approval for sale

Posted: December 27th, 2011 | Filed under: life | Tags: , | 19 Comments »

I come across some unfamiliar people and language out there in social media. For example, I once read a woman’s post that said she had to ‘go have intentional time’ with her husband. I couldn’t figure out if she just announced their naked time or if her relationship was so distant that she had to ‘intentionally’ make herself talk to him.

Either way, it was a bizarre mental picture she gave me. I wished she had kept it to herself. However, she was saying it in that way that a martyr announces to fellow martyr’s that it was her turn on the chopping block. She was looking for validation and for others to tell her that she was doing a good job.

It’s a sad thing to look for validation from a bunch of people. All they can do is blow smoke up your rear end and then hold the drug of public approval over you like a whip.

Everyone wants to look like everyone else and be the best ‘everyone else’ they can. I see the trends and the new phrases added to the repertoire, but I don’t know where any of it comes from. It seems like everyone reads the same books or listens to the same people, who ever is the coolest at the moment, and then takes their terminology and makes it the new ‘thing.’

“Blessed” people are ‘doing life’ with others, they’re doing things ‘well’, and they’re doing them ‘intentionally.’ Where do these things come from?

I read something in my social media feed that said something like this:

“I’m so blessed! My husband gave me the best present ever. He freed two sex slaves.”

It came with a picture of a certificate congratulating the recipient for being honored by the release of two sex slaves.

Are you freaking kidding me? What is this?ย Is this the new “I’m important!” thing?

I can’t figure out why it makes me sick to read this. I mean, there are several reasons, but I’m looking at it from a few different angles and something is wrong here.

My stream of consciousness went something like: Are you sure about that? How much did you pay for that piece of paper? How does someone even find this stuff? Is some sick freak out there marketing ‘feel good’ diplomas to rich American dummies? Did you see this on a late night infomercial?ย Where does the recipient of the certificate hang something like that?

If it’s even true, then how do they pick the girls to free? Is it like the reverse version of a slave auction? Do they check their muscle tone and teeth? Do they pick the ugly ones or the pretty ones? Do the girls know what is going on? Does some sweaty child molester pace in front of them, announcing a rich American woman’s birthday and force them to watch him size them up?

This is a 3D version of completely messed up. There is no way for the rest of the admiring world to know if these things are real, or how they are carried out. All they know is that a woman can say that she forwent a new Coach bag for the sake of a couple of lives. It just sounds like another way to make more money off of the very real and horrific problem.

They know you won’t buy them for sex, but maybe you’ll pay money to hear that they’re free?? Whatever makes you empty your pockets to feel good.

There are a lot of doors on this life journey. A lot of so-called shortcuts to holy importance, but they’re mirages. If you can sit around and feel awesome about your good deeds, then you’ve been lied to.

And when you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production … All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat? -Matthew 6:5 MSG

I know a woman who will give you a gift and tell you how much it cost her to get it for you. She wants you to know how inconvenient it was so that you’ll appreciate it more. She thinks it makes the gift more special. What she doesn’t realize is that it doesn’t make anyone appreciate it more. It makes them think about the fact that the gift really isn’t worth the cost and it robs the value.

People just want to be validated and acknowledged for what they do, but as soon as you point to your own awesomeness, you poke holes in the sacrifice rendering it useless.

…and then Cain murdered Abel….

In an attempt to stand out above the rest, people will be pulled into all kinds of spiritual cons and traps of deception.

Don’t you think there are ‘get holy fast’ schemes just like there are ‘get rich fast’ schemes? Don’t be taken by the gas station taquitos when you’re on your way to a gourmet feast.

Beware of people who are showy in their flamboyant religiosity. There is a reason they’re cashing in right now. They don’t believe they’re actually going anywhere because they’re not.

Be careful of who you listen to. Some people can decorate their BS better than others.



Maybe I’m wrong and setting sex slaves free is a perfectly legitimate gift market (seriously, what the hell?)… but it sounds like a desensitized culture making desperate attempts to look like heros in the midst of their materialism. Ugh.


19 Comments on “approval for sale”

  1. 1 Alicia said at 11:05 am on December 27th, 2011:

    Loved this post!!! If you don't mind, I'm going to quote you on couple of things you said on my FB page!!

  2. 2 serenawoods said at 11:28 am on December 27th, 2011:

    Thanks. ๐Ÿ™‚ Go for it…

  3. 3 Amy said at 1:57 pm on December 27th, 2011:

    "Don’t be taken by the gas station taquitos when you’re on your way to a gourmet feast."

    Oh, I love this quote. I think some people really do mean well, and genuinely try to serve and to draw closer to God but just haven't thought through some of what they're doing. I know I cringe to think of some of the things I did and said in college. But yes, then there are the "get holy fast" schemes. And those are something else.
    My recent post O Little Town of Bethlehem

  4. 4 serenawoods said at 2:12 pm on December 28th, 2011:

    Thanks, Amy. ๐Ÿ™‚ I have lots of cringe worthy moments, too.
    Your second sentence (that starts with 'I think…' ) is perfectly said. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. 5 Jason said at 2:14 pm on December 27th, 2011:

    Well, I know from my time working in non-commercial Christian radio, there were people who wanted something for the help they provided. We would usually print up something that thanked them for their contribution but I agree with you that it seems weird to do it for the case of human trafficking. You would think a thank you letter for their support of the organization would be enough for something like this.

    Honestly, when I read about the certificate, my thoughts ran to a website where you could pick out the girls you wanted to rescue from human trafficking to get your certificate. Buy one, get one free maybe? I know…that sounds sick…but to be the idea of a certificate for the number of girls you freed is just as sickening to me.
    My recent post Day 360: Settling for less

  6. 6 serenawoods said at 2:15 pm on December 28th, 2011:

    It is bizarre. The website you mentioned weirds me out. The whole thing just spurred me to write something to make people THINK instead of go along with something that may not even be what it says it is. It makes me sad.

  7. 7 Shannon said at 2:25 pm on December 27th, 2011:

    I love this post. It's a great point and reminder to watch what we're doing and stop trying so hard to be something that we look like idiots to the rest of the world.

  8. 8 serenawoods said at 2:16 pm on December 28th, 2011:

    You get my point exactly. Thanks, Shannon.

  9. 9 Heather said at 2:44 pm on December 27th, 2011:

    I am not really a fan of social media. Facebook and twitter. Most of it is weird and asking for a "thumbs up" or comment. I don't really care for photos of my boys to be everywhere. I don't care if you think they are cute. I don't want you to know when I am on vacation. This post is very good. And the certificate is both weird and disgusting.

  10. 10 serenawoods said at 2:17 pm on December 28th, 2011:

    Social media is really weird and it's easy to misunderstand people. However, I recognize that deep friendships are and continue to be created in spite of it all.

  11. 11 Charise Christianson said at 10:10 am on December 28th, 2011:

    Wow!! I love your candor and it's true, we want glory and validation. I'm reminded of Matthew 5:16 "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your FATHER in heaven". I am so guilty of this! I text bible verses everyday to several of my friends and sometimes I will wait for them to tell me how encouraged they were so I can "feel" I'm doing something great when it's suppose to be for God's glory, not how great I am. Thank you for this post, I loved it! What a great heart check!!!
    Charise Christianson

  12. 12 serenawoods said at 2:19 pm on December 28th, 2011:

    Charise, it's cool that you recognized your own tendency. We all have it. Heart checks are awesome. ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. 13 Bobbi said at 1:49 pm on December 28th, 2011:

    Sweet Serena, you speak eloquently and from pain on your blog about Christians who are judgmental, but I have to ask if there is a little of that coming out on this post? I have friends who take refurbished sewing machines to women in Cambodia, Thailand, and Uganda and teach them how to sew purses, aprons, etc. to sell so they can support their families without being a slave in the sex trade business. These same friends witness prosperous men coming from around the world to pay for sex with young children in these countries. Not every one can go over and physically help these precious women and children who have no hope; some can give money in the hope it will be put to good use. If you want to specifically expose some sham, go for it. But please be careful that your words might inadvertantly taint the organizations and people who are doing wonderful, sacrificial work and those who are helping to fund the work.

    I don't know the motive of the blogger who advertised the certificate; perhaps she wanted others to know something like that was available. Perhaps she was being prideful, but that is not our call to judge, only God's.

  14. 14 serenawoods said at 2:32 pm on December 28th, 2011:

    Thanks for the opportunity to clarify myself here. In no way was I trying to diminish the work that your friends or other organizations do to help in this horrific fight. It's a very real issue and I am disgusted when I hear what happens and who is taking part in the evil of sexual deviance. I have the heart of a mother when I think of these babies who are tortured in ways that I cannot even allow myself to picture.

    I want to point out that the purpose of my words it to get people to think about their motives and/or the ways they can be tricked into supporting something that may cause more harm and dehumanization.

    Many of the examples that I used are either over a year old or they are a combination of many examples which makes them no longer about a specific person, but rather a mentality that many (including myself) can harbor. I do not see anything misguided in wanting to point out a tendency in human nature and providing examples of how it is carried out.

    And, finally, I did not mention a blogger. It was not a blogger or an advertisement for certificates. I'm not sure where I was unclear about that, but please note my clarification. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thank you for your thoughts, Bobbi.

  15. 15 Marie said at 2:44 pm on December 28th, 2011:

    I didn't see this post as being about the sex trade or against those who are trying to help. I'm not sure where your reader got that, but it's cool she asked instead of assume. I hope everyone gets the point that we have to think about who we, individually are, and stop trying receive praise for every little good deed.

    Thanks for the reminder. You're a firecracker, friend. It's why I read.

  16. 16 serenawoods said at 3:03 pm on December 28th, 2011:

    Yes, very cool of Bobbi to speak up and double check. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Thanks for you comment, Marie. You got my point.

  17. 17 Tawni Miller said at 12:26 pm on December 29th, 2011:

    I love this saying: "Integrity is doing the right thing when no one is watching." We are saved by grace, not by works, yet so many Christians want to brag about their works. It's as if they are trying to one-up each other & brown nose God. I found this in a commentary: Humility is harder to discuss because it does not discuss itself. It simply gets out there and serves, often with sacrifice. It does not claim rights; it tries to do what is right. It does not brag about integrity; it displays it. Sometimes it is easy to miss what does not point to itself. But God sees the humble heart and lifts it up in honor.

    Our identity is in Christ, as Christ followers, not in other humans & therefore our approval should should be sought from God, not man. Lesson learned the hard way, but learned!

    Well done Serena. I also see this in social media when people "pay it forward" & then brag about it…oxymoronic (open secret)!

  18. 18 kjpetrella said at 10:00 pm on December 29th, 2011:

    I giggled.
    not about the latter content of your post whatsoever, but about the first part regarding buzzwords and language. I had this reaction because I had just and literally JUST scheduled a post writing about how while intentional is a huge buzzword in parenting circles, God had been hammering it home in the area of my own life-especially now that I'm a single mom.

    I can either be pre-emptive or reactive and I'm choosing to be pre-emptive…or at least as much as I can.

    As far as the rest of the post…yeah, people are weird, myself included and social media just gives us a vehicle to share our weirdness before we can think through how it might be perceived. Another good reminder to take a deep breath and pause before hitting the "tweet" "publish" or "post" button.

    My recent post Break

  19. 19 north59lite said at 10:24 am on December 30th, 2011:

    Part of "growing up" into Christ is being a good steward. This requires discernment, planning and research over the long haul regarding our charitable giving. And doing it without fanfare (think "widow's mite" vs. Pharisaical pomp). In the current band-wagon mentality, not only do we do things for recognition, we sometimes throw a few dollars at a bandaid solution to assuage our own guilty conscience over shopping at big box stores to "get a good deal" on products that were manufactured overseas by exploited children.

    When choosing to quietly support organizations that truly do good in the world, we should ensure we have done our homework. One resource in the USA is the Charity Rating Guide produced by Charity Watch ( In Canada, the Canadian Council of Christian Charities ( has a similar list.

    Unfortunately, the certificate-issuing organization that the "blessed" woman referenced is likely just another blind copycat raised in a generation of "donation rewarders" like now-disgraced Bakker, Schuler, and Swaggert. Even charities that start out sincere are not immune. A high-up source in a well-known Christian organization told me of how the organization's president catered to large donors, granting them celebrity status and public praise at events and in publications. It was culturally accepted and expected by the donors.

    Those who look at ministry from a marketing mentality produce the same results as the dove sellers at the tables Jesus overturned in his righteous anger. Keep kicking the tables down, Serena. You help us grow up.

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