Sunday, September 8, 2013

What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us- AW Tozer

This was the quote our pastor started off with in church today. I had heard it before, but never really thought about it before today. But within the context of things in my life, and what I've been struggling with spiritually, the quote really made me think.

Surrender is not a word I like. Losing control of things is my idea of a horrible time. In fact, I live much of my life the way I do in order to keep control.

So of course, God has been speaking to me about giving up control. Which isn't really something I've wanted to talk about. At all.

I remember growing up and hearing missionaries who came into my church. They would tell little stories, with a humorous intent, that went like this: "I told God that I would do anything he wanted me to... except go to Africa." (And they would be there speaking about Africa, of course). Insert a chuckle from the congregation.

Except what these anecdotes helped form was my idea of God: Spiteful. He would pick the one thing I hated, the one thing I would never want to do, the one thing so outside my personality-- And the second I gave him control, He would make me do it. Just because He could.

So I lived in constant fear of what God would make me do if I let him have control over my life. I figured I knew what I wanted- so I would make better decisions for myself.

But I didn't. In fact, in the past 2 and half years, I've seen a very clear, very ugly picture of just what my choices, my decisions can lead to. I've watched myself lose control of some areas of my life, watched myself grasp at straws as things slipped out of my tight clutch. And it's been so painful to see the harsh reality of what I can be outside of God.

I still don't like to think about giving up control. But as He is bringing up those ideas in my life, He is also speaking to me words of grace. Words of forgiveness. Words about His provision. These aren't ideas that I'm used to. They don't mesh with my idea of the spiteful God. But He is being faithful to continue to speak these words into my life, through various places, and I know He will continue to do so until I reach the point where I am able to fully surrender

Because He has His best for me. It might not look how I think it should look. And that's okay. In fact, it's a very good thing.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

In which I get all TMI-y again, and ask for advice

I know, in the back of my brain, that the idea that “all men are the same” is absurd. I really don’t believe it. It’s impossible. And I have known some truly wonderful men. But that hasn’t stopped me from treating all men as though they were the same. Not only that, but as though they were the enemy.

There are so many books and television shows and talks with your best girlfriends that revolve around this central point: men are sex-grubbing scumbags. And I have eaten it up (GIRLPOWERRR!). I has caused deep loathing, an us-against-them mentality, and in all honesty, a bit of fear.

I’ll put this out there- I’m a virgin. When sex started creeping into my consciousness, it was a matter of religion that kept me “pure.” But in my mid-teenage years, when that had faded (and even later, when it reclaimed a central role in my life), what stopped me wasn’t the idea of waiting for the right guy, what stopped me was this: I was not going to give any man the satisfaction of being my first. Sheer, outright spite for the male gender.

And so, as I’ve grown older, and have had men express their attraction (yes, even sexual attraction) to me, I’ve only been able to think they were jerks. With the most recent encounter, it wasn’t until much later that I realized how damaging my words and attitude were towards him. I constantly treated him like (and told him that) he was a jerk; when really, he expressed a healthy(ish)* amount of affection and attraction before approaching the sexual side of things. But that became all I could focus on- that he expressed sexual attraction, and was therefore the enemy.

I wish this had a happy ending for this, like I met this wonderful guy and POOF- all my insecurities and fears and misjudgments towards mankind fell away and we’re in a happy and healthy relationship… but that’s not the case. Probably because I’m jumping the gun writing this, since I’m only now figuring out this stuff about myself. I guess the ending ends up being more like… how do you drive the misconceptions out of your head and actually trust a guy (even if he, y’know, LIKES you)?

Maybe all this is TMI, maybe this is stuff I’m not supposed to talk about as a single Christian woman. Maybe no one gets this, or has been here. But maybe someone has, or at least has a piece of decent, useful advice.

*okay, if I’m being super honest, not a lot was super healthy about that whole thing, but that’s another story.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Re: The Belle Jar's discussion on a (humourous?) shirt and the rape culture implications

Okay, first of all, the blog post that got me thinking was this one. So read that first, I think.

Honestly, I'm going to skip over most of what was said regarding rape culture, because I don't want to get into that right now. Suffice it to say that I have seen evidence of rape culture, I'm not denying that. But it wasn't the shirt (though it's pretty terrible) or the discussion on rape culture that got under my skin. It was this paragraph:

The problem is that the real, underlying sentiment here is that the daughter is a man’s possession, not a person. She’s either her father’s “princess” or her boyfriend’s “conquest.” It’s clear that the daughter’s wants and desires mean nothing to her father – he says that he will dislike anyone that she dates simply because they are dating his daughter. It doesn’t matter whether this boyfriend (since the shirt is operating off the assumption that the daughter is cisgender and heterosexual) is a nice guy, whether he treats the daughter well, or even whether the daughter loves him – the father will still dislike him, based on the simple fact that this teenage boy wants to be physically close to his daughter.

Immediately I thought "WHAAAAAT?" I felt offended. I felt sad. I felt a surge of affection for my dad!

The thing is: My dad was super protective of me. Not in a stupid way, like that dumb T-shirt. No, his form of protection was to raise me as an independent thinker. He taught me to be a strong person (a strong woman, no less), he exemplified the Christian values he talked about (yes, part of the rest of the discussion will be from my Christian worldview), and... he taught me to wait.

The kicker is... I'm still waiting. At the ripe old age of 25, I'm still a virgin. And I'm proud of that. Even when this supposedly sexually liberated culture expects me to feel shame or humiliation over it. (I've read articles about losing your virginity where the idea was presented: "Just go out and do it. Get it over with. Then find someone good later.")

I'm not a princess. I've never felt need for the protection of a man or fear that I would lose my relationship with my father if I became sexually active.

I've had the "desires and wants" described in The Belle Jar's blog. I know and understand those tingly feelings.

I've had opportunity.

So why do I retain my status of "waiting?" Because my daddy taught me that I am worth something. That I didn't have to give into to the ridiculous sex drives of teenage boys to feel worth, that I can express my affection in ways that are not physical, and that I am strong enough to wait for a guy who will love and respect me (even if I ask him to wait).

My dad understood the drive of teenage (and twenty-something) guys, and taught me that I could decide for myself. He also did me the favor of talking to me when he didn't like a boy I was seeing. Because sometimes, even if "the daughter loves him," he's still not the right guy. Sometimes, fathers DO know best- especially when teenagers are involved.

I will forever be thankful for the gifts my dad has given me (the strength, the self-respect, the independence).I think it would have done a lot of girls some good to have a dad like mine. And the great thing about my protective dad is that when I meet that guy (the one who loves and respects me), my dad will love and respect him, too.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

I tried to explain this to someone somewhat recently, but I couldn't have said it quite like this. Anyways, here's an interesting quote about young adult women, from Courtney Martin in her book Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters:,

We are relentless, judgmental with ourselves, and forgiving to others. We never want to be as passive-aggressive as our mothers, never want to marry men as uninspired as our fathers. We carry the world of guilt — center of families, keeper of relationships, caretaker of friends — with a new world of control/ambition — rich, independent, powerful. We are the daughters of feminists who said, "You can be anything" and we heard "You have to be everything."

We must get A's. We must make money. We must save the world. We must be thin. We must be unflappable. We must be beautiful. We are the anorectics, the bulimics, the overexercisers, the overeaters. We must be perfect. We must make it look effortless.

I have to admit, I feel this so strongly somedays. And I hope by recognizing it, I can see how to defeat this prevailing attitude in my own life.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Summertime List

Things I should be doing today:

1- Sweeping the floors for the millionth time (not literally... but it feels like it)

2- Unpacking the 4 very large boxes of clothes that I haven't seen for 2 years (literally)

3- Hunting frantically for a job

4- Cleaning other various parts of my apartment

5- Maybe working on my tan for the 2 upcoming weddings I'll take part in this summer

6- Explore my new neighborhood so I know where things are when I need them

Things I am actually doing today:

1- Reading hilarious and insightful and culturally relevant blogs (and wondering if I can write them, if they make money, if I could make money in the same way that these seasoned writers are making money, and if they even make enough money to buy groceries.)

2- Sitting around in my underwear because it's too hot to wear anything and I refuse to turn on the air conditioning (I am not currently making the money)

3- Updating my GPS (which is actually one productive and useful thing! *pats self on back*)

4- Researching tattoo parlors and also cameras (both of which I am considering for my annual "birthday present to me")

5- Making lists of things that I may or may not actually accomplish today

6- Excitedly using the CRAP out of the newly installed internet in my apartment (I've never had my own internets before!)

Saturday, April 6, 2013

He restores my soul

I haven't blogged in a long time. And I think I begin every blog I DO write with that same sentence. I always have these things I want to write, and I write them in my head, but never quite get them down on paper or on the keyboard.

Anyways... Just wanted to write a sort of update on my life as it stands now.

I spent a year out in Ohio, which you might know. What you might not know is that the entire year, it felt more like a year in the desert. I have felt so lost for so long. This past year, I have struggled so much with where I was at, who I am, what defines me, who God is, how that relates to me, what I want to be, how I want to live my life, and so forth.

Part of what precipitated this was my unsettledness. I graduated high school seven years ago this spring. And I've realized that I've moved at LEAST twice every year for the past seven years. Sometimes that was just moving to other dorm rooms, but sometimes that was moving states (I've been in Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, back to Indiana, back to Kentucky, to Indianapolis, and then to Ohio). It's been exhausting to say the very least.

Out in Ohio, I went to a coffee shop where I had promised them a year of my time. All year, people would ask what was next-- and I had no idea. I always sort of thought I'd like to go back to Indianapolis, but I was never quite sure. So my time left in Ohio got shorter and shorter, and I still had no plan.

Finally, with no other plans, I decided I'd head back to my parents' for at least a short time to regroup and make a decision. But about a week before I was to move back to Indiana, my mom called with another idea-- My aunt, who lives in Indianapolis, would be taking a trip to Asia for about 2 weeks. Did I want to watch her yellow lab for that time?

I jumped at the chance- I don't love my hometown and wasn't exactly eager to be back. Plus this would take me back to the village (yes, village) I was in before moving to Ohio. So I've been hanging out with Dewey the VERY excitable yellow lab for around a week and a half now.

My aunt comes back Monday-ish, and I am still without any plans, a place to live, or a job. I swing back and forth between very nervous and kind of content. I know things tend to go last minute in my life, so I've just been waiting for something to fall into place.

The falling into place thing is something I've been feeling for about half a year. When I was trying to think about what I'd like to do when my time in Ohio was up, I'd pray about it and hear no clear direction. I only got this sense that all the pieces weren't in place yet, and when they were-- then I'd know.

Today I took Dewey on a walk through this little woods near the house (Side note: I LOVE the woods. It's a physical space where I feel most connected to God. I think because it offers some peace and quiet, and all the nature stuff is kind of cool). Anyways, I was thinking about how I have until Monday to make some decisions. I was standing on a bridge over a creek, and my overwhelming urge was to grab my phone and call someone (probably my mother, we talk on the phone A LOT...) And I realized how much I desire to hear a solid voice. So I told God this. "I want a VOICE, I want an answer! Just tell me that it's all going to be okay!"

And then a couple sentences from Psalm 23 came to me: "He leads me beside still water. He restores my soul." And after a year of living and feeling like the beginning of Psalm 22 was more my pace ("My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"), this promise brought a peace to my heart. He restores my soul. My soul that has been hurt and lost and damaged and broken this year, He restores it.

So do I have any actual plans for after Monday? No. But when those pieces come into place, I'll know. And God will continuously be working, restoring my soul.