I’ve seen this meme pop up on my Facebook newsfeed over the past few weeks, and each friend who has posted it is Christian. These are all friends whom I admire and respect, they are not malicious people. What I think perhaps happened, in the moments before they pressed ‘share’ was that they didn’t quite evaluate the possible implications of their actions, they saw only momentary humour.
The problem is, this isn’t really funny. This meme, and ones like it, are hurtful at best, and critically damaging to relationships at worst.
What these people, in my opinion, have done, is broken connection and struck themselves off the list of potential confidants to those struggling with gender identity issues.
Imagine if it were you were struggling with this issue.
It’s one of those hot button topics at the moment, especially within the church, and it can be easy to get caught up in media hype and lose sight of the individuals truly affected by this discussion.
Imagine if you were immersed in a Christian culture and found yourself hurting, alone, confused, misunderstood, and you happened upon one of these posts?
I don’t know how I’d feel, this isn’t one of my many struggles, I can only imagine how I might feel. I imagine that meme may further compound the isolation I was already experiencing. I can also imagine that I would not view the person expressing those hurtful views as someone who was ‘safe’, someone who could be trusted with my journey and it’s vast complexities.
We must learn to value relationship.
God places a pretty high value on relationship with humankind, and He did something pretty drastic to prove it, to ensure that relationship was reconnected, reconciled; Jesus!
We too must learn to protect relationship.
We too must learn to protect connection.
Imagine if we put as much energy and effort into trying to maintain connection with people, as we do trying to maintain a wifi connection to post the kind of junk that would potentially drive them away?
Hurting people, confused people, questioning people, do not need our misguided, poorly seasoned ‘humour’, they need our support.
Christians are supposed to be the most loving people on earth, but we repel people with our ill thought out humour and our ignorance, fearing perhaps that understanding, tolerance and empathy mean we will be forced to compromise our beliefs. It won’t. Choosing to nurture and extend compassion, and empathy does not mean you have to condone what you may believe to be ‘sin’.
People matter. People’s feelings matter. People’s struggles matter.
A quick, cheap laugh is not worth the loss of relationship with someone. It is not worth the loss of potential future opportunity to be a person of trust and support in the life of another.
Maybe our gesture to show we value connection is no gesture at all.
Instead sacrificing the little things; a cheap laugh, a social media ‘thumb’s up’, and moving our finger away from ‘share’, just long enough to ponder the gift that lies beyond…
There are many blessed gifts in this beautiful yet oft difficult life, and one of them is the feeling you experience when you have been given the honour of holding someone’s confidence.
To be trusted with someone’s pain, insecurity, struggle and of course joy, is a feeling that can’t be matched by social media ego boost highs.
I met with a beautiful young woman for coffee recently (I know, tough life, someone’s gotta do it). She grew up in the church, but realised from a young age that she was different. She is gay. No not trans-gender, and no I’m not trying to equate the two, I merely mention it to demonstrate my thoughts on connection.
At present, this young woman no longer believes in God, and yet for 2 hours we talked God and different religions. We talked church, the universe, relationships, family, psychedelics, science, astronomy, mindfulness, epiphanies, and never once in this beautiful and privileged exchange did I feel that my convictions were compromised through our connection. And I sincerely hope she would say the same.
(And yes, I asked her permission before posting this.)
I love my wifi connection, I love social media, I love to laugh. But I love people more!
I don’t stand in judgement saying I’m perfect and I’ve totally nailed this whole relationship business. I sit, curled up on my lounge, purring cat by my side, clumsily index-finger-stabbing/typing via Notes on my iPhone (tech savviness and über dexterity all the way), saying only what’s on my heart, and acknowledging that I too am so guilty of these social media blunders. I am the queen of the ‘hindsight status delete’. But each day, I grow a little more aware, and each day I reap the reward, the gift.
You’re special. You’re precious. You deserve a gift too. And I hope and pray you attain this experience of in the form of a beautiful connection!