Be moved. Be changed. Love because you are loved.

Tag: Romans 3:23

men in line

Resisting the Bandwagon

Men in line

To develop a character, I’ll jot down pages of notes on a character’s past, even if it doesn’t end up in the story. Backstory shapes the lens through which people see the world. It makes them relatable. Some of the questions I ask my characters are:

  • What parental teachings helped you be a better person, and what parental fumbling do you want not to repeat?
  • What is your deepest fear, and what brought it about?
  • What emotional wound hasn’t healed? What caused it?
  • What was the worst day of your life?
  • What’s your fondest memory?

These are just a few, but the answers determine how my heroine acts and reacts. Understanding their hurts, fears, and shame stirs readers’ empathy.

Crowds draw attention, but the individual’s story plucks heartstrings.  

Crowded street

I lived in downtown Boston for a year and learned city life wasn’t for me. There’s nothing like crowded streets to turn people into objects instead of individuals. Add cold weather and rushing to get indoors, and passersby become obstacles hindering you from getting on the bus, into a cab, or in a building. I’d never felt as alone or invisible as I did while living in a city.

While there is strength in numbers, that power comes with great responsibility. Mob mentality can overlook the individual. The collective weighs the benefit of the group and often supersedes individual needs. Social contagion is why the religious leaders dragged the woman caught in the act of adultery and tossed her at Jesus’s feet.

The religious leaders’ groupthink was more determined to catch Jesus in a trap than to seek justice. If they had genuinely sought justice, they would have brought both the man and the woman before Jesus because adultery isn’t a solitary act. The Jewish leaders used a catch-22 and demanded Jesus decide her punishment. Jewish law called for the woman to be stoned, and if Jesus had released her, he’d have been breaking the Law of Moses. However, if he’d had the woman stoned, he would have been breaking Roman law, and then the Jewish leaders could go after Jesus on that account.

Jesus said, “Let any of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her (John 8:7).” One by one, the accusers dropped their rocks and walked away. Romans 3:23 states, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Jesus had the religious leaders examine their own backstory, and they no longer found the will to throw the first stone. The herd mentality turned inward and became personal.

There is a tendency to get swept up by the crowd. There’s an allure to safety in numbers, especially when there’s so much fear in the world, but we must be extra careful of the dangers of groupthink. Numerous instances in the Bible cite how the crowds went after Jesus and his disciples, and it was a crowd that shouted, “Crucify Him!” (Matthew 27:23).

But Jesus modeled how best to handle a crowd—by looking at the individual. We must be intentional about not seeing people as objects or obstacles and need to realize that they each have their own backstory with hurts and fears. They, too, are in need of a savior and forgiveness, same as us. 

“Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you give testimony in a lawsuit, do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd.” – Exodus 23:2

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Sleep by Salvador Dali

Who are You “Crutching” on?

Humans are notoriously good at one thing—messing up. Controversial as he was, famous surrealist artist Salvador Dali understood human frailty. Many of his paintings depicted people being propped up by sticks or crutches. In his unique way, Dali showed the weakness of the human body and spirit and our need to supply “support for the tenderness of soft structures” (daliparis.com/en/salvador-dali/dalinian-symbolism).

Sleep by Salvador Dali

Some of us use boyfriends, girlfriends, or spouses to prop us up. They become our crutch, and we rely more and more on them to bring us happiness and fix our pain. I’ve seen countless women and men pray for God to put someone in their lives, only to stop coming to church once He does. The problem starts when we try to patch our emptiness hole with a person. It’s like putting a Band-aid on a gaping wound. It’s too much to ask someone to fill a hole that only God can fill.

So how do we get healthy enough to stand on our own?

Realize we need a vertical relationship, not a horizontal relationship. Ask God to hold us. Cling to a solid foundation, not a spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend. Psychologists, Dr. Les and Leslie Parrot, talk aboutA-frame verses H-frame and M-frame relationships. An A-frame is where a couple or friendships leans heavily upon one another to support them. They are looking for what Tom Cruise in the movie Jerry McGuire said, “You complete me.” Unfortunately, when relationships lean entirely on the other person the pressure created is going to cause one side to slip, and in an A-frame when one side slips, the other falls with it. Conversely, an H-frame is independent. It stands on its own, and if one side falls, the other hardly notices. In an M-frame, each person is healthy enough to stand on their own but still feels a sense of loss if the other side stumbles. It has emotional stability but chooses to be together and have a mutual influence.

Realize we are deeply and wonderfully loved for ourselves. God created you, and he loves you for who you are. He has sacrificed much to be with you. St. Augustine said, “God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.” Scripture confirms it. Romans 8:38-39 states, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Psalm 139 says, “Where can I go from your presence… If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.”

Alexander Pope said, “To err is human.” Fallible has become part of the definition of being human. We can’t idolize a pastor or a parent, or a boyfriend or girlfriend or an athlete. If we do, we will be let down. They are human. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Thankfully we have a God who anxiously waits for us to ask for His help. He desires to uphold you with His righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10).

He longs to reach down and scoop His child up in His arms.

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