Tag Archive: judge


beauty.

so recently i started another blog called ‘The Weekly Mash [and Peace!]’ which has a different theme for every day and i have decided that i am going to post the Saturday Round Up on my Irresistibly Fish blog so that subscribers can have access to the week that we have just vibed through… so if you missed any of these, pick the ones that look interesting, and enjoy… [the FRIDAY one feels like one of the most significant things i have written for a while so would love for you to at least check that one out if you haven’t and share it with your peoples]…

Monday saw us being enlightened as to the amusing eating habits of a variety of wild animals, performed by a rather silly man.

Tuesday took a look at the death of Margaret Thatcher and some of the unfortunate happenings related to that.

Wednesday asked the question of how your relationship with yourself is doing at the moment.

Thursday was some more self-reflection, but this time linked to the state of your heart, and God’s.

Friday took a rather cutting look at the labels we put on other people and what that might say to them, and to us. [MUST READ!]

[for Last Saturday’s Round Up featuring celebrity marriage tips, angry umbrellas and Cloud Man, click here]

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i have called Google ‘Uncle Google’ for a long time now – i’m not sure why i do that cos it’s very silly but it’s become my thing [which is probly why i do that]. i guess one reason is that when someone asks me something i don’t know i will either tell them to ask Uncle Google or i say that i will and it feels like bringing another person into the conversation.

joel osteen or martin short?

i read on Facebook this morning that well-known christian speaker and writer Joel Osteen has resigned and quit the faith. i’ve not been a huge fan of his writing as even his book titles suggest that he belongs to a group of christian writers/speakers who have a very strong focus on you – it’s all about you and becoming the best you you can be and being comfortable and happy and loving life, and so a brand of feel-good christianity that i’m not sure Jesus would be very comfortable with.

so when i read on Facebook that he had resigned and even quit his faith, my initial reaction was a bit of relief and “phew for Christianity” but then quite quickly i had another far more sobering thought… something along the lines of “Is that a Christ following reaction to have?”

as i read the article the announcement was linked to and how a church member said something along the lines of, “we gave him all our money and now he’s doing this to us. no ways, we’re not going to let him get away with that” i thought to myself, ‘wait a second, am i standing in line with all the other people ready to throw rocks at Joel?’

so question one that is asked of me is what is my attitude and posture when someone else falls [especially if it’s someone i’m not a big fan of] – is that a reason to celebrate, to quietly feel relieved or happy that someone else is not in a good place? doesn’t sound very Jesusful

then for some reason, i decided to check in on Uncle Google and get his thoughts [yes, i get that he’s not a real person and with all the knowledge he has i should be referring to him as she, right?]

and so i do the customary search i do every time i see the words when i come across the maths problem:

[thing i would really like to have – money, computer, latest phone] + [Facebook]

which is to type [thing i would like to have] and the word [hoax] into Uncle Google…

and sure enough, there are links to the Joel Osteen thing being a hoax [to be honest, not as many as there normally are with a blatant Facebook hoax so i am not even sure yet whether it is or isn’t]

WHAT TO LEARN FROM THIS LITTLE LESSON:

#1 would be to always verify information received before acting on it – in the virtual world we have of hoaxes and misreporting and photoshop and so on, there is a lot of misleading information going around there.

#2 would be to question why am i sharing information – someone dies, someone falls from grace, celebrity scandal etc – why am i so quick to become part of the gossip chain of passing this on?

#3 would be to question if sharing the information is “me doing my bit” – this is definitely a different blog post but it is a valid question that came to me while i was giving us some stuff to think about – the whole thing with Kony2012, with articles on poverty and violence to women etc is that me feeling like i’ve done my bit so i don’t need to get involved or is that me trying to get some momentum for the action i am going to be doing?

ready to throw?

#4 would be where do i stand when someone falls? [regardless of my feelings towards that person] – am i holding a rock and waiting for the signal, or am i on my knees praying for them and their family, crying out against injustice done, am i writing them a note of encouragement or offering to cook them a meal if they are someone i know? how would Jesus have me respond to crisis of any type?

these are important questions i need to ask myself. and i hope some of you will join me…

To take an example: Brett, let’s be honest: your youtube videos suck. Big time. And I don’t even see the purpose in it.

i am continuing with my response to the ‘a nonny miss?’ email i received, because i feel there are a bunch of things to be learned from it, which relate far beyond this simple email.

the second part i want to look at is specifically that line ‘And I don’t even see the purpose in it.’ – now i really only want to use the email as a launching point because i think this point goes much deeper than the silly you tube videos i sometimes make, so let’s forget the videos and take a step back from our lives and look at them through this lens. because i think this is something i have been guilty of in the past and probably still get wrong, but have definitely observed myself getting a whole lot better at it as i get older…

so the launch point is this – someone saw something i did, didn’t understand the purpose of it and so formed a judgement and then acted on that judgement.

sound familiar yet? anyone else out there cringing just a little.

i just returned from a visit to one of my best friends, dreadlocked Mike [who was part of the duo who helped give me dreads two years ago!] and it was so good seeing him and getting to hang with him again. and to be reminded of this incredible gift that Mike has…

Mike has this amazing ability to make a strong statement about something – eg. Clowns suck! [i don’t think he thinks that] – and then when i jump in and agree with him – “You’re so right Mike, clowns are evil!” [they’re not! well, most of them] he will spend the next thirty minutes trying to convince me why clowns don’t suck and are in fact amazing.

Yes, it can be frustrating and seem hypocritical at times, but what i have witnessed through it is Mike’s ability to really put himself on both sides of an argument [especially one he feels quite strongly about] and argue the merits of both sides. I think that later he weighs it all and hopefully takes into account what i have added and comes up with a refined opinion on the matter, but i really think it can be a powerful thing in terms of being able to, to some extent, understand the reasons behind an opposing view point.

perspective

how many of us can do that? i’m not talking about agreeing with someone you disagree with. i’m talking about taking the time [and humility] to try and hear or see things the way they are. who knows? it may end up changing your opinion or mind about something… although more often than not it may just help you understand why you see things the way you do so much more strongly.

i think the older i get the less i feel i KNOW [for absolute sure fact real] but the things i do KNOW i feel i know so much more strongly and believe more deeply. i have an insane amount of incredible people in and around my life and they keep me sharpened in so may areas and i am so grateful. people who take time to move beyond the superficial and really wrestle with life and faith and relationships and poverty and world transformation and the current form of Graeme Smith.

so i made some silly videos. someone saw that and came up with an opinion and then challenged me about them [which i Love, but we’ll get to that later] but he never took time to ask me, ‘So why do you make those videos? Is there a reason?’ and so he may never know [altho i imagine i will mention it sometime during these]

the asking of that simple question, ‘Why did you do that?’ or similar ones like, ‘Why do you think that?’ ‘How come you do things that way?’can be a powerful relationship builder. You don’t have to agree with the person’s response, but it is helpful to know it.

my challenge with this post is for you to ask someone a question this week [and i would LOVE it if you came back here and gave feedback in the comments] about something you don’t understand [that they do or think or feel] – someone from a different religion [why do you pay five times a day?] or cultural group [what does family look like to you?], perhaps it could be a close friend [what is your practice in terms of saving money?] or someone in the office or school [what do you like about that particular band or song or sport?] or a hundred other things. but be on the look out for something that doesn’t make sense to you and even maybe something you have a strong opinion about and simply ask the question in a non-threatening way, and take time to really listen to their response. maybe it will prompt a question in response… maybe it will strengthen relationship… perhaps it will simply inspire a moment of, ‘Wow, i never saw it that way.’

1 Corinthians 13.7 ends with ‘[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.’ and i really love that – this feels like an aspect of Love hoping – that the person i don’t understand is not simply an idiot who has chosen an opposing view to mine, but someone who i can learn from and be encouraged by and build relationship with.

[to continue to the next post springboarded from this mail about ‘Speaking the Truth in Love’ go here]

I read the post from the friend of yours who is still in so much pain over losing her baby and it made me feel so much less alone. She puts into words so much of how i’m feeling. Words that I haven’t had for the last 7 months.

I had an abortion. I never thought those words would apply to me. But they do. I desperately wanted my baby. But the doctors told me he would never live. Non-viable. Not compatible with life. Such ugly words.

I was so sick while I was pregnant. My hormones took over and I was also miserable and depressed. I even said at one point “I’ve changed my mind”. I didnt mean it, but oh how I wish I never thought it! I wanted my baby. Then the doctor said everything wasnt ok. He was querying downs syndrome and spina bifida. And sent us into a spiral of turmoil and despair. One of my early reactions was “I want it out”. We prayed and prayed for a miracle, for guidance. My gynae mentioned termination and we just didnt know. Do Christian people do this? Could we? But could we cope with a disabled child? We were so afraid. For 5 days (the longest five days of our lives) we prayed. We asked for clear answers, for guidance, for a miracle. We prayed that we wouldnt have to make the decision. Then we went to see the specialist who said that our baby would die. Probably not make it to term, and definitely wouldnt live more than an hour or two if he was born. She said it was so bad that she would terminate the pregnancy up until the day before i gave birth. She said that she was a Christian and she would still do it. We went to our church and the minister said the same thing. That he and his wife had suffered through a number of miscarriages and he would still terminate the pregnancy in our situation. We thought we had our answers. There was no possibilty of any kind of life. We didnt want our baby to suffer in utero for as long as he may live. We were afraid to continue with a pregnancy, just waiting for our baby to die. So we decided to end it. We went to counselling at church the night before the procedure and i left there with peace.

I was terrified on the day. They gave me tablets to start the process, and pethidine and i spent the day floating. When the doctor came to see me, I was in so much pain, and I just wanted to get it done. I drifted into the anaesthetic, thinking when i woke up, this nightmare would be over. Then I woke up and it wasnt. My baby was gone. I wasnt pregnant anymore. I had gotten rid of this life that I never appreciated enough. I only realised how much i had loved that baby now that it was gone. I woke up a mother. And racked with guilt for every moment of not being grateful enought to be pregnant. Filled with regret for spending the morning wishing it was over with, rather than cherishing my last moments with my baby inside me. For panicking and not waiting a little bit longer to make the decision. I just felt like I had killed my baby.

Its been 7 months and I still dont know what to do with it. I didnt decide my baby would never live. God did. But I did end his life. I know that I prayed. I prayed that God would stop us from terminating if He didnt want us to. Instead, all sources seemed to point to it. Is it ok with Him that we did what we did? Or did we fail some major test? Can I just be allowed to deal with my grief, or should i be dealing with guilt as well? I didnt trust God anymore. I was so angry with Him, with everyone. With everything. I was suicidal. My heart and my faith were shattered. Still are. I am able to function more normally now, but its like there are two of me. the one is logical and dispassionate and says we did the right thing, the merciful thing. Our baby’s heart was beating, but we had lost him nonetheless. The other half of me is just bleeding, and screaming with pain. Did God lead us to do what we did or did I just kill my baby? And regardless of how our baby was lost, he is still gone.

What your friend writes about how people are, and how she feels in church and how much it breaks you inside to have people make their pregnancy announcements around you – all these things are real to me too. At first I couldnt function at all. I would go to work and sit there, waiting for the day to end. I couldnt focus. I would write in my journal, telling God how I couldnt go on. I would go home and just want to be dead. I’ve moved forwards from there now. I was given new projects at work and had no choice but to focus. So I fuction again. But it is still dark. Some days are better, and I tiptoe through them, hanging on to a tenous thread of sanity, not looking around me for fear of something setting off the darkness again. I feel like i am lost in a dark cave. I dont know the way out, and I’m stumbling around bashing up against things and hurting myself. Sometimes I see a glimmer of light in the distance and I follow it for a while then i trip over a rock and get disorientated and its dark again. I dont know how to fix it, i dont know how to come out of it. I’m just praying that my dark days will continue to lessen.

People want to help. My mother sent me scriptures – about how God took Davids baby away as punishment (ok?!). One idealistic soul apologised (6 weeks after the fact) for not making sure i did the right thing (I’m so pleased she knows what that was becasue I still dont), another told me all about the many babies that she lost – again with the best of intentions (ok, she has 2 perfect children now, but i cant contemplate the thought of having to survive this again and again. She’s on the other side of it now. Will I ever get there?) And the one who told me she thought she was pregnant and considered aborting the baby cos they were done with having children (i guess she was trying to tell me she doesnt judge me, which i appreciated, but otherwise, it didnt help!). And my husband. Who decided on “tough love”, refusing to do housework in order to force me to function (we’re still debating on the helpfulness of that one). My husband didnt feel as shattered as I did. He feels we were given a clear answer and he feels that he protected me from having to carry our child even longer, while waiting for him to die. His mom got very sick soon afterwards and so he had more real things (for him anyway) to focus on and I felt so alone. Some unlikely people did help me though. While some were saying things like “you’ll understand when you are mom” (who may acknowledge my pain, but not that i am every bit as much of a parent as they are. I am a mother and i have had to make a much more difficult decision for my child than they have ever had to make for theirs!), other people understood how torn up i was, understood that I am now a mother and it is these people who helped me stand again: My gynae’s wife who visited me in hospital and hugged me while I cried, my GP who supported me when I went to his office and burst into tears, giving me tablets for the short term and making sure I was in counselling for the longer term, the woman who pulled me aside at a breakfast and took me away to cry while she held me and prayed for me and my baby, the woman who said to me “You didn’t kill your baby”, the woman who took the time to find and send me a poem that someone who went through a similar experience wrote – on exactly a day that I needed it most, and my husband’s assistant who phoned me on mother’s day to wish me happy mother’s day – not an easy call to make, but appreciated more than he will ever know.

So now I’m standing again (or at least trying to). I’m still looking for God again, I’m looking for answers, I’m looking for a way forward. I thought I heard God, but everything I thought I heard turned out to be wrong, so maybe the abortion was too. But I get stuck there, because the alternative is equally unthinkable and I dont know that I wouldnt do the same thing in the same situation again. I dont know that I would either (or how I even could), and I just wish I had the answers. I wish I had peace.

I dont. What I do have is pain and a new empathy for people who decide to have an abortion. The terror, for whatever reason, of not being able to handle whats coming, and how it can seem to be the best solution. I wish I could say it is… I dont know. What I have learnt is not to judge others. Ive learned that some days it feels like I’m too broken to breathe, but somehow I do. And I do still belive in God. That all things are working for my good. I dont understand how, I dont understand Him, and it doesnt make it better, but I am trying to hang onto that fact. That His was are higher than mine, His thoughts are higher than mine. The last couple of weeks, I have been hearing again and again that I should be praising Him through everything. I’ve also been surrounded by pregnancy. One morning I listened to a talk on praising God through pain, then later walked past an old friend in the shops who was heavily pregnant. God, in His mercy, didnt have her stop and speak to me, but i nearly vomited right there in the shops anyway. It hurt so much. But i went home and sang. I sang on the way to the car, all the way home and for the next 45 minutes as I unpacked and cooked dinner. I sang (and cried) to God every song that popped into my head, and slowly some measure of peace descended.

I pray that I will find complete peace at some point. And some kind of answer as to the ethics of what we did. I’m praying that we will have healthy children in future and that I will remember that God is God. He is almighty and my days are in His hands. “For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you” 2 Chronicles 20:12.

And one day, I pray that I’ll get it.

i thought i was finished with this series on people who have lost a child and then i received this email from a friend of mine who lost a baby. i knew this was one more to be shared and i imagine it will impact a lot of people deeply. i want to encourage those of you who read it to refrain from doing what we often do when hearing someone’s story – justifying, rationalising, critiquing, judging, preparing our response and more – just try and read the story and really hear the voice of a parent who has lost a child and is still in that place of it not being okay. just hear what is being courageously shared. [my friend asked to remain anonymous to protect the people in their life that this speaks to/about]:

Don’t tell me how many times it’s happened to you, I don’t want to know the possibilities of this ever happening again. I can’t see my way through now, how can I comprehend ever going through this again?

Don’t expect me to be better after the time you’ve set out as being reasonable, It may take 5 years, it may never be over. Look out for me, make sure I’m not stuck in a season, but don’t expect me to be fine by now

Don’t treat me like I’m over it, When you see one day that I’m the person I used to be before all this happened, then you can treat me like I’m over it.

I will never be the person I used to be before all this happened

Don’t tell me 4 weeks after my baby has died that you’re pregnant and expect me to be happy for you. I hate you, I hate the God who has allowed you to be happy and not me, I hate the people congratulating you. I am working through asking God for forgiveness for hating. How do you ask a God you don’t trust anymore for forgiveness? I am working through feeling guilty for no longer trusting a God I have always known. How does a God you’ve always known to be one thing suddenly change? I’m working through not seeing God as I’ve always known Him to be. Do you see what your “announcement” has set off in me?

Don’t judge me when you don’t see me singing in Church, I’m reading every song in a different light and with a different perspective, I’m evaluating whether or not I can honestly sing any of those words and mean them even a tiny bit anymore. I’m feeling judged for sitting in church week after week without praising, I don’t want to be here, I want to be in bed feeling sorry for myself, but I’m not…I’m here, I’m with you, it’s a massive step…recognize that

Don’t tell me it’s all going to be ok, you don’t know that. You told me it was all going to be ok when I went for my scan, we know what happened after that…Tell me you love me and you’re there for me, tell me you’ll walk this road with me no matter how long it is, tell me you won’t judge me, tell me you’ll try

Don’t tell me you understand. Really? Your puppies got run over, you understand “exactly what I’m going through”? You will never understand. Maybe one day (hopefully never though) you’ll have some kind of idea, but you’ll never understand. I don’t pretend to understand what someone else in my same situation is going through. That’s because they are unique, their situation will be perceived from the point where their personalities and outside influences affect them. I’ll never 100% understand what they are going through. You do not have the capability of understanding so telling me “you understand” only minimizes my experience of this to the size of your ability to comprehend it. I don’t blame you for not understanding though, I envy you.

Don’t tell me you’re sorry for my “unfortunate situation”. My baby died and was torn from inside me, you term that “unfortunate”?

Don’t offer empty words of consolation, hug me, I’ll know exactly what you’re saying.

Don’t make every “coffee date” a time for you to find out how I’m doing, I want to be able to go for coffee with you without the anxiety of what questions you’re going to ask me, and how those questions will affect me on this specific day. Let the conversations happen naturally, but listen…because somewhere in that conversation I will tell you how I’m doing…

Don’t pretend awkwardly that you haven’t heard me mention something about my baby or how I’m feeling today. Follow up, listen and talk with me, I’m feeling strong enough to open up and talk, don’t ignore me, that’ll only make me feel as if you think I shouldn’t be talking about it.

Don’t let me eat alone in the days right after everything. I feel guilty for even feeling the need to eat at a time like this. Bring food, it’ll make me realize that you think I should be eating even at a time like this and then I can feel just a little less guilty. Don’t ask me what I eat or don’t eat, I feel guilty for being hungry remember? It’d probably make me feel a little less guilty by eating food I completely dislike so I really don’t mind

Don’t make every meeting a somber event, make space for me to have normal times, you know, like when we lived life innocently and we’d go to each other’s houses and play games or watch a comedy together, or we’d go have breakfast in the park. I want ‘normal’, I crave ‘normal’, I can’t get ‘normal’ on my own, I need you to make it for me

Don’t look at my tummy in the months after, to see if I might be pregnant. I’m aware of not being pregnant every day, so keep your eyes off my tummy. Believe me, you’ll know when I’m pregnant again, I’ll be shouting it from the rooftops. So please, don’t make me insecure wondering when someone’s going to ask me about my tummy just because it’s a bit bigger…maybe from being pregnant before, maybe from a bit of extra weight that sadness has added on

Don’t tell me it was probably for the better. Would you ever go to the mother of a disabled child and tell her it would’ve been for the better if her child had not lived? That’s what you’re saying when you tell me that. I would’ve loved a disabled child, or a sick child, etc inspite of all that. That was my baby, I don’t care what was wrong with him/her

Don’t forget the important dates, I’m remembering them, I’ll never forget. The date we found out we were pregnant, the date we heard our baby’s heart beat, the date the doctor told us our baby was dead, our baby’s due date, what would’ve been our baby’s 1st birthday, it goes on, it forever will. When I’m still raw, remember the dates

Don’t tell me I have a choice as to how I’m going to let things affect me. Do you think I would ever choose to have things affect me like they do sometimes? I don’t have a choice in how things are going to affect me, from one day to the next I have no clue how even a simple question will affect me. You asked me yesterday How I am, I said fine, You asked me today…I burst out crying. You asked me this morning how my day has been, I said great, you asked me this evening…I got angry at you. You asked me at 13:00 what I’m up to later, I said I was going out, you asked me at 15:00…I was curled up comatose on my bed. You asked me at 20:00 how I was, I said good, you asked me at 20:05…I was cursing God. I don’t know from one minute to the next how things are going to go, my life is in turmoil.

Don’t expect me to be your support. I don’t want to know whether or not you’re coping, I don’t have the emotional capability to handle your feelings. You have your own support system, go to it so you can be mine.

Don’t get upset if I react negatively to something you say to me. I’m sorry for hurting you, but right now you’re the stronger one, can you carry that for me? Please?

Don’t tell me (as you roll your eyes at something your child is doing) “one day you’ll understand”. I understand now. I am a mother. I became a mother and my husband became a father on the day our baby was conceived. I may not have a living baby to prove it to you, but he/she will forever be alive in our hearts. We are parents, we just ‘understand’ a different area of parenting than what you do.

Don’t think that when I’m laughing I am not grieving anymore. I feel guilty, I feel as if I am betraying my baby’s memory.

Don’t forget that I’m still grieving. I know it’s hard for you to be aware of things you say to me, but please, is it such a burden to carry in light of everything? Will you carry that for me?

Don’t think my pain is healed. A part of me will forever be broken, but I will learn to live with that…in time

Don’t get annoyed or hurt when I don’t rejoice with you when you tell me you’re pregnant, I haven’t slammed the door in your face. I want to, but I haven’t because I care for you and want to protect you from me so that you can have the space to rejoice for you. I can’t right now, because I’m using all my energy to fight against hating and envying you, but I’m quiet, and that is my way of saying I care enough to be silent.

Don’t get upset when I don’t talk or open up to you. My words are coming from a place of pain, anguish and turmoil. I love you, that is why I’m silent. My words will only hurt you, so I keep them inside.

I used the analogy once when someone asked me how I was, I said it was like that earthquake that hit Japan last year. One week Japan was thriving, nothing on the horizon that was going to turn their world upside down. The next week everything had changed, all there was for as far as you could see was rubble. Lives that had crumbled into little bits that were no longer recognizable, nothing visible that was still intact. Nothing remotely resembling the life they had, the dreams they held for their futures.

Hopelessness, deep, deep sorrow, utter disbelief. The week before they couldn’t imagine anything like this, they didn’t have the ability to even comprehend the devastation lying ahead for them. In the first few days, no one knew where to even start. Where do you start to begin putting your life together again? How do you begin to fix years and years of life that has been broken down to nothing in just a matter of minutes?

Slowly you pick up a brick and move it out of the way. After a while the bricks become too heavy because your arms are tired, so you start moving pieces of broken brick instead. You rest a while. You’re tired, but your life is in limbo at the moment because you have no security, you have no confidence, you have no dreams for the future, you have no hope. You keep your head down because to look at the ruins of your home, your life, your dreams, as a whole picture is too painful, you can’t bear it. So you keep plodding on with your head down. Eventually you reach the base of where your house once stood. There’s a lot more rubble here because of the size of what once stood there, but you’ve made progress. What lies ahead is a much bigger task than what you’ve gone through already but you have nothing else to do, no other reason to do anything. So you keep going. You think of giving up sometimes because of the strain of it all, but you don’t. You don’t know what drives you, you don’t know what pushes you to keep going but you do. Maybe it’s the fleeting thought that one day you will have a house again, if you just clear this mess, you can build a life, build hopes and dreams and a future. The size of the task is daunting, but you keep going.

After days or weeks, or months, you lift another brick, but this time you see something underneath it. It’s dusty and dirty, and you can’t see it clearly, but you know it’s something you recognize and so you reach for it. It’s a vase, a simple thing that used to hold such beauty. It’s not damaged. Maybe a little dusty, but it’s still intact. You can’t believe it. How did anything survive? You cling to it as if it is the most precious thing in the world. You carry on clearing up. More things slowly start to appear while you’re clearing away the rubble. They begin to form a pile and the pile grows and slowly… keeps growing. Every now and then you go and sit next your pile, and admire the things that are still intact, the good memories start to fill you and give you strength. You get enough strength to go back and clear a bigger section. The times between clearing and resting grow bigger. What once used to fill your days is still there, and always will be, but you have hope now, it may be only a little, but you see how far you’ve come, you could never have imagined getting to this point but somehow you have, you’re a survivor, you ARE strong enough. The road ahead is long. Your house will never look the way it did before, but you start to recognize it as home, you start to see the possibilities in your future. But you never forget, to forget would mean to nullify everything you’ve been through and besides, how could you forget something that impacted your life so much, no, you never forget, but you begin to learn how to live with the memories…

i write a weekly email message called ‘Thort for the Week’ and i thort this week’s was an appropriate one to add here:

Dear friends

“With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.” [James 3.9-12]

In light of the online Rob Bell ‘discussions’ that have been raging all over Facebook and Twitter and beyond this week, i would like to add a paraphrasing of this verse for modern times:

‘With our Facebook statuses/discussions we praise our Lord and Father, and with them we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same blog comes praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this can not be!’

If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, then you have to guard your tongue, and your pen/typing finger. This passage from James really nails it on the head and is something a lot of Christ followers are needing to hear right now [all the way from John Piper – who publically tweeted his “Farewell Rob Bell” message linked to the Justin Taylor link on the upcoming Rob Bell book – to the average pleb, like myself, who loves to have his two cents aired on Facebook].

Are you honouring God by the way you speak?
Are you living like Jesus did in the way you write your statuses/blogs and comment on other peoples? In the way you engage with people online and off it?
This is crucial stuff because those outside of the church are watching – is the message they are receiving in line with “you will be known by the love you have for each other” [John 13.35]

Gossip, in general, is such a destructive force. But in the church it can be lethal. It is an area i know i am easily prone to and so i need to watch myself and i do sadly get it wrong a lot still, but hopefully am getting better. It is bad enough when you are sharing a story that is true. But lately i have witnessed people hearing a story that is not true and spreading it around their cell group or church which has resulted in a lot of people believing something that is actually a lie – which results in breakdown of relationship and judgement between them and the people the gossip was about. So at the very least we should ensure that the stories we are hearing and passing on are true. But there are a whole lot of stories that just don’t need to be passed on either way.

Gossip is usually about me. I gain acclaim and fame for sharing the story and so i feel good. And often others suffer because of it. So i really need to start holding my tongue and before sharing news/stories/situations of other people check my motives and ask what the purpose of sharing the story is – to build up or to break down? And then choosing to keep a lot more stuff to myself.

And as a community we need to really start shooting down gossip in love. When someone starts telling you a story about someone else and that person is not there and it is likely to be a negative thing, then jump in and say, “Excuse me, i don’t think it’s cool that i hear that if the person is not here” or something like that. The enemy uses this in a huge way to divide and conquer and we need to start getting on the offensive and fighting to protect those around us.

Consider your tongue this past week? Anything to confess or be ashamed of? Anyone you need to go and apologise to? Look to the week ahead and choose to speak life and love and unity.

In His strength
brett anderson

[if you would like to receive TFTW email brett at brettfish@hotmail.com with your email address and ask to be added]

so as part of a pretty incredible weekend up in the kwazulu of natal i managed to get some coffee time with john ellis (formerly of tree63 and ‘john ellis has hung up his cross and become a giant piece of plasticine’ fame) to hear his version of where he is at and whether he still loves Jesus (he does, whoops i hope that wasn’t one of the ‘between you and me’ moments we shared, john?) and what the flippery flop is going on in these parts…

i left having had coffee with a new friend (well i think i did, or having spent time with a reeeeally good actor – aw man he’s probly going to post something on his blog saying i just used time with him to get better blog hits…oh wait, which in turn will give me better blog hits… hee hee win-win, go for it you thespian!) and someone who is a lot on a lot of the pages i find myself on in terms of God, good christian books and Monty Python/Blackadder humour (altho someone do him a favour and buy him a copy of Black Books so can at least update a little, sheesh – oh wait he Mighty Booshed… never mind, as you were) which let’s face it, are among the most important things in life… ‘she turned me into a newt… i got better!’ and all

in fact twice when i mentioned the two books that had changed my life asking him if he’d heard of them his response was ‘that book changed my life’

is john ellis still a christian? you know what? ask him yourself. i’m pretty sure i know the answer to that question and i look forward to many more conversations and hangings (of the caffeine type not the christian lynch mob) with him when we happen to be in the same place and maybe he’ll even one day include a song about No_bob on one of his albums (okay, maybe not THAT close!) but the point is i did not meet jon to interview him for a magazine or a blog and i don’t think it’s particularly fair on him for me to talk about all the stuff we talked about (and hope i haven’t already said too much, john?) and i don’t really want to – i was just glad for the opportunity to spend some time speaking to someone with a brain, who thinks, and loves it that the place where he is in right now is getting other people to think, and has a sly mischievous sense of humour which creeps in and out of his regular conversation

i do think that sometimes the judging of a person, for whatever reason and in whatever way, says more about the person judging than the person being judged and that Jesus had a bit to say on people with planks sticking out of their face muttering comments about the person in front of them cleaning the dust speck off of their contact lens…

tx john for a treemendous time (no no no PLEASE TELL ME I DIDN’T JUST WRITE THAT!)