Shelf Control


Yes, I know we’re writing about SELF control this week, not SHELF control, but besides being an ironically lame (and therefor funny) pun, I want to talk about the shelf that we all have in our hearts that we tend to put ourselves on and exclude others from. The shelf is the judgy-judgy shelf from which we look down upon those OTHER people who don’t agree with us. You know, the unenlightened ones.

The ones that eat gluten and voted for Donald Trump in the primaries. The ones that buy the regular apples from the regular grocery store. The ones that don’t use essential oils. The ones that eat meat. The ones that drive SUVs. The ones that own guns. The ones that take their kids to public school. The ones that took out $150,000 in student loans to study French literature and didn’t finish their degree. The ones that seemingly had every advantage in life and still ended up addicted to drugs. The talented ones that always finished ahead of you in whatever it was and are still underemployed and unmarried. The ones that waste. The ones that took what didn’t have their name on it. The ones that ignored your good advice. The brown ones. The white ones. The poor ones. The rich ones.

We’re all screwing it up in someone’s eyes.

It’s like we forget that what good we have in our lives is from God, as in, it’s a gift. My life is a testimony that our best isn’t good enough. It’s just not. Like the refrigerator magnet I have fro (who even remembers where they get refrigerator magnets from)… but it says a profound thing: “It’s not enough to put your heart and soul into something. The really important things require much more than that.” Then in really tiny print in the corner of the colorful illustration is the punch line: work of grace.

Today, we can find our own little, or sometimes BIG, corner of the media that 100% agrees with us. If we feel threatened by liberal presidential candidates or ConAgra or cigarette manufacturers or affirmative action or whatever, there is validation out there for you no matter what your thing is. But as my parents would attest after working in retail in a small south Georgia town for 30 years or so, those ideas are people, and those people may be walking into your store tomorrow.

We have it from God because of Jesus and we need to extend it to others that don’t share our views. I’m not arguing for moral relativism, but I am saying that people that don’t live up to whatever standards you have for your politics, or your health, or your theology are made in the image of God, have the autonomy (whether they believe it or not) to choose for themselves, and probably have their own standards they are trying their best to live out. And, odds are, they’re probably not all bad.

We have a great gift of the democracy in which we live, to speak our minds on all manner of platforms. And as Christians, we should be part of the debate if that what God’s laid on our hearts to do. But please, please, and especially as we go into the heart of the election season, let’s let our  message be one of love and not of hate. In a world where were are more interconnected than ever before, let’s remember to maintain our own humanity and respect the humanity of those of opposite views, no matter how much we disagree. Let’s clean off our shelf. That person we would vilify may be walking into our store tomorrow.Joni

Your turn: We all have our soap boxes, and because some of them are important, it’s sometimes hard to know when to step down and when it’s time to press the issue! How do you make that decision? – Breath on Paper


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