Striving and Cancel Culture

“When Strivings Cease” by Ruth Chou Simons released today and is available at Target! I couldn’t find it in my local store, but I am so excited for this milestone in Christian literature. This book stamps in the face of self-help culture and places God’s Word and Truth in their proper place as guide and anchor over our lives. What better place than Target to catch the eyes of weary women who feel tired with just existing and trying to do all the things and wear all the hats successfully?

I had the great privilege of reading this book before it released. I preordered “When Strivings Cease” because I was interested in hearing the story of another Asian-American, Christ-following woman. I read this book expecting God’s truth in action to everyday problems and encouragement to look to Jesus rather than the world for belonging. But as I finished the book, I sat in the discomfort of conviction and the unease of realizing my own areas of striving (ahem, sin) that need correction. 

Grace is simple to know, difficult to accept. We desire to earn our place and standing, but at the feet of Jesus we truly have nothing to offer. Ruth so gently brings this to light and in her own description of the book, “It’s not a call to get busy; it’s a call to get discerning… life-changing and not just self- bettering.” Her personal stories of everyday striving are so relatable and she points us to how God speaks to each scenario. “We have to read the story God’s written into our lives through the language and lens of God’s Word. That language and that lens is the love of God- a love that pursues, rescues, redeems, and restores. These stories- our hard stories- don’t exist to highlight our ability to excavate the pits but to show off God’s amazing grace to lift us out.” 

As a mom with three elementary aged boys, I was encouraged to show God’s grace in the little moments. “True change is made up of a million small, daily, seemingly insignificant choices. The course we take is determined by the minute pivots we make in the direction of our hearts’ desires and core beliefs.”

In a confused world that often asks, “Who am I? What is my purpose? Why am I here?” This book directs us to the One who created us and has provided us with a glorious purpose. Ruth reminds us to return to the real and not just the screens. “We’ve somehow replaced identity with identification. We’ve bought into the paradigm that our “faces”- or Facebook pages, rather- are the summation of who we are.”

This book is for the woman who thinks she isn’t enough. This book is for the woman whose past guilt overwhelms her. This book is for the woman who feels like a failure. This book holds encouragement, hope, and grace grounded in God’s truth and love.

Some of you may have cringed in the first paragraph of this post. Target has been boycotted by well-meaning Christians everywhere. But is this the best course of action? There is no one right or wrong answer for every believer and following your personal conscious is important. But I think we must be careful not to disregard any and all who oppose our views.

Cancel culture is hot right now. Say or do the wrong thing and there is no forgiveness, there is no redemption. This affects pretty much any and every consumable product- celebrities, brands, authors, conservative, liberal, artist, or religious.

Cancel culture is very anti-gospel and the amount of believers backing this trend is alarming. No, we do not condone anti-Biblical lifestyles or choices. Yes, there is definitely a time or place to cancel certain establishments and to make different choices in which businesses we frequent and support. But either way we need to think carefully how our words and actions reflect our Savior. We need to make sure we are not condemning and offering no path for redemption.

If you have a moment, read the whole chapter of John 15. Here are a couple highlight verses: John 15:5, 8, 18-19, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing… By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples…If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” I grew up hearing, “Be in the world but not of the world,” and spent many years confused as to what this meant and how to accomplish it. But especially as cancel culture has reared it’s ugly head, I have continued fo return to these verses and wrestle with their message.

Just as Ruth Chou Simons wanted her book to be sold at Target because that is where her audience frequented, so also I think there can be great opportunity in the aisles of Target. I know the struggle of trying to enjoy a casual shopping trip but the kids just won’t allow it. Even with cake pops and opened snacks pulled from the shelves to be purchased at check out, children know which buttons to press and when on their devoted, loving mothers. What an opportunity to encourage these moms, to offer a helping hand if possible, and to refresh these ladies with God’s truth. Encouragement in the lives of young moms is so necessary and the harvest is ripe in the aisles of Target.

What about using our finances to support businesses that participate in practices with which we do not align? First, mob mentality is real and often outrage spreads quicker than fact.   Make sure you know why there are calls for boycotts and cancellations before you join the hashtag of the day. Second, it is difficult to find people or groups with which you perfectly align- even within Christian communities. Distinguish the difference between a company’s words and their actual allocation of resources. Is your financial support actually backing the company’s statements or are they just attempting to be politically correct? Third, we support individuals more often than large businesses, even within those large chains. We support the cashier who scanned our purchases. We support the managers who deal with rude and hostile customers. We support the delivery drivers who travel long roads for long hours to make shopping experiences possible.

Maybe it is easy for me to say this because I don’t necessarily frequent Target too often. Everyone must follow their own personal conscience and the choice to support other businesses is always a valid option. But make sure that this choice is not accompanied by hateful words and brash statements that do not reflect the heart of God or His truth. 

Is your outrage fueled by annoyance or righteous anger? Is your cancellation of businesses and products part of mob mentality or ministry mindset? Do your words shame others who disagree and close pathways to conversations with those who need God’s truth? When are we to be bold and when are we to be meek?

We may answer these questions differently and sometimes that is ok. Our family evaluated our spending and subscriptions and have peace with our decisions. I encourage you to follow where God is leading you while sharing His truth wherever He guides.

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