Sandpaper (sand•pa•per) noun - paper covered on one side with abrasive material (such as sand) glued fast and used for smoothing and polishing
Have you ever read a book that rubbed you like sandpaper? Maybe you thought, “This author is a pompous, opinionated, self-righteous jerk”? I am reading a parenting book with my husband right now and I think the author… well… he is a piece of work. His forward alone was like sandpaper being rubbed all over me. And not the smooth sandpaper… I’m talking the rough stuff, the course grit #30 stuff. It’s not necessarily what he is saying in the book, although it certainly is at times, it is his delivery. His confidence that he is right about everything is astounding. He speaks of the past generations as though he has intimate knowledge of a vast majority of people who lived in that time (even though he had not been born yet). Specifically, he ‘knows’ all about their parenting skills. Including intimate knowledge of how they felt about God, what they believed to be true about God, who they relied on for answers, and how their children behaved. He speaks in wide, broad brush strokes and applies it to everyone. It is truly a difficult read for me for there is one thing I know for certain… nothing thought up by a human is certain. (On second thought, perhaps I’m not so certain of that.)
Here’s the interesting part, I actually agree with the majority of what the author is attempting to say. And I think, personally, that what he is saying could have a wonderful impact on the way today’s Christian masses parent their children but unfortunately, his message gets lost in his pompous, opinionated, self-righteous jerkiness. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that a majority of people who buy this book put it down and send it to ‘Half Priced Books’ before they even get to Chapter 2. It’s unfortunate.
(I pause to wonder if this same thing happens in my own writing… do I come across as a pompous, opinionated, self-righteous jerk in my writing? Do my sometimes good messages get lost in my delivery? I know it does for some people. Hmmm… food for thought.)
On the flip side, I am also reading another book by an author I absolutely love! It’s about Christianity and how we have messed things up through the years. As I said I really like this author but… right off the bat in chapter one he made a statement I completely disagree with. It turns out his entire book is based on a statement I vehemently do not agree with, so, this one is also a difficult read for me.
An author I seriously dislike with a message I agree with. I have to work hard to focus on what he is trying to teach me because of my dislike of his approach and style.
And, an author I love, with a message I fundamentally disagree with. I have to work hard not to get sucked into his belief, just because I like him.
Who knew reading could be so much danged work.
Are you ready for the most interesting and coincidental part of this scenario? In both cases, the author I dislike with the ‘thing’ I agree with and the author I love with the ‘thing’ I totally reject… well, they are both talking about the same ‘thing.’ Crazy… that the planets would align themselves in a way in which I would be reading two completely different books on two completely different subjects written in two completely different decades and have this fundamental belief be the center of both… at the same exact time. God-incident? Of course. Nothing is ever an accident when it comes to stuff like this.
What is this ‘thing’ I speak of? Here it is in a nutshell: Human nature. Good vs. Bad. Moral vs. Evil. Sinner vs. Saint.
The author of one book believes people are generally good by nature and that we all live by some invisible moral code that keeps us intrinsically knowing right from wrong. This unseen system of good is what gives us a sense of fairness and is also what guides us to make good decisions. This author seems to think we all have a ‘do unto others’ attitude deep within our soul.
The other author believes that nothing good lives within us. We are bad from the start and because of that we must learn to make good decisions the hard way, by taking full responsibility for our own actions, sin nature and our shortcomings. It’s a tough road, not made or meant to be easy.
If you know me well… especially if you are a Celebrate Recovery leader with me, you know which of these statements I think is a bunch of hooey and which one I stand firmly on and say “right on brotha!”
So which is it? More important than what I believe… what do YOU believe? The Bible only backs up one of these statements… while society totally backs the other. I believe society has completely blinded us to the truth (yet again) and in the heart of this basic belief rests the undoing of how God desires us to live in this period of time. It’s happened many times in the past… a period of great belief in God is followed by a period of abandonment of Him. One thing is for sure, God stands tall through it all. He is the victor regardless of who believes and who doesn’t.
If you are reading this and think you know the answer to which statement is “the one”… email me… I’ll tell you if you got it right (please excuse the opinionated, self-righteous jerk in me who thinks I know the answer).
As for me, I’m going to keep reading both of these books. They have a lot to teach me, the smallest of which is how to absorb truth from a source I don’t like and how to reject falsehood from a source I adore. In addition, I have a feeling some sandpaper on my parenting skills isn’t such a bad thing… after all, I could use some smoothing and polishing in that area of my life. Have a blessed day everyone!