There’s an argument to be made, one bolstered by people’s behavior on social media, that those who live in the western world can be filtered into two camps.
Those who just want to be mad about something. And those who don’t.
I know this is a vast oversimplification. There is so much that goes into a person’s anger and hurt that none of us can ever hazard to begin to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. So as to not draw someone’s ire, I’ll just use myself as the example of today’s little bit of writing.
I have realized that at many times in my life I have just been a person who wanted to be mad. I didn’t want to be a victim. That’s an entirely different first-world fault we have. I just wanted to be angry at someone.
Social media was the worst thing to ever happen to younger me. Other people’s opinions, beliefs, words, political perspectives and so forth made me so mad. That’s the story of the modern world. I didn’t like people I perceived to be hypocrites even though I was one of the biggest myself. As Gandhi said, “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians.” I was one of those he wouldn’t like.
I used to just want to be angry. That’s the bottom-line cause Stone Cold said so. Quiet was confused with arrogance when in actuality it was irritation. I had an issue with people because my perspectives shaped my life. It was a long-learned behavior. It made me not like the man I grew up to become. I was a hypocrite. I always told people to just look in the mirror and if you like what you see then you are doing ok. But I never really did. I didn’t like what was looking back.
But something changed a few years ago. I just started talking. I wasn’t talking to anyone in particular. I knew who I was and that person was not who I wanted to be. I didn’t like who I was but I felt encouraged because I wanted to change. Bad people didn’t want to change, right? I wanted to be better. So that had to count for something.
I started talking to no one in particular. And I know I looked crazy to anyone who may have seen me. I started to read. I started to write my thoughts down. I started to ask questions instead of making accusations and thinking I already knew everything. Why did I feel the way I did? I asked more. I didn’t try to tell. I didn’t ask questions I already knew the answers to.
It wasn’t until I started seeking that I started finding. And when I let the answers come, I stopped caring what others put on their social media feeds. I stopped caring who they voted for. So, what if you do bad things? So, do I. So, what if you bad-mouth others? I have done that from time to time as well. So, what if you stumble and fail and stay down sometimes only to cry and blame everyone else but yourself? Brother, I’ve been there.
I realized that God wasn’t religion. And in all that talk and all that reading, I came to find that God doesn’t want me to care what others think. He doesn’t want me to worry about what others have or the way others live their own life just like he doesn’t want them to care how I lead mine. Someone in all that talk of mine basically talked back. “No one’s thinking about you, Josh. No one cares what you think. No one cares if you don’t like them. They aren’t thinking of you.”
And then came the bombshell.
“Isn’t that so freeing? Doesn’t that change everything?”
Wow. When I had this realization, I legitimately said out loud “Wow,” and a little old lady by the vitamins in Walmart lowered her spectacles (I like that word – spectacles) to wonder if I was a malcontent or rabble-rouser.
I realized God wanted me to be all His all the time. He doesn’t want me leaning on others. He doesn’t want me to be self-reliant. He wants me to rely on Him. I am walking a tightrope. So are you. So are we all. Our security rests in Him and not in our best-laid plans. Our best-laid plans are folly. They suck. They are laughable. We walk that tightrope and it is He alone who helps us stay standing. Not people. Not circumstance. It is He who we must go to for prayer, for answers. I said I didn’t know who I was talking to earlier. But I do now. I was talking to the one above all. I was talking to the one beckoning me —one step at a time.
“Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, can separate you from My loving Presence,” I read once and now I know it to be true.
So too is this: For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Josh Beavers is a teacher and a writer. He has been recognized five times for excellence in opinion writing by the Louisiana Press Association.
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