Fear and love and different.

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Wherever you stand politically, I think you’d agree that today is a tough and frustrating and difficult day. Even if your candidate came out victorious last night, it’s clear that good people around our country are sad and hurt and angry and scared and divided.

We’re all weary, and I think it’s safe to say we’re all glad at least this portion of the political season is over. Finally, finally, finally over. Finally.

Most people would also agree that the two major candidates competing last night were not the best our country had to offer. However, I believe we collectively as a nation chose those two people for one primary reason:

Fear.

Both parties did a masterful job of convincing their followers that the other side was evil and had nothing but ruin in mind for our futures. We were asked to put our reservations and frustrations about the candidates aside–valid as they were–because their candidate was the only person standing in the way of the evil adversary taking over the White House and destroying our beloved America.

I think we came to this point because the last 15 years have taught us to be afraid. Terrorist attacks, beheadings, school shootings, and natural disasters have become the norm. We’re no longer shocked or surprised when those things happen, but we’ve become more cautious. We don’t know who we can trust. Our worlds are becoming more global, and suddenly people who don’t look or think or act like us are everywhere. Whenever we meet someone new, we’re not entirely sure they‘re not one of them.

Humans don’t like ‘different.’ We’re scared of it. But here’s what I know: As I age and mature, I realize more and more how important and valuable it is to surround myself with people who are different than me. Over the past few years especially, I have realized how inadvertently wrong I was about important things. I wasn’t wrong on purpose, but I was still wrong, and I needed a different perspective to reveal that truth to me.

Different is very, very important.

I’ve spent time with Muslims in Paris and Cairo.

I have good friends who are African Americans.

I have friends who are gay and friends whose parents are immigrants.

I have very close family members who hold very different theological views than I do.

I have friends who are athletes and artists and pro-life and pro-choice and professors and plumbers and Mormons and missionaries.

And all of them are wonderful people I enjoy spending time with. I don’t agree with them about some very important things, and they know that. They also know I’m not pushing to modify their behavior or constantly prove that they’re wrong. That doesn’t work, and deep down you know you wouldn’t want to hang out with that kind of person anyway. And those people I disagree with are frankly more fun and more life-giving than some people I know who share my demographics.

Should we keep each other accountable, challenge our beliefs, and strive to always grow? You bet. Difficult conversations are an important part of any friendship, but in my opinion that is much more effective when you are kind, open, humble, and honest. You will never grow or challenge your beliefs if you never encounter different.

I typically keep my political views very private. My friends know I’m a Christian, but I’m not incredibly vocal about specifics of what I believe. Lately I’ve taken some chances and shared statements online that went deeper than normal about my beliefs. Most people were kind and receptive and respectful, but some people weren’t.

It’s scary to share your opinion, especially when you work at a church and usually avoid conflict. Sadly this election cycle has reminded me that some people don’t know how to handle a difference of opinion, and when I’m different from who they thought I was, they’re not sure how to respond.

I’m a huge advocate of being very thoughtful and careful when posting online, but I’m also exhausted from the tiptoeing. I may in fact be different from you–even if our skin and religion and income are similar–and that is absolutely ok.

And you know those Muslims and gay people and immigrants and artists and athletes I mentioned? Whenever I spend time with one of them that I disagree with, I also come away a little surprised how much we’re alike. I can genuinely enjoy my time with someone who holds almost completely different religious and political views from me. I’ve spent time in four different countries, and every trip I take I’m reminded how similar every human is simply because we’re human. Sure we’re different, but we’re also the same.

And after spending time with those people, it’s harder to see them as an enemy. Suddenly the other side doesn’t seem so crazy. They have real, legitimate reasons (sometimes driven by hurt and pain) that led them to the beliefs they hold dear. When I see and hear and understand that, suddenly different isn’t so scary.

And I hope those people leave conversations with me feeling very similar. They may not agree with me about faith or politics, but I hope they leave a conversation with me thinking, “Ya know, sometimes those Evangelical guys act like jerks on TV, but that Matt guy is alright. He drinks too much Dew and has silly hair, but he’s not an insane bigot.”

That’s a good goal: Try to not make people think you’re an insane bigot.

I’m very aware that I am a white, straight, Christian male, and in our culture that means I am very privileged. Many of you are probably taking today’s news a lot harder than I am, although I’m not very happy either. Still, here’s what I know: Right now, we have no control over who is in the White House. That decision has been made (by us). We don’t have much say in national policy or global relations.

But ya know what? We have total control over how we treat each other. So let’s do a better job at that. We have to, or this exact thing will happen over and over and over again as long as we believe the lie that only politicians can save us and ‘different’ people are wrong and scary.

Stop it with the angry Facebook posts. Stop it. Be nice to people who disagree with you–even if you are convinced they are horrible and hopeless (they’re not). If we’re not afraid and we are kind and loving, there’s less of a need for government. If we dialogue with people who disagree and help people who need it, the world will be so much better than Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton or anyone else could possibly enforce through policy and law. Stop the fear, stop the anger, and start the love–the only thing that can heal this mess we’ve created.

Whether we share political and religious views or not, it’s hard to argue with the words of Jesus. According to Him, the second greatest commandment of all time is to love each other. In fact, my Savior taught us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. The love He taught us to have is supposed to be patient, kind, humble, honoring, others-focused, and truth-seeking. It does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

So let’s do that. To everyone. Always.

Nothing else works, and nothing else is helpful–especially on days like today, especially with people who are different.

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What dc Talk Taught Us About Marketing

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Toby, Michael, and Kevin, (maybe not) just between you and me, I’ve got something to say.

As most of the Internet knows by now, just over a week ago the official dc Talk Facebook page changed their cover photo to a cryptic graphic that simply said “2017.” The following day, a new post alerted the world that an important announcement would be shared on dctalk.com on May 11.

2017

As the band (and their marketing firm) likely anticipated, Christians raised in the 80s and 90s CCM bubble went berserk. This announcement could only logically mean one thing: arguably the most influential Christian band of all time was getting back together after a 16-year hiatus.

(insert the grinning emojis and dancing animated gifs here)

If you weren’t a part of this culture growing up, I don’t think it’s possible to explain how big dc Talk was. They changed Christian music forever. They gave a moniker to a generation that suddenly wasn’t embarrassed to be known as “Jesus Freaks.” “Christian music” became something we willingly accepted because it sounded like music our friends would like. dc Talk looked and sounded different from almost everything else “Christian,” and they even released albums through Virgin Records.

Those years almost seem like ancient history now as my generation has waded through a 16-year “intermission” that has mostly produced Christian music we didn’t like. Now that “Fuller House” is on Netflix, “Girl Meets World” is on Disney Channel, and just about every movie from our childhood has been remade, this seemed like the perfect time for an epic comeback for the original Jesus Freaks.

As I watched the big video announcement on their website yesterday, my excitement quickly turned to confusion. The big comeback—the one that sent the Internet into a fury over the past week—was on a…. cruise ship? A one-time-only five-day trip that was too expensive and too impractical for most of my friends to realistically consider?

… Wasn’t this dc Talk? The band that set and crossed boundaries that no one else in the Christian world would even consider? The band that—even after they disbanded—continued to lead the CCM industry as frontmen of new bands? This was it?

Here’s why the Jesus Freak Cruise was such a huge disappointment: it wasn’t the cruise itself; that would have been fun. The problem was in the marketing.

Marketing by itself isn’t a bad thing. In its purest and noblest form, marketing is good. Good marketing helps us discover and understand tools that will make our lives better. Bad marketing bombards us with attempts to coerce us into purchases we don’t need and decisions we’ll regret.

What separates the good companies from the bad companies is trust.

Many in my generation have learned to be annoyed by and sometimes even ignore marketing because all of us have been burned in the past. We all know what it’s like to buy a product that promises happiness and it just lets us down. There’s a reason why all the amazing infomercial gadgets are only $9.99. As appealing as the products seem, they often make promises too large for reality to live up to.

The three men in dc Talk and the dozens of people behind their marketing and PR are smart people. Like I said, they’ve continued to lead an entire music empire for more than 20 years. It’s not like they were surprised that fans were disappointed yesterday. They wanted to generate buzz, and they knew how to do it.

Later on in the day, Toby Mac admitted “it wasn’t in the realm of possibility” that this would lead to a full-blown reunion. The plan was never to truly end the intermission, even though that’s what their website proudly claimed. They had to know this campaign would send mixed signals, and frankly I’m not sure what the goal was. The guys clearly aren’t ready to be back together, and they could have made more money going other routes, so sadly I have nothing else to chalk this up to other than bad marketing that (seemingly intentionally) made promises too large to live up to.

Let this be a lesson to all of us: Instead of misleading your audience, let your “yes” be “yes,” your “no” be “no,” your “reunion” be a reunion, and your “intermission” be an intermission. This campaign seemed to have intentions that were shaky at best, and while it’s true that they never explicitly promised a reunion, they definitely let down the fans that have loved them for decades, which in turn results in a lack of trust.

So, Toby, Michael, and Kevin, we’re not mad; we’re just disappointed. Of course we wanted the huge comeback we’ve been dreaming of, but I think you knew better than this. We don’t want to be marketed to; you—of all people—should know that we just wanna be loved,” and “Luv is a verb that requires some action.”

Sadly, I guess, “some people gotta learn the hard way.”

Fear & Gravy (aka I wrote a book)

04/06/16 update: Just to clarify, the book isn’t available quite yet, but you can learn more and download a free chapter here!

Fear is a very real thing.

It’s easy to be afraid of snakes and ISIS and Donald Trump, but there’s also a different kind of fear that I’ve been wrestling lately: The fear of risk and the fear of vulnerability.

Putting yourself out there—the real you, not the doctored one we all put online and in casual relationships—that is scary. When you’re brave enough to be honest and share your passions with the world, you’re inviting criticism and negative feedback. Why in the heck would you want to invite people to critique you?

When you work for days and months and years on a project, you feel connected to it in a way that makes it hard to share. Criticism becomes more personal, and it’s easy to associate your worth with your work. When you take a stand, you will upset someone. But, as the famous quote says, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” (shoutout to my boy, Hamilton)

As Jon Acuff recently wrote, it’s tempting to believe you shouldn’t share something you’ve created until “it’s so good that no one can criticize it.”

This is true for everyone, but I think it’s especially true for those of us who live and work in art/communication/creativity land—a mystical land full of rainbows and hipsters and coffee and an overflowing waterfall of good ideas.

Or something like that.

With every graphic I make and every video I edit, I feel like I leave a piece of me in it, so the responses I receive—or don’t receive—feel very personal.

I know I’m beginning to sound like a real tortured artist, and I don’t mean to.

But here’s why I’ve been afraid lately:

IMG_5336I wrote a book.

Like, a real one. With a cover and table of contents and an ISBN number and a bar code that you can buy on Amazon.

If you’ve known me for a while, you know that I love to write and occasionally have silly little things about Star Wars or dream jobs published online. Writing a book has always been on my bucket list, and recently I decided to take a leap and go for it.

Here’s the funny thing: I’ve been done with it for months and didn’t tell anyone. I started three years ago and kept putting it off.

I was afraid it would be really horrible. I was afraid no one would care. I was afraid I’d spend a lot of my own money and no one would ever buy it. I was afraid of one-star Amazon reviews and I was afraid of finding every copy I ever sold at a used bookstore in the bargain bin.

But more than that, I was afraid I would upset people. There are a lot of pieces of me scattered in these pages, and you may not like or agree with everything you see. Beyond the surface level stuff I’ve posted before, I go deeper in this project into things that are really important to me. I was afraid people would see me differently, and they may not like what they saw.

That is scary.

More details will be coming soon. But in the meantime, I wanted to publish this post, because I know if I do, I have to finish. Now that it’s out there, you can keep me accountable. It would be easy to keep this thing stored on a hard drive and never allow it to see the light of day, but I want to be brave. I want to be bold enough to share my thoughts on things that are important.

Recently I read a great blog post by Paul Jarvis about gravy. You don’t need gravy to eat a meal, but it sure makes things taste better. In his work, Paul makes a conscious effort to set very modest goals. He sets low expectations that he can live with, because “I consider anything beyond a little bit of success to be gravy. Sweet, delicious gravy.”

GravyChart

With most things in life, you can’t control other people’s reactions. It would be very unhealthy and very unwise to allow others to dictate how happy or successful you are. That’s a very easy thing to get sucked into, but it’s a very dangerous trap where it’s impossible to be happy.

So, with this project, my expectations are super low. I hope I sell five copies and one of those five people likes it. I hope my family and closest friends enjoy and are challenged by my words. If nothing else, I’ll know that I did it: I published a book. That’s it.

If I sell ten or 15 copies, bring on the gravy train.

JimmyFist

I’ll be sharing more about my book soon, but in the meantime, here’s my takeaway for you: If I can do this, you can, too. Don’t be afraid of letting the world see the real you. It’s a much better and more rewarding way to live. Plus, (to quote Acuff again) the fear I’m talking about “has kept many a book stuck in a laptop, many a business stuck in a head, and many a painting stuck in the studio.”

Let it out, and enjoy the gravy.

Heroes Don’t Hide: Leadership Lessons from Luke Skywalker

This article was originally published in the Christian Leader magazine.

I have to admit: I’m a very casual Star Wars fan. I can’t really tell you anything about Count Dooku, but I am pretty sure I’m supposed to hate Jar Jar Binks.

With that said, I did enjoy the latest Star Wars movie. Even if you don’t typically enjoy science fiction and might not totally understand Chewbacca, very few film franchises have impacted our culture as much as Star Wars. Fun special effects aside, there is something innately compelling and awe-inspiring about epic heroes fighting a dark and evil enemy.

I think there’s an important lesson we can all learn from The Force Awakens. As cool as the Jedi are, I believe everyone’s favorite light saber-yielder made a mistake that we should avoid.

When we last saw Luke Skywalker at the end of Return of the Jedi, he was the hero of the universe. The evil Darth Vader was defeated, and at least some sort of balance was reestablished in the Force. Around 30 years have passed, and in the classic scrolling text that kicks off the new sequel we learn that Luke has vanished.

The bad guys have new leadership and are determined to destroy him. Princess Leia is still in the picture, and she too is looking for her brother, Luke.

This new movie is basically a galactic search for one man who clearly doesn’t want to be found. He scatters a few clues embedded in his favorite droid, but he makes it very difficult for a new generation of leaders to find their beloved hero. The galaxy needs Luke, and for reasons that aren’t yet clear, he’s hiding (with a really cool beard).

There are numerous theories circulating on the Web about why Luke went into seclusion. Maybe he’s afraid of his own power and doesn’t trust himself to resist the temptation of the dark side. Maybe he’s embarrassed about the chaos his family is responsible for. Or it could be that he’s just a tired old man who would rather read the newspaper with a cup of coffee in a bathrobe and slippers.

Does that sound like Luke Skywalker to you? He’s a film icon—one of the coolest heroes to ever grace our screens. When the galaxy is in trouble, who you gonna’ call? If the Ghostbusters aren’t available, the obvious answer is Luke Skywalker!

The next movie may reveal a good reason for Luke’s absence, and his reputation may be restored. But with what we currently know, I’m disappointed in Luke. Heroes don’t hide. Even when they’re scared, leaders act and inspire.

If you’re in a place of leadership at work, at church, in your family or in any other context, a time will come when people look to you for direction, training and encouragement. Maybe you have a stellar leadership track record like Luke, or maybe you’re more like Finn or Rey—the new generation of leaders with passion and potential but little experience.

Don’t shrink away from the big moment. There are at least 100 verses in the Bible where God commands us not to fear. Romans 13:1 tells us, “There is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”

Emerging young leaders in my generation need guidance from people who are a few “episodes” ahead of us. Whatever age and stage of life you find yourself in, don’t let your past or fears about the future keep you from being the hero we need you to be. Don’t underestimate your experience or the value you can provide.

Of course, unlike Leia, our “only hope” comes from One greater than Obi Wan. But we all still need guides that are brave enough to step up and lead the next charge—even if you don’t have a cool beard or amazing light saber skills. Prayerfully and boldly move forward as the leader God has called you to be.

Prince of Peace

This devotional originally appeared in Sterling College’s 2015 Advent devotional.

Isaiah 9:6-7

I typically try to avoid talking about politics, but it’s hard for me to read this passage without drawing parallels to our current election cycle. The prophet Isaiah (hundreds of years before Jesus was born) prophesied that one day a Savior would rise up and rule, “and the government will be on His shoulders” and “the greatness of His government and peace will not end.”

This was just one of many prophesies made in the Old Testament about a coming Savior. The Jews of Jesus’ time knew these passages well, and most—if not all—expected a powerful, militant, and political leader. They had been taken advantage of, abused, and ruled unfairly for hundreds of years and were understandably anxious for the powerful leader Isaiah and the prophets promised them.

Strangely, a few chapters later, Isaiah also predicted that this coming Ruler would be “despised and rejected by men, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.” He would, indeed, save the Jews, but He would do it because of His willingness to be “pierced for our transgressions” and “crushed for our iniquities.” The punishment we deserved was put on Him, and “by His wounds we are healed.”

That’s an interesting political strategy.

SterlingDevoQuoteI doubt many people initially expected a humble carpenter born to a simple couple in a manger to become this leader who would eventually have the government on His shoulders. Jesus wasn’t vocal about overthrowing military regimes or taking power from the upper class. He wasn’t a successful CEO, influential politician, or controversial reality TV star. Instead, this Savior attracted people no one else cared about, routinely spoke about loving our enemies, and eventually sacrificed Himself so we could spend eternity with Him.

All of this started with a baby in a manger, predicted hundreds of years in advance.

Jesus’ power and influence wasn’t what anyone expected, but I, for one, am grateful that He is the leader we ultimately follow. He had no desire to gain fame or tout His agenda; instead this humble King came to claim these titles: “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” That is a leader worth following and devoting your life to, and we have assurance that His reign of peace will never end.

Truth on the Internet

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This article was originally published on COLLIDE Magazine.

The best and worst thing about the Internet is that anyone anywhere can post whatever they want any time. It’s a great and horrible thing.

Recently, a few of my friends sent me an article they found online dissecting the dangers of drinking a particular soda that I occasionally enjoy.

… Ok, I drink a lot of this particular beverage.

The article itself was not a great example of stellar reporting or accurate grammar. The comments section of the article was filled with people questioning the author and pointing out flaws in his logic.

That drinking copious amounts of soda is bad for me is now reinforced. But the reporting discrepancies I found in this publication about pop bring up a real issue that I fear will only get worse in our culture: It is increasingly difficult to discern the truth online.

Wild, Wild Web

If you’ve never built a webpage before, you may not know how easy it is to create a site that can publish your words to the entire wired world. For less than $20, even a web novice can build a professional page complete with a classy-sounding URL and snazzy graphics. There are no background checks prior to checking out at GoDaddy — you can claim to be whoever you want to be on your shiny new corner of the web. After only a few minutes of setup, you could easily publish all kinds of buzzy headlines that might just end up on someone’s Facebook page.

“Scientist: Outer Space Actually Isn’t Real!”

“Donald Trump Claims Obama Was Never A Baby!”

“House Plants That Listen To Ariana Grande Grow Three Times Stronger!”

In 2012, the satirical news site The Onion published a comical article claiming that North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un was named the Sexiest Man Alive. The silly piece made ridiculous claims that most people would clearly and quickly identify as sarcasm.

But humour doesn’t always translate.

Soon after the article was published, the Chinese news outlet People’s Daily Online reprinted several of the comments as if they were facts. They published their own 55-page photo gallery to accompany the text documenting Jong-Un’s “impeccable fashion sense,” “boyish charm,” and “famous smile.” With a simple Google search, you can find several other humorous instances when The Onion fooled the general public with their satirical reporting.

But it’s not just The Onion. Just recently, the news site Politico came under fire for publishing some potentially misleading comments about presidential candidate Ben Carson. In 2013, several news networks had to backtrack after making claims about the Boston Marathon bombing that ended up not being accurate. Whether you’re reading The Onion, CNN, or random links from a friend’s Twitter feed, the line between “reporting” and “opinion” and “news” and “gossip” is increasingly thin.

To be clear, I’m not poking fun at anyone who has fallen for click-bait, and I’m certainly not criticizing the Chinese news media. My point is simply that it is really difficult to know who you can trust today — especially online.

So how can you know who to trust?

Think Before You Click

The answer is simple, but not easy. Be careful. Do research. Talk it over with people you trust. If you read something that sounds outlandish, don’t accept it at face value. Remember how easy it is to broadcast silly fiction. Before you post or retweet something you read, take a minute to check a few more sources. Even if it turns out to be true, assess your motive. Are your words going to be hurtful or misleading? Are you trying to further your cause without researching the opposing view? Would you be ok with someone publishing a similar sentiment about you or a cause you believe in?

Of course the Internet didn’t exist in biblical times (Or did it? Check your sources.). Still, I think several verses are helpful in this discussion. In Proverbs, Solomon warns, “The simple believe anything, but the prudent give thought to their steps.” In 1 Corinthians, Paul instructs us not to think like children, but rather “in your thinking, be adults.” Possibly among the best advice for life in the 21st century also comes from Paul in Ephesians: “Be very careful then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise.”

Whether you’re researching side effects of soda consumption, the attractiveness of Korean dictators, or maybe something a little more important, be wise. Double-check facts. Exercise discernment. I think you’ll be glad you did.

Thankful in the Age of ISIS

ThankfulInTheAgeOfISIS

So far I’ve purposely remained pretty quiet online about the recent attacks in Paris, Beirut, Nigeria, Baghdad, Turkey, Chicago, and everywhere else. Because of my profession, I’ve learned it’s better for me to not broadcast my initial knee-jerk reaction when big news breaks. I’ve been asked to defend and explain specific tweets and blog posts in job interviews in the past, and I want to be sure I really believe anything I publish.

Now that I’ve had some time to process my thoughts, I’ve realized my overarching emotion in response to the events of the past few weeks is outright sadness.

I’m sad for the friends and families of the victims.
I’m sad for the terrorists who are sometimes captured, tricked, and brainwashed to believe they have to do this.
I’m sad for the Muslims who will likely forever be unfairly linked to terrorism.
I’m sad for my non-Christian friends who must think most Christians lack compassion and are mostly irrational and angry.

With all of this bouncing around in my brain, last Friday a gentleman walked into our church asking for money. While this isn’t typically my responsibility, on Fridays it is my job to interact with “walk-ins” and follow our procedures for people seeking assistance. This specific man was asking for gas money so he could visit his mom in the hospital in Texas. I followed our procedures, and unfortunately we were unable to help him.

And that made me sad.

In response to these recent attacks, I’ve heard and read a lot of people saying that all of us need to do a better job at loving our neighbor. Here in the middle of Kansas, I feel pretty helpless in fighting worldwide problems, but I really do want to be intentional about loving my neighbor.

Later that day, I received an email warning me that there was a man going around Wichita asking for money to visit his mom in Texas, and it was all a scam. He faked his name and situation, and he wasn’t in as dire of a need as he claimed. My heart broke when I couldn’t initially help this man, and I later found out it was all a lie. We have a very generous church, and this man tried to take advantage of that fact.

And that made me sad.

I don’t want to be sensationalist, but I really do believe the world has changed the past few weeks. While we don’t want to give in to fear, the world is scary. Bad things happen. A lot. I’m a little embarrassed and ashamed to admit this, but when I woke up in the middle of the night feeling the 4.7 earthquake that hit Oklahoma last week (by the way… uh, what?!), my first thought was an earthquake, but my second was ISIS. We live in a broken and hurting and dangerous world.

Today my mind has shifted again as I begin processing and planning for Thanksgiving. I really like Thanksgiving. I enjoy the time with family and the football and the food and (…yes) even the shopping. I’m ridiculously blessed, and it’s very easy for me to quickly spout out a long list of things I’m thankful for.

But for some reason, this year feels a little different. Of course I’m thankful, but the darkness of this world is also more palpable than usual. I’m sad about Paris and Muslims and Christians and the man asking for money. So how do we be thankful in the midst of such a mess?

How do we express gratitude when CNN constantly warns of more imminent attacks?
How can we be thankful for all of the incredible blessings we have as Americans when so much of our country is angrily fighting each other?
How can we celebrate our ancestors coming to a new nation when so many of us aren’t willing to extend that same opportunity to refugees?

Today I realized one thing I desperately need to work on: I need to be really careful what information I allow myself to ingest.

I’ve watched the news a lot the past few weeks, and while I may be more informed, it also makes me more paranoid.
I’ve read a lot of Facebook and Twitter posts this week, and while I care for all my friends who posted them, I’m frustrated by most of their attitudes.
I’ve started listening to a new podcast, and while I admire and enjoy the panel, their snarky and sarcastic tone is hard not to emulate.

I’m not putting very thankful thoughts into my brain. I’m reading, listening to, and watching a lot of angry noise, so it’s hard not to be sad.

Even today, in this dangerous world of imminent attacks and angry people yelling at each other about politics, I have so much to be thankful for. You have so much to be thankful for. And we have so much to be thankful for.

So just do it. Be thankful.

I unsubscribed from that podcast.
I “unfollowed” some friends on Facebook (I don’t have the heart to unfriend them).
I need less CNN and Fox News.

I don’t have time for that nonsense. I have a lot to be thankful for. I don’t need to be distracted.

You know what will really drive terrorists and doomsday politicians crazy? Just be thankful for what you have. Don’t let them win by causing you to fear. Don’t get angry about what you can’t control or what you disagree with. It usually does no good. Yes, you should stay informed about what’s going on and you should vote and you should engage with people who hold opposing viewpoints and get involved with causes you believe in. Of course. Just keep the ratio in check. Reflect on God’s goodness. Even if you don’t believe in God, you have a lot to be thankful for, so thank whoever you want to thank. I think you’ll feel a lot better about your life and the world, and you might just help me feel better, too.

Thanks.