Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.James 1:19-20 ESV
For a very long time…too long really, I’ve gotten this scripture backward. Very backward. I was REALLY quick to speak and REALLY slow to listen.
I would see something that triggered me (yes, conservatives get triggered – don’t let us tell you otherwise), especially on social media, and I would immediately take to the airwaves to let the world that was clearly wrong know just how right I was.
People would challenge me, I would ignore their challenges and keep beating that drum of mine, and ultimately I would get a lot of angry people shouting me down, mocking me, and calling me names.
Some would unfriend me.
Some would take to other threads to continue the bashing I was receiving.
Some would private message me to let me know exactly how much of a jerk I am.
Any challenge to my clearly right statement was met with statements to myself (or even to them) like:
“Well, clearly God has abandoned you to a debased mind or you would know what I’m saying.”
Or, I would convince myself that I must be experiencing what the bible calls “persecution” because so many people now hate me. The thinking process would look something like this:
If people hate me, then the passage where Jesus tells us that the world will hate us must be true because people are definitely hating me right now, therefore I must be doing the right thing and I’m just getting persecuted. It couldn’t POSSIBLY be anything else causing the response I got. Just a bunch of godless individuals who have been given over to their debased minds who do not understand truth because…you know…Romans 1:28-32.
If I had to convince myself that I was being persecuted, the likelihood of it being true was next to exactly ZERO.
But I’ve got a thick skull, and clearly I didn’t see it that way.
That is until October 31, 2017.
On this day I lost my job at a place I had been with for almost 10 years. I was working my way up. I was well respected (or so I thought). I was making decent money, and the benefits I received were so numerous and helpful for my family that my wife’s dream of being a stay at home homeschool mama could be a reality.
But back in September of that same year, I put things in to motion that would have a massive impact on me and my family…and probably countless others. And truth be told…it began long before that.
I’ll save you the details, but a dumb…immature…quick to speak and slow to listen version of myself took to Facebook and made some careless comments and another persons public thread that ultimately made their way back to my company.
So on Halloween day, 2017…I walked in a happy angry social media warrior Christian…and within less than an hour I walked back out an unemployed, depressed, and deflated good for nothing.
GROWTH IN THE PAIN
This was a devastating moment in my life. I brought it on myself. But even at that time, I tried to convince myself and others that my company was just clearly against my religious views and therefore I was once again being persecuted.
I spent 9 months unemployed.
I spent 9 months waking up, putting out hundreds of resumes, getting lots of rejection letters back, and going back to bed just as defeated as when I woke up.
But during these 9 months, God began a work in me that is still going on today almost 2 years later.
Honestly, I haven’t considered it until this very moment that I’m writing this, but those 9 months a lot like being pregnant….those 9 months were preparing me for a new version of me that I have never considered…much like being “reborn”…I spent 9 months in the dark to re-emerge a new man.
As I read these passages, these passages describing what a Christian looks like…I began to realize that I looked NOTHING like this. And it hits me…
OH MY GOD!
WHAT HAVE I BEEN DOING?
HOW MUCH TIME HAVE I WASTED BEING THIS ANGRY SELF RIGHTEOUS JACKASS INSTEAD OF THE KIND, GENTLE, TRUTH LOVING (BUT PEOPLE LOVING) CHRISTIAN THAT GOD HAD CALLED ME TO BE???
I immediately set out to reverse course. If I didn’t, the small iceberg I hit in October of 2017 would pale in light of whatever big iceberg I was heading toward.
And out of that pain….I grew.
I’m still growing. I’m not there yet. I’ve got a long way to go. But I see the direction I’m headed, and I think God is pleased with that because it looks more like His Son. At least that’s my hope.
THEY DON’T UNDERSTAND ME
It quickly became apparent to others that this wasn’t the same Brad as before. For better or worse, many folks began to take note.
Many have been encouraging and letting me know how much they have appreciated seeing the change in me.
Some…however…just didn’t and still don’t understand me or where I’m headed.
I’ve received numerous messages from folks concerned that I’m suddenly heading in a dangerous direction (which is interesting, because they didn’t seem to think the direction I was heading in before was dangerous…and even rooted me on in those times).
They expressed their concern.
They challenged me to do serious introspection (as if I hadn’t just spent over a year doing just that).
I’m not mad at them. I’m thankful they felt they could come to me with their concerns. But unfortunately, they just don’t understand me at the moment. Perhaps in time they will. Perhaps not. Who is to say?
This much I know though…the old me…I don’t like that guy.
I still struggle with him cropping up from time to time like some Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde situation going on. But he’s becoming easier to control because I’ve begun to really practice those things I found in the Bible about being peaceful, kind, gentle, slow to speak, and quick to listen.
A NEW DIRECTION
You may notice on this blog, at least from me, a new direction. I’m now on a mission.
I’m on a mission to:
- Hear people more. Like…really hear them.
- Be slower to speak (I REALLY suck at this one…pray for me?).
- Be more compassionate toward others.
- Speak and live truth but, do so in a way that is communicated through love, humility, kindness, and gentleness.
- See the church do better at loving people where they are at and leading people into truth in a respectful and loving way.
- Get outside of my own comfort zone and challenge my own biases and assumptions of others.
And a whole lot emore.
You may notice a change in the tone of my writing. I will be transparent about my own struggles (which I’ve been pretty good about), but be humble enough to not come across as though I’ve got this figured out and that it’s still work I have to do and that God has to do on me.
You may notice a change in the topics I choose to speak on. There’s a lot of truth to be spoken, and a lot of hot topics to hit. But I may not run directly to them like I used to like a vulture on a dead carcass.
You’ll probably see more.
But just know this…I’m still me…but at the same time…I’m not.
And I hope you are still you…but at the same time…not.
Together, may we grow closer to God, closer to one another, and closer to truth.