I picked up cross-stitch again after the new year, partly because I bought Lydia a small cross-stitch project for Christmas to teach her the fine art of counting stitches, and partly because of this picture:
It reminded me of the days after my second miscarriage, when I lost faith in the promises I had believed, about God blessing me. I was in the middle of a women’s small group Bible study in which we were cross-stitching verses about Jesus at the time, meditating on the word as we “stitched” it on our hearts and into cloth.
“‘Delight yourself in the Lord, and he shall grant you the desires of your heart?!'” I cursed, jabbing the cloth over and over again. “What the hell does that mean? Haven’t I delighted?”
It took a lot of angry jabs through cloth to finish, but eventually it was done and framed as evidence: This was not easy.I don’t always understand things. This matters to me.
A lot of things matter to me these days, and I find myself coming back again and again to the Facebook feed morning and night to receive my daily stabbing. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but people have big loud opinions on Facebook. I have big loud opinions on Facebook, too.
Here’s how my Facebook posts usually unfold:
- I share an article, sometimes with comment.
- Some people like it.
- Some people comment, with “thanks” or “yes.” or “this.”
- Some people disagree and say so in their own words.
- Some people disagree and challenge the article’s source or counter with another article from another source.
- Some people disagree and throw out memes.
- Some people disagree and vomit Bible passages.
- Some people disagree and heave insults about my intelligence/liberal hippiness.
- Some people disagree and light up the post with their anger.
- Some people disagree and seem to be listening but never actually hear.
- Some people agree and send me Facebook messages privately.
- Some people don’t say anything, but are reading along.
There are a lot of big, important issues happening in our world right now, and because we have stopped practicing open and honest debate with friends in person (polite conversation requires avoiding religion and politics), the debate has moved to Facebook.
The other day, a friend in our regular life who disagrees with our political stance jumped into a debate with me and Brandon. Offline (via text), he said he knows we’ll probably not agree on much politically, that he and his wife value friends with differing opinions because it keeps us honest, and that it’s nice to have someone both respect and challenge his beliefs.
The thing about knives and needles is that in order for them to be effective for their purposes they have to be sharp. A blunt-edged knife is often more dangerous than a regularly sharpened one. Proverbs talks of friendship this way: “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (27:17).
When we listen to one another and hear each other, we change. We become sharper. We become more Christ-like. When we fail to hear, we pick up our swords and – even though we’ve been listening to Jesus for three full years talk about what he came to do and who he is and who he represents – we cut off people’s ears. “Then Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.'” (Matthew 26:52).
The issues in our world are complicated. They aren’t easy. I don’t always understand things.
But they matter. When we face this world armed with our Bible verses and articles prepared to take down whoever challenges us because I’m right and you’re wrong and let me tell you how, we don’t solve the issues, we only stab our opponent. We don’t advance our cause; we just slay our enemy. That isn’t friendship.
When I cross-stitched “Delight yourself in the Lord,” the time it took to dwell on those verses changed my heart. The Bible describes itself as “sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
Here’s the cross-stitch I’m working on these days:
Will it ever stop, yo, I don’t know.
Use our swords to spar, to sharpen, to draw each other in and closer to Christ, not to stab, wound, and silence. May we all have ears that are not severed from our heads, to hear.