(Please Don’t) Bare With Me

Social media is useful and entertaining for so many reasons. The typos and blunders alone are worth a scroll through the newsfeed.

In the recent past, I’ve seen such jewels as:

“in the Lord’s pressens”

“ISO simone to mow my yard”

and one of my favs: “y’all bare with me”

After I got done laughing at these (the last two in particular!), I really got to thinking about the last one. Obviously, this means “bear with me”, as in, please be patient with my long or convoluted or repetitive post. However, the words as they are actually make some sense.

Bare with me.

In a previous blog, I discuss the social penetration theory . I mention how it is weird or inappropriate to share too much information too quickly.

Social media has thrown a kink in this theory. We have relationships on social media with a great many people (I have over 800 friends myself), and we share a great deal of surface level information. These relationships aren’t inherently deep. But that’s kinda OK. After all, how well do you know all 800 of those people? It’s fine if all they know about you is your favorite color, what songs you like, and where you get your haircut.

Social media is about networking, and part of networking is a crossover between your personal and professional lives. That’s fine. What’s NOT fine is when you assume a depth of relationship–even if it is subconsciously–and you begin sharing TOO MUCH INFORMATION.

What is TMI?

Obviously, this does depend on the specific relationship. We know that. But on social media, the lines blur. We may have 50 friends who are good friends, 200 that are just acquaintances, and 5 who we’d consider great, close friends. But posts you make on your feed are automatically available to all the friends you’ve accepted. (You can adjust individual posts and control who sees them a bit more, but it takes work.) While it’s fine to tell everyone on your list “I love chicken nuggets!”, it’s less OK to tell every person on your list all about your digestive issues.

I’d say the guideline is:

If you wouldn’t say it to everyone in person, don’t say it to everyone online.

However, some people are guilty of over-sharing even in person. It’s hard to pin down truly WHY these people do this, but it ultimately doesn’t matter the psychological motivation. The effects of over-sharing remain the same regardless.

Case in point, and one I’ve seen far too often: a person is upset with someone with whom they have a significant relationship. It may be a close friend, a family member, or a significant other. They are clearly invested in this relationship, and would claim, if asked, that they want this relationship to be good and restored. SO they post vague (or not-so-vague) statuses on Facebook about these people.

Common methods:

Please pray about *specific situation that incriminates the other person*.

I just have to vent about *specific situation that incriminates the other person*.

*Posts vague emotional status*. When asked what’s wrong, elaborates in comments about *specific situation that incriminates the other person*.

Once again, people could actually be motivated by some amount of need–for prayer, help, discussion, relief, etc. But there is obviously an element of wanting to trash the other person. EVEN IF the statements you’re making are true, they still should not always be shared, especially with hundreds of Facebook friends.

Some might say they are not being slanderous, because the statements are true.

However, please tell me your motives are 100% pure, and you are in no way presenting a false spin on “true” facts.

Please tell me you are not painting yourself to be the victim with no regard for the fact that you might be to blame for some aspect of the situation.

Please tell me that even when you’re saying something “out of love”, you are not, in fact, making the other person look bad or stupid.

As I say in other cases, when in doubt, shut your mouth.

If a person needs to vent, ask for counsel, ask for prayer, ask for help, let them privately speak to people with whom they are very close–preferably people who won’t just blow sunshine up their nose. Preferably, let them speak to people who advise them in good and healthy ways while still being supportive.

Because what happens if your relationship with that EVIL person is restored one day? So maybe he or she didn’t see all the poop you were slinging at them (IT’S MY FACEBOOK; I SAY WHAT I WANT). Maybe they know they were in the wrong, and they repent.

Or maybe they DO hear through the grapevine all the stuff you were saying. Maybe they now feel very awkward with any of your other friends. AND how can you expect your other friends and family to actually show love and support to your person, once that relationship is restored, when all you’ve given your friends and family are reasons to strongly dislike and distrust your person?

livepeepshow

It is inappropriate to air your dirty laundry on social media. It is a mark of maturity and rationality and good character to keep things to yourself. If you need to “bare yourself”, there are outlets for it: pastors, elders, older men/women mentors, close friends, parents, siblings. Honestly, there’s no excuse for throwing it all on social media. If a person does this, I do not trust their motives. At the very least, they are acting out of negative emotions in a way that they should not.

No one handles him or herself perfectly all the time–or, heck, even most of the time. I don’t. But that obviously means there is room for growth, and it would do each of us well to try to handle ourselves in a way that honors God, respects others, and does not SHAME ourselves.

Be kind, friends.

~WWG

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Yesterday, the pastor at the church I attended was praying–one of the several times he did during the service. I’m not going to lie; there are a lot of times when I check out during a prayer, especially if it’s going a bit long. But before I had a chance for my mind to start wandering, I heard him say, “Thank you for this heat that you’ve given our land.”

What now?

He quickly moved on to other things. It was so brief that I doubt anyone else really registered it. But he was thanking God for the heat.

For context, it has been 100+ degrees every day for the last week here. My time has been spent surviving, chugging water like it’s going out of style, and griping that it’s ridiculously hot. Not one time have I thought, “Thank you God for this heat.”

Not true, actually. A couple weeks ago, I actually thanked Him for putting the earth in just the right place for humans to live–even if it meant that we occasionally feel uncomfortable.

I mean, perspective counts for a lot, right? Focusing on the positive is a good thing. I’m all for it. But it struck me when the pastor prayed that that prayer is not self-focused at all really. I don’t know what made him pray that. It may be the same thought process I’m having, or it could have been for a totally different reason. However, it definitely got me thinking:

How often, when we are attempting to focus on the positive, do we re-frame things in ways that make us feel like God is doing something FOR US?

I believe that God loves us. I believe that things all work out for good for those who love Him and who are called according to His purpose. But as inherently self-absorbed little creatures, we too frequently assume that this means that everything will be hunky dory if we just keep believing. We assume that God’s will is that we not suffer.

But even if we can acknowledge that God may have a use for our earthly suffering, we still assume it is to grow or change us. And of course trials, tribulations, and pain do tend to change our hearts and minds, and as Christians, we hope that they turn our hearts and minds more towards Christ.

How often do we actually consider that we may not KNOW God’s purpose in our pain? We may never know. And our obedience and trust should have nothing to do with our knowing that our pain will ultimately be good for us.

Our pain, suffering, struggle, and discomfort is God’s will, and we may not ever understand why. 

God, in His sovereignty, gives us circumstances that bring Him glory, and our concern as His people should not be how they make us feel, but on how we can behave in such a way that brings Him glory. Part of this is through our genuine and gracious handling of our pain, and part of it is through our personal trust.

I read a book about chronic pain called “Don’t Waste Your Pain” by Myndi Orr.  As someone who perpetually deals with my own chronic pain, which is constant and often extreme, this book kinda hit me over the head with the fact that pain is given to us by God, and it is not ours to try to guess what it’s for. Our calling is only ever to behave in the ways laid out for us in Scripture and demonstrated by Jesus.

All of this sounds hopeless and a little insensitive. But I promise, it isn’t. I am the last person to act as though pain and suffering are nothing. I know that this world can throw more terrible things at you than you think you can handle. I know that many times, we lack patience with a perpetually unresolved trial. This post is not a criticism of anyone who is suffering. None of us will ever handle struggles perfectly.

However, is it not our call to put on the lenses of Scripture and read things ever more clearly all the time? Then is it not our call to behave in accordance with this understanding?

PERSPECTIVE + ACTION = GROWTH

We must understand that God’s glory is the only thing that matters. Our comfort and lack of struggle is not a prerequisite of trust, peace, or faith. But, in fact, our faith and trust allows us to have peace, knowing that the God of all is ALWAYS the God of all. And His power is not diminished because He doesn’t use it to remove our pain, nor is He obligated to show me the reason for it.

hotsun

Pain and suffering is a difficult thing to deal with, and it is frustrating to understand from a human perspective. But thank God, our understanding is not required.

Prayers for your peace, friends,

WWG

The Gluttons of Social Justice

I’ve heard quite a few stories about men and women who were in prison camps for an extended period of time. These places were truly terrible. Humanity shows its depravity there in the form of neglect, abuse, and torture. One of the cruelest things that is done to the prisoners is very often food deprivation. As one of the most basic needs human beings have, food is something that it is fundamentally wrong to withhold from other humans.

When (if) these starving people are liberated from the prison camps, they are emaciated almost to the point of being skeletal. They suffer deeply from lack of nutrition, and these effects go far beyond just feeling hungry and losing weight. Malnutrition causes a lot of problems, including weakening the body and making it less resistant to healing from disease or injury.

starving

Oh, the things we humans do to other humans! Abuse and neglect is not always so blatant, and it sometimes is so blatant that it becomes systemic and we no longer even see it.

An unpleasant result of starvation is the aftermath. When liberated from a prison camp, many people are inclined to gorge themselves on any food they can find. However, their bodies are now unable to handle much food (if any).  They must be gradually reintroduced to food in a thoughtful way if they are to survive and thrive.

In many ways, we have starved each other through inequality, racism, sexism, and general prejudice. Over time, we have created a starving society in more ways than one. At every turn, there are people who have been abused, mistreated, ignored, cast down, or used by other humans for some self-serving purpose.

When we look at these people now–often through a lens which has been enlightened by time or experience, we often feel very indignant or even angry. AS WE SHOULD. We should NOT turn a blind eye to suffering. We should NOT allow unkind, hateful behavior to continue once we are aware of it.

HOWEVER,  in cases where there has been a marked inequality–whether it be a disparity due to gender, race, or something else–over-compensating for what could be considered ethical starvation is dangerous. Over-compensating will not solve the problems that underlie, but will only make society sick for a different reason.

When we become too focused on compensating for past injustice–or even ongoing injustice–we often attempt to fix these issues at the expense of others, including the people we are trying to save. If we say to those who have been systemically marginalized that they deserve not only equality but MORE than equality, we do not do them any favors, even though it may seem that we do. Stuffing them with food now does not change the fact that the people are starving; it only makes them overfull of hatred, resentment, and their own brand of prejudice.

skeletoncomputer

This is akin to giving a person with an allergy to shellfish a shrimp because you think it’s unfair that they’ve never had it before. It doesn’t make sense.

A starving person needs food. A marginalized or abused person needs love, care, grace, and mercy, just as we all do. They do not need the preferential treatment they’ve been deprived of. If we believe in equality, we must believe that all men and women are created equal. We must all give in love, according to the grace that God has given us. No person is greater than any other.

Please do not understand me to be saying that we shouldn’t make concerted efforts towards certain equality measures. WE SHOULD. There is a huge need for people to be thoughtfully aware of areas in which people are not being treated well. There is a huge need for people from all walks of life to look around and see where they themselves are failing to love every single person they encounter as they should. I do not believe that seeking out minorities for jobs is inherently biased. I do believe that giving undue preference to unqualified people for the sake of diversity is a waste. There is a line between making things better for all people and over-compensating.

Over-eating does not make you full; it just makes you sick.

skeletondanceFurthermore, following the over-eating train of thought, we often over-eat because we’re bored or emotional. As people for whom truth and justice is important, we must be wary of over-eating in the social arena. If we are constantly looking out for reasons to be offended, or if we are passively jumping into causes simply out of boredom or misplaced emotion, we perpetuate not truth and justice, but moral sickness and obesity. If we are avoiding dealing with sin or emotional sickness in our own lives by forever being warriors for causes who did not ask for us, who may not need us, we do not help ourselves or those we claim to care about.

The key is thoughtfulness. Am I helping this person or causing them more harm? Am I allowing them to learn and grow and heal, or am I patching them up with resentment and a sense of entitlement?

I do not believe that all our equality issues are solved. I do not believe that our work is done. I do not believe that anyone should cease speaking up for those who need a voice. Please do not misunderstand.

I do believe that we must all work together to ensure that our efforts are tempered with self-control and with grace, lest we fall into a state of perpetual sickness. It is too easy.

Be thoughtful, friends! Fight the good fights with love and grace, giving mercy whenever you can.

~WWG

 

 

Too Much of a Bling Thing: On Boundaries

So I have an jewelry addiction.

It’s not a problem. I only buy jewelry sometimes. I can stop anytime.

But seriously, this certain brand of jewelry has been so much fun to get into,

jewelry

and I have only the tiniest bit of shame about how much I now own. 😉

That being said, jewelry is a tricky business. You have to know when to wear it and with what other pieces of jewelry and accessories. It’s not always easy to match or coordinate things perfectly.

Can you imagine if my excitement for all my extremely expertly purchased jewelry superseded my judgement about how and when to wear it? I’m not referring to just wearing whatever jewelry makes you happy, regardless of whether it matches the best; I’m talking about piling it all on at the same time.

Who would even do that? That would be tacky. No one could see the individual pieces you’d chosen and bought, and rather than being able to see how excellent your taste is, they would all only assume you had no taste at all. Why this hyperbole, Witty Word Girl? What purpose could this serve?

Interpersonal relationships are like this. The jewelry is a metaphor. Oh, of course it is. Just as it would be inappropriate to throw on every piece of jewelry you own at once, it is similarly inappropriate to share every aspect of yourself with every person with whom you come in contact.

The social penetration theory  is very basically the idea that our communication moves from less intimate levels to more intimate levels. See linked Wikipedia article for more details. Along with this concept goes the idea that we can develop both breadth of relationship and depth.

Breadth refers to the range of topics in a person’s life he or she will discuss with someone at once. So someone could talk about their family but not about their romantic relationships.

Depth is the level to which these topics are discussed. For example, discussing a romantic relationship does not necessitate depth. A person might not be intimate enough with another person to share their religious beliefs about marriage or even their preferences about people they are romantically attracted to. The more intimate a person is with another person, the more depth their

onion

relationship has, in that he or she will share more personal information with that person about certain areas of his or her life.

You see, people are like onions (not only ogres are like onions, Shrek, old buddy). On the outside is our more public self, and on the inside is the private and personal self. We have layers of intimacy, and it is not appropriate or normal to have depth of intimacy too quickly. Neither is it normal or healthy to have a large breadth with everyone and very little depth.

All that soft science to say that we must guard ourselves from seeking too much intimacy with every person in an attempt to feel connected. Similarly, we must not limit every relationship to only breadth (an in a lot of shallow data only) in an attempt to protect ourselves from the vulnerability that comes with intimacy.

What the heck happened to your jewelry metaphor, Witty Word Girl?!

OK, I’m back to the jewelry now. Those with whom you choose to have intimate relationships will ultimately see more and more of your jewelry. Each piece will be revealed with time, and eventually, these people will be aware of every color, every shape, every broken part. Guard your hearts. Share your jewelry thoughtfully.

womannecklace

Don’t cast your pearls before swine. And be careful, little heart, whom you trust.

Don’t let the haters dull your sparkle, my friends! Bling away, but be wise and thoughtful. #lessonsfromthejewelrybox, am I right??

Until next time,

~WWG

Ships in Bottles: on Perspective

shipinabottle

There are times in life when we can get a clear perspective on our lives. And it usually isn’t right when and where we’re living it.

When you’re IN a boat on the ocean, you can see only what is directly under, around, or above you. You can utilize various tools to see certain aspects of distant things more clearly, but you can’t see exactly where you’re going or where you’ve been. You can’t see how one day’s journey could entirely change the course of your whole voyage.

When you’re walking in life, you utilize the tools of other people, written words of guidance, etc to help steer you, but you don’t really know how one choice might affect your whole life. You don’t know how it might not affect much at all. You don’t see the intricacies of the effects your daily life and choices create on the vessel or the ocean around you.

What’s the point, really? Why bother putting ships in bottles, where they are basically worthless other than to see the ship super duper clearly? Is there any value in looking at your life from afar, as in hindsight, when it is impossible to get back to it?

Three things:

  1. Trust. The one who makes vessels for a living also made the ocean, the weather, the sky, and everything else. He not only made the vessel known as YOU, but He made the perfect living vessel for us to emulate. We know how we’re supposed to sail our ships because of His Word to us. I do not need to be sovereign and all-seeing and all-knowing, because HE is.
  2. True friends. I can’t see my ship in a bottle, but others can. This means that our trusted friends can look at areas of our lives that we cannot always see. They can help us to make changes or keep us going when we are uncertain or tired.
  3. Time and distance. One way we CAN see our ships a bit more clearly is by looking back on them from far away–either from some amount of time later or after getting some space from them.
    Sometimes, this is actually moving on with life and then looking back at the experiences you’ve had with more experienced eyes. You can see what molded you, and you can see the mistakes you made. Hindsight is 20/20, but it’s not useless. You can’t fix what you’ve already done, but you can do things better in the future.
    Sometimes, this is stepping back from the routine and struggles of daily life in some way. Getting out of town or just doing a few days differently can help you look at your life through refreshed eyes. Sometimes the clarity is all it takes to make good decisions and take steps.

Perspective is a tool; it’s a scope. Don’t despair over not being able to see every angle of everything perfectly clearly. Just use your resources and trust the ship-maker.

Love and best wishes, fellow travelers!

~WWG

 

Taking Turns

I’m obsessed. I know that everyone is going to think that all I ever write about is flowers (a flower blog…again??). However, it’s my blog, so it doesn’t matter. 😉

Springtime in Central Texas is an awkward time. We usually seem to go from whatever weird cold weather we’re having into intensely hot weather…and back again…multiple times. But this time of year, we get a few days in between that are beautiful. Spring days.

My absolute favorite thing about Spring is bluebonnets.

 

bluebonnets-1

The world goes from dull, dingy, and brown to suddenly vibrant and green with paint splotches of blue.

Why do I love bluebonnets so much? I grew up with them, so maybe it’s nostalgia. The color is stunning, so maybe it’s just aesthetic.

Or maybe it’s because the bluebonnets are an experience.

bluebonnets2

There is nothing for me like being in the car, looking out, and suddenly seeing a blanket of blue on the hillside where a week before, there had been nothing. There is something about going through the long seasons of brown or dirty green and getting the splendid reward of bluebonnets after it all.

These flowers bloom for what feels like such a short time each year. Maybe that is why I wait for them so earnestly and am so delighted by their presence.

Life is like that. We do rather too much waiting, don’t we? We sit and think about these marked good times that are surely coming–because they come for everyone. Then when the good times are here, we think we’re so happy, and we want to live there forever.

But the majority of life is spent not in glimpses of total beauty, but in times leading up and following the glimpses. Life is spent in the work and play

of everyday, which is sometimes dull and brown, sometimes dirty green.

 

How are we supposed to live the part of life that’s not so vibrant? There’s no practical answer here that fits every person, but basically, we take joy knowing that

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—

A time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.

A time to kill and a time to heal; A time to tear down and a time to build up.

A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance.

 A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones; A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.

 A time to search and a time to give up as lost; A time to keep and a time to throw away.

A time to tear apart and a time to sew together; A time to be silent and a time to speak.

A time to love and a time to hate; A time for war and a time for peace.

~Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NASB)

Every part of our lives is ordained by a God whose plans are so far beyond our own imaginings that we can’t even begin to understand. Instead of experiencing angst and impatience and worry over the f

uture, we can rest assured knowing that He is sovereign.

And we know that the good times come–no matter how short they may be or how far between they feel. We will have trouble in this world, but we will also have joy.

The bluebonnets are little

reminders that God blesses us. We can delight in them, knowing that they will go away and come back again next year.

Enjoy this retelling of The Legend of the Bluebonnet by Tomie dePaola. Clearly, it is a legend, but it once again serves to remind us that though we feel we have sacrificed and lost much, hope always springs new.

bluebonnets-3

 

Much love to my witty word people!

~WWG

Library Wizards: Pro Tips for Library Magic

Libraries are magical places wherein lie the means to transport, enlighten, and delight people of all ages. But it takes some wizardry to get the most out of your library experience!

 

    1. Prepare well. Take full advantage of your library’s website before you go. Search the catalog and make a list of the resources you plan to get. Some library websites even allow you to place materials on hold, so you don’t have to worry about someone snatching up any of your picks before you get there. Browsing the catalog online before going can also help you get better acquainted with the variety of resources your library actually offers. Don’t limit yourself only to books! Movies, audio books, magazines, and more are available at most libraries.wizard_scrollCheck out the online catalog for my local library! It’s easy to use, and it allows me to search any or all of my city’s library branches: Abilene Public Library Online Catalog
    2. Ask for help. Being an introvert myself, I seriously hate asking anyone to help me, even though it’s their job to help me! BUT not only are these people getting paid to do things like help you find books, but they are also wise in the ways of the shelves. Sometimes, librarians know about books that would be difficult to find on your own. This is especially helpful when looking for fiction books related to a certain topic, because the catalog doesn’t always include the keywords for fiction books that allow you to find all the books related to a certain topic. Asking for help saves you from getting the common library ailment called crooked neck–you know, the thing that happens when you spend an extended period of time scanning the titles on bookshelves? The library staff shelve, re-shelve, and walk the aisles ALL THE TIME. Take advantage of the experts who are right there!
    3. Use your resources well. When searching in the library catalog, try to diversify terms. For example, if you’re searching for books about ancient Greece, don’t JUST search “ancient Greece”. You will yield some this way, and you can make note of where they are. However, typing in different specific terms can sometimes get you some different results. Logical, right? So to find some different things about ancient Greece, you might try typing in “Zeus”, “Parthenon”, “Greek myths”, “Greek architecture”, etc. Knowing a few key terms can get
      you farther than a simple search for a broad topic can. wizard_book

Another thing that may seem obvious, but isn’t always obvious to the casual library user, is that when you go to the shelves to find the materials you found in the catalog, look all around the area where you find the specific items you wrote down. There may be some more that your initial search didn’t pull up. I’ve found many books this way!

Don’t let the vast mysticism of the library overwhelm you; employ some of these quick tips and embrace the magic that is knowledge!

~WWG