Guarding Your Heart

I’ve taken some time recently to re-examine my digital life. It’s not a bad thing, but I have discovered that most things I do in my spare time involve being online. The first step in that process involved working through all the items in my Google Reader. During that process, I discovered something fairly startling — I do not like religious blogs.

Not only did I drop some rss feeds, but I erased any record in my history or favorites of even more sites that I frequented, but didn’t have RSS feeds. A sampling of sites dropped includes:

The Thinklings
The ICC Discussion Forum
Several church websites of various denominations
Rob Bell

I thought that a vast majority would come from within my own denomination, but it seems to be more widespread than that. So far, the only criteria I have is the site had a lot of things that hurt my heart in bad ways.

What that means is that I want to follow someone that hurts my heart in the right ways. Something stirs my heart to change or reconsider (Matthew 18:3). Something hits my heart and gives me an opportunity to take a sober estimate of some aspect of my walk with God (1 Thessalonians 5:8, NAS). Something just rings true that is sad (Ecclesiastes 7:3).

It’s no mystery to anyone that knows me that various Church of Christ sites hurt my heart in bad ways. No sense in detailing it too much, suffice it to say that I get deeply angry/sad many times reading certain sites. I think the last straw for me came from a thread on the ICC discussion forum about vocabulary. After I posted a few peculiarities that I remembered, the thread author posted a comprehensive list of suggestions.

Seeing the list of my stilted vocabulary that I used in what I thought was spiritual speech just made me cry. Some items represented words I used to hurt others. A few represented things I saw used against others as weapons instead of encouragement. I don’t say this against the thread author in any way – it’s the memories I have that hurt, not the list itself.

Broadening out from that, I saw more hurtful words on other sites as well. Tone is hard to convey in a written medium, but some of the things said in the name of “speaking the unvarnished truth” was just an excuse for being mean.

God is not mean. Mean is not the same as jealous. Rebukes are not mean. There was a time when I would call someone a rank heretic of a psuedo-calvinist stripe, but I hope that I have put those childish things behind me. The point is, that there is enough meanness in the world and I have decided that I do not want to willingly partake in any more mean in the name of God.

It’s fair at this point to mention that I also got rid of other sites that seem to prey on fear in the name of news. It may surprise you to learn that I tend to get news from Al-Jazeera, Reuters, and one of the local stations in town. Yes, I even dropped the BBC, but that may have more to do with Dr. Who than news. 🙂

I’m not better than anyone. I’ve done the same thing multiple times on this site. It’s just that I really cannot intentionally pierce my own soul anymore. My son does not care about Douglas Jacoby being banned from certain churches or repeated calls for a spiritual enforcement mechanism. My daughter is not outraged that Linsday Lohan is not in jail. My daughter could also care less about Rick Warren or Harold Camping or Bart Ehrman. Neither of my children wrestle with the concept of convincing avowed atheists of the logical supremacy of the concept of middle knowledge.

My son, upon hearing about earthquakes in Japan, went to his toy workbench and built a machine to make toys for children in Japan that lost their homes. If the water level rise much more, he and my daughter will probably want to help stack sandbags along the Missouri River.

When Jesus said that we had to change and become more like children, I think this is what he meant. For me, I have spent too much time damaging myself for no good reason. I’ve become indifferent to the suffering of those around me and to the needs of my family wrestling over matters of no import.

Proverbs 4:23 says Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Today and everyday, I want to choose life.