Why I Gave Up Talking Politics on Social Media

I will no longer talk politics on social media.

There. I said it.

You may be thinking, “So what? This chick probably isn’t very politically minded anyways.”

Wrong.

I’m a musician, and to be honest, I rarely know the top hits of the day because my radio is always tuned into news talk stations. I’m extremely well-informed. My kids are almost as well informed as I am. I keep my thumb on the political pulse of our world every day. No, that’s not why I’m giving up talking politics on social media.

“But, Tara,” my friends say, “the stakes have never been higher. The United States is at a tipping point.” I get it. I really do. And trust me, I’m on my knees daily, praying that the apocalypse that we are about to descend into will somehow be reversed by God’s mercy. I can tell from the looks on their faces they think I’m just discouraged about the upcoming elections, weary of all the talk, the mud-slinging, the scandals. I am, but not in the way they think.

trump vs clinton

I’m giving up talking politics on social media because of Christians like myself.

These past several weeks have been eye-opening. Accusations and name calling. Assumptions and judgmental barbs flung like daggers. Temper tantrums and junior high style snarky posts about people without technically calling the person by name. Passive aggressive behavior. “I can’t believe a Christian would support this candidate.” “I can’t believe any Christian wouldn’t support this candidate.”Blah, blah, blah. Snark, snark, snark. Sin, sin, sin.

And all the while, unbelievers watch, watch, watch.

The number of people who can state their opinion in a calm way without stirring up a hornet’s nest of vitriol are shockingly few. Fewer still are those who can scroll through Facebook without be constantly offended by someone or something.

All of it breaks my heart.

facebook fight

Don’t get me wrong. I’m no holier-than-thou. I’ve done it too. That’s the problem. One crazy item in the news and my emotions fire up. Then my fingers start typing and before I know it, I’m in an argument with some dude I barely knew in high school over a political issue that neither of us are experts about.

A niggling unease has been building in my spirit for the past several weeks and I’ve had troubling identifying just why it was there. Every time I opened Facebook and saw yet another heated interchange between fellow Christians, it only grew worse. (This is aside from my normal aversion to confrontation.) Suddenly one day it hit me: we talk about what we’re passion about. And all I’m seeing plastered across social media is politics.

That’s well and good if you don’t know Jesus, but as a believer, we are called to something, no, to Someone much higher.

I have friends in my social media accounts from various walks of life. Some are conservatives and some are liberals. Some are straight and some are gay. Some have been in church all their lives and some have never even stepped foot inside a church building. If I’m not careful, I can forget that my life (including social media) is no longer my own. It’s God’s. I’ve been bought with a price. I have a tremendous opportunity to each the farthest corners of the globe with His message of hope. But what do I do? I get on Facebook and squabble about the election.

No more.

If my opinion becomes a stumbling block to someone receiving Christ,

If venting my opinion spirals into an angry exchange or even a perceived angry exchange,

If those who read my words can no longer see Christ in me,

then it’s not worth it.

When this life is over and I stand before God, this election won’t matter. It will be over and done. The outcome will have long been decided. But what will matter is how I treated people in my circle of influence. Every person I meet is either moving closer or farther away from God. Am I encouraging them or discouraging? Am I a voice of love or a voice of rage?

As love peoplebelievers, what instructions did Jesus give us until He returns? Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19,20)

Jesus didn’t say, “Go therefore and make Republicans of all nations…” or “Go therefore and sell the people on a government funded Democrat run program…”. Not at all. Politics have nothing to do with our job. We are supposed to be passionate about telling a dying world about Him.

And lest we forget…governments rise and fall at the hand of God alone.

When Jesus was spilling out His life on the cross, He was not dying for a nation. He was dying for the entire human race. Am I more interested in how a person fills out their ballot, or where they will spend eternity?

This is not a plea for Christians to stop posting political news or opinions on their social media accounts. Please don’t misunderstand. Each person’s account is their individual voice of freedom. What this is a cry for is a plea for wisdom. If we as Christians cannot engage in political discourse without our emotions running rampant, we should yield to the Holy Spirit and exercise self-control. People are watching. Unbelievers are watching and they are trying to figure out what they think of God based on how His kids behave.

This is why I’ve said goodbye to talking politics on social media. The price is high. Souls are at stake. And when souls are at stake, my Facebook and Twitter feed should be flooded with light, all signs pointing them to a loving Savior…not an election or my personal opinions of temporary problems.

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35

They won’t know us by whether we vote Republican or Democrat, whether we support the hot-button issues of the day or how well we can argue our position.

They will know us by our love.

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Battered Bluebirds: How to Handle Lying Emotions

The poor bluebird above our basketball goal. He’s just so…dumb. Every morning I walk outside to see my husband’s driver’s side rear view mirror battered and smeared, evidence of another early morning fight.

It would be funny if it weren’t so sad. bluebird car mirror

Every morning, the male bluebird perches in front of my husband’s rear view mirror and sees him. That vile, evil threat. Another male bluebird just like him. A threat to his woman. To his babies. So he does what must be done. He pecks the foul fowl until his head is nearly smashed flat and his beak resembles the blunt end of a hammer. Poor dumb, bluebird. He doesn’t realize he’s actually fighting himself.

He’s his own worst enemy.

I shouldn’t be quick to judge. I’m my own worst enemy too.

Do you know where the enemy lies to most of us? About our emotions. He tells us that because we FEEL a certain way, it must be so. We feel God doesn’t love us due to circumstances being out of our control, so therefore, God must not love us. We feel neglected by our husbands, so therefore, we are neglected. We feel hopeless in our circumstances, so therefore there must not be hope.

emotions

We see something that looks real, so therefore it must be real. (Ahem, cue Mr. Bluebird.)

Emotions are not good or bad. They just ARE. They are God-given ways of experiencing life in a profound way. The problem is, our emotions were damaged in the Fall.

The blunt truth here is this: our emotions usually have very little to do with reality. They swing and dive with alarming speed. Truth doesn’t.

When you’re threatening to drown in those suffocating, overwhelming crush of emotions, stop and breathe. Analyze the emotion. Name it. Then confront how you’re feeling with the Truth of God’s Word.

“Lord, everything about this day is falling apart. I don’t feel like You see me. I don’t feel like You care. But Your Word says You see me. You set me aside for a purpose before I was ever born. I will cling to You and Your truth.”

Take a step back. Just because it looks and feels real, doesn’t mean it is. Just ask my friend Mr. Bluebird.

god's truth

Whatever the emotion, bring it into the light of God’s truth. Cling to what you know and not how you feel. It will make all the difference, not just in how you manage your day, but how you live your life.

How do you usually deal with your emotions? Are you dictated by them or have you found ways to control them? What lie does the enemy frequently try to tell you? I would love to hear!

The Redemption of Kip

“Runt.”

“He’ll never live.”

“He’s so scrawny.”

I don’t know what I did wrong. I was born, I guess. While all my brothers and sisters were cute, wriggly little pups, I was the outcast. Never expected to do much. To be much.

At the pet store, the chubby, groping fingers of girls and boys would rove over all of our heads, scratching our ears, picking us up and snuggling their cheeks next to ours. Such happy feelings filled me, I couldn’t help but lick their giggling faces with big swipes of my tongue. But eventually those happy feelings died as I was set back down in my kennel. And one by one, my siblings were slowly sold and taken away.

kip

All except me.

Day after lonely day passed inside the pet store. The rubber toys and squeaky play things lost their luster as I sat and looked out the window, waiting for…somebody. I didn’t even know who. But surely somebody out there wanted me. Surely someone would love me, if they could just meet me. I was getting bigger. Growing stronger, wasn’t I?

The bell overhead jangled and my ears perked up. The noisy parrot in the corner squawked as an old man entered. His pale blue eyes roved over the animals, his blue-veined, knobby hands grasping a cane as he shuffled from cage to cage. His gaze latched on to mine and I sat upright, wagging my tail and trying all the tricks that had worked so well for my brothers and sisters. Wag the tail, blink big, cock my head sideways. But the old man frowned as he turned to the pet shop owner.

“This pup here. What breed is he?”

The big man shrugged. “I don’t know. Mutt, best I can figure. Sold off his siblings already. Can’t seem to get rid of him though.”

The old man narrowed his eyes. “What’s his name?”

“Runt.”

Muttering under his breath, the old man turned and walked away.

Something cold and hard sank in my middle.

Days turned blurry and dull, until one afternoon my dreamless sleep was interrupted by rough hands shaking me, pulling me. I didn’t understand what was happening, what strange cruelty was being inflicted. The big man growled and pawed at me. His thick fingers hurt as I wriggled and thrashed. He cursed and clamped his hands around my legs.

“You little mongrel! I’m just trying to move you to a different crate!”

Something sharp knifed up my back and I did the only thing I knew to do. I clamped my teeth into his hand. He bellowed. The floor rushed up to meet me. Pain exploded through my body. Heart thumping, I eyed the front door, could smell the fresh air as the door swung wide to admit a family of shoppers.

Runt.

He’s so scrawny.

Can’t seem to get rid of him…

open door

With the sound of rushing water in my ears, I scrambled to run, my paws clicking against the linoleum as I sprinted through the door and into the crowded city street. Away from cages and cranky men. Away from mean words.

Freedom. Maybe my somebody would find me now.

I ran and ran. Maybe for days. Nights were the worst. So cold and dark. Hunger cramped my middle. I wandered in between buildings, nosing through trash for scraps of anything I could eat, stepping between waste and sleeping humans. I shivered, curling up in patches of light from back doorsteps, hoping the meager warmth would somehow seep deep inside my body.

alley

I grew bigger, no longer a runt, but still, no one wanted me. One day I found a group of children playing outside a park. I walked slowly towards them, my tail wagging. Was my somebody with them?

But when they turned and saw me, they chased me, throwing rocks and calling me names. Kicking and hitting.

I never approached a human again.

One cold afternoon, a man in a uniform sneaked up behind me and somehow managed to get me into a big moving box that carried me to a building. It was like the pet store but different. The crates were smaller and there were no windows. I could hear other animals barking and meowing. The man who’d caught me patted me on the head as he eased me into the crate.

“Poor fellow. We’ll find you a home. Somebody will want to adopt you.”

I put my head on my paws. He was wrong. I don’t have a somebody. No one has ever wanted me.

Each day passed, people came and went. Eyes peered in to see me but I barely noticed. I gave up the tricks to catch their attention. They didn’t work. Never had.

One day, the Nice Man who always stopped to pat my head strapped a red tag to my crate, his eyes sad. I knew what that meant. I had seen it happen enough. Red tags were attached to a crate. The next day the animal inside was taken away. They didn’t come back.

Bowing his head, the Nice Man murmured some soft words and scratched my ears with a sigh. Then he left.

I guess I fell asleep, for the sound of a slamming door jarred me awake. I didn’t sit up. In truth, I barely cracked open my eyes. What was the point? I would be taken away soon, never to come back.

Footsteps approached. The Nice Man was speaking softly, his voice echoing off the loud walls.

“This fellow is scheduled to be put down tomorrow. Shame too. He’s seems awfully sweet. Sad.”

Another man stooped down to peer inside. I sighed and looked away, not interested to be poked, prodded or ridiculed by another cruel human.

“Mm. What’s his name?”

“His tag was hard to read when he came in, all scratched and busted up. Looked like he’d been out on the streets for a while. We think it said Runt.”

The stranger with the deep voice stepped closer and squatted, resting his arms on his knees and watched me. This one wasn’t going away. With another sigh, I kept my head on my paws and turned to give him a disinterested stare. He met my look with a smile.

“No, Runt doesn’t suit this guy at all. He’s far too big. Aren’t you?”

His eyes looked into mine and something deep inside me flared to life. I lifted my head.

kip adult

The nice man motioned to the other crates. “If you’d rather see some of the pups…”

“No.” The stranger stopped him with a raised hand. “This fellow and I are talking.” He chuckled. “May I?” At the Nice Man’s nod, he unlatched the crate and reached in, rubbing his hands through my fur with a soft touch…caresses that both soothed and made me feel protected. Like how I used to feel nuzzled up next to Momma so long ago. Loved. I savored the sensation, needy for it as they talked.

“I’ve been away fighting.”

“Finally home?”

“Yes, sir. I’ve wanted a dog ever since I was a little boy.” He chuckled when I leaned into his hand. “This fellow and I, I think we belong together.”

This stranger wanted me? No, I must have heard wrong.

The Nice Man watched us. “Most folks come in here wanting a cute little puppy, some perfect looking puff of fur that will make their kids squeal.” He smiled. “Runt is older, bigger. He’s not cute and fluffy like the other breeds. You sure?”

The stranger cupped my face in his hands and leaned in so close, his eyes were almost touching mine. “Love doesn’t only rescue the pretty or the preferred. Love pursues the broken, the needy, the unwanted and the outcast.”

He leaned his head against mine and rubbed his hands through my fur. I shivered as my chest beat in loud thumps. This stranger was my Somebody. He wanted me.

My Somebody leaned back and smiled. “First things first. We must get rid of that name. You’re no Runt. Not in my eyes. Let me think.” His eyes lit up as he snapped his fingers. “How about Kip?”

I barked and leaped from my crate, wriggling and squirming around my Somebody with prancing steps. I have a new name! Kip!

My Somebody laughed. “Kip it is! And it means ‘one from the high hill’.” Leaning down he rubbed my head and winked. “Appropriate, since I live in a big house, high on a mountain.”

Lifting my front paws, I scooted and wiggled as long as I dared on my back legs, barking with happiness when my Somebody burst into laughter. The Nice Man watched us, his mouth open.

“Look at that. I’ve never seen Run—er, Kip so happy before.”

My Somebody scooped me up in his arms and I laid my head on his shoulder, my entire body quivering with joy. He placed his hand on my head, and for the first time I noticed the scars that marred his palms and wrists. somebody and kip

He turned to leave but stopped and smiled over his shoulder.

“Well, that’s the thing about love. Not only does it pursue the unwanted, love also transforms.”

A big thank you to Donnie Haynes for inspiring the story of Kip. A simple, yet profound thought in your sermon at Bogg Springs let my imagination take flight.