The Harm in “You Do You”

I heard someone say something this week that I haven't been able to let go. I've been guilty numerous times for sending a similar message even if I haven't said it exactly like this person did.

"You do you."

It was a three word comment on Facebook meant to help a friend. Somehow I don't think it will.

I can think of times when it's an encouraging statement.

You have a kid who doesn't feel like they fit in. They're willing to change their attire, their hairstyle, their laugh,...anything and everything about themselves in attempt to more closely align themselves with a group of their peers. They try to recreate who they are in order to please the hoards; hoping to gain popularity, if not at least blend in.  Someone in their life reminds them of the value of being them-self.  You do you. 

Be you. 

Where this well-meaning piece of advice gets us in trouble is when we hand it out it to individuals who are looking for affirmation for bad behavior or a lifestyle that's contrary to God's plan for them. They unapologetically announce a harmful path they've chosen to take.  Christian friends tell them You do you. 

We certainly should be showing love and support to those God puts in our lives, including those who are caught up in bad behavior or in a sinful lifestyle. Loving a person doesn't mean supporting what what they're doing. Am I the millionth person to say this? (And yet we're still forgetting this important truth).  If we're saying You do you to a person we full-well know is doing something wrong, our care for them isn't as deep as we claim.

Recently I spoke to a middle school group of Christian girls. I asked them to raise their hands if they believed they should follow their heart. An overwhelming number of them raised their hands. Commercials, every 30 minute TV show,  Hollywood films and song lyrics tell us to follow our hearts... you do you.

Scripture clearly tells us that the heart is deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9). That means we shouldn't listen to it. Why aren't we letting those we love, know this?

Proverbs 14:12 tells us, "There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death." This isn't really a feel good message, am I right? That doesn't change the validity of the message.

Maybe we tell people You do you because we don't want them to feel rejected. That thought can be fully appreciated. If speaking truth to someone who has proudly announced their poor choice makes them feel rejected, consider not saying anything at that time. Pray about when and how to confront them. Love rejoices in the truth. (1 Corinthians 13:6) We have to keep that in mind when we're claiming to love people. 

Is it possible that we give people verbal affirmation because it's the easiest and most comfortable thing to do? In just agreeing with what they're doing we don't get accused of being judgemental. We don't have to be worried about being labeled a hypocrite (because surely our own sin is -or will be- exposed. We don't have to fear jeopardizing a relationship that we value.

The truth can hurt those we speak it to. It can hurt those of us who speak it as we face the possibility of rejection from those who don't want to hear what we have to say. But the truth can be spoken in love. Loving truth heals.  Are our friends and neighbors worthy of that love?

Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses. Proverbs 27:6

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