If By “Gentle” You Mean Totally Impossible and also Foolish

If By “Gentle” You Mean Totally Impossible and also Foolish November 4, 2021

I should not be blogging on account of how I accidentally took two whole days off this week (so far), but I just feel like treating myself, so let’s look at a #thursdaythoughts meme. There were so many good ones this morning, but this one seems as good a place as any to land:

So first of all, I wasn’t even planning on trying to be “perfect” on this bright, crisp morning. As a Christian, I know I can’t do that anyway, and because I trust in God, I know that I’m covered in the righteousness of Christ, who was and is, you might remember, truly perfect without even the need for scare quotes. Rather, I was just going to get up and eat a soft boiled egg and settle in to my work which today is supposed to include actually paying attention to the children’s school and writing several drafts of things, changing over the laundry, heating up the delicious pork curry that Matt cooked yesterday for lunch today, and driving someone to a dance class. Oh, and today is the day I drink tea with a friend. But sure, putting aside, as the meme requires, the idea of “perfection” that I wasn’t thinking about anyway, let’s see what it recommends instead.

“Let’s strive to be…”

I mean, “Let’s” not do anything. Speak for yourself meme-maker. I will carry on with my life, and Thou shalt do whatever it is that thou pleasest, which, I guess, includes “striving” but I imagine not in the way the Bible commands, which is to do things like “keeping your eyes fixed on Jesus the author and perfector of your faith” and “counting it all joy when you face trials of various kinds” and “casting all your cares upon him because he cares for you.” No, get your “striving” on to be…well, let’s just look at the list together, shall we?


Of course, we have to begin with authenticity. There is no other value after which a person may strive that could possibly bring about any goodness for the world. You must begin this fine Thursday by being “authentic.” And what will that look like? I guess, or me, if I was going to be “authentic,” it would mean that I hadn’t bothered to read the Bible this morning and that I wouldn’t have responded kindly to the child who poked her head over the rail at 6 am to ask me if I’m awake yet. But, of course, the meme doesn’t mean that I will be the testy and depressed self I usually am. The meme thinks that if I dig down past that junk, I will uncover something truly beautiful. The meme, though, hasn’t met me and doesn’t know that the deeper I dig, the more irritable I become. In fact, thinking about my authentic self at all first thing in the morning is a recipe for misery because my children are all doing that and when I collide with them, we have a volatile and unhappy time. But whatever, the meme is prepared for such an eventuality because the next one is, of course:


Yes, you know, if you don’t love God, he won’t be forgiving you for anything by the merits and death of his Son, so you had better get busy forgiving yourself. Let yourself off the hook, why don’t you. Does it really matter if you hate and loath your co-worker? Or are abidingly angry with someone who hurt you so that you have had to cocoon, as if you were manufacturing an actual pearl, the hurt so that no one can ever touch it, nursing the grudge, rehearsing the injury? Or maybe you’re super manipulative and foist your unresolved grief onto other people so that they have to lug it around for you…you know what, I’m not going to go on. This is obviously a pointless activity. What’s next?


Mmhmm. Why don’t you work on being “relatable” today? Why? Because being relatable is going to be hard to do when you’re working so hard on discovering your authentic self. You’re not going to have time for this one, because it would mean thinking about other people. I say scrap this. No one even knows what it means anyway.


This one goes without saying. Just by being your authentic self are you unique. Pat yourself on the back and eat a chocolate or something.


Sure, this should be no problem since you have a cellphone in your pocket and the minute anyone makes any kind of demand on you you’ll be able just to pull it out and scroll a little bit to push back the ennui. The best way to “be present,” I think, is to scroll through Twitter.


That’s right, go out and slay those internet dragons. Fold a basket of laundry or something! Any little thing you do is surely an act of immense courage! Especially being your authentic unique self. Gosh, what odds you’ve had to overcome to be the glorious person you already are. You know, you don’t even need the rest of this meme. Someone should give you a medal. I won’t be able to, of course, because of all the important courageous things I’ll be doing. I guess we’ll all have to go out and find our own medals.


I feel like, NGL, this one has no home here. Because if you were really going to be honest, you would have to admit a lot of failure and stuff, and actually beg God for help, and that’s not what this meme is recommending, so I would expect we all need to skip the honesty and just redefine all the “self-lying” to be “self-honesty.” The fact that the unique, courageous, authentic, relatable you would only be possible if you never admitted to God or anyone that you are a sinner, that you are a sheep going astray, that you neither want to what God commands, nor are able to, and that all your works amount to nothing at the end of the day if you don’t have Jesus is not relevant. Yeah, seriously, skip right over this one to:


I feel like this one is trying to drag us down off the mountain of our own impactful glory. Resourceful? What is that? Is that like problem-solving? The only problem I have to solve is getting other people to see how wonderful I am which I can do by posting on Instagram a bunch today. Everything I really need has already been given to me by Mark Zuckerberg.


This one should be easy. If I’ve striven to do all the meme demands, all my curiosity will be directed toward myself, that endlessly fascinating subject upon which all the eyes of the world ought to turn, but won’t, tragically, because they are so busy examining themselves. You know, that’s too bad. That just at the moment when I might truly be accepted for who I really am, no one is around to do the accepting because they are all busy accepting themselves. What is that? Ironic? Or is it just merely stupid and tragic?


The best way, I think, to know about your own thoughtfulness is to post something online about how thoughtful you’re being. That way you, at least, will know you are being thoughtful, which is very important for your overall wellbeing.


Yes. Passionate. Can’t leave that out. If you aren’t passionate, no one will be able to know how authentic you are. Or unique.


This is clever, reminding the obeyer of the meme that they are human and not divine, after inviting them to be confused about that very thing. This amounts to trickery. Recasting the human person as a being so glorious she doesn’t even need “God” because she is basically one herself. How clever.

Well, that was sups fun. I had better go and have my egg and get to work. Have a nice day you curious, thoughtful, unique, authentic sinner!


Photo by Prateek Katyal on Unsplash

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