that you will. ❤

Car Clings and Commmitment

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So I Attached a cling to my car yesterday. Only the 3rd that I have put on any car in dozens of years.

I typically don’t put them on because it’s rare that I find one creative enough to be appealing for me. (However, I do have a “We will We Will WOK you” one that I plan to put on in honor of my crazy Asian Shmexy because I think it’s hysterically funny given the context of life with Jun-Jun!)

I also don’t put them on because, to me, they are a commitment. Placing a cling on your car is making a very public statement that you are committed to the cause of whatever is displayed on your vehicle…. and you will, therefore be judged according to those things.

For instance: I have never put a “Jesus fish” on my car because 1. Jesus was not a fish. 2. I have never, ever, been persecuted like the Christ-followers of old who used this symbol as a way to find one another. And 3. Although I find honking long and loudly, middle fingers, cursing/yelling at others, and other immature displays of aggressive road rage ridiculous, I have been known to look at someone with THAT look and shake my head in derision while muttering loudly about their incompetent driving and such in my not-so-far-in-the-past mild road rage days. Wouldn’t have represented the “Jesus fish” very well now, would it?

And I’ve never put a “save the tatas” cling on NOT because I don’t support breast cancer awareness – and not because I am not proud that there is a movement towards a cure – but because I participate in absolutely nothing breast-cancer-awareness related except to have that compassion for sufferers and survivors in my own heart. So why advertise as if I am passionately involved in finding a cure, running the annual race, and furiously donating money to the cause? (Put down your judgment gavel, please. And no, I don’t judge others who have all these cause-related clings because I don’t know their life. This is a PERSONAL random conviction – not one that I apply to every soul that breathes.)

Plus – even the window clings are hard to get off after a while.

Anyway – the point…
I put a cling on (No, not a Klingon) yesterday because 1. I was given it and 2. I am cautiously optimistic about being part of a place where my husband is excited to be, learning about forgiveness/character/grace, and growing.  I see him growing through scripture, teachings, and the recent joining of a small group of people who talk about the realities of walking with Christ (in spite of his insecurities regarding people getting to know him and vice versa). And I’m beyond thrilled that HE is motivated to be a part. So, with his blessing, I took the plunge and attached the cling to the rear window of my car. Bam! There’s a commitment sticker on my window. Just like that.

An artistically creative cat face, an asian “punny” tribute to Queen, and an Elevation cling. Pretty strange combo for a pretty eclectic mix of a family. Well… we’re nothing if not real. 🙂

PS – I’ll probably find a cling, one day, that honestly articulates being a real follower of Christ who is authentic, faulty, flawed, and doing their dang best but liable to make many a mistake along the way. (Contrary to all the “Christian kitschy” that is out there now.) And that one I’ll grab up and stick on there too…. and probably give away like candy.