If you spend any time on social media you’ve seen them. In fact, they’re impossible to avoid. Memes, memes, memes. Everywhere there are memes.
On the off-chance you don’t know what a meme is, the word comes from the Greek. According to Wikipedia, a meme (pronounced “meem”), is “an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.” In short, a meme represents a cultural idea, often delivered in a symbolic way. You’ll see a picture, sometimes with a famous person, with a caption describing what that person is thinking. Many memes will communicate a concept meant to be accepted as a truth.
Why do I bring them up here?
Because so many are wrong.
Except When They Aren’t Funny
Recently a friend shared a meme on his Facebook page. It said something like this:
Fools take a fork and stabs a person in the back.
A wise person takes the fork, cuts the cord, and frees themselves of fools.
So what’s the problem? Kinda makes sense, right? We all know fools. We all want to be rid of them in our lives. There are hundreds of memes that mean to communicate this kind of truth. So it must be right.
Being Pithy Ain’t The Same As Being Wise
The problem is that we accept these things as truth. You’ll see loads of people pile on and comment about how insightful memes like this are. What troubles me most is when I see friends who are believers pile on with just the same enthusiasm.
If there is a negative person in your life, you just need to move on! they’ll say.
Why does this matter? Because we’ve all been that negative person at some point. We’ve all been the fool, probably at many points. So gleefully arguing that we should all walk away from a person that we have been…and will be again…is just silly.
And it is arrogant. We all want to be wise, don’t we? But are we wise enough to notice the unspoken arrogance in that meme quote above? Wouldn’t it be better to be so wise that we cut the cord and free ourselves of fools?
I would argue it simply makes us pretentious, not wise. The more we lean into this way of thinking—and acting—the more mean-spirited we can become, all the while feeling smug about how “wise” we are. Hmm. Not quite the type of person that we would want to become.
What’s more, how do we square this impulse to be rid of negative people in our lives—those fools that getting rid of makes us “wise”—with our faith? That doesn’t sound like something Jesus would do. Nowhere in the Bible do I find verses to support such behavior. But you don’t have to look far to find loads of passages that actually counter such mean-spiritedness.
When Meme and Mean Blend
Most saddening to me in all this is that fellow believers have thoroughly embraced this prideful point of view, that has them agreeing with being rid of fools.
What if they got that wrong?
A man’s wisdom gives him patience;
It is his glory to overlook an offense. Proverbs 19:11
A quick review of Romans 9 reminds us that had God chosen our worldview of what is actually “wise,” we’d all be doomed, rather than redeemed. And yet believers are the quickest to adopt this impulse to cut off relationships with fellow believers, in my experience. More times than I care to count, I have been the “fool” in their perspective, and I’ve been cut off. Just like that. Because it is wise. It must be because the meme said so!
Believers would do well to remember that two Apostles, Peter and Paul, had a huge and very public disagreement with each other. Visualize how that would work in our day: Paul stands up in a crowded church and condemns Peter for hypocrisy. Very public. No room to wiggle. Peter stares at Paul, slack jawed by this stinging rebuke, as he scrambles with how to respond.
There Are No Apostolic Memes. No, Really.
Peter didn’t respond with a meme.
He did what we are all called to do as believers. Consequently, he sought out true wisdom. With daily commitment, he sought out Truth. And he owned his error, repented of it and sought reconciliation with his brother in Christ. Rather than immediately break away from that trouble-making, negative guy named Paul, he sought to make things right with him and those around him, within his fellowship, as well as those outside of it.
If we as believers gleefully congratulate ourselves for being wise when we dump others, how will those outside of the faith ever be drawn into the church? Simple answer. They won’t.
As believers, we’re not given the option to just dump people because we don’t agree with them or they don’t agree with us. We dare not cut them off because they called us on a hurtful behavior. Doing this doesn’t make us wise. It just makes us like the rest of the world, unwilling to face our own actions.
But that’s not what our Savior calls us to be.
All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ
and gave us the ministry of reconciliation… 2 Cor. 5:18
Becoming a Living Reconciliation Meme
Will we always reach reconciliation with others? No. But are we called to try? Yes, without a doubt. And wouldn’t you want to be wrong on that side of the ledger?
Next time we’ll take a look at those times when it is appropriate—even necessary—to part ways with someone, even a fellow believer. But know this: it is a much rarer circumstance than some believers regularly want to believe.
“No, you can’t play until you have your chores done.”
“No” applied to any number of things I cared about.
I think back to being a kid and remember this, one of the most disappointing of words, “No!”
When my parents or teachers said “No” it often meant I put an abrupt kibosh on some delightful plan I had come up with. So, I would quietly think to myself, “When I’m an adult I can do whatever I want, whenever I want.”
However, adulthood quickly taught me that “the land of milk and honey” (aka adulthood) was not quite the tasty feast of freedom I originally thought. (more…)
Being your own cheerleader is most important!…and actually, necessary. Your view of yourself and your self talk is the most powerful input you will ever get.
Often I will discover or have it pointed out to me some routine I didn’t finish that negatively impacted someone. We call it in my house, an “open loop.” I open windows in the a.m. to cool down the house but I forget to close them before the sun comes around, so the house is twice as hot as it would have been. I feed the cats but forget to put away the catfood afterward. (I will get back to the catfood in my part-2 blog.) These are the kind of loops that are easiest to leave open because they involve timing but not much thought. I can be thinking about something completely different as I do these things so I may get distracted and pick up on a thought in the middle of my task. Oi!
Here is what I mean:
The windows – If I don’t set a timer for the closing of the windows I will most likely forget. There have been times I have remembered early and thought to myself, ‘ it’s too early…I will come back to it’ with every intention of doing so. Convinced I will, I go on with my day but end up completely forgetting. I am better off doing something either immediately when I think of it or I need to set a timer. Really those are my two options. It’s tricky though because doing it immediately may keep you from accomplishing something else you had planned to do. It’s good to pause and check first. If nothing will be impacted, then go for it!
Anyway, back to my original thought – being persistent. I accidentally tick people off, whether I know it or not. All I can do is apologize and do my best at being aware of my open loops. (Timers can be a helpful tool. Just remember to not pound yourself if you forget the timer, too. Beating yourself up just makes the rest of the day worse.)
Let people express their frustration so they know you care about their feelings. Whether you mean to do things or not, they are hurt, so let them know you love them by listening.
Try not to internalize their words of anger as attacks on who you are, it’s just what you have done. Now, yes it can be hard to separate those two but if you do you will be able to think more clearly and problem solve how to make the situation better. If you let other people’s anger completely overcome you it will distract you, and just make things worse.
You aren’t stupid, you aren’t an idiot, so just listen compassionately, keep your head on straight and be open to the fact that you just might come up with a creative idea to help improve the situation so it won’t happen quite as often. Be persistent with being persistent. 😉
What routines do you find challenging to complete? Please share. We may be able to help.
This is a song I wrote for my sister, Catherine, and her husband, FJ, for their wedding day (Catherine & FJ Abaya). At the time I had to sing it acapella because my hands still hurt so much. This made me very nervous, but after singing acapella on the cruise ship, I was determined to do it! I hoped it would be a blessings for their ceremony, as well as a chance for me to pray out loud my hope for their life together.
When it came time to record this song I was ecstatic to surprise them with me accompanying myself on the guitar.
This song underlines the importance of having God woven into your marriage, “three cords combined.” Life can provide you with joyful times but also many challenges and disappointments. Sometimes circumstances around you can get so bad that it can use up everything you’ve got! When two people who love each other are both dealing with their own difficult situations at the same time it can get really rocky. God can be that third cord to keep you strong and keep from breaking apart.
If you ever find yourself wondering who it is you are living with and even questioning whether you like them.
You are just normal!
We all unknowingly bring so much of our past experiences into our lives that we don’t always see the other for who they are but either who they remind us of or even who we wish they would be. It’s important to stop and recognize this.
We need to get our heads wrapped around the fact that we are all broken doing the best we can with the tools we were given.
It’s also important to be open to the fact that we could learn more through counseling.
Counseling has been a helpful tool we have referred to off and on throughout our marriage. It’s part of the reason we have made it this far.
I encourage you to embrace your spouse and the fact that you are both imperfect and can still learn and grown no matter how long you have been married.
Ultimately though, welcome God into your marriage every day. He can give us compassionate ears that can listen to our spouse when we really don’t want to. He can give us self control when all we want to do is scream about our own boss, or our own relational situations. It is purely by the strength of God that we can have what it takes to care for each other in the midst of our own stuff.
Seriously, let God give you what you need to be there for each other. Don’t turn your pain into a competition, where you compare who has the worst situation. Everyone’s feelings count. We normally know this but when we are hurting it’s hard to think clearly. Remember you are a team. You two are one, but you don’t need to do it alone! Praise God!!
Can you relate? What are some tips that have been helpful in your marriage?
Writing songs for me is like getting a buzz from too much coffee. After I wrote “Let’s Get a Latte” I was so amped up that I had to keep the caffeinated lyrics flowing! Hence, “Too Much Caffeine.”
Being a person who loves learning the behind-the- scenes information, here is a little behind-the-scenes tid bit for you.
For some reason when I perform this song I feel like I am singing on stage in a Broadway musical.
Ever since I was in the musical Annie in 6th grade I have had a desire to bring a little drama into my music once in awhile.
I even have these hand gestures and dance moves that are acted out in my head. Due to the guitar in my hands it is a bit difficult to act them out. Instead I express my drama through my face and pregnant pauses in my guitar playing.
Anyway, speaking of drama, this song reminds me of how serious some people are about their morning coffee.
Not quite a year after moving to Boise I attended a women’s convention with a bunch of church ladies I was getting to know. We had a delightful time together.
On the final morning of the event we all gathered in the conference room at the hotel for breakfast. We had all just received our breakfast when I heard some grumbling sounds across the room. I looked up and saw that this older lady had just discovered that we had already run out of coffee. Up to this point I had not realized how important it is for some people to have their morning cup of joe. It’s like coffee is the key to opening the door to their “smile”. No coffee. No smile.
Since I had never really witnessed this before, I almost started laughing at her behavior. But luckily I stopped myself from letting loose a giggle. The look on this ladies face told me that this was no laughing matter. Eeesh!
I had to work hard not to laugh. Don’t you hate that! It’s seems the harder I try not to laugh the funnier the situation is to me and it just gets harder to keep it under control. Hee hee!
Caffeine To Go, Please
Stressing over a small cup of coffee seemed silly to me. However, I have my own moments when I take things too seriously, also. How well I played my guitar, sang a song, shared my thoughts with the audience…yep, I get pretty serious about those things. Countless other things, too. But, when I take things too seriously I just suck all the joy right out of it.
Now back to our story. I am happy to announce that the hotel did had more coffee and peace reigned on earth once again.
What are some things that you stress about in life? Is it necessary? Anything you get just a little too serious about? How do you deal?
Comment below. Add to the conversation. We’ll be glad you did.