It sounds soft and inviting, doesn’t it?
Appealing, like a freshly laundered duvet; so clean and light. We’re almost fooled into thinking it really does smell like a meadow full of buttercups, just like the ad says.
Some days, I so wish I could write fluff.
I define fluff as something that uplifts and encourages without any harsh realities or calls to difficult action. Lord, why can’t I just write something that sends my readers off feeling like they’re walking on air?
That’s real encouragement, isn’t it?
At church last Sunday night, Pastor Phil lamented the same inability to deliver fluff. It came up as I was greeting him on my way out.
(Is it still greeting when you’re leaving?)
Anyway, I assured him that his straightforward pointing towards areas that I need to grow in is just what I’m looking for. Truth that helps us grow, after all, is far more valuable than fluffy, feel-good Christianity.
But it got me thinking. Why can’t I write fluff? Why do I prefer messages that smack me in the face (with grace and humility, of course) and call out my shortcomings?
Fluff adds zero value
The answer is in the value it adds. And what makes a message valuable? Teaching is only as useful as it’s ability to promote growth; to move us towards the people God wants us to be.
If I wanted to stay exactly as I am and be patted on the back and reassured that no extra effort will be asked of me, then fluff is my game.
But I don’t. As I was driving home, thinking about it, I was moved almost to tears.
I have some terribly broken places desperate for grace and healing. I have areas of unbelief that call for a strong hand. I have deeply held lies that will tear down every good thing in my life, if not for surefooted guidance. In other words, I have sin.
I don’t want to be abandoned and neglected in my sin. And that’s what fluff amounts to.
Fluff is soft. Step on it and it’s flat. Grind it under your heal and it’s pulverized; nothing more than dust.
That is not what I’m looking for in my church leaders, and that is certainly not what I’m looking for in my God.
Don’t be fooled: the Fluff = Encouragement lie
Part of the reason that I sometimes feel like writing fluff is because I’ve defined it incorrectly. When I say that fluff ‘uplifts and encourages’ I’m lying to myself and to you. Even if we do walk away all warm and fuzzy, we’re stepping off the cliff of our own failures.
The Cambridge English Dictionary defines fluff, in part, as ‘useless or unimportant information’. The Free Dictionary calls it ‘something of little substance or consequence, especially, light or superficial entertainment’.
I don’t want to feel that everything I’m doing is ‘simply divine’, because, at some point, the fluff-trance will wear off and the uselessness of the message will show through.
And there I’ll be, smacked in the face with my own inadequacy. Again.
I will have been deceived.
Fluff is like cotton candy, I once heard someone say. It looks tantalizingly delicious but when you close your mouth on it, there’s nothing there. I don’t want a message that feels good but when I need guidance, it has no substance.
What I do want is to be loved. Loved unconditionally.
I want to hear that I’m called to something bigger; much bigger. And that, when I botch it completely and wallow in my smallness and sin, that I’m held and forgiven by a powerful, ever-loving God.
Want to grow with me?
I do not want fluff. Keep your cotton candy. I want all the power and grace that God has to move me, steadily closer to him.
So, go on. Smack me with the real stuff; the stuff that makes me grow.
Does that make me weird? The fact that I want to be pushed and pressed into growth?
I can’t be the only one. Who else is with me on this?