Nov. 16, 2016

On being too abrasive...

It’s been interesting to watch the Facebook banter over the past week. I think most people, regardless of how they voted, were surprised; some pleasantly and some not-so-much.  A friend of mine said to me about mid-week, “Roni, I’m not sure you would have been happy with either one of them.” That would be true. 

One of the things I find interesting about human nature is the premature desire to fix things or to suppress emotion. Being a life-long church goer, I can tell you we don’t handle conflict well. I remember attending business meetings in one church and you wondered if people had died during the meeting due to the lack of any coherent communication. There seemed to be an invisible thread connected to everyone’s arm as they blindly voted “yes” to everything the pastor said. So, the pastor is always right? 

In another more progressive church (oops – that’s the church’s word for “condoning sin in the world”), I was usually planted to ask the tough questions in order to prompt critical thinking. I fear most of us think critical thinking means being too critical. There were a few that took my questioning the pastor as overly-critical, but at least they didn’t shush me because I am a woman. It is interesting to me that we had to appoint someone to be objective. 

I visited my dentist recently and the dental hygienist informed me that I am rubbing the enamel off my bottom front teeth due to brushing too hard. She coached me to clean my teeth gently and not be too abrasive. I laughed and told her, “Tall order but I’ll work on that.” 

I regret that most church goers see any sign of resistance as ugly or abrasive. It is regretful that while people were truly reeling and hurting, we Christians posted things like, “Be nice. Talk nice. Say only nice things.” Some of us cherry-picked scripture to somehow force peace among people or at least try to get them to move on – according to the wise poster’s timeframe, I might add. 

I think most church goers choose to forget Jesus used words like, “Thieves,” and “Vipers,” “Snakes,” and “Hypocrites” when challenging the religious status quo. Jesus referred to Peter as “Satan” when Peter put his human desires ahead of God’s plan.  The “Moral Majority” of Christ’s day were called “Pharisees” and they were behind the plots to kill Jesus. They thought He was too lax on sin, hung around awful sinners, and challenged their traditional thinking. Some believe Jesus was actually considered very liberal in His religious circle. Good thing He didn’t come to save religion, huh?  

There is a difference between assertive and abrasive. There is a difference between addressing critical issues and attacking other people. Yep, my ongoing struggle. When the church world gets healthy enough to be genuine and honest (now I am told those are bad words in the religious community), I suspect we’ll be much more successful in interacting with and actually impacting our world. 

And, that my friends, is most likely another blog that some will call “too abrasive.” I’m definitely a work in progress.