The freedom to shut up.

Today is one of my most favorite days of the year--the 4th of July!  I love getting together with family and friends to watch the fireworks.  I love the patriotism of this day--a day in which we all pause and remember the many men and women (and their families) who have sacrificed their time and lives to maintain independence in our beloved United States.  I love standing to hear the National Anthem played by a military ensemble.  I love the hush on the crowd when the flags are taken down at the end of the day--there is something so moving about the decorum during Retreat on the military bases.

Civilized behavior at its finest. 

Unfortunately, it seems to me that these past few weeks we have had a national fallout.  People have picked opposing sides on a lot of political and social issues and have taken to social media to shout out their opinions and sides.  People have tweeted ridiculous things, people have shared ignorant and rude memes, and I've seen perfectly sane individuals lose their absolute minds over things.

It is ri. dic. u. lous   

So, for this one day, I'd like to encourage a "pause" on the social media bashing.  Instead of posting another story about how much you hate/love President Obama or another meme about gay marriage, the General Lee, and/or SCOTUS--why don't you take a minute and thank the men and women who are working tirelessly all over the world ensuring that you have the right to your opinions and your ability to post them.  There are men and women who are fighting to protect your opinions concerning the colors and/or design of the different flags you choose to fly.  There are men and women working nonstop to protect our freedom to act like big ol' bullies on social media as you post yet another story or tweet slamming a particular group of people.

You and I may not agree on everything--I'm a Southern and Conservative woman.  I go to church, I believe the words of the Bible to be true, and I love Jesus.  I do my best to adhere to Christian values and beliefs when making decisions.  I'm not perfect by any means, I make mistakes and sin each and every day, but I'm incredibly thankful for Grace.

If you don't know me personally, please do not take this as an opportunity to blast my opinions and beliefs, because you have no right to assume anything about me if you don't know my heart.  Because even though on the surface I would appear to be someone close-minded and stupid by the folks on social media, I need you to know that I am more than the labels that some would like to put on me because of my religious beliefs and my southern roots.

For starters, I am surrounded by many family and friends who believe differently from me, and I don't believe that we have ever fought over our differences of opinion.  I have LGBT family and friends.  I love people who do not love Jesus.  I grew up in a town that celebrates all races of people, and yet I'm discovering more and more every day that racism is still alive and well in all 50 states.  I do not love every elected official or agree with every ruling, but that doesn't mean that we can't agree to disagree on social and political matters.  I believe in the Bible, and I know a lot of people within the church say that the rules of living are written in black and white (and in red when Jesus speaks), but that doesn't mean that I haven't spent time wrestling with the Truth and trying to wrap my head around situations that aren't so black and white in my experience.  And it also doesn't mean that I don't get frustrated with the way the world operates inside and outside of the church.  

You may want to jump on the bandwagon and talk so ugly about the church, and you have the American right to do so--but I'd appreciate it if you would take a moment and remember there are people just like me within the church who have never done anything to you personally.  Assuming that all people within the church are bigots and close-minded is similar to the belief that all gay people are molesters.

It's simply not true.  

And Church?  For this one day, can you please just shut up?  Just stop posting your ignorant statements and articles.  Stop firing up social media with your blanket statements of outrage and indignant remarks.  If you wouldn't stand up in the middle of a crowded stadium and shout your social media statements--then please, for the Love, stop posting them online.  Yes, you may feel strongly about how you're feeling.  Yes, you may absolutely believe the words that you type.  But, I hope the Bible (and/or your mama) has taught you that Love is patient, kind, and keeps no record of wrongs and all the other things we've read.  We need to ask ourselves if how we are acting is showing Love--because many of you are acting like those street corner preachers with bullhorns spreading hate-filled messages.  Enough is enough--start acting like the Church and not like a bunch of bullies.  

Let today be reminder to us all that our country was based on the foundation of freedom.  We are not always going to agree and we are free to disagree.  What a wonderful way to live--no one telling us that we have to go to a certain church, dress a certain way, or vote for one particular political party.  We celebrate life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  We celebrate democracy.  We celebrate that all men are created equal in our country.  We celebrate with our families and friends.  We cookout, we hangout, and we ooh and ahh over the fireworks.  

Let's remember today the men and women fighting to protect our opinions, beliefs, and freedom. 

And let's celebrate our freedom to shut up.  

Happy Birthday, America!

And one last thing--although the men and women are fighting for independence, you are not free from becoming shark bait.  If you go into the NC waters and a shark comes up next to you on your boogie board looking all like a tasty turtle, he/she may bite you.  Why are we shocked and surprised by this?  However, because the sharks have completely lost their minds this season, let it be known to the masses that my toes are staying firmly planted on the sand. . . or on the concrete beside the pool. 

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