I recently read a blog post that I had to ponder for a while. It was one of those that provoked me. Not necessarily to anger, but to analysis. Now if you know me well, then you know that provoking me to analysis isn’t that difficult. In fact, analyzing comes quite naturally for me . . . it’s what I default to most of the time. I’m not necessarily saying it’s a good thing, I’m saying it’s how I operate. It’s my modus operandi. 🙂
So as I pondered (analyzed) the thoughts expressed in the blog, these were the statements that resounded a yes in my spirit/heart. “Some filters are beneficial … like spam filters, water filters, or aquarium filters. They keep the bad stuff out. Others are less necessary. As a heavy Instagram user, I over-rely on its filters to make my imperfect iPhone photos look prettier. They disguise the limitations of my dog photos with a nice border and warm tones and extra contrast. As much as I love them, Instagram filters are crutches. I use them so you’ll think better of my photos. Or of me. As an author, I cultivate my online presence with carefully worded tweets, comments, and posts. If you know me here, or on Facebook, it’s likely you know me as something I’ve put together for you, rather than the truest me.”
Amen. I know this to be true of myself. Sometimes I filter what “I put out there” so much that I come across as a better wife, mom, friend, pastor’s wife, daughter, sister, etc. . . . than I really am. Yes, the reality is that we all do this to some degree or another. I don’t consider this practice as always a sign of hypocrisy. Sometimes, we are simply stating what we authentically desire to become, or what we are striving to become. I think that is ok. At other times, though, I’m aware that a post or a tweet or a comment can communicate that I have somehow attained some sort of godliness/holiness that I have yet to attain. While that may be the readers’ perception or assessment of me and not something intentional on my part, still I desire to be careful not to create a Facebook self, when really I’m not that at all.
Then the pause came for me. The blogger says: “I pass everything through a filter and so maybe I end up saying nothing. I self-identify as a Christian—a religion that’s supposed to be committed to the Truth—and yet I’m overwhelmed with masks and partial truths and falsity.” At first read I can go with it. But as I continued reading (and read through it several times) I realized that the real point of the blog was to encourage Christians to be real even when it was unacceptable or “inappropriate”. Hmmmm….
I’m not ready to think that yet. While I firmly believe that we should represent our true selves in whatever circumstance we are in, whether it’s through writing or everyday life, I also believe that there are still some necessary filters we should put in place as we express ourselves. The psalmist asked the LORD to place a guard over his mouth and the opening of his lips. I’d say he was using a filter.
My conclusion . . . for now. Filters should be used in our minds and hearts first. The psalmist goes on to pray in the verse immediately following this that the LORD would help him to not have evil desires. That’s it! It’s not simply a filter over my words in order to protect myself from the harsh judgement of self righteous people that would misunderstand it. It is a filter over my heart that would keep me from desiring to say anything that is not pure. In another verse the Psalmist prays that his words and thoughts would be acceptable to God. So for me it’s not about refraining from cursing, criticizing, or complaining on Facebook so that I keep from offending someone (although I do think there is a place for us to weigh our words as we consider our audience), it’s about my heart being real. It’s not about looking holy. It’s about being holy.
In an age where it seems that nothing is filtered anymore, I am thankful some people still see the value of “right-motive filters” – not some fake form of religiosity or piety, but a desire from the heart to maintain godliness in our speech and conduct. Just as those good filters keep water clean and our computers working properly, heart filters aren’t just a good option in our Christian lives. They are a necessity.
The blogger stated (regretfully): Sometimes I pass everything through a filter and so I maybe end up saying nothing. Yep. I’m thinking that is not necessarily a bad thing these days. Saying nothing. 🙂
Solomon agreed. Proverbs 10:14, Proverbs 12:23, Proverbs 13:3