Speaking My Mind

Growing up, I was taught some important lessons.

Work hard
Respect your elders
Reading is knowledge &

If you can’t say anything nice… Don’t say anything at all.

Sometimes that last one can be forgotten.  My quick temper and fiery tongue can get me a in a world of hurt if I am not too careful. I sometimes forget that folks don’t think like I do, and here’s a big one… they may not value the things I do.

Sunday I witnessed bullying in it’s ugliest form…. social media trolling. I belong to a Facebook Group of 21,000 members called Hike The Smokies.  This social media group allows us who hike and love the Smoky Mountains, to share our experiences, knowledge, history, and pictures of our beloved mountains.

One member on Sunday posted a picture from a recent hike he had taken. This was his first solo hike, (which really is a big deal) and as he stopped to take a break he started to reflect. The picture was of a water bottle, a bible, and small handgun.  He explained that all three were items he hiked with.

“All three can change you life, one will protect your life, one can save your life, and one can give you eternal life. One can take a life, but only one can give you a “new” life.Two of them can quench my thirst and fill my soul. One of them I would have no eternal life without, yet for this same item I would lay down my life as a martyr for. What one of these items represent will and can never be taken away from me because of a decision I made in Aug, 1991 as a teenage punk starting down the wrong road of life and turned it around to a new life. So as I look at these three items laying on this rock, it saddens me to think that in this generation two of these items are the most controversial topics in this day and age. But I am encouraged that only one of these items on this rock represents the rock that I stand and is the only true foundation for my life…….”

Having just completed my first solo hike a couple weeks ago, I totally understood his journey.  It was an amazing spiritual experience. The closeness you feel with God is unimaginable, and your appreciation for His creation is magnified 10 fold.

Not long after he posted about His journey, the comments started rolling in. Many were congratulatory, and grateful that he shared such a personal experience, however, it didn’t take long for the trolls to show up.

I was sickened by some of the comments being made on this man’s post. Here he was, sharing about HIS experience in the place we ALL love and he was virtually being spat upon.

Many could not fathom hiking with a gun. I can’t either, but if that is what makes him comfortable, then so be it.  As long as his gun is registered (which it is), and it is legal to carry (which it is), I am fine.

Some folks could not get past the bible. “This is NOT the place for such things” one irritated lady kept writing. “Totally inappropriate” wrote another. The group Admin assured that there was nothing offensive or inappropriate about the post. This man, along with every other member of the group, was free to voice his opinion and experiences in the Smokies as long as he kept on point and was not crude or totally off course.

The majority of the response was positive. Even those who claimed to be atheist, non-religious, or didn’t really have an opinion,  voiced praise and admiration for their fellow hiker. To hike alone is a big deal, especially in these huge, and dense forest covered mountains. They understood what he accomplished was huge and despite what they believed personally, he was to be commended.

Needless to say, a very small minority took the trolling to the extreme and the Admin is ready to shut the group down, (and who can blame him) leaving 21,000 members without a wonderful resource.

I am a firm believer in speaking up for what I believe in. My beliefs and values are old fashioned, conservative, and rooted in the Bible. HOWEVER…. I also know that I am NEVER going to make and impact on ANYONE if I judge, bully, or force my beliefs on them. Christ does not call us to be bully’s but to be salt and light. Sometimes I am most effective when I am silent and lead by example.  Don’t get me wrong… I will speak up for what I believe, and ask my opinion I will give it, but I don’t feel going on rouge crusades is what we are called to do.

I don’t agree with many things in today’s world. I believe marriage is between a woman and a man. I believe God does not make mistakes and you are born male or female… you don’t chose. I believe life begins at conception. I believe there is only one way to Heaven, and that is through Jesus.

However…..

I also believe I am called to love ALL man.  I am to be the example of Christ. When He lived on earth, He never judged, showed prejudice, or isolated Himself from people who didn’t think like Him. He simply LOVED.   He loved despite being ridiculed, spat upon, made fun of, and rejected.

“Be on guard. Stand true to what you believe. Be courageous. Be Strong. And EVERYTHING you do must be done in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:13-14

Here is my point friend…

Not everyone is going to be like us. We were created with our own thoughts, opinions, values, and ideas. Whether I agree with you or not, I am still called to respect. I am called to LOVE.

I have friends that live lifestyles I despise. I hate the lifestyle NOT my friend. My beliefs are known and respected, because I show respect, love, and grace.

Belittling a person or group verbally, online, or publically is never ok. As a Christian, I am experiencing this myself more and more. It is ok for others to talk about what they believe, but I mention my faith in Christ… STOP THE PRESSES!

My beliefs and values should be respected just as you want yours respected. You don’t have to agree with me. I promise I won’t scoff or judge if you do. To me, that’s maturity.

So, my group is in limbo. He may decide to keep it going and hand it off to someone else, or he may just delete it.

Think before you tear down. Are your words REALLY helpful and have meaning? Or are you just wanting everyone to think like you?

 

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11 thoughts on “Speaking My Mind

  1. Great blog entry, I enjoyed this! So wonderfully written!
    And sadly it’s about something that needs to be address more and more these days and serve as a reminder.
    People are so intent on playing the defense in making sure that their beliefs and values are not encroached upon, taken advantage of, or not scorned at.. that they force their values and beliefs back on the ones they have their dander up on, and they think it’s ‘okay’ because THEIR way is the right way to think. We’re slowly losing the ability to empathize and respect that we are each individuals first. What works for you, doesn’t work for me- and that is ok! Why can’t we respect that and our differences? Are we really that threatened by different belief systems than our own, that we can’t hold our own moral ground(whatever that happens to be for each of us?)

    I like you, have been trying to live the Thumper motto! It was how I was raised. ‘If you have nothing nice to say…Don’t say anything at all.’ But dang it! It has to be one of the hardest golden rules to keep conscious in my head with others when they’re acting a fool ! lol =)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good post Jess. I agree with what you have said. It’s a shame there is so much intolerance – but, there can be. I hope the page stays up so all can enjoy. Maybe the ill spirited one’s should be banned, they were disrespectful.

    Like

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