Monday, August 25, 2014

Family Feud

Family Feud
The third in a series on discipling the family, originally appearing in Light and Life Communications.

In Prodigals and Those Who Love Them, Ruth Bell Graham reminds readers that, “Lord, You have trouble with Your children, too.” A family fractured by the estrangement of a child or parent has unique discipleship needs. Yet it also has unique opportunities to grow beyond what might be experienced in easier circumstances. Having gone through the experience, I've discovered the value of those opportunities.

A few verses put into perspective what God can teach during a family feud.

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers.” (John 15.5-6)

Often in loving an estranged family member, we feel thrown away. But when dependent, abiding prayer is all we have, we find out it's what we most need. We learn the absolute truth of how little we can do without our Vine when we are forced into helplessness. It's scary--until you discover its deep peace.

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12.15). Until we know the pain of a child turning from God, let's be honest, we tend to be judgmental of other parents.

But when it happens to us—suddenly we re-recognize grace. We discover that everyone has a backstory. We hurt when they hurt. We grasp the depth of God's mercy and become profoundly grateful. It's not so easy to criticize—and that leads to relationships you never imagined you'd have with grace you never thought you'd yield. The beauty of that becomes overwhelming.

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him” (Luke 15.20).

The father's heart is broken and his trust shattered. Yet he doesn't interrogate his son about intentions and sincerity. He doesn't wait to see how it's going to work out. He welcomes him completely back into the family. My guess is the only way this father could do that was to practice praying for his son and offering forgiveness daily.

*What can you let go of today in true forgiveness?
*What is the hardest thing for you about trusting a family member who has hurt you? How can God help that?




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Pink towels and new adventures

Who knew a laundry load of towels and sheets could ambush you like that? It's been things like that today. Little things that put me on the floor in a puddle. Cleaning the bathroom and noticing her towel is no longer on the hook. Turning around while packing and seeing the preschool picture on the shelf, tentative smile and leopard dress her sister made for her. 

In two hours we pack the van. She is ready. I so am not.

Those were my words last Thursday. And now it's done—the baby is off, packed into her dorm room (on a day where the heat index read 114 degrees), happily organizing her new life. While I organize mine.

Borrowed van. Because you know what?
An entire life will not fit in a Prius.
There is plenty to do. I will never be one of those who wonders what to do with my time. I know there are new adventures to find and old ones to give my full attention to. I know God has a new chapter for me as well as for her, and I am ready for it.

Yet there are last words to say, and things I want her to know. I'm not going to take this space to lament the passing of time or the loss of a smile and someone who speaks simultaneously the same thought. 

Although, I will definitely miss her uncanny facial expressions that can always light any situation. But you know, the child is texting me as I write this, so it's not like she's in Siberia or anything. There is that. At least that.


With all the “you can succeed at anything,” “you are awesome,” and there are no limits to your adventure” talk our kids have been getting as they head into college, I want to add something. Something I don't think they hear as much, Something I think they may need to hear more. So here, dear Child #3, is what I want you to know as you begin this, indeed, limitless adventure.

You will fail.

When you took that Buzzfeed quiz about “What place in the family are you?” and you got “the perfect one”? Please don't believe that's got to be you.

You will fail. You will make mistakes and have regrets. You will disappoint yourself and others. There will be tears. There will be days when you feel your entire identity is tied up in whether or not you get the grade, make the team, or impress the instructor/choir director/interviewer.

And you won't.

Did you think I was kidding?
Because part of this new adult thing you're trying to get used to is that the cushion is gone and stuff happens that lands you on your butt. Hard. I'm not there to catch you, and the tough truth is, if I was, I should not, and I hope, would not. You never know with mommas.

Is this depressing advice on your first week when everything looks so rosy happy? I hope not. I hope it's encouraging, really. See, I know somewhere, in the back of your excited, anticipating, expanding mind, there is fear. 

I know it. I am your momma. 

Fear that this is going to be harder than anything you've done before. Fear that you're standing on a tiny outcrop of stone, and it's a long, long way down if you misstep and there is no net below. It's all on you now. Scary.

Please do this at school. You will make
friends. I guarantee it.
So know now that it's OK to take that misstep. You will fall. But it will not be the end. It will not be disaster. You will have the courage and the resourcefulness to learn from it and make other choices, and new mistakes, next time. You will stand taller after you fall, not smaller. You will have looked fear in the eye and defeated it.

We will still love you. Your community will still love you. Your roommate will still love you. (Just don't wipe her computer like you did your sister's. That may tax her love a bit.)

You will still be of infinite value, because your value depends on things other than your output, GPA, or face in the mirror. Eternal things. Things that don't change like the day's classes. 

You will fail. But it will not define you. 


Falling will not be the end. It will be the beginning of discovering for yourself that you have wings. And God is holding you up on his wings. So fly, kid.

Old door.
New door.


Monday, August 18, 2014

Discipling Today's Kids Like Yesterday's Church


Because kids can sign a church charter.
And mean it.
Third installment of discipleship articles published in Light and Life Communications.

Most Christian parents have one main goal—ensure their kids grow into mature believers. But we also know the scary statistics. About sixty percent of those raised in Christian homes walk away from their faith. Only four percent of Millennials attend church regularly. Discipling kids has never been so important or so challenging.

But what does that discipleship look like now? A lot like it looked in the beginning.

Community

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer....They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need....They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people” (Acts 2.42-46).

The number one reason youth stay in the church is they have seen a Christian lifestyle modeled with integrity--first in their parents and then between their parents and other church members. Their parents genuinely love God and his people. They've grown up in a community—not a building.

An Acts-like community of believers doesn't seem very normal in today's disposable-relaytionship culture, does it? But if we could keep our kids in church, would it be worth it to start making some changes in our priorities, schedule, finances, or church programs to create that community? What would it look like for your family?

Relationships

When Priscilla and Aquila heard him (Apollos teaching), they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately” (Acts 18.26).

Barnabas mentored Paul and John Mark. Paul mentored Silas and Timothy. Priscilla and Aquila mentored Apollos. It's tough to find a place in the new church where relationships did not take priority and disciples were not made as a result. Young people remain in churches where someone took individual time to listen, model, and mentor.

*If you have teens, who in your church could come alongside your child in this kind of relationship? How will you move forward on that?

Empowerment

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands” (1 Timothy 4.12, 2 Timothy 1.6).

Paul felt young people should be active in the ministry of the church, not fans watching the game. When young people feel valued, they are much more likely to find value in church. We need to stop calling youth the church of tomorrow and empower them to be the church today. They are not a threat to our power. They are our hope. Yes, they will make mistakes. So do we. Life is an imprecise science.

*What gifts do your children have from the Holy Spirit?
*How can you help them fan them into flames of ministry?

 *Where is there room for that in your church?

It's not as difficult as we make it to disciple kids. Just--listen. And take time. Not much has really changed in that respect in 2000 years.



Monday, August 11, 2014

Family Decentralized

Second in a series of Family Discipleship articles published in Light and Life Communications.
We've taken a few Mother's Day pics.

For the first five years after my mom's death, I hated one Sunday at church—Mother's Day. No matter how sensitively it was phrased, other people had mothers that day, and I did not, and it hurt.

Doris, however, noticed. Without children herself, she took that eighteen-year-old college kid into her heart and made it her business to be what I didn't have--an older woman who listened, advised, and modeled the way to be a Christian woman in a graceless world. For that time, Doris drew me into her circle of “family.”

Thirty years later, I would take a troubled boy into our home and become what he didn't have—a “parent” offering Christian love in a painful world. I'd love him into the kingdom, though I would not be able to save his life. Thirty years later, Doris' legacy of bringing others into her family continues into three generations, because she knew what we forget in this age of circling the nuclear family wagons. God's “family” includes a lot of people.

Ephesians 2.19 explains that 

“You are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household.” 

The word “household” expresses belonging. One who is in it is devoted to its members—to a family and a relationship. Thus, anyone who is a believer in Jesus has also agreed to be part of God's big, crazy family. When one member of the family needs something, others step up to supply that need.

And Easter. And yes, one of those is not my daughter.
Technically. But she is.
That idea of extended family in God's kingdom matters to our discipleship. It means we're always to be looking out for someone who may need to be part of our family, though not related by blood. God's declaration that they belong to us is stronger than blood. 

It means that a growing disciple of Christ will naturally become a mother or father or sister or son to someone who needs that relationship because we are growing away from being strangers and toward one big household.



  • Whom do you know, personally, that needs a family? Single moms, college students far from home, estranged teens, parents missing their kids, older people alone, that homeless guy you pass every morning, someone in prison?
  • Which of these people do you believe God is calling you to make your family?
  • What can you do today to follow through?



Monday, August 4, 2014

God's Not-So-Hidden Purpose for Families

Today, I'm going to direct you over to my article in July's issue of Light and Life, our denominational magazine. I had the opportunity to write a series of articles on discipleship as it pertains to the family. 

The family is our first and most important place to begin making disciples. But have we always thought of that the way we should?

Is there something we've been missing when we think of discipling our children?

I had fun with the articles, and I hope you enjoy them. There are three more to follow coming up!

This one asks the question: 

What if our first calling is to take our children into the world and see them as blessings for God’s kingdom?

I think it's an interesting question, and one I'd love to hear your ideas on!

While there, go ahead and read some of the other great stuff happening on these pages.






To find out more about our trip to China referenced in the beginning of the article, take a look at Don't Forget to Pack the Kids: Short Term Missions for Your Whole Family, on Amazon.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Rudolph and Me--Misfits R Us

I gave my life to Jesus when I was 16, and I'm a quick study. Within a couple years, I was teaching backyard Bible clubs and could exegete the wordless book right alongside the kids who'd grown up singing “The B-I-B-L-E.” (Which was also big in backyard Bible clubs.)

As a shiny new believer in an uber-liberal university, I grabbed all the support I could and was soon fluent in quiet time, servant leadership (although, as a woman, I probably should have been more just plain servant), and telling people about Jesus, whether they liked it or not.

The perfect family. 
By the time I was a young married six years later, I tuned in to Focus on the Family every day, volunteered at a pregnancy clinic, and suspected that anyone who voted democrat probably would not be standing next to me in heaven singing “Holy, Holy, Holy.”

At 32, with three kids and a perfect life, I had read all the books. I knew exactly what to do to make sure it all stayed that way, blessed by God.

Until I didn't.

Until I looked into the face of a raging child, screaming obscenities at me, cuts on her arms and traces of drugs in her eyes. My child. I cried out to that God for whom I had planned this perfect witness of a life. Begging for those black and white answers that had promised so much but suddenly seemed far less clear. 

He didn't answer. Crickets from Jesus. You know, the Jesus who said trusting and obeying were the way to be happy all the day?

Happy” doesn't quite describe the feeling of walking up to a stranger's door to ask if your daughter spent the night there. It doesn't encompass the terror of wondering if she spent it anywhere safe. It never applies to watching her once-sparkling eyes turn away from yours and seeing the fresh razor marks she tries to pull her sleeves over.

I had stood on the promises, and they dropped me. Hard.

Only later did I understand that it wasn't God's promises that had let me fall but the words we had put in His mouth.

I was a Christian, a pastor, and alone, with a bleeding, devastated heart where faith still resided by the smallest of glimmers. A spiritual misfit? What kind of pastor has a suicidal heroin addict for a daughter? It's a great way to avoid eye contact in meetings. Everyone avoids looking at you. If only they'd avoid talking about you, too.

In fact, I've been something of reverse spiritual misfit. I started out conforming, not questioning whatever “they” told me I needed to be a good Christian. A weakling who believed I was strong. I look in the mirror now at a woman I didn't know was inside during all my years of certainty, wounded where I needed to be, questioning what I always should have, strong because I know I am weak.

My sureness that I knew how to do this Christian life thing got hit by a 7.8 quake. When things shake to that magnitude, something is bound to shake loose. Questions bubble up from deep underground. Questions like, what is certain and what's rubble in this mountain I've created? If it all comes down, what will be left to stand on?

If you stripped the gospel down to Jesus, to all he'd said and done, what was surely still there? And what had we added because we needed to be sure we were on the right track to make the grade? To be quite certain we were in control of God?

If you ask too many questions.
And you kind of like gray areas.
Asking questions like these can turn you into a spiritual misfit. It can get you looked at funny in the Christian blogosphere.

So can starting to ask questions like, “Who is really my neighbor?” Not my theoretical, nice biblical neighbor. My real, complicated, dirty neighbor whom maybe I've never chosen to see.

Looking into the faces of kids who hurt and who drown that hurt in drugs and any other self-destructive behavior they could find made me question all the people I had been certain were “other.”

Many of those kids wandered in and out of my house over those years. Kids I would have ignored before. Kids I would have feared. Kids I would have judged. But in my house, at my table, with names and pasts and brown eyes that echoed all the hurt they'd ever been dealt and all the bad choices they'd made? They were no longer sinners who needed to get their acts together. They were lost kids. They were my kids. I was the sinner who needed to get it together. Wait--hadn't I always had it together?

Asking questions like, Why not love the unloveable? Why not forgive the unforgivable? Why not admit there is no difference between me and the junkie in the ditch or the immigrant running the border? No difference except Jesus, and I didn't earn that difference no matter how many points I stacked up in the rules column. Those get you uninvited to speak at Christian ladies' luncheons. You're not safe anymore.

I'm not safe. Thank God.



I accept risk where I once demanded safety. I don't just accept it—I revel in it. It means I'm alive. It means God is alive in me. And anything—anything--is worth that.


It is a good feeling, this spiritual misfitism. I'm not sorry to have lost what I believed was my salvation to find who I know is. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Failure is like a box of Twinkies

Failure. Oh, we've talked about it a lot. Talk is cheap. I can tell you to embrace failure all I want. Easy peasy. But put your money where your mouth is. Or, your picture where the world can see it.

This past week was fair week. For ordinary mortals, that is probably not an event. But we are not ordinary. We are veterans of fifteen years of 4H, which translates to roughly 326 County Fair projects, give or take. Usually, these are all completed in about a week's time. 

Every year I tell my kids, "Let's start early and not be stressed about fair projects at the last minute!" Which always ends up, "Let's think about starting early but really start a week before and then spend the last two days slapping together projects like we have stock in hot glue sticks." 

We were "that family" who carried 45 projects for three kids in six trips from the car (in 95 degrees), some of which were over three feet tall. (We still have the matchstick Eiffel Tower. It's a classic.) We also carried super glue, duck tape, safety pins, and scissors. Because we knew the glue was not yet dry and some of the paper still needed trimming. And framing. 

We've had our championships, but we've had our failures, too.

So here, for your enjoyment, is one of our epic culinary failures.

Can you guess what they were supposed to be? 















But the best part? This. This is my daughter's face upon her first taste of a Twinkie. Just before she took a flying leap at the garbage can to spit it out. Seriously, if the kid could run like that all the time, she'd have a track scholarship this fall.

Lest you believe, very erroneously, I am such a saintly mother that no processed snack has ever passed her lips and that is why, at this age, she had never tasted a Twinkie, um, no. There have been wholesale-size boxes of ho-hos and ding-dongs at my house. But I draw the line at eating unnaturally yellow couch cushion foam. There have be some standards.

guess I don't have to worry about her
ever eating Twinkies again.
Child #3 and I were attempting to craft cupcakes that would win a ribbon in food decoration. Or, at least, not embarrass her too greatly. In cake decorating, that is usually the best I could hope for. In cake decorating, I use creativity to cover up for a lack of proficiency. (That may explain a lot in other areas of my life as well.) She, however, is somewhat more proficient.

Except not here.

Yes, these things were failures. FAILURES. The frosting didn't "dip" properly. The Twinkies broke. The food coloring that was supposed to be grey-blue came out more violent violet, which is perhaps not the color of your average whale. (Though more appetizing than grey, really.) The cute licorice supposed to look like rope tying together the pier looked like . . . licorice and cookie wafers. Drunken licorice and cookie wafers.

 
The failed whales are now the stuff of epic family legend. 

Then we tried apples. Slightly less of a failure but not fair worthy. The third time, she tried flowers. And they were awesome. And they won a reserve champion ribbon. And they are now her signature offering at special occasions. Because everyone is incredibly impressed by the flower cupcakes. 

Failure. Is. Not. Final. 

Unless you let it be. Unless you try once and walk off muttering, "I am the worst excuse for a cupcake decorator born to man and I will never try this again." Failure is a jumping off point to learn what you need to know to do it better. It's either an instigator or an excuse. It's always our call. 

 Keep trying. The law of averages is on your side, if nothing else. Plus, failure can make for some fantastic pictures and stories to tell later.

What have you learned from failure? (Other than never to buy Twinkies again.)

Any epic fails out there you'd like to share? I know you have them. I hope you do. If not, you're doing it wrong.

Monday, July 21, 2014

on the same team

By now, most of you have probably seen this video. I love this video. I hope you have enjoyed it as well. But there is a specific reason I love it.

What do I love about this besides a) She's a GYMNAST, or b) She's freaking awesome, or c) She's an inspiration to short women everywhere?

I love the crowd. They may be the best part of this video. At every moment, you can hear them. Cheering her on. Holding their collective breath when she falters. Screaming at her that she can do it and she's amazing. And she was. And so were they.

No one put her down for being a woman in a (previously) man's sport. No one yelled that they could do it better. No one called her out on her form or finesse. They crazily, noisily, exuberantly cheered her every effort. They held her up when she struggled. They were a community. They were one.

You go, girl.
I've seen this before. When my daughter and I ran (ran as in, walked, but let's not quibble) a Mud Run, I watched a crowd of women cheer another woman, overweight and on my side of older, as she attempted to run up a muddy hill and pull herself over with a rope. She did it, too. Probably because a noisy group of complete strangers stood there cheering her from the bottom.

We'e all seen the runner who stops, potentially losing a chance at today's glory, to help another runner in need.

The amateur athletic community knows something the church needs to know. They know they won't run any faster or compete any stronger by criticizing someone else's form. They know they won't improve a personal best by wishing for someone else's fall. They know cheering helps us all to do better.

They know they need one another to push everyone toward being their best.

They know what community really means.

Church people—we don't.

The New Testament uses a couple words when it talks about church and believers together. One is koinonia—a term that means to be in fellowship, sharing, united, in community. Another is oikos—which basically calls the church to be an extended family. People who are there for one another through everything, even weird uncles and difficult cousins. 

The Bible also uses the phrase “one another” often when referring to how believers are supposed to do life together. Be devoted to and honor one another (Romans 12.10), serve one another, (Galatians 5.13), accept one another (Romans 15.7), encourage one another (Hebrews 3.13), be kind to one another (Ephesians 4.32).

How are believers supposed to act toward one another? Like that. Like a team. Like a community. Like runners who look at one another as people on the same track with the same goal who help each other to do their best.

How do we act all too often? Um, not so much.

If a church member offends us, we're more likely to walk away and find someone else than to say, “Hey, you're family. Let's work this out. I love you.”

If we disagree with someone's point of view, we seem all too happy to use personal insult to “prove” we know better than to listen and learn.

One of the largest reasons given among Millennials for why they are leaving the church is this one—too many Christians would rather infight than love their world together. Too many are so focused on being right that they have forgotten how to be Christlike. They want us to care more about a hurting world than about our personal preferences.

Completely lost in the ensuing madness are Jesus' words: “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” Perhaps, Jesus himself is completely lost in the madness as well. That is an indictment we should not be able to live with.

I'm picturing the revolution that might happen if, instead of calling someone out when we are unhappy, we racked our brains for ways to serve and honor that person.

This is not easy. It's certainly a personal challenge for me. I can think of a number of people I strongly disagree with that I really do not want to honor. But what if I tried? What might happen?

This isn't to say we always agree with one another. We don't. We can't and shouldn't. But we can disagree compassionately, thoughtfully, without personal conviction or vendetta entering the picture. We can offer forgiveness, even when it isn't asked for. Because that's what the whole "one another" thing is about. We're supposed to be different in a culture that considers relationships disposable. What if we were?

What if you tried, today? What would it look like?


Our team. We did it--together.
Over the next few weeks, I am planning to do a series of posts on another blog I work on about the church—what it is, what it's supposed to be, and where it's going. Please join me. Please tell me what you think about those questions. I'd love your ideas.

Mutts, pigs, turtles, and the meaning of life

Quizzes. The world is into them, it seems. I have to admit, I've always loved them. I'm the one who ordered the book filled with quizzes to find out more about yourself from the junior high book fair. I don't remember what I found out. Probably that I could not wait to get out of junior high.

So for a little fun, the results, and some thoughts on, the quiz craze.

My Life According to Buzzfeed:

I am personality-wise a wise mix of Obi Wan Kenobi, Remus Lupin, Elrond, Queen Elsa, and Cinderella. (?? That last one so does not fit.) I should be friends with Stitch and live in either Portland, Oregon, Romania, or Rivendell. (Definitely leaning toward the latter.)


Yes, it's Washington, not Oregon. But it's close enough
for me.
I should write for a living (how convenient) and for inspiration when writer's block hits, turn to Langston Hughes or Joyce Carol Oates. I must be sure to write in Times New Roman font. (Which this is not.) But, I should have majored in environmental science at either Duke or Harvard, and I did not. So that might make all this career stuff moot anyway.

In my future home, I should own a pig, although I'm not sure of Rivendell homeowner association rules on that one. It would probably be quite acceptable in Portland. Especially if I fed the pig organic vegetables and composted the results.

write about environmental science?
If I were a dog I'd be a mutt, and if I were an inanimate object, I would be a bunch of dead AA batteries. Apparently, as an inanimate object, I am a huge fire hazard.

I am a Revolutionary (I do love Les Mis) and a logical thinker (which, I am guessing, most revolutionaries are not).

And my favorite thus far—my inner animal is . . . a tiny turtle on a skateboard. This is not a normal thing for anyone to even have thought about.

We love to see how we're like other people, or unlike anyone else. It's entertaining to see where you fit. It's also a drive from within we can't seem to quench.

Everyone needs to figure out where he or she fits. We find it in fun ways in Buzzfeed. We find it in serious ways in jobs or possessions. Sadly, we sometimes find it in destructive ways. We find it in ultimate ways in beliefs and relationships. But we need it. We seek it.

Where do I belong?

Why am I here?

What am I here to do?

While I definitely do belong in Portland or Rivendell, here's where I know, after all the looking around.

“This one will say, ‘I am the Lord's'” (Isaiah 44.5).

That's where I belong. That's to whom I belong. Simple. No quiz required. But it answers everything.


Where do you find, or seek, belonging? I'd love to hear.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Peace

No Words Needed

The LORD will give strength to His people; The LORD will bless His people with peace. Psalm 29.11











Linking up with a friend today to glory in one another's pieces of life. Join us! Some beautiful things are happening.

Monday, July 14, 2014

back roads and mini-van lemming think

Someone else likes backroads, too.
I like to take back roads. This may seem unlikely for a person as impatient as I, but something about an unexplored road beckons me. I prefer the road less traveled by. Even when it has stop signs.

In the case of one road I travel, make that multiple stop signs. When I have the misfortune of traveling it between 2:30 and 3:30 (otherwise known as all-heck-breaks-loose because-children-are-being-unleashed-on-the-unsuspecting-world time), it's slow. R-e-a-l-l-y slow.

Funny story here. There is a parallel road to this one with almost no traffic. But no one takes it. Not even I, who know it's there and know it goes to the same place with much less hassle, remember to make a simple left turn and use it. It's a two-block detour, and there we all sit, like mini-van lemmings, in the slow line of cars at multiple stop signs. Why?

I don't have an answer for this. Other than it's easier to mindlessly follow the lemmings than to turn left and take an alternative route to the same place. To turn left, I'd have to be conscious. Which is always a good thing to be when driving. Nevertheless, many of us are not conscious. While driving or while living  [tweet this].

What if we turned left away from the lemmings in life, too? Took a different road. What if we determined to live some alternatives?

To choose to forgive the unforgivable when no one else does that.

It's your right to hold a grudge. Staying angry makes you strong.”
Lemming words. Don't follow them. 

No, that is not our jeep. Rental. Which was
good, because some of those backroads
had lakes in the middle of them.
Try instead the road that says “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4.32). And in case we need a primer, “as God in Christ forgave you” covers it all.

To willingly say “I don't know that answer” 
when someone challenges you.

Lemmings fear the the not knowing. They bluster and fall back on repeating the same things without examining their words. Don't follow that road.

Follow the sign that reads, “The truth will set you free” (John 8.32). Free when we admit straight up we don't have all the answers. And we'll work on finding them out.

To refuse the lure of calling names and creating generalizations 
instead of listening to people who don't think like we do.

Instead, consider the road that's marked “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1.19). Way too few folks are on that road. It's wide open.

To live like service is more important than success. 

Not believe it or teach it. Live like it. Like we knowIf you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it” (Matthew 10.39) rather than only vaguely suspect it. That's a signpost people will notice.

To stop controlling every moment of every day and every person in it. 

To admit—no, to embrace, the reality that we were never in control. To absolutely glory in not having the keep everything in place and spinning. Because we feel the truth deeply--”Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you” (1 Peter 5.7). That highway is peacefully devoid of all jams.

To allow someone else credit when we deserve it. Cheerfully. Not because we have no choice.

To give mercy when we could extract vengeance.

There are so many more alternative routes.

The route everyone is on is really, really much more difficult. And slower. Full of uncalculated stops. Once we turn off the main road, we know the freedom of the uncrowded, unblocked passage. We can get through this thing called life easier. 

Oh, but look where those roads can take us.
But it takes consciousness. We can't do it on autopilot. The other road has always been beside us. We just have to make the decision to turn onto it.