To Push and Control is to ABUSE.

Most bigotry repulses me.  But I do have one prejudice of my own.  I loathe everything about pushy clueless brazen people.  No matter the race or gender.  Not the uniform. Not the take charge types with good boundaries who assign themselves their own tasks, and organize others who belong to their team.  No, I’m talking about the types who mind others business they have no business minding.  Another prejudice, they are usually church ladies.  And as I think about why it bothers me so much, I remember that control and pushiness is at the bull’s-eye of abuse. When you are trying to control and push me, you are abusing me.  When I’m attempting to control someone, I am disregarding that person as an individual.  As an intact other who is entitled to make choices about his or her life.  Controlling people usually arrive with a smile on the face.  They think they are so subtle, when they are not.  They use especially cheerful words.  A simple ‘no thank you’ to their demands will reveal how friendly their interchange was really intended to be. 

Control is a good thing in some settings.  Of corse there are laws in place that must be reinforced.  Laws for controlling my behavior and yours.  And there are consequences that also act as prevention for certain behavior.  When I steal an item, the enforcement of a law is in place to stop me from stealing.  I might have to pay a fine or do time, depending on the kind of stealing.  The consequence of stealing, beyond doing time, might be loosing my reputation.  Making it very hard to find a job or hold a position in the community. 

Many would argue that controlling another is a healthy thing to do, such as a child. They suggest that if you don’t, the law will.  I know one thing, we can guide, and educate, and give consequences, but we can not control another person without abusing.  Take teaching a child to eat something they do not like.  Horrific abuse has been perpetrated upon children around eating.  A child can be introduced to a food.  They can be encouraged to eat it (take a couple bites and then you can have your favorite juice), but when the child decides they do not want to eat any of what is being introduced, forcing a child to eat – shoving it down their throat, or feeding the child this food for days until the child eats it happily – is to abuse.  It is to degrade the human right to make decisions as an individual.  Children will not die from not loving peas, but they can die from abuse.  And if they don’t physically die, a part of them dies when control is pushed upon them.  So much could be said about parenting and control.  It’s the parent’s job to give the child an ability to control himself or herself by using routines, encouragement, boundaries, consequences, etc…  Much of the time, children can be persuaded to eat peas by kind words and encouragement; “let’s take one tiny bite, I’ll take my bite, you take yours, ready, set, go.”

Most issues in life concerning control don’t center around peas.  They are about what I assume you need to be doing, and what you assume I need to be doing. 

Say it together, shall we;

‘BOUNDARIES’

!!!

I don’t get to decide what you should be doing.  I can communicate with you my concerns, if our relationship is a collaborative one.  However if I don’t have a relationship with you, and you don’t have one with me, we don’t need to be telling each other what we think the other should be doing.  If we do have a relationship, for the sake of our relationship we might share our own feelings about something that is or isn’t being done in the others life.  We are our BROTHERS keeper.  Which implies empathy and love.  Not our brothers busy body, controlling pushy judgmental know-it-all. 

Next time we think of how to ‘make’ her do it, ‘get’ him to behave, ‘put a foot down’, we must remember, we are acting as an abuser, and I’m pretty sure you and I both would rather not be abusive, regardless of the wish to control another person’s behavior. 

Broken Safe Heart

fullsizeoutput_3075

Beautifully Broken.  A testimony shared in word and book form.  The story of Elisa Morgan, former president of MOPS International.  The telling of a teenage daughter pregnant, the shame of the thing, of the realization that we are all a mess, and this is a truth.  A friend and I ventured from home to attend the “I Am Loved, One Strand” Event featuring Elisa.  An evening of challenge to a church crammed packed with ladies.  Will I hide my brokenness, or will I take the risk and be a mess, for Jesus Sake.  As the evening hours came to a close, half dozen pastors and elders waited up front to offer a prayer for anyone who could use it.  Just as I Am keeping time, verse after verse and out of the hundreds of women attending, no one came forward.  Verses repeated.  Still no one.  Then a couple of the pastors facilitating the event came forward to be prayed for. As if to say “This is how it’s done”. 

We had been dismissed, the church mostly emptied, a few pray-ers still at post when I asked my friend if she wanted to go together for prayer.  Pray for our marriages.  For our kids. For our own personal struggles.  My friend is no ordinary friend.  She is one of those heroes who lives her faith despite depth of pain.  Sunday mornings, despite hostility at doing so, dresses herself and her children and slips off to church alone, shaking inside but holding it together, always holding it together.  The only Christian in her family.  A mentally unstable husband who swings from kind to damaging.  Having to scoop up children and leave her home for days, fly away, until the storm passes.  She is a mother who is doing everything she can to give her kids what they need, her husband what he needs, works full time, is a loving adult daughter of aging parents, a loving friend to me and many others.  All this amidst a blast that comes and goes, sometimes nearly crashed upon the rocks, when once again God comes through, and she holds steady again. 

We have so much in common, her and I, and you too, I’m guessing.  Our lives are full and beautiful and messy and painful.  We have the unexpected that tares at us.  Every time the calm comes, on it’s heels is destruction.  Willing again and again to be a mess for Jesus sake, as it would be so much easier to pretend all is well, easier to dust ourselves of the messes that disrupt our hoped for lives, but we’ve decided to refuse to give up.  And there we were, she and I doing the very thing the evening had lauded.  Praying not for the superficial, but for what needed praying for. 

Pastor woman, kind eyes, nice prayers she offers up.  The flowing kind of prayers, until tears flow from depths of those she prayed for.  Immediately friend and I feel the change.  Pastor Woman holds steady cold eyes on the one with tears and steps back.  Starts lecturing.  Shrouded in Christian-ese, she with smile and sneer eyes, she offers up a lecture of indignant setting straight.  Arrogance and irritation.  Distance.  Rejection.  Parental eyes.  As real as if she had said the words, “We don’t do messy here.”  

Shame, it hit hard.  Feeling sick.  Needing to find a hiding place, a bathroom, tears they showered pant-leg beneath the eyes.  And as shame flooded in, I remembered words I had heard hours before in a training I had attended.  Fight, flight and freeze occurs when comfort has not been extended.  Fight, flight, freeze.  The body’s reaction to not trusting.  An unsafe place to be a mess. 

The church is realizing how important authenticity is, and vulnerability.  Elisa Morgan has written “Beautifully Broken”.  Ann Voskamp’s latest book reiterates the same idea in “The Broken Way”.  Brene Brown has written extensively about vulnerability and authenticity, and about becoming a wholehearted person.  And many are speaking out on these issues, including God.  The Holy Bible is packed with raw stories of real people.  And still the church isn’t prepared for what it’s asking for. 

We better not ask for real if we have not done the due diligence of placing front and center only those who have done their own raw and messy work.  If my healthy vulnerability frightens you, as culturally Christian as I am, you won’t at all be comfortable with folks with a criminal record, an abortion never spoken of, same sex attraction shame, cut scars that run deep behind long sleeves, a porn addiction, shoplifting, the pain of life as a stripper, hidden heroine, purging, on the run.  Christian servants are not prepared unless we have intentionally peered into the toxic morass of our own less than lovely lives.  The grace of Jesus administered to shame makes worthy and safe my ears to hear your wound, and your secrets.  Professional pretenders have no place at the front line of the body of Christ.  This interaction was uncomfortable for me, but I’m not harmed.  I’m surrounded by healthy people who give me all the love and support I need.  Someone else might not have what I have.  One considering Christianity.  One who has risk it all to try once again to reach for Jesus.   

Jesus says:

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35

Of course we don’t want pastors and leaders functioning as out-of-control messes.  This pastor offering prayer has either never come face to face with her own lacking, or had experienced the discomfort of letting a judgmental person in on her own disgrace, which is why she reacted the way she did to ours.  How can a pastor be honest with themselves and others when we marginalize them for owning their weaknesses?  Pastors are human beings.  They have a past, a present.  Arrogant Saul was only safe to serve when struck down by Jesus, made blind and dependent, and a mess.  Peter was only safe when he faced the ugliness and rejection of his distancing behavior.  We are only safe when we see who we are, and let God’s Grace pick us up again.  A pastor able to admit and speak about his or her own messiness becomes safe to love another.  And not before. 

I’ve written on this topic more than once, and will continue to write on it.  The front lines call for the real deal.  No pretenders.  Our Christian Culture must stop rewarding leaders and pastors for pretending, and punishing for honesty.  The route from death to life is across a cravat that separates Hateland of Pretend from The Loveland of Known.  From the Hiding, fight, flight and freeze (Adam, where are you?) place to a place of being seen, loved and forgiven.  Christians can’t stand on both grounds. Authenticity is attractive to the hurting who don’t know Jesus, because isn’t this what we all want most of all?  To be known AND loved.  We can’t pretend to be authentic as a way of extending a hand.  The call for authenticity has already been sent out.  Front line Christian’s, time is now to step across.  

Lying Mocker: The Deceit of Shaming.

DSC_0298She’s Psycho

He’s a whistleblower

What a Bitch

The safety officer has arrived, I see.

What a Nerd.

A real Drama Queen

Rejection names.  Names given to a person finally able to speak the truth of a thing, unable to pretend anymore.  The name given to the one who says: Enough!

Here is what the word means according to www.dictonry.com and  Merriam-Webster.

Mocking:

1. to attack or treat with ridicule, contempt, or derision.

2. to ridicule by mimicry of action or speech; mimic derisively.

3. to mimic, imitate, or counterfeit.

4. to challenge; defy: His actions mock convention.

5. to deceive, delude, or disappoint.

verb (used without object)

6. to use ridicule or derision; scoff; jeer (often followed by at).

noun

7. a contemptuous or derisive imitative action or speech; mockery or derision.

It’s obvious that mocking is an attack using ridicule towards someone.  Most, however, do not realize that built into the definition of the word mock is “to deceive”.  That is exactly what happens when we mock.  The reason a person mocks is to fake out the one they mock.  The lie takes the attention off what should be heard or acknowledged or noticed. Minimizing what one has done or said that is worth respectfully acknowledging. It is a behavior for the avoidance of truthful discussion.  To harm another when I don’t like what you’re doing, or what you’re saying.  Rather than allow you to be who are are, and notice what you’ve noticed, or listen as you speak of what bothers you, in my discomfort I tell a lie by not honestly stating “I’m uncomfortable.  I’m afraid.  I’m ashamed when you talk about this, or do that.”  So rather than tell the truth, we make the choice to lie-mock. 

Mocking does what it’s intended to do.  It shuts the mocked one down from doing.  From being.  From noticing what needs noticing.  From saying what should be said.  If only the mocked one would remember that to be mocked is to be lied to.  The shame words might have less power.  We might take courage and do what needs done, despite disgust and disdain, because we know that the mock-lies are weak strands that hold back only those who will be chained by cover-ups.