Worried about Returning: Internet Shaming

Our environment is being carefully manipulated and fostered by the enemy
to reduce human connection because that connection is the conduit for us
to express Christ's love.

So earlier in February there was a rash of politicians and celebrities
who had in some time in their past dressed up in 'black face'. Black
face is considered racist because and I quote 'it dehumanizes African

I don't want to debate whether or not black face is racist. I have
always been concerned about the terms 'racist' and 'sexist'. Mostly
because they are very powerful words, that when used accusationally are
really hard to defend against, regardless of what is true.  If you
accuse me of being a sexist, it is hard to defend myself without
reinforcing existing ideas that I'm a sexist.

For example "Hey, You're a sexist!"

me: "no I'm not, I love women, I mean, women are equal in the workplace,
I mean, also at home if that's what they want. Women are great! Some of
my favorite people are women!"

The accusation can easily turn you into a stammering idiot who looks
more guilty than innocent.  Those words as accusations have power, and
always have.  We shouldn't bandy them around as easily as we do.

So in the news early February 2019, several politicians in the SAME WEEK
had to apologize for their youthful experiments with black face.

3 in 1 week!  But it doesn't end there.  The next on the list was a
sweater by Gucci. It resembled black face when worn and so the company
had to remove it from their shelves and apologize.

That wasn't all.  Katie Perry had a shoe she had to recall because it
resembled black face.

February was definitely the month of 'black face in the news'. It seems
like each month there is a new 'reason to be disgraced'. Right or wrong,
I'm not debating that. If people do the crime, they should do the time.

But the issue here isn't actually a legal one. It's a 'court of popular
opinion one.'

Internet Shaming is a very powerful thing.  We teach anti-cyber bullying
in school and yet we engage in it as a nation and a people.

Imagine a small business owner. Trying his best to keep his business
afloat, has a few employees.  He's so busy he isn't paying attention to
the news and doesn't realize that if he wears a certain color shirt to
work that day he's supporting some cause he's unaware of.  As he walks
into his 4 employee building, someone takes a photo of him with their
phone and posts it on Instagram.

"CEO of Small Business wears Homophobic Shirt!"

It is totally feasible that he loses customers over that if it goes wide
enough.  The only real hope that man has is that he's not popular enough
to warrant the pic going viral.

But if he one day ever is popular enough, that photo will resurface. 
So, he strives to build his business, and one day it becomes national,
affluent, he's at the top of the headlines, and then boom here comes
that photo from 15 years prior.  And he's shamed, and asked to step down
from the board of directors.... because really, how many of us believe
him when he says

"it was 15 years ago, and I didn't know what I was doing?"

Am I defending these black facers?  No. I don't even know their story
and I have no reason to defend or promote anyone involved.

I'm simply saying, right now with the way that the U.S. is spiraling out
of control, I feel as if I'm returning to a different country. One that
does not value free speech any longer.  One that could ruin me with the
smallest accidental misstep.  One where the best strategy for survival,
is to remain silent, and fly under the radar, never strive to be too
successful, or to take any form of public office.

It seems to me we've begun to foster and very negative environment.

And it's hard because yeah, we should be ferreting out corruption and
lies and bigotry and racism and sexism.... but in some ways right now
our country feels like it did under the time of McCarthyism.  People are

In June, I get on a plane to return to the U.S.  The land of the free. 
And yet in many ways I feel more free where I live now.

I've said that to myself before and I thought 'it sounds like you're
saying 'I'm more free to be racist and sexist here.' '  I'm not a racist
and I'm not a sexist, so I don' t go around saying such things. But I
know that if I said something innocent that could be misconstrued, I'd
be given the benefit of the doubt here. Why? Because I have deeply
authentic relationships with people who know my heart and would
instantly see something innocently misspoken as just that.

Here's the hope part.  I trust God enough, to love people.  In this
environment in the U.S. I think it would be natural to be suspicious of
people. We'd be less likely to simply say 'hi' to a stranger in the U.S.
because we know it could lead to all kinds of trouble we don't want to
deal with.

The enemy wins the moment we're no longer willing to reach out to
someone new.

We're told to love with the love of Christ.  How many of us apply that
to the people we 'ALREADY KNOW.' ? AS time moves on, the list of people
we know only shrinks if we're unwilling to meet new people, make new

Our environment is being carefully manipulated and fostered by the enemy
to reduce human connection because that connection is the conduit for us
to express Christ's love.

We have to fight against the shaping of that environment by the enemy. 
There are so many things against the fostering of authentic human
connection these days, nearly everything is shaping up this way.  Talk
to a real human stranger? NO WAY! Don't you realize how dangerous that is?

For me, returning to the U.S. I have very real plans and ideas about how
I will foster human connections and relationships. But I'm also very
aware that there are risks in reaching out to people.  I am sad those
risks are greater today than I remember them being in my lifetime.
Thankfully I follow a God who is strong enough to hold me through those


Through my mind...

We depart PNG in 4 and a half months.  We're coming up on 12 years here (in a few weeks).  I have always wondered what goes on in the minds of people as they prepare to do what we here call 'going finish.'
For me, a lot of things.  But I realize everyone's situation is different.

-There's a constant cycle of having a new worry or a new thought and then giving it to God in prayer. They just pop in there like 'what about this?"  Then you remind yourself God is faithful, God is in control, Dear Lord take this one from me, I can't do anything about it anyway.  All yours.  (rinse and repeat the next time it pops up).
-There's the logistics of booking air travel, packing your house, etc.  Different people handle this differently. I love watching how people handle it.  Some folks don't pack until the last few days, some the night before they leave, others dont' get a chance to pack because their 'finish' surprised them as they had to leave in an emergency.  For us, that's not a big deal. We have most all the big logistics covered because we wanted our final days to be spent saying goodbyes.
-There's the mumu's. Traditional goodbye meals with local friendships.  Many tears, stories told, etc.
-There's the real concern about whether or not you're doing the right thing.  Though God put going 'finish' on our hearts for certain, and though He sends us encouragement, there is always the little doubts and jokes about 'you know if you stayed...' and you think 'yeah I could stay here and do a lot of really good work still.'  and then the subtle reminder 'true.. but that's not where I'm calling you next.'
-There's real concern about money and the future.  As we make decisions about where we're going to live, what we're going to do, what we'll drive.  Basically, like starting fresh right out of school again.  Have to get our license, get new credit cards, get new... everything.  We're 45 and starting over with zero assets, no home ownership, nothing.  But at the same time.... it's exhilarating because of the next one:

-There's the concern that we will no longer need God.  Moving to PNG we had to discipline ourselves into a daily habit of total reliance upon God. For provision, safety, finances, guard against spiritual attack, for the grace to get through a day.  moving back to a first world country, I'm truly concerned we'll let those habits decay.  Which is why, having so much uncertainty is actually comfortable for me.  Once you develop habits to cope with an unknown future, a daily 'anything can happen' routine... without it, life seems a little less than. 

-The temptation to speak your mind more freely.  I've seen a some people lose their cool when going finish.  For years you learn how to live together in community and get along. You daily apply grace to those who tend to irk you more than others, because you need to live in Christian community.  But when you're about to leave that community, suddenly the temptation to stop speaking the truth in love and start speaking the truth to EVERYONE as harshly as you can.... gets stronger.  I am one of those people who have bitten my tongue so often in 12 years that it's down to the nub.  The temptation to unload it all and ruin those 12 years of patience and grace is strong.  I keep going back to Christ's model though, and I think about how much restraint He had. I can hold on just a little longer.  But, like anything under pressure, sometimes venting that pressure helps avoid an explosion.
-I have lost most all of my American skills.  I no longer follow NFL or MLB, so I'll have to catch up on that, just to have things in common.  I don't know current terminologies, or events. I'm not heavily invested in politics, I don't know a lot about living in the U.S. I'm sure it'll all come back to me. But it'll be awkward, because the American has been largely stripped out of my Christianity, and I no longer feel the way I once did about a great many things.

-In some ways, I'm more concerned about security in the U.S.  I know what to expect here, I've become used to it. But in the U.S. there are expectations that go unmet. When I sit in people's homes in the U.S. I think 'wow this place is so insecure! How can you sleep at night!'  It's part of the acclimation process, though there are certain habits I've learned here that I'll never unlearn.
-Complexity and cost. Living in the U.S. has a lot of costs I'm unfamiliar with and complexities that I've gotten used to not having to deal with.

-True fellowship. I won't have a mechanic I know and trust, I won't have a doctor I pray with, I won't have a pilot who I talk to when I'm flying places, or a post office worker whose family I know.  I'm not sure I remember how to do small talk, I'm used to long hours of in depth conversation and making life long deep friendships.  Can I survive living on the surface again? Will I have to?

-Time and traffic - this list could just keep going on and on and on... but I remember a huge chunk of my day was taken up by traffic and little things.  The Pace of life will be so much faster in California.

This and so many other things race through my mind, and my wife has her own list.
Along with it are all the good things that race through my mind as well. But I tend to segment emotional processes.
Right now, I'm all about finishing well here, doing my work, leaving no loose ends, and getting my son graduated, then leaving.
As soon as I'm on the plane my mind will turn to the stuff about the U.S.