Monday, December 9, 2013

Highway Emotional Breakdown.

I had a full-blown emotional breakdown on I-25 today.

I was on my way home from my GI (Gastroenterology) appointment when I called my dad to talk to him about what the doctor and I had discussed (Eric’s at work and I always need to verbally process with someone).

That’s when everything that happened in the last year hit me like a ton of bricks. For those of you who don’t know, I have Ulcerative Colitis, and I was diagnosed with a rare disease in March called, “Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis.” It’s a degenerative liver disease, which means that somewhere in my probable future looms a liver transplant. The disease is so rare that there’s no treatment for it right now. The only thing I can do is make sure I’m tested to see that the levels aren’t too high and I don’t have any “strictures” (closed pathways) in my bile ducts. On top of that, I recently had a sub-total colectomy. I still have the last 12-inches of my colon, which means I still technically have UC, and I still need to have tests done and take medication. It’s possible that the little colon I have left will become “active,” and I’ll need to have that removed as well.

So there you go.

As I was talking with my dad, I just burst into tears. Through this whole ordeal I’ve really tried to be “strong” and trust God with my health and future. But in that moment I was just.. afraid. I was (and am) afraid of having kids and possibly passing these problems onto them, I was (and am) afraid of my liver failing suddenly, and I was (and am) afraid of my life being cut short because I have these diseases so early in life (I was diagnosed with UC at age 7, and most people aren’t diagnosed with PSC until their 30’s or 40’s).

In that moment, fear just completely overwhelmed me. Anyone who knows me knows I’m prone to anxiety anyway, but when there are real-life things to actually be anxious about, it just becomes magnified. I was blubbering on the phone, and I can’t even imagine what the people in the cars next to me were thinking as snot was going everywhere and the tears just wouldn’t stop.

That’s when my dad started talking. He told me that he understood. He told me that it’s okay for me to feel this way. He told me that because he doesn’t have a serious disease he can only understand so much, but that he “gets it.”

He also told me that even though it’s hard, God is trustworthy, and has a plan. Even though I can’t see it now, he has his purposes for why he’s allowed me to deal with these diseases. And while there’s still some fear that remains, hearing that truth was so encouraging and so calming. Even now I’m struggling through tears, but there’s a profound peace in my soul.

We’re all mortal, and we’re all afflicted with different things. Some of us have physical diseases, some have mental diseases. Some have had loved ones pass away too soon, some struggle with infertility and miscarriages, and the list goes on and on. We all have crosses to bear.

I don’t say that flippantly or to say, “Well, everyone’s got something, so just deal with it,” because that’s not how I feel at all. Sometimes just “dealing with it” is impossible. Sometimes it’s the hardest thing in the world to just think about the difficulties we face. I know for me, many times when the thought of my PSC pops into my head, I struggle to fight back the tears. Even if I’m not thinking of the implications, just the word PSC itself brings intense emotions sometimes.

I guess what I’m trying to say to all of you is that, even if I don’t know you, even if I don’t know your specific situation, I get it. Not to the fullest extent that you understand because you’re the only one who knows how deeply it affects you, but to the best of my ability, I understand. It’s hard, and it sucks, and sometimes just surviving the day without a complete breakdown is an accomplishment.

I’m also not saying that I’ve all of a sudden unlocked the secret of trusting God - because I certainly haven’t. I’m sure tomorrow I’ll wake up and probably go through the same thing all over again. But what I really want to get across is that your emotions, your fear, your anxiety… it’s all okay. I always thought (and still think very often) that I needed to be strong. I needed to put on a brave face and not let anyone think I was struggling, and I wanted to try and trick God into thinking that I can handle it.

But the truth is… I can’t handle it. I simply can’t.  If I were trying to walk this journey alone, I wouldn’t be able to do it. I don’t even know where I’d end up, but I know it wouldn’t be pretty. God didn’t give me this because he thinks I can handle it - in fact, it’s just the opposite. My diseases are constant reminders that I cannot walk this life on my own. That faith and trust are vital for my survival - spiritually, emotionally, and even physically.

I’m not going to try and get you to believe that I wouldn’t change my diseases if I could, because that’s simply not true. If I had the opportunity to turn it all around, I would do so in less than a heartbeat. I still pray almost every day that God would miraculously heal me (cue the tears), but I know that it’s ultimately his decision. If he decides to heal me, I would be over the moon and would shout his praises. But even if he doesn’t… I still need to learn to praise him. I’m not saying that we should be “happy” about our circumstances, because honestly I think the people who say those types of things are idiots. What I AM saying, though, is that God deserves our praise - even if we can only give a little at a time. As I’m writing this, I’m reminded of a song by Kutless called, “Even If.” [a lyrics music video is posted at the bottom]

Our Christian culture has become so obsessed with “healing” and “prosperity,” that we’ve forgotten the fact that God doesn’t always (or even often) choose to heal. But in the end… He is still good. He is always good. No matter what. He is unchanging, and he is always for us. I’ve always believed (and still do, even though it’s hard), that everything God does is for my good and for his ultimate glory. I don’t understand all (or even most) of the reasons why he’s allowed me to carry what he has, but I know that he’s with me through it all. And that’s the greatest comfort.

I love you, friends. Whatever’s plaguing your heart today, bring it to the Lord. He wants to know your real and raw emotions. The wonderful thing about our God is that we don’t need a mask to come to him. He already knows it all, and is with us through it all, even the raw and “ugly” emotions.

Please listen to this song, if you're able. It's difficult and rough, but it's good to be reminded that God is faithful, even in the darkest moments of our lives.

Even if the healing doesn’t come
And life falls apart
And dreams are still undone
You are God You are good
Forever faithful One
Even if the healing
Even if the healing doesn’t come

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


The Lord spoke to my soul this morning.

This doesn't happen often, but sometimes I feel this great burden from life -- its challenges, heartaches, stresses, etc. I become downtrodden and wonder if I'm capable of the growth and change that I so desperately desire in order to become more like Christ.

And then... He gives me mornings like today.

I was absolutely blown away by this sunrise. This picture (horrible quality with my iPhone..) cannot even do a little justice to the beauty of this morning. Through this gorgeous sunrise, I was reminded of the beauty of my God.

He is lovely. 
He is beautiful. 
He is awesome.
He is majestic.
He is powerful.
He is faithful.
He is good.
He is mighty.
He is wonderful.
He is righteous.
He is trustworthy.

He is.

My friends, most mornings I wake up hating the fact that I'm awake while it's still dark. But when I get in my car, I am bombarded with the reality that my God has made the sunrise. He created it. He is the ultimate Painter, and he paints these pictures as a sign of His love for His creation. Yes, I know there is science behind the sunrise, but the God of the universe set it all into motion, and I am eternally grateful.

As I was talking with one of my customers, I told him how this was a difficult morning - I saw the beautiful sunrise, yet I wished I was still asleep. He then said with a smile, "You know, I think the sunrise is God's reward to people who rise early." And you know, I think he's right. God is good. Even when we don't see it.

Praise Him for His faithfulness. What a good, good God we serve.

Lamentations 3:22-24

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
 his mercies never come to an end; 
they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
    “therefore I will hope in him.”

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Christian Bubble.

Since when were we supposed to separate ourselves from non-believers and see them as "the enemy"?

This is a question that I've been really struggling with lately. In most of my life, I feel like I'm living in a little Christian bubble. I was raised in a Christian family, I attended a private Christian school 5-12th grade, and then I went to a Bible college. I'm grateful for the way I was raised, but I often find myself wondering... How many non-Christians do I actually know? If I'm being honest, it's not many. Is that the way things were supposed to be? Is that how Jesus was?

Absolutely not.

Jesus embraced the ones the religious leaders deemed "sinners." He spent his time with tax collectors (who were absolutely hated by society, by the way), prostitutes (Mary Magdelene), swindlers (Zaccheus), and many others. He was hated by the Pharisees for this very reason. They hated that he would go to their "level." They believed that he should see himself as better than those people and not interact with them.

How often in today's society have we seen ourselves become exactly like those religious leaders? I know I certainly have. I've viewed Mormons, Muslims, Atheists, etc. as the enemy. I realize that they oppose Christianity. I realize that they don't believe what I see to be the truth. I realize that they are lost.

But if we are supposed to separate ourselves from those who are lost, how will anyone ever be saved? Honestly. We're not supposed to just reach out to those who are asking questions or are curious about Christianity. We are called to reach those who are even completely against our faith.

But... I want to be comfortable!

Well... Tough.

We were never supposed to be comfortable. We were never supposed to live an easy life where everyone agrees with us and we live in this cute little Christian bubble. We are called to be a witness to the world. This isn't just for some people that we say have the "gift of evangelism." This is a command for everyone. Every. Single. Christian. No one is excused from this, and no one is excused from loving their neighbor, even if they're *gasp* an Atheist! Or a Jehovah's Witness! ...Or anything else that you disagree with as a Christian.

We are also absolutely not called to reach out to only those who will accept us or who don't vehemently disagree with us. We will have people in our lives who hate us. That's exactly what the Bible says - the world will hate us because of Christ. Those people in our minds that we are either scared by, we can't stand, or whatever else - those are the people we need to love the most. It will make us uncomfortable. It will test our patience, courage, and even faith. But even so, it is still what we are called to do.

Where would you rather be? Would you rather be comfortable but yet complacent and not growing? Or would you rather be challenged and growing radically in your faith? Personally, I would prefer the latter.

Please know that I speaking just as much to myself as I am to everyone else. I mean, I just got a job at a Christian coffee shop at a Christian seminary, for goodness sake! It's going to be more difficult for me to develop relationships with non-believers, but this is still what I'm called to do.

Regardless of whether we want to be or not, we are witnesses for Jesus Christ. What kind of witness are we portraying if every single person we know and communicate with is a Christian? What kind of witness do we have if we refuse to listen to or even love those who disagree with us?

...What kind of witness will we have if we truly, truly love our neighbors? Not just those who live around us, but those we are in contact with on a daily basis - whether it be family, coworkers, or the cashier at the grocery store. We are to be a living witness. And a living witness that accurately portrays Jesus to the world.

Judging and treating those who oppose Christianity as enemies will never accurately portray Jesus. Only loving them will. 

I recently posted this verse on a blog series that I contributed to - and regardless of the situation, this verse absolutely applies.

1 Corinthians 13:13

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. 
But the greatest of these is love.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Homosexuality: Humility and Love.

The topic of homosexuality has come up a lot for me lately, and I've been challenged to rethink my beliefs and how I act on them.

Let me put this out there right away:

I don't have all the answers...or maybe even any of the answers.

That being said, let me give a little history. Ever since I was in high school, I thought I knew exactly what I believed about homosexuality. When I was a sophomore, my best friend at the time came out to me. I was the first person he came out to, and it was an incredibly sensitive and difficult time for him. Unfortunately though, instead of supporting and caring for him, I gave him material on how not to be gay (cue the eyerolls and headshakes). When he stood in my doorway a couple weeks later telling me that he needed my support because he couldn't change, I simply told him I couldn't support him (please don't misunderstand my intentions, though. That was the hardest thing I've ever had to do). Since then, my relationship with him has been up and down, and at the moment is non-existent. 

I cannot tell you how much I regret what I did during that time. I tried to love him. I thought I was loving him by telling him I couldn't support him. I had been there for him during a time when he almost committed suicide, and I thought this was my way of being there for him through his homosexuality.

I was so, so wrong. 

When I was in high school, I believed that homosexuality was a changeable thing - that if the person prayed and trusted God, he would change their desires and make them heterosexual. Sigh. I'm angry at Past-Bethany for that, so all of you are free to be angry with her as well. However - since then, I've realized that things are not that simple, and they may not be what I originally thought.

I recently watched the movie, "Saved." That movie is incredibly difficult for me to see, because it shows me just how much the Church has failed. It brings out all the stereotypes and perceptions that culture has on us, and it makes me nauseated. One of the first things shown is a high school boy who confesses to his girlfriend that he thinks he's gay. After she unsuccessfully tries to make him straight (because it's what Jesus told her to do), his parents send him off to a place called "Mercy House" in order to "rehabilitate" him. 


Also, this isn't just fiction. My friend from high school... His parents sent him to the Dominican Republic for 8 months in order to get the "gay" out of him (unsurprisingly, it didn't work). These things happen in reality, and it is so upsetting. Because of so many things I've experienced the last 7 years, I've realized one thing:

Homosexuality isn't changeable, and just because someone is gay or lesbian doesn't mean that they are disqualified from being saved. It doesn't mean they are automatically running away from God, and it doesn't mean that they are automatically living in sin simply because they're gay.

From my interpretation of Scripture, I personally don't agree with same-sex partnerships. However... Recently I have met many people (and read their blogs) who live it, but confess Christ as their Savior. What do I say, then? Do I tell them they're not really saved because they have a same-sex partnership? Do I tell them they shouldn't be going to my church? Do I tell them that I'm praying for them to see the "truth"?

Absolutely not.

I recently had a conversation with a friend, and when I told her I didn't know where I stood on the issue of homosexuality, she simply told me, "It's not an issue. They're people."

I have always, always said that as long as my fellow Christians and I confess Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, nothing else matters. I believe it is true with these things as well.

I don't know everything. I don't have all the answers. I'm not an expert on homosexuality. I don't know God's thoughts. I have my interpretation of Scripture, but there are a lot of areas of Scripture that are debated today. Homosexuality is just one of them.

People treat homosexuality as if it is the worst thing that Christians can talk about or have a different stance on in regards to the Bible. They treat it as if it's the worst sin a Christian can commit, and there's no way the LGBT community can enter into heaven. 

But here's the thing: there are no strings attached to salvation. No, we don't have all the answers to what's right and what's wrong. I do believe that absolute truth exists, but I also know that I may not know all of what Truth is. I am extremely fallible, finite, and...well... human. I make mistakes all the time, and I have been proven wrong many times on many different things I have believed. This life is a journey - no one has all the answers. Some Christians believe same-sex partnerships are okay, and some believe it's not. Some gay Christians choose to live that way, and some choose to be chaste. 

It's really, really easy to have an opinion on topics when we're really far removed from it. It wasn't until I was actually faced with my beliefs that I realized I may not have all the answers. It wasn't until I lost my best friend that I realized I wasn't nearly as loving as I should've been. I was trying to be loving, but ostracizing a person is never okay.

Whether I agree with the other person or not, here's what's important: love. I am called to love my neighbor. I am called to love everyone, regardless of gender, race, age, sexual orientation, etc. This doesn't mean that I forsake my beliefs, but there are so, so many better ways to communicate with others. I've talked to a couple gay friends recently, and the fact alone that I am willing to say I don't know everything made all the difference in the world. 

Because the truth is, I don't know everything, and I don't have all the answers. No one does. We will never have all the answers until we are with Christ. Even then I'm unsure whether or not we'll have all the answers. So why do we act like we know everything now? We can have our beliefs - we can even be firm in those beliefs. But we absolutely need to have humility and love. 

I know I'm repeating myself here, but it is so, so important to remember those two things. I know I have a lot of work to do. I know that far too often I'm arrogant and unloving. But this is something I want to change. I want to do right by my neighbors. I want to be known for my love.

We are human, and we are imperfect. But I know that if we can just acknowledge that to ourselves, we will be in a far, far better place for open discussion and peace with one another than we ever have been.

And to my high school friend:

I am so, so sorry for the way I treated you. I was blind, and I was arrogant. You needed to truly be loved and supported during that time, and I failed you. I was too focused on my legalism and left no room for reality. Friend, I don't have all the answers. As much as I think I know what I believe, I have no right to push you away or ostracize you. You are a person, and you are incredibly valuable. I miss you. I miss the friendship we used to have. I wish I could take back everything I said and did to you that was incredibly unloving. I hope one day you can forgive me for how awful I was, but I understand why you pulled away from me. I love you, Friend. As horrible as I have been at showing it, I love you - and that will never change.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

"You're too Young."

"You're just a kid."

"You'll understand when you're older."

"You're too young to understand."

...Those sound like things people would say to children, right? Well, yes. Unfortunately though, those are things I'm still told today. And I'm 24. And married. And a college graduate (Not that those latter two things mean a whole lot, but I figure it should give me at least some credibility).

Most often I think I get these comments because I'm normally the youngest in social situations, and I have a hard time believing that I'm actually an adult. Most days I still feel like I'm 18 and just starting life on my own. However, that was actually 6 years ago. Why am I still told that I'm "too young?"

I don't think this situation is unique to just me - I know many others who are told that they're too young and "nobody likes people in their early 20's" (which that's just a super great thing to hear, by the way...). Why do people want to discredit us simply because we're young? It's always a wonderful thing when I'm actually complimented for my mind by someone older than me, but unfortunately it's incredibly rare.

I feel like there's a verse about that somewhere....

Oh yeah.

1 Timothy 4:12.

Just because I am young doesn't mean that I don't have solid thoughts, and it doesn't mean that those who are my age are just immature young adults. My peers are intelligent. They are verbose. They have credibility. I love talking to my peers and talking about life, God, social issues, and theology - I can do those things so much better with people in my generation, and I think that partly has to do with many people outside our generation judging us and thinking that we're just young and don't know anything. But we know better - we know that we have something to offer. We know that we are worth listening to. My conversations with my peers are almost always incredibly fruitful and productive - I can't say the same of most people who are older than me. Too often I feel looked down on, and that's not okay.

I think it's time that we all see each other not through the lens of age difference, but rather we should realize that we are all in this journey together. No one has everything figured out, no matter what their age. We could all benefit from respecting and listening to one another.

I know that I could benefit from listening a little more to those who are older than me, but I would personally really appreciate reciprocity. I don't just want to be taught - I want to be given opportunity to share my thoughts and ideas as well.

I don't know if things will ever change, but I hope they will. I know that, especially now, there's a huge gap between generations. As time goes on though, I hope that gap will continually grow smaller and start to close. We were never supposed to be divided - we are called to be united, no matter what age, race, gender, etc.

Let's start acting like the body of Christ that we are actually supposed to be.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Sometimes I'm Too Sarcastic.

(For everyone waiting for my post on my definition of the word "submission," I'll be writing on that soon - I just think this is more important right now.)

We've all been there. We've all had days when something is said to us, about us, or even something that we just hear or read that makes us want to shout in anger and frustration.

Ever since I've become more aware of social issues, I've definitely become more sensitive to comments and remarks on those things. For example, I even got offended when I went to see Despicable Me 2. **spoiler...ish alert** Gru dresses up as a fairy princess for Agnes' birthday. A kid asks him why he's so fat, and he says that he eats too many desserts. There was also another part when someone is trying to set him up on a date, and the woman is shown to be ugly and "doesn't care about looks." ...I've tried not to dwell on those things.

Twitter has become my sounding board for a lot of these things. I so appreciate all my "Tweeps" (please kill me now for using that word), for their understanding and patience. We're all working through our beliefs and we all have our times of shouting at the things that we're angry about. We commiserate with one another, we encourage one another, and we even call each other out if we think someone has gone too far. I appreciate and love all these things about my Twitter community. (Just a PSA - you might not want to follow me on Twitter if you don't want to read rants and discussions about the flaws in Christian Culture.)

It's nice to be in a community where I'm accepted for what I believe (even if I disagree with them), and there's a foundation of understanding that we're all on this journey together and we're all in process.

But then here comes the kicker: I struggle with being gracious. I struggle with giving grace to the other side of the debate and realizing that they're people just like me. Whether I believe they are contributing to Modesty Culture, Rape Culture, Purity Culture, or any other kind of "culture" I'm against, the person on the other end of the argument is a human being trying to stand up for what he/she believes in.

I'm not going to change everyone's minds. That's just reality. I could talk to some people for hours and hours and feel like I haven't made an ounce of progress, because they're just as solid on their beliefs as I am. This is where grace comes in.

I don't think it's wrong to have discussions and debates with people we disagree with. It's healthy and good. We need those kinds of pushback in our lives in order to help us become more well-rounded and aware of what other people think. But something that I lack way too often is a dash of grace.


It may be my middle name, but I often fail at grasping its meaning. Even though many of the criticisms I've received about what I believe haven't been personal attacks, I have received them that way and responded defensively. Thankfully I haven't called anyone names or insulted anyone's intelligence directly, but my vice is almost worse.


I don't think sarcasm is inherently wrong. A good dose of sarcasm is fine, and even sometimes necessary in order to get one's point across. However, there are definitely times when I go too far. Even though I may not insult someone's intelligence directly, I do it indirectly. When that happens, I've lost all chances of a peaceful and civil discussion with that person. And that's not okay.

I want my speech to be gracious. I want my words to be clear and gentle, yet at the same time I desperately desire for people to understand how passionate I am about social issues.

I'm not going to be perfect. I'm going to fail. I'm going to be too sarcastic sometimes, and I've accepted that. I've accepted the fact that it will happen (I'm not going to pretend to say it won't, because I know it will), and I'm fully prepared to apologize if/when I need to.

So here's a request: Please be patient with me. When it comes to my issues with Christian Culture, I am extremely, extremely passionate. I can get hot-headed at times and extremely stubborn. For the most part though, if the other person is calm and respectful, I easily return the favor. I love, love discussion and debate. I really do. Please don't let my vices scare you away from challenging me. But if/when you do, please remember these things:

1. I am a human being.

I'm not just another "blogger" on the internet who wants to cause trouble. I'm not just "another feminist" or "another troublemaker." I'm a human being, and I have reasons for believing what I do.

2. I am an adult.

I may be 24 and therefore younger than most people I'm debating with, but I deserve to be treated like the adult that I am. My beliefs do not come from ignorance, they do not come from naivete, and they do not come from a desire to rebel. My beliefs have come from years of being immersed in Christian Culture and now seeing the flaws in it. Please don't assume that I haven't read Scripture, that I don't know what I'm talking about, or that I'm "just a kid," because none of those things are true.

3. I'm not evil.

I care about social issues. I may disagree with you, but that doesn't mean I'm evil or that I think you're evil. It just means we disagree on things. There are so many people that I really respect who I disagree with theologically - this is because my theology isn't what matters most. My relationship with you is what matters more. If we get into a discussion/debate and can't get through to one another, it's okay. It doesn't (or shouldn't) change my acknowledgement of your personhood and right to be respected as a human being.

This brings me to my final thought.

I'm sorry.

I'm sorry if I've alienated anyone, made it seem like I think I'm superior, made you feel like I think less of you for what you believe. None of those things are true. Yes, I may get fired up and really frustrated by some disagreements because of my beliefs on certain issues, but that's okay. I'm not angry AT you, I'm just angry about the issue.

I know that we're all on this journey together. We're all in process. We're all trying to figure out what the heck is going on and what the heck Scripture means. If there's anything I've learned in my years of studying Scripture and talking to other people, it's that Scripture is interpreted in A LOT of different ways and people have A LOT of different beliefs. And that's okay. 

Why is it okay?

It's okay because I know there are always going to be people I disagree with. There are always going to be people who have different perceptions and beliefs on what Scripture says. This doesn't mean the Holy Spirit isn't working on them. It doesn't mean that they haven't searched Scripture and come to God in prayer about the things they believe in. It doesn't mean that they haven't done research or aren't well-read on the topic. Whether they have or haven't done those things isn't any of my business (except I'll certainly recommend some readings if the person hasn't read anything on the issue), nor is it my right to just assume they haven't.

So here's the thing: If I agree with you theologically, great. If I don't, great. As long as we believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and that only through his death and resurrection can we receive salvation, nothing else (really) matters. 

As long as I'm on this earth though, I'm still going to be passionate. I'm still going to be passionate in changing the flaws that I see in Christian Culture and in culture in general. I'm still going to be passionate about equality.

I'm still going to be passionate about learning. I hope I never reach a day where I believe I "know all" and don't need to learn anything else (if I do, please slap me immediately). I want to be constantly learning about other people's perspectives and beliefs. I want to be in discussion about those things in order to gain understanding and a more robust theology.

As I do those things, I hope and pray that I will wield my sarcasm wisely and learn to be a little more gracious.

Thank you all (Twitter friends and otherwise) for your discussions, your patience, your understanding, your commiseration, your challenges, and your grace. I'm so excited to keep going on this journey.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Gender Roles: Leadership?

This is a follow-up to my post -- Gender Roles in Marriage: Are They Right?.

Yesterday I wrote on how I don't believe our cultures "gender roles" in marriage are (or should be) reality. Inside of this post I write a sidenote that said,
Also, sidenote... I do have a desire for Eric to lead our marriage. However, this is a personal decision, not something that I believe should be prescriptive for all marriages. I like the idea of Eric being a leader (especially since he's such a humble, caring man), but I will never pressure him to lead, nor will I judge anyone who disagrees - this is just a personal thing that I like to see in my marriage.
I would like to explain this thought further.  This desire that I have doesn't come from any "Biblical" basis, nor is it something that I feel should be normative for all marriages. I absolutely 100% believe that marriage should be an equal partnership and there should be mutual submission and respect between both parties.

It was asked of me yesterday though why I have a desire for Eric to lead in our relationship. This is a good question, and something I hadn't really thought much about before, because in my mind it's always been that I'm an indecisive person and would rather defer my decisions to another person. Is this right or wrong? I'm not sure - and that's something that I'm going to continue thinking about.

There's a possibility that I would rather defer decision-making to Eric because I'm insecure. Throughout my entire life this has been my struggle. I'm often not confident in my decision-making because I'm so afraid I'm going to make the wrong one. Is this always the case with Eric? No, it's not. There are many times when we make decisions together and I make it clear if I'm uncomfortable with a certain decision. But probably more often than not this is why I defer to him. I'm not saying that the reasons for my desire to defer to Eric are always the right ones or the wrong ones. But hear me on this - I'm talking about big decisions that need to be made, not daily decisions or things that will only affect me and not him. I can easily make those decisions on my own - the decisions I'm talking about are financial in nature or regarding the "bigger picture."

I also trust Eric - I trust him with my life. I know that he has the ability to be confident in his decisions, and I know that he will make decisions that will be the best for both of us. He is a far more confident person than I am, so until I can be more secure, I would rather defer to him. In saying that though, please also note that I do believe communication is absolutely necessary - I would never make a big decision without talking to him, and vice-versa. We strive for unity in our marriage, and you can't have unity if one person is making all the decisions without consulting the other person as well.

As far as spiritual leadership is concerned, this is somewhere I know I disagree with many people. I don't believe that the husband is supposed to be the spiritual leader at all times. I believe to put that pressure on my husband is doing him a great disservice and not allowing him to be as a person. Let me explain.

There are ebbs and flows to every believer's spiritual walk. Sometimes we walk through a time of incredible closeness to Christ, and our relationship with Him flourishes. However, there are other times when we remain stagnant or reach a "dry" period in our faith. I think every believer experiences this at one time or another, whether they are willing to admit it or not. If I were to put the pressure on Eric to be on a "spiritual high" at all times, I wouldn't be fair to him. If he is ever in a dry point in his relationship with Christ, I would much rather give him that time to breathe and figure things out than pressure him to "be better" or be in a different place. I would want him to do the same thing for me, and he has done that for me in the past.

Marriage is a give-and-take relationship. There are ebbs and flows to marriage. There are ups and downs, and there is a lot of back-and-forth. It's unfair to pin all the responsibilities of leadership and different roles on one person, because we all have mountains and valleys in our lives. To give each other room to breathe - room to be - is a beautiful thing. Doing so implies an understanding toward one another that allows for unity and teamwork. I would much rather see Eric as my teammate who sometimes acts as a "captain" (sports references...) than this man who has power over me. Sometimes I will be called to act as the "captain" as well, and I am more than happy to do so.

I hope this explained a little more of what I believe and where I'm at. I know I don't have all the answers and I'm still figuring things out, but that's what life is all about, right? No one has it figured out - that's why we're on this journey. :) If anyone has any further questions, please let me know!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Gender Roles in Marriage: Are They Right?

When Eric and I got married, I felt an enormous amount of pressure from myself to be the type of wife that I thought I "should" be. I thought it was my responsibility to do all the cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc. while also working and being (at the time) a pastor's wife. I heaped all this pressure on myself because I was taught (from society) that this was what a "good" wife does. After all, I'm supposed to be the Proverbs 31 wife, right?

Lately I've been thinking a lot about "Gender Rules" and whether or not those are actually true. So, here are a few points on why I'm not a fan of this whole idea:


1. I am not a "Proverbs 31 Wife."

After a few months of trying to do everything, I (and Eric) realized it wasn't working out - and then I was honest.

I don't like cooking.

If you really like to cook, that's awesome. More power to you - but I've never had a passion for it. I'm not good at it. I don't enjoy it. Whenever I cook, I try to make the easiest thing possible that doesn't take a long time, because I really don't like being in the kitchen very much. Eric, on the other hand, really enjoys cooking and he's really good at it. So who am I to stand in the way of that, all in the name of "wifely duties?"

I judged myself for a long time for not wanting to cook (and for refusing to clean the bathroom...gross), but Eric always encouraged me not to find my value as a wife in those things. I always thought of myself as a sucky wife because I let our apartment get a little messy and I don't always fold the laundry right away, but in spite of all of that Eric would look me in the eye and say, "You're a great wife." ...But why? Aren't I supposed to do all these things that I'm not doing? How could I still be a good wife?

And then he told me.

I respect him. I support him. I encourage him. I love him. I challenge him.

And sure, I'm definitely not perfect, but those are the things he cares about - not whether dinner is ready by the time he gets home from work or not.

I am not - and never will be - a "Proverbs 31 wife."

Let's go through all the specific areas of Proverbs 31 in which I don't fit:

         - I don't "seek wool." (v.13)
         - I don't "bring food from afar." (v.14)
         - I don't get up before the sun. (v. 15)
         - I don't make breakfast for Eric, nor do we have servants. (v. 15)
         - I don't buy fields, nor do I have a garden. (v. 16)
         - I don't sell merchandise. (v. 18)
         - I don't sew. (v. 19)
         - I don't "clothe" Eric in red. (v. 21)
         - I don't wear "fine linens." (v. 22)
         - I don't sell clothes. (v. 24)

Okay. So, you get the gist. According to this list, I really suck as a wife. However, I would venture to say there are deeper meanings to this passage beyond just a prescriptive list of things wives/women are "supposed" to do.

Rachel Held Evans discusses this issue in her post, Women of Valor: It's about character, not roles. She says,
"The subject of a twenty-two-line poem found in the last chapter of the book of Proverbs, the 'wife of noble character' -- or, more properly translated, eshet chayil - "woman of valor -- is meant to be a tangible expression of the book's celebrated virtue of wisdom. ...Like any good poem, the purpose of this one is to draw attention to the often-overlooked glory of the everyday.
The author is essentially showing us what wisdom looks like in action. The only instructive language it contains is direct toward men, with the admonition that a thankful husband honor his wife 'for all that her hands have done.' the Jewish tradition, it is the men who memorize Proverbs 31, so they know how to honor their wives.
And yet many Christians interpret this passage prescriptively, as a command to women rather than an ode to women, with the home-based endeavors of the Proverbs 31 woman cast as the ideal lifestyle for all women of faith.  ...No longer presented as a song through which a man offers his wife praise, Proverbs 31 is presented as a task list through which a woman earns it.
...It's not the domestic accomplishments of the Proverbs 31 Woman that matter, but rather her virtues of wisdom and valor."

2. Eric and I do certain things because we're good at them - not because he's a man and I'm a woman.

This point isn't a very long one, but:

Eric enjoys fixing computers. He enjoys working on technology. He enjoys fixing our cars. Does he enjoy those things or do those things simply because he's a man? I would venture to say absolutely not. I have full confidence that I could do any of those things (well, maybe not the car thing because I'm just hopeless with cars) and do them well. I really enjoy computers and I'm good with them. Most of the time if my computer has an issue with something I can figure it out without asking Eric. How can I do this? Because I understand computers. I get them. I can see the problem and figure it out almost all the time.

Eric enjoys cooking, and he's much better at it than I am. Will I tell him not to cook just because I'm the woman and that's the way things should be?

I'm better at cleaning than Eric (even though I don't enjoy it), not because I'm a woman, but simply because I'm more detail-oriented than he is. I am more prone to noticing dirt than he is, simply because that's who I am. I see the areas that he doesn't see. It has nothing to do with the idea that he's a man and therefore a slob, but everything to do with the fact that I see those details more readily than he does.

Eric and I were created differently - we both have different talents, gifts, and personality traits. Just because I have a certain personality trait doesn't mean it's because I'm a woman, and vice-versa. Eric and I are on this journey together, and we are called to work cooperatively in accordance with our gifts and talents - it would be counter-productive for us to do something we're not good at simply because it's what we're "supposed" to do.

3. Submission...?

This is a point where I know I'll disagree with many people. In Christian culture today we hear (and read, unfortunately) all the time about how wives need to submit to their husbands. However, through studying Scripture and the context surrounding Ephesians 5:22-33, I can't help but notice that Paul commands every believer to submit to one another (15-21).
"Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for the is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ." 
THEN he goes into talking about wives submitting to their husbands and husbands loving their wives. Here's how I interpret it, and an analogy (which is probably similar to what Paul was doing):

Imagine you were a pastor. In evaluating your church, maybe you saw that there were specific issues that needed to be worked out. So in order to address those issues, first you talk about what the members of your church should all be doing for one another (submitting to one another, loving each other, etc.). Afterwards, you point out the specific problem areas in your church. For Paul, it was that the wives weren't submitting to their husbands, and the husbands weren't loving their wives.

Remember, everyone is called to love and submit to one another. 

It is entirely possible that the women had no problem loving their husbands, but instead had issues of submitting to them. Paul saw a specific issue with the Ephesian church, and thus he addressed it. I cannot interpret that passage without that cultural context nor the context of the rest of the chapter/book.

Eric and I are really, really against this idea of "patriarchy" where whatever the husband says, goes. We see each other as equals and we make the decisions for our marriage together. Sure, I let him make most of the financial decision for us as long as I'm comfortable with them, but that's just because I hate dealing with money (and well...he works at a bank).

Eric desires for me to share my thoughts and opinions on things in our marriage and in life in general. He wants to hear from me - he doesn't have this urge to lord power over me or to make decisions without talking to me about it first. This is true for me as well. I don't want to make decisions without discussing it with Eric, because our marriage is an equal partnership. It's a give-and-take. And we love it that way.

[Also, sidenote... I do have a desire for Eric to lead our marriage. However, this is a personal decision, not something that I believe should be prescriptive for all marriages. I like the idea of Eric being a leader (especially since he's such a humble, caring man), but I will never pressure him to lead, nor will I judge anyone who disagrees - this is just a personal thing that I like to see in my marriage.]

4. We are all called to humble ourselves and love one another.

I think I will let Scripture speak for itself here:
"So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do not thing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others." - Philippians 2:1-4
 "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." - John 13:34-35
 "Clothes yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for 'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." - 1 Peter 5:5b
"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us." - 1 John 4:7-12
"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. it does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." - 1 Corinthians 13:1-7

Marriage does not exempt people from this. When two people get married, they don't suddenly get a new list of "rules" they need to follow, nor a new set of "roles" to which they must adhere.

We are called to treat one another with love, respect, kindness, humility, and selflessness -- regardless of whether we're a husband or a wife, a man or a woman.

*I am planning on writing on the story of Hosea and Gomer soon (how it isn't supposed to be prescriptive for all marriages), and would love any resources any of you can send me on that topic!*

Friday, June 21, 2013

Evolution of the Swimsuit - A Response.

For anyone who has not seen the video, "Evolution of the Swimsuit," you can watch it here:

Most of you know by now that I am against the moralization of one-piece swimsuits. I am writing this response because a) a few people have asked me to, and b) because there are many, many things I disagree with this woman about.

First of all, Jessica Rey is the designer of a line of "modest" swimsuits available online, and this talk she gave was a promotion of that. In this review/response I will attempt to look at what she says in her speech and what her website shows about her belief on modesty.

1. The Itsy-Bitsy-Teeny-Weeny-Yellow-Polka-Dot-Bikini

In this video, Rey discusses this song by Bobby Darin as part of her defense as to why women should be modest. Here are the lyrics:

She was afraid to come out of the lockershe was as nervous as she could beshe was afraid to come out of the lockershe was afraid that somebody would see
Two three fourtell the people what she wore
It was an Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikinithat she wore for the first time todayan Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikiniso in the locker she wanted to stay
Two three fourstick around well tell you more
She was afraid to come out in the openso a blanket around her she woreshe was afraid to come out in the openand so she sat bundled up on the shore
Two three fourtell the people what she wore
It was an Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikinithat she wore for the first time todayan Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikiniso in the blanket she wanted to stay
Two three fourstick around well tell you more
Now she's afraid to come out of the waterand i wonder what she's gunna donow she's afraid to come out of the waterand the poor little girls turning blue
Two three fourtell the people what she wore
It was an Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikinithat she wore for the first time todayan Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikiniso in the water she wanted to stay
From the locker to the blanketfrom the blanket to the shorefrom the shore to the wateryes there isn't anymore[ From: ]
From these lyrics, Rey says that the reason that the woman was struggling to come out of the dressing room and the water was because she has an "inner-sense of modesty" and knows that she should be more covered up. However, I very much disagree with this assessment. 
Throughout the song, Darin talks about how this woman was "afraid." She was afraid to come out of the dressing room, afraid to come out of the towel, and afraid to come out of the water. She was afraid someone would see her. He then goes on to "tell the people what she wore." I can find no other interpretation for these these other than she was afraid of judgment. She was afraid what people would think, what they would say, and how shocked they would be by what she wore. I don't believe at all that it was an inner-sense of modesty that this woman had - if that were the case, she wouldn't have bought the bikini in the first place.
This is what I spoke to in my previous post. We are such a judgmental culture that women are afraid to step out in public wearing something that might be considered immodest and might cause men to stumble, and that is absolutely the wrong motivation to wear certain items of clothing. Women should be able to decide for themselves what they want to wear, what they are okay with wearing, and what kinds of fashions they enjoy. (I have said this before, but I don't want to step on the toes of parents who disagree with me - whatever you teach your children is your business and your right. Children and teenagers need to follow the rules of their parents. I am strictly talking about adult women who are no longer under parental authority.)
Wearing a bikini in the 50's and early 60's was groundbreaking. People absolutely would have judged that woman for wearing what she did, especially when we remember what life was actually like for women in the 50's.

2. Life in the 50's
Rey points back to the 50's and talks about how it was a time when women were seen as "classy." She uses Audrey Hepburn as an example of what it means to be "modest" and fashionable at the same time. She goes through how women would wear long one-pieces and would change in their own "boxes" before venturing out onto the beach.
Going back to the time of the 50's as an idyllic time is astonishing to me. For the life of me, I cannot figure out why that time period is better than today. I know that many people say it was a simpler time and life was "good" back then, but here's the thing: even though women were "modest," they still weren't respected as equals.
Women had their "place" in the 50's, and it was just commonly known what a woman/wife was supposed to do and be. She was supposed to be a stay-at-home wife and mother, she was expected to clean the home, and she was supposed to have dinner ready on the table for her husband when he came home from his long day of work. 
The History Channel says,
"In fact, the booms of the 1950s had a particularly confining effect on many American women. Advice books and magazine articles (“Don’t Be Afraid to Marry Young,” “Cooking To Me Is Poetry,” “Femininity Begins At Home”) urged women to leave the workforce and embrace their roles as wives and mothers. The idea that a woman’s most important job was to bear and rear children was hardly a new one, but it began to generate a great deal of dissatisfaction among women who yearned for a more fulfilling life."
...Does that sound like equality to you? Now, hear me out: I'm not saying that women need to work in order to be equal to men, but the encouragement of women to marry young, leave work, and only stay at home is a definite sign of inequality. Equality would mean encouraging women to do what they wanted - if they didn't want to get married young, great. If they wanted to work, great. If they wanted to be stay-at-home wives and mothers, great. 
There is a reason for the feminist movement in the 60's. Women were dissatisfied with their lives and felt suppressed by society - they weren't allowed to do what they wanted, but rather were expected to stay at home. No matter how "modest" these women were, they were still treated unequally. Here are just a few ads from that time period:

3. Reaching Back to Another Time as Idyllic for Modesty
Okay. This just... What? I don't understand this. Not only was the 50's a time of inequality for women, it was also a completely different culture than we live in now. If we were to take the same kind of mentality, then why not go all the way back to this:

Honestly. THAT was "modest" in a different time-period and culture in America. If we're not satisfied with what is acceptable in our culture now, then why not go all the way back to the 1700's and 1800's? That's the slippery slope you get into with that kind of thinking. It's illogical and unsound.

Fashion and what is acceptable is completely culture.  As I have stated in previous posts, there are different cultures all over the world where different kinds of dress are culturally acceptable and unacceptable. Women cover up much more down in Haiti than on the beaches in Europe, and there are tribes in Africa where the women don't even wear tops. So what is culturally acceptable in the United States? 

Now, before we go to that place of listing out what is and isn't acceptable, remember this: There was never supposed to be a complete separation between Christianity and secular culture. The Pharisees separated themselves from the "sinners" by their legalism, and look where that landed them. Yes, we're supposed to be "in this world but not of it," but we are also called to be culturally relevant. How can we even remotely reach out to those who don't know Christ if we're constantly worried about how much fabric we or they are wearing? 

4. "It's about revealing our dignity."

Honestly, most of my responses to this video are... "What?" Jessica Rey's full quote is, "Modesty isn't about covering up our bodies because they're bad. Modesty isn't about hiding ourselves. It's about revealing our dignity."

I'm not going to give this quote much time, but...

Okay. To give Rey some credit, I'm glad that she said what modesty shouldn't be about (even though it really is), but here's my question. Where's my dignity hiding that it only comes out when I've got the right amount of fabric on my body? Does my dignity run away until I plaster 6 inches of fabric over my torso and then all of a sudden it shouts, "HEY I'M HERE." No. I am a human being. And as such, I have dignity - no matter what I'm wearing. Case Closed.

5. Have you SEEN the website? Who are these swimsuits made for, anyway?

Okay. I'm confused. I went onto the Rey Swimwear website and looked around, and not only did I find that these are not one-pieces but tankinis, they also seem to be made for rich, thin, young women. Granted, there are some swimsuits on sale for $29, but the average is $49 (plus shipping) and it goes upwards to $90 for the swimsuits that Rey talks about being inspired by Audrey Hepburn (which I'm assuming she promoted her so women would want to buy those styles - which is honestly just being a smart saleswoman). 

First off, as Dianna Anderson (a fellow Christian Feminist, and here is her website) pointed out via Twitter, tankinis are DANG hard to swim in - the tops are impossible to keep down when you're in the water, and that makes things just incredibly complicated and frustrating. 

Secondly, the sizes for these swimsuits only go to 16. There are no plus-size options. So what happens then to the women who desire to be modest but only fit into plus-sizes? They aren't good enough to buy those swimsuits. 

The point here is this: for all the talk that Jessica Rey does about how important modesty is for all women, she has a pretty narrow view of what women's body types are like and doesn't adjust accordingly so that all women who want to be modest can be. It's easy for her to think about being modest because she's tiny. However, many other women are not. Abi Bechtel responds to this kind of attitude toward plus-sized women in her blog post, "Fat, Modesty, and Eating Twinkies Naked."


I know that there are many other topics in the video that I didn't hit on - I didn't mention the Princeton study simply because I haven't done the research required to know exactly what that's about (even though I know there are too many variables in that study for me to consider it credible and I completely disagree with surveying only men in their early 20's). I also partly didn't go into everything because I'm a week out of major surgery and I'm tired. I only have so much energy to be angry about so many things (haha).
All of this being said though, I am very disappointed to see so many people loving this video. I think it appeals to all those who already agree with Modesty Culture so this is something they can point to in order to say, "Aha! See, SCIENCE!" Unfortunately though, actual critical thinking really hasn't been involved on this. 
I am desperate for people to actually think critically about the things they see and hear. We so often read and watch things that we agree with and fail to interact with it on an intellectual level. Instead we like what we hear, so we automatically hit "share" on Facebook and Twitter. We refuse to actually have intelligent discussions on matters like these but instead stomp our feet and point the finger at those who disagree with us (I know it's true, because I unfortunately do it all the time). 
Please, friends. Please think critically about these things. Please don't just look at your own side of the debate - interact and discuss with those you disagree with, and maybe we'll find understanding and stop judging one another.
I invite discussion on all my posts. I really do. I want people to tell me what they think (in an intelligent and respectful way) so that we can talk about it with each other. That's the only way this discussion/debate is going to get anywhere and the only way we are going to have peace even in our disagreements. 

*For the record, I don't care what you decide to wear to the beach/pool. If you want to wear a one-piece, tankini, bikini, speedo, etc., I honestly don't care. Because the way I perceive it, the only thing that is culturally unacceptable in the United States is going nude. So whatever you decide to wear, wear it. And wear it confidently. 

**Also, I've noticed some passive-aggressiveness towards me on my Facebook in regards to this topic. If there's anything that I hate, it's that. If you have something to say to me about what I believe and want to talk about it further, please tell me. Not everyone else on Facebook. If you want to comment on my posts, awesome. I'm completely open to that - I want to invite that as long as it is well-thought and respectful - and I look forward to discussing this issue.**

***This post is part of a Synchro-blog/Link-Up on From Two to One. Make sure you check out the other amazing posts on there!***