Internet Lists and How I’m Not a Woman Christian Men Should Marry

I’ve never been a fan of internet lists that claim to give bullet pointed advice. I find them too defiant, too rooted in absolute truths and untruths. I learned several years ago the world is full of gray and anything that appears in black and white is almost always being viewed through a filter of life experience. I used to hate it. But then Sarah Bessey lent her voice to my feelings when I read how she found peace when she learned to live in the tension, in the moment when the best answer is sometimes “I don’t know for sure” and well, ever since then I’ve been ok with the gray.

Despite my disdain for lists, I read them occasionally, particularly the ones that make their rounds on Facebook. Just last week, I read “10 Women Christian Men Should Not Marry” and it flooded me with emotions. (Go read it before you continue if you haven’t.)

I was surprised to find myself represented in his list, a few times.

I was shocked that someone would say “Scripture informs us that God created man first chronologically for the sake of authority!” and not mean it satirically.

I was sad to fine so many women agreeing with him in the comments (at first.)

I was disheartened to find his use of scripture to support his ideas so base. The writer went to seminary yet seems to have little regard for the context in which many of “those verses” are written.

And then I laughed and read it to a few friends (because laughter is how I initially handle uncomfortable emotions.)

Part of the reason it makes me so uncomfortable is because I love a lot of people who agree with him and to publicly come out and say – I THINK THIS IS SO WRONG – it makes my stomach drop and tears form in my eyes and I think “what if I can’t say what I mean to say and I ruin the best chance I’ve got to explain myself?”

It’s much easier to read this list to friends who I know will agree so we can poke fun at it than it is to write this and say I believe that man AND woman were created in the image of God and I want us to be equal, not the same, but equal in life, in church, in home and in the world.

To put it simply, I disagree with this blog post on a fundamental level. The author, Stephen Kim, subscribes to a theory of partnership called complementarianism and I, well I don’t. It is this belief that the many of his points stem from and the reason I had such a visceral reaction to his post.

Here’s the thing, if we expect women in our society to be subject to any man, we place them in a category where they are also subject to a multitude of abuses. We cannot expect to raise women who are strong willed and confident in life and who are also expected to bend to their husband’s will simply because he’s a man. Those two personalities cannot coexist. You sacrifice one for the other.

In fact, in a follow up blog post to this one, Dr Kim speaks on what the purpose of marriage is and mentions how a wife should not deny her husband sex and even goes as far to say if a woman is “not in the mood” she should “give it to him anyway.” No still means no, even when you’re married and a man who respects his wife as a person should acknowledge that. The idea that a man is owed sex by his wife and that a woman should perform when called upon is a prime example of the different kinds of abuse the subjugation of women can cause.

I will not follow my (theoretical) future husband blindly, instead I may choose to follow him in support because I love him, because we agreed to do this thing called life together. I would expect him to do the same for me. Maybe we will take risks, or live comfortably in a cute suburban house, but whatever we may do we will do together, as a team. 


Do you see the difference?

In the same way that I believe God bestowed us each with the free will to choose him, I believe he expects us, and asks of us, to choose one another. To sacrifice a piece of yourself (or your ideal life) for someone you love – whether that’s your husband, your wife, your child or your friend.

The idea of free will and choice is extremely important. An action born of obligation does not yield the same result as one made by free will. And if you could choose what kind of actions you inspired in your partner, wouldn’t you want them to act because they love and respect you, not because they feel as if they have to?

In addition,inviting discussion and debate into your home is not an attempt to “usurp his authority” rather it is a valuable tool to deepen your relationship and to learn to appreciate not just what makes you alike, but what makes you different. To love someone is to learn to compromise.

I will never be “subject and obedient” to any man simply because he is a man. I will accept and respect the leadership of men (and women) who are more knowledgeable than me, who have more experience and desire for me to learn from them. There are a handful of people in my life, male and female, who I would not question if they asked something of me – but this is obedience born of love, of free will, not of obligation. There is no growth in a relationship where all power moves in one direction, it is in the ebb and flow that we find the ability to honor one another.

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And in case you were wondering, I’m a feminist “older woman” who sometimes shows off my shoulder tattoo with immodest dress, isn’t quite ready for children, and has a touch of wander-lust. 😉

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Interested in learning about egalitarian beliefs? Or strong women in the Bible? Go visit the Junia Project.

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New Love in My Life

I fell in love several weeks ago.
I was afraid to tell anyone because it was so unexpected and he wasn’t my type.
But then I let him stay the weekend with Abby and me and I just couldn’t deny it anymore.
I talked about him all the time and I thought about him each and every day.
Here’s the picture that made my heart just melt.

Frodo&me
I have been wanting another dog for over two years now and after finally splitting from the person keeping me from adopting again, I really started to seek out another dog. I wanted a companion for Abby and simply put, I felt the desire to offer a home to another dog who needed one.
I had some ideas about what kind of dog I wanted…
I wanted a black and white, a black, or a white dog. (I REALLY love Abby.)
I wanted a smart dog, like a border collie or aussie mix.
I wanted a dog with a medium energy level.
This is what I imagined that dog would look like.

Border_Collie_18736
This is what I ended up with.

image

I can’t really explain to you what happened. Maybe it was the weekly visits to his foster mom’s house for Abby’s socialization lessons. Or maybe it was just THOSE EYES. But slowly, as weeks passed by and I spent more and more time with him, I fell in love. And I HAD to have him. So I asked his foster mom and I asked my friend who runs the rescue and I asked EVERYONE at work.
A few weeks ago I brought Frodo home to live with me and Abby and every day I am amazed at what an incredible dog he is.
I am amazed because of his story. Just over four months ago, Frodo was living in north Nashville, chained outside of a home, in a little subdivision, with 37 other dogs.
Many of them were found with open wounds and it was obvious to the rescuers and the investigators that the dogs were used and trained for fighting.

I’m not sharing this to make you feel sorry for him – because he doesn’t feel sorry for himself.
I’m not telling you this so you praise me or his foster mom or the rescue for taking him in – we are the lucky ones.
I want you to know this, to see these pictures, so you can’t deny it happens. So often we find ourselves looking the other way when we see something immoral or wrong because we don’t want to get involved. We don’t want to make someone uncomfortable. Sometimes, we’re just scared.
But Frodo, and so many dogs just like him, are proof that is always the right decision to speak up. Make a ruckus. Be annoying. Take the time to CARE.
Apathy will destroy humanity, if we let it.

One of the craziest parts of Frodo’s story is that the discovery of him and all the other dogs was an accident. The DEA was serving a warrant for arrest to the owner of the house for heroine and cocaine trafficking and called in animal control when they noticed the dogs on the property.

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There is a lot of money in drugs and in dog fighting and I have to tell myself that the people who paused long enough to care, were desperate and poor and those in charge paid them off because how can you ignore the suffering of an innocent animal?

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Frodo is sweet. He is silly and playful and I’ve yet to see him greet anyone (human or dog) with anything less than absolute enthusiasm.
He is pure love.
I’ve sought out pictures of him from his former life because I can hardly believe he was a part of that story. I cried tonight when he jumped on the couch to kiss my face because the way dogs live in the moment is stunning.
Frodo is not simply his past – he is right now. He is another walk outside and a new friend. He is a different kind of treat in his marrow bone and a rediscovered squeaky toy.
He is a walking, breathing, wiggly reminder that you can overcome.
And maybe it’s because we’re still in our honeymoon phase, but I just can’t stop kissing that sweet head. He missed a lot of kisses and simple kindness his first year of life – I think he deserves all I have to give him.

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The best weapon against apathy is knowledge. I know that there are so many social issues worth fighting for in regards to actual humans, but I believe that doing what we can to ensure the health and safety of an animal in our wealthy, first world country is worth your time.
I don’t care what route you take to get there, I just want you to care.
Care because drugs and dog fighting go hand in hand. Google “connection between drugs and dog fighting” and prepare to see countless news stories showing recent connections.
Care because it is a proven fact that people who abuse animals will abuse other people.
Care because God made them and it is our responsibility to give them the best life possible.
Care because they are living beings.
Just please, please, care.
Learn the laws in regards to animal abuse & tethering in your own state.
Learn how to recognize the signs of abuse and who to tell if you see it.
Partner with organizations that work to improve the lives of the animals and educate the owners, like this one in middle Tennessee.
Do what you can, when you can, and in ways that you are comfortable with and know that there are thousands of dogs just like Frodo waiting for someone to rescue them too.

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Frodo, Abby and myself are settling into life together quite nicely and I know that from now on, it won’t just be another story on the news or something happening in a different state. From now on, every story about dog fighting or pit bulls will feel so much more real because of the sweet soul that sleeps in my bed.

I hope you find a way to feel that too – so that it matters to you.

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A Letter from the Past…

This post could go a lot of ways. I could focus on the fact that my youth group, while awesome in so many ways, was also a seemingly bottomless pit of drama, mild scandal and confusion. Our leaders were wise, well versed and kind, but either they thought it better to let us figure it out ourselves or they were really blind. Or maybe we were really good at hiding the dirt?

Or I could look at this as my soul character coming out for the first time. The first time the God that lives inside of me went, “Hey, say something. It isn’t right.”

I really haven’t shut up since.

Lately I rave about abandoned dogs, gender roles, and feminism, but next week I could be onto something new…

Unfortunately, this note wasn’t dated, but I wonder how close it was to the time another older friend told me that he admired how blunt I was and that he hoped I never stopped speaking my truth.

This advice has served me well in most cases, though it has caused a few awkward moments.

Part of me is proud to celebrate the young girl who wrote this over 10 years ago. She was brave and bold. The other part is so sad for her because she fought this battle on her own. Maybe it shows maturity that she wrote it in a private letter, asking him to consider a change in attitude, but I think it highlights a weakness in our youth that I didn’t seek the advice of a stronger leader, that I attempted to solve it on my own.

And maybe it highlights a weakness in myself. I have always struggled with asking for help.

I found this note digging through all of the letters and diaries and journals of my adolescence. I changed the names in it simply because those who know the story will know without the right names and those who don’t, won’t really care. While it is a part of my story, it is also someone else’s and I won’t tell another’s story without their blessing.

I have really just begun to dig through the box of notes and I know that I will find a plethora of other interesting pieces.

As a side note, I left the incorrect syntax and grammar. It is what it is…

Bob,

Don’t hate me for telling you the truth you need to hear. First of all, don’t hate all women because of one. We don’t all strut around with our bad attitudes and beautiful blonde hair. I’m not just saying this because my brother is in on it too. I’m saying this because I’m tired of looking over your shoulder and seeing you sharing another “why women are bad” verse. I don’t want to come at the wrong way and make you hate me. I know about you and Myrtle. No one told me, I found out in other ways.

Please consider changing your attitude towards women, ladies, and girls. When they talk about women in the Bible, they’re talking about most women, not necessarily all. I know you highlight some of them for the heck of it but come on!! Think about it – if it weren’t for women, you wouldn’t be going to Heaven. Mary, a woman, gave birth to the son of God. Jesus Christ died for your sins and he was brought into this world by none other than a woman.

Please, please stop saying and highlighting rude and mean things about women. Women are the reason you’re on Earth.

I used to think you were the best Christian I know. Then I found about the women hating verses. I still think you’re a good Christian but I question my thoughts a lot.

From me to you,

Melody

PS I hope you didn’t let me down and show this to someone, especially my brother.

 

Wasn’t that fun? 😉

Peace & Strength

http://worthybooksandthings.com/posts/

This post needs a preface, because it was written several months ago and because it is simply my story of how I found feminism. This isn’t the post where I defend Jesus Feminist or use scripture to support my theology or talk about Junia or any of the other women who make brief, but impactful, appearances in the Bible. This is just my story. 

And though a few days late (I’m really not exaggerating about the spotty internet mentioned later in the post), it also coincides with this synchroblog series on the intersection of faith & feminism. It seemed a perfect time to post my imperfect thoughts.

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The pastor today spoke about having a life verse. One piece of scripture that continually reappears in your life, guiding you and weaving together all the bits of stories that make your life into your own journey. His was from Habakkuk.

I don’t have a life verse, at least not yet. But I have always loved James because I see myself in him. He’s bold, unforgiving in his words and unafraid of backlash. He says it like it is. I feel like he’s the kind of person that would have answered any questions, from anyone, with complete and total honesty.

During the closing song an abbreviated verse of James was shown on the screen “You do not have because you do not ask. Ask and it will be given to you.”

That’s a bold statement. And one that I have always believed comes with a “but only” that clarifies you must be asking for something God has intended you to have. But then I started thinking about the times that I have truly asked God for something – not just a generic “bless this, keep us safe, etc” but a heartfelt expression of desire for something or someone. And really, I’ve only asked a few times for something like that. One was for a best friend that was like me. He brought her to me, late in high school. We went through some rough times together but at the end of the day, she’s the friend I have always known I could count on, for anything, at any time. Even today, as we’ve grown up and somewhat apart, her presence in my life has rarely, if ever, wavered and I still believe she is a blessing from God.

The other time was when I asked God for peace and strength to overcome the impending and eventual dissolution of a five year relationship. Even in the moment it was happening, I fought it. I wanted to save it. I apologized, I acknowledged, I did everything I could besides begging. He did nothing. I was devastated. I moved out and on, slowly. I found my own place for just me and my dog – my beloved dog who has never left my side. We moved into a comfortable place in the woods, on five acres, with spotty internet and no TV.

As the new year began, my sadness was turning to bitterness and anger and I was searching for that peace and strength. I dated a little. I kissed a new boy or two. I wrote and wrote and read. I rediscovered my voice. I tried out new churches.

And then, when I wasn’t even expecting it, He handed me a gift. One that stemmed from a snarky remark on a twitter post to a month’s long study of complementarianism and finally to it’s antithesis, feminism.

Down a rabbit hole of blogs and books I fell and though I’ve come up for air, I’m still digging. It was what finally brought me the strength I had been praying for, and strangely, He was encouraging me to find it in myself.

So I dove into the words of Sarah Bessey, of Emily Maynard, of Rachel Held Evans and I found blogs about purity culture and feminism from secular and christian women (and a few men) and I read and read and read.

I don’t think many of my friends or family consider feminism part of the Christian story, but I do. The women in the Bible are unbelievably strong – in spirit and in will. God could have brought His son into the world in any way He chose, but His perfect story involved a young woman who wasn’t even married yet. To bring perfection from imperfection. To show a woman as capable of being chosen, blessed and devoted.

Feminism began to give me the confidence to explore my faith in open dialogue with people, both online and off. It helped me relabel myself from “stubborn and angsty” to what I have always been at my center, a feminist. Not that feminism is filled with angst, but rather that was how my disdain for “the way things are” has always appeared.

It gave me something to seek in a faith community. I have a short list of theological principles I desire in a church, beyond the usual. One is a strong belief in free will. The other is now a feminist ideology, or at the very least, a non complementarian view of women. In other words, a belief that women were created as equal to men and not simply as a cure for man’s loneliness.

Just as it showed me how to move forward, it gave me a way to reach back over the last decade of my life and analyze my choices, my behavior, and the friends I had made and lost. I began a journey of self discovery rooted in the notion that purity culture had taught me that women are “less than” men and only beautiful when we are “pure.” It showed me the flawed way in which I was taught to “protect” myself, without empowering me.

Simply put, feminism helped me love myself the way He does.

I am perfectly aware that many people, particularly evangelicals, do not view feminism as a tool of the Lord, but if there is anything we can all agree that Jesus teaches, it is that He is willing to use anything, to do anything, to meet His people where they are.

I needed strength and peace. First he gave me a safe place in the woods where I could rediscover my voice and find peace. Then he gave me feminism, so that I could make my own strength and realize I, by myself, was enough. For Him, for me, for my life.

I am a feminist, a Jesus lover, a dog lover and animal rights enthusiast, a believer in natural products, a writer, a sometimes poet, and a woman.

And Sarah Bessey is so right – Jesus never forgets you. No matter how far you wander, no matter what you say when you’re angry, no matter what you do. Always, always, he will meet you. In the dark, in the quiet, in a crowd, in a book – wherever you are searching, for whatever you are searching for, He will find you and give it to you, if only we are brave enough to ask.

 

Slut Shaming – Then & Now

Even as I’ve embraced the label of feminist, I’ve still had to fight the urge to slut shame other women. I feel the desire to heave that horrible name at others at the most unexpected times.

-Sitting in a coffee shop as a young woman comes up the stairs, stomach exposed.
-Discharging a patient at the clinic as a teenage girl stands next to her mother, cutoff shorts up to her butt, pockets hanging out.
-Sifting through notes given to me as a teenager, the pages littered with names and labels I didn’t fully understand.

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There’s an echo in my past of slut shaming young women I loved. As if calling out their perceived flaws would fix them and edify me. It pains me to think of the ways I abused the power that word held. It pains me to know I broke them down instead of building them up. It hurts to realize the impact of words used years ago.

I’ve been toying with this post for a few weeks now. Should it be an open apology? Should it simply serve as a reminder to other women that we are still our own worst enemy?

And honestly, I’m still not sure.

I remember the first time I used the word slut. I was in band class in 5th grade. I don’t remember what happened, but my friend and I passed the word back and forth like a football. We lobbed it at each other – no pads, no grace, no love.

I remember the fire I felt in my center. How the anger rose up and out of my mouth, how I enunciated the word with careful precision. I remember room with its risers, how our chairs and music stands were perched carefully at the edge of each step and how we raised them just a little too high so the teacher couldn’t see our gossip.

Where did I even learn the word? Who told me what a slut was?

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When I look back over my years growing up, I see how the term evolved with me as I grew. I can feel the intensity in which I fled from anything that could be perceived as slutty. I remember when my friends made decisions I didn’t agree with, that made me uncomfortable, how I turned their own uncertainty upon them. I am saddened and ashamed that instead of offering to shoulder the burden of growing up, I balled it up and threw it back to them soaked in faux confidence of who I was and what I believed to be right and wrong.

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It’s hard for me to not let this morph into a blog on purity culture. But I’m not there yet. I’m not ready to talk about something that is my story arc.

I can say though that slut shaming and purity culture walk hand in hand on beautiful white sand beaches where it never rains or gets too hot.

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I remember in high school when the word slut was nearly synonymous in my mind with the name of a dear friend. I don’t know that I ever called her a slut, I think by then I was using the word whore.

As if it was more glamorous and less painful.

My adolescent mind was convinced that her decisions were the result of a broken child hood home and the lack of a solid father figure. She couldn’t possibly want those things. She couldn’t be enjoying them. She couldn’t just be another teenager, making sometimes rash or poor choices.

I stupidly believed that my struggle was everyone else’s struggle. That our stories circled back to the same point. That we were each a mirror of each other when in reality the only thing I was good at reflecting was myself on others.

For those actions and thoughts I am sorry.

I’m not quite sure when I began to recognize a friend’s choices for what they were – individual choices. Simple really.

At some point I must have said to myself, well she can do that and I can do this and at the end of the day we can support and love and encourage one another. And isn’t that one of the best parts about being human? The ability to look past a friend’s flaws or imperfections or differences (even if they seem scary) and love and appreciate her for who she is.

I no longer want to be the friend with all the answers or the one who hears confessions in confidence because my perceived piety has earned some sort of misplaced respect. I want to be the friend who will tell you what I think and then assure you I will love you and support you no matter what you choose. I want to be the friend that’s still standing next to you whether you fall on your face or whether you succeed.

I want you to know I love you and I think you have an amazingly beautiful story, no matter where it starts or when it ends.

So, wear that top that shows off your shoulders or back or even your stomach.
Put on your favorite skirt that makes you feel flirty.
Brush the bronzer on your cleavage – no who notices will care and no one who would judge you will notice.
Buy the dress. Or the bikini. Or the jumpsuit.
Don’t be afraid to try on the “too tight” jeans and the top with the open back.
Sleep naked, whenever you want with whoever you love.
Fight the urge to slut shame. To judge. To persecute, even if silently.
And encourage your friends to do the same.
Fill your mind, your heart, your life with grace and with love.
Open you arms and eyes to new experiences, to different people, to challenging choices.
Embrace change.
Recognize that language is powerful and use it for good, not evil.
And never feel badly about facing your past and saying I’M SORRY.
Because I am, really, truly, I am sorry.

Here’s a little bit of performance poetry, if you’re into that sort of thing…

Failure & Flying

I remember when I fell in love with flying. I was headed to Chicago to celebrate a friend’s bachelorette. I had flown dozens of times before and had always been anxious, but not this time. As the plane took off, I closed my eyes, felt my stomach drop and marveled at the miracle of it all. How incredible that two young men had discovered the secret to flight! I thought of them on the beach, trying and failing, trying and failing and how they must have had days where they felt lost and defeated but something spurred them to continue trying. Before that day, I had always hated taking off because it felt uncontrollable and unnatural. It seemed like it shouldn’t be happening – a great hunk of metal leaving the ground with no magical strings to hold it up.

I wonder about how many things in our lives we can apply that analogy to. How something can seem scary and unnatural for so long until one day, it doesn’t. One day we look at it with new eyes and we marvel in it’s invention and evolution. We consider those who experienced it first and what it must have felt like and we sigh with knowing breath because we have now stood there too. It makes me wonder what it is that makes us most of us keep trying, even when we fail.

And we all fail. Most of us repeatedly.

I think maybe I got over my fear of flying that day because I’m over my fear of falling in or out of love. What’s more uncontrollable then love? Humans have used the falling metaphor for love for ages because it’s accurate – you just fall. No ropes. No bungee. And you never know if the landing will be soft or if it will break you. I think most of us hope we never land; that instead we just keep falling.

Or flying.

A few months ago I wrote this little poem:

Two years ago I was
shoulders deep in the warm waters of love.
Now that I’ve waded
out and am comfortable
feeling the sun all on my own,
I’m finding I’m afraid
to even stick my toes in.

I thought I was writing about how I was scared to fall in love again. Because, in many ways I was and still am. But really I am afraid of forgetting how comfortable I am on my own. I would gladly dive in, head first, as long as the person I’m jumping after promises to let me swim back to shore, by myself, occasionally. In fact, I want him to tell me to do it. To encourage it. Because I want him so in love with the woman that I am on my own, that he doesn’t want me to become anything other than a better version of that woman.

I know my soul speaks in my poetry because it reveals itself to me days, weeks or months after I write the words. I wonder if other writers struggle with that slight disconnect? Between heart and soul – where they talk to each other but rarely commune. I keep trying to bring them together more often.

But I keep failing. And I’m learning that it’s ok.

That one day it will happen. It will be beautiful in the most remarkable way and the result will be uncontrollable.

A Persecuted Church?

Should we revel in persecution? Should we measure our faith by the number of people who hate us?

Honestly, these are things I’ve never considered. In an article posted at FaithStreet.com Russell D. Moore explains his position that the church should become “strange” again and purports that this can happen by becoming a church that attracts persecution. He argues that Christianity shouldn’t be so “normal” that it’s popular.

But here’s what I don’t get… If persecution is a measuring stick by which we can determine how well we’re doing this God thing, wouldn’t that mean there are LESS Christians around us? And if we’re in a place where we can freely practice our faith, why wouldn’t we be attracting those without faith? And if we’re living our faith accurately and thus attracting others to us, then we would be increasing in number and then be persecuted less – right?

When I was reading the comments on Russel’s article, I realized that maybe the reason I disagree with the premise is because we’re not sharing a common definition of “persecution.” He seems to be saying that Christians shouldn’t live in an expected sense of easiness. He seems to have issue with the “Prosperity Gospel.” And that, I agree with.

But I don’t think that’s persecution – I think that’s being human and living with honesty.

No one should pretend to be happy all the time – that’s not real.

No one should act like her faith never wavers because all the hate, abuse, and dishonesty in the world (and in the church) is hard to miss. If the disciples doubted Jesus and he was RIGHT THERE, I think it’s safe to say you and I might struggle some days too.

No one deserves anything just because she’s been blessed enough to choose Him.

Plus, I think it’s weird to wish suffering on yourself or others – no matter the reasoning.

Are missionaries and others blessed immensely because they are persecuted? I believe so. But I also think that once one is truly persecuted, she would never wish that on someone else.

Don’t you think the persecuted pray for relief? And strength? And mercy? 

I don’t think that it’s everyone’s spiritual journey. Just like not every single Christian is meant to live in North Korea or Iran, not every Christian is meant to live a life of intense persecution.

Is that a weak view of Christianity? I don’t know. Will some people think that “real” Christians can take the persecution and those that can’t didn’t really ever have faith? I suppose so.

Some people also think that “real” soldiers don’t suffer from PTSD and that’s not done a lot for an ever rising suicide rate among our military.

I think there’s something to be said for the people who brave the unknown places in our own country – who reach out to the homeless, the prostitutes, and the abused that live here and show them love. The world has persecuted them – they don’t need a faith that will do the same. They need a faith of love, of redemption, of hope and forgiveness.

Should we devalue their story because they find peace through their faith?

And isn’t one of the strangest things we can do, love? Like, really love. With a blindingly unconditional love. Where we throw our arms and hearts and homes open and believe that God will do the changing – all we need to do is love.

That’s a wild faith – one that believes God can move in someone without us ever opening our own mouths.

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When I was very young and eager (aka judgmental), I heard this song for the first time and I remember thinking – Oh my God, he’s right. He’s so right. Now I think the words are a little corny and I’m not a huge fan of the melody, but it still holds the same weight and carries the same reminder.

Here’s a video if you want to hear the song and see lots of mean signs and LifeWay t-shirts. Or just read some lyrics below…

“They’ll know us by the t-shirts that we wear/ They’ll know us by the way we point and stare/ At everyone whose sin looks worse than ours/ Thinking we can hide the scars of this curse that we all bear/ They’ll know us by our picket lines and signs/ They’ll know us by the pride we leave behind/ And isn’t that why Jesus died/ Not to make us think we’re right/ When love, love, love is what we should be known for….”
Derek Webb

Why blog? Why now?

I am terrified to do this. To step out of my documents and notebooks that are just for me and share my thoughts. But I think that’s why I need to do it. I’ve spent the last few months processing years of my life and I’m not done, but I’ve come to some realizations about who I am and why I am this woman. I’ve read hundreds of blog posts and wrote dozens of pages in reflection and I want to set them free.

Lately, I’ve been infatuated with the word liberated. In fact, I wanted to get it tattooed on my body, with some beautiful wildflowers, until my friend told me I might as well tattoo “regret” on myself. I don’t know that I totally agree with her, but it put the idea to bed for awhile. I still love the word for all of its many connotations though.

I also love it because it’s how I’ve felt for the last few months as I’ve found my voice again. Right now, in this moment, it’s a defining word. On my 26th birthday I wrote about how each year is like a book and I’m pretty sure 25 and 26 will each have a chapter titled Liberated. They will have different stories, of how I was unwillingly liberated and then willingly liberated myself.

I want to use this blog to tell those stories.

There’s a show/program (I’m not quite sure what to call it) entitled Mortified that encourages adults to take to the stage and read from their middle school and high school journals. It’s fantastic. To revisit your writing in a public forum is brave and also hilarious, but beyond that it demonstrates that each of us has a story to tell. And it’s liberating to watch (and do!) I mention it because this, telling my stories, sharing my thoughts, is in many ways mortifying but also innately beautiful.

I spent years (7 to be exact) convinced I would be a journalist. I thought I would write inspiring feature stories and shine a light on injustice and use my story telling to change the world. It took me only a few months of reflection to realize that’s not what I was in for if I continued to pursue journalism as a career. But it’s never changed the summary of what I want to do because that is simple – I want to do good.  And I think writing is a tool I can use to do that.

So this blog is an exercise in liberation. And story telling. In lesson teaching and self-exploration. I want to add my voice (even if I’m terrified) to the chorus of women and men who are speaking up about what feels right and what feels wrong and how their past has shaped their present and what that means for the future.

I’m stepping out to struggle in public, feel free to join me if you’d like.