It’s ugly out there

It’s getting uglier out there. Have you noticed, too?

Online stands and rants and counter-attacks. Blow-ups and boil-overs and arousing each other’s anger.

We’re raising hell, alright.

But is that what we’re supposed to do?

Would we hatefully comment the same words to a friend (or foe’s) face that we’ll type beneath a blog post or a Facebook link?

Whatever happened to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8)?

Maybe instead of feeding our fires with the fierceness online, we look aside from the screen, and into the face of a real person, right here, right now.

And lay out some love.
Contribute some kindness.
Extend some encouragement.

Just for today. Just to one person. Just this time.

  • Maybe we’ll win less arguments,
    but we’ll kill fewer relationships.
  • Maybe our opinion won’t be validated,
    but our presence will be valued.
  • Maybe we’ll drop a degree as a faith-defender,
    but we’ll up our standing as a Jesus-lover.

Just for today. Just to one person. Just this time.

Then tomorrow, begin all over again.

Yes, it’s ugly out there.

But can we make it beautiful right here?


* * *

Please share your thoughts in the comments. You always do it kindly here. Thank you.

53 thoughts on “It’s ugly out there

  1. Dianna

    Lisa, thank you so much for this post. As you know, I am no longer on Facebook and one of the reasons is because of the things you’ve shared in this post. Social media in general can easily destroy relationships …and for all of the reasons that you’ve mentioned here. Would we really say to someone’s face what we’ve posted on their “wall”? I’m finding that it is much more peaceful to look into the face of someone and carry on good conversation with them.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, exactly, Dianna! I understand why people choose to get off Facebook or avoid it for a season. For me, it often takes more self-control than I have to avoid getting angry at the things I read that would never be said face-to-face.

  2. Linda Stoll

    I run the other way when I encounter those kind of conversations filled with ugly words and senseless disagreements, Lisa. I want my time online to be filled with loving-kindness, grace, and opportunities to stretch and grow.

    I’m saying ‘no thanks’ to anything that doesn’t cause me to seek peace and deepen relationships.

    Thanks for taking a stand for loving each other well, friend.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      “senseless disagreements” – It is definitely senseless for us to think we will change someone’s mind on a deeply-held belief by our single blurb under a status. But we can easily damage relationships through those single statements. 🙁 Thanks, Linda, for always using your words to build up, not tear down.

  3. Winter

    I try to never comment or post on hot button topics for these very reasons. It makes me sad to see how vicious both sides of an opinion become. Your neighbor from Playdates with God.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, it’s been very sad to see the viciousness that has resulted from people who ordinarily wouldn’t talk to others that way. 🙁 We all still have much to learn on our journeys. It’s good practice to set guidelines for ourselves that help us to love better. Thanks, Winter.

  4. Barbara H.

    I am also grieved by comments I see online that are full of harshness and vitriol, especially coming from Christians who should know better.

    I don’t think we have to pit faith-defending and Jesus-loving against each other – we’re called to do both – but we need to remember that we do represent Him in not only what we stand for, but how we stand for it, and to remember the Person behind the faith we’re defending, and His purpose – to draw people to Himself, not lambast them away. When He has to show people where they are wrong, it’s out of love so that they don’t do harm to themselves in going out of the way He designed for their good.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Drawing people to him, not away. Yes. That should always be our goal, and we need to think more carefully about the means we use to do that. It’s also good to occasionally ask those close to us how we’re doing. Sometimes I don’t think I’m using a harsh tone, for example, so I need to hear from someone else how I’m really coming across.

  5. Michele Morin

    Oh, I’m standing right beside you this morning and singing that same song. We can speak the truth, and we can do it in love, just as our holy God speaks truth and grace to our own hearts.

  6. bluecottonmemory

    Some of the old movies – they give beautiful examples of those who disagree with another but hand out love/kindness – and out of that love/kindness – not the disagreement – a life is changed. I think that’s why I love those old movies- you can find such up-lifting examples of God’s love at work! Yes, let’s choose God’s love!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Good example. Maybe those old movies worked because they didn’t have social media yet. ha. We must learn how to better use the technology of our time for good and not evil. We are getting there, but not there yet. In those movies, they were in relationship; nowadays it’s too easy to comment to people that we are NOT in relationship with, which often leads to trouble. We have the accessibility without the responsibility, knowing that we will likely never have to come in contact with that person again. Lord, have mercy. Yes, let’s choose God’s love. Thank you.

      1. David

        This point about relationships is crux imho, and what makes online social networks so corrosive. They promote assertion of a manufactured “identity” over old-fashioned practices like tolerance, negotiation, observation — let alone things like forgiveness and redemption.

        1. LisaNotes Post author

          Yes, there are many things that I love about the internet, but there are so many things that it can’t substitute for. I appreciate your beginning list here. We would do well to remember its limitations. Thanks, David.

  7. jerralea

    You are certainly right – it is ugly out there!

    I’m trying to be very careful in what I “like” in social media. I do want to make a stand; however, the Bible teaches to speak the truth in love. Right now, feelings are so stirred up, I don’t think anyone would listen, no matter how lovingly you spoke!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You’re so right, Jerralea, that now isn’t the time for anybody to try to change anyone else’s opinions: many are just digging in deeper right now instead of opening up to each other. Lord, have mercy.

  8. Beth

    I love the way you’ve put this challenge to us, Lisa! It’s something I’m taking to heart, because I want to have the compassion that I see so clearly in Christ’s example. Nothing else will measure up! Thanks for your insight, my friend!

  9. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    I agree, up to a point. Vitriol for its own sake, or to validate on’es ego, is stupid.

    However…recently I read a post which concluded with the old saw, “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter”. It’s something that can only be said with conviction by the privileged, by those who have never seen firsthand the work of a terrorist, nor of tyranny.

    You can’t really offer opposition to that in loving kindness, because the appeal of that turn of phrase – the implicit egalitarianism of the relativism of values – has a power and a strength which seeps into the subconscious, and hides, in a kind of cotton-candy mist, the horrors that we do not care to face.

    To simply say, “I disagree” is something of a moral failure, when the only effective argument that you can bring is one that documents things that are too grim for network news. I don’t want to make people feel bad, to give them nightmares, to put images into their heads that can’t be removed, ever; I carry enough of my own.

    For all that, we have to be forceful, because our passion, and the strength of emotion, is part of the message; indeed, it’s the medium that validates McLuhan’s “the medium IS the message”, though not as he intended.

    And No, I didn’t say anything to the “terrorist / freedom fighter” post. The person who said it is nice, and sincere, and I just could not bring myself to address it. I could only hope that it was a post that was read by very few people, and leave it at that.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Maybe at such times our actions need to speak louder than our words (maybe at most times?). Thanks for sharing, Andrew. I’m glad you don’t put images into our heads that we don’t need to see unless there’s a need for it.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Bravo to you, Susan! Ironically I’ve only seen one person this morning–my husband–and that was only for a few minutes. ha. But I’ll see him again soon so I hope to put this into practice myself as well.

  10. Elizabeth

    While I feel strongly about the current issues, hatefulness and being demeaning have no place in the heart and life of a Jesus follower. I can state my opinion, even engage in dialogue with one I disagree with, in a respectful and loving way.

  11. Ceil

    Hi Lisa! It looks like you have touched a nerve here, and many of your commenters can relate. I guess I have been very blessed not to have seem much in the way of ugliness on-line. I might also have a way of glossing over what offends me, and moving quickly to the next thing.

    Why we think that freedom means we have the right to offend and insult is beyond me. We all have to ‘play nice in the sandbox’, as my mom used to say. It’s a big world, but not so big that our works have no impact. May we all remember that we are God’s children, and need to be treated that way!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m glad you haven’t seen much bad stuff, Ceil. I’ve tried to not read too much myself because the few things I’ve read have been more discouraging than hopeful. I’m glad that we can trust God as our Father and we never have reason to lose hope, whether the outside news is good or bad to us. Your mom was a wise woman. 🙂 We all do need to play nicer.

  12. Amber @ Beautiful Rubbish

    This is so wise, Lisa. And grounded. I resonate with it, and honestly, it’s been a challenge for me to learn when to walk away from relationships where there is no space for respectful disagreement or tolerance of differences. I, too often, have practiced keeping quiet to silence my voice and hide who I am in order to “keep the peace,” and it’s scary to change that, to rock the boat. To learn when to keep quiet and hold onto relationships and when to risk opening your mouth and losing them. But I know what I’ve seen on Facebook and blog post comments lately across the internet has so often been lacking LOVE. It is much, much too easy to spout off things to a screen that would likely never be spoken to someone’s face, and that can only ever be destructive. Anyways, thank you for your beautiful words and for listening to my ramble…

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You’re right though, Amber, that there definitely is also a time to speak, even if it means loss ahead. Those are hard decisions to make, and not ones we take lightly. I appreciate your voice so very much. You are brave and I admire you.

  13. Pamela

    Oh yes, my heart has been broken to read some of the responses and comments on social media. I’ve asked God to keep my mouth shut (I’m trying to do my part), and my heart open. To ask, “Would this comment show love or hate, hurt or healing?

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      That is a beautiful question that we all need to ask ourselves before we speak either online OR in person. Thanks for sharing this, Pamela:

      ““Would this comment show love or hate, hurt or healing?”

  14. Laura

    OH, I want to be known as a Jesus-lover. Thank you for this sweet challenge, Lisa. I think I’ll accept it. I’m calling one of the people I love and asking her for a date tonight :).

  15. Lorretta

    Yes. I have had to sit back and think for a while about what my most effective response must be and Jesus revealed in my spirit that I must stick to the code… the very things I was supposed to be doing “before” are no different now. Still just as real and as important. And I’m encouraged because I’m hearing more of the same out here… a little less ugly. Glad to stop by from Tell His Story. Blessings!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Just read your post. So grateful that regardless of what swirls around us, we can maintain our peace. And regardless of ugly chatter from any direction, we can center ourselves in love. That’s the goal anyway. 🙂

  16. Jean Wise

    I agree with you completely. Too bad conversations get so out of hand. What happen to being civil and trying to understand another point of view and learning and growing? There is a societal meanness. Lots of prayer about! Have a wonderful 4th weekend.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      The funny thing is I haven’t heard any bad conversations in person; all that I’ve “heard” has been online. 🙁 I guess we haven’t figured out yet that those conversations matter too. Our words need to be seasoned wherever we lay them down.

      Your post today about deep listening has really been on my mind today. How much different our relationships would be if we would practice that!

        1. LisaNotes Post author

          Yes, I do, Jean. Fear as well as pride. 🙁

          I read this today about listening:

          “For many of us, the opposite of talking isn’t listening. It’s waiting.” As in, we’re just waiting until it’s our turn to talk again. We can do much better, yes?

          1. Jean Wise

            good quote, and yes! I guess the best place to begin when it seems the whole world is crazy is to speak kindly to the people we are with and interact with and mind our own manners on social media. I am a optimist so will keep trying. ( :

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