My tongue is in my hand…

Archive for the ‘goals and challenges’ Category

Growing up in a Christian church, there was always a lot of talk about putting God first, making God a priority, and about denying ourselves our “selfish desires”. I think these two things contradict themselves for someone who has accepted the love of God into their lives. If now, God lives in me as love, and God created me, then wouldn’t one of the best ways to get in touch with God be to get in touch with myself? To explore my desires, to indulge the things that pull at my heart and spirit? If God lives in us, then wouldn’t listening to our selves be listening to God? To do this, wouldn’t it take tuning out everything else at times, or most of the time? Shouldn’t we, with God in us, be the priority in our lives, with all other things coming after? If I can not hear myself, can not mend myself, can not refresh myself, can not address my needs, can not engage in the things that press on my God- designed, God-entwined heart, can not touch base with God within myself then how can anything else I do be in tune with God, how can I touch base with God anywhere outside of myself? But the church taught me for so long to deny myself, that it’s taken me years to understand that this was incomplete information, it was the beginning of a lesson that no one bothered to follow up on. I’m realizing that the things I do that perhaps no one else in the whole entire world (or my whole entire world) seems to agree with, but rests well on my heart, always serves me better than following anyone else’s guidelines for “the right thing”. Because my relationship with God is about me. Not anyone else (not even the church). Everyone else has to settle what they have to settle between God and themselves. I have to trust that God is handling everything else, whatever I forsake to indulge in the movement. Moving against the standards  set up by those around me is moving in faith. Even if it’s moving against the standards of the (imperfect, human run, though- most- likely- well intentioned) church. I have to trust that whatever time I spend with God, forsaking all else, will make me a better person for all else. And I have to spend time evaluating everything, sans the world- what’s working, what’s not, what have I learned, what do I need, etc. More time, just God and I. While, in the church, quiet time or devotions are encouraged, I’ve found that they are encouraged within the realm of the world – that you don’t dare disrupt any of the worlds in which you reside.  Christianity seems to expect you to tread so lightly in every realm of your life that you are constantly tangled up in the world and it’s expectations. Yes, by acting in and with love, we can honor God in anything we do…but when we’re suffocated by the standards and expectations of everyone around us, we are ineffective. Why isn’t this a constant conversation in the church?

Sometimes, I feel like the Christian church perpetually teaches the remedial version of faith, never moving forward, always waiting for everyone in their midst to grasp the basics of the religion, before they really get into the abstract parts. While anyone can gain from reviewing the basics, what do you do when it’s time to start applying the basics? Where’s the person talking about how sometimes, to put God first, you literally have to forsake all others: you have to stop working, ignore your boss, your job, your church, your parents, your spouse, your children, your debts, your home, your pets, your friends, your government, your responsibilities, everything: every standard, every rule, every expectation , all of it being worldly, and subject to seperating you from God, even with the best intentions.  And you have trust that God will take care of everything while you sit alone with God, with yourself, for however long is necessary, while you move where ever you are moved.

Who’s going to talk about how this may not necessarily be one big event or moment in your life, but that it may be a daily thing, a weekly thing, a seasonal thing? Why am I wondering if I’m the only person in the world who is in this place, who’s been here? Sure, someone’s read me a verse that says, you must forsake all others and follow Christ. Sure, someone will say that if the world hates you, it’s okay, because Christ has overcome the world. Great. Two sentences. Why aren’t we talking about what this looks like, how this feels, in real life?   Where’s the incessant discussion regarding this (instead of, perhaps, homosexuality- or something equally less important to our spiritual growth)? Why aren’t we evolving as spiritual beings? Why do we only expect people to be able to spout out Sunday School answers?   Where’s the discussion on the individuality of faith, of spiritual growth? Why do we all expect it to look the same on everyone? Why is the church afraid of getting messy with faith? Why does the church rely on black and white so much, why is it so fearful of all the gray that is the individual application of faith? Why do the standards of Christians get more specific than love God, love one another? Are Christians that dense that we need someone to give us rules beyond love to live by? The church is so wrapped up in setting and applying it’s own standards for faith in the world, that it has become part of the world that one must ignore to really hear God. Are the structures of the church impeding the growth of the church in regards to allowing and encouraging members to evolve spiritually?

Oh, people are good at saying they know faith is individual, but the actions of the Christian church do not support this. It supports conformity far more than it supports growth outside of conformity. It seems to have so low an expectation for it’s community of believers that it simplifies everything to boxes and lists and categories to keep from confusing anyone. It is a social and political organization, as well as a religious one, and it’s rare to find a church were you can escape these undertones and overtones.  Not to say I dismiss the potential and positive impact of being part of a church community, because I do believe people can benefit from being part of a group of people who care about you and care about others as well. I think church is, overall, a good thing to be part of. I just wonder, is there too much teaching in churches and too little discussion and application when it comes to the intangibles? It’s great that someone has studied the Bible and public speaking and can “teach me” about the Bible, and I gather good info and insight through sermons most of the time, and if nothing else, it gives me a chance to sit in one place, quiet, for an hour with others who are doing the same…it serves me well, no doubt. But when do we come together to discuss it? Bible study and Sunday School are another hour of the basics being taught with little opportunity for discussion beyond more basic answers….it’s like we’ve got everyone on the short bus of faith, perpetually. Shouldn’t we expect more from ourselves, from each other? Shouldn’t we be going deeper on a regular basis? Shouldn’t we be experimenting with love and faith and hope and joy and forgiveness  and then evaluating the results as some kind of community? Shouldn’t we be sharing more? Shouldn’t we be getting messier with our faith amongst one another (and in the world as a whole)?

I want to talk  in church, with my church families. I want discussions. Group discussions. Where we push ourselves and each other, where we get uncomfortable, where we question, where we discuss personal applications of faith, where we get confused and frustrated and show one another grace and mercy, where we seek answers, where we share insight, where we agree to disagree, where we intersect among our spiritual journeys, share stories, gather resources and reserves, where we let go of the standards of the world, of our worlds, where we evolve and move…where we practice among each other what we hope to practice outside of the church…unconditional love…

I’m so tired of feeling like I’m trapped in remedial classes every time I’m in church. As much as I love the people in the church, sometimes it’s like I’m suffocating;  we can’t keep breathing the same air over and over without it eventually becoming toxic. We’ve got to open up the doors, the windows, the emergecy exit- something. Come on guys. We’re capable of more, we should expect more, we should grow more.

We’ve got to do something, it’s getting crowded on the short bus and everybody’s laughing at us.

Disclaimer: I have not and do not laugh at those who ride short buses, nor do I condone such behavior. I just found it to be a fitting methaphor.

I woke up earlier today to try to start my day off with peace and not anxiety. In theory, I like the idea of starting the day with quiet time, a devotional. But I feel like the only way to do that is to write, on here. I feel like my mind wanders too much otherwise, like I will just fall asleep, or give in to the anxiety.

I hate waking up anxious. For most of my life, I have not had that problem. I remember a particular time in my life where I always woke up peaceful and joyful. This is what I keep in my minds eye, what I want to achieve again. I don’t believe that my circumstances should determine my daily attitude. I can be peaceful, even if there are a lot of stressors.

My problem lately is that there is too much. Too much to do, too much left undone, too much stacked up in corners or closets. Too much of people wanting me to do things in their timeframe. I decided two things last night: at home, I’m going to take care of one accumulated thing at a time. Yesterday it was a bag of crap I had taken from my car and thrown in a closet. And I’m not going to let myself get overwhelmed feeling like I need to handle everything right now, or criticizing myself for letting it be that way.

I also decided that work stuff is going to happen on my timeframe. Even if that means I have to set up a timeframe to coincide with someone else’s, I will create and claim my own timeframe as well. I can’t wake up worrying about work or go to bed and dream about it. It is by no means my fault that the system is set up so that everyone has to hurry up and wait for services they need. I’m not going to feel like I have to handle everything right this second for everyone (this applies at home too). I just can’t. I can’t feel that way. I’m not going to beat myself up about it. I’m going to do the best I can do. Before I took this position, they stated they had problems keeping people on this team, in this position, so I know it’s not easy, but I also know if I stick with it, that will be more than those others did. I just have to do what I can- if that gets people upset, oh well, I can’t do this everyday, this can’t be my priority.

That’s what was good about Natalie being sick, I didn’t feel like I had to do anything but be “mom” for a few days. With my job changing, and more of my friends having children and being at home moms, I am feeling the strain of being a professional and a mom more than I was before…I wouldn’t not be either, so…I don’t know.

I’m so tired- physically tired. It was a rough weekend,  sleep wise. And I’m so bad at time management. It frustrates me sometimes. Of course if we didn’t have so many Yankees around here, everyone would know that in the South, nothing ever really starts until at least 15 minutes after the time it was allotted to start. Unfortunately, most of the people I work with are from NY/Philly and don’t understand this concept at all. *sigh*

Jason’s truck is still in the shop.  I have taken several hours 3 days in a row to help him get it, it’s a huge inconvenience and undesired but necessary use of precious funds.

I think my timesheet was due yesterday and I forgot about it completely due to Natalie’s 2am-6am ER run to find out she has strep…*sigh* again

Hopefully I can turn this in today and still get paid friday. If not, that would suck. But I feel apathetic. Sometimes I’m just tired of holding all the little pieces together…granted, timesheets and paychecks are not “little” peices…grrr…I have non of it done. Not a bit. I hate timelines and due dates.

I think there should be some kind of test you can take and how you are expected to meet due dates and timelines should be determined from a variety of factors including not only external responsibilities and stresses, but also internal factors- if people knew how hard I try and all the little things inside that stop me, they’d be so proud of what I can do. Instead, I just look like I can never get it together.

I just want a week of days by myself, doing nothing for anyone.

I think I hate my job.

I really do. I really think I hate it. But it was the best move I could make, as my previous position is no longer going to exist come July due to budget cuts and funding…still a bad fit for me. My supervisor stated it was a good fit…maybe she doesn’t know me as well as a thought…or maybe I’m becoming discouraged to easily. All I know is it feels like math. I don’t get it. It doesn’t make sense, it’s too much at one time. I feel lost.

I want peace in my day. I don’t want to be on anyone else’s timeframe. I want to figure out how to do that. I feel like it’s going to require earlier mornings…

Also, my dog is driving me crazy. He’s scratching at the vacuum cleaner. Why?

I feel a little better starting like this. I think the key is making the anxious thoughts wait. Deciding- I will not worry about the bank account or bills right now. I am not in the mood or able to deal with it right now, so I’m not going to sit and obsess about it. I will pick a time and address a few things at a time. Tonight. I will address some part of this tonight.

After I drop Natalie at school, I will address work related issues- not before. This morning, I will just prepare for my day. I will not jump into it “like a drunken idiot”, as a friend of mine said about their own habits. I will eat breakfast, write, make Natalie’s breakfast, pray, clean up breakfast, shower/dress, make lunches, kiss and cuddle Natalie, talk to her, sing with her, feed the dog, take him out, play with him. I will take her to school where she will have a egg hunt and I will purchase some of her school pictures. Then I will address my day. I will do the same with work. While working, I will not address finances. While addressing finances, I will not address my social life. When I’m writing, I’m writing. When I’m praying, I’m praying. When I’m eating, I’m eating. When I’m with Natalie, I’m with Natalie. When I’m addressing something like cleaning or bills, then that’s what I’m doing. I will only multi task if I decide it benefits me, not because I’m freaking out.

I will not try to manage every aspect of every (or any) situation all at one time. One thing at a time. On my time.

So, everything that makes me anxious- Fuck you.

So, last year, I made a list of things to do that year. It was a really long list, and I knew I wouldn’t do all of the things I listed. But I felt like the act of identifying them and writing them down would help me to be more conscious of them throughout the year, kind of speak them into existence, at least in my mind, and help me seize opportunities, or seek them, or enjoy them more when they do happen.  So as this year begins, I decided to look over them and see what I had done, hadn’t done, and what I still wanted to do.

Here are not all, but a few:

Take Natalie to the circus (did this)

Go to Worhol exhibit at the Mint Museum (talked to Dad about it, but never did it)

Take road trip to with Carol to see Julie in Atlanta (did it)

Visit Seagrove (didn’t do it)

Go fishing at Smith Lake (did it)

Go to the batting cages (didn’t do it)

Play softball, or join a choir, or take a summer class ( was part of a community choir for christmas)

Actually turn in grad school paper (didn’t do it)

Go camping (did it)

Visit the lake more than once (did it)

Decrease our debt (ha)

Clean out work crap (partially…)

Get a dog?? (did it!)

Go to every book club meeting (did it)

Earn billing bonus at work (did it)

Go to urban prayer room (found it, but didn’t realize I did)

Take Natalie to Symphony Pops (didn’t do it)

Organize work stuff (did it, but that was short lived)

Go hiking (didn’t do it)

Go canoeing (didn’t do it)

Make and keep dentist appt (didn’t do it last year, but I did it this year, already)

Lean to play a song decently on the psaltry (didn’t do it)

This year, I’ve been wanting to make another list, and the one I came up with looks like this:

More peace

More slow

More faith

More love

More fellowship

More leadership

More growth

More nature

More living

More experience

More intimacy

More connectedness

More leaps

More writing

More music

More meditation

More movement

More preparation

More consciousness

More presence

More acceptance

More seeking

More open

More joy

More light

Last year, I wanted to be specific. I felt like I needed this, this particular kind of specifics…and this year, I think I need this kind of specifics…I may come up with some actual events and places/things I want to make an effort to do…maybe by the month. I feel like I got into the habit of being much more active in my life through the past year, as I had fallen into a place where it now takes a concerted effort to be ALIVE.  I’ve also been experimenting with ways to record this, because I do believe that documentation is important. As great a memory as I have, without documenting with words or pictures or something, I tend to lose track of the precious little pieces that really make things, that make the daily moments beautiful, that make me feel alive…this year, I will keep living. I will keep making the conscious effort to be ALIVE, whatever that may entail in the day to day, that is my commitment.

May the year begin…

I know an increasing amount of people arguing against the commercialization of Christmas (besides Charlie Brown, of course). And I agree. In many ways, we have turned a day set aside to celebrate the birth (and subsequent life) of Jesus Christ, earthly God incarnate, something that could (should?) be a holy day for Christians into something…else.

It’s a whole month of family gatherings, decorations, parties, programs, events, fundraisers, special church services, Santa Claus movies, and of course, gift exchanging. So, I get that. But here’s the thing- I think, if we let it, it can be good for us.

Christmas is what you make it in your life, what you let it be, what you insist it be. Being cynical, bitter, rejecting, or averse to other’s implementation of Christmas really doesn’t benefit you (or anyone else) at all. If you don’t like how other’s utilize this time of the year, then don’t engage. But think about some of the idealogic cornerstones (no matter how far many deviate from them) of the Christmas season: faith, hope, love, joy, generousity. Make those things a part of your daily life and then take a month at the end of the year to kick it up a notch and really bask in it, really celebrate it the whole month.Those around you can benefit from this and may possibly join in- and I can’t think of a better way to keep Christ in Christmas.

So, I have been minimally participating in the two challenges I posted about prior to this post. This month has not been as conducive to writing time as I’d hoped it would be. I have written some poems and started a novel. Barely started, but started. This is actually a pretty big deal for me, since I haven’t even wanted to start a novel, had any characters, ideas, outline, or research prior to Nov 1st when I wrote the first 1,542 words. Now, it’s brewing in my head, and though I won’t meet the nanowrimo challenge, it’s got me started on a good thing. I’m not sure what I’ll do about the PAD challenge. I can most likely complete it…and I suppose I’ll put together a chapbook? May as well do this…I’ve got to do something with my poems and this would be a good experience.

In other news…I turned 26 a couple of weeks ago, and have had a good two weekends of friends and family and celebrations.

In sad and silly news, book club had a rift, resulting in one member leaving to a new book club.  The member leaving happens to be my dearest friend in the group, so I will join her, and stay in old book club as well. Make new friends and keep the old (just like the  girl scout song).

Work life is…ever changing. I’m just holding on and doing what I do – help people as best I can.

Money is…short. I’m constantly floating payments around, robbing from peter to pay paul, having to tell people I do not know whenI can pay them, and just not opening the bills I know good and well we can’t pay, while trying to still live a fairly joyful life and indulge in little things because that’s what you do when you’re poor. You don’t pay a bill on time and you go out to eat and buy a shirt because damn it, you want to and there’s no other way to do it.

I had to use money we saved for Christmas and money I got for my birthday to fix my car. Again. And used the rest of my b-day money to get our phones turned back on. My dad and mother in law made me promise I’d use the money on myself, and technically, I did.

Home life is…quite honestly driving me insane. IN SANE. As in, I consistently feel as if I am losing my sanity. I feel as if it is wrong to go into it much more than that, but, should I lose my sanity, all the ridiculous details may spill themselves on a drunken blogging rage one night.

My family life outside of the home is really not much better. My dad claimed he was going have to pretend he only has one daughter (not me) after a very stupid and pointless fight about the holidays and in-laws. After about two weeks and a good fight complete with me hurling f-bombs in front of my parents (at my dad), and my dad claiming he will just not celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas anymore, the problem resolved itself with my sister in law’s work schedule, at least for Thanksgiving. My dad then bought me a very nice watch and necklace for my birthday, along with cash, and bulbs of my grandmother’s favorite flower to plant in my flower bed. He is now torturing my sister on a daily basis. I am apparently back in the family? We are watching Flashforward together this week, so I guess so.

Socially though, my life rocks. So, that’s something.

My library items are about 20 days overdue, so that does not rock. That didn’t really fit into any other categories, I thought I’d just like to note that.

My dog is super cute and does not drive me crazy though, because he’s just so damn cute and fluffy. Even when he uses the bathroom in the house.

Natalie on the other hand, has been trying my nerves severely, but then I feel like a really shitty mom for not being able to handle it and being short with her – like all the time.

There’s so much more (there always is), but I’m done for now.



Feminism is…?

Rebecca West: I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat, or a prostitute.

[Feminism is] a socialist, anti-family, political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.  ~Pat Robertson (Oh, Dear God!)

Michele Le Doeuff: A feminist is a woman who does not allow anyone to think in her place.

Nobody will ever win the Battle of the Sexes.  There’s just too much fraternizing with the enemy.  ~Henry Kissinger

The thing is, this isn’t a battle we’re fighting against each other, or at least it shouldn’t be.

Gloria Steinem: This is no simple reform. It really is a revolution. Sex and race because they are easy and visible differences have been the primary ways of organizing human beings into superior and inferior groups and into the cheap labour in which this system still depends. We are talking about a society in which there will be no roles other than those chosen or those earned. We are really talking about humanism.

Men weren’t really the enemy – they were fellow victims suffering from an outmoded masculine mystique that made them feel unnecessarily inadequate when there were no bears to kill.  ~Betty Friedan

Every time we liberate a woman, we liberate a man.  ~Margaret Mead

If the Mead quote is true, and I do believe it is, perhaps through me, my father liberated himself a bit, because my Daddy- southern boy, son of a farmer, corporate company executive and business owner- is a Feminist.

I keep trying to pinpoint the first feminist statement my father made to me, just for a starting point, but it’s hard to do so, because it was constant…Perhaps one of the first was when, at his encouragement, my sister and I were playing on a soccer team as 2 of 3 females on the team. I was in second grade. I complained about playing with the boys, I said they were too rough. Daddy told me to get out there and be rough too! Show them what  girl can do! For the record, I was just really bad at soccer, and the subsequent sport I tried on a co-ed team- basketball, so I’m not sure how much I “showed them”. But I didn’t quit and I didn’t cry when I was smacked into or kicked in the shins. I got dirty and I got up. That’s what the boys did and that’s what my Daddy said I could do to. So I did. And I’m so glad I did.

When, in 6th grade, I said I wanted to be the first female president of the United States, my Dad said “You go girl!” (it was the early 90’s, you can’t really blame him for using that phrase 🙂

When I finally found a sport I could play (believe me, he wasn’t letting up till I tried them all), he co-coached my softball teams and in doing so opened up a world to me of competitive, hard working, don’t care if we get bruised up, loud, powerful girls.

Daddy said God may be a woman.

Daddy said I could kiss all the boys I want.

Daddy said I could do whatever I want.

Of course, he rallied against things like short shorts (he usually lost) and driving late at night (lost again). I mean, feminist or not, he is my Dad, there are some things he has to oppose 😉

My advice to the women’s clubs of America is to raise more hell and fewer dahlias.  ~James McNeill Whistler

Sometimes, (or often) I’d get hyped up and on a role about some injustice and Daddy would shout from his corner “Alright Feminazi!” Usually followed by “You go girl!” Feminazi was a nickname he made up for me, jokingly, when I was out of my head raging against whatever I was raging against and stomping my feet around.  I would say, part of effective feminism (or effective anything), is being able to laugh at yourself and not take things too seriously all the time.

He also would strut his 6’3 farm boy frame around the house and tell us to “Flaunt it if we got it” (he claims he was channeling his grandma Pearl) He wanted me to know how to be a woman, a full out woman. And he wanted me to know I could be pretty, smart, and strong all at the same time.

“Scratch most feminists and underneath there is a woman who longs to be a sex object.  The difference is that is not all she wants to be.”  ~Betty Rollin

The other day my daughter,  Natalie, saw a policeman and claimed that that’s what she wanted to be. She then said, “but I have to be a man”. I laughed and said, nope baby, you can be a policewoman, and then introduced her to a policewoman. She probably won’t remember that, but for me, it’s just the beginning.

We’ve begun to raise daughters more like sons… but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters.  ~Gloria Steinem

To quote my Daddy, the feminist “The only thing stopping you is your mind, don’t let your mind defeat you.” I will feed Natalie feminism, because feminism is simply the idea that woman are equals to men, deserving no special treatment nor discrimination. In this way, all children should be told this, this message is for everyone.

“We’ve got a generation now who were born with semiequality. They don’t know how it was before, so they think, this isn’t too bad. We’re working. We have our attache’ cases and our three piece suits. I get very disgusted with the younger generation of women. We had a torch to pass, and they are just sitting there. They don’t realize it can be taken away. Things are going to have to get worse before they join in fighting the battle.” Erma Bombeck

This quote reminds me that we owe our best efforts at equality not only for our present and future, but also to honor those who’ve gone before us. When I was engaged and planning my wedding, the older ladies in my church kept coming up to me, holding my hands, asking if I was still going to college- their eyes imploring me to say yes. I had never considered not going to college, but the mix of fear and hope in their eyes reminded me how big a deal it was, to not have homemaking and factory work as my only option. I think, sometimes, because we were born into this “semiequality” that we take for granted how recent the victories occurred, and how hard they were fought for. And I think, sometimes we forget that we’re not there yet. We’re further along, but we’re not there yet.

Nobody objects to a woman being a good writer or sculptor or geneticist if at the same time she manages to be a good wife, a good mother, good-looking, good-tempered, well-dressed, well-groomed, and unaggressive.  ~Marya Mannes

Marlo Thomas: One of the things about equality is not just that you be treated equally to a man, but that you treat yourself equally to the way you treat a man.

As always, equality is not just about one gender, one race, one religion. It’s about all of us, we’re all in this together. And if we do it right, the advancing of others can advance us all, not take anything away from any of us, but instead, give something to humanity as a whole. Liberate us all.

I am working for the time when unqualified blacks, browns, and women join the unqualified men in running our government.  ~Cissy Farenthold

And it’s not just this, but also that anyone making an effort to play a productive role in society, in any way, is respected in their role, with equal respect given to each role, as each role plays a crucial part in the functioning of our communities as a whole.

So, thanks Dad. Thanks for all the ways you allowed me no special treatment or discrimination. To do anything else would have been a disservice to me and anyone I have, or will, encounter along my life.

I’m tough, I’m ambitious, and I know exactly what I want.  If that makes me a bitch, okay.  ~Madonna Ciccone

There has always been this one passage in the Bible that I just can not be okay with. More than that, something within me rages at the words in defiance every single time I hear them. Nothing fills me with righteous indignation more.

So, here we go: “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husband in every thing.”  Ephesians 5:22-24

Ew, no. I will never fully submit myself a huMAN of any kind (doesn’t that border on idolatry?). And, in case anyone missed the memo- I, even as a woman, have direct line to God (ever since the crucifixion, you know?). And God talks to me, lives in me, guides me. I don’t need any PERSON to be my head. I’ve got my own head! People are crazy, even the most well intentioned, and we shouldn’t submit completely to a person. That’s asking for serious T-R-O-U-B-L-E.

Can we inspire, sharpen, and and hold one another accountable though? Absolutely. But I don’t think any PERSON needs to believe they are head of another PERSON.

I don’t care that the next part says  “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it.” Eph 5:25, because the next part says “That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.” Eph 5:26.

I’m sorry, no. No MAN can cleanse me! He’s going to be busy enough with his own self, as we all should be. To me, this passage has always implied that a woman is less godly than a man and needs a man to reach her ultimate best. That, is also a mentality that is asking for T-R-O-U-B-L-E. Even if the man does as he “should”, it still makes the woman out to be the lesser of the two. I can’t be okay with that.

People then say “Well, the point of it all  is in this verse-“So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.” Eph 5:28. Yeaaaa, that’s nice. But I’m pretty sure the whole love others as yourself thing was already covered earlier on (“This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.” John 15:12) so I don’t buy that the whole point of that passage was that men love their wives as themselves. Because if that was all there was to it, then that is all that would be said.

This is where I intellectually understand that the Bible was assembled by men. God-lead, but still- men. And we can never fully escape our personal perspective, influenced by gender, among other things. I’m a writer, I’ve been inspired to write things I never had in my head on my own, but even as a vessel, traces of me come through. I also understand that the church, as an institution, was created and designed by men (again, God-lead, but still, men). And I understand that the church is an institution. That religion is not faith and vice versa.

The last thing women need in this world is to wait for a man to lead them or love them. I’m not men bashing, I’m being realistic. We all have to love and look out for one another, but we also all have to ultimately take responsibility for our lives and our relationship with God. We are individuals, even in marriage.

Why in the world would one person need to “lead” the other, particularly based on gender? Why is it not a 50/50 split (possibly focusing on personal strengths and weaknesses within the couple)?  Instead of women holding back our selves to submit to other mere mortals, why don’t we all work on loving God (and submitting to God) enough to love ourselves to love each other the very best we can? In this, I believe we do, through our love in God, submit ourselves to many things, but never to be less than another. How would it be effective to love others as we love ourselves if we consider ourselves less…

Why does this passage exist? I know there are plenty of things in the Old Testament that we put aside because with the Resurrection, there is new life, new law, but this is New Testament. So, what’s up?

The thing that got me going on this today was this article:

Weighty Words on the Meaning of a Husband’s Headship

August 5, 2009  |  By: John Piper |  Category: Commentary

What follows is one of the greatest reasons for a man to get married and stay married: not the rapturous flame of eros, but the refining fires of holiness.

No relationship is more clearly commanded to model the death of Christ. No relationship is more costly—in both senses of that word (painful and precious).

This quote comes from one of C. S. Lewis’s last books, published in 1960, The Four Loves. In it we hear the wise fruit of a lifetime.

The husband is the head of the wife just in so far as he is to her what Christ is to the Church. He is to love her as Christ loved the church—read on—and gave his life for her (Ephesians 5:25).

This headship, then, is most fully embodied not in the husband we should all wish to be but in him whose marriage is most like a crucifixion; whose wife receives most and gives least, is most unworthy of him, is—in her own mere nature—least lovable. For the church has no beauty but what the bridegroom gives her; he does not find, but makes her, lovely.

The chrism [anointing, consecration] of this terrible coronation is to be seen not in the joys of any man’s marriage but in its sorrows, in the sickness and sufferings of a good wife or the faults of the bad one, in his unwearying (never paraded) care or his inexhaustible forgiveness: forgiveness, not acquiescence.

As Christ sees in the flawed, proud, fanatical or lukewarm Church on earth that bride who will one day be without spot or wrinkle, and labors to produce the latter, so the husband whose headship is Christ-like (and he is allowed no other sort) never despairs. He is a King Cophetua who after twenty years still hopes that the beggar-girl will one day learn to speak the truth and wash behind her ears. (105-106)

I have read this several times over, giving myself time to think about it, trying to see why the person who posted the link (who I like and respect) likes this article, and trying to process, not react. I don’t know if I’m there yet (though I am asking them: I know they find this useful/inspiring and I really want to see their perspective, or try).

The imagery just disgusts me. Why is this inspiring? It makes the woman sound dirty, unworthy, ugly, etc and marriage is related to a crucifixion but is also the only thing that makes the woman lovely. That’s not inspiring! That’s horrible!  I get that it is calling men to be holier, and to give of themselves (right, isn’t that the “point”?), but at what cost? At the cost of viewing women (their wives) and marriage as something to bear, something to endure? It sounds pious to me. I mean, we all know it’s called the “long haul” for a reason, but that’s just depressing. Why would anyone want to be married, or close to God, reading this?

I know Christians are called to die to their “selves”, but our “selves” are also created by and cherished by God. We have to be careful with this…without trying to sound too conspiracy theorist here- religions are often institutions of social control…We have to be careful with religion and faith. With things we are “supposed to do”…

And where is the advice for women? Just submit? Is that it? Lame. Or are we to just assume they mean the same for us? (to bear our marriage and husband like a dirty crucifixion through which we will gain our holiness? And, don’t we already HAVE our holiness- through Christ’s crucifixion?) Was it they just didn’t have gender neutral language back in the day?

If so, I still find in unappealing and disgusting.  It’s just not a visualization I am moved to action by. There’s nothing motivating about it for me.

Where’s the love? Where’s the inherent worth and beauty we (ALL of us) have as beings created by God?

Why are guilt trips, scare tactics, rule-focused sacrificial, and generally unappealing (and ego-tripping?) visuals used in Christianity? WHY?????

Where’s this stuff?

Love. Faith. Freedom. Courage. Grace. Mercy. Love. Joy. Hope. Promise. Strength. Rest. Forgiveness. Acceptance. Adoration. Worth. Love. Freely Giving. Unconditional. Intense. Consuming. Love.

Isn’t life itself hard enough? Don’t we need to focus on the good stuff? Doesn’t everything fall into place with love (meaning works and action will follow the commitment and acceptance of love)? Is that too touchy-feely-liberal- hippie-ish?

I don’t know that it’s so much the ultimate concept that is being presented that bothers me so much as it is the language that is being used…but there are some fundamental issues I think I have with all of it as well…I know I sound like my mind’s made up. To be honest, it kind of is. That doesn’t mean I can’t hear out dissenting perspectives, and keep thinking about it. I like thinking. It’s good for me. So, if you can help me understand the article as inspiring, or even, how the passage in Ephesians is truly relevant to male/female relationships now, I’m interested. I’m not saying it’ll change my mind, I’m just saying, I like all the info I can get, from all the sources I can get it. In case it matters:  I’m more likely to actually consider input that is not regurgitation, but more someone’s true perspective to which much thought has been given and processing has occurred.

…and I’m off the soapbox for now.

Lord, I’m tired. Too tired to move. Move me, please. Move in me, around me. Keep me safe. Keep those I love safe.

I’m tired of doing things. Do things for me. Handle things for me. Take care of things for me, I’m too tired. Weary past my heart. You do not grow weary.

I’m tired of holding everything, everyone together.

Please hold everyone together, or be with them as the fall apart. Please hold everything together, or be with us as it falls apart.

I am tired, I am anxious, I am weary, I am scared, I am ready to have the weight off my shoulders. I am ready to have someone else take care of me and my life. You are never tired, anxious, weary, scared. You are more than these things, you are beyond these things.

Please, Lord, take care of me. Handle things for me, do things for me, move me, speak for me, whatever you need to do so I don’t have to do this, so I don’t freak out or give up. I am giving up, to you. I give up trying to do all this. I can’t do it. I give up. I’m not doing anything but waiting for your movements in me, through me, around me. I’m done with it. I just want to be a child, taken care of, enjoying life. Living. Living full of wonder and excitement and joy and peace. I don’t want to worry. I don’t want to be in charge of stuff. I just want to be taken care of. I just want to wake up, breath the morning and be grateful, peaceful, joyful, and never worried. I just want to be excited to wake, excited for a new day, no dread, no anxiety, no tasks that feel too much, too big, too scary.

No one makes me feel safe. No one makes me feel sure. No one takes care of me. No one does this but you. Only you can handle it all. Only you don’t make me feel uncertain. Only you lay comfort over my anxious heart. Only you hold me close, tight to your chest and brush my hair from the tears on my face, tell me it is already okay. Tell me you are already handling it and I can let go. Only you allow me to let go. Only you allow me to be free of my worries. No one else says “Child, stop crying, you are mine, you are fine”. No one else says I can stop trying to hold it all up, hold it all together. Others say I’m strong. No one else says I can stop  and leave it to them. No one else promises to hold me, always, all day. You are the arms. You are the comfort I seek that no one else provides. You are the love that abides within my heart, the depths of my soul. You are what makes me whole, what fills the spaces where I ache, where I cry for comfort. You my confidant. You are my best friend. You are my parent, Father, Mother too. You are the lover of my heart and soul. You know my needs, my dreams, my desires. You don’t deny me these things, you lay them before me and so often my eyes are flooded with worldly things, my mind with tasks and burdens, my heart numb to the divine, the supernatural, tired by living. You want more for me and you wait patiently for me to lay before you, open. Broken open, ready to accept everything that waits for me, ready to uncurl my fingers from my life, cast off the guise of control, and just let you do that, just trust and be free. Let your waves and breakers crash over me. Forget the world. The world has rules designed by liars, by  the faithless, by the fearful. Forget the things that don’t apply to me, a child of God, a precious daughter, held above the flood. I love you. I need you. I am more with you than I am on my own. I understand that you are beyond this world and the understanding of this world. I understand that you operate by the divine and supernatural. I understand that you are more than my concerns, that I should take heart, as you already triumph beyond my fears, beyond the tragedies and triumphs we perceive, there you are, waiting for us to see the beauty, waiting for us to let go and stop making it so hard to live.

I need help. Help, help help.

Thank you for always being here for me, for always loving me, caring for me. I need a miracle. I need help. I need a lot of miracles. I need you. I love you. Thank you.

I give up. I let go. I am broken. I am weary. I am anxious. I am open. I am tyring to let go, and it is really hard. I hear the things I “should” do echoing, yelling at me, pulling at me, scaring me, telling me it’s up to me, I am in control, I am going to screw up, everything depends on me. Yelling these things into my chest, knotting my stomach. I don’t want to believe that. I don’t want that. I don’t want to have to do anything. I just want to be taken care of. Take care of me. Please take care of me and my family. I am seeking you. I am seeking your serenity, peace, comfort. I am seeking courage, wisdom, relaxation. I am seeking miracles. I am seeking relief. I am seeking alleviation. I am seeking freedom. I am seeking solutions. I am seeking joy. I am seeking fresh air. I am seeking assurance. I am seeking resolution. I am seeking simplicity. I am seeking fullfillment. I am seeking love. I am seeking companionship. I am seeking intimacy. I am seeking to be taken care of. I am seeking ways to let go. I am seeking those quiet, steady heart’s desires that have always lain within. I am seeking those passionate dreams that radiate my soul. I am seeking…I have been loved and forgiven from the begining of the life I know. I am never guilty, I am loved unconditionally. I already understand this free. I am seeking the rest. I am seeking the rest. I am seeking the free fall of faith. I am seeking the joy of childhood. I am seeking the exuberance of weightlessness. I am seeking the person I can be when I am this free.

There’s this guy. His name is John. Or maybe he spells it Jon. I don’t really know. I also don’t know his last name. I met him at the coffee shop. We happened to be sitting at the same table one day, because we happened to have the same friend sitting at the same table. He always has at least one book with him.  If I have the good fortune of catching him there, I usually pick up his literature and flip through it while he plays chess (usually with Adam, or maybe Mark, or possibly someone else) right before they go rock climbing. I like them, they’re good people. They don’t mind talking, or not talking, they don’t mind answering questions or asking them. They don’t mind if I sit with them and ignore them while I do other things.  They don’t seem to mind if I chatter stupidly for a while. But the truly notable thing for the purpose of this post is, he is walking across North Carolina. He started at the outer banks and is walking to the mountains (I think).

He told me when I first met him that he wanted to do this, journaling the whole experience. I think it’s a great idea. I mean, logistically there are some issues, but I hope it’s great. I’m glad he’s doing it. Mainly because he said he wanted to. I hope he’s writing about it.

It makes me think of Eustace Conway and the book “The Last American Man”. I told John/Jon to read that book. Seemed right up his alley, considering his plan. Right now, I’m reading a book I got from paperbackswap by William Least Heat-Moon. It’s called “Blue Highways”. I find it fascinating. Also fascinating, “What Should I Do With My Life” by Po Bronson. The books are not the same, but similar in ways. I’m not much for writing book reviews or summaries, so if you want to know, you’ll have to google it.

Anyways, I’m sending good vibes John/Jon’s way. Maybe I’ll run into another mutual friend soon who’s heard from him. I’m interested to know it all…how many cups of coffee do you think that would take…?