Why you shouldn’t believe everything I say


Brain things / Thursday, August 30th, 2018

Today I have a real confession for you:

I don’t always tell the truth.

I don’t know if I’ve ever told you so, in so many words, and that’s why I’m going to confess it now: Not everything I say is right.

Oh, I think it is… I try my hardest to make sure everything I write on this blog is cross-checked, Scriptural, honest, and within the lines of what happened. I try. But I have a little secret for you: Because I am human, a good percentage of what I believe is mistaken.

Do you know that to be true? If it weren’t true, I would be Jesus.

Or the Buddha, if I’m wrong about that part too.

{Never mind – I’m just trying to make you laugh.}

By this point you may be saying Duh, we know that. Of course you are fallible. Observe the ridiculous joke about alternate religion in the lines above. But I am talking about the issue today because it is a constant stress point for me as a writer.

We humans have a problem: we believe the people who say the things we like to hear. It’s easy for you to believe me when I say what you already know, or what you’ve always suspected, or what validates your own experiences, or what frees you to do what you want to do. The world is full of people, and at any given time, a few of those people will always be saying exactly what you want to hear.

The world is getting more confusing and more polarized every day. More people are getting on soapboxes, on the world wide web and in real life. More women are taking positions of public leadership. Blogging, for example, allows me (as a Mennonite pastor’s wife) a platform to preach that real life has not – and never will. And I wrestle with my responsibility.

Will you still believe me if I’m wrong? What if I go off the deep end on an issue, and take you along? Are you chewing what I and others are saying, spitting out the seeds and bad spots, or just swallowing?

These are not idle fears.

I have seen little good come, and much harm, when a woman is set up as wise or holy, repeatedly told how good and how smart she is and how God is just using her to bless so many people. But I and other women I love find ourselves in that slippery position now, unsure of how to get out of it. Something about our femininity makes us extra vulnerable to the temptation. Look at how wise you’ll be, my dear.

I’ve seen women get so full of their own wisdom (I mean the Holy Spirit’s wisdom. Through them.) that they become unable to yield to anybody. I am terrified of this happening to me. We would not say so aloud, but in our kind and spiritual ways we can know better than our husbands, better than our pastors, better even than the Scriptures. I’ve watched families leave their churches because Mom gently pointed out all the things that were wrong with the picture until everyone else, including Dad, believed her. I’ve watched a Christian blogger leave her husband (while in the middle of writing a book on lasting love), come out as a lesbian, give herself in marriage to another woman, and call it grace. She begged her congregation of readers to “come close” and be gentle to her over this time, to believe in her that she was being true to herself, that she was listening to the Inner Voice that never guides wrongly. It was lies from hell – utter rubbish – but they bought it.

Which says something about the trouble we are in.

I need you to promise me something: not to come close and be gentle to me, but to tell me it’s rubbish when it’s rubbish. You must hold what I say up to the Light, and when I’m in the wrong, you must find what is right and speak it. Contrarian voices have been God’s painful, merciful gift to me.

I am being redeemed by Jesus, but I am often in error – not theoretically, not “if it ever happens,” but now. In many concrete ways. Thanks for remembering it and for helping me grow.

Love,

Shari


The Christian blogger I referenced is Glennon Doyle Melton. I could link to the posts but I don’t want to; you can find them if you feel they would do you some good. There are plenty of smaller examples closer to home.

Some of the things I said here may have made you wince because they touched people you love. I am sorry. You may tell me if I am in the wrong.

25 Replies to “Why you shouldn’t believe everything I say”

  1. Yes. We women are vulnerable. Whether we’re bloggers or teachers or wives or mothers or just girls.
    “We humans have a problem. We believe the people that say the things we like to hear.”

    Precisely why we need to be saturated in THE WORD, every day. And not twisting the word of Christ and calling it grace. But surrendering self and loving Jesus enough to Hear his word and act on it. His commandments are not grievous.

    You speak the truth today Shari.

  2. So true! Thank you for your confession. Isn’t it a fearful and awesome place we hold as women? As humans for that matter. No one we can trust entirely but God. We must lean heavily on Him. And then I find myself NOT doing that. Bless you as you journey.

  3. Praise the Lord! I’ve spent plenty of time mulling this over. Glad you addressed it. God did give us the capacity for wisdom and the ability to teach.. our children and other ladies. Can we realize the weight of these responsibilities? And, if our “own wisdom” doesn’t marinate down into our own hearts, it’s worthless. More thoughts, but aggravated toddler yells..

  4. I wouldn’t be surprised if men were just as prone to these problems as women. For what it’s worth, many scientists believe that testosterone makes people less apt to admit that they’re wrong (those studies make interesting reading). Men may have many leadership advantages, but I don’t think humility is one of them. Also, people may often feel more comfortable questioning women, and women might be more likely to say things like you’re saying in this blog. To me, this post of yours is very feminine, not masculine, unfortunately.

    Think of how many male preachers and leaders have fallen. Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, Bill Gothard, off the top of my head – but if you google ‘fallen christian leaders’, the numbers are astonishing. Of course many female leaders fall too. In the areas of sexual and violent temptation, at least, male leaders seem weaker.

    Actually a lot of studies suggest that women are better leaders than men. A quote from one: “Women outperformed men in four of the five categories studied: initiative and clear communication; openness and ability to innovate; sociability and supportiveness; and methodical management and goal-setting. However men did appear to be better than women at dealing with work-related stress and they had higher levels of emotional stability.” Something to consider..

    1. Thanks for these thoughts, Gemma. Like I said, I may be wrong on this… I’ve never been a man, so I don’t feel qualified to speak for their side of the question. 🙂

      Maybe no people were built to live on pedestals… so many fall hard from them, as you said. I guess whether I’m man or woman, unless I am under authority myself, I have little to teach others that is worth listening to.

      But I still observe, harking back to the original temptation of Eve, that women from the beginning have had to wrestle with their desire to be Wise, and specifically, to be Wiser Than. Sometimes it leads us into deception. (I Tim 2) Women have gifts that can equip us to be quality leaders; we also are specifically called (more than men) to submission and respect. Balancing the two is not impossible – I’ve seen it done well – but it is tricky! 🙂

  5. Thank you Shari for your honesty. It’s very true that we as women are easily deceived. I think that’s why I don’t do the women’s Bible study at church because some studies are written by people I’m not too sure about. There are popular women authors and speakers that women I know flock to their conferences and these speakers are definitely women I would follow.
    Shari, I’ve been a reader of your blog for less than a year but as far as I can tell, you haven’t written anything that makes me want to hit you upside the head with my hardcover Bible.😊

  6. “We would not say so aloud, but in our kind and spiritual ways we can know better than our husbands, better than our pastors, better even than the Scriptures.” Ouch.

  7. Okay, I hear what you’re saying. At least I think I understand. And I do agree. I don’t want to be the Mom who points out all the things that are wrong in the church until her whole family leaves. But please, please, please write a follow-up post and tell me what to do instead. Because I don’t know what to do with the things that seem wrong to me in my church or in my husband’s theology. Should I assume that it is my own thinking that is wrong and that my husband or my church leaders are always right? Should I really stop thinking because I’m afraid that my thinking might be in error? If so, why did God give me a mind and tell me to love Him with all of it?

    1. I hear you! 🙁 But if I had a good answer for you, I would be a lot smarter than I am. (And making a whole lot more money.) The truth is I don’t know –

      All authorities are in error at times. Yet as I read Scripture, it seems God puts a higher premium on my respectful obedience than on my theological correctness.

      I don’t have a problem with some private whining now and then. Honest struggle between husband and wife, or among church members, is healthy to a point. What I don’t like finding in my heart is the unwillingness to let it go unless it goes my way (What is submission if we always agree?), or worse, the secret sense that I’m on a higher plane of holiness while I’m critiquing – because I’m critiquing.

      In answer to your question, here are the only things I’ve experienced that I know for sure to be right: 1. Less words, more fervent prayer. 2. And never to turn off parts of my heart/mind/soul in order to be more pleasing to God. You are right: He said he wants it ALL.

  8. So glad you addressed this, Shari. I was saying “Amen” all the way through. I struggle with this as a blogger. I’m always glad to hear from readers who say kind, encouraging things about my writing. But it scares me to be held up as someone who is a “blessing.” I want to be a blessing to others, but only as I point out Jesus who blesses. I’m deathly afraid of the damage pride can do to my soul – and to others. Far wiser men and women than I have fallen hard because of the deception of pride.

    Keep speaking truth. Even when it is hard to hear.

    Seeking God’s truth together.
    Gina

  9. I love your brutal honesty…. I have often wondered if as the ” weaker vessels” ( no I have not learned to love that term) we are actually the stronger one in marriage. I came to that question by watching the devastation a wife goes through when she is cheated on. As I grew up, I decided that a wife could never damage her husband to the same extent.
    But then I got married.
    And I discovered that as women, we have the ability to connive against our husbands and they are rarely a match for it. We plot how to say things so that he will think This. And after he thinks This, we will give it a couple more weeks and very good coffee and submit willingly about lots and then we will bring up That. Our minds are so full of multitasking, elastic and intuition that we hardly know that we are manipulating but we ARE. We can ruin our husband’s life and happiness and never cheat on him.
    Perhaps I simply discovered this late but I don’t remember reading or hearing about this huge problem in Mennonite marriages. We look so sweet and kind and loyal and make such good bread.
    I have noticed a distinct nervousness from men in preaching about a wife’s role ( do preachers’ wives tell them not to???) and I sit quietly and think ” why don’t you sizzle us with something more than being a help meet?”
    And so yes, I loved your words…. maybe you could share some more on this.

  10. I am not familiar with the Christian blogger you reference, but I am wary of connecting the devil to someone’s sexual orientation. My good friend, a lesbian, has shared with me how dangerous airport bathrooms have become for her. People have mistakenly assumed that my very tall and short haired friend is a male using a women’s restroom. She has been verbally harassed and threatened, probably from someone that sits in church on Sunday. It makes me sad.

    1. Hi Marie, thanks for your caution here. I am very sorry to have come across to you as I did.

      Just to be clear, it is not her sexual orientation that I was linking to Satan. I understand that people struggle here, and though I believe that pursuing the lifestyle is sin, I wish for more compassion and less horror in Christian hearts regarding homosexuality. My heart hurts for people like your friend.

      It was not this that I intended to target. What I said was “lies from hell:” her insistence that her own “Inner Voice” was inerrant, and she should “be true” to it, wherever it took her. She was using Biblical language about the Holy Spirit to blanket-approve her own heart’s desires and selfishness in whatever she wanted to pursue. I honestly found it blasphemous. That’s what made me angry, and that was the devilish lie I was referring to.

      Thanks again. I appreciate your comment – God bless. Shari

  11. This post has my thoughts hurtling through a web of interconnected themes. I wonder if meekness may be the connection between them all. James 3 would confirm your fears are appropriate. 2 Peter 1 would show that knowledge is not the pinnacle we give it. Romans 12 places our means of influence into context. Colossians 3 emphasizes the need for the centrality of Christ. 1 Timothy 1 echoes your observations of misused platforms (or soapboxes). 2 Timothy 4 confirms your thoughts on us believing people who say what we want to hear. I have found myself on various ends of the themes you touched on, but I am oh so grateful for the Spirit of Christ that keeps correcting me.

  12. This resonated with me both as a woman who has idealized other women and as a woman who is sometimes idealized by others.
    My impression is that when we find someone who just GETS us and also is so very NICE, we will justify almost anything she says and does.
    Terrifying.
    I’ve learned to be grateful (eventually) for the times I fall flat on my face. They are the mercy of God reminding me who I am and what I’m made of, and how utterly I need his grace.

  13. Thanks for the good post Shari. You pointed it at women but there is much for everyone. I wanted to share my appreciation especially for one quote. “I’ve seen women get so full of their own wisdom (I mean the Holy Spirit’s wisdom. Through them.) that they become unable to yield to anybody.” I try to avoid these couples. These women tend to make angry husbands, and then seek sympathy for their hard life.

    I like to think of the saying, “Behind every good man is a good wife.” Maybe those who have doubts of their husbands should do some self introspection.

    Shana said it very well.

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