I Loathe Blanket Statements

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When my kiddos were younger we had a rule that we weren’t to use the words never or always. As in you never let me do anything or you always take his side. While it may seem that way sometimes, very rarely are never/always statements true. In fact they can be suffocating, taking the oxygen right out of a conversation.

A close cousin to always and never is “all.” It is precarious to make blanket statements using the word all like an umbrella that neatly fits everyone under one space. Here are a couple I’ve seen floating around…

All Women Should Automatically Be Believed

Before your panties get all wadded up, hear me out. I am an advocate for women. I want to see women succeed. I want to see women heard. I want no woman to be abused or neglected or made to feel unloved, incompetent or undeserving.

But it’s a dangerous thing to say that someone should be believed simply based on her gender alone. As if women are not capable of lying. That’s a slippery slope on a road to no good. Every single one of us (male and female) has within them the ability to lie.

It’s a tale as old as time. Potiphar’s wife lied when Joseph refused to sleep with her. (Genesis 39) Moses’ family did it to keep him alive. (Exodus 2) Corrie Ten Boom hid Jews in her home to keep them from being sent to horrific concentration camps. There have been court cases that have made national news of women who have lied about being assaulted (think Duke lacrosse.) I have seen firsthand the destruction caused by fabricated stories.

Whatever the reason (either for the saving of some or the destruction of others) the point here is that women had and will continue to have the capability to lie. We are broken people living in a fallen world. So to say women are to be believed simply because they are women is unhealthy and unwise.

All Men are Pigs

I get it. I really do. We are bombarded with news of more women coming forward with stories of abuse. It’s horrendous and I hate it. I have my own story that I’ve shared bits and pieces of as well. That’s why I understand how easy it is for the pendulum to swing towards this blanket statement.

It took me many years to not see a white man with a God awful tight perm and assume he was a child molester. For a very long time cigar smoke made me go into fight or flightmode. But not every man who smokes a cigar abuses women.

There are kind men in the world. Decent men, who respect women and who are just as abhorred at the thought of women being abused, neglected and treated unfairly. They just don’t usually make the evening news because kindness doesn’t get ratings.

I’ve seen much name calling on social media feeds. Women who hate being called names but who in turn name call. Doesn’t that make you the very thing you are shouting out against…a name caller?

My grandsons play that game. One calls one a bozo so the other one shouts back that they are not a bozo and proceeds to call the original name caller a poopy-faced bozo. Take that why don’t ya! Things quickly spiral out of control and they both get in trouble while continuing to finger point and name call all the way to time out.

Are we not more mature than four and five year olds?

Sigh…

What are we to do?

First, avoid using blanket statements. Nothing snuffs out a conversation like using the words always, never and all. It will put defenses up and walls built. (We don’t need a president to build the walls, we are doing a great job at building them ourselves and keeping each other out.)

Second, be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves. (Matthew 10:16NLT) That is to say be prudent yet straightforward. Jesus prefaced that with, Stay alert. This is hazardous work I’m assigning you. You’re going to be like sheep running through the wolf pack…(Matthew 10:16 MSG) Man did he know what he was talking about!

Third, stop with the tit for tat. Choose to rise above the noise and go do something for someone who needs hope in humanity. Show someone love and respect and kindness.

Want to really hurt your (perceived) enemy? Feed him if he’s hungry. Give him a drink if he’s thirsty. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head and the Lord will reward you. (Proverbs 25:21-22)

Today. Do it today.

(Is that the smell of singed hair from burning coals of kindness? Yes and amen!!)

kw

 

 

Not Your Standard Measure

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When I was just a little bitty girl I would sit at the kitchen table and watch my Granny whip up all kinds of goodies. Cookies, cakes, crust for pies, noodles, potpie, apple turnovers, bread, rolls…you name it, she could bake it.

When I got above knee high she would let me practice by giving me some of the left over pie dough to which I kneaded and balled up and rolled out with the fervor of a young Julia Childs. Add some melted butter with a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar, roll that up, slice into pinwheels and bake it for a delicious treat. (That is if I hadn’t played with the dough too much….Granny still ate it like it was blue-ribbon-at-the-county-fair quality. Bless.)

Fast-forward a couple of decades and I wished I’d paid more attention as a teenager. Instead of dishing out a cup of sass, I should have written a few things down step-by-step. There’s something about having a hankering for one of Granny’s desserts and not remembering exactly how she did it.

Several years ago, on a fall day much like we’re having here in the Midwest, I was in the mood for her sweet potato pie so I called her. She was now in a nursing home, her days of baking long past because arteritis had taken her sight except for seeing some shadows. I wasn’t sure if she’d remember the recipe from decades ago but much to my delight she did!

There was one problem…she didn’t use a standard measuring cup to measure out anything. She used a coffee mug. And even then never filled it past full, never careful to tap the side and get the air out,  didn’t scrape the excess off the top with a butter knife. How did she know how much she used? She measured by “cup and feel”; I needed rocket science precision.

I was afraid if I didn’t use the standard way of measuring, my pie would be a disaster; I would be a failure because I didn’t measure the right way.

Sounds dramatic, doesn’t it?

I’ve been thinking a lot about that conversation lately and Granny using her own method to measure. There’s a deeper lesson to be learned. It’s easy to use the world’s standard of measure to determine whether we are winners or losers, whether we have worth or are worthless, whether we are a favorite or a failure.

Take for instance the scales….groan…I know, I know! The scale is a measurement in pounds of what your body weighs. It is a guideline for health. It is NOT a measure of your value. Do we want to be healthy? Absolutely! But don’t confuse your weight with your worth.

Being single doesn’t mean you aren’t seen. Marriage doesn’t make you greater. Divorce doesn’t mean you’re less than.  All three can be or are hard. None of them makes us any more or less worthy of love and acceptance.

I’ve been both a working and a stay-at-home Mom. Both have pros and cons. Both are hard in different ways. Neither should be my plumb line for purpose. Nor yours. Why? Jobs/careers can change on a dime. Pink slips can be given without warning. Kids grow up, become adults, and venture out into the world on their own (as they should!) If the measure of who I am is based on the above then my value is one fifth of what it once was because I’m down to one kid living at home and I haven’t worked a paying job for 15 years. No. My value isn’t based on my career outside or inside the home.

Speaking of kids, we should never measure the quota of our competency based solely on their successes or failures. I know kids who come from terrible situations but are determined to beat the odds and succeed. Others who come from beautiful families that do everything they can to be great parents, but have kids who choose to take a destructive path.  If the measure of who I am is based off of my own kids’ wins and losses then there would be times when my value was through the roof and others when it was in the tank.

Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram and a host of other social media outlets are not benchmarks for our own beauty, brains or bravery. Scroll through on any given day and see picture perfect, then look around and see how it makes you feel. I have many Pinterest attempts that were a bust. Others that were helpful. Some days/seasons I’m fine, others I watch how much screen time I allow myself because it is very easy to compare my movie reel to someone’s snapshot. Our “real” to someone’s carefully construed contortion can often leave us feeling lonely, left out and lacking.

The measure of who I am and who you are is not based on the world’s standard of measure. No. We are each created in the image of the One who sees us, hears us and loves us right where we are. Today. No matter the number on the scale. In your successes and failures. No matter if you have Miss, Mrs. or Ms. in front of your name. No matter if your kids are angels, prodigals or in juvenile detention. Whether your movie is a mess or picture perfect. You are his beloved and he delights in you!

My Granny may have been on to something. Grab a mug and offer the world a better standard.

kw

Taking Care of You During High Trigger Times

 

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I was turning into the last quarter of a six-mile walk when I spotted two construction trucks lining the road. They were parked in front of a house that sat a bit further than midway down a cul-de-sac. I stopped dead in my tracks as I watched the men go back and forth from their trucks to the outdoor project they were working on.

Do I dare keep walking my usual route?

I’ve walked this particular neighborhood many times, know several people who live in it and lovingly call it the ‘hood because it’s anything but with its beautiful homes on spacious, large lots. I always feel safe walking there, even when I’m alone.

Not today.

My thoughts were all over the place. From: I will not let them dictate where I will and will not walk. It’s the middle of the day for Pete’s sake. To: don’t be stupid, be safe. Turn around and walk away. Back to: you give them the power if you walk away. You can always scream you’re on your period if they try something. (side note: this was something a cop told a group of ladies to say at a defense class many years ago.) To: if something were to happen you know people will blame you. After all, why would you walk down a road by yourself knowing there are men there?

All those thoughts in a matter of seconds. I looked around at the houses on the rest of the street and there was not a neighbor or dog outside so I turned and walked away disappointed, angry, confused.

I finished the six-miles (except for that one little bit) but not without realizing we aren’t as far as we’d like to think in this world. Maybe we haven’t come a long way baby. I’d like to tell you this was many years ago instead of this past summer but I can’t.

For the rest of the walk I had flashes of things that I had put to rest long ago…

Like being disappointed in myself for letting them/him “win”.

Like berating myself for not having my phone with me at all times. Just in case. Just because. There may be a man. In the middle of the day. In a safe neighborhood. Or in my childhood home so I could swim.

Like telling myself I deserved what I got for having a bathing suit on when I was molested as a young teen. Never mind the fact that I had just come in from swimming. I was told that if I hadn’t been dressed like that…

So I exchanged the swimsuit for a cloak of shame that I wore until my early 30’s when a therapist told me it didn’t matter what I was wearing, what happened to me was wrong. He had no right to violate me. Period.

I should be able to swim in a bathing suit just like I should be able to walk down a cul-de-sac where construction workers are working without fear of being hurt. Without men justifying bad behavior or others excusing it because I’m the one who should know better.

I’m sharing this with you because this triggering, these thoughts, happened on a bright sunny day as I was doing something I love to do in a safe neighborhood. It caught me by surprise. But that’s what triggers do sometimes even after years of therapy.

I can only imagine what the news and social media outlets are doing to trigger some of you who are reading this. You can’t scroll through Facebook or watch the news lately without seeing loud opinions on both sides….I Believe Her. Confirm Kavanaugh Now. She’s a liar. He’s a rapist pig.…have brought out emotions, finger pointing and a marathon blame game of he-said, she-said played under the big top of Barnum and Bailey’s circus.

This post isn’t about that or even them.  It’s about you who may be tempted to put that cloak back on, blame or berate yourself or send yourself down a spiral of no good.

Take care of you. The counselor I see off and on now will ask at the beginning of each session how I’m doing in three areas: mind, body and spirit because all three make up the whole you and all three are important.

Here are some things I’ve been doing in each area to keep myself healthy during this high trigger time:

Mind. Turn off the news and put your phone down. I like to stay informed and want to know what’s going on too but I can watch for ten minutes and find out what I need to know. Social media was nothing but exhausting and had me so worked up mentally with all the name calling so I stopped scrolling. Watch a movie, read a book, meditate, pray, make affirmation cards, take a nap, take a class, look at recipes, have coffee/lunch/dinner with a friend…anything to engage the mind in a positive way.

Body. Get up and move. Get the positive endorphins going. Did you know you can’t be angry/depressed while you exercise? Ask a friend to take a walk in the park. Get outside. Breathe in some fresh air. Get your hands in the dirt. Take your shoes off and walk in the grass. (There is scientific evidence that this grounds you and there are microbials in the dirt that helps combat depression!) Eat healthy. It’s so easy to eat junk while mindlessly watching the news circus or scrolling through social media. Watch your alcohol intake. By watch I mean limit. Get the right amount of sleep for you and your body.

Spirit. Be still. Light a candle. Drink some tea. Read through the Psalms or Proverbs. Start a Bible study. Go to church. Connect with a small group. Serve others in some way…a nursing home, preschool, animal shelter or hospital. Volunteer somewhere. Write your favorite scriptures on a note card. Fresh sheets and new jammies are always a good thing.

Last but not least ask for help if you need it. Talk to someone, a friend, pastor or counselor.

You matter.

kw

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Letting Freedom Ring

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Happy July! On this day in 1776 Congress voted to declare independence from Great Britain’s tyrannical king, George III. Two days later, on July 4th, the adoption of the Declaration of Independence was commemorated and has been celebrated in the United States ever since. Freedom fighters fought long and hard, blood was spilled, lives lost so we could live in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

I’ve been thinking a lot about freedom, freedom fighters and what it is to be a people who live free. I keep going back to this verse…

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1 NIV)

What does it mean to live truly free? Jesus’ whole mission was an operation of liberation. People were living under a heavy yoke of oppression with no hope of ever being able to live out the law. Besides that, the Pharisees kept adding to their load making the weight of it unbearable. We don’t begin to have enough space to talk about the Gentiles and their issues.

Jesus is the ultimate freedom fighter whose death lifted that yoke by fulfilling the law. Jews (and the Gentiles who thought part of following Christ was following Jewish law) were no longer under this laborious load of impossible rules and regulations. He had a new way, His way.

What does it mean to stay free? You would think that we would bask in this burden free way of living but as Timothy Keller says, our freedom is fragile and can slip from our grasp. (Galatians for You) Jesus brought with him a message so foreign, so unfamiliar to them (and us?) that I’m sure at times it was easier to slip that yoke back on. At least they knew the feel of it, heavy as it was. Anybody else go back to a comfort zone for the sake of the familiar?

But Paul says we have to stand firm against going back there. Living under the yoke of the law (spiritual) or the bondage of sin (physical/mental) are both enslaved ways to live and is the very thing Christ freed us from.

I sat down yesterday afternoon (this was not originally today’s scheduled post but it won’t leave me alone so here you go.) and came up with a list of what walking as free people in Christ looks like.

FREE PEOPLE…are forgiven

  • and forgiving
  • live loved
  • aren’t controlled by the past
  • or scared by the future
  • laugh more
  • rebel against the establishment (Jesus was a rebel!)
  • aren’t chained to bitterness or resentment
  • aren’t afraid
  • aren’t easily offended
  • see beauty in the broken and worth in the wounded
  • are for the outcasts, misfits and least of these
  • don’t judge
  • are dangerous to some (the Pharisees who don’t like free)
  • aren’t afraid to speak the truth
  • let go
  • don’t harbor, hoard or hate
  • don’t manipulate
  • be self-controlled not controlling of others
  • listen long
  • simmer slow
  • love the unlovely
  • know their worth
  • give more
  • notice
  • don’t take anything for granted
  • appreciate differences
  • don’t feel the need to always be heard
  • breathe easier
  • sleep better
  • are kinder, gentler beings
  • know meek ain’t weak
  • love lavishly

…just to name a few!

Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you. (Galatians 5:1 MSG)

Be a freedom fighter. Bust out, be brave, live free!

Feel free (see what I did there) to add your thoughts on what living free in Christ looks like in the comments section below.

kw