I’m reading through her Facebook posts, her blog posts, her tweets. I’m seeing all of the things we agree on, all of the ways our theology aligns, all of the similarities. And yet, something is missing. Why in all of her caring does she not mention abortion? I can’t help but think it. Maybe she doesn’t believe abortion is wrong. Maybe she doesn’t care about it at all, about them. I bristle. I feel a little repulsed. At the maybes, at myself. It might not be like that at all, but if it is…it seems so contradictory. But then I remember that just a couple of short years ago, abortion wasn’t on my radar either. I knew so little about it and cared so little about what happened behind that iron gate just a few minutes from my house. I remember I hated driving past it in Driver’s Ed because it gave me a ghostly feeling, but see-not, care-not was a nice motto for a time.
As time passed, my conviction increased. I read a lot about abortion, the pro-life movement and talked to my friends at The Coalition For Life. It was a gradual but heavy change. The burden of abortion in my own community rolled onto my back like a great stone. I had to kneel in order to let it roll on, and I had to stay low in order to carry it. It’s a humbling thing to admit that you’ve been ignorant to blatant sin, that you’ve contributed to a blatant sin, while tweeting scripture from your upstairs bedroom.
The Internet has a funny way of swirling my mind in a billion directions. It’s a million books, a million menus, a million conversations all at once and sometimes I think I need to turn it all off and just go to sleep at a decent hour for once in my life. One thing the Internet has taught me is that there is every type of person imaginable and each one just as personal a person as the next. And they all have something to say and they all have thoughts and they’ve all come to conclusions and they’re all a little wrong and they’re all a little right and if I just listen, I’ll learn from all of them. But I can’t believe everything I hear and I can’t agree with everything I’m told, but I can listen and I can learn and I can kneel and change when I’m the wronger of the two wrongs.
And the other thing I do on the Internet-I judge people. Every day I fall into the sin of judgement while online.
She is cool because look at that picture she instagrammed of her garden. She’s so mellow and calm as she plants that asparagus, she must be at some great peace with the Lord.
She is stupid. She just tweeted about sports three times in a row. There’s so much more to life than sports. She’s just making a fool of herself. Who cares anyway? Not me.
He’s totally right. Everyone should recycle. If you don’t recycle, you don’t care about the environment. Don’t they know that God gave us the earth to steward and care for? Gee!
Oh, I thought I liked this person. Never. Mind. Their kids go to public school. Yuck. If you want the government polluting your children’s minds and molding them into factory workers for you, go back to Prussia.
These thoughts are slightly exaggerated. Keyword: slightly.
Very quickly, I judge people like this and keep scrolling. I hardly notice that I’m doing it, I can click away so quickly. Sometimes someone says something that rubs me the wrong way and I keep mulling it over for a long time, but most of the time I just make my instant judgements and click away.
Yesterday as I was helping my mom cook dinner, I was thinking about how glad I was that we’ve started composting. I can’t imagine throwing away all of this good vegetation anymore. Our little pail is filled several times a day with banana peel, strawberry leaves, wilted lettuce, plate scraps. We take it out to our pile, toss it around and…viola! Compost! It’s so neat and so simple and makes me feel so good about myself.
And we recycle! Glass, paper, plastic, styrofoam, cardboard-you name it. And we conserve water! We wash our dishes in a tub and dump the tub in the grass. We have a rain barrel! And speaking of the kitchen, we only eat fair-trade chocolate! And I make my own chocolate syrup out of fair-trade organic cocoa! We buy organic vegetables! We eat carrots from our neighbor’s garden! We grow our own peppers and tomatos! We wash our plastic bags and use them again! We’ve cut down on meat intake! We get our beef from a friend’s ranch! We don’t buy certain brands that support Planned Parenthood! We donate to ministries in Haiti! We sponsor kids through Compassion! We tithe! We read! We exercise! We pray! We have family meals! We make our own laundry detergent! We use eco-friendly all-purpose cleaner! We write real letters! We take lots of photos! We don’t watch dirty movies! We listen to great music! We host friends at our house! We have volunteered in nearly every ministry at our church! We volunteer at a crises pregnancy center! We participate in fundraisers! We are un-judge-able!
Wrong, wrong, wrong.
Yes, I do all of these things. But I also judge. I also hate. I also slip.
Did you see how many times I mentioned chocolate? Yeah, I eat a lot of that. I’m kind of an addict. And did you see where I mentioned carrots? That happens once a year. And did you see where I mentioned water conservation and homemade laundry detergent? That started this week.
It sounded good, didn’t it? It would’ve looked good on Instagram too. The truth is, even if I told you how often I neglect to write to my sponsor child or how often I buy the non-organic apples because they’re bigger and prettier than the organic ones or how I still get lattes at Starbucks even though their chocolate syrup is probably made by slave children in Africa, it wouldn’t matter. We would still judge each other and we’d still be far from the heart of the matter.
Ah-bingo. The heart. I can do a million “good things” and my heart can still be far from the Lord. Far from the people, even. I judge people who I think should care about the same things I do, yet I don’t even do those things many days! A couple of years ago I thought recycling was a scam, composting was gross and water conservation was just for drought seasons. I ate bukus of Hershey’s chocolate and knew nothing of their affiliation with slavery. I did whatever was convenient and normal and thought little of the toll it took around the world. I didn’t work out, even as much as I do now (which isn’t a lot!) You see, I could give you a perception of my life which would, honestly, make us look like the greatest family ever. You would read about me on my blog and on my Facebook page and be jealous, feel guilty about your own weaknesses and end up hating me for being the person you never could be. And there’s when you know that you’re being duped. If you cannot become that perfect person, neither can I.
I have to remember that I care about things for the first time. I care about things that God lays on my heart one-by-one. There are still issues, sin in my own heart and hurt around the world, that I’m ignorant to. I cannot judge people for not being exactly where I am on this journey. I cannot judge people for anything. I cannot even judge you for eating Twinkies. Heck-I used to be quite a fan of Ding-Dongs myself.
I love that scripture addressed all of this so long before I was even born. It doesn’t mention water conservation or Hershey’s or Planned Parenthood, but it does tell us to seek justice and love mercy and it does tell us that the kingdom of God is so much more than what we eat or what we drink or what we wear or how we talk. It’s about the heart. We are all clanging gongs if we don’t love. And to love can look different for you than it does for me. It can look differently for me tomorrow than it does today.
I love the good decisions we’ve made as a family. I love that we are becoming healthier and more eco-friendly. I love that we are involved in church. I love that we have a few good habits. But I know that there is just as much work left to be done as is already completed. I know that I cannot let anything, even good things, puff me up. I know that it’s not about these details at all. I try to focus on my similarities with others rather than our differences. I try to be encouraging in everyone’s little efforts to lead a full life. I try to focus on things of heaven, what is worthy of praise. It makes life simpler and happier and I have more friends than I did when I categorized everyone into “good” or “bad” boxes. Life has very few “yes or no” answers. We have to keep walking to find God’s next best thing for us. I hope I never hurt anyone over whether or not we’ve been convicted about the same thing. As the old Rolling Stones songs says, “he can’t be a man because he doesn’t smoke the same cigarettes as me.” I mean, we can be just like that, can’t we? Except we don’t smoke. That’s bad.