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Occasional ramblings and writings. Occasional being the optimal word.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

I think Col. Jessep was right

On Tuesday, was I was writing my previous post, I text/instant messaged a few people to see if they were available to read the post before I put it up.
The people I contacted were either away from their email, or they didn’t respond, so I posted it anyway.

What I found was that while there were plenty of people online, I was looking only for people who I knew were going to tell me that it was good, and not anyone who would offer constructive criticism or suggestions.

I didn’t want the truth—I wanted someone to agree with me and tell me what I had written was indeed the best thing ever.

That’s not very conducive to the creative process or to life in general. Where would we be if we only had people around us who told us what we wanted to hear?

This can go for any facet of life. If everyone agreed with us and told us what we wanted to hear, we’d all be wearing clothes that make us look fat, have jacked-up hairstyles, and be with totally the wrong partners.

Now, there’s a difference between offering real, constructive opinions/advice and being a d-bag about it. Criticizing someone, cutting them down, or making them feel like they’re worth less than they are is mean-spirited and totally uncalled for.

I don’t want to advocate lying, but there are some instances where withholding the truth can be beneficial. It all depends on your relationship with the person. David Sedaris says, “Real love amounts to withholding the truth, even when you’re offered the perfect opportunity to hurt someone’s feelings.” Although this is a comic quote, there’s a grain of truth to it. If you truly do love someone, then you know when something is going to hurt their feelings. I suppose you don’t have to outright lie to them, but maybe you can find another way to tell them what they need to hear.

In applying this to faith, I think so many of us want a God that’s going to bless us, but not at the cost of having to follow His commands or not at the cost of 10% of our paycheck. We want God to tell us what we want to hear.

We want a Bible that tells us by the stripes of Jesus we are healed and that wealth and riches shall be in our house, but not that we’ve all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God or that there are so many things that can keep us from inheriting the kingdom of God [Galatians 5:19-21].

We want a church that’s got good music and good preaching, but not one that’s going to challenge us, convict us, and make us question ourselves and help us grow by way of a sometimes painful process.

I read a quote once that said pain is just weakness leaving the body. The truth can hurt, but the pain isn’t so much weakness leaving as it is wisdom, understanding, and experience being implanted—especially if it comes from a trusted and loving source.

Of course, there’s always the saying that goes if you can’t stand to hear the answer, don’t ask the questions. But, if you do that, the only person whose opinion you’ll have to rely in is your own and you’re a lot harder on yourself than anyone else.

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