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Make Social Media Kind: All the Things People Don’t Tolerate

Social media destroys relationships.

Not every relationship.

Not every person.

Not every day.

I have had several instances in which I posted something on social media and someone, zealous in their endeavor to prove themselves to have a superior moral compass, superior theological ideologies, or superior political views, turned my post into a warzone. I’ve had friends who didn’t even know each other hollering at each other on my posts in an effort to prove me or one another wrong. (Full disclosure: If someone turns my posts into a warzone, I change my privacy settings so that person can’t see anything I post. It’s not because I can’t handle opposing views. I simply believe that if you can’t be gracious when discussing your disagreement…. You know, that scripture about speaking with the tongues of men and angels….. You can speak with all sorts of eloquence, but if you don’t do it with love, you’re a clanging gong. No one wants to hear it.) I’ve had strangers beat me up on social media because someone I respect eats meat, and because I had the audacity to suggest that emotional trauma can sometimes manifest in gender dysphoria and because I suggested that when it comes to the color of one’s skin, what is more important than the color of one’s skin is the ability to connect on a human level with everyone, regardless of their skin color.*

Social media gives people a soapbox (coupled with the protection of distance and anonymity) on which to boldly declare their own superiority and everyone else’ inferiority.

I hate it.

Because when it comes down to it, we’re all just people. We’re not colors. We’re not political parties. We’re not races. We’re not theological beliefs. We’re not agendas. We represent those things at times. But before any of those things, we are people. Can we please just treat one another like we’re people, void of agendas and void of an internal sense of smugness about our own correctness and everyone else’ incorrectness?

I haven’t written much in the past few years because I feel that I have to self-censor so much that it just isn’t worth it to try. People’s pet agendas and social justice warrior stances make it impossible for people to own their own stories, their own convictions and their own experiences. If I tell my story, home school advocates come against me because “that’s not the way it is.” If I tell my story, faithful people everywhere get offended because “church is a hospital for the broken.” (Spoiler alert: It’s supposed to be, but it often fails miserably.) If I tell my story, therapists tell me that I suffer from a weird cognitive dissonance or some kind of denial because all that stuff is true, but it hasn’t destroyed my faith and it hasn’t made me disown my family.

Can we simply listen? Can we listen to hear, instead of listening to develop an argument? Can we respond with compassion and grace and generosity and understanding? Can we throw agendas to the side and embrace people simply because they are people, instead of quantifying them (or ourselves!) with adjectives that divide us into “white people” or “Christian people” or “Asian people” or “Atheists” or “educated people” or “Progressive people” or “Republicans” or “Socialists”? We are just people. The minute we started dividing ourselves by our adjectives, we started a subtle war that will never end until we decide that Ariel being a redhead means nothing because life isn’t about people’s differences. It’s about finding similarities in the midst of our differences. It’s about teaching our children to find something in people who are opposite from ourselves that we can appreciate and even understand. Life isn’t about forcing the world to conform to our demands. It’s about finding the very subtle similarities that are present in even the most opposite individuals. Life is about teaching children that there is more in the world and more to life than just our own selves, our own experiences and our own prejudices.

So, let’s be open. Let’s be humble.

Let’s learn to be kind again.

*Regarding race and color: I want to make it very, very clear that I have utmost respect for people of all races, colors, and ethnicities. There are many people of many races and ethnicities that I love and adore. I do not in any way wish to minimize the struggles that anyone has had pertaining to their race, color or ethnicity, because I know that many have been marginalized and treated very unfairly and many suffer greatly due to attitudes and events of the past that still impact them and their families many generations later. I am only saying that a little bit of openness to others who have different experiences, and understanding that our experiences are different and that’s ok (and yet, in spite of our differences, there is similarity somewhere), will get us a long way in our endeavor to create a kind and compassionate society. 

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Posted by on July 6, 2019 in Rants

 

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Married People are Insufferable

I am not here to complain.

I consider myself to be more of a truth-talker than anything.

I will tell it like it is. I don’t sugar-coat it.

Married people are insufferable.

Some of the married population never really knew what it was like to be single in the first place. I mean, come on. If you married your high school sweetheart, you have no idea what it’s like to be single because you have never had to do any part of what the kids these days call #adulting without someone else by your side. If you’ve never “#adulted independently of a romantic partner, you have never been single.

#SorryNotSorry

If you got married in college or before you had to start being responsible for your own finances, you probably don’t truly know what it’s like to be single either. College, for many people, is an extension of childhood during which a student still enjoys being on their parents’ insurance, Mom and Dad help figure out the finances and the car and some parents even do their college student’s laundry. I’m not saying this is bad or wrong. But if you fit in this category, you haven’t #adulted today. If you got married while you still had this level of support from your family, you don’t know what it’s like to be single.

People tend to forget what singleness is like the instant the engagement ring goes on the finger.

Some forget what it’s like to be single as soon as the relationship is defined as a bona fide relationship.

If the selective amnesia doesn’t kick in instantly, it does come eventually, most often by the time the wedding band slips into place. In some cases it lies dormant until the first big fight or until the monotony of having the same person waking up next to you morning after morning begins to set in.

It doesn’t much matter how long it takes. It comes eventually.

And it is insufferable.

They complain about how horrible it is to be married.

Or they sit with a single person and they chide said single person because they don’t love the “freedom” of being single.

A married person might listen to a single person, feigning great interest in their circumstances and when the single person stops talking, offer a condescending remark about how they need to get right with Jesus because they have a “horrible attitude” about their lives.

The previous example happened to me recently. Today, in fact.

Someone made the statement that the book Redeeming Love (Francine Rivers) is a wonderful book.

I contributed to the conversation by saying that it is a brilliantly written and excellent book, but it is extremely frustrating for single people who don’t love being single.

They told me that I didn’t understand the story.

I understand it completely. I have a degree in reading (in the words of my brother) and in the many, many literature classes I’ve taken, I learned to recognize symbolism and find meaning in places the average person wouldn’t find symbolism and meaning. I also know the Bible. I know it quite well. I am very familiar with the story of Hosea and how his life was a foretelling of the redeeming love of Jesus. I understand that both Hosea was and Jesus is a man who loves people regardless of what they have done. It is beautiful and I love the concept of redeeming love very, very much.

But the book is frustrating. It brings that story into a slightly more modern-day time period and presents the “love story” between a man who marries a prostitute because “God told him to” with the intention of having his love change her into a woman of grace and beauty.

It’s a lovely idea.

I’m going to let my inner cynical old hag out, for just a moment, and make the comment that in the time period and geographical area in which this story took place, there were many more men than women. If this were a true story, it wouldn’t have been so much about a man proving a point as it would have been about a man who desperately wanted to have legitimate sex and operated under the delusion that marrying a prostitute would both provide him with legitimate sex and with a godly wife who had no interest in other men, simply because he picked her. If I remember the details of the biblical story correctly, it didn’t work out that way for Hosea. It didn’t work out that way for Jesus. It probably wouldn’t work out that way for anyone else either.

The book frustrates me because I’ve followed all the Good Girl Formulas. Things like:

Go to Church + Don’t Kiss Boys = Wedded Bliss

Pray + Dress Modestly = All the Men Want to Date You

Don’t Have Sex + Behave Demurely = Engaged by Age 22

Read the Bible + Don’t Talk to Men = It’ll Happen Before You Have Time to Wonder What’s Taking So Long

All the formulas. All of them.

I’ve learned that they are all lies. There is no such thing as quid pro quo when it comes to these things. God doesn’t do “If you do this, then I’ll do that” when someone else’ free will is involved.

I’ve had Christian men refuse to date me because I was too innocent. Or too godly. Literally, if I had been a prostitute, I would have gotten somewhere with those (Christian) men.

As I read Redeeming Love, I thought to myself, “The formula is to become a prostitute. Being chaste doesn’t work. Being godly doesn’t work. No matter what I do, I’m not good enough. So I might as well try being a prostitute. It worked for Hosea’s wife. It worked for the prostitute in this book. Why wouldn’t it work for me?”

Of course, that’s not the kind of person I am and I’m not actually going to become a prostitute — which makes it even more frustrating because the only thing I haven’t tried is something that I wouldn’t try. It really makes me feel like a victim of my circumstances. A girl can’t win no matter what she does because there are limits.

The other person responded by chiding me for making the story about sex trafficking (um…. the story is about sex trafficking) and told me I was being disrespectful to women who are trafficked (???) and the cherry on top was when she asked for permission to add me to her prayer list because she didn’t want to argue about it with me anymore.

Wow.

Just. Wow.

For the record, I wasn’t arguing. But you want to not argue? Just patronize me. Talk to me with a condescending tone. I wasn’t arguing. But now that you mention it…. Now I feel like arguing.

* * * * *

My response to the person’s preposterous statement was promptly deleted.

Further proof that married people are completely clueless about how truly difficult it is to be single, especially among married church people.

One might ask what my point is. Why make a ruckus about it?

I don’t talk about singleness every day. I don’t even think about it every day.

But having people shut me down as soon as I start talking about it gets old.

It says that my experience is not relevant or important. It says that my feelings don’t matter. It says that I don’t matter.

I’m sorry my experience is hard for you to hear about and watch. I’m truly sorry. But if you think it’s hard to listen to or watch and you feel the need to shut it down because it just doesn’t fit with your expectations as a Christian person…. you should really try living it.

You should try doing everything alone.

You should try coming home to an empty house day in and day out.

You should try having people pat you on the head and tell you you’re cute when you talk about it.

You should try listening to people tell you to get over it.

You should try talking about your places of woundedness and having people shut you down and tell you it doesn’t matter.

You should try having people getting in your business all the time because you’re just a little (single) girl and they don’t think you can do life without their input.

You should try to be an adult woman in a community that doesn’t recognize women as adults unless a man comes along and validates their existence by choosing to marry them.

You should try to function as a minister as a single person. Let me tell you — that does not go over very well in many circles.

You should try to live in a way that you understand to be godly and also try to date. (Hint: They either don’t want a godly woman or you’re not godly enough. There’s no winning on this one.)

You should try being not good enough and too good, both at the same time, depending on who you’re talking to, and rejected by everyone because of things that you can’t begin to comprehend.

You should try talking to people who have no concept of your circumstances and try to get them to understand.

They won’t understand. It is a truly frustrating situation to be in. You feel very isolated and alone and the harder you try to help people to understand, the more alone you feel because they don’t get it and they don’t care enough to try to understand.

 
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Posted by on April 21, 2018 in Current Events, Rants

 

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30 Things, 4 Years Later: Day 20

After a long break because I was really busy….

30 Things to Accomplish in my 30s: Day 20

#20 Find something to be thankful for every day.

According to this article,

Taking time to contemplate what you’re grateful for isn’t merely the right thing to do; it also improves your mood by reducing the stress hormone cortisol (in some cases by 23 percent). Research conducted at the University of California, Davis, found that people who work daily to cultivate an attitude of gratitude experience improved mood, energy, and physical well-being. It’s likely that lower levels of cortisol play a major role in this.

It’s really simple to find the beauty in the small things.

A gentle rain on a warm day.

Flowers blooming.

Babies’ giggles.

Witnessing one person being kind to another.

I love seeing those things and they bring moments of joy and gratitude.

I love the little things.

The problem is the big things.

Loss is a big thing that obliterates all traces of the little things. Loss of a relationship. Loss of a job. Loss of a family member. Loss of health, home, and anything that’s dear — loss of any kind brings waves of sadness. Waves of cortisol, mentioned in the quoted article, which lead to waves of anxiety, waves of depression, waves of weariness and waves of illness. The little things easily get buried in the uncontrollable waves that come with loss.

I find the most rest and small ripples of gratitude at work. Sometimes, my little guy will reach over and touch my hand and in that moment, I feel like I’ve been touched by the hand of God. He is so gentle. So unassuming. It’s like he just wants me to know that I’m not alone. Sometimes he’ll look up at me and tell me something in his own little language — something I can’t linguistically understand, but my heart knows he’s telling me his most treasured secrets. It’s those moments when gratitude and joy bubble up and calm the waves of pain and heartache.

And so, today, I’m grateful that I get to work.

What are you grateful for today? Leave a comment and let me know!

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2016 in 30 Things

 

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God’s Not Dead: Thoughts on Christianity and Romance

The other day, my Bible study group and I went to see God’s Not Dead.

I enjoyed that the movie was one that made me think. If I have to sit and stare at a screen for longer than 5 minutes, it has to keep my mind engaged. This movie did that, and I enjoyed it.

I’d have to watch the movie a few more times in order to be able to comment on the arguments for and against the existence of God. I might need to take notes or something — which is hard to do in a theater, so we won’t get into those arguments.

There is another interesting elements of the movie that I’d like to comment on — you know, the softer, less logical, more emotional part. Those things are (sometimes) easier to understand….

Aside from the main theme of the movie (God’s not dead), the other blaring theme is that of relationships.

Here is a brief synopsis of the relationships in this film:

Reverend Dave and Reverend Jude: According to this movie, if you’re a white, single male pastor, it’s appropriate for you to be close friends, go on vacation and do ministry with a single black male missionary. This relationship was intact at the end of the movie.

Ayisha and her father: Ayisha’s father is a strict Muslim, who puts Ayisha on the streets when he discovers that she has a relationship with Jesus. This is a tragic cultural and spiritual issue, but I’m not sure why it’s part of the plot. It has nothing to do with the main premise of the movie (God’s not dead), and the only thing it proves is that if your family is Muslim and you are a Christian, you will lose everything if they find out.

Willie and Korie Robertson: There isn’t really anything interesting to say about this. This is the only romantic relationship that is intact at the end of the movie.

Josh and Kara: They’ve been together for 6 years, but as soon as Josh does something that Kara doesn’t agree with, she dumps him. How is it possible that they lasted 6 years without having any disagreements? This doesn’t make any sense to me because as one gets older, he/she (should) be growing in maturity, not the other way around. Kara makes a hasty exit about 1/3 of the way through the movie. Josh is left to fight his battles alone. This is (unfortunately) realistic, but very dissatisfying. Josh finds inspiration in his relationship with Reverend Dave and this relationship is intact at the end of the movie.

Amy and the Jerk: They are a non-spiritual, career-oritented couple. And as soon as he finds out that she has cancer, he dumps her. Amy’s cancer diagnosis and new single status lead her to realize (when questioned by the dcTalk dude who is now a Newsboys dude) that she has no hope.

Professor Radisson and Mina: As soon as Mina starts to stand up for herself (and her faith), the relationship implodes. Mina seeks comfort from Reverend Dave.

If you think about this movie from a relational standpoint, you will find that romantic relationships are incompatible with belief in God, unless you are a Robertson, in which case, your redneck awesomeness trumps your belief in God (at least in the romance department) and your marriage is impenetrable. Oh, if we could all be part of the Robertson clan….

As far as platonic relationships go, apparently only single white pastors get to have them. They get to (attempt to) go on vacation with their buddies. They text it up with young male college students. They counsel beautiful (but broken) women. They get to do relationship with all kinds of different people, and in the end, they pray with dying ex-athiest professors and they live happily ever after, knowing they’ve made a difference. But…. they are still (sadly) romantically unattached.

(On another note, Josh develops a friendship at the very end of the movie with the Chinese student from his class. So perhaps they are saying the only appropriate relationships between men are either with clergy or with someone from another culture?)

At any rate, the way relationships are portrayed in this movie is disturbing to me because I’ve noticed a strange trend in most of the Christian circles I’ve been part of, where romance just doesn’t happen. Let me describe briefly what I’ve noticed:

I went to a church for a while where there weren’t very many single men, but the few single men who were there made it clear that they were not “available.” I’m not sure what the reasons for this were — they were so “unavailable” that they wouldn’t even talk to me. And it wasn’t for lack of trying on my part.

I had a situation in this particular church where someone saw me speaking with a single young man twice after church. She asked a mutual male friend to tell this young man to stop talking to me because I “wasn’t ready for a relationship.”

I went to a church where the pastor made it his business who my friends were. His rule was that people who were involved in ministry (me) weren’t allowed to have friends of the opposite gender, unless all parties were involved in ministry, and then it was only appropriate if one or both of the people were married. Two single people were not allowed to spend time together unless it was chaperoned. There were specific rules stating that people involved in ministry were not allowed to date each other, but they also weren’t allowed to talk to anyone who wasn’t involved in ministry, except for very short, very generic conversations. So basically, there was no interaction between single people. Consequently, there were no sweet little romances going on at that church.

I had a group of friends who decided that I was “boy crazy” (and this was a problem) because I spoke with a male friend from church on the phone twice and mentioned it to them once. Shortly after talking with these friends, the male friend in question took me to Perkins to tell me that he wasn’t interested in me. Um? Ok? Did I say I thought you were? Can’t we be friends? I like having friends…. No? Well, this is awkward….

On a happier note, I got a free meal out of the deal. And I haven’t had a conversation with the person in question since.

His loss.

I had a male friend during that time that I only got to see or talk to when I was around the girls who accused me of being “boy crazy.” He told me I was hot once. And my entire life imploded. Literally. The girls in question just couldn’t handle it. Including myself. It was a lose-lose situation for me. If I had responded to it, I would have lost my entire life outside of him. I knew that, so I chose to not respond to it. It turned out that I lost it all anyway, because my “friends” couldn’t deal with the idea that my friend found me attractive.

My experience has been that in Christian circles, relationships between single men and single women are not encouraged because it could lead to romance and romance is not compatible with Christian belief.

I’d like to point out that God invented romance, and He said (back in the book of Genesis) that everything He invented is good. When did this change? And how? And why? And how do we get back to the idea that it is good?

Because….. I want to love God. But I want to love a husband and children and friends (of both genders) too. And I think that is the way God wants it to be.

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2014 in Current Events

 

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Acting Your Age

I spent Christmas at my Grandma’s.

I love going to Grandma’s, which I’ve probably said about five million times.

One of the first things Grandma said to me once I got there was, “I don’t want to be in your blog.”

Sorry Grandma.

She said this right after she told me about making homemade wine when she was young and foolish, and then she asked me if I wanted to take her wine-making equipment home with me, and I said, “Grandma! I could make wine and then write a blog post entitled, “Making Wine with Grandma’s Recipe.”

So, Grandma, I will respect your wishes. No blog posts about making wine. But, you won’t be excluded from my blog entirely. You are too much a part of my life to be overlooked. You inspire me too much to not share your wit and wisdom. I love you.

The next thing Grandma said to me was this: “I have two New Year’s resolutions. One of them is to respond to e-mails more promptly. The other one is to start acting my age.”

She told me this right after she told me that she was retiring from her volunteer position as the church janitor.

When you’re in your 80s, acting your age means to cut back on responsibilities. It means you don’t get to get up on a ladder and scrape and repaint the gable over your front door. It means that when your grandkids come to visit, you get to supervise (teach) all things garden/landscape related. It means you get to accept help when you need it.

I got to thinking about how this applies to me — because what applies to an octogenarian grandmother, in some minute way, also applies to a 30 year old girl who is pretty much alone in the sense that she has no one to go home to.

The first thing I realized is that if a 30 year old girl is going to act her age, she’s got to stop seeing herself as a girl and start seeing herself as a woman. People who are 30 aren’t kids anymore.

If I’m not a kid anymore, this means that I should:
get up and go to work — on time — every day.
pay my bills — on time — all the time.
set goals.
clean my house on a regular basis.
do what I say I’m going to do.
bring a salad or something to potluck meals. Even though I hate cooking with a burning passion from deep within my soul.
stop whining about how my life isn’t what I want it to be.

Kids don’t have a lot of control over their lives. Adults don’t either. But, adults have the option to take control of what they can. They don’t have to ask Mom and Dad for permission. Adults can make choices that can help or hinder their goals.

The second thing I realized is that if I’m going to act my age, I have a lot of catching up to do.

Several years ago, I was consistently told by several people in several different contexts, in several different ways, that I couldn’t have male friends. It started out with a couple of female friends getting jealous that I had a completely platonic friendship with a male. They must have told him that I “liked” him, because shortly after I met these girls, he unceremoniously (relationally) dumped me by the side of the road and never really spoke to me again after that. (Um…. ok?) I was also told by several people who were several years older than me that I was “wet behind the ears” and I “shouldn’t go looking for a man” (or expect to find one any time soon) because…. Well, I wasn’t really given a reason why this was the case. I was also told by church leadership that I wasn’t allowed to speak to single men. (Note: I have never been one to “chase” men. I was essentially being told that I couldn’t even respond when men spoke to me.)

My life was going nowhere in that context, so I left.

But, while in the midst of all the chaos of trying to convince myself that it was ok to defy my “authority figures,” I called my grandma one day and told her about all the crap people were telling me, and her response was, “You’re 27 years old. By the time I was your age, I had been married for 8 years and was done having babies. It’s about time you got involved in a relationship.”

She wasn’t pushing me. She was telling me that it’s perfectly normal and acceptable for a woman who is 27 to talk with men, and I shouldn’t feel guilty for doing so. She was also saying that no one — absolutely no one — has the right to tell me what I can and can’t do when I’ve demonstrated to everyone by the way I live my life that I am a responsible grownup and I’m not prone to getting myself into trouble.

Thanks Grandma. I needed that.

Actually, I need to hear those things like 50 times a day — because when you’ve been told not to do something every day for 30 years, it’s kind of hard to adjust.

Lately — like, for the past 3 years or so — I’ve spent a fair amount of time wondering what it might be like to, well, act my age. To go up to a single man and have a conversation. To perhaps go on a date. Or maybe to be in a relationship that might lead to marriage and family.

Because, at this point, the only option I really have is to wonder.

I have absolutely no skills when it comes to doing relationships. I don’t have any idea how to talk to men and I don’t know what to say. I could tell several stories like this one from last night-

It was New Year’s Eve, and my friends all got together. We were playing Apples to Apples. It was several women and two men. I think my green card said “eternal.” Or maybe it was something else. Someone played the “boyfriends” card. I said, “I would have picked ‘boyfriends’ except that boyfriends don’t exist.”

The game continued after some discussion of whether boyfriends exist or not. The guys were strangely silent.

I went home and realized that I could have made the interaction much more funny by saying “Boyfriends exist — they’re located between the unicorn and the leprechaun, and they’re driving reliable Ford trucks.” Because we ALL know that none of those things are real.

But, I’m not very funny in person, so I missed a grand opportunity to make everybody giggle.

And now, my question is, how do I begin to act my age? How do I stop being a lost, alone person and start being a person that people notice and like to hang around, talk to, and maybe even might want to…. I don’t know…. go out with? And maybe, if we stretch it, marry? What do you have to do and be to be good enough to enter the elite club called “family”? How do I act my age?

P.S. I’m not trying to have a pity party. I have a feeling I’m not the only person in the world who asks these questions, and I wish I had some answers so I could help others.

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2013 in Current Events

 

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