1/13/10

Bumper Stickers

Wednesday~January 13, 2010

I can get so confused, trying not to judge the judgers. Trying so hard to remain out of the game in which we all strut around, pointing fingers and smirking.

I hate that game.

So on a whirly head kind of sleep-deprived day, the last thing I need to hear is that the Haiti that I love is being ridiculed by a Christian man, a man who blames the people of Haiti for a cracking earth and buried babies and children. He says it happened because of their choices.

It's ridiculous, no? I mean, why give his words weight? Why play the game? Why jump on the Twitter bandwagon, bashing his antics? Why?

This time I couldn't help it. I was just so angry.

I heard what he said and it was much the same as the sock in the gut this is so wrong feeling I get when I read bumper stickers from some extremist with what seems a heart of stone. The kind of finger-pointers with their snide sticky words to bumpers. I try to roll my eyes and make peace with it, somehow. I try. I try to read the words plastered there for every driver that has the misfortune of stopping at a red light behind them, and then I try to let it go.

Because I know so many Christians who are living something so opposite of a cliche, of a bumper sticker. They are down in the dirt and in the dirt and in the cardboard box. They are giving and giving and working hands to callous and serving to love for the sake of justice. They have no time for bumper stickers.

I try to stop there because otherwise I make it about me. How right I am. How wrong they are. How good I am, with my good and accepting and unconditional heart. How bad they are with their self-righteous arrogance on cars and righteous shaking heads.

If I don't stop at the fume, the eye roll and the deep breath, I end up staring off into space. I imagine them before God, getting a finger wagging with a you had no clue what this was all about, now did you? And then His voice booms and He shouts at them, you never knew me! You knew rules and lines and religion, but you never knew me! You didn't know me, or you would have loved my people, ALL my people!

And it's a problem if I imagine all of that because then next I see me, and it's my turn in line and God smiles and He hugs me and we high five...

You see? Probably a dangerous road to travel, the all about me, it's OK to judge the judgers road.

It's just not my job.

And also, when was the last time I was in the dirt and bone weary from service to the poor and hurting of this world when my head hit the pillow?

Here's the thing. I think I'm supposed to be angry about the bumper sticker words and the remarks, the blame, the extremes. I just don't always know what to do with the angry.

Sometimes "I write to find out what I'm thinking." (A writer said that, but I don't know which one.)

So I guess that's what I'm doing here, today. Because I didn't know what else to do. I was pacing and there was this big lump in my throat and I kept seeing Tara's face, knowing she's there, she's in Haiti and I know she's going to hurt when she hears what he said and I want to hug her.

During Cupcake last weekend I learned once again how much of a need I have to live a little more loudly, stop hiding behind my tendencies toward people pleasing just to play nice. How my feelings need more sleeve and less time under rocks. When they are under rocks they are not their inherent shape and then they eat at me and color me indifferent, apathetic. They move toward bumper sticker extremism when left unchecked.

Maybe that's what happened, so many people stifling their feelings until they're so insecure they have nothing left to do but finger-point and shout evil sinner! in some other direction then their guilty for apathy selves.

I don't know.

I want to be apathatic about as much as I want to be judgmental. And I can be, so I guess I'm doing some sleeve-wearing emotional stuff today because I hate it when I turn toward judgment.

And then I need to forgive somehow. Somehow.

All I can do right now is say please don't look at him. Please don't even spend your time there. Spend it here, with Christians who are not all about what people are doing wrong, but who are all about loving the hurting, the poor, the widow, the orphan. Look at them.

Take a moment. Roll your eyes at the bumper sticker kind of extreme remarks of a man and allow the anger to rise. It's there for a reason. Then take a deep breath and learn from Christians who are in the darkest place, so dark they don't even have time to pay Pat Robertson any mind. They are too busy being Christians, searching for survivors and then falling to their beds bone-tired and wanting nothing more than to do it again.

Look at them.

I want to be like them.

----------

I woke up with a crying boy and my whirly head won't let me sleep until I say that my point is not a theological one, exactly. I've gotten emails and messages on Twitter defending Pat Robertson. I won't begrudge people their theological opinion, but I don't have to agree with it. And even if I did, I don't understand WHY the kinds of things PR said would even need to be said. Why kick someone in the gut in their pain?

My point was, what I was trying to say, is that maybe we shouldn't even have time to say such things. Maybe we shouldn't have time for bumper stickers and finger pointing. Maybe we should be more like my friends, simply living lives of love and service, the kind of full of grace lives that leave no time for extreme remarks.

And also, Elizabeth Esther said it better than I can and it's much shorter, which is nice.

56 clicked right here to comment:

Kristina Joy said...

Yes. Yes. YES!

Lisa Page Rosenberg said...

I'm with you all the way on this.

gretchen from lifenut said...

How do you spell conviction? Eek.

I totally popped off at Pat. What he said was the verbal equivalent of kicking someone in the teeth as they extended his or her hand for help.

I really appreciate and am humbled by your amazing post.

My prayers go out to the people of Haiti tonight and those who are the true hands and feet of Jesus, in the dark.

Erin said...

Oh, AMEN. People like Pat Robertson baffle me. It has to be for attention because in my heart of hearts, I just can't fathom that someone really feels that way.

The Casual Perfectionist said...

What a great post! Thanks for taking the time to let us in on your thought process...

casual friday every day said...

I haven't heard/seen this quote from him, but I can say that his organization does amazing things for people all over the world. I'm proud to support the 700 club and Orphans Promise.

I don't always agree with what he says. Like I don't often agree with what a lot of people say. But I do know that because of his organization there are kids with water, and a place to stay and love.


Two cents ;)

Nell

Sarah said...

AMEN! I agree with Erin... it's an attention thing. I think Pat Robertson {and oh so many others} need to actually READ their Bibles instead of using them as a book upon which to stand. sigh.

Corinne said...

I love it when you figure things out through writing, and then you publish.
Big thumbs up from here.

Boy Crazy said...

I'm so proud of you for speaking out. I just stumbled this because everyone needs to read it.

Pat Robertson has said too many things that Christians let slide, too many statements of hatred and bigotry disguised as righteousness.

And I know this is not about Pat Robertson, but I had to get that in there.

And? The image of you and God hugging and high-fiving? Loved it. (Put in a good word for me, OK? Thanks.)

LOVE YOU.

-elizabeth

Maggie, dammit said...

You are amazing.

I actually don't buy into the whole "judging is bad" thing. Sometimes I need to judge and be judged to stay in an appropriate moral space. I used to think it was bad but I no longer do. Some of my best friends have put me right back where I belong by judging, and I don't mean my shoes or hairstyle. It's important to defend what matters.

And you know what I think about people pleasing, and about not being afraid of our own roars. We'll work on it together.

Roar away, baby. Well done.

Becky said...

Wow! WOW! I'm so behind you on this and SO proud to say I know you.

I too am guilty of the judging but this too made me CRAZY! You have written much more eloquantly than I could have ever...

Amazing post from an amazing woman.

Glynn said...

My now-29-year-old did a mission trip to Haiti when he was 15, and it changed his life. And he loved the people he met and worked with - who had nothing but loved God anyway.

Crooked Eyebrow said...

standing and applauding you. your words, your voice and your heart are all amazing.

H F W said...

Yes! If we look at the ones who are eating, sleeping and breathing Jesus, we end up seeing His face. And we all fall short of the glory, so we all desperately need to see His face. Beautiful post, Heather. Makes me long to take up the cross in the very physical way you're friends are.

Ann's Rants said...

I love your self awareness about the part of us that needs to be right, be in with G-man.

And how you liken it to same need within extremists.

But your very awareness is what sets it apart.

Great post. Again.

AllisonO said...

O Heather. This was the perfect thing to do with your angry and I'm so glad you did.

Terri said...

Love this! I do think there is some value in judgement/outrage/etc. because sometimes a well voiced "Bulls*&t!" is appropriate feedback for craziness or hatred that is vomited out in the media these days (often with little or no consequence). But, it is much more important to make your voice (and your faith/opionion/heart) heard through your actions, your words, your support, and your prayers. I am praying now for your friends, for the people of Haiti, and for the people who are traveling to provide support. Thank you for this post.

Kelly @ Love Well said...

Pat Robertson is appalling, and I feel the same anger you felt because I know his statements will be The Christian Response to Haiti -- even though there are so many, many people there who are doing the day-in, day-out work of being Jesus in the poorest country in the Western hemisphere.

So in that sense, indignation is called for. We need to collectively speak and say, "This man does NOT speak for me."

But then -- you are SO RIGHT. I wish it weren't so, but judging the Pharisees makes me one of them. This is an incredibly thoughtful, eloquent and mature response, Heather. I'm so glad I know you.

Elaine A. said...

Your response is so well worded and you expressed it for many of us and for that I thank you.

His words make me question where the devil REALLY is...

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your heartfelt response...however I don't exactly know what He said I do know that God does judge a nation based on sin. I am not saying that what happened was or wasn't based on sin. I just know that God does respond to nations in sin. It is all throughout the Bible. Does that make sense? Just a quick thought not at all saying that I disagree with you. Just a thought! Tell Shells hi.

MidnightCafe said...

I didn't hear the judgmental statement your posts refers to. I just wanted to hold your internet hand and pray together with you for Haiti. I went straight to the Heartline website when I heard about the earthquake. Unbelievably, all the Heartline people are accounted for. So many others are not.

K and/or K said...

This is why we have a custom made bumpersticker that reads, "BUMPERSTICKER."

Makes for interesting looks and laughs at the gas pump! :-)

Heather of the EO said...

Anonymous-
I would tell me sister hello, except I don't really know who to say hello from, since you are anonymous.

I heavily DO NOT agree with you, and I may even know you. Which is fine. We don't have to agree.

Yes, God responds to the sin of nations...but let's be really careful about that...what sins are we referring to, exactly? And let's be really careful about our assumptions of exactly how he responds.

Kerri said...

Oh, Heather, this was powerful and good and I agree with you wholeheartedly...

That Girl said...

Ah, the classic, circular Christian struggle. (That would be better if I had a "C" word for "struggle," but I'm coming up blank at the moment.)

This is one we've all struggled with. It's right up there with Love Thy Neighbor but also Thou Shalt Not Be a Doormat.

I've given this a lot of thought, as have you. I've been round and round that horn. The only way I can make peace with it is this: I think the crux of the matter is that we should never thing WE ARE BETTER THAN ANYONE ELSE. We are not any one else's "judge in Israel" (thank goodness.) It is not up to us to decide who goes to heaven and who goes to hell. (Thank goodness.)

However, I think it's okay to judge between right and wrong. In fact, I believe we are ENCOURAGED to judge between right and wrong. Isn't that the whole point of being here on earth, kinda?

So yup-er-dee-doo, he's WRONG. But we're not better than him for it. We are simply supposed to "judge" (I prefer to say "discern"), learn from it, make ourselves better for it, LOVE HIM, and move on. No condemning to hell, and no feeling more Christlike just because our conscious tells us he's NOT being Christlike. No he's-not-therefore-I-am.

SOUNDS easy, yes?

Nap Warden said...

I couldn't agree with you more.

Jamie @ Six Bricks High said...

I want to be like them too. I want to be more like my God...loving, serving, not judging.

Melanie J said...

I'm not going to judge Pat Robertson's morality but I am going to judge his intelligence. That man is a fool. Whether he's right or not (and he isn't), what do his comments serve in a time when these people need so much? Rhetoric is supposed to help?

We're giving to the Red Cross and praying for comfort and rescue for those people.

L.T. Elliot said...

Amen and amen. I'd rather the world filled up with good words instead of the fast, toxic spread of bad. I'll block out that bad, that biased, that apathetic. I'll embrace the good, the willing, and the sympathetic.

Ambrosia said...

My husband just told me about this. In fact, I was going to post something along the lines of what you said. Instead, I will link back to your blog. Okay?

His words were not only cruel, but uneducated. How can you blame a country based on some folklore? I am amazed that any sane person could put stock into what he said. (A little harsh? Maybe, but...)

How dare Pat "speak" for God! How dare he presume to know His will!

Yes, my anger is overflowing.

P.S. We donated money to help the survivors. The pain that country has already experienced...

H-Mama said...

Love should be our message... and heart's cry especially in moments like these. Kuddos to you! ;)

Cynthia said...

How interesting you post this. I don't know who the man is you are referring to (haven't heard about it) but I did read a heartwarming story tonight in the midst of the chaos.

Did you know that the Catholic Church has donated millions for relief AND they have supplies coming from a warehouse they maintain in the Dominican Republic?

Did you know that the Lutheran Church (one based in St. Louis) has donated tens of thousands of dollars and already has people on the ground helping in Haiti.

My own church, the LDS Church, has humanitarian aid kits already assembled and food storage ready to go at a warehouse in the Dominican.

The Red Cross has been inundated with phone calls from people of all walks of life asking how they can help.

The crappy remarks of one man trying to use human tragedy to build up his own name (sick as that seems) is NOT stronger than the will of people who are truly charitable, no matter which religion (or not) they adhere to.

The hope here is in the good works of the many, not the viciousness of the few.

Heather of the EO said...

Cynthia,
I do know about so many good things. It's so true. I really really hope it outweighs apathy or judgment.

Why one man's words matter to me is probably partially a personal issue, something that sets me off easily, that's why I talk about my own judgments in this post.

I'm glad you point out the good that's being done, I see it too. That's what I choose to focus on in the end, people like my friends in Haiti.

Jami said...

Heather, you are so good with ambiguity, with complexity. It's so hard for people to think outside the bumper sticker.

Completely ignoring who said what in the media, I've just got to say I love what the Christians I know are saying and doing to comfort those in need of comfort.

Colleen said...

Amen. I love your openness and honesty. "They know we are Christians by our love." I heard no love in his remarks. How sad. God bless!

Deb said...

my opinion is a little different. i mean, i do agree with you. however, i generally do just tend to ignore that kind of destructive rhetoric. there are many people out there saying, believing things that make my stomach turn. but just because he is a christian, and so am i? i don't think that he speaks for me. no more than other moms that might hold a differing opinion, or other people named debbie or other people that wear ugg boots. i have long since shed my labels, and i do realize i am sounding all "oh i have it going on", but i don't identify myself as a woman, a mom, a christian, a thinker, a writer, even though i am all those things. by stripping away the labels, i have an easier time viewing each person, idiots and non idiots alike, as responsible for themselves and themselves alone.

but that's me. and i think you are awesome for giving your feelings words and actions, and stepping up and speaking up. rock it.

deb said...

Writing to process is something you do very well, Heather.

Pam at beyondjustmom said...

Thank you, Heather. You say so well what is swimming through our hazy minds and put it right out there. You are doing your own mission work by sharing your thoughts and inspiring people to think and act--perfect.
Have you read the book UnChristian? It speaks precisely to the damage the bumper-sticker people do to the faith. Our pastor has been talking about it and I'm forwarding your message straight to him!
Blessings to you.

happygeek said...

It's funny. Just yesterday i was reading in Matthew and puzzling a little bit. Because in one breath JEsus tells us not to judge, and yet in the other he tells us to not cast our pearls before swine or give what is sacred to the dogs? How are we supposed to discern who is what without judging a little?
(I too am writing to process.)

canoelover said...

Yeah, you beat me to it. I expected to be able to write something like this (but not as eloquent) in a few days.

But no, I went off on the old douchebag, and said some really uncharitable things. Said even more uncharitable things about his sidekick, who sits at his side and says "Oh, yes, Pat...you are so right." Like an idiot track so people know when to agree...

I'm still looking for neutrality, and after that, compassion for him. Just give me a few days. I'll get there. So now I pray for Haitians. Hopefully I can someday pray for Pat. It won't help him, but it will help me.

What a piece of work is man...

Heather of the EO said...

Deb, my friend. You bring up another interesting layer in this. I'm almost completely right there with you. I've even tried to explain to Christians why I don't share faith labels, especially upon meeting someone, etc. I guess what PR said isn't even really about his label as much as it is just plain hurtful, and since he happens to claim his label, that throws an extra sock to my gut. I don't even really know how to explain it.

And Pam, no I haven't read UnChristian, but I have a feeling I might like it...

canoelover, I think it's alright to get angry, like I said in my post. I'm working on figuring out what's just natural emotion and what's the "not my job" kind of judgment. Like so many have said, we DO have to discern and there are some things we just shouldn't stand for. I guess I'm falling back on that "in your anger, do not sin" thing...but then again, there's yet another fine line. Oi. :)

Janet said...

Dear Pat:
Is it nice?
Is it true?
Is it necessary?

p.s. Heather, you've inspired me to take a writing class. Thank you - I'll let you know how it goes!

Mr. Decal said...

Thank you for your post! As a Christian, I serve a God of Love a God who is not punitive. Do bad things happen to good and bad people alike? It also rains on the just and the unjustified equally. We as Christians should be known by our Love not what we hate or dislike or our attempt of judging others we do not know. If we judge let us judge to help our brothers with the discernment of Christ.

The only way we will ever have a true koinonia experience if we allow all our walls of separations to fall and truly think others are more important than just our self-interest. See Philippians 2:1-9

Doug Bryant

The Decal Factory - The best decals, signs, labels, posters, stickers and banners in the industry for business and hobby.
Toll Free - (800) 369-5331

Wendi@Every Day Miracles said...

Wow. Good job. You always inspire...

togetherforgood said...

Heather, you are my hero.

woowoomama said...

sandra ingerman has this book, medicine for the earth: how to transform personal and environmental toxins

http://www.amazon.com/Medicine-Earth-Transform-Personal-Environmental/dp/0609805177/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1263497027&sr=8-1

and it really helped me to answer the question of what i do with the feelings those bumper stickers bring up in me.

just in case it might help you too i am passing it on.

:)

Lisa @ Crazy Adventures in Parenting said...

You make me want to stand on my chair, pump my fist and scream "YES!!!"

... and maybe a few expletives for the douchebag guy for saying what he said.

It isn't anyone's place to lay blame for a natural disaster, just to help people in need, regardless of whichever faith you follow.

Wonderful post, lady. I hope you get some sleep. God knows I need it SO. FREAKIN'. BAD. MYSELF.

maggie said...

Yes. Just, yes.

Life Laugh Latte said...

I applaud you for working this out with your well thought out words. Moving...and I hope it will move others as well. I'm a Christian and I live my life by the Bible. As someone that stands by the word of God, I rarely stand by some of the people that are public figures because their message is personal and not from God. They have no right to judge anyone, the Bible tells us that plainly. God alone stands as the judge. We are called to Love. We are called to give people hope. We are called to tell people that God longs to know them. I cringe everytime I hear someone in the public eye, on street corners condeming people. Makes me angry to. Sets everything well meaning, devout Christians do every day back 100 steps. Well said my friend. Holly

a Tonggu Momma said...

Pat Robertson's remarks just highlight to me that he (at least in that moment) forgot the two basic tenets of the Christian faith: love God, love your neighbor. *sigh*

LauraLee Shaw said...

How beautiful to hear your thoughts...it is your blog, you know...and that's what people want to hear when they come, YOUR heart. And for my first time here, I can hear the grace and mercy written all over it. Bless you, sister.

I don't feel as though you are bashing anyone in this post; rather, defending the weak and sorting through the same perplexity many of us had when we heard those remarks. Writing is much cheaper than therapy!

Kelly said...

It makes me sick to know that people support someone who makes judgements and condemns an entire people because they are DIFFERENT from us.

It fills my heart with joy to know that Haiti is receiving overwhelming support from people around the world -- and that Christians are leading the effort.

I think there will always be ignorance, but I pray it will always be balanced by compassion.

Life with Kaishon said...

I couldn't leave a comment on your winter you capture. I wonder why. I feel so sad about Haiti. I just keep crying and crying about the devastation and loss they are feeling there. It is heartbreaking.

~love said...

heather,
i read this while in the hospital w/ ellie and i knew i would come back to comment when i could. while re-reading it, your words did the same thing to me. tears and lumps in my throat and this crazy fluttering in my heart.
so much of this just sums up what i feel about life. why are we all pointing, fighting or judging?! i don't want to have time for it. i want to be digging in deep. i want to be IN it. without time to position my bumper sticker just right for everyone to read.

my words are failing me any further, but thank you for writing this. i love it so very much and i want to be like them, too.

kanishk said...

I really appreciate and am humbled by your amazing post.

Work from home India

XelinaG said...

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