Saturday, May 2, 2015

#Hashtag Hurts

So I've been trying to find a topic to post about for the first one that wasn't too controversial to talk about. I want women to feel empowered, supported, confident and CONVICTED by their faith. My life is hardly perfect, and I am hardly a perfect Christian. But I get up each day and try again. I make a lot of mistakes, but I try to right the ship and try again.

Maybe you have been on social media sites and have noticed people using the # sign with their post. These days we call it a "hashtag". In my day we called it a "pound sign." (Showing my age here, ha ha.) On social media they originated as a way for people to join a global discussion on a particular topic, and for you to see what others were saying about it too. For example, if you wanted to see what everyone was saying about this year's Super Bowl ads, you could search for #superbowlads2015 #advertisingbowl2015 or something similar. And if you wanted to say something about it too, you would add these hashtags to your comments.

In more recent times, people have gone to use them as secondary thoughts to their original post. For instance, someone may post, "It's a beautiful day here at the beach on my vacation. #wishyouwerehere #feetinthesand". These hashtags and their uses have evolved. Sometimes trends can take over, and people join in the conversation and the fun that can come along with the use of hashtags. But there are some drawbacks too. Sometimes, #hashtags hurt.

I've seen a recent trend of using hashtags as a means of comparison. As Christians, I think we have an obligation to avoid comparison. Sometimes that means we have to be more mindful of little things like the use of hashtags.

Can we talk about using these specific hashtags for a moment?

Insert whatever you might be tempted to use here in those blanks... my husband, my mom, my kid, my church, my best friend, my photographer... the list is unlimited for these fill-in-the-blanks.

When I see these hashtags used, it hurts me, and it can also leave an unintended scar on those who see it. Sure, it builds up the lucky recipient, the object of your affection... but it can hurt others. You might be reading this and saying to yourself that I am being too sensitive. You may even be surprised at the gravity of your hashtags or comparisons. You probably didn't intend to hurt anyone, because your intention was just to shower love and appreciation on someone you admire.

Here is what I feel when you say that your husband is better than mine:
- my husband cannot compare to yours
- my husband isn't as worthy of praise and admiration
- my husband couldn't be as equally loving or doting as yours
- my husband doesn't love me as much as your husband loves you
You build up your own husband while you tear mine down in the same statement. You are saying yours is amazing/awesome/wonderful and mine is not.

I fear this allows a spirit of comparison and judgment to enter into our lives. Are we unintentionally leaving a door cracked open for Satan to creep in?

Here are some scriptures that really convicted me about the dangers of comparison:

Matthew 7:1 - 2
Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.

John 7:24
Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.

Romans 2:1
Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.

Isaiah 5:21
What sorrow for those who are wise in their own eyes and think themselves so clever.

Isaiah 37:23
Who is it you have mocked and blasphemed? Who have you raised your voice against and lifted your eyes in pride? Against the Holy One of Israel!

These are just some references that helped convince me about the dangers of comparison. And the slippery slope is that it doesn't really stop there. Comparison can then encourage other scary spirits like arrogance and bragging. Can we agree that it's hard to claim a spirit of humility when we are focused on comparison?

Let's check out some other biblical evidence:
Isaiah 2:11
The eyes of the arrogant will be humbled and human pride brought low; the LORD alone will be exalted in that day.

Isaiah 5:15
So people will be brought low and everyone humbled, the eyes of the arrogant humbled.

Romans 12:16
Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

It's not that there is ANYTHING wrong with complimenting your loved ones or patting yourself on the back occasionally for a job well done, if it's done in the right spirit. How will you know if you are in a good place about it? Ask yourself these questions:
1 - does this comment lift up and praise those mentioned and not mentioned?
2 - does this comment encourage and praise others in a way that won't harm others?
3 - does this comment provide recognition of friends/family in a healthy way?
4 - does this comment avoid comparison and provide edifying content?
If we can answer those questions affirmatively, then we are on the right track.

Here's how I think we can change the conversation. I would just encourage you to find a way to show appreciation to those you love without unintentionally putting down others you care about at the same time.
Let's try using these hashtags:

A good friend reminded me that, "... in today's egocentric society, when we take our eyes off God, we tend to focus on ourselves instead. If we keep our eyes on Him, our speech and attitude will reflect Him." She also pointed out that "comparison is the enemy of contentment and the friend of resentment". -Summer Tullier (you can find her on Twitter @SummerTullier)
I will do another blog post just on the spirit of comparison in the future - there is so much ground to cover! This is just a small sample of the topic.

We need each other to get through the tough things life throws our way, so let's not push others away with our words without consideration. This blog will offer some tough love at times, not because we need more parenting, but because it can push us to be better Christians, better women, better people. I hope you come back again, and I encourage great conversation and dialogue.

Blessings to you my friends!!

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