Removing the filter

Sometimes when I speak or blog I fear what people are going to think of me. I have this unnatural fear (at least in my estimation) of being misunderstood. I’m afraid sometimes that what I say will be misconstrued, that the full intention of what I’m trying to convey will get lost in a wash of perspective. I’ve always been like this, and I hate it. It’s one of those things that, when someone asks “If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?”, comes screaming to the forefront of my mind. I can handle the physical blemishes. I can handle idiosyncracies and the odd things that make me, “me”. But I hate the desire for approval inside me, and the fear of other’s opinions.

I. Hate. It.

I don’t say that for your pity. And as much as it would be appreciated if offered, I’m not really looking for advice on how to better handle it. I’ve always found it mildly irritating when I hear someone say, “Hey, I just tell it like it is”, or “I just speak my mind.” I’ve always contended that anyone who has to point that out to someone are only giving everyone the excuse for why they act like a jackass. In a way, though, I admire that ability. Not the ability to tell everyone that you’re just “keeping it real”, but moreso the ability to do it. I believe there is a difference between taking the filter off, and speaking with the a motive of being contentious and argumentative.

I’ve decided to take off the filter.

I’m sure there are already some who thought I took the filter off. To be fair, that could partially be true. Not sure if that’s a matter of fact or perspective. Either way, it happens.

If there’s one thing I’ve noticed over the last few years, it’s that you find out quickly who your friends are or aren’t when disagreement or dissent arises. I’ve noticed that people are your friends, are friendly, and will treat you like part of the “in” crowd when you walk in lock-step with what they think is right or wrong. Once you step outside those boundaries, though, things change. Drastically. Phone calls stop, whispered conversations near you become more prevalent, you start “catching wind” of things, and there is a marked shift in your day-to-day dealings with them. You go from the in-crowd to the outsider, from accepted to marginalized, from friend to leper.

I’ve seen it happend to my family, and I’ve seen it happen to people near and dear to me. And it pisses me off and hurts every. single. time.

So I come to a point of writing about things tonight. Getting words on paper, expressing feelings on recent dealings through my blog. Then the thoughts creep in.

“You’re ranting again. No one wants to hear what you have to say.”
“You’re going to start turning people off with that sort of talk.”
“You shouldn’t be so confrontational.”

I say all this, realizing that it sounds presumptuous to think that anyone even cares about what I have to say in the first place. Maybe talking about the things on my mind would turn people off, but maybe it would crank up some healthy dialogue.

Regardless, I’ve seen the behavior. I’ve grown past the notion that someone following or unfollowing, friending or de-friending me on twitter or facebook means ANYTHING. It doesn’t have so much to do with that, because people are petty, and when you’re petty, you do petty things. When you’re petty, you also see things like de-friending or unfollowing as the end of the world. It’s deeper than that. It has more to do with real-life contact, real-life interaction, and how that works in concert with interaction via social networking.

See, when you know who your friends are, you know that you can say anything to them, and they’re going to love you regardless. You know that even if they don’t see things from the same perspective, they’re not going to judge you based on it. They’re going to take that thing into account, consider it as part of a larger conversation, and maybe even put themselves in your shoes and try to see things from your perspective.

It’s the other ones that really grind my gears. The one’s who view friendship as conditional, then use those conditions to write you off when you disagree with them. The ones who have great things to say when you agree with them. but belittle you when you don’t agree with them.

So when you tell me that I’m a solid Christian dude who knows the Bible, but then warn me not to get into “intellectual discussions” with humanists and agnostics, I see the contradiction in your “advice” (as well as the lousy example you set for being a Christ-follower in the first place).

When you try to antagonize me into a response, and use your warped logic and false superiority to paint me into a corner, then tell me I was “never there for you”, frankly, I want nothing to do with you.

When you tell me you’re “unfollowing me in Twitter, but not in life”, I see you as the shallow person that you are, considering the proximity of our “friendship”.

When you’re cool with me as long as I vote the “right way”, but when I don’t, or when I give a valid point that counters yours, you tell me to not use “talking points”, while your counter-argument consists of……talking points, I’ll take it with a grain of salt.

And when you’re eager to ask me about the Rob Bell “thing”, but weeks later know that I’m experiencing a trial and walk past without saying a word to acknowledge it, I know where your priorities are.

Here’s the thing: I’m not going to get into a theological discussion about the minutia of details that comes with different applications of Scripture, solely dependent on what camp you or I were raised in within Christianity. I’m not going to hyper-analyze Rob Bell to the Nth degree to see whether or not my opinion of if he’s a Christian or not lines up with you (as if either of us even have the right to make that determination). I’m going to live my life by this standard:

I believe in God. I believe I cannot succeed without Him. I believe that nothing I can do could measure up to what He’s done for me. I believe He died on a cross, was resurrected 3 days later, and is reconciling all things to Himself. I’m going to love my neighbor, and speak up for the rights of every person who has been “told to speak only when spoken to….and then are never spoken to.”

If that lines me up more with Bono, Bob Dylan, and Cornel West than it does with whatever standard you’ve set for what a “Christian” should be, then hear me now.

I. don’t. care.

It may sound like I’m jaded. I’m not. I’m just tired of the BS. I’m tired of feeling like I’m crazy, and I refuse to feel that way any longer. I know that I’m not, and I know that not all reading this think that I’m nuts. I may not see things like you do, but I’m willing enough to be wrong, and certainly open to change. I would hope we all are, but I know better.

One of my favorite MLK sayings is this: “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

I’ve heard alot of silence lately. I just quit caring.

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  • Sand  On April 3, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    I read your post on twitter. I’m wondering of you have been secretly strolling through my personal thoughts. I can relate on so many levels to how you feel. I’m a follower on twitter and would be your unconditional friend in real life. What never cease to amaze ms is how genuine people have to deal so frequently with the convenience of others. I enjoyed this post. Looking to read more.

  • Adventures In Babywearing  On April 3, 2011 at 11:39 pm

    So know what you mean. sigh.


  • veron graham  On April 4, 2011 at 10:10 am

    I was just thinking about something similar the other day…It’s amazing what’s possible when we! :-> Great post. I can relate to what you’re saying man! I’ve also committed to further removing the filter!

  • Vedran  On April 5, 2011 at 9:50 am

    Great post and the truth.

  • Renee'  On April 5, 2011 at 10:32 am

    had to jump in and give my two cents- the part about the standard you will live your life by- I would say that no, that isn’t like bono, dylan, etc. I’d say it lines up more with Jesus. The only thing I could maybe see adding to that is loving our enemies as we love ourself.
    oh and as far as not lining up with american chrisianitys standards, unfortunately that’s probably true; but then that’s because american christianity has become more of a cultural thing than a life changing following of Christ and giving up everything for His name’s sake.
    my advice? Don’t allow fear of man to control you. (gal 1:10) Do remember to speak the truth in love. (eph 4:15) And heap coals of fire (Rom 12) by continuing to be kind and love on those who are behaving as modern day pharisees. =) not that I’ve got this down by any means.. =P I totally go through this same thought process!
    and I know, you weren’t looking for advice, but you know me, gotta toss in my two cents. =)

  • Jeffrey  On April 5, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    Thanks Renee. I always value your opinion, and I know the advice is in love. Def. appreciated.

    And I COMPLETELY agree about American Christianity. Likely something coming down the line about that, actually.

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