My life is surrounded by words. My days are spent in the word of God, and there I learn truth and power. My weeks are spent speaking this word to others, trying to take the power that has changed my life and give it away to others. I am a writer, so I weave words and turn phrases in order to point to the secret places of the human heart. I am a man who lives and works and plays with words.
I am also a mean man, which is not a good combination. My first instinct is to form words into a knife, not a tourniquet.
And then I open the windows to see what is happening on Facebook world, and I am still surprised. I am still surprised how we call whole groups of people we don’t know terrible names. I am still surprised to see the followers of Jesus following the false shepherds of politics and Americana. I am still surprised at the amount of misinformation flooding forth from people I know and love.
My first instinct is to call out the mistakes. I want a reaction that is as strong as the voice of the one yelling. I want to outscream them, outmanuveur them, use words to flank their argument and destroy their armies. That is what I want to do. And I am still surprised at myself. That I add to the noise. That I think I’m right about everything. That I get sucked in to all these worthless conversations. I am still surprised by my own pride and wrath.
There is this teaching in the Bible that I recall from my youth. “Be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.” Facebook pulls from me the exact opposite response. I want to be quick to speak. I don’t want to think. I don’t want to count the cost.
There is this invitation to be silent. I don’t have to give my two cents. I don’t have to be right. I don’t have to be the Twitter police. I don’t have to call out every wrongheaded thing online. There is a God in heaven, and I am not Him. So I put down my knife. I take the words I love so much and try to fashion them into something else. I try to build a compass to point home. I try to build a light to shine in the darkness. I build a house that all are welcome in.
There will be a time to talk. Of that I am certain. But it will not be in the crapstorm of Facebook. It will not be on a soapbox. It will not be at a stranger. It will be with another person who I can see and know. It will be spoken with great love and affection. And it will be spoken for God’s glory, not my own.
I see you in the crapstorm. Hopefully I will see you on the streets.
A fellow sojourner, Ernesto Alaniz.