(For everyone waiting for my post on my definition of the word "submission," I'll be writing on that soon - I just think this is more important right now.)
We've all been there. We've all had days when something is said to us, about us, or even something that we just hear or read that makes us want to shout in anger and frustration.
Ever since I've become more aware of social issues, I've definitely become more sensitive to comments and remarks on those things. For example, I even got offended when I went to see Despicable Me 2. **spoiler...ish alert** Gru dresses up as a fairy princess for Agnes' birthday. A kid asks him why he's so fat, and he says that he eats too many desserts. There was also another part when someone is trying to set him up on a date, and the woman is shown to be ugly and "doesn't care about looks." ...I've tried not to dwell on those things.
Twitter has become my sounding board for a lot of these things. I so appreciate all my "Tweeps" (please kill me now for using that word), for their understanding and patience. We're all working through our beliefs and we all have our times of shouting at the things that we're angry about. We commiserate with one another, we encourage one another, and we even call each other out if we think someone has gone too far. I appreciate and love all these things about my Twitter community. (Just a PSA - you might not want to follow me on Twitter if you don't want to read rants and discussions about the flaws in Christian Culture.)
It's nice to be in a community where I'm accepted for what I believe (even if I disagree with them), and there's a foundation of understanding that we're all on this journey together and we're all in process.
But then here comes the kicker: I struggle with being gracious. I struggle with giving grace to the other side of the debate and realizing that they're people just like me. Whether I believe they are contributing to Modesty Culture, Rape Culture, Purity Culture, or any other kind of "culture" I'm against, the person on the other end of the argument is a human being trying to stand up for what he/she believes in.
I'm not going to change everyone's minds. That's just reality. I could talk to some people for hours and hours and feel like I haven't made an ounce of progress, because they're just as solid on their beliefs as I am. This is where grace comes in.
I don't think it's wrong to have discussions and debates with people we disagree with. It's healthy and good. We need those kinds of pushback in our lives in order to help us become more well-rounded and aware of what other people think. But something that I lack way too often is a dash of grace.
It may be my middle name, but I often fail at grasping its meaning. Even though many of the criticisms I've received about what I believe haven't been personal attacks, I have received them that way and responded defensively. Thankfully I haven't called anyone names or insulted anyone's intelligence directly, but my vice is almost worse.
I don't think sarcasm is inherently wrong. A good dose of sarcasm is fine, and even sometimes necessary in order to get one's point across. However, there are definitely times when I go too far. Even though I may not insult someone's intelligence directly, I do it indirectly. When that happens, I've lost all chances of a peaceful and civil discussion with that person. And that's not okay.
I want my speech to be gracious. I want my words to be clear and gentle, yet at the same time I desperately desire for people to understand how passionate I am about social issues.
I'm not going to be perfect. I'm going to fail. I'm going to be too sarcastic sometimes, and I've accepted that. I've accepted the fact that it will happen (I'm not going to pretend to say it won't, because I know it will), and I'm fully prepared to apologize if/when I need to.
So here's a request: Please be patient with me. When it comes to my issues with Christian Culture, I am extremely, extremely passionate. I can get hot-headed at times and extremely stubborn. For the most part though, if the other person is calm and respectful, I easily return the favor. I love, love discussion and debate. I really do. Please don't let my vices scare you away from challenging me. But if/when you do, please remember these things:
1. I am a human being.
I'm not just another "blogger" on the internet who wants to cause trouble. I'm not just "another feminist" or "another troublemaker." I'm a human being, and I have reasons for believing what I do.
2. I am an adult.
I may be 24 and therefore younger than most people I'm debating with, but I deserve to be treated like the adult that I am. My beliefs do not come from ignorance, they do not come from naivete, and they do not come from a desire to rebel. My beliefs have come from years of being immersed in Christian Culture and now seeing the flaws in it. Please don't assume that I haven't read Scripture, that I don't know what I'm talking about, or that I'm "just a kid," because none of those things are true.
3. I'm not evil.
I care about social issues. I may disagree with you, but that doesn't mean I'm evil or that I think you're evil. It just means we disagree on things. There are so many people that I really respect who I disagree with theologically - this is because my theology isn't what matters most. My relationship with you is what matters more. If we get into a discussion/debate and can't get through to one another, it's okay. It doesn't (or shouldn't) change my acknowledgement of your personhood and right to be respected as a human being.
This brings me to my final thought.
I'm sorry if I've alienated anyone, made it seem like I think I'm superior, made you feel like I think less of you for what you believe. None of those things are true. Yes, I may get fired up and really frustrated by some disagreements because of my beliefs on certain issues, but that's okay. I'm not angry AT you, I'm just angry about the issue.
I know that we're all on this journey together. We're all in process. We're all trying to figure out what the heck is going on and what the heck Scripture means. If there's anything I've learned in my years of studying Scripture and talking to other people, it's that Scripture is interpreted in A LOT of different ways and people have A LOT of different beliefs. And that's okay.
Why is it okay?
It's okay because I know there are always going to be people I disagree with. There are always going to be people who have different perceptions and beliefs on what Scripture says. This doesn't mean the Holy Spirit isn't working on them. It doesn't mean that they haven't searched Scripture and come to God in prayer about the things they believe in. It doesn't mean that they haven't done research or aren't well-read on the topic. Whether they have or haven't done those things isn't any of my business (except I'll certainly recommend some readings if the person hasn't read anything on the issue), nor is it my right to just assume they haven't.
So here's the thing: If I agree with you theologically, great. If I don't, great. As long as we believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and that only through his death and resurrection can we receive salvation, nothing else (really) matters.
As long as I'm on this earth though, I'm still going to be passionate. I'm still going to be passionate in changing the flaws that I see in Christian Culture and in culture in general. I'm still going to be passionate about equality.
I'm still going to be passionate about learning. I hope I never reach a day where I believe I "know all" and don't need to learn anything else (if I do, please slap me immediately). I want to be constantly learning about other people's perspectives and beliefs. I want to be in discussion about those things in order to gain understanding and a more robust theology.
As I do those things, I hope and pray that I will wield my sarcasm wisely and learn to be a little more gracious.
Thank you all (Twitter friends and otherwise) for your discussions, your patience, your understanding, your commiseration, your challenges, and your grace. I'm so excited to keep going on this journey.