a place where all of the “stuff”* collects
something used to separate unwanted materials from wanted materials. the unwanted materials stick with the filter.
Mr. Dulles used a filter to separate the grounds out of his coffee.
An intangible device that determines which thoughts to actually say out loud to another human being.
“My sister says some dumb “stuff”*, she was born without a filter.”
*Definitions are taken from urbandictionary.com. Since this is a family-friendly blog, I made a couple of edits. See, I do have some filter!
I woke up one morning recently only to discover that I’d lost my filter somewhere in the night. It was a bit unnerving. My filter is normally locked on tightly. It is industrial strength and rarely fails me. On this day, for whatever reason, it was gone.
Normally just the nice, reasonable, socially acceptable and politically correct things get through. My daughter always gets on to me for being too “nice,’ even when nice is not the best response. Without a filter to catch the “stuff” I carry around inside, everything came out. Responses I think but never say. Emotions that have collected in my filter over a long period of time. Goodness, it’s a wonder anything gets through on some days when I think about how much is stopped up in there.
It’s like the drain in my bathtub. The night before I lost my filter, I’d taken a long, relaxing soak in the tub. When the water turned cold, I raised the drain plug to let the water out and it barely trickled out. At the rate it was going, it would still be draining when my alarm went off in the morning. So I pulled out my handy-dandy, cheap, plastic plumber’s helper and cleared the drain. Hair. Long blonde hair. (Anna’s) Long black hair. (Mia’s) Medium length varying shades of brown and gray hair. (Mine) Over time, it all collected and blocked the drain. With the hair removed, it was like a giant suction. The water was gone in a blink.
So maybe my filter got sucked down the drain with it. I woke up and felt a giant suction on my soul. That ridiculous post a Facebook friend put up a day earlier that maligned a woman’s worth simply because he disagrees with her? My filter had allowed only a slight growl to escape. Without a filter, however, I found myself challenging the “good Christian friend” who would post such trash that publicly discredits another person’s worth.
It happened not once, but several times. All that stuff that is “unwanted” by others, stuff that “should” be captured and discarded, stuff that others might find uncomfortable or distasteful – it just started coming through. The strange thing is, I didn’t feel embarrassed by it. I felt empowered by it. Who says that it is “nicer” to remain quiet and compliant while others spew untruthful, unhelpful, unneeded drivel? Who says that “stuff” always needs to be filtered, collected, and discarded? Sometimes you have to put the stinky stuff out there so that others can see it for what it is.
Does that give us permission to spew equally untruthful, unhelpful, unneeded drivel in return? Absolutely not. In Ephesians 4, we are told to “speak the truth in love.” That’s not the same thing as being nice. That’s not the same thing as remaining quiet when speaking might make someone else mad. It’s not the same thing as filtering out the stuff that is unpleasant. It’s not the same as selling out what we know to be right in order to make what we say more palatable to everyone else.
It is, however, the reminder that as we speak our truth, we say what we have to say in a way that makes our declaration without tearing others down. It’s a hard proposition, especially for someone like me who tends to filter and filter and filter until the filter will hold no more, and then it tends to explode everywhere like a volcanic eruption. It’s hard to release the stuff in measured amounts, delivered in reasonable tones, couched in love. But I try.
Does it make a difference? Maybe one out of a hundred times it will make a difference to the person who offended me. But, when done correctly, it makes me feel better one hundred out of one hundred times. It is by shaking out our overflowing filters, airing out the rotting stuff, and speaking our truth that we realize a) that we have a voice; b) that our voice matters; and c) that we are brave enough to use our voice to try to make a difference.
I still don’t know where my filter went. It would probably make others around me more comfortable if I found it – the sooner the better. But even if I do, I think I’ll put in on loosely and clean it often. The flow of life feels so much healthier that way.