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Those of you that know me well may be surprised to learn that, for a short time, I was once married to a dude.

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Perhaps a little history is in order: in the dark recesses of the beginning–otherwise known as the dawn of the Internet age–there was a site called MySpace, upon which I had a profile. Initially, it was just, you know, my space, but I decided to add my wife–so that, just as in life, we shared a space. In essence, we decided that if we were–as the Bible says–“one flesh” IRL, we should be virtually as well. (Cute, right?)

And it was cool for awhile. We connected with friends, updated our statuses, etc. Got annoyed by all the Mafia Wars messages.

At some point, I heard people at work talking about a Facebook. Being the cool, hip, with it guy that I am, a created a profile there, and promptly did absolutely nothing with it.
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By now, you’ve likely seen the viral Internet sensation Facebook Parenting for the Troubled Teen put up by frustrated parent, Tommy Jordan, on his daughter Hannah’s Facebook wall. (If not, open YouTube in another tab, search for ‘Facebook Parenting…’ I’ll wait).

You’re back? Awesome. What did you think?

On the one hand, I gotta give it to the guy–he’s got huge stones. I mean big brass ones. I get the fact that his daughter publicly shamed him, and “every adult in her life,” by slandering him on Facebook.

But what’s not so cool is the tit-for-tat, I’ll shame you back thing he does for the whole world to see. I mean good parenting is all about shaming your kids into submission, right? Right?

I think you know what I’m saying: there’s more to shepherding your kid’s heart than mere compliance. Heck, we can lay the smack down all we want, but does it produce a changed heart? I submit to you that Mr. Jordan may indeed see an outward compliance from his daughter, which merely masks a seething inner rebellion.

What he fails to understand is that her attitude has its genesis in him. The parents set the tone of the home. If he wants change, it starts with him.

Not with nine hollow point rounds shot into a laptop.

You know, I’ve seen the video a few times now, and each time the word, “stepmother,” stands out to me. Not that all stepmothers are bad, mind you, just that this implies a divorce occurred at some point. And that, friends and neighbors, is a whole ‘nother level.

Having been a child of divorce, I can attest to the simple fact that anger is indeed a common reaction to a parent’s divorce. Especially from a teen. Teens have enough going on in feeling their way(s) through this awkward time of life that adding a divorce into the mix… Well, you get my point.

I was 13, 14, when my parents went through their divorce. My dad dropped the bomb on my brother and I after taking us to see Return of the Jedi. Yeah, rebel triumph to the agony of defeat in about, oh, 0.002 seconds.

I hated my dad. His paramour–later wife–hated my brother and me. I’m not saying this is necessarily the dynamic that’s going on with Hannah, but… I’ll betcha dollars to donuts she’s a little angry with her old man. <--based on her Facebook post, understatement of the year, I know.Like I was with mine. And, boy did I have a boulder-sized chip on my shoulder. All I did was demand things from him, and subsequently resent him at those times when I had to go see him. Truly, though, he chose to leave, and wasn't what you would call an involved dad (we saw him twice a year; he called even less).Unlike Mr. Jordan, who at least seems to care about his daughter's behavior.It just seems to me--and take this with a boulder-sized grain of salt--that with the divorce, and remarriage, there's an unresolved element here.Which brings me to Valentine's Day: I think Mr. Jordan should, in the interests of relational harmony, take his video down, humble himself before his daughter--confessing his part in his divorce--and then simply listen to her. There's something there he needs to hear. And I think the best way to do that is to make his daughter his Valentine this year, taking her out on a daddy/daughter date.I would suggest some family counseling as well.Yeah, I get that he feels unappreciated, but he's a man, and can take the hit. He needs to set the tone for communication in his home.God abases the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Moms, and dads, in your home this starts with you. Sure, you can make your kids tow the line, but does even God do this? Yes, he disciplines, but he doesn't force compliance.What do you think? I'm I off in my assessment? How would you have handled a similar situation?

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Are You On Fakebook?
      In twenty-plus years of following the Lord, I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon in the church. I’m speaking of our “fakeness.” And we must like it very much, because we’re so good at it. I’m sure you’ve at least observed this, or been party to it. You know the drill—running late on a Sunday morning, trying to get the family to church: you unload with both barrels. Your shell-shocked family doesn’t know what hit them. Strangely enough, when you get to church, it’s all:
“How are you, brother so-and-so? Sister so-and-so?”
“Praise the Lord, brother, I’m great! This is a wonderful Lord’s day, isn’t it?”
“Why, it sure is. Isn’t Jesus grand?”
“So grand I don’t even have words.”
“Isn’t that the truth? See you in service.”
“See you in service.”
And so it goes.
Sadly, there’s great reason for this: experience has taught us that others don’t want us to be real. You may have witnessed, or been part of yourself, a conversation like the following:
“Happy Lord’s day, brother/sister so-and-so! How are you this fine day?”
“Not so great—Missy and I had a fight this morning.”
“Oh, is that so? Well, er, um, uh… I think I see my little Johnny throttling Miss Baker, the Sunday school teacher. Nice talking to you. Gotta run.” And so it goes.
Unfortunately, there’s a great pressure in the church to appear like we’ve got it all together, that things are going well, our kids are behaving, that walking with Jesus always makes everything better in the here-and-now. After all, what would the pastor think of us? (We forget that “in this world you will have tribulation.” Not a promise that we like to claim, but it’s there nonetheless).
At some point, the “fakeness” becomes ingrained, second nature—so we take it online. To the first church of fakeness: Fakebook. I’m sure you’ve been there. If you’re a Christian at all, then it’s got to be one of your favorite places on the Internet. Wanna connect with old friends? Fakebook. School buddies? Fakebook. Wanna know how the pastor spent his day off? Fakebook. But for goodness’ sake don’t forget the unwritten rule: thou shalt not be “real.” You can’t forget that one: it’s the cardinal rule of not just Fakebook, but all of our relationships. But I’m sure you—just as I have—in a moment of weakness, when, you know, life was pressing down on you, you lifted the veil, dropped your mask for a moment, got real, and posted your struggles online for your friends to see. And what did you get in return? Silence. So quiet in fact that you could hear the sound of your kid’s navel-gazing from downstairs. What gives? People don’t know what to do with reality, are intimidated by it. In contrast, try the following: post something trivial, stupid, goofy—something that doesn’t really get to the heart of who you are—and watch all the friends you haven’t spoken to, or seen in five years, come out of the woodwork to share their scintillating wit. I have seen this time-and-time-again. It’s because Fakebook is a microcosm of our plasticity—symptom of our inability to be real in our churches, or in our real lives. Fakebook: a place for lying to friends. A place of pseudo-community. If you want honesty, try Squeaker instead—I hear it’s far easier to be honest with strangers there (the “Squeakstream”is laden with all kinds of confessions) than it is with friends on Fakebook.
I’ll leave you with this: are you on Fakebook?