Why I Don’t Use Sarcasm and Inflammatory Language in My Social Media Replies

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Until recently, I hadn’t been very open about many beliefs on social media because I am incredibly sensitive. Life is so much more vivid for me than many, not in just the good, but in the bad things that happen. And social media is a highly volatile place. Opinion reigns supreme and actual discussion instead of “yelling” is rare.

But in recent months, I’ve become more open about my lack of political affiliation, my stance against Trump, my beliefs in human rights, my anti-racism standards, and other “controversial” subjects. I cannot remain silent, even though I know deep wounds will be gouged into my heart by people on social media. My conscience won’t let me.

I am a people-pleaser. I am sensitive. The hurt will happen. Period. But that is not a weakness and it is not a reason to remain silent. As one friend put it, “The silence of the church is deafening.”

Most responses have been gracious, supportive, and loving. I have invited actual discourse on the issues people may disagree with me on. That is not an invitation for argument but for a conversation on the matters. Arguments accomplish nothing except generally proving someone is a jerk.

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The only inflammatory responses I have received have been from white, conservative, evangelical males and one white, conservative, evangelical female. Most of these responses have been belittling, condescending, and sexist. One person sent a private message to me in response to a public statement I made, telling me that I was “falling for the liberal, fascist agenda.”

Calling a Jewish woman a fascist is pretty offensive to begin with, but then to also place quotation marks around the title of bishop because the church leader I referenced is a woman is equally offensive, especially because this offense was intentional.

Yesterday, I shared my own experiences about sexual assault in the church and by a stranger on a hiking trail. The response from a white male evangelical was to say he was sorry I was treated poorly, then tell me that I should “know” that a female cannot be a pastor, completing missing the point of my commentary and the article to which that commentary was tied. The article? “These Evangelical Women Are Abandoning Trump and the Church.” The topic? The #MeToo Movement and evils done to women in the name of “Christianity.”

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My initial thought to this sexist response was that I should give a snarky comment back. I’ve got a lot of Biblical training, 32+ years as an active Christian, Bible degrees, etc. and certainly didn’t need to hear his arguments against women as pastors as though I’d never heard them before. I thought about saying, “Thanks for mansplaining this to me!” or more inflammatory remarks.

I did point out that telling me I should “know” something is belittling and sexist and that he missed the point of the post. He responded, again, that women can’t be pastors, still missing the point.

Again, I was tempted to remark in sarcastic ways.

But the reality is, sarcasm and inflammatory speech do nothing to change minds. Folks won’t simply flip their views of racism, sexism, and other bigotries because I scream back across the internet.

So, I write what I’d LIKE to say and then scrap it. Getting the words out helps me even if not anyone else. And then I craft reasonable responses that not only speak of how the arguments miss the point but point out things like red herrings, straw man fallacies, etc. This is far more effective than letting my emotions fly free on the wings of snarky, inflammatory words.

And though I doubt that my reasonable responses will affect change with the people who’ve been arguing with me (when you only care about being right, you’re not actually listening), I do have hope that someone watching on the sidelines will hear and learn, and maybe that’s how some good might come of all this.

It’s a Trite Saying, But Let’s Ask It Anyway

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Right now, it feels shameful to say that I’m a Christian. Not because I am doing something wrong but because the meaning of this word “Christian” has become a negative tag-word for politicians to draw in flocks of followers for their votes.

A Christian is not, however, someone who perpetuates racism, hatred, violence, capitalism, greed, arrogance, or self-worship. A Christian is someone who follows Jesus. The term literally means “little Christ.” And the idea behind that, when the term was first coined, was a bit like a woman saying that her child looks and acts like the kid’s father. “She’s just a little Tom all over again!”

In these tumultuous times, I’ve seen a lot of people angry with so-called Christian politicians (I am, too!). And with the people claiming they are Christians but who are throwing tear gas at peaceful protestors, the people who are refusing to wear masks for “freedom’s sake” without caring about the lives of those around them, the people who are spouting hurtful diatribes against people who don’t look and act like them.

I have to say “so-called” Christian because these behaviors aren’t at all like Jesus. And saying you’re a Christian while putting capitalism, political affiliations, and yourself ahead of the lives of others is not like Jesus at all.

In Philippians 2:6-8, the Apostle Paul writes about the true person of Jesus.

“Who, being in very nature God,
[Jesus] did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!”

When I look at this true example of love and mercy, I have to ask that trite saying that hung on wrists in the 1990s, “What would Jesus do?”

It’s pretty clear from His example throughout the Scriptures that Jesus wouldn’t harm others. He wouldn’t refuse to wear a mask so that He could “be free” to do as he likes. He wouldn’t use His privilege to make money or save corporations and buildings. He gave Himself, considering Himself nothing compared to the lives that He would save – and He was gentle, kind, and loving about it.

What would Jesus do? He’d fight to save the lives and souls of those who are marginalized – and He’d throw over tables of cheats and thieves who use their religion as a “way in” to get what they want from the people around them. Those actions led up to his sole mission which was to offer reconciliation between man and God.

A Sabbath for Caregivers

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his.                                                                  – Hebrews 4:9-10

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There are some days when helping those we care for just plain hurts. We’re exhausted, cranky, have physical pain or illness, and we just feel like we can’t do it today. But there’s this guilt – this sense of “I’m all wrong and selfish” because we just need a day off.

But there’s a reason God gave us the Sabbath in the Old Testament: “Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” (Genesis 2:3, NIV)

On the days when I feel like I just can’t help my husband – whether it’s because his body refuses to work or because he’s tied up emotionally by his PTSD – I have to remind myself of these passages. Neither of us is going to make it if I don’t get some rest of my own. It’s okay for me to do the bare minimums, and then just snuggle with him on the bed, resting in his arms.

Jesus, your love is so kind and gentle. You take care of me when I cannot care for myself. Please help me to rest in your love, especially on days like these, when I just can’t help other people. I need your strength.

All the Lovely Things

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.                                                                                                                                                    – Philippians 4:8

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Some mornings, when I look at my husband and know it’s going to be one of those days, I want to go back to bed and forget that I have any kind of responsibilities. It’s exhausting to think about what lays ahead when he clearly won’t be making it out of bed, either.

The discouragement can be overwhelming.

But if I intentionally think about the things that God has created that bring joy and excellence into our lives, I find just a hint of motivation to get up and face the day. These lovely things – even in the midst of suffering – are where I find strength. God’s goodness – despite the pain – is where I can rejoice.

Every time you face discouragement, you can remember the beautiful, wonderful, honorable things that exist around you. A flower that fights through the weeds, a flavorful cup of Chai tea, the story of a woman who fought against all odds – these things can motivate you and change you, making you more like Jesus.

Heavenly Father, please help me in my discouragement. Remind me of the good things you’ve given me and the good things you’ve done, so that I can find hope, joy, and motivation to work through the tough moments in life. Whatever is honorable, pure, and lovely is from you. Please remind me of that on days like this.

Cast Your Burdens on Him

Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you…

I Peter 5:7

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We can’t save the world. Or at least, that’s what I’m told. I sure try, though. Every friend, every loved one who shares a struggle, a burden, a pain or a sorrow magically becomes my responsibility. And if you’re taking care of someone day in and day out, some of those burdens genuinely are your responsibility.

Whether you volunteered for the role of caregiver or not, you probably have a tender, compassionate heart that battles against this struggle to save the world as mine does.

I used to work at a small summer camp in Georgia where we memorized a new verse each of the 5 days of the week camp was in session. I Peter 5:7 was one of those verses. And it has saved my spirit so many times over the years since.

I’ve struggled a lot with many issues and trials over the years – losses, pain and suffering, watching loved ones suffer, et cetera – and this verse reminds me daily to think about Him and abandon my burdens to Him.

He’s capable of taking on the troubles of the world. We’re not. All our anxieties are more than we can bear. All the struggles and pains of people we love are even harder to bear. But we don’t have to do it alone. In fact, we can’t.

Jesus, thank you for taking my burdens. Thank you for taking the burdens of those I love. Please help me to remember, every day, that my burdens are not my own, but yours.

Take a Walk With Jesus

But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

– Luke 5:16

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Sometimes, I have a hard time making space and time for my own relationships, particularly my relationship with God. It’s easy to get caught up in helping loved ones, making sure they have everything they need. The list of things I can do to help my husband on his bad health days is more than enough to eat up my entire day.

But the longer we’ve been married, and the more challenging we’ve found things, the more I’ve missed my old college days when I’d take my “walks with Jesus.” I’d wander the streets of Chicago, praying for an hour making my way through crowds of people who didn’t know me and wouldn’t stop to ask me for help.

Jesus often went to the mountainside to pray alone. His relationship with God was the most important thing for Him. We can learn from His example and withdraw ourselves, even if it’s to the crowded streets of a busy city. We need to step away from our responsibilities to have time without interruption to let God take care of us.

And for me, the simple act of walking alone, without my phone out, without a human companion beside me, gives me that precious time, even if just for 20 minutes.

God, thank you for meeting with me in my limited moments. Please help me to have more time for you; time when I can step away from everything else and just talk to you and listen to your Word. I need you more today than I did yesterday. I love you.

If You Can’t Always Pray, That’s Okay

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.                                                                                                                                           – Galatians 5:1

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My whole life, I’ve been taught that you must read your Bible and pray every single day if you want to be like Jesus. I ritualistically followed this mindset growing up, throughout my college and missionary service years and into my marriage.

But like every other human, I’ve struggled at times to read and pray. And the guilt I’ve felt over not doing so could overwhelm me, until recently when my husband and I were chatting with our pastor. We mentioned our struggle with doing this every single day, especially together, but she stopped us.

“If it’s a legalistic thing that drains life from you, don’t do it! You’ve been set free in Jesus to have a relationship with Him, not be a slave to policy.”

While praying and reading the Bible are good to do every day, if you can’t some days, you don’t have to. Your relationship with God won’t be destroyed because you’re too tired or distracted. And life is so much healthier and happier knowing He’s there for me, and I’m there with Him and that He loves me. No conditions. Not even that one about reading my Bible everyday.

God, thank you that you don’t want a legalistic pursuit of you, but a genuine relationship. Please help me to remember that you love me, even when I can’t spend time with you every single day. Thank you for being such a kind, loving, compassionate friend and lover.