The Trouble with My Mouth

The Trouble With My Mouth

“Edgy,” “fresh,” “sharp,” those are some of the words that have been used to describe Modern Reject. I like those words. I like to think they describe me, as well. But how about these words…

“Controversial,” “scandalous,”, and a “boat-rocker,”? I like those descriptions… only, maybe a little less. Since I started blogging a few months ago, I have quickly had to learn how to handle  those who disagree with my opinion or stance on a particular issue.

I have been surprised by the comments I have received. Some loving, some not so much. Some people really do desire to understand and discuss. Some people just want to pick a fight. I’m game for a fight, always have been, but somehow I don’t think that is what the Lord has in mind for me.

Last Friday, for instance, I wrote a post called (Un)Favorite Things, in which I poked fun at people who are one-uppers, folks with shaggy hair, and {duh duh, duh duh, insert jaws music here}… liberals. Shriek! Turns out, people don’t like jokes about liberals, especially if they are one. Who knew?

The trouble is, my mouth…<Begin Rant>

I have always liked a good debate.  I remember as a child, drooling over oral presentation day where you could come to class and discuss any topic (appropriate to a 4th grader) and try to persuade your classmates. If I managed to persuade their thinking, it was like winning the ultimate prize, but winning it with your mouth.

Earlier this week, I was confronted with a private message, from a reader of Modern Reject who found my comment about liberals on Friday’s post to be “mean”. We went back and forth in conversation. I apologized for offending. She said she wouldn’t read MR anymore. I was shocked. I told her that. She apologized for seeming to “write me off” or “punish me.” We concluded our exchange with her stating, once again, that she will, in fact, not read Modern Reject any longer. Major bummer. I felt like I lost.

The one thing she asked for in our exchange was for me to “revise” my original post. She wanted me to change what I had written, as if I had somehow had a momentary brain aneurysm and had falsely written about liberals in that moment. But I hadn’t. I knew exactly what I wrote and I stand by it. It was meant to be funny. It was meant to be lighthearted. She didn’t seem to agree. Instead she wanted me to rollover and say, “You win. I’ll change what I wrote.”

I know that I have written things that have hurt people, although never intentionally. My liberal comment was obviously one of them. I never set out to offend, or hurt people’s feelings. I am opinionated yet I never want my opinions to be used as an excuse to act unloving or unkind. Unfortunately, I can’t erase every offense. I can sincerely ask for forgiveness and move on.

This person’s response to my comment, which, while flippant, was not cruel, threw me for a loop.  I’ll admit what I wrote was perhaps not written with the greatest amount of love or concern. I did apologize to her, but it wasn’t enough. But, in the name of brothers and sisters, can’t we just forgive and move on? Do we really need to respond so emotionally, as to stop reading a blog we like, because one comment ruffled our feathers? I, for instance, read a number of blogs that challenge, provoke, and stimulate my thinking, even though I don’t agree with them. In fact, some just plain tick me off, but I still come back for more, because it grows me.

Furthermore, what is the point of a conviction, if we can so easily be persuaded away from it? What kind of opinionated blogger chick would I be if I just said to her, “Yup. I’ll change it. Let me get right on that.” What value and power of conviction would my beliefs hold if I just “revised” them because I, perhaps, offended someone?

Agreement in our culture has become some kind of virtue. I blame the Left (not liberals, but the Left). There, I said it (again). Agreeing does not make the world a better place. Seeing-eye-to-eye is not a necessary character trait in an individual or the key component to a friendship. Sure, I like my friends to hold similar values, beliefs, and even hobbies, but I would never write someone off because they don’t agree with me on 100% of the issues, 100% of the time. (This gives me an idea for another post.)

Who lives in a world like that? My husband is a wonderful friend to me. We share so many loves, but, no, we do not see eye-to-eye on everything. How could we? What’s that quote again? Something about one of us being unnecessary.

I wonder at what point in our culture people became so afraid to say what they believe? And more than that, at what point did others decide any opposing viewpoint is worthy of social banishment? Agreement for agreements’ sake is pandering and nauseating.

I like writing everyday on Modern Reject because I like discussing with all of you. I enjoy the process of throwing ideas out, whether right or wrong, and letting them float down and hit upon something. I love discovering something new–a new perspective, a new angle, a new insight, a new Word from the Lord. I’m not seeking agreement, but I am seeking discussion and openness.

Chances are, if you stick around here long enough, I may offend you. I won’t have done it intentionally and I’ll be sorry and apologetic when I do. I’ll ask for your forgiveness and hopefully you will understand that my big mouth sometimes has a mind of its own. And right now God is working on that, one small sentence at a time, helping my words to be impactful, but not harmful; truthful, but spoken in love.

</End Rant>

Do you ever find yourself defending your position? Is agreeing for agreement’s sake a good thing or not? How do you handle criticism?

post image from freeartlondon.com

42 thoughts on “The Trouble with My Mouth”

  1. Nic. You’re awesome. One of my favorite things about you is that you’re willing to speak your mind, but always with love and grace. I respect and admire that about you!

  2. Well first I want to say that I commend you for your convictions that you own, no matter what. That is an awesome trait that to few people appreciate. When i got married i came from a pretty low key fam who didnt want to offend anyone or speak their mind. My husbands fam was definitely the polar opposite!! But i have to say that it has helped me grow and become much more passionate about what i believe. It also taught me that even if you have a strong debate with someone and get all fired up, still leaving in disagreement, you can still completely love and respect that person. Great post

    1. Yeah, I have always been described as a passionate person. People who are passionate, I think, usually like to debate and discuss.

      You are right Jennie, that the goal at the end of a debate is not to win (hopefully) but that we can still love and respect our opponent. Thanks for commenting!

  3. I can’t believe she asked you to edit. This is your writing, your place, your opinion and you are certaintly allowed to have it. Maybe if this was a group blog or she herself was a contributor, but as a reader? I’m so glad you stood confident in your work. It’s a shame that she can’t move past that. Seriously, I think the only thing I’ve disagreed with you on MR was one of your first posts where you wished the green movement would go away. I may not agree with you but I wasn’t offended. Lol. This was before we were friends too, so if I stopped reading I would have never found a great friend in you as well as been convicted and challenged every day. What a loss for her in my opinion. I agree, we do not have to agree on everything! :)

    1. I totally forgot about my green movement post! Well, I like your take on the whole thing: being green to serve God and His creation.

      See, we disagreed and then influenced one another? And like you said, became friends. I love that! Thanks for your support too!

  4. You arrogant, selfish, conservative! You should not only revise your original post, you should also revise this post. Instead write about the values of socialism! Wait no, turns out my mouth also gets me into trouble. Bottom line speak your mind openly, respect others ideas no matter how crazy and if they don’t like it they can go read lolcats.com

    1. Thanks Mike for the virtual hugs and kisses! Even if you didn’t say it, I know that’s what you were wanting to communicate.

      Lolcats.com is the BOMB by the way! I’d be honored if anyone left MR to read lolcats…seriously, the bomb.

  5. Hey Nicole, This is a great post, nice job!! I completely agree with you…oops, maybe I should disagree…haha. I saw your link on FB about losing a reader because of something “offensive” on your blog and just had to see what the horrible thing you said was! :) I am surprised someone found it THAT offensive. I happen be half liberal, half conservative (depends on the issue), one of those highly “emotive” decision makers that you refer to ;), and admitteldy sometimes irrational (I like to think of it as caring…), but I didn’t think anything in the post was worthy of leaving over or demanding you to change it. I scrolled down just to make sure there wasn’t something else more offensive. For heaven’s sake it was just your opinon, most liberals have a whole string of not-nice words to say about conservatives (trust me, I’ve said them!) I found the shaggy hair opinion more offensive, I like shaggy surfer hair (on guys), and I happen to think Brad Pitt looks good in that pic! But truly, not really offensive because it was your opinion, we all have ’em!

    Keep up the good work on your blog, inviting people into discussions about a variety of topics, getting different perspectives on things is so important for us all! And I think for you it will be a combination of developing a thick skin and stating your opinions with grace and love, as the Lord leads. This probably won’t be the last reader you lose, but hopefully you’ll gain two or more for everone you lose! Keep it up!

  6. Reminds me of Andy’s closing Catalyst talk – those who choose to become provocateurs will always have to balance the tensions that pushing someone out of his/her comfort zone entails.

    The reality of the blogsphere is that you can’t control how the entire world will read your material. As long as you are growing and seeking to be ever more clever and subversive in how you confront, and so long as your desire is move and motivate (not merely to look smart or clever yourself), you have to stick to your guns (IMO, as one provocateur to another).

    But the, I get called liberal all the time, so maybe I’m just numb…

  7. You know, just because you have a right to say something doesn’t necessarily mean you should, especially as a Christian…yes this is your blog, your place, but I’m just thinking about what Paul told us…we should always seek to edify others, especially our brothers and sisters, and let no unwholesome words come from our mouths.

    Yes it’s impossible never to offend anyone, but at the same time you are well aware that not all of your readers share your political views, so to me specifically always picking on liberals seems kind of like a cheap shot. Maybe try libertarians or Tea Partiers for a change?

    I know I could make fun of conservatives all day, but I choose not to, out of respect for my friends who do happen to be conservative. Unless I’m with a good friend who understands my sense of humor, I strive (and not always succeed) to be considerate of those with differing views.

    Just my two cents, maybe this friend was over reacting or “too emotional”, but I’ll admit, there have been times when you, among many others in our circle of friends, have torn me down instead of build me up with words. Because of this I am now always hesitant to share my opinion on anything, and even now I’m wondering at the wisdom of even posting this and the back lash I may receive. I love you as a sister in Christ, but I cannot stress enough how important it is that we all (myself included) take James 3 advise to heart.

    1. Shelia, I so agree with you that just because we can say something doesn’t mean we should. I even hesitated before writing my “liberal” comment because I too did not want to offend. I felt though that my words were good-natured enough to not cause harm (so I thought).

      To be clear though, I am not “specifically always picking on liberals.” In fact, I think that is only the second time I have written anything about liberals. Furthermore, I don’t mention libertarians or Tea Party members because, well, they don’t really bother me (at least not the way liberals tend to).

      I want to be building people up. I desire for Modern Reject to be a place of discussion and healthy debate. I don’t just “make fun” of people all day.

      This girl, I think, had an emotional response. She did not engage in debate. She had already made up her mind when I wrote those words.I can learn from this and move on. I know what God has called me to do and I am attempting to do it, in all love and truth.

      Thanks for commenting Shelia. Hopefully this does not constitute as backlash.

      1. I wrote a long response to this about a week ago and somehow it got erased before I could post. At first I was so frustrated that I just decided to forget it, but as the days have gone by I’m glad that it got erased because I’ve had time to ponder and I think I can articulate my feelings a little better now. So here goes.

        I feel like I talk about being a teacher a lot on here, but it is such a large part of my life and who I am that it seems to be a factor in almost everything! As a teacher in the public school system, I am not allowed to express my political or religious opinions. When it comes to my co-workers I am very careful because I don’t want any kind of contention. Most of the other teachers are liberal, and there are very few Christians. In fact, I have encountered downright hostility toward both Christianity and conservatism. And when some students and teachers find out that I am the club sponsor for the Teenage Republicans, you can forget about having a civil conversation. All this being said, I have never once cried “I’m offended! You can’t say that!!” I personally believe that pulling the “I’m offended” card is a form of limiting freedom of speech. As long as I am making sure to deliver my point of view and responses with love and grace, it’s not my problem if the other person is offended. It’s theirs.

        I’m in the middle of a very frustrating and potentially explosive situation at school. The Teenage Republicans made shirts this year with this simple phrase on the back: “How’s that change working out for you?” Now I think its a clever way to make people think and start conversations, which was the point of the shirt when the students were deciding on our new shirt design. But I got called into administration after ONE teacher was “offended” and complained. I am now to be scheduled for a meeting with an assistant principle, the chairperson of my department, and the Young Democrats club sponsor (good thing my chair and the other sponsor are totally on my side and very supportive). Does this sound fair? Am I, and my students, to keep quiet because we MIGHT offend SOMEONE with our opinion? Did I mention that the Young Democrats were in the process of making a shirt with a donkey trampling an elephant before this all happened, and that my club was not OFFENDED by that at all? My club members get harassed by other students, and TEACHERS when they respectfully express their conservative opinions in class. So I guess you can see how your post hits close to home for me right now.

        I agree that we should only speak edifying things to one another, but is it unwholesome to share your opinion with love and grace? Is it unwholesome to bring facts and truth into a debate? Obviously a person’s tone is very important in these discussions, but I have been called stupid and talked down to so many times and never once cried “I’m offended!!” I truly believe that if we expect others to cater their actions and words to us then we’re living in a dream world (or an Orson Welles book…)

        Hope this isn’t too much. Obviously I am frustrated by this whole topic. Keep speaking the truth Nicole!!! I promise I will NEVER be offended by ANYTHING you say. :)

  8. Eh, shake it off. There will always be haters. Don’t let them throw salt in your game.

    Do what you do. Those that like it will come back. Those that don’t will hide behind computer screens and throw virtual stones.

    In the words of P. Diddy, “Go and dust yo’ shoulder off.”

    Much love!

    1. Thanks Bianca. I know you are right. I just harbor this secret need for people to like me. That’s normal, right?

      I don’t like it when people peace out but I’m learning to not take it personally.

      Ah, the wise P. Diddy…such a sage! Thanks for making me smile.

  9. I better start my comment off with saying that I like controversy and open discussion. I admire your convictions, and I hope you continue to run your mouth off.

    “Furthermore, what is the point of a conviction, if we can so easily be persuaded away from it?”

    While I do understand the need to defend one’s convictions (just ask your husband how often we argued), I also believe that having an open mind is the beginning of learning. We must be able to listen and learn from what other people have to say about other issues, whether they are liberals, athiests, or small children. You never know where a good idea may come from. Learning from and being able to have an open mind allows us to grow as individuals as well as in unity with each other.

    “Agreement in our culture has become some kind of virtue.” And why not? Would you say that the cliche beauty pageant answer of “world peace” is not expressing a virtuous goal for humanity? You said yourself you feel like you win when someone else comes to agree with what you have to say? Are you saying that people that agree with you are all weakminded liberals? We should not allow ourselves to be tossed here and there by every wind of doctrine, but it is never wrong to approach a subject objectively/agnostically/open minded. But thats just my liberal viewpoint. :)

    Second of all, I totally disagree that our culture is suffering from too much agreement. I feel our country along with the rest of the globe is becoming increasingly independent in thought and expression. Now more than ever before people can express themselves through so many different types of media *including blogs*, and I will even go so far as to say jihadists express their views through acts of terrorism.

    Is it a virtue to be able to suck-it-up and agree in order to avoid a fight? (example: go to wendy’s when what you really want is taco bell)

    1. A conviction in my mind Kenny, is not the same as an opinion or a preference. A conviction is foundational to our beliefs, such as my faith. My belief in Christ is not just an opinion but a conviction. I do not believe convictions should be easily moved or persuaded, no.

      That does not mean however, that I am a close-minded individual. I’d argue I’m quite the opposite but where conviction has been planted in my mind and heart, I hope it remains. I do not wish to be tossed to and fro by waves of doubt.

      When I refer to “agreement” becoming a kind of virtue, I am referring to the death of public discourse. American values and culture was very much influenced by great minds openly debating and discussing issues, with respect and integrity.

      I believe, in the era of political correctness public discourse is dying. People, afraid of being labeled liberal haters (as I was labeled), sexist, racist, homophobic, Islamaphobic, and bigoted, instead choose to not say anything. Fear of being branded has led to whitewash agreement. I do not think agreeing for agreements sake (or to silence critics) is fruitful or beneficial.

      I disagree with you wholeheartedly that the world is growing in “independence” of thought. Islam for example, silences the minority and anyone who disagrees with them. A Seattle journalist was recently placed under protective custody by the FBI for writing an article about Islam that was found insulting. Islamists threatened to kill her. There is no room for discussion only “agreement.” I find this dangerous.

      Tea Partyers are another example. I am not one, but I understand and empathize with their position. However, they are painted by the media as angry, racist, Nazi’s. They cannot express their belief in smaller government/less taxation without being falsely labeled. They don’t agree with the media and so there is no discussion. You agree or you don’t. End of story.

      Scripture does not say that we must agree with one another. It says be one of one mind and one Spirit–God’s mind and God’s Spirit. We are to collectively pursue and desire the things of God but that does not mean we suddenly forfeit our individual convictions. I can follow God’s will and yet still hold personal beliefs regarding, say, liberalism.

      Thank you for sharing your impassioned comment. I really do love a good debate– when done in love.

  10. Hi,

    I think I had also posted a critical message, but you did apologize; thank you! I’m happy to hear that you meant more to criticize liberalism rather than liberal people. (well, you know what I mean)

    I admit that at first I didn’t want to come back to the blog again…but I changed my mind, and I’m glad that you extended an olive branch to me; my sincere thanks to you for that. And I still like most of the rest of what you write, so good for you!Politics is probably something we’ll never agree on (mainly because I’m aware that “left v. right” is largely a construct of Western culture; trying to use it map out the politics of, say, Bhutan is useless), but that’s ok since we’re both people and it’s inevitable we’ll disagree. And as you said, we both have faith on Jesus, which is really the most important thing when you get down to it!

    1. Bradley, I so appreciate your voice and perspective. Thank you for accepting my apology. I am glad you will be sticking around. And really, I am working on my big mouth! I am glad for the body of Christ through which we are connected! Blessings and hugs to you!

  11. OK… so I’m behind on my blog reading a bit. :)

    And, I think this is cheating, but I think I’m going to C&P from a comment I made on a similar topic, on another blog. It was from another homeschool blogger, who had received some criticism for linking to a post that — while it caused him to think, was really NOT in line with Christian thinking. In fact, it was anti-Christian. I responded: “Mmmm, I think what you’ve written here is one of the main reasons I love homeschooling! (At least, the type of homeschooling I’m aiming for!) It’s the ability to consider (truly consider) others’ opinions, weigh them, be convicted by them, listen to them, etc., even if we don’t agree!! I went to a Christian school for K-12, and I was never exposed to ANYTHING with which the administration did not agree. I don’t think that’s an entire education. I think we should be willing to listen to those who think/believe differently than we do, even diametrically opposed to how we think & believe, without getting our hackles raised!!”

    Similar to how you wrote (in the comments), I believe the world is becoming more polarized, with fewer people lending their time and their ear to those who think differently from them. Both sides of the aisle, politically, are guilty. Many religions are guilty, even some supposed adherents to Christianity. But, Jesus gives freedom — including freedom to be wrong about one thing or another — then He gently leads us, teaches us, directs us to where we should be. He doesn’t threaten us into compliance.

    That said, I have learned to be less inflammatory as the years progress, and as I have less of a desire to beat down my detractors, and more of a desire to nurture relationship and be kind. I used to delight, as a high schooler, bringing teachers to tears by my debate and my knife-like tongue. I’m ashamed of that, now. I don’t back down (usually) on what I’ve said, but I weigh my words a great deal more than I used to.

  12. Clarifying a bit: The Father is never satisfied with sin, and will never let us rest in a sinful spot. HOWEVER, He convicts us as He sees fit, when He knows that we have the maturity and the strength to deal with X sin pattern. Some in The Church expect new Christians (and even older Christians) to be PERFECT instantaneously, and that is not, in my experience and observation, how God actually handles it.

    I spent a good part of the morning in a text convo with a young woman who is afraid to come to church because “everyone knows” she is a single mom, living with the father of her child. I told her that when the Father wants to deal with that, with her, He will. But, in the meantime, lots of us there have open arms and we’re THRILLED when she comes, not talking behind her back about her marital status. And the Father isn’t saying YOU ARE BAD, He’s saying, “Here, let me help you. Let me heal you. Let me teach you.”

    OK, so that’s a tangent. Sorry.

    What I’m trying to loquaciously communicate is that, while there often IS a right and a wrong, there are also right and wrong ways to deal with something. And, often we (even as Christians) choose to try to right a wrong, in the wrong way.

    Hope that makes sense.

    1. I think you say it so simply but perfectly here:
      “I have learned to be less inflammatory as the years progress, and as I have less of a desire to beat down my detractors, and more of a desire to nurture relationship and be kind.”

      I am moving in that direction but I will admit that my pride is initially wounded. My first instinct is to go into defense mode. I know however that more than agreeing or even discussing God wants me to care about relationship.

      People matter in God’s economy. I am wanting to heed the Spirit’s guidance in all that I write as well. I have made some major errors in my few months of blogging but God is gracious to me and has taught me quickly through it. I agree with you that there is a right and a wrong way and sometimes one is disguised as the other. There again is where the Spirit and discernment come in…I’m still trying to increase in both.

      Thanks Karen for your, as always, thoughtful comment.

  13. Welcome to the world of the troubador. The excruciating fine line between pursuing a prophetic gift and knowing when our own carnality slips it over into self-seeking gratuity. I wrestle with it constantly but have probably come to a place where despite the need to exercise caution, I’d rather miss occasionally than totally quieten myself to live an untroubled life.

    Personally, I dig the vibrancy and uncompromising nature of what you have to say. I’d rather it be out there, provoking healthy discussion than buried under a bushel.

    1. Andrew, thank you for the invitation into the world of the troubador. I admit, that I am still obviously learning how to navigate this colorful and yet controversial world. This hit the nail on the head “The excruciating fine line between pursuing a prophetic gift and knowing when our own carnality slips it over into self-seeking gratuity.” Since you and I are apparently not afraid of the word prophetic, I will confide in you, that yes, that is often how I feel. Am I being prompted by the Spirit or am I seeking to indulge my flesh? Do I want God to be heard or do I secretly feel a need to make myself heard?

      Regardless, I am enjoying the process and God is certainly pruning me along the way. Thank you for the encouragement and kind words, as well. Also, I check out your blog and I dig it! I’m adding it to my reading list. Thanks for commenting Andrew and I hope to see more of you around here, as well.

    2. Andrew, thank you for the greetings and well-wishes. I admit, that I am still obviously learning how to navigate this colorful and yet controversial world. This hit the nail on the head “The excruciating fine line between pursuing a prophetic gift and knowing when our own carnality slips it over into self-seeking gratuity.” Since you and I are apparently not afraid of the word prophetic, I will confide in you, that yes, that is often how I feel. Am I being prompted by the Spirit or am I seeking to indulge my flesh? Do I want God to be heard or do I secretly feel a need to make myself heard?

      Regardless, I am enjoying the process and God is certainly pruning me along the way. Thank you for the encouragement and kind words, as well. Also, I checked out your blog and I dig it! I’m adding it to my reading list. Thanks for commenting Andrew and I hope to see more of you around here, as well.

  14. Ok so I know I am like 2 years late on this I was just reading older post. One small issue with your rant. You used the close html type tag To be compleatly proper in your “coding” you need or somthing like this at the start of the rant. :) (note this is in jest and I will keep reading)

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