Friday, February 21, 2014

The Sad Christian

The past few months have been pretty intense, emotionally, for me. I've experienced gut-wrenching loneliness, being misunderstood, depression, and I'm not ashamed to say it, suicidal thoughts.

While I am coming out of that hole fairly quickly, this phase has caused me to rethink my views on sadness, darkness, the meaning of I hate my life. As I look around me, I've noticed that Christians, and really people in general, have a pretty low tolerance for pain and brokenness. It's not so much because we don't accept it as part of life, we just don't know how to handle it.

A friend of mine once noted that, perhaps the reason we people are so clumsy around tears and grief is because Yahweh never intended for us to know pain in the first place. The Garden was a refuge of joy, freedom, peace, tangible bliss. With the bite of forbidden fruit, all perfection became blurred, and Life As It Should Be became a figment of wishful thinking.

In a world of superficial happiness and fake "fines," society has forgotten how to mourn and feel deeply. And for those who do have the guts to let their heart breathe, oftentimes the emotions overtake them, leading them to cynicism, numbness, and even death.

Even in the Church, the upbeat messages of "rejoice always" and "God is love" override the realities of "weep with those who weep." When a fellow believer is buried under with trials and tribulations, Christians are known to slap an applicable Bible verse on the wound and continue walking along. Even the one bearing the pain himself, he can feel isolated, like something is wrong with him. The cultural expectation to always be happy has seeped into the Church and with its message, a disrespect for burden bearing and sorrow has been the byproduct. 

The humanity of Christ has been a comfort to me as I've walked through this season. He did not think of Himself so high to be removed from emotional pain and rejection. "A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief" - the Son of God was moved to tears when his friend died, He was forsaken by His Father, even as He hung dying, He was scorned. "Therefore, it was necessary for Him to made in every respect like us, His brothers and sister, so that He could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. . . . Since He Himself has gone through suffering and testing, He is able to help us when we are being tested" (Hebrews 2:17-18, NLT). He was good enough to feel every torment and ache known to man, so that He might rescue us and offer true rest for our souls.

Looking at the example of Jesus, there is no reason why we can't be a little more noticing, more urgent to care for another's pain. Sometimes a quick prayer and Bible verse isn't what is needed; dare I say, most of the time that's not the case. But to sit still, let them talk, hold them, let them cry, cry with them - this is humble service to the heart that is battered and torn. In so doing, we bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

note(s) to self



as noted from personal experience and general observation:

just because your heart's desires differ from your neighbor's doesn't mean yours are wrong.
always buy at least ten peaches when you're at the grocery store - you eat about two a day.
when things don't work out between you and a man, that doesn't make the man a bad person.
I know you hate talking on the phone, but lots of people in your life enjoy it, so stop ignoring calls and put up with it.
stand up for yourself if you feel like you're being taken advantage of.
don't get picky about drink orders when someone else is buying.
stop telling people it'll be okay, and instead just sit still and listen.
pray.
be okay with telling people that you'd like to be a wife and mother someday. don't worry about their response.
don't date someone if you can't see a future with them. it's unfair to both of you.
always keep fresh plants or flowers in your house.
drink more water.
be kinder than necessary to your coworkers.
trust those that tell you you're not being a burden.
develop a keener eye for photography, both as the viewer and the taker.
go to bed earlier.
honor your word.
do life in a way that you find yourself saying you're welcome more than I'm sorry.

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Femininity in the Public Sphere - A Personal Opinion on Women in Government

Let me preface this by saying that I fully believe in the home. I believe in daughterhood, wifehood, and motherhood. As a young woman working towards a degree in government, however, I have had to wrestle with the variety of questions debating whether it is a woman's place to hold high office. And, as promised in a former post, here are my conclusions.

Woman is arguably the most controversial figure ever created. Pages upon lectures upon books upon pop culture magazines obsess over the way women must behave, dress, and look. Querelle des Femmes - "that woman problem." In Plato's Republic, we can read Greek philosophers puzzling over the place of women. They noticed that although women are naturally of a more delicate and nurturing build, women are equal to men in intelligence and possess some strength and skills that the male gender lacks. Should the ladies then be allowed to have a hand in public policy, they mused.

First Lady Abigail Adams, an intelligent and forward thinker for her time, once asked her husband to "remember the ladies" and their keen perception of and contribution to building the government. She also admonished him that women would one day rebel if they weren't given a voice in the electorate. Like a practical, present-thinking man, John Adams laughed it off. Though we can only speculate, I'm particularly curious as to what would have happened if Adams had taken his wife's advice.

Perhaps if American women had the right to vote from the beginning, the Marxist-feminist rebellion against God's law would not have had such a momentum in our country. The entire anti-feminine initiative (a la Margaret Sanger) would not have had an appealing, unifying leg to stand on.

And then we come to the glaring question: Are women biblically qualified to vote or hold political office, or is government inherently unfeminine?

To answer this, the question of what femininity is must be examined. The feminine nature is the distinctive compliment to the masculine counterpart - the queen to the king. According to Scripture, to be feminine encompasses being an elegant supporter of civilization (Psalm 144:12), co-ruling the earth with the man (Genesis 1:26-28), and serving as an encourager and being a keeper of the domestic realm (Titus 2:4-5).

With those concepts in mind, I did my own "study," examining the variety of women found in the biblical narratives and their influence they had in society; you'd be surprised at what you find. Righteous women of the Bible:

- Feared God and defied political authority to stand up for life (Exodus 1:17, Exodus 2),

- judged, prophesied, and summoned soldiers in Israel (Judges 4),

- were intelligent and knowledgeable enough of current affairs to conduct diplomacy with national leaders (1 Samuel 25, 2 Samuel 20:16-22),

- warned the king, summoned officials, ordered fasts, feasts, and the writing of public records (Esther 2:22, 4:5, 16, 9:32),

- and appealed to the king for their property (2 Kings 8:3).

The Bible never accuses these women of sinning, despite the fact they they clearly exerted authority in the civil government. While studying these historical precedents, it is also important to note that these women never compromised their femininity. They showed up fully as women, not pseudo-men.

We know from Genesis that woman was created to be a helper for the man, and together they were supposed to have dominion over the earth. Because women are told to be keepers at home (Titus 2:5), many have come to the conclusion that the home is the exclusive place for the woman, and she should never show up in the public sector. But if this system of reasoning is accurate, then it should work for the man's place too. If the man is the public sector being, then, following the same train of thought, the man's place is exclusively the public sector, so he should never show up at the home.

It's quite obvious that something is off with the man's version. Men are supposed to show up at home (1 Timothy 3:4) - but they are supposed to show up as men, not pseudo-women. Because the Bible sharply delineates the roles of the masculine and feminine within the institution of marriage, family government is one sphere in which the woman's presence has been accepted and promoted throughout every wing of the Church.

But have you ever wondered why we don't expect women to successfully rule alone in the home, yet expect men to successfully rule alone in the public sphere? Does it make sense for only one human domain - the home - to belong partly to the woman, but the others to be under the sole jurisdiction of the man?

The authority structure of Yahweh-Christ-Man-Woman exists according to 1 Corinthians 11:3. But it appears to me that a fallacy takes place when people argue that this automatically discredits a woman's participation with state affairs. For example: Women are said to fulfill roles in the home government within the authority structure, and fulfill roles in church government within the authority structure. Logically, it would follow that women can also fulfill roles in state government within the authority structure. However, in the fringe Christian conservative community, they promote that women are to be entirely absent from government.

This apparently stems from fear that women in civil leadership positions are an abomination to God and therefore bring a nation under judgment, based on a lament from the prophet Isaiah.

"My people - infants are their oppressors, and women rule over them.
O my people, your guides mislead you and they have swallowed up the course of your paths."
~ Isaiah 3:12 ~

Obviously, it is a shame to men if women and children have to step up and do the dirty work for them. To be honest, I believe men will always be ahead of women in government and politics. However, after close examination of the Scriptural precedents of feminine leadership, women in government power is not the judgment-inducing factor. Quite the contrary; the presence of righteous women in government generally means that the men are in need of serious help because they are in a declining civilization that is already under judgment.

Once after a rally Sarah Palin spoke at, Penny Young Nance of Concerned Women for America stated, "Conservative women are not afraid to embrace their femininity." Conservative radio host, writer, and homeschool mother Dana Loesch says that "motherhood is a political act, period." Like it or not, you have to admit that women have more clout on social issues such as abortion, marriage, and educational choice. A woman can say things to the face of government establishments that a man cannot without being labeled as "sexist" or "ignorant."

Those who refuse to support godly women in government are entitled to their opinion, though I do have one question for them, especially the men who promote such thinking: What have you personally done to successfully influence the government in the past, and are you actively continuing to influence public leaders now?

These are my own personal findings and convictions; certainly not something I plan to force on others. We all must look directly at what God's Word says and ask the Holy Spirit to open our eyes. It is very tempting to read things into the Scriptures that simply aren't there because of the human desire to make things easy, cookie-cutter, systematic.

Jesus never said, "Turn your brains off and follow Me." Every decision of our lives will require critical thinking. Think, pray, and search the Scriptures. When we put our preconceived notions aside and seek only God's mindset, we will discover world-changing things.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Learning to Live in Honor

Yesterday I hit Romans 14 and 15 in my reading. It's an inspiring passage, urging the body of Christ to live in unity while respecting each other's differences. It's also convicting.

Throughout the years, I've connected with a variety of friends who hold and live out different convictions than me. I like rock music, some only listen to instrumental hymns. I was homeschooled, some went to "real" school. I just chopped my hair off, some have hair that's over three feet long. I wear skinny jeans, they wear denim skirts. Some are okay with Harry Potter.

The thing about being friends with people who may be "stricter" than you in some areas is that it can bring out that stuck-up attitude we opinionated Christians seem to enjoy a little too much. I've had friends raise an eyebrow at a neckline or two of mine, while in my opinion, I think it's fine and feminine to show some collar bone, thank you very much. I remember discussing music at a friend's house and I casually mentioned that my dad likes Elvis, and her mom walked into the living room and said, "Well, it's just not a good witness to listen to music that isn't, you know, Christian." It doesn't take long to recognize when others are judging you.

But what about me? No, I might not vocalize my haughtiness as much, but inwardly I sneer. "What a bunch of legalistic weirdos." I think that just because I don't wear skirts everyday, or don't tack on some "moral" obligation to organic living, or have no problem jamming out to Tegan and Sara, that I somehow exhibit more freedom in Christ than my peers. I forget that honor runs both ways.

There's a time and place to discuss theological and lifestyle differences. But not at the expense of neglecting to respect a fellow believer's personal convictions, convictions that he or she prayed over, wrestled over, surrendered over. Engaging in dialogue over differences should never be for the sole purpose of trying to "convert" someone to our way of thinking or proving ourselves right. There is a time for correction and speaking the truth in love, yes. Unfortunately, we usually translate that to mean "speaking the truth in I'm right."

The Church is united by one Spirit, yet we are all different parts in the Whole. God created diversity, uniqueness, and individuality, and celebrates it. Let's drop the petty bickering over earthly affairs and accept each other with open arms as we rally on to Glory together.


"For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking,
but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit."
~ Romans 14:17 ~

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

new years



"Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 3:13-14

(photo)

Monday, December 30, 2013

Soapbox

I'd just like to take this opportunity to get up on my soapbox and say:

Stop looking for your future husband everywhere you go. He's probably not in your history class or sitting across from you in the library or the cute barista at the coffee shop. Stop worrying. Just because a man does not desire you does not mean that you are undesirable.

The Lord is not a matchmaker - He does not owe you a husband. Stop using Him as a stepping stone to your idols.

K, bi.

Friday, December 13, 2013


Semester's end//winter comforts.


All Your ways are true,
You fail me not.
You're faithful to me.
- sisterbrother, Faithful

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Unseen Presence in the Basement

I heard a cry from the basement.

"Wuhbekuh! Where are you?"

"Hang on, baby, I'm just getting lunch ready."

"But it's really dark down here!" (Nevermind the light was on and the window was open with a full noon sun beating through.)

I poked my head down the staircase. "Don't worry, I'm still here."

While this is a memory from my babysitting days, I find it to be a fitting illustration of my general life standing.

I've been in the "basement" for about a year now. You know, that place in life where you're doing something that you're pretty sure is on the right track, but you're wanting/needing to get further along? Some people call it a "rutt," I think.

I've been getting impatient with myself. Partly due to the fact that I genuinely am not entirely sure which way I want to go with my interests vs. desires, and that really freaks me out. The other half due to well-meaning adults thinking that I would actually know the answer to questions like "Where do you see yourself in five years", "Is your area of interest one you would feel financially secure in?", or "Do you plan on getting married and starting a family?" These legitimate concerns further exacerbate the first point of the problem, and land me back at square one.

I hate not knowing. I hate not knowing the answer to a basic history fact. I hate not knowing what is going on with people I care about. I hate when I'm standing in line at Panera and my indecisive brain goes off like a siren because I'm still not sure what I'm going to order even though the menu board is right in front of me. And I especially hate not knowing what I'm going to wind up doing in the future.

Yet, herein lies the gem. Only in recent months have I come to discover one of the world's best kept secrets: it's okay to not know.

Dear Me: it's okay to not know.

Because in this not knowing, this pit, this rutt - the Almighty is at work. Just because cymbals aren't crashing doesn't mean He's not gently molding and probing and creating. Just because I can't see Him doesn't mean He isn't there.

And so I'm learning to sit still. To gaze on His face and let the worries grow dim. When the anxiety comes like a restless wave, memories of His goodness and faithfulness reassure me of His Presence. He is holy, and He is here.

"Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed."
~ John 20:29 ~

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Passion of the Prayer

During a time of prayer and meditation, these parallels between the Passion narratives and the prayer of Our Lord came to mind.  From a spiritual perspective, it is clear that the life of Jesus in its final hours embodied the very answer to the prayer He taught us.

Our Father who art in Heaven

"Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: 'Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You…’" – John 17:1

Hallowed be Thy Name

“I have manifested Your Name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your Word.” – John 17:6

Thy Kingdom come

“For I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” – Luke 22:18

"Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wind, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, 'It is finished!' And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit." – John 19:29-30

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven

"He went a little farther, and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, 'O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.'" – Matthew 26:39

Give us this day our daily bread

"And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them and said, 'Take, eat; this is My body.'” – Mark 14:22

And forgive us our trespasses

"Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, 'Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.'" - Matthew 26:27-28

As we forgive those who trespass against us

"And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left.  Then Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.'” - Luke 23:33-34

And lead us not into temptation

"Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, 'What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.'" - Matthew 26: 40-41

But deliver us from evil

"'When I was with you daily in the temple, you did not try to seize Me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.'"  – Luke 22:53

For Thine is the Kingdom…   

"Jesus answered, 'My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.'” – John 18:36

and the Power…

"Then Pilate said to Him, 'Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?' Jesus answered, 'You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above.'" – John 19:10-11

and the Glory forever.

"But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest answered and said to Him, 'I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!' Jesus said to him, 'It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.'" – Matthew 26:63-64

Amen.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

20 Things I've Managed to Learn Before Turning 20


1. Never do things halfway. Whether it's a night out with friends or writing a term paper, give all of yourself.

2. People don't have much tolerance for this, but it really is okay to not know. 

3. Never tell a person they look tired.

4. You have every right to cut off a toxic relationship. Friends don't tear down, they build up.

5. Just like paint will always chip and rain will always fall, loss will always be a part of life.

6. If you offer to help someone, follow through.

7. Be kind to people who work in retail and food service.

8. Stop saying "But what if I am not able to?" and give yourself a chance.

9. Don't fall into that idea that your first love has to be your best. You could fall in love three times and still not find the right one, but none of it is going to make "the one" matter less.

10. Let someone know you're not interested, both in relationships and to the telemarketer.

11. Firsts are going to be messy. First dates, first kiss, first failed test, first time you drive a car - first times were made to be imperfect.

12. Actually "hang out sometime."

13. Be a little more honest.

14. Get another scoop of ice cream.

15. Let yourself be alone, for just an hour or a couple years.

16. Don't get hung up over insensitive comments made by people who don't even know you.

17. Send more letters (not emails) and gifts.

18. Give more genuine complements.

19. Have more patience while waiting at stop lights.

20. Life is too short to not be alive, to not be passionate, and overflowing.

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