Thursday, March 26, 2009

To Re-friend the Un-friend.

A few weeks ago my seven year old daughter hacked into my Facebook account. I wasn't surprised that she was bright enough to achieve this, but I was disturbed that she knew my password. The night following the hacking I discovered several comments that she made under the guise of my profile. She commented on friends profiles, pictures, notes and status updates. Under one friend's status that read, "So and so is thankful for his wife of 15 years", my ever-honest child commented, "I'm glad you guys are happy because no one here is happy tonight." I was mortified to say the least.

The following day I discovered some recently posted pictures of a friend. These pictures were on my Facebook feed. I don't want to go into detail of what these were pictures of, but let's just say they were not appropriate for my daughter's eyes. As a matter of opinion, I don't feel they are appropriate for anyone's eyes. I don't know if she saw them. I hope not.

These pictures led me to ask...

why am I this person's Facebook buddy? Why exactly have I invited them into my digital reality and now allowed them to burn images into my mind and potentially my daughter's mind?

So, I un-friended.

Then, partially because I'm neurotic, I felt a pang of guilt. I became this person's friend out of nostalgia. They were a good friend to me in the past. I treasure the memories that we share. Nevertheless, we are both very different people now. I kept telling myself that I could somehow be a good influence or rekindle a long lost friendship. I think I was lying to myself.

Not everyone is like me. I'm conservative, fairly boring by our society's standards and I'm a Christian. These three things set me apart from the majority of Facebook users, I assume. I don't like labels. I really don't like it when people try to force me into a box or role or stereotype, but the fact is I've made the decision in my life to be a Christian. I don't want to hide that. I don't want to pretend that I haven't made that choice. I don't feel I should have to.

My Christianity sets me apart, but so does being a parent. I have standards to uphold not only to serve my chosen God, not only to protect myself, but also to protect my children from images and things that will harm them.

I was the kid in school who was so nerdy that I actually asked the question, "Seriously, why can't everyone get along?" I still don't understand social hierarchies. I rebel against them. I hate ignorant prejudices that hide behind political affiliations. I believe being a Christian is to love whoever, whenever, wherever...all the time...regardless. I will teach this to my children.

BUT, what I will not do is to teach my children to justify filling their mind with damaging content with the hope of a few nostalgic moments or the false assumption that typing the word "Christian" on your profile is all you must do to demonstrate your faith.

I still love my old friend. I hurt when I think of the choices that he/she makes with their life. I wish them the very best, but as much as I love them I can't bring what they sell into my home or my heart.

When I consider Jesus and the relational choices he made, the pang of guilt grows strong. Jesus spent his days with the Roman IRS, prostitutes, murderers, loud mouths, blue collar folk, and the educated elite. Jesus revealed no partiality. However, here is where the guilt ends. Jesus changed and challenged those around him. Each person that chose to follow Christ gave up their former preoccupations, otherwise they were left behind. If you doubt it see the passage the tells the story of the rich young man in Matthew 19.

I don't want to hide behind the farce of political correctness to justify harmful relationships or to silence my Christian faith. If I'm politically incorrect for un-friending someone...fine. I've said it before and I'll say it allegiance and affiliation is to Christ and Christ alone. I want my standards to match his. Unfortunately, in order to do that I must make choices that might offend or hurt the feelings of old friends. I am willing to do that for Jesus and my kids.

I don't want to take Facebook so seriously that I fake myself into believing that I can have a profound influence on an old friend's spirituality by being a digital connection or sending them a birthday calendar invitation. I also don't want to downplay the importance of living out one's Christianity in every facet of life...even Facebook...even when it hurts.

Maybe the best way to have an impact on an old friend is to un-friend.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

It is surprising...

what my acquaintances believe plagues me while attempting grad school and at the same time parenting three young kids. I've heard mention of the struggles of getting focused on deeper texts when normally my media intake involves puppets or animation. I've also been asked how I keep my house clean or my family fed. Neither of these would happen if I didn't have an amazing husband who tolerates me and the messy house and even cleans for me at times. Of course, I've also been accused of plopping my kiddos in front of the Disney channel for hours at a time. I'm not going to lie. This has been the case during my finals or while I'm writing a big paper, but much to the chagrin of my critics, I do most of my grad work/writing during quiet time, otherwise known to parents as, nap time. Today I was attempting to do just this.

I've decided to let you in on the truth. The primary difficulty of studying during the quiet time of two little boys is this...

1. My computer is situated at one end of the house and their room is at the other... beside the bathroom.

2. You never really know when they are asleep or if they are really truly in their room. Those little sock feet are amazingly stealth.

So, my friends, the most trying aspect of grad school during quiet hour is the daily treasures that I find in the toilet when the hour comes to a close.

Here is a run down of what I found today in our family potty:

1 20 oz. plastic cup
1 Jasmine (from Aladdin) Pez dispenser
1 small plastic toy cocker spaniel
15 plastic wrappers that once surrounded 15 rose scented bath fizzies
a mountain of pink rose scented bath fizzy foam
1 pair of child size scissors
1 green Veggie Tales toothbrush

There you have it. This is what plaques me...a clogged toilette. Luckily for me I own a plunger, rubber gloves, and a slotted spoon which is never used for cooking.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Prodigal(s).

Here he comes again; the prodigal son returns. Kill the fattened calf. Plan the party. In the background stands the loyal son always laboring for his dad’s affirmation questioning, “What just happened here? He’s getting a barbecue? I have worked my tail off my whole life, and you give HIM the party.”

I never really rebelled. I never really questioned authority figures, never sowed wild oats, never really upset my parents. I was always just there. Caryn, the “good one”; Caryn, the “prude”; that is who I was/am to many people. I fear embarrassment, disappointing the people around me, and following rules always makes sense to me.

Nowadays, I have an amazing marriage and three precocious and wonderful children. I am a minister’s wife. I am still the good one, the loyal friend, the loving wife, and the crazed young mom.

I have heard the story of the prodigal son more than once as the story is retold again and again through media in various formats. I have heard hundreds of sermons on it and every time I walk away feeling sad for the loyal son. I relate to him.

One of my temptations is to question everything. I don't intend to be disrespectful with questioning. I sincerely want explanations. This is how I see the loyal son. "Explain to me again, Dad, why it's so important to celebrate someone who has hurt you over and over again?" The dad explains it simply..."Everything I have is yours, son, everything. Isn't that enough?"

For years, I would let this story anger me, questioning the logic of rejoicing over a rebellious loser who only comes home because he has reached the refuse pit in life and has no where else to go. So the prodigal returns…to mooch…then leave again on the same path he crawled in on, so I thought.

I didn’t get it.

Today, I hope I am a little wiser. Today, I see why that daddy rejoiced and held a banquet for a son he thought he’d never see again.

While I don’t completely understand everyone’s struggles in life, I do recognize that everyone struggles differently with different things. The same temptation I have to go get my third brownie of the day…yes I said third…may be the same temptation someone else has to hook up with their third sex partner of the day. Everyone has a different struggle. Mine, as you can tell, has often been to judge everyone else’s trouble but my own.

Coming home after overeating is one thing, but coming home after wrecking your family emotionally over and over again is quite another. Confessing to overeating is cake…pardon the pun. Confessing to a life of lies and deception is a nightmare. Sometimes our sins only affect us, other times our sins wound countless numbers.

Jesus came and died to clean up all of us; brownie bingers and child-molesters… all of us. That is hard to hear isn’t it? It is hard to comprehend a God that holds us all accountable with our own abilities and with our own struggles, and yet is still just.

Confessing is a humbling business. One must be completely stripped of pride to take the walk home and then to look into their families eyes and hear, “Welcome, we’ve missed you.”

There are some experiences in life where we stand in the loyal son’s shoes. We choose whether or not to forgive. We are after all not the judge, nor the jury. We are, instead, the party planners, the brothers who set the table and wait anxiously to serve the meal. The loyal son, in my mind, learned how to act from the father.

The Father wants all of us to be willing to come home. He wants all of us to strip down our pride, admit to our weakness and stand before him flawed, yet loved. He is waiting with arms wide open. It doesn’t matter how big the transgression is. It also doesn’t matter how small. We made up the sin size charts…He did not.

In the end of all things, we are all the prodigals. We all make the choice whether or not to come home.