Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~When Saying Nothing isn’t an Option~ July 8, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 12:13 pm
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 It’s been quite some time since I sat down to write. I thought it was because I had nothing to say but with a little more reflection, I think it’s because I’ve been struggling with having something encouraging to say and I don’t like to add to the constant negativity that surrounds us. Then I wake up this morning and see yet another string of horrific events.

Honestly, I have yet to recover from the mass shooting in Florida and much has happened since then. I rarely watch the news. That’s probably irresponsible of me but it truly depresses me to the point that it affects my ability to function. I feel helpless and frustrated and terrified to walk out the door with my children. I did tune in once this week to see that over 60 shootings occurred in Chicago over the holiday weekend. Granted there were only 4 fatalities but among the injured were a 5 & 8 year old shot while playing with sparklers! This morning social media informs me of not one, but two officer involved shootings followed up by a sniper attack?! I have a limited knowledge of all of the above because I can’t watch the video footage circulating and of course if we aren’t present, all we know is what the media presents. But it appears to me that every single instance was driven by hate. When did it become the norm to turn to rage & murder simply because you don’t “agree” with someone? Instead of people mourning the sensless loss of human life, arguments flare up over gun control, immigration and politics. I have never claimed to be the most educated but one thing I do know for certain is hate solves nothing.

I’ve been silent since the Orlando shooting because I have no desire to engage in these sorts of arguments. The moment I read an article about a momma texting her son who was later killed in that nightclub, my whole world changed. At any moment, that could be any one of us, staring down the barrel of a gun, begging for mercy where there is none. Possibly even more sobering, it could be any one of us on the other end of the line, where someone we love is the one in peril. People, can you even imagine? One minute you’re enjoying a night out, singing in your place of worship or just going about your daily business and the next, your world is flipped on it’s side.

So I won’t be engaging in a battle over whose lives matter, because to me, they all do. Vengeance is not mine to seek, instead I choose to pray for peace & justice for all victims.   

 

~Are Your Words Promoting Healing or Hatred?~ November 25, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:08 am
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This morning I found myself feeling incredibly overwhelmed at the level of hatred blaring through the television and scrolling across my computer screen. I understand emotions are high during times of controversy but I don’t understand how it breeds such contempt among our brothers and sisters.

When I write, I don’t shy away from the controversial topics but I do try to be careful not to disrespect my readers and how what I say might affect them. On that note, let me preface this post with this, I do not have an opinion on the verdict that was read last night from Missouri. Not one thought.

Lest you think I am simply uneducated or that I’m too spineless to “pick a side,” allow me to share with you why I feel this way about this particular case and others of similar content.

The only information I have is from the media. It is my opinion that media executives are far more concerned about ratings than they are about educating their viewers. The more shocking the report, the higher the ratings. Therefore, I don’t consider it a reliable source to form an educated opinion.

“You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness.” (Exodus 23:1 ESV)

I wasn’t there. Have you ever heard the expression, “If you don’t see it with your own eyes or hear it with your own lips, don’t think it with your small mind and spread it with your big mouth.” A little harsh, maybe. But it keeps me from adding to the chaos by gossiping or passing judgment. I wouldn’t want someone to form an opinion of me based on second hand accounts.

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29 ESV)

I have no authority to judge, plain and simple.

“There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? (James 4:12 ESV)

Here is where I do have an opinion, nothing good can come from rioting and slanderous words. Rather than add to the darkness, should we not be the light? As tempting as it may be to share why so-and-so is in the wrong and so-in-so needs vindication, wouldn’t it be a better use of our time to show love while the rest of the world is screaming hate?prov 6

 

~Hate accomplishes nothing~ January 20, 2014

“But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. ”

-Martin Luther King Jr. “I have a dream” August 28th, 1963

While Dr. King was speaking about racial injustice, I feel that we could take his words of wisdom and apply them to any circumstances in which adversity is at the forefront.

We live in a diverse country where varying beliefs, values & opinions are in abundance.  I have seen time and time again when those variances cause people groups to pit themselves against one another.  There are no peaceful talks with mutual respect.  No.  It becomes a battle of who is right and who is wrong.  Ugly words are spewed.  Hate is spread like wildfire.  And just as in Dr. King’s time, nothing is accomplished.

If we are faced with a struggle of inequality or discrimination, what good will it do to engage in dishonest practices or bitter talk?  Sometimes the most difficult thing to do is remain dignified when someone is attacking who you are.  But there is something to be said about one’s character when you can lift your head high & hold your tongue during the fiercest of attacks and let your composure speak volumes.

When differing opinions present themselves, rather than allowing our differences to divide and cause hatred among us, can we not embrace one another in brotherly love?  Because we are in fact brothers and sisters.  We are all a part of the human race.  How you dress, whom you love, where you worship, the color of your skin should not dictate the treatment that you receive from others.  Respect should not be based on commonalities.

“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.  Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.”

(Romans 12:9-10 NLT)

 

~Black, White, Polka-Dotted or Striped~ August 30, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 6:57 am
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If you ever wonder why there is racism in the world, take a look at how the media runs the headlines.

“Several black kids bully a little white girl.”

“An unarmed black male is shot down by a Hispanic.”

“A group of white teens brutally attack an Asian girl.”

(These are not actual headlines but are very similar to ones I have seen recently in the news.)

Why is there any reason to include the race, ethnicity, religious background, etc. in the headline?  Does it matter what the color of skin is?  Isn’t the issue that a child was bullied, an innocent person shot or that a girl was beaten?  Why make issue of the race of the individuals involved?  Shouldn’t we be outraged that a crime was committed and leave it at that?

When I read these type of news feeds, my stomach turns.  Not only because of the violence that is running rampant in our world, but because we are being fed hatred for one another based on skin tone.  It’s horrendous and shameful.  The media is using hate and discrimination to up their “numbers” all the while fueling the sickness that is tearing God’s people apart.  News stories such as these cause white children to fear their black classmates, or everyone who isn’t white to fear bald-headed, tatted-up men.  Does anyone else find this wildly offensive or is it just me?!  Those in positions of influence are using their “power” to create unwarranted, irrational fears between God’s family and this should not be!

Yesterday I shared a Scripture with my facebook friends:

“There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Galatians 3:28 NLT

Either you believe this, or you don’t.  We were all created in God’s image, every last one of us.  We were placed on this earth for a purpose and I can assure you that not one of us was created to spread racial discord.  In Romans 2 verse 11 it says, “God shows no favoritism.”  Then in James 2 verse 9 we are told “if you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin. You are guilty of breaking the law.”  If the Lord who created the heavens & earth and everything in them is not interested in giving preferential treatment of any one people group over another, than who are we to do just that?

racism

**If I may add, I can’t stand referring to human-beings as a color!  This entire post was meant to make a point that we are not defined by the color of our skin nor should we pass judgment based on the same.**

 

~Teach Love~ June 28, 2013

When my daughter was in first grade, she had her first encounter with hate.  They were doing an exercise to help the children develop their reading and writing skills.  Each day, the students would take turns writing whatever they liked on a giant notepad in front of the class.  Obviously the spelling and grammar was less than perfect so they would then “read” what they had written and make corrections together as a class. On this particular day, a little girl had her turn at the board.  She finished her writing and turned to the class and said, “My mom and dad said I can’t be friends with Autumn anymore because she is white.”  My then six year old started to cry.  The girls went to the office but this momma wasn’t made aware until my daughter came home and told me herself, (that’s another story in itself).

I can still remember the tears in her eyes when she told her daddy & I what had happened.  She was clueless as to why this little girl who had been one of her best friends would say something so hurtful.  Both girls were terrified going into the office.  After all, the little girl simply repeated what her parents told her.

The best explanation we could give our daughter was that the other girls parents were wrong.  We shared with her that the Bible says we are to love one another with no restrictions based on the color of our skin.

Even now my heart breaks for children who are being taught to hate for no other reason than someone’s skin tone.  We are all made in the image of God therefore we are of one race.  As Galatians 3:28 says, discrimination in any form is wrong because “there is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Jesus Christ.”  You can’t argue with ignorance but you can educate against it.  Teach your children to love without limitations as Christ loves us.  If you were raised with hate in your heart, it’s never too late to abandon your old ways.  Embrace the truth that if Jesus died for us all, who are we to determine that one is better than another based on ethnicity?teach_love

 

~Why You Shouldn’t Say Hate~ April 1, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 7:14 am
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hateThere is one 4-letter word that I detest above all others.  It is a word that when spoken sends shivers of annoyance down my spine.  The same word is not allowed to come out of the mouths of my children.  It is a word that I reserve for one thing and one thing only.

The word is “hate” and the thing is satan.

Why would this one word be more foul to me than every known curse word to man?

First of all, because it is used too freely.  People use the same word to describe their dislike of certain foods as they do to slander specific people groups.  I fail to see how one word can accurately convey your feelings on something of little or no importance and in turn be used to explain your opinion of another human being.

Secondly is the definition of the word itself.  It implies a level of passion that I feel has been grossly misunderstood.  Merriam-Webster dictionary defines hate as “an intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear or anger.”

This is why I do not use the word or allow my children to do so unless of course they are referring to the prince of darkness.

I hate the devil.  I hate everything about him.  I hate the way he attacks your mind causing you to doubt who you are in Christ.  I hate how he uses people to do his evil work for him because he has no power without a vessel to work through.  I hate how he turns people against each other causing dysfunction among family and friends who once stood united.  I hate how he manipulates the weak when they are at their lowest, taking advantage of their brokenness.

I hate how he takes our focus off of people and puts it on their sin.

The last one is what I believe our biggest hurdle is as Christians.  We allow ourselves to get so wrapped up in all the wrong-doings of those around us that we convince ourselves we hate them.  We spit words of judgment and criticism with such vehemence that the last thing we look like are disciples of Jesus.

My challenge to you is this, if Jesus died for us while we were still sinners, should we not love sinners just as Christ loved us?

I find it perfectly acceptable to disagree with someone’s lifestyle and the choices they make.  I see nothing wrong with not encouraging behavior that does not line up with the Word of God which is the source of Truth.  Hate the sin, but love the sinner; for we are all sinners in need of a Savior.

We would be far more useful instruments of Christ if we showed love to our neighbors as opposed to spewing a message of hate.

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God IS love.”

(1 John 4:8 NIV)