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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.

3 comments:

  1. Sarah, I can relate to what I THINK you are trying to express here. You put it into words, much more clearly than I have do.

    This "community" factor that you mentioned, reminds me of the fact that, it seems that many of us have lost the idea of true, and much needed, fellowship. We have come to believe that feelings are bad, or that they are the problem. When in fact feelings are helpful friends, designed by God (in part) to help guide us to what the real problem is!

    Another "factor" in this "equation," (if you are anything like I am), is that when my emotions do become intense, I often scare people away from me, or I majorly irritate them. I'm finding that when I've stuffed it for too long, I begin to be very negative, and I assume things like, "They don't care!" and those kinds of beliefs, or confident false conclusions, have me treating people as though they are the enemy.

    Rather than move towards them in my pain, I'm treating them as though they are the cause of my pain. The way I am treating them, reveals my heart's false accusations of them. No one enjoys being falsely accused, whether in word, or in tone of voice and M.O. My anger, my intensity, my sarcasm, snide remarks,...cause them to feel attacked, not needed.

    This leaves me in that very painful place of feeling very abandoned, alone, and uncared about... As, you said it so well, "I am dealing with lack of a basic human need." and it really is a heart issue...

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  2. I love you, your honesty, your realness. I am so very glad to be in real community with you as we battle the unbelief in our lives (daily). And the lack of sleep thing gets easier....
    Kathy

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  3. thank you for your input! I do need sharpening by others, in spite of all I said here :)

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