I’m mulling over a Kelly Crawford “quiverfull” article I read yesterday. It so resonated with me (as her writings often do) and brought to mind several related labels and names. One thing that came to mind almost immediately is the number of times recently that I’ve wanted to distance myself from a particular word, practice, inference, organization, person, product, etc., etc., when any one of them failed or turned out to be different than I thought or understood them to be — or when my personal definition or application of a particular word or practice didn’t/doesn’t line up with whatever the latest scandal portrays. As in, say, quiverfull or large family or homeschooling or complementarian or Christian or a myriad of other buzzwords in the news. Lots of times it’s not the words used, necessarily, but the way they’re used (and especially the inflection of voice in the way they’re spoken).
Immediately, I want to say (usually only in my head as I pull weeds in the garden), yes, but I’m not that kind of homeschooler, I’m not that kind of large family, I’m not that kind of mother, etc., etc. I’m not in that kind of homeschool program or that kind of church or whatever. Sometimes I have to add: well, not any more.
Sometimes my (or your) “not any more” occurred long before the publication of a ‘bad report’ or a scandal. I know that, and you know that, but maybe others don’t that. And I am (or you are) still assumed to be connected to/with or defined by a particular name or label. And probably a misunderstood, misinformed idea and/or mischaracterization of that name or label.
So my thought here is that all these different media assertions, characterizations or biases are very instructive. First they instruct me to be very careful regarding my alignment with a particular personality or program. Then I need to be careful what message I portray and how my actions affect or represent that message. Then I need to pay close attention to respectfully hear objections and discern the motive behind the messages. Is the message really an attack on me? Probably not, but is rather an attack because of a preconceived notion or because of a negative experience with whatever I seem to represent. So then, should I take it personally? Probably not. No.
So you have a bunch of kids. Doesn’t make you The Dugger’s… ‘makes you a mom with a bunch of kids like a whole bunch of other moms with a bunch of kids and they aren’t The Dugger’s either. So you homeschool and/or you only wear dresses and/or you dress modestly (or whatever other thing you do or don’t do, the best you know how). Doesn’t make you Amish or ATI or Mennonite or part of a cult or whatever… ‘makes you just a woman who’s made some decisions that are different than some decisions others have made. And you go on. So you take a stand for Biblical, traditional marriage. And you’re castigated for it. You’re wrongly labeled as phobic or narrow minded or intolerant. Think it not strange. Their comments don’t make you any of those things… just continue on in faith, trusting the Lord to bring about His plans and purposes in all these things. Sure, all these different misunderstandings are painful and difficult. And, sure they’re inaccurate — but we are told in Scripture that in this world we will have tribulation. But the big deal is that Jesus didn’t stop there — He went on to say that we are to be of good cheer. And what is the basis of that cheer? Jesus. He tells us that in Him we might have peace and that peace is because of who He is and who we are in Him and because He has overcome the world. (John 16.33) So, we can be overcomers. That’s powerful. That’s Good News!
And you know how else all the mislabeling instructs me? I’m instructed to be very careful how I might be mislabeling others, making wrong assumptions of others, mischaracterizing others. I am reminded to be careful to not jump to conclusions about a matter based on a preconceived notion or experience (good or bad for that matter) and then have to back-peddle when more information becomes apparent. I see more and more why we need to be in the Word, in prayer, and walking in faith. And that’s where iron sharpening iron sorts of friendships also help us get and stay on track.