3.01.2012

Signs

 
 
   
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If you live in Wichita, you were probably aware of the special election that happened this past week. Even if you're decidedly anti-political or apolitical, you couldn't help but notice all the YES and NO signs strewn about the city. The NO vote won, but this isn't about that.

This is about the sign that we placed in our front yard.

I've never placed a sign supporting any candidate or cause in my front yard. There are many that feel that we should make our opinions loud and proud, and stand by the repercussions. If you are firmly in that camp, I applaud you. I've just always felt that my opinions on politics are there for the asking, not necessarily the telling. I've never had a bumper sticker on my car, and probably never will. I'll speak up if need be, especially in conversation, but I don't go out of my way to bring up politics. The world is already divisive.

Here's my deal: when you live in a neighborhood where all other signs are the opposite of yours, you feel a bit...alone. That, and the fact that we've been trying to be a good witness with our lives and here we are proudly stating that we are in disagreement with the people on our street.

So why put out that yard sign? I felt relief today, knowing that the vote was over, knowing we could take down the sign. But I believed in it, right? Isn't that why I agreed to put it out there in the first place? So why was I so glad to be able to blend back in?

For me, that's what I realized it was about.  It was about these conflicting emotions  I had: between my need to educate on this particular issue and what I felt would be good or bad for this city we live in, and my desire to stay anonymous, to not rock the boat, to stay safe and quiet. That sign made me uncomfortable. I worried that its presence made the neighbors uncomfortable. The whole time that sign was in my yard, proclaiming what I was for and what I was against, I was wishing it wasn't there. I wanted my neighbors to all be on the same side.  But even if I hadn't put out that yard sign, my opinion would have been the same, just invisible.

And as I thought about all that, I realized it was about even more. That perhaps there was a correlation to this yard sign and my faith. Maybe I have a hard time "advertising" my faith because I don't want to alienate someone. I don't want anyone to be uncomfortable. But if I don't "advertise" my faith, and this is more than a bumper sticker or a t-shirt or a fish on my car, meaning go out of my way to insert it into conversations and to explain it, then I'll remain the same as I was. I'll be a yard empty of anything that looks exactly the same as the yard next door.



5 comments:

  1. Kelli (Johnson) LenzMarch 1, 2012 at 1:03 PM

    Good Stuff! Happy to have found your blog! I didn't realize you were in Wichita. How do you like living there? We were just there visiting my grandparents over New Year's. We really enjoyed the scenery driving north and into Lawrence. It surprised us! LOL! I guess it's different enough than Wisconsin scenery to be intriguing. ;)

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  2. Hi Kelli! So good to hear from you. We really love Wichita. It's big enough to have what we need but no traffic. :) We love driving through the Flint Hills too. It's easy to think of the pioneers heading west over those hills! Next time you're in the area, let us know! We'd love to see you!

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  3. Thanks, Carrie, for this interesting post! I've never thought about drawing an analogy between the two and it made me think. Here we go...

    I wonder if 'advertise' is the best word to use regarding one's faith. It seems like the equivalent between a political sign in one's yard would be (as you mention) a Christian t-shirt or a bumper sticker. What is similar about them is that neither have to have a personal connection between the sign and the person. I see someone with a fish on their car and assume this signifies a degree of faith. But I don't know them and I don't have any way of knowing the relationship between their sign and the way they live their faith. I would agree that a political sign or a Christian t-shirt is a form of advertising or even propaganda if I'm being really cynical.

    But I wonder if you can then make the jump from advertising one's faith to communicating one's faith in conversations - at that point, the personal enters in and one can assess the extent to which the 'sign' and the person match. I would suggest that we should always be uncomfortable advertising our faith because it is devoid of the nuances of the lived Christian life. An authentically lived Christian life (that includes communication) should be attractive (salt and light if you will) to those around us. What I wonder is: if we're advertising, are we having to overcompensate for the way we're living? Is advertising - ie Christian sign-bearing - a short-cut to whole Gospel living?

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  4. Great thoughts, Sara! I agree.

    In my original thought process I was not intending to connect a yard sign to advertising my faith, but more telling about an "aha" moment that led me to thinking about how I could be bolder in living out my faith for my neighbors. Too often I don't bring up my faith at all because of my desire to not make others uncomfortable. Just as I was bold in putting out the opposite yard sign, I need to be bold when opportunities arise to minister to my neighborhood. You're right in that advertising should not take the place of true relationship; it should never be, "Hello, I'm Carrie & a Christian," rather it should be intentionality, interaction and service. I think we're thinking the same thing about intentionality and being genuine, but it was my internal wrangling over the yard sign that led me to thoughts about being proactive in my neighborhood and to not be an invisible Christian.

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    1. On reflection, I think that my struggle with the word advertising was all of the associations with the word - sales, manipulation, deceit. I know that you weren't associating sharing your faith with those words but it's hard to disassociate what advertising means elsewhere.

      Related to this discussion, I'm reading a great book at the moment about holistic mission - I'd really recommend it. It's called 'The Mission of God's People' by Christopher Wright. What I appreciate about Wright's book is that he talks about how mission is intrinsic to who we are as followers of Jesus. It's not something we put on - a duty that we obey - but is something woven into the very nature of who God created us to be. It's well worth a read if you can get hold of a copy. We're going through it in my home group at church.

      For a further discussion of Christian t-shirts and 'wearing our faith', we recently ran an article on Transpositions about them: http://www.transpositions.co.uk/2012/02/wearing-out-the-faith/

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What do you think?