The Mythical "They"
by Jen Hatmaker on October 17th, 2013

When I was a sophomore in high school, I wrote a paper on “personal prejudices” for my teen leadership class. I chose to write about my unfair bias against kids who partied. (OH MY GOSH I WAS SUCH A SQUARE. Same girl who was voted “Most Inspirational” her senior year. I was a ton of fun in my teenage evangelical days.)
 
My teacher kept me after class and confessed something, as I was a varsity cheerleader. She admitted to stereotyping cheerleaders as long as she could remember; vacuous, slutty, mean girls, empty brains. We talked about my paper and my worldview in general, and she apologized for painting me with an unfair brush and promised to evaluate cheerleaders as individuals from then on. I promised to try and not be a judgmental weirdo and maybe only bring my Bible to class half the time. Bless my heart.
 
A few weeks ago, I spent two days with about 60 women from all over the country, all influential and strong in their respective niches. No one knew everyone, a few knew someone, and some knew no one. We encompassed the furthest left leaners to the staunchest right-wingers, complementarians and egalitarians, rebels and conservatives, pastors, musicians, writers, speakers, authors, artists, poets, catalyzers, marketplace leaders; all over the map, literally and spiritually.
 
We all held our breath in the days preceding; this was a lot of diversity, man. Some of these girls had come toe-to-toe online before. There were camps represented, people had big feelings, theology was not unanimous. Some barely got on the plane, nervous and unsure and prematurely defensive. We were all leaders; many cooks in the kitchen, hide the knives.
 
We hoped our love for Jesus and desperation for our generation would be enough.
 
We were right.
 
What transpired was the most beautiful, holy, healing gathering. I didn’t even have the courage to imagine it. The differences melted away; I can’t even remember what they were in the first place. Some pulled others aside and said, “I was wrong about you. Forgive me.” We washed each others' hands and shared communion and fell in love with one another.

“They…”
 
It can be such a terrible word. They are all like that. They don’t get us. They are always _____. They are never _____. They are not our people. They are all the same. They all feel _____. They would never _____. The book is already written and them, and we can close it.
 
Do you know how often this is not true? Not even remotely true? The Mythical They creates straw men to disparage, propping up stereotypes and strengthening our prejudices while eliminating the actual work of relationships. It is the easy way out to be sure. We are excused from personal contact entirely, imagining ourselves as their victim or their target or their adversary. We can actually invent an entire conflict without speaking a solitary word to a live human.
 
How many of us have a secret nemesis? Women are particularly deft at harboring imaginary tension. She would never like me. I would totally hate her. She is the sum of the few parts I know about her. I heard she was _____. She is friends with/works for/goes to/believes that/affiliated with _____, so there is nothing else I need to know about her.
 
So rather than doing the grown up thing and actually talking or connecting or asking questions face to face, we hide behind The Mythical They and absolve ourselves of truthful discernment. Why have a potentially productive conversation when we can just make up a disastrous one in our heads? Oh sure, we may be entirely human and normal and nuanced, but certainly no one else is.
 
Let’s go here: How many of us refuse to walk into a church because they will all be _____ (cliquey, judgmental, mean, boring, holy). We see the church and say they. But here is a secret: all sorts of ordinary people just show up to church on Sunday. There is no they. It is just a collection of individual people who just lost their job or are going through a divorce or have a secret addiction or love Jesus like a fat kid loves cake or have no idea why they are there.
 
Reverse the scenario: If you snuck in the back door of a church and hid out on the back row, barely hanging on, and someone drove past the sanctuary and said, “Oh no. They are all _____ in there…” How unfair would that be? You’d stand up and say, NOT ME! You don’t know my story! If you only knew… Those are the same people under the steeples on Sundays.
 
There is no they.

 
I’ve done this. Of course I have. I imagine I know exactly the type of women I’ll be dealing with when I walk into a conference based on the venue, and I am wrong exactly every time. Because there is no they. No group of people is any one thing. Ever.
 
An 84-year-old woman sat next to me on the front row once, and I thought, wow, she is in the wrong place. I’m about to talk about justice and poor people and she is just here because she has been coming to conferences for eleventy billion years. I bet she falls asleep.
 
When I came off the stage, with tears pouring down her face, she grabbed my hands and said, “Everyone thinks I’m just an old lady and should sit in my pew and go gently into the white light, but I still have good years left, by God. I go to the prison four times a week. Those are my people. You are the first person who doesn’t think I’m crazy.”
 
There is no they.
 
It is immature and lazy to imagine we know everything there is to know about someone before we know that someone. We don’t know their stories, their histories, their real live human feelings. We don’t know their favorite movies and best memories and what makes them afraid. It is unfair to take one fact, one thing they’ve said or we heard they said, or one thing they wrote, or someone else’s experience, or a group they identify with and make a character sketch. If people did that to us, the picture would be so woefully incomplete, we wouldn’t even recognize our own description.
 
Who is your they? Is it a group? Because guilt by association is the lowest form of assessment. No group is all the same. They may have one line item in common, one belief, one perspective or mission, but that camaraderie is not the sum total of a person’s character. She is other things besides that. Probably a bunch of stuff just like you. You’d be surprised.
 
Is your they an individual? Have you invented a barrier based on anything but sustained personal connection? Maybe you think you know how someone will react or respond, but you could be as wrong about them as they are about you.
 
I suspect we misjudge people 90% of the time. Experience tells me I can sit down over coffee with almost any perceived adversary and end up laughing until my ribs ache. We were born on the same day, we both quit reading the same book halfway through, we are both worried about parenting, we both love Jesus even if we don’t agree on all the dressings. Common ground abounds.
 
Yes, some people are genuinely toxic or unhealthy, but we should draw those conclusions from personal experience, not hearsay or assumptions. I see a strategy for fracturing humanity well in play: just keep people separated and let them reinforce invented boundaries in their imaginations. Because when people come together and really listen to each other, doing the hard work of human kindness, virtually every barrier is breached. The entire mechanism is a house of cards; we can topple the structure with courage and trust and real discussions and grace for each other.
 
The Mythical They is a lie, and we can do better than this. Will you be brave? Do you need to pick up the phone or send an email and ask someone to coffee? Perhaps it’s time to stop painting a group with a wide brush and get close enough to see what those folks are actually like; you will never regret giving someone a chance, but you might forever regret carrying a fake grudge to your deathbed. Let’s refuse to buy into this horrid game. Let’s give each other the benefit of the doubt, some actual time. We’ll listen and connect and try to understand each other like the People of Mercy we supposedly are.
 
It could just be the most beautiful, holy thing we do.
 
 
Who is your they? How have you felt? Is that real or mostly imagined or somewhere in between? What will you do?


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141 Comments

Katy - October 17th, 2013 at 11:42 AM
Needed to hear this today. Imagine if everyone reached out to one "they" in his or her life [including myself]. Thank you for your refreshing honesty and transparency. I look forward to hearing you speak at Preston Trail next weekend!
Linda Record - October 17th, 2013 at 11:50 AM
Excellent. Any time I hear "they" or "other," I think there is so much being missed. Thank you for eloquently reducing the space between "them" and "us".
Laura - October 17th, 2013 at 11:50 AM
I love this, Jen. I have fake conversations in my head all the time. It's so much easier that way. But I don't want easy, really. I want to be brave. And kind. And gutsy. Thank you for posting this!
Colleen - October 17th, 2013 at 11:52 AM
Oh. Just. this. So much to challenge my heart here. So much to Amen to and then say, wait, that's me. I need to dig here, mine here for the spiritual gold in these questions. Thanks for going there, Jen.
Jada - October 17th, 2013 at 11:54 AM
So needed this....right now. TODAY! Thank you!
Rebecca - October 17th, 2013 at 11:55 AM
I clicked on the comment button thinking "This is what I needed to read today" and lo and behold that was the first comment. Thank you for the truth in your words!
Laura C. - October 17th, 2013 at 11:58 AM
Oh brother. Convicted and inspired by this right here.
Maureen - October 17th, 2013 at 12:00 PM
Awesome post. Love your blog.
Martha - October 17th, 2013 at 12:05 PM
Boy did I need this. Not just today, but everyday.
Lacey - October 17th, 2013 at 12:11 PM
Great googely moogely!!! This couldn't have come at a more perfect time! Exactly what God needed me to hear today! :) "they" always magnifies a situation- a group of "invisibles" sometimes, to which we fight that does not hardly exist! Cause bitterness, and division among God's people, and hurts to feel you have been wrongly accused of being a "they". Thank you, thank you, thank you! :)
Grace - October 17th, 2013 at 12:13 PM
I love you for bravely writing these sobering thoughts. I am this person. So many of us are. I've done this to my in-laws who I've never even taken the time to understand. After 18 years of marriage, I have some coffee dates to set. My life is about to change for the better because you had the courage to call me out on living by hearsay and contrived scenarios. Thank you.
Mia - October 17th, 2013 at 12:19 PM
I've struggled with this my whole life. Somewhere along the way I picked up the notion that, in order to be a "real" Christian, we all had to agree on everything. And I mean EVERYTHING. Big stuff, little stuff, worship style, raised hands or not, female pastors or not, can you really be a Christian AND a democrat??? ...and oh man, it's exhausting. In the process I created a lot of "theys". It's been such a hard mindset to shake. Lately it's manifested in a monster that often keeps me away from church entirely. Meh. Regardless, I so appreciate your thoughts on this today. :)
Rachel - October 17th, 2013 at 9:02 PM
Are you me? Haha, but seriously... I could've written this comment myself. It's somewhat comforting to know I'm not the only one!
Greg - October 18th, 2013 at 2:09 PM
That's funny. I've often found myself putting Christians in that "they" category. I'm a Christian, but other Christians perhaps annoy me more than any other set of human beings. I would rather spend my time with non-Christians who don't place all those damn Christian expectations on me. They just let me be myself. Can you really be a Christian and a Republican? There I go again. This was a great blog, going to need to take this to heart every time I walk back into church and deal with "them."
Heather - October 18th, 2013 at 7:50 PM
Greg, I can so relate. Made me smile to see my own thoughts already in your reply!
Alma Ruth - October 19th, 2013 at 12:35 AM
Same here.Thank you!
Cindy - October 19th, 2013 at 9:30 PM
I'm with Rachel below...just repeat her comment & that's how I feel. Wow.
Jess - October 17th, 2013 at 12:28 PM
"But what if I should discover that the least among them all, the poorest of all the beggars, the most impudent of all the offenders, the very enemy himself -- that these are within me, and that I myself stand in need of the alms of my own kindness -- that I myself am the enemy who must be loved -- what then?" -Carl Jung

I agree with this blog post. For me, I have to continually choose to have compassion for myself. My contempt for others comes from self-hate and self-contempt. As I have begun to treat myself with tenderness a natural outpouring is that I see others that way too.
Bj - October 18th, 2013 at 10:14 AM
Jess...this is the very core of "love your neighbor as yourself". You just spoke the answer to the dilemma Jen posed for us. We must come to understand how madly and deeply God loves us, and LIKES us!! And then - and only then - can we see ourselves as we are - perfect in his sight and so very worthy. When we get there, when we can truly love ourselves, then we can pour into those around us. Thank you for your vulnerability.
Tracey Goss - October 17th, 2013 at 12:35 PM
Thank you for this post...Convicted and Repentant and Determined to Love and Embrace my new WEs! (well that's not a word but you know what I mean!)
Ann Jorgensen - October 17th, 2013 at 12:44 PM
I was singing with a choir on the steps of city hall on the National Day of Prayer a few years ago. There was a group of people holding up various signs that all basically equated us with terrorists. And I thought--I know these people. They aren't anything like that. But you know--I was guilty of the same exact thing. I made sweeping judgments about them because of the words on their signs. And I do that often. I do it on the basis of politics, views on social issues, religion, form of dress, and so many other things. Thanks for opening my eyes anew to this sin of mine. Before I start judging the theys, I will try and get to know the persons.
Saranett - October 17th, 2013 at 12:50 PM
Jen, I really love your blog and read it often. This is the first time I have commented. While I think this is a good post, I'm not sure agree with all of it. It sounds a bit Utopian and Oprah-ish to be honest. I don't think people are all supposed to be one big happy family. We are called to love one another, but that doesn't mean that we are all going to like each other. Maybe at a three-day conference where all the women are hyped-up on Jesus juice, everybody can put their differences aside. But be honest, if this had been a gathering on the topic of abortion, some pretty nasty words would begin to fly. It is easier to ignore differences among a lot of strangers. The thing is, in real life, not all of those women may like you or want to be your friend. That is not a bad thing; what's bad is when we treat each other like dirt and participate in gossip or slander or making fun of others. I've been married to my husband for 6 years, and his mother hates me - she talks badly about me whenever she gets the chance. She also happens to be on the ministry team at her church. The sad truth is that there is sometimes a "they" - maybe not a huge group of people who go around bashing you, but the "they" can be just one or 2 people who don't know the meaning of love. Do I like my mother in law? Not really. But I love her. I wish everybody could just get along and be friends; it's just not reality though. Again, what matters is, even if you can't be best friends or go on coffee dates with every woman out there, because you know you are too different, you can still love them and spread kindness.
Alysa - October 17th, 2013 at 2:02 PM
It sounds to me like you and Jen actually agree.

"Yes, some people are genuinely toxic or unhealthy, but we should draw those conclusions from personal experience, not hearsay or assumptions."
Sue - November 20th, 2013 at 11:09 AM
Thanks for sharing this Rachel. What a fine article and a great reminder not to judge---ever. The only thing I have to say is this; if we take the time to really get to know that person and they ARE toxic to us, then it's so hard to let them go. Hard for me and hard for them. I know it's worth it in the end....we always learn something valuable.......
Chandra - October 17th, 2013 at 3:02 PM
Girl, I hear you! ....going on 11 years of this.
Christine - October 20th, 2013 at 7:14 PM
I agree with this comment. As much as the thought of this mythical "they" being false would be, it is very alive. Living in a small community it's thriving. Grown women who have no intention of really, honestly, letting others into their "group". Who are nice to you at coffee and then mock you behind your back. It's important that we ackowledge it's out there. And to do and be everything we can to avoid being the same way.

That said, there are most certainly times when the "they" doesn't really exsist except in our minds. Those times are only discovered by reaching out with an open heart and an open mind. Which can be hard when you've been hurt in the past.

Good post, lots of truth to it, but also please don't brush off the fact that there are the "they" groups on out there, more common than this post would allow one to think.
Maria W - October 17th, 2013 at 12:52 PM
My first thought... "I hope THEY read this!" Oh, so convicted now....
Tina Kachmar - October 17th, 2013 at 12:52 PM
Jen ~ you know I love you!! Another FABULOUS, HEARTFELT blog. Thanks!!
PendleStitches - October 17th, 2013 at 12:58 PM
Inspired and inspiring. Thank you.
Amy - October 17th, 2013 at 12:59 PM
The dangerous thing about my misconceptions about 'THEM' is that I change who I am based on who I think 'THEY' are... because I am an insufferable people pleaser... and so while I never get to really know THEM (because I think I already have them figured out), nobody ever gets to know who I am really either. Not even me...
Amy - October 17th, 2013 at 1:46 PM
Spot on, Amy! What a lesson from Jen (and you) today for me!
Kate - October 17th, 2013 at 6:43 PM
Wow, Amy, Jen's words opened my heart and yours opened my soul. You wrote a truth that I've been ignoring for decades. I hope this insight stays with me for as long as it takes to become part of me.
~Karrilee~ - October 17th, 2013 at 1:04 PM
and everything in me screams out YES and AMEN! (with - of course - a little oh me, too!) LOVE this! Can't wait to see/meet you in Tacoma in a couple of weeks!
Stacy Kent - October 17th, 2013 at 1:12 PM
Word.
P. Van Hoogen - October 17th, 2013 at 1:16 PM
I'm the "Older" they...& have to be careful of typecasting the "younger" they.
Shanna - October 17th, 2013 at 1:40 PM
Oh...what a lovely message for today and every day. I read the horrible news about the bullied 12 year old who committed suicide and the 14 year old who callously wrote things on Facebook about the tragedy. I can't tell you how much venom and accusation was in my throat and eyeballs while I read the terribly tragic account. In the end, a young, tender 12 year old is gone from her mother's arms and another young 14 year old woman is already convicted in the court of public opinion. Justice must be served for wrong-doing, but we should all be saddened and humbled by these accounts of brokenness in our world. All those families deserve our mercy and compassion. If we truly believe in the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, then we owe it to extend love and grace to others. You are right; "them" is me. Thank you for sharing your heart. (BTW...still working on my cheerleader stereotype!)
Ashley - October 17th, 2013 at 1:47 PM
Oh my. This was waaaaay more on the nose than I liked, but wonderful. Thank you!
Ashley F. - October 17th, 2013 at 1:48 PM
I think most of my "theys" are either totally made up or somewhere in between...either way, I have some confession and repentance to take care of. Thank you for being the voice of the Holy Spirit to me today.
Pam Walker - October 17th, 2013 at 2:09 PM
So incredibly well said.
Laurie J - October 17th, 2013 at 2:10 PM
Love it. But are you sure all fat kids love cake? ;). I joke, I kid......good stuff....lots to ponder. Going to pray about my 'they' and all the crazy I've stacked up against 'them,' and see what is revealed.
Caryn Ruff - October 17th, 2013 at 2:37 PM
Speaking truth. Just the way we need to hear it. {hands in the air} Amen!
Tallie - October 17th, 2013 at 2:38 PM
Oh Jen Hatmaker you got me again! :) Isn't our God just neat how he orchestrates things.. I just love it! Thanks for stretching and growing me today!
Jeanene - October 17th, 2013 at 2:59 PM
Well...I am very recently challenging one "They"...a church my hubby and I left 7 years ago and refused to return to because of the "They" concept in our heads...we are back in that congregation....amazing how God has changed ME since I was last there. It's going to be ok....but, that isn't my worst "they" at all...not by a long shot. My very worst "They" pretty much encompasses everyone and says that they would not like/love me if they knew A. that my house is messy and I haven't ever painted anything without failing to make the most of the painters tape that would have covered the ceiling and kept it from having those smudges on it. B. that I don't spend every moment cleaning(most days) and it shows C. that we don't eat as healthy as we should. Heck, we've been living on microwave dinners for nearly two years now(since the, now two year olds, were babies). D. YOu name it. I basically just can't seem to get past my terror that "They" will disapprove or think we are not good enough, don't have enough money, etc. Sigh. I am asking God to redeem my life from this belief.
Lisa - October 17th, 2013 at 5:48 PM
Oh my goodness, ME TOO!! I freaked out the other day at mystery spots that are appearing on my daughter's clothes after I wash them. When my husband asked why, I said, "Because other moms will see them and think I'm a horrible wife and mom who can't even do laundry properly!" Yeah, I have a ton of insecurities relating to what I think "they" think I should be/do as a Christian wife and mom. Most are probably not true, but boy do they feel true in my head!
Jeanene - October 21st, 2013 at 4:57 PM
They do, Lisa! They do! I know they have pretty much zero eternal value...but, it gets to me...it's hard to separate this version of "they" from my actual *known* reality!
Lori - October 18th, 2013 at 4:04 PM
I hear you! I would love to invite people over more (or at all) but we live in an older house and like you said...it is always messy. And having a "pinterest perfect" house is not on my top priority list. But yet, when I think about inviting people over, I always dismiss it, because, well--what would "they" think? And I'm down from time to time about my lack of close girl friends...but I realized something the other day. I don't ever really try to deepen relationships with ladies I like, because I just assume they won't like me anyway...
Jeanene - October 21st, 2013 at 5:01 PM
Wow Lori...we are living a parallel life there! Seriously! I have been way down because I feel so isolated...but, the ONLY friend to have made it into my home was one I started out *having* to let in anyway...she was the caseworker for one of the children we adopted from foster care(after the case closed we picked up a friendship). She had already seen my home...I guess I just need to find a way to let people in regardless. You know that things that circulates on facebook about how your "true girlfriends love you even if your house is a mess, etc etc"?? I keep thinking...Wow...I might have one if I ever let anyone in the front door! =(
Jeanene - October 21st, 2013 at 5:03 PM
Oh...and...pinterest has just turned into another reason to feel "less than" for me...I don't have the time. And, honestly...I don't CHOOSE to spend my time that way. I choose to spend it on the floor with my kids(most days)...ugh.
Jennifer - October 17th, 2013 at 3:04 PM
Beautifully put and precisely my prayer this week. Judgment never works and never wins.
Osheta - October 17th, 2013 at 3:30 PM
"Common ground abounds." Yes! Jen, you words are precious and powerful!
Jami - October 17th, 2013 at 3:32 PM
I so needed to hear this. Where as yes I am guilty of preconceived notions of "they" groups, my worst battle is putting myself in a group where the "theys" won't like me. A. Constant. Battle.
Lori H - October 17th, 2013 at 3:41 PM
I love this post. It hits us all where we live. In addition, I hate to state the obvious but I wish you could read this post in front of Congress - i have been feeling so discouraged at the division in our country - we vs. they is thrown around so much. Thanks for the perspective.
Jenna - October 17th, 2013 at 4:03 PM
Spot on! Thank you!
Tiffany Locke - October 17th, 2013 at 4:26 PM
All I can say, you hit the nail on the head. I just made a comment on FB about how hard it is for us/ me to make and form friendships at 40. It wasn't like we were in school on the playground and instantly you were friends cause you were on the swings together or climbing the money bars. As we get older I can see in myself that I at times will use the word " they". Heck I was just using that yesterday as I going to lunch to meet up with 5 other ladies that are all pilots wives and our husbands fly for the same airline. We get each other with our take off and landing kind of life. However with me being an hour away from all of them, I felt they see me as a desperate pilots wife that for heaven for bid drives an hour away for lunch. Where they all live a stone throw away from each other, go to the same church, go out a few times a month. So why would THEY want to know me . Those crazy false thinking that play in our minds. When in reality we are crazy a little weird. We just someone to understand us, hear us and take a sip of wine with us when needed. Great post.
Stacy - October 17th, 2013 at 4:37 PM
If every "They" were you, our world would simply be fantastic. Thank you for the awesome inspiration today.
Lori - October 17th, 2013 at 4:39 PM
I think I will print this and add some encouraging scripture to boot, tuck it in my purse or car, and read it again right before I know I'll be meeting up with my "they"s. Good reminders!
Lisa - October 17th, 2013 at 5:53 PM
Um. Ouch. No, don't take my judgments away from me. I need them because....um. Crud.

My "theys" are more numerous than I'd like to admit. Homeschoolers. SAHMs. The church in general because I'm a working mom and they don't pay attention to/respect/do anything for "us." Anyone whose politics are more conservative than mine. I think a lot of it comes from my assumptions of what I'm afraid they'll think of me, or nasty things people I associate with them have said, and I figure yep, I know what they'll say, so I'm not even going to open myself up to it.
Cyndie - October 17th, 2013 at 6:36 PM
Honestly, I truly believe most of what Jen says is true. I used to hate those who judged the "they" in life. Then somehow, over the years, I watched women mostly, and some men in the churches I was involved in, make assumptions about me because of my frankness. I was always expected to apologize for little offenses I had unknowingly imposed on them. To fix their issues with their own self esteem. That's when I started feeling the "they syndrome". I started not trusting others, mostly in the church, sadly. I want to connect. I want to create friendships with others. I thought I had then I watch them stay tight with their existing friendships not including me, reason unknown. Yes, I have problems, so do you. I need to talk, so do you. If someone who had tried to connect in your church disappears, maybe you're the one to reach out and be that friend. Change the way you do things. Don't speak a mantra then not follow through.
Tara - October 17th, 2013 at 8:04 PM
Cyndie, I can so relate. After leaving our church of 10 years we have now been in a new church for a year now and I have not made one connection with anyone.In fact,until last week I didn't even know one womens name! After a whole year! I too want to connect but am finding it so difficult.Jens comment,"perhaps its time to stop painting a group with a wide brush and get close enough to see what these folks are actually like" hit home with me.Im gonna give it an honest effort.Ive been thinking,"wow these ladies are really not friendly" when heck....maybe im the one whos not friendly?


Keri - October 17th, 2013 at 7:48 PM
I have "theys"....& over the last three years I've been a "they/she"...oh dear Lord it has been so painful and heart breaking to learn what others assume to be true. I've grown a great deal, but not to the point of dropping all my "theys"!!!! Thank you for this reminder!!!
Amanda - October 17th, 2013 at 7:50 PM
I. Love. This.

I have a lot of "they's". I can talk to you for 5 minutes, and watch out - by the end of the conversation you might be a heretic and I'll be praying for your soul. It's quite ridiculous. It's funny that I should read this post because I have been convicted of this very thing lately.
sharon - October 17th, 2013 at 8:05 PM
SO many excellent points in this!! I wanted to highlight so much of it. Great post!!!
Lesley - October 17th, 2013 at 8:06 PM
I appreciate this so much, as I have been both guilty and victimized by this "they" stuff. My most heartfelt beliefs would line up with what you would call the "young reformed movement" and I have seen so many of our like-minded brothers and sisters be completely burned up by the straw man of the supposed "uevangelistic hyper capital-C-word" (and as a result I'm too skittish to actually identify he-who-must-not-be-named).
It is heartbreaking to see truly great (and very evangelistic) men and women of God be blackballed from places of ministry because of heresay and sensationalized articles that someone found on the internet. We can do so much better, and it begins by exactly what you said, talking to each other. Opening our minds and hearts. Opening our eyes, for goodness' sake! Many times, our misconceptions could be cleared up simply by objectively observing the actions of the one we've turned into a "they"...but a lot of times, we just don't want to. Too scary. Too hard. Too humbling.
Missie - October 17th, 2013 at 9:10 PM
My experiences are in the same vein, but a bit different. Four years ago, we began attending a Reformed church. While we loved the teaching, I just couldn't break through the womens' group. It was weird. I am friendly. I'll talk to anyone. These women wouldn't talk to me. Would.Not.Talk. Would stand right in front of me and invite each other over. Totally ignoring me. I worked at home and would occasionally travel..big sin. Didn't I know that to be truly Reformed, I had to not work at all and just raise my children? I endured nasty remarks because my son was in public school and my daughter was sometimes watched by a babysitter. "Oh, I don't know HOW you can possibly stand to be away from your babies and travel like that!" To which I finally started answering, "When I'm sitting in the Waldorf Astoria with room service and the remote to myself, I somehow get over it." I was older than the other moms there, I was not super crunchy granola "my child has only ever had organic food grown in the Himalayas by chanting monks", I laughed at the wrong times, and admitted that my husband and I had been married long enough that I wasn't constantly in awe of his greatness and splendor every minute. All of these things caused me to be their "she!" and further cemented my view of "them". It took me two years of being away from that church before I finally healed...before I finally realized that I am not the low life horrid mother unfit wife obviously not saved in the way she should be person. They are not my they anymore, although that came not but by lots of prayer and time. I said all this to say.....we as the women of the Church have the power to bring together or to tear/keep apart. I agree with Jen. Let's not give cause for anyone to feel separated or lost or unloved in our midst. We might be missing out on some fantastic friendships.
April - October 17th, 2013 at 8:21 PM
Wow. This was tough to read. I am so guilty of this. Actually I made the decision to move 2000 miles away from Texas because "they" just weren't our type of people. I've left churches because "they" are too judgemental and hypocritical. But I guess I was just taking the easy way out. Guarding my heart and staying where it is "safe". And this whole time I thought I was so enlightened with all my diversity of friends. Tough read, but needed it.
Marsha - October 17th, 2013 at 8:40 PM
I attended a bible study last night called Stronger (I can't remember the author/speaker's name). But at some point she said, "Sometimes, as a woman, we are only as good as the last thing said to us. How very true it is and how very well it weaves into your post here.
Denise Ramey - October 17th, 2013 at 8:46 PM
Thank you, that is the best thing I've read all day! I need to be brave and gutsy and quit thinking about "they"!
Kim - October 17th, 2013 at 9:03 PM
I love this story and it helps me to not judge and realize that often the perception of "they" is actually me.

As the wagon trains moved West, an old Cowboy would sit out by the trail near his town. The wagon train would stop and the wagon master would ask, "What kind of town is this?"

"What kind of town did you come from?"

"Oh, it was terrible. The people were cold and uncaring. They only thought about themselves and not their neighbor."

"Too bad. That's exactly like this town." And so the wagon train would go on.

The next wagon train would stop. And the wagon master would inquire, "What kind of town is this?"

"What kind of town did you come from?"

"Oh, it was a wonderful place! The people were kind and caring and neighborly!"

"Welcome, Stranger! That's exactly the kind of people we have in this town!"

So much truth in that little story. When I judge and look for the barriers, I always see them. When my heart is right and I look for love and mercy and grace and friendship, I see it in others.
Laurel - October 17th, 2013 at 9:14 PM
No words - just an array of emotions flooding through me - thank you!!!
Sarah Lorain - October 17th, 2013 at 9:34 PM
Amazing! You know another assumption about "they" that I think I make? What "they" will think about me. "I would never be able to reach them. They just think I'm a sheltered homeschool kid" ... "They would never take me seriously. I have no experience" ect ect....
Miranda - October 17th, 2013 at 9:34 PM
Tonight we got a call to take in a 16 year old girl as a foster with possible adoption placement. We know all of the blaring bad things that she does and have been trying to make all the excuses in our head as to why it won't work. We have yet to meet her or learn anything about her strengths and have already gotten our hearts pitted against her before even giving her a chance. Thanks for writing this today and helping my heart beat out what Satan is putting in my head. When she comes to visit this weekend so we can all meet each other before making our decision I hope to keep these statements ringing in my head.
Jill - October 18th, 2013 at 9:44 AM
I will be praying for your weekend. We also are a foster home and understand all the unknowns when the phone rings. As a naughty teenager I am so thankful for people who loved me warts and all. I would have been a red flag in the foster system. I will be praying for wisdom and a clarity for yoyr family.
Lindsay - October 17th, 2013 at 9:44 PM
Oh, man I loved this. So spot on. On an unrelated note, I particularly appreciate your consistent, correct usage of "their, they're, there" ;)
Cindy B - October 17th, 2013 at 9:59 PM
Ahhh! Just the other day a friend of mine had to remind me "You are full of grace. And called to love everyone. Including the narrow minded" (which admittedly can sometimes mean "including those who disagree with you")
Jeanna Brown - October 17th, 2013 at 10:10 PM
I teach high school, and I often challenge my students to avoid the stereotyping trap that most people fall into daily. And, your blog reminded me that I am one of the "most people". Thanks. Please keep stepping on my toes. Hard.
Cindy - October 17th, 2013 at 11:12 PM
I truly believe this. I also believe in those "toxic" relationships you mention also: "Yes, some people are genuinely toxic or unhealthy, but we should draw those conclusions from personal experience, not hearsay or assumptions." Live in your own truth based on actual experiences; you won't and shouldn't be friends with everyone.
Micki Kadunc - October 17th, 2013 at 11:19 PM
When we find ourselves falling into the trap of stereotyping, as most of us do from time to time, it's good to remember that we too are somebody's "they". Every soul walking the face of this earth is a child of God, whether they acknowledge the fact or not. He loves each of us equally, and created us individually with our own unique characteristics. As a youngster in our Children's Church reminded me one time, "God don't make no junk!" There is no "They" in this world, only "We".
Marcy - October 21st, 2013 at 7:59 AM
Amen, Micki!
Loved this post and loved your reply.
Lindsey - October 17th, 2013 at 11:48 PM
So yeah, you just rammed me right between the eyes with that one...in the most painful and wonderful way. Thanks for not being afraid to share the hard.
Karen - October 18th, 2013 at 12:17 AM
My 16-yr old shared many of these thoughts with me today. I am humbled.
Cara F - October 18th, 2013 at 1:32 AM
I do love your words here, but in the pictures it looks like mostly 20-30-something well-off, while females. How different were "they," really?
kara - October 24th, 2013 at 11:12 PM
Ooooh, i felt too petty to say it, on this post of all posts, but since you said it i have to agree. I was reading along, nodding my head in agreement, and then i came to the pictures. . .and i just couldn't help it, my brain said "but apparently you have to be beautiful and well dressed to be there." I couldn't help it! My heart tells me that jen is 100 percent genuine, and also that every one of those women is amazing and has so much to offer. But my brain just sees the pictures and notes how they clash with the "diversity" description.
Betsy - November 11th, 2013 at 12:11 PM
So, because you share a skin color or socio economic status, you're no longer diverse? I don't think Jen was getting at racial diversity as much as she was theological/ideological diversity.
Kenny - October 18th, 2013 at 5:34 AM
We seem to have this insatiable need to hate (I am using this term loosely) and construct mental chaos with the hated. It is oddly comforting when I am on the outside, frustrated, or when I need to feel powerful. Yet, there is a constant gnawing within, hindering that type of comfort. Holy Spirit, I suppose. I feel the Spirit speaking through all of you in this thread today. Switching course and righting these relationships and being transformed by the renewing of my mind stands to bring the comfort I seek. Thanks, y'all.
Ashley - October 18th, 2013 at 6:43 AM
This is great and so timely. Well, it's probably always timely. But just today I was taking note of all the big divisive talk I've heard just in the last few days. Feminists v. Not feminists (what do you call those people), cessationists v. continuationists, Protestant v. Catholic, etc. There is just so much division and labeling. I don't want to be labeled. I'm a lot of things all rolled up into one, and some of them you would not imagine would go together. So what? I've been so guilty of this, but having recently found myself in a place that leaves me constantly wanting to make sure I'm not lumped in with extremists, I'm more aware of the labels. Good stuff here.
Ttime - October 18th, 2013 at 9:47 AM
Is there any irony that this "vast diversity" group excluded men?
Dianna - October 18th, 2013 at 10:19 AM
I like the fact that most responses to your post started with "me" not "they". It's easy to judge others, hard to start with ourselves and see our own role in our situations.
Shannon - October 18th, 2013 at 10:37 AM
I'm pretty sure I am everyone else's "they." That in and of iteself makes me all messed up. I'm also pretty sure we're sisters from another mother. I think WE need to sit down and have coffee and I think our kids need to hang out generate some all around chaos together!
Our Vintage Life - October 18th, 2013 at 11:12 AM
I have a lot of "theys." I need to do a heart check today. Thanks for the nudge! :-)
Emily Wierenga - October 18th, 2013 at 12:09 PM
Thank you Jen. This really ministered to me. Bless you.
Emily - October 18th, 2013 at 12:09 PM
I just balled my face off. God talks through you and it's wonderful. Thanks for being just enough crazy to listen and obey when our Lord asks you to do something.
Jeane - October 18th, 2013 at 12:21 PM
This is a great piece and I've been letting your words marinate in my mid since I read them yesterday. There has been an increasing tension between so many different "theys" lately...and largely it stems from online interactions. It is so, perhaps too, easy to say our piece behind a screen. And when it become loud and aggressive and irrational, it feels like (even as just a reader) I'm in the middle of a web-hosted riot. I wonder how passionate people would feel about issues if they had to actually physically sacrifice or move their asses to do something about it (instead of typing and snickering in their pj's). And, as you so smartly suggested, I wonder what would happen if more people would actually take time to get to know the people
Of the "other side" from the one they are on. I can only start with me. And I will! Thank you,
Jen.

Mary McAlister - October 18th, 2013 at 2:17 PM
Thanks Jen. This is so important. Like you, I have a heart for "the least of these" and for bringing them justice. I am a lawyer and with God's guidance am putting together a legal foundation aimed at offering pro bono legal help from a distinctly Christian perspective to women in crisis, "they." I've just registered for the IF Local conference and am so excited to be able to bring women together in my small town to share my passion with them.
Dee Anne - October 18th, 2013 at 2:22 PM
Thanks for the good message! There is a lot to think about here.
Laurie Herron - October 18th, 2013 at 7:06 PM
Our differences are essential to the whole...same does not mean better. We are part of the whole body of Christ, meant to connect, flow, live, and have our being in Him. "They" is merely meant to distract us from focusing on and in Him. Love how you expressed this.

Caroline - October 19th, 2013 at 2:50 PM
Well said. Thank you for this reminder!
mcmary - October 19th, 2013 at 12:41 AM
Great message and I totally agree about pre-judging or stereotyping people. I have one beef with your post--the comment "like the fat kid likes cake". that sounds judgemental and frankly mean to me. I know it is meant as humor but may not be the best choice.
Jocelyn - October 19th, 2013 at 1:16 AM
Beautiful. Thank you!
Amanda M. - October 19th, 2013 at 9:21 AM
Oh my word. I have just had to take a "Facebreak" because of all the judging of they, both on others' part and my own part. The other day as I perused my FB newsfeed, I found it SOUL-crushing, all the "mythical-THEY-judging" and decided that I was done. I want to see cute baby pictures, pics of cats dressed in clothes and field a few prayer requests when I go on FB. I don't want to be judged and grouped and labeled. And I know I've done it to others. But it seemed the level of "they" judging and near hatred was at such an all-time high that I could no longer take it. Now I've read this, and I'm definitely going to work on my own part. Anyone I really have labeled or put into that category I really need to forge a real connection with. Because I can't sit around feeling hurt that I've been lumped into a "Mythical They" when I've done the same. Thank you, Jen. You rock.
Melissa F. - October 19th, 2013 at 10:27 AM
I've been judged, you've been judged, and we have all judged at some point. We should all try to do better. This was such an inspiration for me. Thanks Jen for sharing this.
Lisa - October 19th, 2013 at 1:33 PM
That was good, and a blessing. Thank-you
Lyn K. - October 19th, 2013 at 6:24 PM
It was a bit ironic that you are criticizing evangelicals in a post about not judging others. I hope there are no teenage girls reading this who are bringing their Bibles to school and avoiding parties. You make them sound boring and "square". It feels like high school all over again, you are only a cool Christian if you swear and hang out at bars. As a role model for young women, you should be encouraging them to form strong morals and to stick to them. It is ok to have some black/white, right/wrong views. It does not mean that you are judgemental or legalistic. Also did not like the fat kid comment, it was hurtful and mean. I actually enjoy your writing and check your blog often, read Seven, etc... Just feel like sometimes you are trying so hard to accept and welcome outsiders that you use your sarcasm to stomp all over those who are already in the church (for example, Christian conservatives). While you are ministering to the poor, those conservative Christians are helping teenage mom's, adopting orphans, giving money to a variety of causes, sponsoring Compassion children, helping neighbors, coworkers, family, friends who are struggling, etc. It is good that people have different passions and callings because it allows us to meet a wide range of needs for a wide range of people.
Debbie - October 31st, 2013 at 2:06 PM
Thank you Lyn, all of that stuck out to me, also. Bibles are NOT unCool, and alcohol is not cool. Christians need to realize that being set apart is Cool!
Sarah - October 19th, 2013 at 9:42 PM
Truly, you hit the nail on the head with this one. Spoke into a subject that causes a lot of unnecessary hurt in our world. I found my head nodding yes in agreement through your whole post, and then my hand tightening as I was pierced with some ugliness in my own heart. Thank you.
Kelly Greer - October 19th, 2013 at 10:28 PM
I used to judge them until I became them. Then, Jesus changed everything. You are right, the "they" is a myth. We all fall short and we all are need of Our Savior!
Hugs,
Kelly
Debbie - October 19th, 2013 at 11:40 PM
I have heard it said that an "us and them" mentality is what leads to terrorism. (Michael Gungor). I am just as guilty as the next person - God forgive us!!!!
STEVE DUNN - October 20th, 2013 at 4:03 AM
Jen, this is superb and just what WE need to hear. I will be reblogging this on one of my blogs LIFE MATTERS. Thank you.
Ashley - October 20th, 2013 at 7:39 PM
Our rock worship band was on tour and played at a small church in Raytown, MO. It was a confusing mixture of people, but 2 older ladies really stood out. We thought they'd be gone by the second song. We are pretty loud. They ended up staying the entire time and hung out for a meal afterwards. Come to find out an older congregation merged with a newer church. I'll never forget her saying, "We had a building, they had a congregation and a pastor!" They had such kind hearts and a love for the younger generation. Changed my view of "them." It was awesome to see God's heart through them. It crossed both racial and age "boundaries."
Pam - October 20th, 2013 at 7:55 PM
Nothing wrong with the message, but the photo selection confused me. All the women in the photos look very much the same -- affluent, stylish, white. Is this supposed to represent a diverse gathering of women reaching across their divisions -- if so, it seems those differences must be theological only! Or are we supposed to not be judging them even though they look like a very stereotypical "they"?


Bette - October 21st, 2013 at 7:04 AM
"I didn't have the courage to imagine it" - I needed this line right here. This is how I am feeling about hosting an IF: Local group. I'm scared...and I'm forcing myself to pray and imagine instead of hide in a hole.
Thanks Jen
Lori - October 21st, 2013 at 12:48 PM
This has blessed me on today! Thanks for sharing!
Courtney - October 21st, 2013 at 2:00 PM
"love Jesus like a fat kid loves cake"?!? What?
Kerry - October 22nd, 2013 at 7:41 AM
I don't know if it's just been an emotional week or what, but everything seems to make me cry lately. I am so glad I've found your blog. You have no idea how I've needed to hear some of the things you talk about on your blog. Thank you.
Anna - October 22nd, 2013 at 8:11 PM
Sorry, but idiot moment. I don't know how to officially "follow" a blog. I'm always coming back to Jen's site to "check" the blog. There's a way to get it sent to my inbox, right? Right??
Michelle - October 23rd, 2013 at 10:37 AM
I have a hard time reconciling this with your post about the traditional church when you were uninvited to speak. Seemed like you were slamming 'they'. Leaving 'they'. Painting 'they' with a large, critical brush that happened to stain the vibrant, wonderful, traditional church my family loves and serves. I appreciate your idealism but what's lacking in your photos and your post is wisdom - didn't see a soul over 60 and goodness knows our generation needs some grounding from those who have weathered all our neo-legalistic, Oprah-gospel movements and have persevered our spiritual brattiness.
Leanna - October 23rd, 2013 at 3:12 PM
This here, these words, they are soul clenching, jaw dropping and just flat out convicting. Thank you. Thank you and thank you again.
Grace - October 23rd, 2013 at 10:18 PM
Thank you. I have been PRAYING about what I'm suppose to do about a church situation. We have recently started to going to a new church which I love, but it's so far away that it's beginning to be a bit of a problem. I want to be able to bring people to church with me, but they aren't willing to travel so far. There are churches near us that I've been interested in, but our old church we use to go to always told me, "Don't go there. THEY wave their arms around during songs. THEY are all about the emotional connection with God and not the intimate. THEY are watering down the gospel to get young people to go there...." and so on. Our old church was full of strong Christians, but the reason I left was because they didn't do any outreach and that's something I'm passionate about. Maybe this other church is exactly where I'm suppose to be and I'm not giving them a chance because of what other people have told me about them. Or it could turn out I don't fit there at all, but at the end of the day I need to make that decision for myself. I have been so hesitant for years because of this, but no longer. I'm going to give it a try. And maybe it'll be great and maybe it won't, but at least I'm trying it out for myself. Thank you so much. I honestly feel like God has lead me to this article and it's almost like you've written it just for me.
Becky - October 24th, 2013 at 6:49 AM
I am so convicted because many times I create my "They" based on judgment for something they did in the past, and never consider God's work in their lives in the future and how He sees the potential in them! Thanks Jen! Incredibly powerful reminder for change in our hearts and minds!!!!!
Just A Proud Grandma - October 24th, 2013 at 12:39 PM
In my life I have been so hurt by gossip and prejudice that now I tend to withdraw from socializing, even in ministry. Three times in the past decade, women from church have approached me and apologized to me. I am always shocked by this and think "Why do you need my forgiveness?". Then they confess they heard something from someone else who said something yadda yadda yadda...about me. Only after spending time with me did these women find out, it was all false and said "sorry, please forgive me". Afterwards it would hurt for months trying to think who might have gone around twisting people's minds about me. Satan gets into it both ways with our fragile self esteem. I would encourage anyone reading Jen's post today to be careful in responding. If you prejudged someone and alienated them with words or actions....then go to the Father and confess. Let Him heal you and get you on the right path of thinking and doing for His Glory. Don't go to the person you misjudged, as telling them your 'sins' against them only hurts them more. (What is wrong with me that people would say hurtful things or exclude me when they have never gotten to know me?)
Dawna - October 24th, 2013 at 2:14 PM
I just saw your post on FB about the airport outfit compliment and it was funny and made me smile. I wanted to leave a comment on there but couldn't and I'll tell you why. The reason I saw the post at all is because my son 'liked' it. My son, who used to love Jesus as a boy but has rejected him as a man. My son, who would typically only read a 'Christian' post to criticize it. But, lately, he's been engaging me in conversation and liking things I've written and feeling encouraged by me when I try to encourage him with scriptural truths. He appears to be still so far away from Jesus but I know that what seems to be isn't always what really is. So I didn't want to comment on the post and scare him off. But if you could only know how bizarre, surreal, 'only God could make this happen' it is for him to be reading you, Jen Hatmaker, you'd be gettin' your worship on right about now. I know I am! Thank you for being so faithful to the TRUTH of Jesus' love for all mankind.
pat addler - October 24th, 2013 at 7:26 PM
Oh, wow...won't you come to Minnesota? We have pretty snow, lovely lakes that freeze beautifully...and lots of "theys" who need to hear your powerful words! I have a resort...you can stay with me! Well, it's not open in the winter...that's why I have the time to write you today! God is so good...and you make Him so real for all of us! I love your words, your humor, your faith...thank you for always sharing with all of us sinners!
Blessings to you and your family!
Miriam - October 25th, 2013 at 7:29 AM
Oh Jen! I'm at allume talking w/ my roomie about the ways that God has used hardship to peel back layers of judgement and preconceived notions to reveal GRACE. She pulls this, your blog here, up and tells me I MUST read it...and she's right!
BEAUTIFUL words of TRUTH God has given you here!!! So grateful!!! Thank you!!!
As a special needs mom, the THEY's hit so deep...the stares that can penetrate the soul of a momma as people don't see your child, but the wheelchair. And I keep learning...my preconceived notions of the starers are almost always wrong too, 1/2 a dozen times that I know of, they have been parents that los a child with a similar condition to my son. The people I used to get angry at for parking in the handicapped spot with no tag, they have a little boy that stumbles into his preschool graduation on crutches strapped to his arms - he'll use these for the rest of his life. It's a painful process, learning to set aside this, "They"...but it's ripe with GRACE, and I'm so glad to be on the journey! HUGS!!!!
gargoyle - October 25th, 2013 at 1:59 PM
I'm a They, But i'm a single they. But I am also Me. And an I. If I say something do not call me they. I own up to anything I say or do. Some things with time I might forget I did or said . I might say something about someone/something not in there presence. It is a timing thing. But if questioned I will admit I said it. If I haven't already told you I said it. I do not hate or judge anyone. We all make our own choices in life. It is our free will. We all deserve to be happy. Have fun and live your life.
Scott deBeaubien - October 26th, 2013 at 1:25 PM
Great stuff Ms. Hatmaker! Thanks for the encouragement to just keep getting out there and being with "Them." Pretty soon, they all become "Us."
Melissa T - October 28th, 2013 at 12:04 AM
Your church is hard to get ahold of! I keep trying to send an email and it tells me that your inbox is full!
Beth - October 28th, 2013 at 10:51 AM
Not hot on the "like a fat kid loves cake" comment either. I'm part of the "They" group that happens to be overweight. People who are overweight generally have a biological, hormonal and/or endocrine-based reason for this - or are on medication that caused their insulin resistance - not simply because they just "love cake". Not saying I'm perfect - and it is a nice article - especially seeing as I generally create "They"'s out of thin women who I assume won't like or accept me... and won't eat a dang sandwich;)
Donna - October 28th, 2013 at 12:06 PM
Convicting and powerful perspective! Ouch, but thanks for the reminder that we are not called to judge but to love and "they" thinking is wrong thinking!
Elise - October 28th, 2013 at 11:54 PM
Awesome post... Now, "God help us to see past them's and they's... until we do, we can't truly love one another as you've called us to."
Lynn - October 30th, 2013 at 2:48 PM
I got chill bumps when I read the part about the 84 yeard old woman on the front row with you and what you were thinking about her. I'm so guilty of that too!

Thankfully I've recently learned that these older ladies can be alot more fun than the younger ones...and not to mention the life lessons I'm learning from them. They are building my character and helping me to see what a lifelong commitment to Jesus Christ really looks like.

Thanks for sharing this!
Reality - October 31st, 2013 at 7:18 PM
May have something to do with the fact that Jesus has a great big old "they" in the they raised in a different faith or without the personality to believe one story 'on faith' over any other story 'on faith,' and in Christianity that "they" is deemed not just to be snubbed or thought poorly of, but to suffer some sort of eternal torment. idk. Think about it. Really. Not just the kind of thinking which says that's not our job, not our place, etc.
Angela - November 5th, 2013 at 5:26 PM
This is great! I think I might use a similar idea during one of my visits to the women's prison.
Jill22 - November 8th, 2013 at 10:13 AM
Such a true thing. This post gives me hope. My "they" are family members and faith-filled women like you, who I am so scared to reveal myself to. I have been shoved to the side so often, because I feel I don't belong. My belief and faith in God is STRONG, but because I have different ideas about who God loves and accepts, I feel like I am not welcome in these circles, I feel like I don't belong. I'm a little more left-leaning than my family wishes I was and so I have had to hide. When I read your blog, I feel like you wouldn't like me, that the women following you wouldn't accept me, even though at my core, there is nothing different between you and me and my in-laws. We love people, and God, fiercely- we want to let our lives reflect what the Lord desires on His earth, we want to help and help and help some more. But for some reason, our differences have become the only thing that is focused on, which makes me oh so sad. I pray I can come to terms with this, that I can accept it. And I pray that I can open my heart, not to start identifying those against me as "they." Thanks for the post, Jen!
stef - November 11th, 2013 at 3:23 PM
Jen,
Love your blog. This is wonderful and so pertinent, and I needed to hear it. We should probably all post this to our closet door to read every day.

They are Us. When we realize that, everything changes. Thanks for reminding me!!
Kimberly - November 13th, 2013 at 7:25 PM
Thank you Jen. My heart is so deeply convicted right now. I run a ministry to at-risk teens and another to women working in the sex industry, but I get all fluffed-up and closed-off and judgmental about hyper-conservative "churchy people." And I need to quit it. I needed this. Thanks.
Ashley - November 14th, 2013 at 10:36 PM
Awesome words. I just allowed myself right into a sticky situation where I quietly gossipped to a fellow churchgoer who was with me because we felt someone wasn't doing something 'right' because "they" left a mess at church and "we" had to clean it. Then when I came home - I recalled a situation in which a dear friend of mine, who normally left everything in perfect order, had to rush away from the church and leave things undone because someone walked into the door and threatened her, and her children, then ordered her into her car to go get her some gas - she complied - thankful that the threats were only words and the person let her leave the church safely. This event came rushing back to me when I realized - I knew the story - but after she left - someone else could have walked into the church, known she'd been there as we all knew she went - and accused her of being careless...and they would have been wrong - but they would not know it. And then - there I stood - 4 or 5 years later - completely stained with sin - and upset because someone else made my day difficult - though I had NO idea what kind of day they might have had and never took the time to think of it when I blasted them to a friend.

I am ashamed, but I am thankful that God has reminded me of this seemingly forgotten event. I had no idea it would weave it's way into my story today.
Melinda Todd - November 21st, 2013 at 9:53 AM
I had chills reading this. So spot on. I am learning, the hard way, that a couple of gals at our church don't share complete truth when they tell me about someone. And shame on me for even listening to it. I wanted to highlight this entire article. I may have to read this daily. It's such a good reminder. Thank you very much!
Katie - November 22nd, 2013 at 10:13 AM

7 year old girl feels ashamed of her hair because of her school's policy
http://www.upworthy.com/see-a-tv-host-s-perfect-message-to-a-young-girl-whose-school-called-her-unacceptable?c=ufb1
Made me think of your posts about your beautiful Remy's hair :)

(Love this post. Glad you are loving your vaca!)
Courtney - November 25th, 2013 at 9:55 AM
Hi there! Thanks so much for sharing. I am really enjoying your blog. I would love to be able to subscribe to it via Feedly. Your husband's blog is available on Feedly, but yours isn't. Can you add it? Blessings!
Melinda Rowley - December 19th, 2013 at 12:49 AM
I love to read your blog. I typically do not read blogs, even ones written by friends that I love. Why? Because so many blogs written by christian women come off as "judgy" or "I had a flaw, but here's how I fixed it." So many seem to communicate "just follow my advice and your life can be better." Your blog is one of the few that is NOT like that. We are often sinful, sometimes lame, and altogether "not together" christian women much of the time. We need Jesus, people, because we are so far from perfect! Thank you for writing a blog that us "imperfect" mothers, wives, sisters and friends can relate to. Blessings!
Lisamay - January 5th, 2014 at 12:04 PM
First blog I've read from Jen, found it through another blog on snappages.com. My thoughts - "they" is what "you" make "them". So they is - you. In my life experience the one overwhelming thing I have been able to extrapolate without any regrets or misgivings is that in order to abolish your idea of they - you must first love completely and wholly you. Not god, jesus or thy neighbor - but you. In a spiritual and humble way. When you can finally be at peace with who you are and the choices you've made in love & life, you can see "they" for who they are. Which is usually wrought with insecurities and doubt. All of which were once plaguing you. That old saying, love the one you're with -- it's about you.
Kristen Thompson-Riley - January 9th, 2014 at 2:59 PM
Beautiful.
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