The Day I Voted Myself Off the Island
By Tracey Solomon
Some days, I wish that Christianity was a reality TV show just so I could vote people off. Not everyone — just the people who say and do things that make me feel embarrassed to be called a Christian.
There are several types of people that make me dream of bringing that reality show to the nearest flat screen:
- People who exploit faith for profit. If I see one more, “We’ll send you blessings, miracle water or holy hankies in return for your monetary gift,” late-night-TV-info-miracle-fundraiser-shows for God — I will scream.
- People who are more passionate about winning arguments than loving people. Enough said.
- People who talk crazy (especially on TV). There are three sub-types:
- Scripture Twisters who take Scripture out of context to make their own points.
- Those who discuss the end times like a Da Vinci Code mystery only they alone can solve.
- Catastrophic Blame-Casters who proclaim that God told them he sent the catastrophes to punish people for their sin.
- People who act like they are Judge Judy of the Universe. These people proclaim the guilt of others like it’s their holy calling. (It’s not. I checked: There’s no spiritual gift of judgment.)
In short: People who love God but sometimes act like jerks.
The problem is, as I worked on the list, I kept seeing myself in some of these descriptions. Could I be acting like a jerk? Would I have to vote myself off the island?
I sometimes wear an invisible Judge Judy robe, with a lace collar that gives me super powers of judgment. At least, I act like I am. The truth is: I’m judgmental.
Sometimes, I’m more passionate about winning arguments than I am about caring for people. I like to argue. Actually, I like to win. So, I argue to win. I often end up hurting people’s feelings.
It’s true: I believe in God, and (at times) act like a jerk about it. I hate that! This realization made me wonder: Aside from voting us off the island one-by-one, how can we solve this problem? I asked some friends for their input. Here’s what we came up with:
- Be bold. I need to confront people who act like jerks, but do it biblically and lovingly. If you see me being a jerk, confront me. I need your help not to be one. Maybe others do too.
- Take responsibility. When I catch myself being a jerk, I try to stop and apologize. (It happens a lot, but I’m starting to catch myself sooner. There is hope!)
- Speak up. I need to be honest about my beliefs with respect. Most people can handle disagreements, as long as I handle them respectfully. Being quiet doesn’t mean I’m not a jerk. It may just mean I’m not saying what I’m thinking. Honest discourse changes our perspective.
- Speak up, again. I need to speak up when I disagree with something that’s been said (or done). If I don’t dissent, people assume I agree. But I need to be sure I’m not a jerk when I do it. (For instance: I don’t recommend calling people you disagree with jerks. It’s a jerky-thing to do. By the way? I’m sorry for doing that. Please see Take responsibility.)
- Shut up. OK, so it’s not nice to say that. But, I have your attention, and it needs to be said. I need to talk less and listen more. People who listen are rarely jerks.
The bottom line? I love God, but I don’t need to be a jerk about it. And I’m learning to extend the grace that I’ve found in the message of Christianity to myself and everyone else.
Tracey Solomon lives in Michigan, struggling to keep up with the laundry produced by her three sons; Mike (21), Matt (18), Noah (8) and Kyle, her husband of 23 years. She’s a Field Leader who has been involved with MOPS for 20 years.