Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Because I said so....

Parenting is hard.  No ifs, ands or buts, it's just hard.  And as exhausting as it was when I had two under two and a nine year-old, two teenagers and a young adult is WAY more exhausting.  The oldest was a good little helper at 9 with the toddlers, but far way as a 22 year-old, he really doesn't even factor in much with the 14 and 15 year-olds.  And living thousands of miles away now, he rarely contributes to my emotional and mental exhaustion anymore.  Which is why when something about "empty nest" popped up on the screen at church on Sunday morning, I leaned over and high-fived my husband.  There are some days, that I am happy to be in the home stretch.  Both kids will be in high school by fall, and after #1 blazed through, I am well aware of how quickly it will go.

I love my kids, don't get me wrong.  And honestly, I am pretty blessed - they ARE pretty good kids, especially when I send them out into the world where they are apparently a little more apt to remember all that I pounded into them about respect for others as they grew up.  They get it - well, they must, because their teachers like them, even find them "a pleasure to have in class." We're doing well with a girlfriend's mom, moms of friends tell me they are good kids. They are good kids.  But they are good kids who at home like to argue, press boundaries, push limits and more often than I care for, wade in the waters of disrespect.

I get it. They are TEENAGERS - and that's what TEENAGERS do. (I feel like I should come up with an acronym... Tiring, Exhausting, Exceptionally Naughty...I'll work on it....)  But a lot of times when it happens, the overwhelming thought that blazes through my head like a hot wind is, "I didn't raise them to behave that way."  And I didn't.  And sometimes my frustration really gets the best of me. (Though I have to admit my recent commitment courtesy of the swear jar to stop cussing, has brought the unanticipated side effect of more self-restraint... who knew?)

This past weekend both my kids crossed some boundaries with me.  (Why do they always feel the need to tag team? I told my mom recently that as the mom of an only child she actually had it a little easier in the teen years.  She started to disagree when I pointed out that at least when I was a teenager I sometimes went off duty to sleep.  My kids seem to take shifts... but I digress.)  

I'm not here to trash my kids.  And that's not actually what I am doing, but I noticed something this weekend, it really sank in deep.  And it truly screams loudly in the face of "I didn't raise my kids that way."

My daughter and I got into a disagreement about her wanting to get her nose pierced.  My decision is "No. Not till she's 18."  And I told her so.  I'm not saying that ought to be everyone's rule. I'm not saying it's a black and white issue, I'm just saying for me, "face altering decisions" ought to be made by an adult.  I don't want my 22 year-old coming back to me someday and asking me what I was thinking when I let my 14 year-old get her nose pierced.  My opinion for my child is that it is a trend that may not even last into her adulthood and it may definitely not remain her personal style, so "No, no can do."

She didn't like the "No," and she wasn't a fan of the "why."  But I'm the mom, and it's NOT a democracy.  I'm older, I'm wiser, I can foresee things she can't based simply on my added life experience.  She thought she could get her dad on board (actually she thought he already was on board) because he has considered piercing his own nose and he told her once he thought it was cool.  But when she tried to play the card in front of me, without knowing my thoughts and without any hesitation Neal said "No, not till your're 18," (much to my delight.)  She threw a fit.  And again demanded to know why.

I told her all my reasons to which she responded, "That's not a reason!" and later added, "You won't give me a good reason." Clearly I beg to differ, but when she harped and harped and harped I finally said those words every kid hates, "Well, I'm your mother and because I said so."

That made her indignant, and outraged, and a little too expressive, so I banished her to her room till she could better hide her disdain.  My kids wear me down sometimes, more than I actually care to admit, but not this one, not this time.  I feel like I can see what she can't, and I am confident I know better than her (for her.)  She's 14, she doesn't know near what she thinks she does.

I've heard the beloved (and despised) "Because I said so," get a bad rap lately in the "parenting world."  People have come under this misguided sense that our kids need to be treated like equals, and need to be reasoned with, and every answer needs to be understood and (gulp) agreed upon by all parties, and I say (because I'm not swearing anymore) HOGWASH!!!!

What a lousy bill of goods we have sold our kids to make them think that they always have a right to make their arguments and to make a way.  That's not how the real world works.  They will have coaches, and teachers, and professors and bosses all throughout their lives who will have the right, will and power to say "because I said so."  Because it's my team, my business, my class, and you have to do things my way.  And if we let them buy into the lie that they won't by letting them break the authority in our homes, we're fools.

But even bigger than the people they will face in their lives, their is an ultimate "Because I said so," that they will have to learn to submit to, and that's the voice of God.  God doesn't reason with us, or offer explanation of "Why" to everything He asks of us.  Quite the contrary, most of the time if we will it to be so, what God asks of us won't make much sense at all.  "Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you. Forgive those who have sinned against you."  Yeah, I know, some of us understand the logic there, but we don't have to.  We could argue, kick and scream and resist. We could demand to know a better reason why.  But in the end "Because God said so" needs to be sufficient.

No, I'm not saying piercing her nose is equivalent to "don't have sex outside of marriage," but the heart issue that wants to argue both those points is the same-- self, selfishness, rebellion.  And as parents, it's our job to help out kids work that out.  Sometimes it's like pounding our heads against a brick wall, but "No," (to whatever YOUR conviction is with your kids) is NOT a dirty word.  Quite the contrary, it's a necessary one.  And "Because I said so," IS a sufficient reason.

At my age and stage of life, I find myself trying less and less to understand the "why" or get a good reason for what God asks of me. I actually find some solace in "Well, God said so, so I am just going to do it for that reason alone."  That's both in the logos (written) Word and the Ramah (personally spoken) Word that God offers.  I am still in school because God said to go back.  Does it make sense? No.  But I assume God has a good reason.  I also try really hard to continue to work towards forgiving those who I feel wronged by, NOT because I want to, but because God says I need to.  And I know God is a loving God who wants what is best for me.  And I trust in His character.  I trust in His wisdom. I trust in His heart.

And if you feel those same things about yourself towards your own children, then sometimes (more times than they might agree to) I encourage you, comfortably and confidently own the reason and express it freely, "Because I said so."

These kids live in a world where fighting that is encouraged.  They (the society as a  mindset) are so full of their "rights" that they will never even own their wrongs.  They think they are entitled to whatever they want.  But the real world isn't going to hold up that end of the bargain, and if you love your kids, neither should you.  Say no where you feel the conviction to do so as a mom or a dad, and state your reason if you will, but whether they come on board or not, hold no guilt, "Because I said so," is totally legit!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Totally Transparent (Because something should be thin)

Today I am feeling completely uncomfortable and bound as my "fat pants" are practically cutting off circulation (which would be outstanding if only fat would die and fall off, but alas, it doesn't work that way.)

I'm mad at myself - a year ago today I was about 30 lbs lighter and feeling great, but as is my idiotic pattern, I moved back on to the upswing of my weight roller coaster.  Since round and about my 40th birthday, I have been pretty much following the pattern -- loss, gain, loss, gain, loss (oh that that would be where it ends, but no.) Here I am, at gain again.

It's sin.  Totally and completely, without question - it is SIN.  Gluttony - I think that qualifies as one of the seven deadly - but not just gluttony, it honestly goes much deeper than that.  It's a lack of faith and trust; it's a rebellion - at least for me.

I am so disappointed in myself, but I can't blame anyone but myself.  I can make lots of excuses, and I can justify all day long -- stress, emotional hurts, busy schedules... pleasure, community, lack of support, but at the end of the day, I know what I need to do, and I fail to do it. Or rather I fail to keep doing it.

It's not wisdom or capacity I lack, it's perseverance.

The worst part about this sinful battle that I keep acquiescing in, is that I am really only hurting myself.  That's a common justification for sin, isn't it?  But i's also not true.  When I don't take care of myself, I fail to give my family the best of myself.

Recently, I asked my daughter if she was disappointed in me.  Her response was "I don't want to hurt your feelings."  Poor kid, she killed two birds with one stone. She hurt my feelings (upon my invitation) and she answered the question she didn't want to answer.  "Mom, she said, you're happier when you're thinner."  And, well, she's not wrong.  And it isn't just the best of myself that I am denying my family, but very possible, dare I say probably, I could be giving them LESS of myself (ironically) by shaving years off of my life.

I DO have an addiction problem - a sugar addiction problem.  And I have some biological and physiological health issues that compound that problem, but I cannot use that as an excuse.  Alcoholics shouldn't drink, and I shouldn't eat sugar.  But once I do, it's like opening the floodgate to overindulgence.  I need to better guard the gate.

The world is full of pushers.  My 7-11 clerk is a great example.  Starbucks and chocolate donettes as a weakness.  And when the Starbucks go on sale for 2 for $4 I practically run a groove into the path between home and the store.  And I like my little donuts with the drink.  I buy one pack and he insists they are on sale 2 for a cheaper price - and I am an easy sale.  Ice cream as a reward at 11 o'clock at night for surviving a difficult day, getting a cookie to go with my coffee when I am meeting with a friend, diving head first into the pack of Oreos because I'm feeling the stress - I never run out of excuses to go against good judgment and poison my body.

It really IS poison for me.  I have something called "insulin resistance," and when I eat sugar my pancreas overworks and though my blood sugar is properly maintained I have this excess insulin pulsing through my veins that demands more sugar to meet it - and the cycle goes on.  Why do I do it?

Because it feels good - for the moment.  Oh that all sin doesn't fit that excuse.  For the moment, the ice cream "on the lips" doesn't give an ounce of consideration to it's time "on the hips."  For the moment, eating an Oreo actually does take my mind off the stress, and promotes no concern for the unbelievable regret that I find at the scale the next day.

The scale.  I've stopped stepping on it.  I've honestly decided that denial is easier.  And for the moment, it is.  But it doesn't have the power and strength to fully stave off the regret, disappointment and... shame.  God - SHAME - such an ugly word.  It's even worse as a feeling.

So, tomorrow I am starting my detox. Hard and fast - literally a fast for a couple of days to kick myself into the process of getting sugar out of my system.  I have so much to look forward to - headaches, fatigue, body aches, nausea - all the classic withdrawal symptoms.  Not as severe as say detoxing from alcohol or drugs, but neither is it completely different.

I had to wait until my school spring break because I didn't think I could manage my schoolwork this week in the process of detox.  I wonder do drug addicts and alcoholics get "shit faced" the day before they enter rehab? Because I find myself making a point of final indulgences - Starbucks and donettes started my day. Why do I do that?

There is always an excuse NOT to do what I need to do.  My birthday is just a little over a week away.  Stupid time to start a diet, right?  No birthday cake?  No sweets for Easter?  And did I mention we are traveling out of town next weekend?  It's going to be so hard to watch what I eat on the road!

It is.  But I have decided that my birthday gift to myself is to try to get my act together one more time... and I know it will be hard, but anything worth doing is worth working at.  I'm starting detox on a Friday (1) because why one more weekend against me? And I am hoping that by the time we leave for our trip, my sugar cravings will be significantly better and I'm hoping it's enough time the worst of the detox side effects will have passed.

There is always an excuse or justification not to do the right thing.  Right now I am feeling the weight (literally) of doing exactly that over and over again.

I'm sharing here because once again I am trying to make myself accountable.  And because I don't think, in fact, I know, I am not alone in this ridiculous and difficult battle.  Maybe someone else will make a choice to take better care of themselves. And, honestly, I am a communicator and an outward processor - so here I am processing.

I pray God will get me to the place where the fruit of His Spirit will finally reflect Himself in this area of my life. I have always felt like there was a reason that Paul the apostle listed self-control last.  It's hard to get there.  But Lord, help me, I'm gonna try again.



Monday, November 30, 2015

The Pool of Mom Guilt

I clearly remember the conversation with my friend.  I was sort of bragging about my kids, talking about how good they were, and how lucky I was and how proud I was of them.  And I was doing it in comparison.  I wasn't flat out stating it, but in the same conversation I was talking about the choices of other kids I knew, other kids who weren't "walking the walk" and who were not making good choices.  My friend was kind, and wise.  Most of all she was prophetic.  She said quietly, "Be careful, you never know when things might change."

And change they did, not long after that conversation at all, might have been a matter of days.  Everything blew up in my face because the secret sins of one of my kids all came to light.  And it was bad - really stupid bad, and it had been going on for a while, and I had completely missed it. Sadly it was not when my friend imparted her wisdom that I woke up, it was rather when her wisdom proved true that I really got it.  And my whole perception of parenting and people changed after that happened.

That explosive incident led to a lot of change.  It was hard change-- like rooting up my family from a place my kids had been established their whole lives.  And we had to deal with a lot of gossip, innuendo, judgment and more.  When we moved to a new church we came in as open books, we needed help and most of all our kid needed help.  He didn't get it all there, it was not like that place became our saving grace, but it played an important role. And eventually just being in that new place turned out to be a really important thing for our son.  And it's something that may never have happened without the issue that moved us there in the first place - like a fork in the back.

I wish I could tell you that the "all things together for good" aspect made it all feel worth it, but along the way it didn't.  And it wasn't like we moved on and everything got better.  That's the thing about ongoing sin, secret sin, it takes the devil of a foothold and it doesn't go away easily.  Sometimes it felt like two steps forward and three steps back.  Some of the contention of those days still resides in our home and relationships, and there is still a fear that the battle isn't over. And really it isn't.  Even as that kid walks in victory over that one struggle, there is still two other kids and a myriad of other battles to be fought - some similar and some completely different, and all really really hard.

In the midst of it, as a mom, I feel responsible.  I look at my kids when they battle and I think, "Where is my responsibility? What did I do wrong?"  I go through the long list of possibilities of what I didn't teach them, what I mistakenly did.  What did I miss? What wrong example did I set? What should I have done differently?  The pool of mom guilt is deep.  I can't help but think that maybe we all must have to have it.  Because what I realize now is all of our kids are fighting some sort of battles.  And all will lose some, and along the way as a mom one cannot help but try to figure out what could have, should have or would have been done differently, if only....

And honestly, we probably do all have some level of culpability in our children's failures.  I don't know exactly at what age that finally shifts off us, but the spoiled three-year-old, the bad mannered eight-year-old and the disrespectful fifteen-year-old, we raised them.  Did we teach them everything we needed to? About not being selfish? About not being rude? About not being a general pain in the rump ass.

Recently someone close to me (in anger) accused me of being a bad mom.  They said I didn't care about my kids, that I didn't care about anyone but myself.  They even said I wanted my child to fail.  I have to tell you, it really rattled me.  And it really made me wonder if it was true.  It was this simultaneous response of "HELL NO!" and "Is this true?" Because like I said, mom guilt is a deep deep pool.

It sucks when someone decides to play in that pool and stir up your mom guilt waters.  Theoretical parents are good at that.  You know, the people who have no actual children, but whose imaginary children "would never do that!" That usually being something you have either allowed your child to do, or more often, something your child has managed to pull off despite your best efforts.  I used to have theoretical children myself, so I totally get how perfect they are - and how easy to parent they are. Unfortunately all theoretical parents should heed the warning that when the actual little exhausting sinful creatures show up to fill the roles of your theoretical kiddos, they rarely stay on script.

Young parents too are inclined to wade into the pool and stir the waters.  Parenting infants and toddlers is exhausting physically, and I get that, but I have to tell you I long for the days that my sleepless nights had to do with poor sleeping habits and stuffy noses and were not because I was overwhelmed with anxiety about the life changing decisions my kids were in position to make.  The shift of power does not wait until their eighteenth birthdays, it's rather a slow painful process with a lot of fumbles, failures and the opportunity for some long term life impacting poor decisions.  And they're made by young dumb, inexperienced kids who really don't get it.  "Too much power, not nearly enough wisdom," that's what I always say.  And there is nothing about turning 18 that turns off the mom heart or the risk factors for stupidity, in fact sometimes in those college age years it just intensifies. And those middle school and high school years can be just as brutal.

The people who like to wade into the pool of mom guilt and stir the waters most though are our kids.  They don't actually understand that's what they are doing, but it does not stop them from doing it.  Every pain, every consequence, every poor decision causes the surface of the water to stir and it pulls at the parent heart.  Like the ripples around the movement created, they push out and on touching in so many places you couldn't even anticipate.  But they are not gentle or beautiful like ripples in real water, they hurt and they are hard and they can wear a woman down.

I look at my kids and they are "good kids" but at the same time the battle is strong, and sometimes their failures are cataclysmic.  Sometimes God seems to sweep in and in great grace He rescues them from themselves, and other times they fall.  Sometimes they fall in the exact same way over and over and over again.  That is when I find myself fully submerged in the pool of guilt.  Because it's when I know I have tried to teach them, love them, instruct and guide them and they still keep making the same bad choices over and over again that I become hopeless and distraught.  Angry.

And it never fails as I look around I feel surrounded by perfect parents and their perfect kids.  I become convinced I am the only mom in the pool.  And other moms, they have the ability to stir the water then without even trying.  Just the perception of their success makes me feel like I'm the only one.  Sometimes it's moms acting the way I was when I was bragging on my kids that day before I understood.  They don't have to be criticizing my kid to make me feel badly about how I parent, they can just be feeling great about how they parent theirs.  I cannot help but wonder how many moms I talked to like I did that day that didn't call me out like my girlfriend did.  Probably too many to count.

Back then I was the worst kind of mom.  I was the kind of mom who thought I knew everything and had it all figured out.  My first born compliant/ epically sneaky first child helped strengthen that illusion until he didn't anymore.  And so I thought I not only knew the right way to raise a kid, but I thought my way was the only right way.  Boy have my children straightened me out on that one.  There isn't even one right way to raise the three kids in my one home.  And even with each individual way there is always change - age, stage, need, and more.  And all of those factors, stones to throw and unsettle the surface of the pool of mom guilt in my world.

The longer I parent, the less I realize I know.  I always say, "doctors don't know everything, that's why they call it practicing medicine."  And it's usually to rebuke a bad prognosis.  Well let me tell you, the diagnosis is what is settled in parenting, and it's called sin.  And unfortunately it is chronic, incurable and constant - and worse, it isn't just the patient who suffers, but the mom who is practicing parenting as well. And yet as a mom, I am continually demanding of myself to figure it all out.  I won't, but I will likely die trying.

My heart hurts for how hard it is to parent today. It is harder than it was when I was growing up - though that's not to say it was ever easier - but it is harder.  The world is relentless in its enticement to draw our kids out into sin and darkness - which by the way seems like a pleasurable pool for a while when they waddle into it.  And truth be told the enemy behind the lure has really amped up his game in the past few decades.  It's really hard to keep him out.  And for me, I know he has slipped past me a lot because I am just not as good at being as relentless as he is.  (Enter more mom guilt here.)

I just don't think it's ever going to get any easier.  And I think I am likely to always feel guilty about that.  I will always wonder what I could have, should have and would have done differently, if only... maybe you feel that way too?

I don't write this blog actually offering any answers.  And please, if you think you have them, please don't here with them and stir my pool.  Because, even if you have answers, you don't have them all.  And I would warn you like my friend did that day, "Be careful, you never know when things might change."

But if you get this, and you can relate to the things I am saying here, all of them or just some - let me encourage you, you are not alone.  Maybe no mom will ever say so, but this mom thing, it's hard - and crazy guilt inducing, and filled with hard things.  What do people say? "The toughest job you will ever love"?  I'm gonna be real here and say, some days, you won't love it at all, and that's ok.  Because we love our kids.  And all we can do is the best we can do, but we have to do that knowing our best alone is never ever going to be good enough to keep the pool of mom guilt dry.  But don't give up, keep pressing on.  And if you believe in God, be sure not to exclude Him from your parenting, because in all honesty, I know I couldn't do it without Him, even when I feel like I am.  He's faithful when I am faithless.  Press on.

Some days the only solace I have is that my kids might be parents too someday...

Monday, November 16, 2015

Untitled

You make me feel like a child again
But never in a good way
You make me feel hopeless and powerless
I have no will, no voice, no say

The words that you have spoken 
Can never be unsaid
Even if you took them back
They're still playing in my head

Mother's guilt is a shallow grave
Where thoughts of failure never die
They never really lay to rest
No matter how hard I try

And you have given then new life
As they are screaming in my head
But you just continue moving along
As if they were never said

Of the many mistakes I have made in my life
The greatest was to stay
Maybe if I had walked differently
Things wouldn't be this way

But here I'm trapped because they are
And I don't know how to leave
As I think of what should have been
I'm left alone to grieve

I'm left with your angry words
And you with your justification
All I know is this mental video loop
Keeps playing without cessation

I don't see myself as a victim
Though that's one lie you spread
I see myself as a fool
Who failed to use her head

And the poison pervades my spirit
Because I continue to drink it in
But it's when I pour it back out
That it then becomes my sin

Through such angry words
I know something has died
But something has also been birthed
And won't be forever denied

My prayers have changed profoundly
And I'm willing to fight and scrape
I'm keeping my eyes looking up
Looking for the door of escape

by Diana DePriest
©November 16, 2015




Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Pissed off rant

It's really hard not to be angry lately.

There is a heck of a lot wrong in the world.  What's worse, a lot of what's wrong is being declared as right.  And to make matters worse, if you don't agree, then that means there's something wrong with you.

Where do I start?  OK, let's talk about abortion.  I have always tried my best to walk a respectful line on the topic of abortion.  Because although I know what it is, and I know how wrong it is, and I know how much God absolutely despises it, I have always found myself able to find grace for those who didn't get it.  I would even go so far as to say I could understand someone being "Christian and pro-choice" when it was rooted in their "love" for a woman in crisis and not wanting to impose their own opinions and beliefs on others.  I didn't AGREE with them, but I was able to understand it.  And then this series of exposé videos about Planned Parenthood came out, and it really kind of clarified everything about what abortion is.  It cleared up the misconception about "lumps of cells" and "fetal tissue."  When they started talking about selling body parts and dissecting little baby brains, the lies about lack of humanity expressed in the past was pretty well uncloaked.

So the truth is outrageous enough.  But what really pushes me over the edge is the fact that nobody seems to care.  Social media is wrought with "Stand with PP" propaganda.  People buy into the lie that abortion has anything to do with "women's health."  No mammograms, no cancer screenings, just billions of tax dollars thrown at the business of abortion.  The media barely even covers the subject, and when they do, it's all about protecting women again. We've got Whoopi Goldberg telling the world to stay the hell away from her vagina, and the people in the audience applaud.  Babies keep on dying, Planned Parenthood continues their questionable business practices, and we keep bankrolling it with our tax dollars.  Doesn't even matter that the brutal truth is not out there for all to see, Ignorance is no longer an option, but it's still the preference.  I don't hear much about it from the church either, no pastor or priest, not from the pulpit.  "God forbid" we might offend.

I heard yesterday that Caitlyn Jenner is getting woman of the year.  I'd like to question if she qualifies since she wasn't actually a woman for the whole year.  (Tongue firmly in cheek.)  Don't call that sin.  Today it is perfectly fine to define your own gender, your own race, your own anything as long as you choose to "identify."  Bathrooms and locker rooms in high schools need to be gender neutral?  Because we can't ask the one transgender student to change in a restroom, it's better to let the 100 girls in the girls' locker room be uncomfortable and suffer the choice.  And, now I'm a bigot for saying so.

I'm not alone though, there are a whole lot of us bigots out there these days.  In fact every single white police officer who has a heated interaction with a person of color is doing so because they are a bigot.  They are racial profiling, or they are singling the person out all based on their race -- it has ZERO to do with the fact that they are in violation of a law, or acting in some suspicious manner, and has nothing to do with the fact that they have no respect for the authority invested in the police officer who has been SWORN to protect.  Nope, it's all on the cop, he has to be the bigot. Oh by the way, if you want to talk about a black man or an illegal alien (oops, I think I just committed hate speech) who commits a crime against a white woman-- well now you're a bigot all over again.

Did I mention illegal aliens?  Oh darn, hate speech again... I can't remember the newest politically correct term.  Sorry.  But how dare you think your nation should be allowed to protect its borders and manage immigration.  You're supposed to let anyone and everyone in, no questions asked.  Because that's how you keep a nation safe.... right?  Right?

Well laws, you know, they're just sort of useless.  We should all really be allowed to pick and choose which ones we follow, sort of like a supermarket of human responsibility.  "Drug use is a victimleess" crime... OK, tell that to the family who is burying their loved one who died from an overdose. Or let's talk about the draw on society that comes from someone who is too stoned to contribute, C*O*N*T*R*I*B*U*T*E.... Back in the olden days, we called that working.  And everyone was expected to do it.  Now we're destroyong job opportunities right and left (when was the last time you walked through the self-check out?  Did you hear about that huge U.S. construction project where all the workers were brought in from China?) But by all means, let's require the evil big business to pay the one worker who stand twiddling his thumbs while everyone else checks themselves out $15 an hour, and provide him health insurance to boot.

When I was 16 I got paid minimum wage - $3.35/ hour. I worked my butt off for it, hostessing, waitressing. But you know what? My minimum wage job was never meant to be the career I had to have a life and a family.  Flipping burgers is a teenager's job, not for someone claiming "head of household" on their income taxes. So why do we want to pay them $15 an hour? Cost of living? Nobody was ever supposed to live off flipping burgers.

Burgers by the way? They're going to kill you, and a bacon burger? Well, that should flat out be made illegal, so says the WHO. Who? The World Health Organization says your bacon causes cancer, and maybe they shouldn't let you eat it anymore.  That's a serious danger, and like Michelle Obama and school lunches, they don't think you're smart enough to make good choices for yourself.  And you know what? Maybe you're not, but I say, if you want to eat yourself into a heart attack, more power to you. I mean after all, if we shouldn't stop you from doing drugs.... Are we beginning to see the inconsistency here?

So let's get rid of the bacon burgers, but terrorist threats? Well, that's not actually acceptable for you to assume.  Don't even talk about it.  We need a new term for that as well.  Shame on you if you take issue with any of the tenets of the Muslim faith.  Sharia law really should have a place here, but Constitutional law? Well, that's kinda questionable.

Like that little pesky 2nd amendment.  That's old and outdated and really needs to be repealed. You don't need to have the right to bear arms to potentially protect yourself from a government that may try to usurp your individual rights, because seriously, that's NEVER going to happen.... Ahem...

Sigh.

I'm a horrible terrible awful Christian, I know.  In fact, if I am a Christian at all is seriously in question because I don't think I am actually showing all the necessary tell-tale signs.  "Peace, joy and love," aren't my go to when I see innocent babies being killed, and sin being praised, and an oppressive government on the rise.  I lack faith if I stand up and say my peace against it... surely.

But then again, we were told in the Bible to be "wise as serpents" in our efforts to be "innocent as doves."  And I don't think wisdom denies what's happening in the world around us.  And I don't think wisdom turns a blind eye.  I don't think wisdom refuses to call sin sin at all.  I don't think wisdom stays silent and refuses to shout out the warning.

Being the light means bringing LIGHT to DARK places.  It means exposure to things hidden in darkness. And sometimes that means the loving this to do is speak Truth even when it costs you.

So the end of my pissed off rant says, what is happening in our world is NOT ok.  And we need to stand against the darkness a call it out.

End rant.




Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Selfie Generation

Ahhh, the selfie.  Grab your phone (or perhaps an actual camera) and turn the lens upon yourself.  Hold it in the right spot, at the right angle and capture your best you on... film?  Well, you know what I mean.  Capture the perfect shot for Instagram, or your new Facebook profile pic or PicTwit (TwitPic?) yourself to your little heart's content. 

Since I have lost a little weight and feel a little bit better about myself I have come to appreciate the value of a good selfie.  From the fat mom who hid behind the camera through most of my kids' childhoods, it's kinda nice to not hate every photo taken of me.  And hey, sometimes the most fun selfie is the one you pull a a friend or family member into with you.  Heck, they made a whole stick to attach to your phone just so you could widen the scope of your photo... that and so you could do something about that giant arm in the photo that's reaching up to the camera (oh the calamity of a tank top!) but I digress. 

As the mom of two teens I would say that there is a whole generation of "selfie pic" people rising up.  For some the selfie has become another art form of expression.  The pouty lip, the tongue hanging out, a "gang" sign or two thrown in for good measure, the mirror pics of favored outfits, sometimes silly, sometimes serious, the selfie definitely does NOT fall into a single category of expression.  Sometimes fun, sometimes deep, occasionally inappropriate (hello? we do not need to see all that cleavage and your new bikini all over the net!) the selfie has the power to communicate many things: isolating, inclusive, exclusionary and more, the gamete is run. 

But today I find myself thinking about some of the dangers and downsides of being a part of a selfie generation, and I don't just mean my teens.  Really it's not about the age of the generation taking selfies (and let's be honest, there's a wide gamete of ages there as well) but it's about the downfall of making anything all about self. 

I grew up in a generation where people were actually allowed to "agree to disagree."  There has always been a wide spectrum of beliefs, attitudes, values and convictions.  Sometimes it meant allowing people to be ignorant, even hateful, in another man's opinion even WRONG, but it was all a part of the FREEDOM of thought, speech and belief.  But I see that disappearing these days. 

Today if your opinion differed from the prevailing approved politically correct perception you are not just wrong but you are hateful, bigoted, even vilified. I am a middle class, white American conservative pro-life Christian... in some circles, some more growing and popular circles, that makes me a domestic terrorist for heaven's sake.  

I looked up the word bigoted, and it is defined as "having or revealing an obstinate belief in the superiority of one's own opinions and a prejudiced intolerance of the opinions of others." I find this definition interesting.  Because it occurs to me, aren't MOST people obstinate in their beliefs?  And don't MOST people hold to their beliefs because they believe they are somehow superior?  Or right?  I mean, why would anyone hold to a belief if they didn't believe in its merit.  Even if someone passionately believed you should not hold to tightly to one's personal beliefs, didn't they just do what they said the believed against?  Just a thought (and for the record I think a good one.)  

The biggest problem with this selfie generation mentality is that too many people have begun to buy into the lie that everyone needs to look the same.  Everyone needs to believe the same, hold to the same ideals and have the same exact convictions.  

I think we need to stop working so hard to get all the beliefs to line up and instead learn to accept the differences.  It's ok that you think your beliefs are the best, it really is.  But it's not ok to make someone else a bad person just because they don't agree with you.  Disagreeing is ok.  It's fascinating to me how so many who have claimed to feel oppressed and bullied by, say, the right wing "extremists" (tongue firmly inserted in cheek here) like myself are now trying to oppress and bully people who hold to conservative Christian values.  I'm not saying either attitude is ok, but I am saying don't judge in someone else what you are unwilling to acknowledge in yourself.  Like I have said to my children so many times, "If it's not ok for them, then it's not ok for you."  

Another warning about the selfie attitude - not everything is about YOU.  Just because I think abortion is wrong doesn't mean I am attacking YOU because YOU had an abortion.  Just because I don't want to teach my five-year-old about homosexual sex doesn't mean I hate you (for the record, I didn't want to teach my five-year-old about sex at all, but protecting a child's innocence just keeps getting harder and harder.  

Now I acknowledge that what I am expressing here is MY perception, but I am willing to acknowledge it is not necessarily the same as yours.  BUT rather than getting heated and overwrought because you don't see things my way, and you aren't perceiving ME the way I want you to, maybe it's time to turn that "lens" off of self and look out into the world around us.  I'm not even talking about having to find common ground, but I AM talking about offering mutual respect, kindness and finding the ability to accept that all the world is not going to agree with me.  Or you.   And that's ok. 

And it's OK if you think I'm wrong, or you think I am ignorant.  It's ok even if you think I am a domestic terrorist, but as long as my opinion is just that, then perhaps we should lighten up on the dogma and hostility.  We don't have to be made into enemies because we hold to different ideals.  We have that right.  We even have the right to be wrong.  I have news for you, everybody is. 

A last little note to my Christian friends, the ones who see my point, the ones who might be a little concerned about what they are reading here, and even the ones who think I have abandoned my principles altogether: We are called to LOVE.  I'm not going to get into a giant discussion about what that means or looks like, but I am going to say that we are called to love ALL people.  And PEOPLE are not supposed to be our enemies.  We do have an enemy, and he is having a FIELD DAY with all the hate and divisiveness that is going on in our world today.  Nothing makes him happier than when we smear the reputation of our God with hateful words, hurtful attitudes and unloving demeanor. There is a lot in the world that isn't the way we would like it to be, but God called us to be His vessels, not his clanging bells.  He called us to be the light and that WILL take care of darkness.