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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Platitudes and judgement

I am fed up with spiritual platitudes and nice-isms. They don’t work for me. Instead they communicate judgement and rejection.

“Take your frustrations to God.”

Are you saying I don’t already do this?

“Where is your joy?”

Are you saying that simply because you detect frustration that there is a lack of joy in me?

Seeing through these phrases, all I can see is judgement. Don’t deny it and dress it up in any other language. This is exactly what comes through. By saying these things it creates an atmosphere of insincerity. These comments send the message: don’t be honest and open with me. Wear a pretty smile and all will be well. Keep your frustrations between you and God. Don’t share them with me. Don’t be real with me. Instead, just be like ______________(insert story of missionary who didn't get frustrated when all went against him) – bumble along with thoughts of ‘all will be well’. That’s fine for him, but God (I am sure of this) makes room for all His children – not just the happy-go-lucky merry-on-my-way ones. David, Jonah, Jeremiah, Isaiah and even Jesus faced frustrations and from what we can tell from Scripture did not necessarily gloss over them and hide them from others saying, ‘I have given all my frustrations to God so I won’t have to burden you with them.’ Yes, they did give them to God, but they also, it seems, shared them with those around them.

We talk a lot about ‘community’ and if you really want to know what it is, just start sharing your deep frustrations with others. Not the gossipy ones that damage another person’s reputation. Not the frustrations that are ‘kosher’ like the superficial frustration of teaching a kid to potty train (genuine, yes, but not something one is about to wrestle with God over). I mean the battles of the heart – battles for joy, contentment, self-control and honesty. Tell me to follow in some missionary pilot’s footsteps and not be frustrated and I may deck you. Just giving you fair warning.

If my luggage goes missing - no big deal. God supplies my need. If I am sleep deprived I trust God to meet my need too, but instead of just having a lack of clothing or equipment like the pilot I am dealing with lack of a basic human need. There is no comparison – and we shouldn’t be comparing anyways. Comparing in this category is false – not apples to apples. It is merely judgement.

Honesty in relationships is crucial. If you say, 'Why don't you take your frustrations to God first?', I will feel like you are attacking my spirituality.

If you tell me to be like some missionary who breezed through the hardships of life with ne'er a frown or inner turmoil, I will feel like you are telling me to be like someone else.

If you tell me to keep my frustrations between me and God I will feel like you don't want to listen or know me: You are telling me you don’t accept me with my frustrations - you want a plastic Sarah.

If you tell me these things, I will see you as trying to coach me, convince me that I’m not joyful, content or handling my frustrations spiritually. If you cannot bear to hear my frustrations and confuse my frustrations with me, you might instead try to hear, empathize, and understand. If you give me spiritual platitudes, I will lose my patience.

Perhaps a little soul searching is in order.