In Defense of Outspoken Young People

I am an Outspoken Young Person, I guess.

By no means do I always speak when I think – but often I do. I’m not a secretive person. I enjoy, and learn a lot from, open dialogue. I think that when done with a respectful spirit, honest discussion and even disagreement truly makes the world a better place.

And there’s a subtle weapon used against Outspoken Young People like me, which is starting to disturb me quite a bit. No, perhaps “weapon” is too strong of a word. Most of the time I don’t believe it’s brandished offensively. Rather, often it tends to be used defensively. Perhaps I should call it a “tactic” or better yet, simply an assumption. I’m seeing a certain assumption made about Outspoken Young People, and I believe it to be dangerous.

I am noticing that if an Outspoken Young Person brings to light an annoyance or a complaint on facebook about a larger issue – an assumption is made that said young person only deals with this issue on the realm of the internet. A jab or quip will be made about “getting off facebook and doing something about it” or “it’s easy to complain,” or “I’ll leave you to your Internet argument and actually go do something about it.”

I am noticing that sometimes when issues are raised by Outspoken Young People, people will respond by vowing to work on their own hearts, their own defects, and encouraging said Outspoken Young People to step back and to the same. The assumption is that Outspoken Young People are ignoring their own faults and obsessing over the faults of others. I’m not sure how many circles this assumption invades, but it’s certainly prevalent in Christian circles, and often accompanied by an admonition to focus on the plank in one’s own eye before examining the speck in another’s.

I hope the point I’m about to make is not surprising…

I hope this makes sense…

Why are people making these assumptions?

Why, as an Outspoken Young Person who interacts regularly with her community via social media, does my outspoken Internet voice necessitate that my physical, “real” life is passive and lazy and inactive?

Why does my critique of Christian leaders, government leaders, or otherwise public figures necessitate that I am ignoring or even ignorant of my own flaws?

It shouldn’t be mind blowing, but many of us Outspoken Young Persons are so outspoken and such a constant Internet presence because we care about these issues with every aspect of our lives.

Sometimes I speak passionately about caring for the poor and handling our money loosely, living as stewards of God’s property and not our own. And guess what? I also give food to homeless people and one of the largest categories on my family’s budget goes to helping people in our community who are in need financially because of job loss, car issues, or whatever else. When I talk about how important it is, it’s because I believe it, and I live it, and I want to grow in it – and I want others to grow in it too. I know I’m not perfect. Money decisions are hard. But it is not hypocritical of me to say I believe Christians don’t give enough to the poor, because I live a fairly simple life with very few luxuries. I sacrifice many things so I can honestly live what I believe about Christian money management.

Sometimes I critique public figures – specifically Christian public figures – for behaving in ways or speaking words that I believe misrepresent Christ. In no way does this mean I think I have it all figured out.

But you know what? I do some things better than Mark Driscoll does. Like knowing how to correctly, contextually interpret 1 Timothy 5:8. I do that better than he does. Maybe Christians aren’t supposed to say this (*shrug?*) but some of us are better at things and some of us are better at other things. Mark Driscoll is a powerful leader and figurehead – he strikes chords with people, especially, I hear, floundering men who need to get their acts together. But that doesn’t mean I think he should be shepherding, writing books, or using poor exegesis to tell people erroneous things about Christ and the Bible. Because he chooses to do all of those things, and also regularly claim to speak for the God I worship, I feel no reservation about critiquing his ministry and letting other people know my deep concerns about what he says.

Do I do it perfectly? No! He makes me too angry and emotional. But, if we’re being brutally honest, that’s because (in his own words) “there’s a pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus” and there are ministries devoted solely to helping ex-Mars Hill members heal from the brokenness they experienced from the teaching (and sometimes actual person) of Mark Driscoll.

I care about broken people. Ergo, Mark Driscoll upsets me.

Moving on.

So I don’t just complain about Mark Driscoll. I read and study and care so much about properly representing my faith. I open myself up to learning from those around me. I am willing to sacrifice anything to the guillotine of truth. If I’m not willing to, how can I truly call myself a disciple of Christ? I may come to different conclusions than many, but I’m doing it in sincere passion and devotion to the God of the Universe, and I work daily to humble myself and listen to his truth, no matter who’s speaking it.

And again, I’m not good at everything. I never ever have pretended to be. So while I point out specks, please be aware that my own logs are not being neglected.

I know the logs are there.

But that doesn’t mean other people don’t have them. That doesn’t mean I pretend other people’s specks and logs don’t exist.

So my petition is, don’t assume you know about my life and the things I do or don’t do because of what ideals I hold, what arguments I participate in, and which leaders I criticize. If you’d like to know about those things, I’d be more than willing to share them with you.

Iron can only sharpen iron by clashing and making sparks. That’s what so many of us Outspoken Young Persons are trying to do: sharpen ourselves, sharpen others, and cause some sparks that maybe (if we’re lucky) burn up some choking weeds, card houses, prisons or facades.

The gold will be fine – our sparks won’t bother anything of worth or value or strength.

What I Do (and What I Will Not Do)

The transition into independence and adulthood is a slow one. For me it began by taking college classes while living at home and getting a job in a restaurant. I paid for my classes, books, and gas with the money I earned from the restaurant, and my parents graciously fed me, housed me, and made sure I had everything I needed during this busy time in my life.

I’ve always been an independent student, but starting college really drove that home. Especially when I started taking classes, reading books, that my mother (my previous teacher of 18 years) either disliked or had never read. This was on me. It was my responsibility to remember to do my reading, bring homework to class, and study up on concepts well enough that I could be an active participant during class periods. It was exciting in many ways, and I liked it.

Similarly, when I got my job at the restaurant, it was solely my responsibility to do my duties, forge relationships with my superiors and co-workers, and learn how to represent the restaurant well. I got to come home and tell my family stories, but it was removed from them. It was a part of my life; my experience. I was forging a new family, in many ways, that didn’t include my parents or siblings.

Image

Now, today, I am forging a new family also. I am growing into a new home where I notice that there are always dishes to be put away and laundry to be done, because it is my responsibility to make sure it happens! My husband and I are learning how we best like to divvy chores and arrange bill payments. One thing I’ve volunteered to Mostly Take Charge Of is food purchasing and preparation. I was never “the family chef” growing up, but I really do enjoy learning about food and how to make it well, so this is an exciting time for me. I’ve already had a few failures, but my husband is encouraging and gracious and we’re learning gracefully.

Which finally brings me ’round to my point.

I have control over what I do and what my family eats. That’s a really huge thing. Even just the “food” facet in our lives is such a significant one.

And we like to make significant choices, don’t we?

We like to feel like we’re somehow making a difference with the daily, mundane choices we make.

Isn’t that why we boycott things? We’re not actually doing anything in our day-to-day lives that fulfills our need to support our passions, so we boycott our “enemies” – the ones who disagree.

But I’ve realised that I don’t need to “boycott.” I don’t need to say, I’m not buying this BECAUSE…

Because I don’t have to justify my choices about my family’s food intake to anyone. And if I made decisions about the health of my husband based on political motivations…what kind of a wife would I be?

I’m not boycotting Starbucks because they support gay rights. I simply don’t buy coffee from Starbucks because I don’t enjoy coffee. I don’t boycott big business farmers because they fill their produce full of pesticides and their animals full of hormones and byproducts. I’m simply trying to buy from local and organic farmers because I want to put more real food and fewer chemicals in my family’s diet. I’m not going to boycott chain restaurant, stores, or manufacturers. But I am trying to purchase more things from local and small businesses, because I love my city and I want to invest in its economy. I endeavor to continue my research on wages, slavery, and the mess that is the global clothing industry, and make more conscious choices about where I buy my clothing. I do buy things from Target because it’s convenient for me, they have lots of things that I like, and it’s not really any of my concern that Corporate Target supports gay rights. If we truly live in a free and democratic country, I should be pleased that they (as a business) have the right to spend their time and money as they please.

I’m tired of Christians being known for boycotting things. I want to be known for taking care of my family and buying good things for them. Because, in the end, I want people to remember me for feeding them when they were hungry. Letting them sleep on my couch when they needed a place to stay. Giving my time, when I was able. Giving my hands, when they were needed.

I don’t want to be remembered as someone who judged you for your stance on Chick-Fil-A or Starbucks. I want to quietly live my life and look like Jesus. I want to practice true religion.

Done

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (I Samuel 16:7).

That story is about the anointing of David. David’s elder brother Eliab was a visually impressive candidate for King. Surely, Samuel thought, the LORD’s anointed stands here before the LORD. But Samuel was bad at predicting God. Samuel was bad at finding the correct vessel for God’s work.

We are bad at predicting God. At identifying his spirit within others.

So I think I’m done.

I’m done saying:

“he’s not a Christian,”
“she can’t be a Christian”
“a Christian wouldn’t live like that” or “make that choice” or “come to that conclusion.”

Maybe {insert gasp} some people are just bad Christians. Maybe some people are just weak, indecisive, or have different convictions than I have.

I may not think it the most God-honoring thing to do/think/believe, but Christians

are gay
pray to Mary
think communism is fine
want to restrict guns
believe that Jesus’ death on the cross purchased salvation for everyone, whether they follow him or not

I may take issue with how someone interprets this or that bit of Scripture. And they may be straight up ignoring Scripture. But that doesn’t make them Not Christians. That doesn’t give me God’s eyes and God’s discernment and the ability to peer into somebody’s soul.

I’m tired of buying into the delusion that I am fit to make those judgments.

So I’m done.

But She Could Not Have Everything

Surely it is not everything that I wish for. I just wish for this one thing. I just wish for the Family I once knew. It was right, once. I wish for love, embraces, understanding, trying. I wish for open arms from those who I have always known. Is that so much to ask?

Yes (he said). What if it is? Do you know how many have never had the Family which you so recently lost? Never had any Family. Their childhoods were marked by tears, by pain, by loneliness. Yet somehow in your selfishness you feel it is harder for you to have had and then lost. Tell me then, what have you lost?

I have lost…am losing…the companion and friend of my youth. I am losing the cohesion, the connectedness, the ability to say in a carefree manner, “Of course my family is my best friend. My brothers and sisters are my best friends.” I’m drowning in the sheer confusion of it all, leaving the pain aside. My family wasn’t like those other families. My family wasn’t torn by dissension and selfishness. My family was different. If nothing else, I had my family.

And do you have nothing, now, girl? Are you stripped of father, mother, brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces? Do you sit alone and comfortless? Do your tears wet only your pillowcases, and no loving shoulder?

No. I am not left without those things.

And when you look outside your blood, are you so blind to miss the family I have given you there? Do you see no shining, smiling Brothers and Sisters connected to your spirit? Ones which would give their very lives for you?

No, I am not so blind. I see them…

It is….just hard. Family is all I want. Have ever wanted.

No my child. It may be what you want most, but it is not all you have ever wanted. You wanted many faces, and you found them. You wanted words, and you found them. When you could not find the right words, you created them. You wanted the stage, and I gave it to you. You wanted learning, and it is yours. You wanted the love of a husband, and I guided you to such a husband. He is willing to leave his father and mother and cleave only to you. Are you not willing to do the same?

Yes, I am willing. I must be willing. I only wanted to make my family bigger, not to break it apart. Why must things fall apart?

Shh, my girl. You know I care for you. I care for even the sparrows, why would I forget your tears? Dry them. Look to the lights and faces around you. Look to your work and your joys, and do not dwell on things beyond your control. All will answer to me, someday. Make sure your answer is what it ought to be.

“Starting a Family”

“Are you guys planning on starting a family anytime soon?”

Yes, in fact.

March 2nd, 2013. And it’s going to look like this:

I understand that children are a normal part of life. The traditional family unit (no matter where you are) is essentially mom, dad, and a few kids. And I also understand that many couples start having kids right after marriage. This isn’t a rebellious or offended type of post.

I do wonder, though, why “family” has come to mean “offspring” in so many mindsets and figures of speech.  Here are some thoughts on what I want my family to look like, from the get-go. Not when I bring home a baby. Starting March 2nd, 2013, sometime between 4 and 5pm.

“She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family” (Proverbs 31:15).

“My bounty is an boundless as the sea, my love as deep. The more I give to thee the more I have, for both are infinite” (R&J, W.S).

“Her husband also…praises her: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all” (Proverbs 31:27-28).

“But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15).

“The mark of Friendship is not that help will be given when the pinch comes (of course it will) but that, having been given, it makes no difference at all” (The Four Loves, C.S.L.).

“He who trusts in his riches will fall, But the righteous will flourish like the green leaf” (Proverbs 11:28).

“A gracious woman attains honor… The merciful man does himself good” (Proverbs 11:16, 17).

“As Christ sees in the flawed, proud, fanatical or lukewarm Church on earth that Bride who will one day be without spot or wrinkle, and labours to produce the latter, so the husband whose headship is Christ-like (and he is allowed no other sort) never despairs” (The Four Loves, C.S.L.).

“Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.  Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”  So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”  Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith” (Hebrews 13:4-7).

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage” (Lao Tzu).

“He who finds a wife …obtains favor from the LORD” (<- his ring)

“Pour l’éternité” (<- my ring)

Considerations for Later

  • Costco / Trader Joe’s
  • Try to buy foods with a short list of ingredients
  • Consider monthly grocery shopping trips, as opposed to weekly (*bulk!)
  • Buy fresh produce at Thursday farmer’s market by the Canal after work
  • Get coupon books for favourite stores
  • Start with tiny goals
  • Learn how to make particular things myself, for potential $ saving. Like bread and refried beans.