I recently read something on social media I posted 12 years ago. It said, “I’m thankful MLK had a dream…we get to live it without much hostility!”
I believe my meaning behind it was that my dark-skinned husband and light-skinned self could be married and live happily without nearly as much hostility than if we’d lived in the US 50 years beforehand.
I cringe at how naïve I was. I shouldn’t have been—I married into a minority culture that has faced decades of unfair hardship! My journey in uncovering things I wasn’t taught in school had only just begun.
I also couldn’t help but wonder if I would dare type anything like that today. It’s still true…kind of. We’re in a different country now with 3 mixed kids and face all sorts of discriminatory remarks, from skin color to covid-carriers. But I also probably wouldn’t post something today that could invite debates in the comments.
Some people would pin me as an avoider of confrontation. You could call it that. Part of it is not wanting to be wrong—feeling inadequate. But deep down I also know debating often doesn’t change minds or draw people closer to Christ. If we’re honest, it often does the opposite—people dig down deeper into their strong opinions and scoff at those who call themselves Christians, yet act nothing like Jesus.
I heard a recent sermon where the pastor described how we are called to be “Jesus with skin on.” (Yes, Jesus had his own, real skin, too. Go with me here.) This simple phrase hit me as he described our current “cancel culture” of endless debates and defriending people just because we disagree. I don’t even know how we got to this point, but it’s a tragedy.
What ever happened to listening, empathizing, and realizing people’s feelings and reactions could be an indicator of something deeper going on? Where did we veer off the path of truly caring about people, no matter our differences?
It’s not easy to imitate Jesus, especially when we disagree with what’s being said. So how do we navigate those conversations?
After failing with some (very gracious) friends over the past several months, I’ve come away with some rules for myself:
- I avoid debates on social media. It’s just not worth it to me. Tone, emotion, facial expressions (no, emojis don’t cut it here), and body language are all lost.
- I will occasionally join these types of conversations with people who know me, my heart, and my overall intentions well. That way, if a comment reads “off” to them, they know not to get offended, rather just ask for further explanation.
- If my heart is racing as I type a response, I need to sit on it. There’s no need to get that revved up in a conversation.
- If the heart of the comment can’t be backed by scripture, it doesn’t need to be shared.
- If the conversation is getting too heated and there is too much push-back, I will calmly let the others know I’m finished and let it go.
- I check my heart often that I’m not angry with or judging those on the other end.
- Ultimately, if we can plan to have the conversation in person, or at least in a video call, I will always choose that.
Philippians 2:1-5 says:
“Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility consider one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.”
As believers, we can make a huge impact in the world, even…especially?… through social media. If God calls us to do so, we can display the fruits of the Spirit and unity in conversations that are often dripping in name-calling and bashing. We can prayerfully enter conversations, speaking up when truths laced in love need to be heard, and keeping our mouths shut when our tongues can’t be trusted.
We have opportunities to be Jesus with skin on all around us. Let’s represent Him well.
How do you handle opinionated conversations, especially if not face-to-face?
I’ve shared before I don’t love early mornings. However, in recent years, as my kids have begun going to our company’s international school, I’ve felt the mom guilt to provide them with more filling breakfasts to keep their tummies full until lunch. No more opportunities for endless snacks during homeschool days. However, I still don’t like getting up early to cook something from scratch. I go for simple, fast, and filling. These pancakes fit the bill! The batter is whipped up the night before, ready to cook in the morning. Of course the kids love pancakes, and I’m not spending more than 15 minutes cooking them. If mornings aren’t your thing, or you need a fast breakfast, try these fluffy pancakes!
Fluffy Overnight Pancakes
Makes: About 20 pancakes
Ready in: 15 minutes (plus 8 hours in the fridge)
Recipe from: Mel’s Kitchen Cafe
4 cups (20 ounces) all-purpose or whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon instant yeast (see note for active dry yeast)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
4 cups buttermilk (see note)
1/4 cup neutral-flavored oil (like vegetable, canola, avocado, etc)
In a large bowl (with room for the batter to bubble up a couple inches), whisk together the flour, yeast, baking powder, sugar, baking soda and salt.
Add the eggs, buttermilk and oil. Mix until evenly combined (don’t overmix, just mix until no dry streaks remain).
Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 8 hours (or up to 24 hours).
When ready to make the pancakes, uncover the bowl and give the batter a quick stir (just once or twice with a spoon or spatula; don’t stir vigorously or overmix). Cook the pancakes on a hot griddle or skillet sprayed with a little cooking spray or melted butter and serve.
Yeast: if you only have active dry yeast, use the same amount and dissolve in 1/4 cup warm water. Let the mixture stand for about five minutes until it is foamy/bubbly. Add it to the pancake batter with the other wet ingredients.
Don’t Be Alarmed: if you’ve used whole wheat flour and the batter has a slight gray tinge on top when you uncover the bowl the next morning. It is the wheat flour reacting with the baking soda and buttermilk. Just give the batter a quick stir; it won’t affect taste or texture.
Buttermilk Substitution: pour a splash (about 1Tbsp) of lemon juice (lime juice or vinegar would work too) into a measuring cup, then fill up to 1 cup with milk. It will thicken within minutes! Do this for each cup of milk.