My B+ Attempts at Being All That

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The Power of a Big “But”

on September 21, 2014

I’ve been thinking a lot about buts. Really.  The kind of buts that take everything we just said and negate it. The kind of buts that can take a lovely compliment and flush it down the toilet. The kind of buts that earn our credibility a check in the “lost it” category.

But mom, everyone is doing it!

We’ve all done it. “I love you, BUT . . .” “I’m a Christian, BUT . . .” “I believe we should be helping out our fellow man, BUT . . .” I’m as guilty as the next. I need to vent. I feel I’m entitled to the exception to the principles that guide me. I decide that as long as I am mostly convicted about the “I” statement, it’s okay to have a big “but.” But, is it? And just how much damage is that but doing? Let’s take a look at a pretty innocent and most likely universal scenario:

Mom tries to help kid with homework but isn’t doing it “right.” Kid yells at mom, completely unjustified and complete ugly. Absolutely inappropriate behavior. Completely unacceptable. Mom, after having had an incredibly long day of dealing with unrealistic deadlines and grumpy coworkers, feels completely justified in saying, “I love you, BUT sometimes you make me so sad with your behavior.” Seems innocent, right? But let’s delve deeper. We just made that love conditional. By its very nature, the word “but” negates the statement prior to it. It is meant to say, “The opposite of what I just said is going to follow.” What is the opposite of loving our child? Even if the statement after that one is legitimate (which the one in the example is perfectly so), because it follows “but” in the sentence, its legitimacy is overshadowed by the fact that the child learns that there is an opposite of a parent’s love.

How many buts does it take to turn a completely rational person into a hypocrite?

“I’m a Christian, BUT I hate it when so-called Christians shove religion in the face of others.” If we are truly Christian, truly Christ followers, why would we negate the statement that we are Christians? And while it seems fine to hate the behavior of other Christians who don’t represent the faith well, what message are we saying if we qualify our Christian behavior with a statement that makes it okay to pick and choose what we follow from the bible? What if we try, “I am a Christian, so I wonder how I could be more effective in being the hands and feet of Jesus and spreading God’s love in a way that makes other people want to do it as well?”

Let’s THINK about our buts.

So before we go throwing our buts around for everyone to see, let’s THINK about it. Is what we’re saying True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary and Kind? THINK, my friends, and keep those buts where they belong.

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