throwing rocks & collecting rocks

I noticed something in myself recently. A heaviness. A hardening. Maybe you have felt this too.

This need to protect yourself from the criticism, the opinions, the angst that has been walking beside us for this season.

I felt like there were all these rocks flying at me.

In large conversations,

in subtle statements,

in words not said,

in actions,

in avoidance.

All these hard rocks just coming at me.

And I did not react in love like I should. Instead, I started collecting rocks with the thought process to throw rocks back.

This is challenging to admit, but it is truth. When I felt criticism or harshness I started to find faults in their choices, in their paths, in their lives. I started to compare and find ways to acknowledge the “at least I am not doing that” thought process. Ugly right? So ugly.

My faulty thinking and really, it was not intentional, but rather something I noticed after and realized I had been doing, was finding things to armour myself from anticipated criticism when I was feeling like everything was just getting too heavy.

I was collecting retaliation rocks.

But the thing about collecting rocks is, it just makes you even heavier. So much heavier. Think of your pockets and if they had actual rocks in them for each negative thought you had about someone else. Heavy upon heavy. It weighs you down.

Think about where we find rocks. They are always on the bottom. They layer the bottom of our lakes and oceans. If you carry too many rocks, you drown. The heaviness over takes you and you physically cannot overcome it. This is not how we were designed to walk.

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-it is by grace you have been saved.

Ephesians 2: 4-5

We were designed to be merciful and full of grace. We were designed to be forgiving, because of how much we have been forgiven.

I have not been my kindest, most gracious self this season. I went into this weird survival and self-preservation mode. But at its root, we began to self-destroy because we allowed our hearts to get so hard. Did you do this too?

So then we enter the world with hard hearts and interact with other people who maybe aren’t at their best and also have a hardened heart… grace really struggles to show up there.

We know we are not our best selves and yet we expect everyone else to be their best. Solid reflection on that.

The only way we can stop this cycle of hardening and rock collecting is to stop picking up the rocks.

Stop taking the offenses. Stop taking notes. Stop planning your retaliation. And act in love.

Drop the rocks. Give grace. Love one another. Even in the hard spots. Especially in the hard spots.

After I dropped my own rocks, I noticed a lightness in myself. I noticed this freeness.

Some comments are just comments.

Some opinions are valid and worth reflection.

Some critiques will help me grow.

And some things, I just do not have to give any value to.

Drop the rocks.

Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.

Matthew 24:12

Don’t let your love grow cold. Drop your rocks. Let them freeze. And open your heart to love one another.

It is hard to throw stones,

if your busy washing feet.

Luke Lezon

Can we all view the same season in a different way and still love?

We are all in a season right now.

Collectively we are facing some serious ick that we have not faced before.

Pandemic. Social unrest. Election year. Etc.

and then social media sparking opinions on it all and turning people against one another.

It is a hotbed of straight up mess.

Our world has experienced social unrest before. Our world has experienced a pandemic before. And our world experiences a presidential election every four years. However, this looks so much different now because

1- it is all happening at the same time

2-social media gives us all a chance to share our opinion loudly without having to see the hearts of those we are sharing with

We have somehow forgotten that we are in this together. Collectively. We are turning on one another, rather than walking forward towards unity in love. Yes, we will have different opinions, which is the most amazing thing about perspective. However, we need to be listening with our hearts first and moving towards unity, laced in love, in order to move us to a positive place of change.

No matter where you stand on any of the issues occuring in our society right now and really, everyone has a stance, I think we can collectively say that right now is a bummer. It is hard.

All of a sudden you realize that people you deeply love think different than you. That is not the hard part. This is where growth happens if we open our ears and our hearts, before our mouths.

But… sometimes you also realize that people you deeply love think different than you and are not accepting of how you think.

Or worse yet, people you deeply love think different than you and you are not accepting of how they think. Ouch.

We cannot change how others act or how they perceive us. But we can change how we act and how we perceive others. We can choose to put on love and layer our hearts with grace in order to still see and hear the person we love and to see their view.

I am not saying that we cannot have our own opinions. We need to. What are our values and how can we walk in them? However, I think the way in which we share our opinions can be done in a way that works towards unity, rather than division.

We all know the problems right now.

No. We do not. I do not know your perspective. I only know my own. So sit with me and share your perspective with me. I learned through a previous struggle that it is really hard to dislike someone once you’ve sat down and had a cup of coffee with them. I think there is a lot of truth to this. It doesn’t mean I will have their same opinion, but I can see their perspective.

But, we need to sit with each other and have two sided conversations in order to truly hear the perspective of others. Social media allows for only one sided conversations, often spewing one view, without allowing for reflective dialogue between the person sharing and those receiving the view on their newsfeed. I encourage us all, myself included, to have the hard conversations with those we love, rather than using social media to passive aggressively share our thoughts without allowing for dialogue. This is a huge challenge for me, as I despise conflict <insert all the yucky feelings> but I am learning we will not grow unless we lean into the hard stuff. So, I will try to lean in.

We need to work actively to not allow this season to divide us. On the otherside of this ick, we are going to need our people to get us through whatever ick comes next. There will be more ick. That is just how life goes.

How can we use this current season to draw us closer?

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts. And be thankful.

– Colossians 3:12-15





I think this is when I must share my email address incase you would like to take this current one sided conversation into a two sided one: ashleyelindner@gmail.com