Surviving ‘Modest is the Hottest’ Part 2: What It Meant For Me

It’s interesting to me how in certain moments, no matter how small and seemingly insignificant to the outside, our whole perspective our place in the world is changed. I mean, we’re always experiencing things in our day-to-day life and they teach us, but there are those specific moments that really stand out as game changers. Your perception on where you stand is either reinforced or challenged.

I remember being no older than fourteen laying awake shaking in a severe panic attack on the couch in the middle of the night with my mom for nearly two hours because I was afraid to go to our homeschool commencement. I had heard too many whispers and felt too many looks already and I was on edge. I wanted to be pretty, but it felt like I couldn’t and I had to hide behind clothes that make me feel frumpy because it was the right thing to do. I ended up going in a tank top (with three inch thick sleeves) and a knee length jean skirt, which was both modest and pretty, but whether it was my projection or a reality, I felt judgement as tangible as I feel the keys of my Macbook now. I avoided most of my male classmates because I was scared that their mothers would feel like I was seducing them somehow. I looked at the other more modestly dressed girls and wished that I were more like them, because they were safe and revered as ‘good girls’. If only my skirt were a little longer, or my shirt a little looser… If only.

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How I felt like people saw me

I remember specifically going out of my way to clean up the reception afterwards because I was hoping that they’re see that I had a good heart and good intentions, but I felt no such relief. Nothing was ever said directly about that incident and I filed it away under: it doesn’t matter what you’re intentions are. Only what people think about how you look on the outside matters in the end. 

From then on, I determined I wouldn’t give anyone cause to talk about me. I would be perfect. I would be position myself in such a way that no one would notice me. I would look exactly the way I needed to be safe from sidelong glaces.

I started buying clothes that were too big for me to hide my body. I trained myself to walk in such a way that my butt wouldn’t move at all, and I learned to stand so my chest never stuck out. I cut off all my hair in a shapeless, unflattering bob because I knew boys didn’t like short hair and I thought maybe this would help me fly under the radar.

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I absorbed the mindsets and turned a critical eye on other girls who weren’t as chaste as “us”. I became that legalistic, unforgiving standard who made excuses for other people’s disrespect and sin because “she was asking for it with that outfit”. As for bathing suits, what bathing suits?

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I wore tshirts and mens’ gym shorts to the beach for years on co-op days to avoid any gossip. (I didn’t have to if we weren’t at co-op, so that taught me that in order to fit in with the ‘good people’ I had to perform.) I felt heavy and hideous while I was swimming, but at least I was safe. I watched the girls who were prettiest, who dared to wear some makeup to our homeschool classes, be ostracized and gossiped about.

What do I learn from all this? I learn that trying to look pretty is dangerous, beauty is sinful, beauty will be used against you.

Outside of my homeschool group, I also had a job and eventually started going to Community College classes. In these circles I was considered a prude.

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Everyone made fun of me for my cardigan sweaters (which I really loved) and the tank tops that I put on underneath formal dresses to avoid cleavage. There was really no place where I could win, because no one was ever really happy. If I wasn’t such a people pleaser I would have been able to realize that I myself wasn’t happy, either. But that wasn’t what mattered. I had to keep myself safe from other people’s opinions and all boys because, bless their little hearts, they were visual creatures and they just couldn’t help themselves.

The guy I liked at that time never got near me and always made sure there were pillows between us on the couch. I was eighteen and I was still wearing clothes at the beach because I had to respect his weaknesses. Literal coffee dates were held without eye contact because of the temptation it posed.

Oh, the things we do to each other while we’re trying to “do the right thing”.

There was a flicker of doubt in my uber modest lifestyle one day during the thick of it. I was walking into the mall in my men’s tuxedo pants after work one day and in the reflective glasses I watched a grown man turn to stare at my butt (which was basically indiscernible in the pants) and I wondered how he could break the rules like that. I mean, I was covered up! Hidden! How could he look at me like that?

When I went away to college I was surprised to learn in our female dorm meeting that shoulder blades were a turn on for guys and wouldn’t be tolerated. That was a new one for me. Everything else about finger tips and cleavage and midriffs was like remembering the words to the songs you used to sing as a little kid. I watched the faces of girls that were clearly only sent to this school because their parents refused to send them to a ‘secular’ school contort as they heard these foreign sounding words and I just sighed and looked at the ceiling and waited for it to be over. I know this all already.

At this point, I not only had drank the koolaid about modesty, but I’d also picked up that all girls who are pretty, dress to be pretty and make an effort in general to be pretty were shallow and stupid and they deserved everything bad that happened to them.

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I made sure no one made that mistake about me. I wanted to be known as kind and hardworking and smart, and I couldn’t be any of those things and also look pretty. Obviously. Shout out to my gauchos and my dad’s sweatshirt for keeping me company those semesters. I dressed up on occasion, but it made me so uncomfortable because everyone would inevitably make it into a big thing because I rarely looked human. One day I did my hair and makeup and wore a skirt and tank top and I literally had to coax myself out my dorm door by repeating, It’s not a sin to look pretty”, a million times. After the reactions I got from friends (who meant so well) and guys I ‘sort of’ knew, I didn’t do that as much.

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There was a guy that I was talking to at one point who kept shaming me for wearing shorts and commenting on my Facebook pictures telling me to “put on some pants”, so that didn’t help anything. I borrowed my sisters green prom dresses for a formal event and everyone made comments about how they couldn’t believe my chest looked like that. I tugged on my dress all night and turned sideways in every photo so no one could see my boobs.

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By the time I got to LA, I officially had less rules for my clothes than I’ve ever had and I finally felt safe to jump into the lazy, bohemian look that I really loved—I mean, it’s Los Angeles.

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Who’s going to comment on my clothes? No one, but I there was a girl I knew that always would talk about how guys were looking at me and objectifying me any time I was with her and that helped build the walls of my complex higher. This was also the first time a bathing suit picture of me made it to the internet, nearly six years after I first got Facebook.

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I was twenty-one. I was trying to make sense of the world outside of the rules that used to make so much sense and it was a little jarring. I felt both free and lost all at once.

Whether it was projection of internalized shame at failing to measure up to some unspoken rule or the criticisms of others, or a little bit of both, it messed me up.

BUT tune in next week to hear about how I realized that I get to evaluate my experiences and that I don’t have to accept everything as the truth and now I just live my life not crippled by fear.

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Surviving ‘Modest is the Hottest’ Part 1: What Does that Even Mean?

As some of you may know, I was homeschooled.

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From third grade until I walked across the very small stage with 11 other seniors in my graduating class, I lived the life of 4H, co-ops, Joshua Harris purity culture, the silver ring thing abstinence club, the Do Hard Things club, apologetics, early admission to college classes and, of course, the modesty culture. I have enough experience in this subculture to write a book, talk the talk, walk the walk and give an Oxford level lecture with footnotes and sources at any given moment on the subject.

Especially when it comes to the entire modesty movement.

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I saw an article on Facebook today that, while it wasn’t saying anything I haven’t thought/heard before, gave me the push I needed to sit down and blog about my experiences with ‘Team No Stumbling’, because this whole thing is getting out of control.

I’ve held off writing about this because it seems like everyone and their mom has written a blog of some sort lately about body shaming and the modesty culture, and honestly, it’s a scary time right now to speak up for yourself as a female.

I mean, everyone supports you, because it’s really popular to let women have a voice today, but it seems almost impossible to give grace to Camp Female without demonizing Camp Men and I’m not about that life, either.

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No matter how many times everyone tells me that feminism is about gender equality (I so desperately want it to be, and I love you, Emma!) not men-hating and complaining, much like how society fixates on Westboro Baptist Church when it thinks of Christians, that’s pretty much what happens with me and feminism. I’m trying, guys. At any rate, I don’t hate men and I don’t think everything is their fault, so that’s not what this post is about.

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This post is also not a “boo-hoo, let’s all pity me because I dealt with something that sucked in high school and now I have a free pass to be angry all the time and blame everyone else for me not moving on” post, either. There are enough of those to fill the library of Congress, and sorry everyone, I don’t agree with that. I believe that our experiences can define us, but I also believe just as strongly that we grow and change most from the experiences that we refused to give power over us. At some point, we have to stop claiming the victim card and take responsibility for our own lives. Regardless of what we’ve been through (and chances are, at this point in our lives, us twenty somethings have had a few less-than-stellar life experiences), we should want to move past them. I don’t mean to invalidate anyone’s experiences, I mean to encourage everyone that we can unlearn the lies we’ve gleaned from bad experiences.The best way to stick it to the man is to live your life like all the junk you’ve dealt with like it doesn’t affect you, because it doesn’t have to. As my favorite band of philosophers known as Hawk Nelson once said:

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Also, my parents didn’t really do this to me, either. My mom was one of the more ‘liberal’ homeschooled moms, because she let us wear tank tops (three finger thick sleeves, don’t worry) and eyeliner to our co-op classes, and didn’t force me through speech and debate club, which I really disliked anyway. I’ve never once heard my dad even mention anything that I’m wearing, and that makes me one of the lucky ones because I have friends and people I know whose parents (mostly out of fear of what other people would think) so ingrained this into their daughters that I’m pretty sure they have PTSD episodes when they put on a pair of shorts. So, shout out to my parent for being stellar and protecting me from all kinds of pressures that I’m pretty sure they faced for not conforming during my high school years. I wish I was as strong as them or my younger sister, Christina, who has long since raised the proverbial middle finger to people’s expectations, but I was always so worried about what people thought and concerned with pleasing others that it pretty much consumed my life from fourteen to twenty.

It’s so easy to take things out of context or use eisegesis when we read scripture. We love to do it, and most of it can be avoided simply by reading the entire chapter of a book to see how everything ties together. My favorite example is how we as a church take the one verse in Jeremiah 29 and crochet it on pillows while ignoring the ENTIRE CHAPTER which basically has God saying, “Things are going to suck for a while and you’re going to be enslaved for years under Babylon but don’t worry because I’m going to bring you out of it in time because I have plans to prosper you and not to harm you”. Context, people. Context, context, context.

The whole modesty movement is very loosely based on several verses that are all sort of quoted together, despite being found in different books of the New Testament written to different people.

Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. - Romans 14:20 – 22

Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling-block to the weak. – 1 Corinthians 8:9

And I want women to be modest in their appearance. They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes. – 1 Timothy 2:9

All of these verses get more or less squished together into this over-arching, unspoken theme of “girls make sure you’re modest because you don’t want to be responsible for making your brothers stumble because they’re weak and can’t control themselves”. I went to youth group pool parties, Christian summer camps, speech and debate tournaments, even a Christian college where we had dorm meetings where we received a list of rules about how we could dress. One of my favorites is the fingertip rule which basically means that if your shorts weren’t long enough to reach your fingertips then you’ll “cause boys to stumble”. Thanks to my extremely long arms (which I discovered in biology class are about 5’5 from one fingertip to the other), I pretty much was always in the danger zone.

saved-meme-2I gotta be honest, I didn’t really even know what “stumbling” meant when I was in high school, I just sort of had this vague idea that it would mean a boy would want to have sex with you, which was dirty and shameful and obviously the unforgivable sin, which I was solely responsible for. There are whole books dedicated to modesty as a subject pertaining to girls’ clothes and even though there were a few progressive authors that tried assert that modesty actually also included behavior, we all knew that a girl with her stomach showing was less loved by Jesus and ultimately a succubus most perverse because she wasn’t respect her “brothers” with her dress. There was never a discussion of how boys could cause us girls to stumble, or that they should take their own thoughts captive to Jesus or really ever acknowledged them as anything more than horny, visual animals. For that, I’m sorry for all guys. I don’t know what’s worse: being told you’re a piece of meat or being told that all your kind care about is finding a piece of meat. This whole narrow concept of modesty disrespects both girls and boys because it places all the blame on girls and removes personal responsibility from boys.

1909554_5444755194_804_nThis was me being ‘edgy’ because I was wearing a string tank top and shorts that barely passed my fingertips. 

I’ll let you in on a little secret here too: stressing modesty to this extreme actually just reinforced in my mind that I was a sexual object to be hidden, not an actual person. The people I’ve felt more objectified by in my life are usually Christians, both men and women. I’m not thrown off when some guy off the streets makes a comment or stares at my butt or whatever. It almost doesn’t even bother me at this point. But when a conservative guy I really like tells me that I need to change my already fingertip length shorts and that I can’t look into their eyes because it’s “too much” for him, ATTENTION EVERYONE, I’ve just been categorized as a sexual object. Here’s what I learn for interactions like that: my decisions to dress myself are to please men and not God, my body is a source of temptation only and I should be ashamed whenever someone speaks or acts out of turn because it’s my fault.

I’m having to end this here because it’s already too long, but I promise it gets better and more triumphant as we go along! Don’t give up on me, guys. It’s also heavy to end on, so please enjoy this unrelated clip of Jimmy Fallon and Adam Levine doing musical impressions.

beware the fear that makes us say ‘yes’

I’ve always had a problem establishing healthy boundaries in my life.

It’s part of my personality, that perfect blend of wanting to do it all right punctuated with a performance complex. There are personalities that aren’t affected by this, like my sister Christina and my dad. They live their life totally free from concern about what people think and what they expect of them and I’ve always been a little envious.

This post is for the rest of us.

Everywhere I turn in my life, there’s some source that, if it isn’t directly preaching with words, it’s demonstrating with actions, why I should have it all, do it all. I owe it to myself. Work hard, and you can play harder. Take that promotion and you’ll get a fatter check every two weeks. Get up early to work out. For a small price you can look and dress just like [insert itty bitty celebrity lady who has a flock of personal assistants and a team of photoshop professionals at her beck and call].

The church can be just as guilty of this. We idolize the families who “have it all together” (according to our estimation of their personal lives), but still manage to make it to every church function with a smile on their face. We worship those who sacrifice health and time with family because they’re busy serving in the church, and even secretly resent them because we feel like we’re not giving enough–all the while we preach about the value and importance of a Sabbath and rest.

As long as there are people that make up a society, there will always be some sort of level that we’re supposed to reach and we’re always going to feel like we owe it to ourselves to get there.

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In college, I said yes to literally everything: pseudo-relationships, working on film sets, late nights, more credit hours, work-loads, etc. If a boy was nice and wanted to “talk” with me, I would… even when I didn’t feel interested in anything more than friendship with them. It was just the sort of thing I somehow felt you were supposed to do. I would commit to work on film sets during most of the hours I should have been sleeping because it was good experience and you should never say no to upperclassmen taking an interest in the “new meat” transfer students. When an opportunity to lead a mission trip was presented to me from someone I considered a spiritual superior, I said yes, even though I’d never been on a mission trip and didn’t have any peace about going. I never wanted anyone to have their feelings hurt or to let anyone down, and I especially didn’t want to feel like I was missing any opportunities because we all know that regret is the demon that gets to sit at the foot of our bed in our later years because “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”.

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In theory, it sounds really great. We all know that we need to take chances and try new things because that’s the stuff that life and adventure is made of and we don’t want to die slowly while we’re still alive because we’re being inhibited.

But what happens when your answer is ‘yes’, when the answer should really be ‘for your sanity and mine, no’?

You have a string of nice guys who could have been decent friends but instead have to be held at arms reach because your fear of “missing out” pushed you into starting relationships that you had no business starting and now it’s messy and awkward and your stomach hurts when you you see their pictures on social media.

You have a ton of experience from being on so many sets, and you probably regret that choice the least because it was really fun, but it also made you tired. So tired that you snap at your mom on the phone whenever you talk to her and stop tasting your coffee because you’re too busy throwing it down your throat before you run off to another set.

You feel guilty and pressured for weeks and like you’re less of a person, less of a Christian because you can’t see what everyone else conveniently sees without knowing you at all or trusting your relationship with Jesus and ultimately end up saying no and feeling like Satan walking around your Christian campus amid all the mission booths.

But you can’t feel bad. Didn’t you want to have it all?

You don’t want to be that person filled with regret at 42, with a slew of Siamese cats, wistfully looking at your Pinterest boards wondering what Morocco would have looked like and whether or not it’s possible to utilize Mason Jars that much or even more seriously, miss out on a loving relationship because you were too busy calculating the pros and cons of your choices.

Here’s the thing: no matter how it’s presented or who is selling it to us, whether it’s society at large, the church or even a political movement (come on, ladies, you don’t want to stay at home with your kids! You should be a mother and a career woman! This is 2015! Don’t settle for being less like the 50’s housewives of yore [/side rant]): you don’t need to do it all and you shouldn’t do it all. 

Saying yes to everything ultimately means saying no to everything because you’re can’t do everything well. We’re all leaving these legacies of half-lived lives because we fear regret more than we esteem time with family, a job well done, being well rested or making time for the little joys in life.

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I know the traditional interpretation of this verse is about how we don’t need to do everything that we have the freedom to do, but I really like how the Message throws in that “the point is not just to get by”.

If I am living as a slave to fear, by saying yes all the time, what is my life demonstrating to others who know that people who know Jesus claim to live in freedom?

I’m not superwoman.

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Sometimes I can’t do things, even though I could do things because I technically have a day off. Every time I say no to an extra obligation, I’m as brave as Gladiator, because I just bested the closest thing to lions that I’ve ever faced: people’s expectations. Sometimes I say no to nice guys because I know I’m not interested in them the same way they’re interested in me, and I’m as brave because now I’m strong enough to live my life without forcing things to work because I already missed the deadline to get engaged at my college graduation. Sometimes I turn down chances to play around on guitar because I decided to go to dance lessons instead and that’s the thing that I said yes to today.

Sometimes we say no, so we can say yes to something else and actually mean it. 

Evaluate your activities: what brings you joy and what is helping you reach your goals? Prioritize your relationships: who are you spending yourself on and who is poisonous for you? Set boundaries, emotionally, spiritually, physically, mentally. No one is going to do it for you. Beware the fear that makes us say ‘yes’. It’s just as dangerous as the fear that makes us say ‘no’.

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Spoiler Alert: New Year, Same You!

Happy New Year.

We made it to 2015, kids.

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There’s nothing quite as intoxicating as striding with confidence into the next new thing: a new job, a new relationship, a new diet, a new hair stylist, a new home, etc. We love babies in part because of their freshness and purity; they are the dictionary definition of new. We love the giddiness we feel in seeing the cute new boy in class/work/anywhere because he looks like mystery, possibility… a second chance. If you’re like me and staying still makes you scream, we love to go new places and see new things.

Perhaps the most appealing of all is the idea of not just new things, but a new “us”.

December 31st of (insert any year here) is the night of reinvention for many of us. A time to pause and reflect on how excellent the past year was, and how we are #blessed and how we hope to succeed in the new year. I don’t think the stream of valenica filtered paleo-vegan-gluten free food shots is a coincidence–it’s the new year.

And why not? After all it’s a new year. You owe it to yourself. You really can be all that you want to be–if you only put in the work for it. And you will. You will be sexier and more well read and well traveled and equally yoked and self respecting in this new year and the haters can’t tell you anything.

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Until it’s January 2nd. Or 7th. Or whenever. And we realize we didn’t go to the gym. We meant to save money, but we forgot to pack our lunch for work and now we’re spending $8.38 on subpar food and a smoothie because it’s the closest available where we work. We’ll draw the lines in this toxic relationship… after one more text. (After all, they don’t even fully understand where we’re coming from! We can’t end something without having the last word). Before we know it, it’s Valentine’s Day and we have nothing to show for ourselves but some good old self depreciation masking our clear shame at failing to meet all 17 of our goals to read Tolstoy and ride the unicycle or just wake up earlier in the day and not be lazy bums.

Honestly, I couldn’t do it this year.

I wrote a bit last year on how I feel like new years resolutions can be really shallow and self serving, and while I still hold to that being (mostly) true, I want to encourage you all with this precious gem of a reality:

You’re still the person you were last year. Good and bad, strengths and weaknesses, they all traveled with you, even when you crossed that magical line into 2015. But guess what? You’re not restricted to just one annual chance to try, try again. There are 24 hours in a day–that’s 1,440 minutes (or 86,400 seconds). Last year was like that too–in fact, every year is like that. But it’s good news because it means that you have about 1,440 chances a day to turn things around and get back on track and push your way towards who you want to be and what you want to do. 525,600 minutes per year to start over. Isn’t that great? I feel like that’s the best present I could ever ask for.

Further than that, if you’re in God’s family, then congratulations! You are actually constantly in the process of being made new because His Spirit is living inside you! He’s cleaning house and shuffling things around and changing your priorities if you’ve given Him leave to do so, and that’s the most lasting change with the greatest return.

We are already new.
We are constantly given newness.
It is ours.
All we have to do is reach out and take what’s in front of us, and allow Jesus to do His thing.

I receive this.
I’m holding onto this.
I hope you will too.

(And the gym will always be there, guys. You can always so back whenever and I won’t even judge you because I probably won’t roll in until like mid March and no one will even care because it’s not even that serious.)

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being okay, not being okay & Immanuel still being with us.

Saturday, December 20th

Today is a very unusual time to write, but I thought I’d try and snag a few moments to myself since I missed writing on Tuesday.

I’m with the girls this weekend, and I can hear 50 Cent or something similar droning softly from each of their respective rooms over my Angus and Julia Stone Pandora station. We are all up and ready for the day, laundry is being done and I managed to slap some eyeliner and a side braid on to create the illusion of being prepared for this day.

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The truth is, I’m not really sure how I’m functioning right now, other than being sustained on the prayers of my parents, and my sighed whispers to Jesus to help me get through (insert literally whatever I’m doing at the moment). Maybe it doesn’t sound like much, but honestly, having only one full day off a week is wearing me down.

But it’s more than what I’ve been doing, and I’ve known that for weeks. It’s ironic; I pride myself so much on being honest, vulnerable and authentic especially here on my blog, and I also feel an obligation to be strong and end everything with something at least vaguely spiritual because I know that therein lies the answer.

But the truest thing that I haven’t written in weeks is that I’m not okay.

Nothing is wrong, and yet, I’ve literally become weary in well doing. In between covering shifts so other people can go out and have fun, celebrating my sister’s engagement, trying to wear dresses every day, make it to church so I can check off my good Christian card, putting myself out there to meet new people, I’ve just gotten tired of it.

Just a few weeks ago I was so certain that I needed to be here in America and what I was doing right now matters because the people I encounter and love on matter. This hasn’t changed. It’s still true.

But I’ve let other thoughts come and roost in the henhouse of my mind, thoughts that are so ugly that I hate to ever write them down here. Frustration at feeling like I’m always held to a higher standard while others can run free without consequences. Anger at how things aren’t moving forward in my life the way I keep dreaming about. Bitter that, once again, I’m left celebrating someone else’s relationship and falling asleep wondering if someone will ever look at me that way again and if any of the songs I hear will ever be more than words in my head again.

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It came to a head the other night, and part of that was because I worked a 13 hour day and it had been a long, long week of extreme busy-ness at work and correcting issues and smiling through it all and I came home and I just cracked.

Arms folded in the kitchen leaning on the counter, with my sweet mom trying to counsel me, hearing the words I know so deeply to be true and hating hearing them all at once. God loves me, God has time to hear from me, and suddenly it bursts out of me:

“He doesn’t have time for me because he’s forgotten me! He left me here alone in America and forgot me!”

The kitchen seemed so quiet for a moment, and the tears fell freely for several minutes, as I stared dully at the green numbers on the stove clock. I should have stopped there and I knew it, but I spewed all of my frustrations out for the next several minutes and they tasted strongly of bitterness and salt.

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Even as the entitlement and questionings and frustrations fell from my lips, I was angry because I knew I wasn’t justified in holding on to them and that is the worst feeling of all when you’re trying to have a proper pity party and all you hear in your heart (against all of your carefully crafted reasoning) is the song of how much grace you’ve already been freely given in your life.

Maybe that’s why entitlement and disappointment look so awful on us as children of God. Our arms are too full of grace and we’re wrapped so thickly in it that when we try to pick up other attitudes we can’t even hold onto them properly—we know too much. We have too much. We are too much. We don’t do what we do to “get jewels on our crown” and physical rewards in this life, and if that’s our only motivation then we have so far missed the mark that it’s laughable.

tumblr_ncbyroGkVB1tamedoo1_500 As it would turn out, I’d let my parents pray for me that night and I’d start actually praying again too. Sometimes the only prayer you have is, “Help me, because I can’t help myself”. It’s our first prayer when we meet Jesus and for some of us, we forget that it’s still just as honest, just as true, just as necessary however many years later when you’re wondering whether or not you could get away with smiling in a church service on Sunday.

My faith, still, is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
No matter how sweet all these other frames are, it’s only ever been Him holding me up.


Tuesday, 23 December 

What a difference a few days make.

You would think after all these years that I’d have the pattern of life down—if I learned anything from my (brief) days as a screenwriter it’s that the “dark night of the soul” always precedes the breakthrough.

Right after my breakdown (and the subsequent breakdown of my pride which lead to honest prayers) the light started peaking through a bit. A bit at first—and then it came bursting forth in all areas of my life.

I was given a promotion at work, and this is a big deal because it’s the first time I’ve ever had a boss really praise me for my work ethic and put me in charge of something.

I was blessed with a friend to look at my car (since it’s been sounding so god-awful lately) only to discover that it’s not ready to croak at any moment and it should last me a while longer.

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I was able to meet my Dressember goal by Day 21, which was exciting and humbling because it was only through everyone else’s generosity. That in and of itself was encouraging because it’s amazing to see how giving people can be, and are, if given the opportunity.

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I was able to finally sit down and have a heart to heart with my little sister, and it was much needed on both of our ends. She’s one of my best friends and we’d gone too long without spending time together.

I went to the Christmas party at the safehouse and got cards from the girls, and had the chance to spend time with a whole bunch of amazing freedom fighters, foster parents and lovers of Jesus who are changing the world today and here in America.

Most remarkable of all, I somehow have the next three days off. It’s truly a Christmas miracle.

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I see all of it for what it is: a reminder that Jesus has me. He’s got my back. He is still ever and always bringing me and my circumstances back to the light of His truth. He hasn’t forgotten me. He sees me. He knows me. He’s ever bringing life–both eternally and here and now, in my present life. This is the good news. This is the stuff that makes life worth living, and the only thing that keeps me going.

Communion has been the coolest for me lately, because I realize that Jesus literally broke himself to bits to sustain me. If he did that in his death, how much more can he restore now that he is alive?

So take a breath and break the night,
Stranger to the light.
Wind of God, dig up the graves
Breathe into the slain.

Immanuel: God with Us.