Author Archives: stephishungry

Picking Up The Pieces of Chick-Fil-A-Gate

DISCLAIMER: THE CONTENTS OF THIS POST REPRESENT MY THOUGHTS/OPINIONS AND NOT NECESSARILY THE THOUGHTS/OPINIONS OF THE OTHER WRITERS OF THIS BLOG.

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To this point, I don’t believe I have ever directly referenced the fact that I am a Christian. This is not because I am trying to hide it or am embarrassed by it, but because that is not the point of this blog. While my faith is the filter for every aspect of my life, this blog is a homemaking blog, and my aim is to provide food for thought, advice, and embarrassing anecdotes from my life as a wife, mother and homemaker. While many of our readers are followers of Christ as well, there are readers of this blog who do not put themselves in that category, and they need to read about the ridiculous messes my kids get themselves into and my advice on what gear should outfit their kitchen as much as the next guy. It’s my belief that bringing every post back to my faith convictions will lead to 4smartypants only reaching people in the same camp, and there are plenty of those blogs out there already. (Not to discredit any such blogs, but that simply is not the purpose of THIS blog.)

That being said, it is with much fear and trepidation that I put this post out there on the interwebs. I am greatly saddened by the events of August 1st. As I watched my newsfeed yesterday, my heart grew heavier and heavier. I am trying ever so hard to choose my words very carefully with regard to this situation, because there are so many people whom I love dearly who fall on each side of Chick-Fil-A-Gate, and I don’t want anyONE of them to feel attacked or degraded by my feelings about it.

The sweet 19 year old kid who lives next door to us is an aspiring musician. He is not just aspiring, the guy’s got chops. This kid is good. He has played some of his recent recordings for us and they are really impressive. (As a stay-at-home mom, I rarely get to use my hard-earned bachelor degree, so I’m going to tout my credentials at this juncture and point out that my opinion is a professional opinion, as I have a degree in music. That felt good to say, thanks for letting me get that out.) In fact, a record company is currently working with him and I believe that before too long, everyone will be hearing his music on the radio. And I’ll have my autographed copy and be able to say, “That guy was our neighbor!” You will likely be jealous of my brush with fame. He is a really sweet kid and he adores his younger brother. He is very good to his momma, who is a hard-working single mom trying to finish nursing school while working 3 jobs. It’s taken about a year to learn this much about him and to get to the point that he feels comfortable coming over to our house. I believe this is because my husband is a church planter (if you don’t know what that means, he is a pastor who is working to begin new churches) and the kid next door is gay. Right off the bat we were at a disadvantage in trying to get to know our neighbor, because the interactions he’s had with christians to this point have lead him to the conclusion that living next door to a pastor is a hostile environment for him.

The thing is, he is a REAL PERSON. In the last few days as I’ve observed the Facebook traffic regarding Dan Cathy’s statement and the recoil from officials in a couple of big cities and the outpouring of support from the christian community, I’ve had a lot of thoughts/reactions/feelings. I’ve composed status updates, only to hit “share” and then delete the post 2 minutes later in hopes the fewest number of people possible saw it before I removed it from the feed. I’ve written heated comments on other peoples’ posts, only to hit “cancel” before going through with my protest to their musings. But I have wondered at every point, “How aware are my fellow christians that their reaction is affecting REAL PEOPLE?”

In all honesty, I have no qualms with the statement made by Mr. Cathy. I do believe in the right to free speech. And in his defense, he was ASKED what he thought. He was put on the spot, and he gave his honest answer. The thing that is breaking my heart over the issue is the solidarity with which christians rose up to defend him in response to the call for a boycott. It was like believers didn’t even need to think twice about taking their stand. I am a big fan of standing up for what you believe in, but I am also a big fan of thinking twice, especially when there is enough time to do so before acting. And there was. There were several days between to call to observe Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day and the day in question. But that time seemed to only garner more and more support from the christian community, rather than cause christians to stop and count the cost.

The problem I face is that I KNOW so many of these people who proudly made their stand yesterday, and I know their hearts. They are good, wonderful people, whom I have loved for years. They are people who have been good, and kind and generous to me and my family. I know that when they spent 3 hours waiting for a chicken sandwich in the heat yesterday, it was because they felt they were either A: defending Dan Cathy’s constitutional right to freedom of speech, or B: defending family values in America. I sincerely don’t question their motives. But I am COMPELLED to say something. (At this point in the blog post, if you are not a christian, you may want to skip ahead. This is directed at those readers who share my faith and are bound by the same convictions.) Where do we get the notion that we are entitled to a government that supports our beliefs? What has given us the idea that whether or not the people of our nation AGREE with what we hold true, they should be forcibly bound to uphold our values? How on earth is THAT biblical? And what’s more, if we were truly concerned with defending “family values,” we would be FIGHTING TOOTH AND NAIL anything and anyone that advocates DIVORCE, because that is a force that is doing FAR MORE to destroy family values than gay marriage. Where is the solidarity on that front?! I’ll tell you where it is, it’s nowhere, because each of us has loved ones (or ourselves, even) who have faced that ugly giant, and we’d rather pretend that we’ve forgotten divorce is wrong that to confront it. If you believe that God defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, then how does the American government recognizing marriages between 2 men or 2 women affect you? It doesn’t!! If God defines something, you have no reason to feel threatened by anyone else’s definition of it. As far as you’re concerned it’s just a formality that allows certain legal rights to 2 people. We were never promised that the laws of our country would reflect our spiritual convictions. Why do you feel so entitled to that? We were actually told to expect things to be difficult for us, but we throw whiny fits everytime everyone doesn’t want to do things our way.

The biggest problem that comes from this mess is this: we are out of line. Yes, freedom of speech is our RIGHT. No, Dan Cathy was not in the wrong. But we overstepped our boundary when we made it about defending him. Because in doing so we flip-flopped the order of importance. If we believe what the bible says, then we know we are here for a purpose. There is a reason for our existence, WE HAVE A MISSION and it is love. There is no tiny bit of the love of Christ that was shown to the world yesterday as a result of our actions. Instead, we showed a group of hurting, dejected children of God that “You were right, christians are more concerned with their rights than with loving you.” You know how the saying goes, “They will know we are christians by our incessant demand for our rights.” I remember one guy from the bible who found himself being horribly mistreated and sentenced to his death unjustly, and not once did he say, “That’s not fair! What about my rights?! You can’t do this to me!” Because he LOVED more than he cared about his rights.

Yesterday, christians all across America chose to stand for their rights above pursuing their mission. And the message was received loud and clear. When we put rights above mission, our mission fails. And defending our rights isn’t even close to why we’re here. Priorities, people. I’m all for defending our rights as long as it doesn’t compromise our mission. And now we are left with an even longer road to travel if we hope to even have the chance to show the love of Christ to those hurt by our “stand” yesterday.

And now I can’t enjoy a Spicy Chicken Sandwich at Chick-Fil-A at least until the dust settles for fear one of my gay friends will think I’m making a statement to them by doing so. What about me? What about my rights to a freaking awesome chicken sandwich? Thanks a lot.

So I gather that a lot of people went to bed last night, proud of their contribution. And while I know in my heart that they are wonderful people who love Jesus, I am now left to clean up their mess. There’s a REAL PERSON next door whom I hope will still talk to us and not assume that the pastor living next to him is in the same camp as the hoards who chose defending rights over loving people yesterday.

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JUST SAY NO (LESS)

The other day I was making dinner while my 3 year old daughter Campbell was playing in the kitchen. She was repeatedly opening and closing the dishwasher door, which had no dishes in it at the time. I told her “Campbell, stop doing that and go find something to play with.” As she walked away, it dawned on me, I didn’t really have a reason for telling her to stop. She wasn’t slamming the dishwasher door or doing anything with the potential to damage the dishwasher in any way. There were no dishes in it, clean or dirty, so there was no chance she was going to hurt herself on something sharp inside, like a knife or food processor blade. She wasn’t even in my way while cooking! I was on the other side of the kitchen. She was just being a curious 3 year old, and she was enjoying exploring something while being near her mommy. And I made her stop for no reason.

As I thought about this situation, I began to identify a myriad of activities throughout the day to which I put a needless end. I say no a lot! I think I have it on auto, I just say no without even thinking. I don’t think it was always like this, but over time I’ve settled into a habit of telling my kids not to do things that honestly are hurting anyone. 

What effect must this have on them?  What am I teaching them? “Adeline, you don’t need to unfold your sandwich to eat it.” “Anderson, don’t hold the computer mouse while you’re watching the show.” “Campbell, get out of the exersaucer.” Why? Adeline still eats the sandwich, whether she opens it and digs around at the peanut butter with her finger or not. Anderson doesn’t throw the mouse around or damage it in anyway, he just wants to hold it because he’s enthralled with technology. Campbell, although she is 3 years old, doesn’t weigh anymore than many 1 year olds, she’s not in danger of tearing up the exersaucer.

The bottom line is, at the end of the day, I often feel run down and a little guilty over the way I parented, and I often couldn’t tell you why. I think the reason is that I’ve just squashed their little curious and creative spirits by telling them no so much. I would guess some of you experience the same feelings. Now, there are things we should certainly say no to and behaviors we should definitely stop. But what if we took a chill pill and just let them do some of the things that really aren’t a big deal? As I type this, Anderson is singing at the top of his lungs some ridiculous made up tune with nonsense syllables. I am fighting the urge to tell him to sing quieter. Why should he sing quieter? The babies are not asleep, he isn’t bothering anyone. Let him sing.

The truth is, I feel great about my parenting when I choose to give them freedom. I enjoy seeing what silly things they try to do, and the ways they explore their world. They are fascinating to watch, and they’re having a great time. I don’t want to impress upon them the thought that every little fun thing they want to do is wrong and should be stopped. They are little kids, with perfect little imaginations. Maybe Campbell was exploring the sound that is made by opening and closing the dishwasher door, and I ended her experiment. I don’t want to be that mom. I want to be the mom who says “go ahead” more often than “no.” I want to be the mom who encourages her kids to make up their own little games and explore sounds and sights and (within reasonj) jump off different objects in the house to practice their landings. 

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I have to tell you, after a few days of paying attention to how often I say no and making a real effort to say it less, I don’t feel as run down and guilty at the day’s end. My kids don’t seem as frustrated, either.

Do you struggle with saying no? I challenge you to spend the next week saying no less. See if you don’t feel like a weight has been lifted. It’s liberating!

Can you think of anything in the last few days you’ve told your kids not to do that really wasn’t hurting anyone/anything? Tell us your stories!

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