People Crumbling Internally

I think too many people are emotionally weak. Of course, I was raised on a farm with three older brothers, so I don’t recall anyone getting away with the type of whining that makes news today.

In the past we were kept somewhat sober because disease, famine, and war highlighted our vulnerabilities. They were brutal reminders that we were not in control. However, ours is the first generation in which more of us will die from eating too much than from eating too little; from old age rather than from infectious diseases; or from suicide rather than from soldiers, terrorists, and criminals combined. My friends and I are far more likely to die from binging at McDonald’s than from drought, Ebola, or an al-Qaeda attack. We’re the first generation in which starvation, epidemics, and violence continue to be serious, but are, in fact, manageable. In response, it seems as though we are replacing our external fears with internal conflicts, which makes us increasingly appear like babies.

We’re getting soft. I just saw a news story on ABC about an over-weight elementary-age boy whose mom brought him to see Santa. He asked Santa for an I-Pad and a Play station, both of which produce sedentary activities that would keep him in the house, looking at screens, and probably eating snacks. Santa teasingly responded that he would give the boy his request if he would lay off the hamburgers. The story went on to report that the kid cried all afternoon and even cried himself to sleep that night. Apparently Santa wounded him. In response, the boy’s Mom demanded Santa apologize (which he did) and that he be fired. Certainly there are multiple causes for obesity and I don’t know her son’s reasons. But what I do know is that now her son’s emotional sensitivity is empowered.

I’ve noticed the church also having to deal with a heightened emotional sensitivity among worshippers. When I was growing up, we went to church because we were Christians . . . period. We did not go for entertainment, soothing, or therapy. As I think about attending First Presbyterian Church in our small farming community, I don’t think anyone cared how we felt about it. We needed to know the facts to live well, so we learned the Scriptures, worshipped, served, and returned the next week to worship again. I never remember my parents discussing whether or not we would go to church, or even whether or not they liked the church. Their view was that the church provided an important and firm foundation for our lives. It was based on the truths of the Scriptures and timeworn logic and wisdom. It was fundamental because the alternatives were not acceptable. It was reasonable and had a core of conviction about it and was not subject to our whims or approval . . . and certainly not our feelings.

But today it seems as though we have replaced the Scriptures and logic with emotional sensitivity and personal exaltation. I don’t know if this comes from television, humanism, social media, or all of us feeling entitled because we’ve been raised with benefits earned by others, but we sure seem spoiled.

Even Saturday Night Live is now mocking this trend. Their recent skit “Wells for Boys,” is a spoof advertisement of “toys for sensitive boys,” so sensitive little boys can “live a more examined life.” These toys include a wishing well for little boys to sit beside and contemplate, a broken mirror to remind our boys of “the complex contradictions of their being,” and a plastic balcony so they can express themselves. The SNL skit mocks the overly sensitive way we’re creating weak children.

I don’t typically watch Saturday Night Live, so for me, the tipping point was the emotional response to Clinton losing the presidential election. I have to admit, Trump’s victory caught me by surprise. I knew Clinton had the experience, money, and machinery that would be difficult to overcome. As a Republican, I accepted the expectation that Clinton would win the presidency, Democrats would retake the Senate, and the Supreme Court would move left.

But the actual results were very different. It turned out that Trump won the White House, the Republicans kept the House and the Senate, and the conservatives will have opportunity to fill one seat, maybe two, in the Supreme Court.

When Democrats started blaming their losses on others, protesting in the streets, burning police cars, and damaging private property, I questioned what they expected to accomplish and if they were emotionally healthy. If these responses were, in fact, intentional, then the protesters looked like leftists in third-world countries overthrowing democratic processes because, in their arrogance, they could not understand another point of view – believing everyone else must be ill informed or misled. Or, if they were upset and reacting emotionally and spontaneously, then they were just throwing a fit because they didn’t get their way and wanted everyone to know they were angry.

Either way, we need more adults in the room.

They say the diversity we have always had in America has morphed into bitter divisions. Perhaps this idea is due in part to political parties, scholars, and the press who have grouped us by our age, our race, our gender, our faith, our education, our professions, our sexuality, etc., in order to highlight and contrast the severity of our differences. No doubt, it makes their presentations more interesting. When there is tension, more people pay attention than when there is peace. As a result, those institutions, which rely on followers, students, and ratings, have no incentive to help America be a melting pot where we all can benefit from and enjoy one another’s strengths in an atmosphere of respect. Oh, they do give it lip service, but with every newscast and opportunity in our classrooms, pundits and lecturers irritate their audiences by pitting groups against one another. They encourage us to feel like emotionally damaged victims and, in effect, be selfish children willing to defame Santa because he doesn’t give us what we want and make us feel good.

I suggest that instead of simple emotional reactions, maybe we ought to think and let wisdom dominate our emotions. We have a choice. We can crumble internally, yell, scream, block traffic, hurt people, burn police cars, and bust out the windows of our businesses to show the world we did not get what we wanted. Or we can grow up, toughen up, and respond constructively to life’s circumstances. When we are emotionally strong, we can build peaceful communities, solid churches, and a great country. I think we should opt for the latter. Our survival in a brutal world may depend on it.

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18 thoughts on “People Crumbling Internally

  1. dansbritton says:

    One of your best blogs yet! Thank you, Pastor Ted!

  2. Barb says:

    Well said, and I agree completely!

  3. Aaron Wright says:

    I found it interesting that a boy who is mature enough to have the cognitive capabilities to articulate that the treatment he received made him feel disrespected is still seeing Santa.

    • Rhonda Walter says:

      Good point Aaron and I’m sure the mother made it much worse for the boy. It just bothered me that it was not Santa’s place to give his opinion. I know Ted had a much broader point than just Santa lol

  4. TheRev says:

    Great job on explaining this whiny, cultural vortex we are in. You created a philosophical “safe place” for us more sensitive readers to run to for personal correction and societal exhortation. No more giving out trophies for mere participation or medals for finishing last with style.

  5. Michelle says:

    Awesome words Pastor Ted! Such wisdom spoken here. Thank you for sharing. I will pass it on!

  6. Travis Waits says:

    We have choice, and personal responsibility how we will show up and who we will be in our story – I stole that from you my friend … 😉

    I appreciated your candor and forthrightness, it is refreshing. You speak to a ‘both/and’ perspective that is healthy because it is not minimizing of our emotions, but also does not accommodate them to dictate our behavior. We always have a choice, regardless how we feel.

    We encourage our kids frequently, that the only thing they “control” is their ‘attitude’ and their ‘effort’ …everything else is not up to them, only how they choose to respond. Life is not fair, nor should it be. But we do have hope that we are never alone, and can respond by faith with courage to whatever circumstance life throws at us.

  7. Christina says:

    Yes!!! And Amen!!!!

  8. James says:

    Good post Ted. We may differ on some points but your posts are always well thought out and insightful. After our email exchange, I shall take this as a lesson to read your posts in full rather than the email ‘hook’. Good work 🙂

    Overall, I think the problem that causes people to have, as you call them, ‘weak children’ is ‘entitlement’. Parents feel they are entitled to raise their children to be over sensitive. They beleive their children are ‘entitled’ to any and all ‘entertainment’ at the flick of a button or the stroke of a key, click of a mouse ( or whatever ). They tend to have this idea that they are not good parents unless they provide for their every whim. There is however another side of the coin; the parents who are polar opposite and do NOT care; those that resign their children to a feral existence because they cannot be bothered to be around to raise them properly; the parents who will instill their own twisted morality into their children instead of demonstrating ( rather than just teaching ) sensible moral attitudes and priciples.

    I cannot wholly blame the parents for this though. Ok, I can pick fault with the ones that I feel should know better, but these days it is getting a lot harder to spot the parents who should know better and the ones who obviously don’t. You have to remember that the society we live in gives mixed messages and therefore it is fairly easy to understand why many parents do not seem to have a clue.

    Lost people in a lost society raising lost children who are constantly told by the media that they are the ones that matter most. Is it any wonder we have these problems today?

    Again, I thank you for calling me out on responding to the hook rather than the post and as I generally do not engage in public discussion, in this instance I make an exception.

    God Bless 🙂

  9. Cindi Posthumus says:

    I’m watching Mary Poppins and she just said “never judge by appearance. ” When she said that it came to me as an appropriate response to the boy whose mom wanted the apology from Santa as well as those who are protesting the election results.

    • I will boldly defend Scripture, fight with Communists, Socialists, enemies of freedom and liberty, and those who don’t understand human dynamics. I don’t back down . . . except in this situation. Mary Poppins renders me speechless. Thank you Cindi.

  10. Fred Bristow says:

    Excellent word, Ted, but you’re probably preaching to the choir as those who need to hear this personally probably wouldn’t listen. However, it’s certainly important for those parents who are raising children. Maybe they can reverse the trend that has resulted in this spoiled rotten generation. The trend to spoil children certainly isn’t a new thing. I’m a baby boomer who was spoiled by my parents and it’s taken years of continual repentance to undo the effects of such spoiling.

    The Scriptures have plenty of examples of spoiled kids (I’m thinking of king David and his kid, Absalom as a good example) and there are some good pithy words for Moms and Dads such as “spare the rod, damn his soul” (my very loose paraphrase of those well known passages in Proverbs) especially in this day where spanking a child is usually considered as nothing but child abuse. At 64, my wife’s and my child rearing years are over (6 kids and 11 GK’s – so far) but I do hope this next generation will do everything they can to stop this evil trend of self indulgence which is producing the kind of young people that you alluded to in your blog.

    • Jay Arnn says:

      Hello Fred, we also have 6 children and will be welcoming our 12th grandchild into the fold in late March or early April of 2017. Congratulations on your family – it truly is a blessing.
      It is interesting that you bring up King David and I do agree that he had his fair share of issues with his children, but I might also point out that King David lived under a different covenant than we do today. King David lived under the Mosaic Covenant of the law which required the sacrifice of bulls, goats or doves (depending on ones economic status) as atonement of ones sins for the year. There are other sacrifices, the 5 Levitical offerings and very fascinating to study and how they are a picture of Jesus to come. David was also cursed by God: II Samuel 12:10-12 (AMP) “Now, therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because [you have not only despised My command, but] you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife. Thus says the Lord, Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun”. Even though King David’s sin was imputed by the sacrifice of bulls and goats – this was only temporary and under the law, God punished King David for his sin. Today, we have the perfect sacrifice who was the word and then the word became flesh and fulfilled the law for us – in our place so that we could inherit the blessings of God and the Kingdom of Heaven. Under the new Covenant of Grace, God had promised to remember our sins no more – Isaiah 43:25, Hebrews 8:13 and Hebrews 10:17. Hebrews 8:13 I find most powerful because God tells us about the disposition of the covenant of the law – that it is obsolete and will disappear. Why? Because it was fulfilled by the perfect sacrifice, Jesus Christ. Just as a bank note on a car is fulfilled, you no longer pay on it, we no longer pay for our sins because that debt was paid for us on the Cross by Jesus over 2000 years ago – your account was credited long before you were born. Now, we no longer sacrifice the bull, goat or dove, but rely on the perfect sacrifice who has redeemed us all to God and in that redemption we are made whole – righteous and holy in His sight. This comes to us as a gift of faith from God through the Holy Spirit. It is no secret that satan wants to destroy the family, because it is the cornerstone of an abundant life on earth, and is the foundation of man existing in a circle of love with the Father – family on earth is everything and when you remove the sacrifice then you remove faith and when you remove faith all you have is your own works which places you back under the curse of the law – right where satan wants you – guilt ridden, condemned, looking for answers through your own works rather than placing Jesus back in the center of the family. Remember, when you and your wife are together in agreement – Jesus is in the midst – why do you think satan is so bent on destroying the family – because if there is no father or mother together to agree and the covenant of marriage is broken then it is harder to bring Jesus into that midst. Not impossible – but break the family and you break the circle of love that our Creator intended for us. No – I’m sure this has nothing to do with weak minded people, but rather lost people who need Jesus at the center of their life and the life of their children. By the standards of the Lord we are all weak – however – Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Him (Christ) who strengthens me. I just want to point out that this is a poor translation and the Greek would better translate to: When I rest in Him who can do all things, I am strengthened. We are to rest in Jesus, who willingly went to the Cross as our perfect Sacrifice in our place to reconcile us to God. We are no longer cursed by God or punished by God like King David because we are under a new covenant where the blood of Jesus continuously washes us clean even in our darkest moments and we remind one another that we are the righteousness of God through Jesus Christ (our confession) in order to repent (have a change of mind) and realize our worth to God and who we are – the beloved of our Lord. Now, when we sin, we are covered by the blood – since God does not remember our sin we no longer confess our sin but we confess who we are in Jesus – righteous, whole, Holy, loved, complete, perfect through Jesus – and our children and grandchildren need this message desperately. God loves you and He has done everything for you at the Cross. For those of us who know this should reveal Jesus at every opportunity – remind others their worth and what God thinks of them – The Song of Songs ( Song of Solomon) is a great book to read because it tells us what Jesus(God) thinks of us. We are a treasure to Him, just as your Grandchildren are a treasure to you.

      With Kind regards,
      Jay Arnn

  11. Cavin Harper says:

    Thoughtfully and insightfully expressed, Ted.

  12. Jim says:

    Americans should wake up and realize how truly blessed we are. We ought to be thanking instead of whining. But there are a few shining rays of hope. A boy in our church just gave all of his Christmas money to buy presents for a less fortunate family with three children. When someone offered to reimburse him the money he refused saying he just enjoyed feeling like he was paying God back for everything he had already been given.

  13. Lana Heightley says:

    Finally, a mind and person of sanity!! I know many living on the rock, but have been surprised by many people who live on the sand.

  14. Jay Arnn says:

    Ted, I am sorry but I have to disagree with you on this post. One point, which I have not seen anyone post, is the fact that Jesus is missing. The very foundation of our existence – the I AM – is missing in the majority of families raising children – in matters of family – in matters of business – in politics – in school – in most aspects of daily life – so what do we expect when we make the cross of no effect in our lives? When we, as humans, take what God has already done and then try to do it ourselves? The Gospel is full with examples: When we get into this type of accusatory dialogue, we become no better than the pharisees who brought the prostitute before Jesus and were ready to stone her. It sounds good – it’s the law – so it must be right – so we are all ready to jump in and tell everyone else what’s wrong with them – Matthew says it so beautifully in Matthew 7:3 – 7:5 “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?… so – what happens when we put Jesus in the midst – He reminded the pharisees that those without sin cast the first stone. Yet not one did – no one was left to accuse the poor woman and neither did Jesus. I pray no one goes to church because its the “thing to do”, “whether you like it or not” – you are the church – the body of Christ and a righteous holy temple to God who loves you just the way you are – even in your sin – in your darkest moment – and He is ready to run to you the moment you decide to come home. Don’t believe me read the prodigal son. Ted, don’t be of the multitude standing at the base of Mt Sinai boasting that what ever God asks we can do – we can no more do what God asks than a drowning man can swim – if we could we would not need a Savior. I can only imagine at some level the mother asked for an apology and demanded action because she felt condemned about her child and she needed to make the hurt right by focusing her anger at a surrogate abuser – the Santa – rather than at the real root of the issue. Our Lord and Savior sees us as perfect – not because we are perfect – but because His Son was perfect in our place and our faith in Him redeems us and puts us in Him and Jesus in us. So each and every day you can say that you are perfect in God’s eyes because of the finished works of the Son. Jesus died for our sins, but he also died for that little overweight boy who struggles with addiction to food or abuse or low self esteem – Our Savior died for that so that we all might live eternally and without condemnation while we live our earthly life. Guilt and condemnation can destroy the best of us – because our best is like a dirty rag to God – but through Christ Jesus we are redeemed, loved and cherished by the Father. Our faith – Christian faith is a person, Jesus Christ, who was given to us as a Savior. We receive Him through the word, which is the Gospel of our Lord – when we here the word the faith that is given to us is strengthened – it grows – even Jesus showed His disciples how the Gospel would wash their feet from the daily “dust and dirt” of the world. I am just asking you to remember, before you find fault, find Jesus, and put Him back in the equation that is so vitally needed in our daily life.

    Kindest regards,
    Jay Arnn

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