As the kids do the dishes and sing along to the Les Misérables soundtrack in the kitchen, I hum along in the next room and log into Facebook. Recently, I took a bit of a break from Facebook.
You might think that I gave up Facebook because I worried that I wasted too much time on it. While, yes, I probably waste too much time on it since any time on Facebook could potentially be spent doing more productive and valuable things, that’s not it at all. We all need a few frivolous, mindless minutes in our day, right?
I gave up Facebook because of the way it was making me feel.
I don’t know how to describe the feeling I’d get after spending some time in the virtual community of Facebook other than that my heart was absorbing the “noise” of a resounding cyber-gong. I’d log out and go about my day with the vibrations and reverberations of the “noise” from the on-line passive-aggressive debates and painfully illogical and sometimes downright hurtful status updates, memes, and links.
After the fourth or fifth “support the second amendment” post or pro-gun picture in the same day from the same Facebook friend . . . Seriously! We know you’re pro-gun, already! Do you have any other thoughts? Any? Ever? Something on your mind other than guns? It’s weird. Should we worry about your obsession?
Let me back up. I’m a believer in the Second Amendment right to bear arms. It is absolutely necessary that civilians have the capability to arm themselves. Do you see how I said, “absolutely necessary.” I don’t need ANY convincing. Yay guns.
I hold this conviction even though I know without question that people with serious drinking problems, dementia, anger issues, god complexes, diagnosed mental illnesses, and undiagnosed mental illnesses own guns. I hold this conviction even though I hear pain in Ken’s voice when he remembers the day back in high school when his friend was killed in a hunting accident. I hold this conviction even though some years before his death, my maternal grandfather in a fit of fear and anger pointed a loaded gun at my mom and brother. I hold this conviction even though I can vividly remember looking up and seeing the helicopters circle over Columbine High School. Even though I can scroll up on my phone to see the text messages from friends telling me Petra was in the hospital, and we didn’t know anything yet, only that we needed to pray. She’d been in that theatre in Aurora. I still say, “absolutely necessary.”
So why after reading the fourth or fifth status update urging the recognition of our gun rights do I want to throw my laptop across the room? Because these status updates are usually illogical, in-your-face, and preceded by ugly and immature terms such as “liberal loonies,” “idiots,” and “pansy asses.” If someone who agrees with the ideal behind the sentiments can’t bear to hear the clanging cymbals then how could one who disagrees? A resounding gong and clanging cymbal will drive away even those who agree, but certainly it will drive away those who hold opposing views.
I think it’s important for me to mention that I also think it’s absolutely necessary to protect the First Amendment right of freedom of speech. I’m not advocating silencing anyone’s voice — go ahead and post anything you want! I’m sharing about my thoughts about what you post. Yay guns and yay voicing your point of view! (I also think the Amendment concerning the right to use the “hide” button on Facebook is absolutely necessary. Just kidding. Kind of.)
I know that loving someone doesn’t mean having mushy gushy feelings and always agreeing with him or her. I know this truth with certainty. The woman I would have given my life for wasn’t, to the outsider, anything like me. She wasn’t a typical church going kind of Christian, she leaned far left politically, she was pro-choice, she didn’t have a large family, and she didn’t homeschool her children. I remember her pro-choice-self sitting across the dining room table from my teenage-self as I pasted together pro-life posters for a rally I was marching in. She smoked her cigarettes (another thing we didn’t have in common) and kept me company. She loved me and I loved her. And we disagreed about things that matter, but my mom would never have shown me disrespect and I would never have shown her disrespect or called her a “pansy,” an “idiot,” or a “loony.” I loved her!
The gun debate is only one of many issues. There are so many issues. There are so many people on Facebook. So many souls. So many voices.
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. 1 Corinthians 13: 1-3 (NIV)
Catch that part about eloquent speech? About being really really smart and having knowledge, research, and links? About the ability to penetrate to the truth of all mysteries? About faith that moves mountains? About being giving to the point of giving everything (all I posses) and surrendering your body to the flames? All good things. All things I’d like to be known for (maybe not the flames). Wow! None of that matters.
The clanging cymbals are why I had to get away for a time.
On paper we have so much in common, me and these others who make me want to throw my laptop across the room. We are Christian; we are politically conservative (to varying degrees); we are pro-life; often, but not always, we have large families; and often, but not always, we both homeschool. I was afraid that others would associate me with these folks who seem, um, who seem, well . . . who seem on Facebook, anyway, kind of
like jerks unloving. (Oh! The extraordinary ease at which those cymbals clang!)
I was afraid that these folks were turning the good news into bad news.
my desire to throw my laptop across the room was making it difficult, if not impossible, for me to love these folks.
And that scared me.
While in the desert I remembered a few things I already knew; I had allowed the clanging cymbals and resounding gongs to drown out the truth.
I remembered that God can handle the association people might make and can help others see past the associations. This isn’t something new for me. Can anyone say “hostage crisis”?
I remembered that God can handle the stupid status posts, and I remembered that nothing can change the good news. Nothing.
I remembered that I am as capable of being a clanging cymbal as anyone.
I remembered that I am not God (duh). I remembered that I can’t convert anyone and I can’t save anyone. Only God can do that.
But — I can love people. That’s what God asks of me.
The beautiful music from the kitchen is still playing and my thoughts turn to the character of the Bishop in those first scenes in Les Misérables. To those candlesticks. To love.
So now that I’m back on Facebook I’m going to need to remind myself that I won’t get a new laptop if I throw mine across the room, and that I can silence the noise of the resounding cyber-gong by remembering what I already know.