I remember the day when I was about 9 or 10 that I decided to run away from home. My mom had made me SO ANGRY (about what, I have no idea, because who needs reasons when you have rage) and sent me to my room. I remember yelling and crying and defending my side because she was so wrong about whatever it was. In all honesty I could have used a good spanking, but since I was most likely taller than my little mommy at that point (I’m 6 feet tall, she’s…not) she chose a different approach. She told me that I could stay in my room and be angry all I wanted. I could cry and have all the emotions, I just couldn’t come out until I was done. I remember standing right at the edge of my bedroom, between the door frame, 2 centimeters from the hallway, to be sure she could hear me. And she did. But she completely ignored me. I still vividly remember her walking down the hallway, back and forth, getting my little brothers ready for bed. Back and forth. Back and forth. Without so much as a word. Not one single response to all of my rantings. And do you know what that did? It made me even more furious. I remember pulling a suitcase out from under my bed and filling it with clothes. I’d show her! Oh yes I would! “I’m running away!” I yelled. “I’m not staying here another second! You’re completely unreasonable! I hate that you won’t listen to me! And I’LL. SHOW. YOU.” Back and forth. Back and forth she went. And I just carried on until I had cried all the tears and said all the things and just plain pooped my little hormonal self out. Eventually I unpacked that suitcase and shoved it back under the bed because where was I going to go really? I would just have to sleep in that room and wait for my daddy to get home to save me from the evil clutches of the unreasonable, silent woman imprisoning me. And I fell asleep.
The next day, the sun rose, the anger had subsided (even though I’m sure I still felt like I was right about whatever) and it was a new day. My mom still loved me. She welcomed me out of my jail cell with open arms and a hug. We ate breakfast. We didn’t discuss all the things I had said because there really wasn’t much point in getting into it all. We’d probably never agree on it anyway. It was a new day and we were going to move right along.
The whole “gentle answer turns away wrath” stuff is hard. And the Bible is full of hard things. I’m learning that Jesus spoke a lot about opposites. A lot. Things like: the poor will inherit, the hungry will be satisfied, those who weep will laugh. He says you’re blessed when you’re persecuted, you should rejoice when you’re rejected. Love your enemies. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who mistreat you. Turn the other cheek. Give to those who don’t give in return. I basically think He is saying, “Figure out how you feel about something. Let your flesh have all of it’s emotions about it. Hash it out on the inside. And then do the exact opposite on the outside. Walking things out in love often feels like the EXACT OPPOSITE of what we want to do.
Recently I wrote this little blog. It wasn’t meant to be a big deal. It was only meant to get my thoughts out of my head so I could go to sleep. Writers can’t sleep when words and musings are floating around up there. So late one night, after midnight, I sat down, wrote it all out and went to bed. And low and behold it went viral. I stopped counting after the views hit a million. It was too much to take in. My children and I would sit at the table and refresh the computer and watch as the numbers climbed. Ten thousand. Twenty. Fifty. ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND. I would chew on my nails and lean over the trash can to dry heave as my girls danced around the living room chanting about ice cream celebrations and being famous. Little did they know that this particular blog was getting as much criticism and anger as it was shares and celebrity. They are only young. They don’t understand the way of the Internets and people being free to voice everything in their brains. So last week went on and the numbers climbed. The outpouring of messages and texts and emails was overwhelming. The very best and the very worst. And I had a decision to make. Do I reply to everything? Do I answer all the people? Do I thank the tens of thousands who have shared and liked and supported and at the same time ignore the thousands who are angry and hurt and feel betrayed? Do I comment to them all? Reality is that that is impossible.
So what I chose to do was simple. I chose to figure out how I felt about it all, about the love AND the anger. I chose to let my flesh have all it’s emotions about it. I hashed it out on the inside and did the exact opposite on the outside. Sometimes “turning the other cheek” is simply done by holding your tongue. Letting your character speak the truth that defensive words can never accomplish, and knowing that sometimes loving others comes through silence.
I’m going to be honest. I haven’t read all the comments. I have actually read very few. Maybe 10%. There are a couple of reasons for that:
- Husband, 4 kids, laundry, dishes, carpool, homework…it all still has to function and my timecard is full. My people ate pancakes and Cheetos for dinner one night last week and a couple of other nights the menu wasn’t much different because when I’m focusing so much on what all the people are saying I have a hard time thinking about things like dinner and bedtime. I’m too busy chewing my nails and throwing up and praying (read: fretting).
- Whether we like it or not, we’re all still basically 12 on the inside and so our feelings get hurt and emotions get high. You really didn’t want my pre-pubescent hormones coming at you at all hours of the day and night. This would also COMPLETELY negate every single thing I tried to get across in said blog: walking things out in love (EVEN IF YOU DON’T AGREE!) because people are watching to see HOW. YOU. REACT. (Because the blog really had 0% to do with Target and their bathroom policy and my thoughts on transgenders and the laws. It had everything to do with HOW Christians stand up for what they believe in and walking it out in love. Sadly many missed that part. And became shining examples of exactly what I was talking about in the first place. They probably don’t realize that they were my “case and point.” Oh well.)
You see we all only know how to do this life the best we can. We read the Bible. We interpret what we think it says. We do our best. And that’s all anyone can really ask of you and of me. This week I have been called names, I have been told I was going to Hell, I have been told that I was fighting a war for Satan himself. I’m choosing not to focus on those things. Do you know why? Because I have gotten so many messages. I have gotten messages from the atheists that said they don’t believe in God, but if they did, they’d want to walk it out like this. I have gotten messages from people in the LGBT community who have felt so rejected and hurt and alone and were reminded the Jesus loves them too. I have gotten messages from mamas of transgender teens who were so thankful for my words because the people being hurt in the middle of this whole argument are their sweet children who just need to go to the bathroom somewhere without being beat up. I have gotten messages from Target managers who can’t believe the hurtful, harsh, angry criticism they are getting by people, many who claim to follow Jesus. Messages from people who swore they would never step foot back in a church but have decided to try again. From pastor’s wives who are so thankful that someone spoke all the things they are thinking but have no freedom to voice themselves. Those are the things I’m choosing to focus on. Not because I think all the others are wrong and don’t have valid arguments, but because I feel equally strong about my stance, and I have to focus on something. These people are worth focusing on. And do you see? Do you see how one act of kindness and love (even if you’re standing up for what you believe in) can speak volumes to someone who is feeling rejected and alone?
So this is me, opening the bedroom door, hugging you, offering you breakfast (except not literally because I hate to cook and donuts are bad for you). We don’t need discuss all the things that have been said because there really isn’t much point in getting into it all again. We’ll probably never agree on it anyway. And this has nothing to do with being cowardly. It has everything to do with integrity.
It is a new day and we are going to move right along, with or without Target. Because this has nothing to do with their bathrooms.