A Culture of Cowardice

IMG_0487Sherri Turkle’s TED talk about  the disconnect through technology (“Connected but Alone”), really picked at some social norms that are poisoning us.  Right after that, a friend came over to have a “face to face” conversation because “My emails tend to make things worse,” she confessed. She just wanted to “see how her words landed.”

It was no big deal, no major issue to resolve. Well —  except that it was  heart thing. She had noticed her heart and my heart bouncing off each other and she wanted to clarify and comfort me.  Hmm, maybe it was a big deal.

Then Salem wrote a paper on the risk of relationships through technology;  she challenged that we are tempted to pretend to be human while  never actually experiencing true human connection.  Somewhere in here God gave me the phrase, “careless words.”  It triggered a scripture that has always scared me. “You will be held accountable for every careless word you utter.” Can you see that the Lord is talking a lot about this? In our on-going conversation the Lord is teaching,  “What does it mean to use our words with wisdom?”

The icing on the cake was  when I saw a message in writing that would never have been delivered in person.  Whether text, Facebook, or tweet, if the person delivering that message had to stand there and watch the physical, emotional and spiritual impact of  those words, I don’t think that person would have had the guts to say it. Bravado from a distance is a deception.

So I wonder — are we creating  a Culture of Cowardice?

Our so-called freedom of expression has, perhaps, unleashed a Jekyll and Hyde personality where we say unfiltered in text, Facebook and tweets, what we would never have the gall to speak face to face.  What makes us human is our gift of emotions, our ability to respond, to experience. And yet we shield ourselves from this experience by throwing verbal bombs via technology.

I love the exchange of ideas. I am, in fact, right now, communicating via technology. But as it comes to one on one relationships, human to human, heart to heart, are we taking thought of how our words hurt or heal? Does our smart phone make us emotionally stupid ? or reckless? Or worse, braver than we actually are?

Believe me, human interactions are dangerous. I accidentally hurt a friend recently. I watched her face cloud over, her body tense up and I heard her bitter, angry response.  I was so shell-shocked all I could I could say was, “That was not my heart.”  But the beauty of that moment was the humanity of it. It was real, ugly, and even scary. We may think it is better to hide behind our devices to avoid some of the relational fallout.  But here is the God factor.

Seeing her, experiencing her caused me to look at me, to look to God.  If all that happened via text, I probably wouldn’t have blinked an emotional eye. Instead, I have examined myself, gone before the Lord and I have prayed for my friend.  Her hurt was a wake up call. I am desperately reminded of how frail we are despite our tough personas. I am  immediately grateful that the Holy Spirit is here to comfort and to heal us both. Again and again, I am reminded how much we need to hear that we are Well Loved children of God.

Perhaps, this is our starting point in all communications, even the hard ones.  Am I speaking like a Well Loved Child of God? Is the other person being treated like a Well Loved Child?

How can we possibly do this? Only by the true and present Grace of God. He is teaching us to love.  “Words are powerful; take them seriously.”

34-37 “ It’s your heart, not the dictionary, that gives meaning to your words. A good person produces good deeds and words season after season. An evil person is a blight on the orchard. Let me tell you something: Every one of these careless words is going to come back to haunt you. There will be a time of Reckoning. Words are powerful; take them seriously. Words can be your salvation. Words can also be your damnation.” Matthew 12 The Message


Be still…

I have been recuperating, reveling, and rejoicing from all the events of late. There are so many God stories flying around, that I can’t keep up. Women set free, redeemed. Romanced for the first time or in a long time.  At the same time there are so many needs. Homes to sell, backs to heal, relationships to mend. But this morning I am sitting in awe of Him.

Be still. And know. That He is. God.

Be still. Stop the noise. Turn off Facebook, email, phone, Itunes. Just for a moment listen for the sound of Him breathing on you. Blowing away your fears. Whispering your name. The closeness of Him.

And Know. Without holding back, or doubting. With full consent of your heart, soul and mind. Believe with childlike faith.

That He is. God is alive and well. Happy, victorious, powerful and loving. He knows all and holds all of your life together. He is for you, with you, in you, in love with you.

God. The maker of the universe, the one who formed you in the secret place. God of all gods. Mighty and tender. Different from any other source in your life. Altogether lovely.

Take a deep breath. And let Him fill your lungs today with His life. He is the air we breathe.

Digging Up Bones on FB

So I thought it was just me. But then I do a couple of retreats and I hear the same thing over and over. I ask women or men, “How did this crazy thing start anyway?”

“Well they asked me to be their friend on Facebook.”

Sometimes there is a reason that seasons pass and doors are closed.  Sometimes there are very good reasons that they should stay closed.

Connecting with old lovers while you’re married: not a good idea.

Talking more to your ex boyfriend on FB than you do to your husband, or he does his wife: not a good idea.

Friending ex husbands or wives?  Uhm, wasn’t the point of the divorce to NOT be in relationship?

And what if you aren’t married?  Aren’t rules different then?  I don’t know; what are you looking for?  Facebook is great for connecting people but it is also great for inserting people that have no place in your life.

I mean seriously…why on earth do I want to be “Friends” with a person with whom my only connection is sexual stupidity in high school? What is he supposed to say to me?  “Gee remember when we ——–? And now I see you have two kids? How great. And how is your husband?”

I know this is all under the blood of Christ. I have forgiven myself and them. Maybe you have too. But is it healthy to renew these relationships? I would say after talking to several men and women who are losing their hearts to phantom relationships, this breach in boundaries is just one more attack on marriage, or the hope of a healthy relationship. People can be toxic for us, even from afar.

Perhaps there is no sexual contact. But isn’t the mind and its ability to rewrite history strong enough to distract from the now? I am talking to people who just like “to watch what is happening in this person’s life.”  What do you think fosters fantasy anyway?  Watching from afar with no reality of relationship.

Brothers and sisters, beware.   Corinthians says “just because something is technically legal doesn’t make it spiritually beneficial.” (The Message) I encourage you to guard your hearts in Christ Jesus.  Guard your homes.

Don’t allow the enemy to entice your hearts away, especially when your heart is dissatisfied or hurting in your marriage or relationship status already. Don’t believe the lie that it is harmless. It is not.

“The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run into it and are safe.” Proverbs 18:10  Run to the Lord, and “defriend” the obstacles to your real relationships.