Kings and Queens 2

Okey dokey. Obviously, this is the promise continuation of my previous post. Quick review that’ll help with understanding my post today: “The Queen was in charge of the castle. She supported him and offered him wisdom and counsel when he needed it. If the King was away at war, SHE was the one who protected the castle. She was supposed to be just but strict. She raised their children (with help from the maids sometimes). And, perhaps most importantly, she submitted to her husband.”

Let’s translate that into today’s terms. A Queen is in charge of doing her part to keep the home looking good and functioning well. Does this mean a guy isn’t supposed to, say, do the dishes? Fold laundry? Cook? Not at all! But it also means that some days, when he is too tired or too busy, it is the job of the wife to do all of it. Yes, all of it. Sometimes, taking care of the house means doing the taxes or doing manual work. It means you work to keep it running smoothly and your husband will help because he loves you. And even if he doesn’t, ladies you are still responsible for YOUR actions, not his. Support and wisdom. Yep, that falls on the ladies too. Sometimes, your husband will not know what to do. Yeah, he’s supposed to lead the house, but he’s human too. There’ll be times when he feels absolutely overwhelmed. These are the times when the ladies – the Queens –are to speak wisdom into their husbands (or boyfriends – the responsibilities don’t begin when your married) lives. They are to be walking close to God themselves, so that when this happens they can speak God’s wisdom into their lives. Sometimes, this can be as simple as saying “There isn’t anything you can do. Remember that great and powerful God we serve? Yep, gotta leave it up to him.” (Sorry, those of you who like to problem-solve. Good luck). Sometimes it might just mean reminding him that you (or God) love(s) him. Sometimes, this is where you have to be walking close with God so that you can say what God is trying to tell him. Or maybe, if God is being silent, it’s just speaking Godly truth into his life.

Next! Defending the castle. Sometimes, in a kingdom’s history, there were wars. And sometimes this called for the King to go off to war. Sometimes this was to defend his own kingdom, and sometimes someone else’s – yes, boys, you are called to help defend other’s kingdoms as well as your own – but while he was gone, it was up to the Queen to defend the castle in his stead. If all went well, she wouldn’t need to. But as we all know, stuff goes wrong. Life isn’t perfect. And so, even if the Queen didn’t know how to fight (although knowing how to fight was always a bonus), she had to know how to lead. She had to sit in on meetings and participate in them. Where was the castle weakest? What where the enemies troops? Where did her people stand on supplies and manpower? What did they do with the village people? What equipment did both sides have? What was morale like? If they needed something, how could they get it? Maybe there was an unconventional idea that she had to push through. The Queen was in charge of this and so much more. Have you ever noticed that any of the queens you hear of in the distant past you hear of because they did something? Ladies, you’ll know what I’m talking about when I say that sometimes we  are underestimated. It irritates some of us. But personally, I like it! Let the enemy underestimate me! It’ll make it easier to kick them to the curb. As Queens (or future Queens), we are powerful. We’re not always called to show that power, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there. The Queens are the ones to defend the castle when the King is away.

The Queen was also supposed to be just, but strict. I’m gonna add some stuff to this: the Queen was supposed to have grace and wisdom as well. Tall order, huh? In reality, the just and strict is usually applied to Kings. But Queens are also supposed to be just, and they do need to know when to draw the line. However, the Queens are ALSO supposed to sometimes give second chances. They are supposed to love. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the bible verse, but the Bible tells husbands to love their wives and wives to respect their husbands. This shows a key difference between guys and gals: guys run on respect. It’s important to them. They need to feel needed. It’s how God wired them. Gals, however, run on love. They need to feel cared for and respected. Not helpless – they aren’t – but cared for and protected. This also means that guys and girls have different strengths and weaknesses. Often, ladies find it easier to express love. They are often quicker to come together in a community for help and support. Guys (to many ladies’ exasperation ;P) have pride (ooooh, I said it). All joking aside, they are less likely to automatically go to someone else and instead often try to figure it out on their own. However, their protective instincts are (or at least should be) off the charts. Personally, I think if the guy isn’t 1) Ready to try and work things out first and 2)Ready to fight in a heartbeat if working things out is impossible, then he probably isn’t ready to be a King. If I ever get married, I want my husband to be the type of man that, if he sees a woman getting harassed or attacked on the street, jumps in ready to do whatever is necessary to protect her. Sometimes, though, that just might mean giving up his pride to avoid bullets flying and potentially hurting someone. And I hope that if I ever get married my husband will be ready to do that too, because priorities. So, to get back on track, Queens are supposed to extend love and grace. However, they are also supposed to know where to draw the line.

Raising the children. In actuality, this is supposed to be a job for both the King and the Queen. They are supposed to raise their children well, in a Godly manner. They are in charge of teaching their children how to be Kings and Queens when they grow up. This includes looking for a King or Queen as their partner when they’re old enough. Teaching patience, wisdom, hope, love…the list goes on and on.  Sometimes, they might need help. Like it or not (usually not), sometimes kids don’t listen to their parents. Sometimes, they just need to hear it from someone else. Here’s the thing. When you’re a King or Queen, you don’t just speak truth into the people right around you. If you aren’t ready to speak truth in unexpected situations with people you may or may not know [well], are you really speaking truth to those around you?

And last (at least for now), Queens are supposed to submit to their husbands. Some ladies might not like this. Don’t take it from me, take it from God. In the bible God sets the husband as head of the house. This means that, yes, the King’s decisions overrule the Queen’s. You can discuss things with him, of course. But if, ultimately, he decides on something else, he is the head of the house. What he says, goes. And now is where, Queens, you want to make sure you are looking for a King and not settling for anything less. If it is a partnership between a King and Queen, both partners will be listening to each other and to the Lord, and often they will come to be on the same page. And here’s something that I think often gets in the way when a Queen has to make the decision to follow her King even when he does something she doesn’t like or doesn’t follow her advise. It’s Faith. Queens are supposed to have faith in their Kings. It’s not comfortable – but then again, is following God comfortable? Marriage is the closest thing we have to the relationship between God and the church. It is supposed to mirror that. And so Queens are supposed to have faith in their husbands. Of course he will make mistakes. He isn’t perfect (surprise, surprise). You make mistakes too, and you are also not perfect. But will yelling at him and getting on his case make anything better? No. When this happens, I can guarantee you he knows that he messed up. You will BOTH benefit more from supporting each other than from tearing each other down.

And of course, your job is not only to look for a King or Queen as a partner. “Why are you waiting to be treated like a Queen when you don’t know how to treat him like a King”. YOUR job, ladies, is not only to look for a King (if he’s a King, he will treat you like a Queen), but to be a Queen. You are ultimately in charge of yourself.

So, I’m thinking of making this a series (possibly featuring a guest King to speak to any guys out there). Let me know what you guys think! I know my thoughts were kind of disjointed both this post and part 1, so I apologize for that. Feel free to offer suggestions or ask questions, too! Thanks for reading!

Continuation

In case you couldn’t tell from the title, this is a short continuation of my previous post.

So I talked about how Jesus hung out with the people who weren’t good enough – the people who would have today’s Christians shaking their heads. Today, I want to apply that to our relationships.

I have a friend. Originally, he is a friend of a friend. And while I’m not super close to him, I would still call him a friend. However, he is gay. And today, I had my roommate (who is not religious) ask about whether or not it was okay for my friend (who is a strong Christian who I admire) to be friends with him. After all, isn’t being gay something the bible tells us not to do (I’d like to point out briefly that the Bible NEVER associates being gay with…well…being. It never refers to it as an identity, only an action)? And yes, it does. And this friend is also “religious” (I only use that term because I’m not entirely sure where he stands in the “religious field”, if you will). I don’t know how he resolves the two, but that’s a discussion for another time. But if Jesus hung out with people like the apostles, what excuse could I possibly give for not hanging out with people we would refer to as “better”? None. The answer is none.

I recently read “The Lipstick Gospel”. And I encourage you to read it as well. But one of the things she talks about is how she thought Christianity was about “old grannies and ugly shoes”…-and how she found out that is isn’t. That it isn’t sterile and clean, but rather messy and dirty. At one point, she used smell references – that she thought Christianity was “boring, plain vanilla” and she was more interested in something “eukelyptic-y” (excuse my spelling). I think that maybe I have been thinking too in line with “boring, plain vanilla”. I was raised in a Christian home, I’ve been a Christian since I was four, and I’m finding out that we are rather conservative. Not that that’s bad – for example, I believe in one-piece bathing suits rather than two pieces, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But sometimes, being raised in a Christian environment, you come to expect the sterile. So meeting the messy – someone who struggles with cursing, or crude jokes, or anger, or anything else – can be a bit of a shock. If you’ve never encountered it before, you might not know how to respond. Or maybe you automatically respond with a judgement about their faith. And by you I mean me. And so we forget that a foundation of Christianity is love and grace. We forget that judgement is not ours to give (James 4:11,12). We forget that God’s love is not sterile and boxed up, but unconditional and without bounds. Something that the writer of “The Lipstick Gospel” wrote struck me: she wrote that “I didn’t even have to give up having sex for God to love me”. She did – because she saw a hint of God’s plan for her life and “wanted in on it”, which is what I believe happens when you’re trying to seek God – but God would love her anyway. Rahab in Joshua 2 comes to mind.

Maybe this thought will be radical for you, but God loves the prostitutes. God loves the drunkards. God loves the unfaithful. God loves the thieves. God loves the criminals. God loves the murderers. God loves the abusers. God loves the rapists. God loves the perverts. God loves everyone. Unconditionally. He loves everyone unconditionally.

Those same people who all too often we hate? The people we look down on? The people we despise? God loves them. Even when what they do makes us sick to our stomachs, He loves them. And we are called to Love them too. Love, with a capital L. Because it isn’t dependent on our feelings, or on them. The love we are supposed to have is supposed to transcend any circumstances, and go straight to the deep, neverending, unconditional love that God has. We are supposed to love like Him.

So to wrap up, just remember. Our faith, as Christians, is not supposed to be sterile. It isn’t supposed to be squeaky clean. It’s supposed to be messy, because we are messy. We are not perfect, so neither should our faith be.

You should read “The Lipstick Gospel”. It’s interesting and has some good thoughts. You can find it at http://stephaniemaywilson.com/lipstickgospeldownload

I’m Not Good Enough

Let me jump right in here. If you’ve read any of my previous posts from months ago, you know that I struggle with masturbation. So this post is largely about some wisdom that was spoken into my life regarding that lately.

I’ve been struggling with masturbation for over a year now. I go through cycles – long period of time with no masturbation, then a short period of time with lots of it. Semi-recently, I’ve come to a spot where many of you may or may not have been – I’m not good enough. I’m not good enough for God’s love. I’m not good enough for His forgiveness, for His grace. I keep sinning! And (if you remember my post about rebellion a ways back, or if you want to go read it) not only do I just keep sinning, I rebel against him. Most of the time when I masturbate any more, I send up a prayer ahead of time apologizing for what I’m about to do. So I keep sinning, and keep rebelling, and then I don’t want to pray. I mean, why would God want to hear from me? I can’t expect him to magically fix it if I’m not willing to put in work as well, and obviously I’m failing in that area. I’m tired of saying sorry and then going back to do it again. At this point, I felt dirty. I felt absolutely disgusting. And eventually, I put it at the edge of my mind because I was tired of considering it and not getting answers. But this past weekend, someone spoke some immense wisdom into my life.

David. David was wonderful, wasn’t he? We, as Christians, look up to him. Sure, the man had some flaws, but he was a man after God’s own heart!

Exactly.

God called David a man after his heart, knowing full well that David would commit adultery in the future. And not only would he commit adultery, he would then commit murder to cover it up. And still God said something that praised David so highly. This wisdom that was spoken into my life meant something to me. It wasn’t a life-changing, earth-shattering thing – you rarely know when those are going on, they usually seem super little at the time – but it meant something. What matters, Wisdom (I’m going to start referring to this person as Wisdom) told me, was where my heart was leaning towards. Was my heart following God?

Soloman was wise. He was blessed by God, he followed God, right? Well…until he fell into idolatry (1 Kings 11). God knew that Soloman would do that far before it ever happened.

A couple of weeks ago I saw a thing on Facebook (amazing, right? I saw a thing. Excuse me, I’ll continue now). This passage that someone wrote spoke about the disciples. It’s message was about judging people who may cuss or do other things that don’t seem Christian after they were saved, and their points apply here as well. (By the way, to give credits, this was by Preston Sprinkle on faithit.com)

We all admire the disciples, right? Especially Peter. Well, he had that one bad stint where he denied Jesus (I’m sensing a pattern here…) but other than that, he was pretty close to Jesus! In Luke 9, he was the one who recognized Jesus as the Son of God. Peter denied Jesus and even cursed himself to prove it (Matthew 26:74). Also in Luke 9, James and John wanted to destroy a whole village because they did not welcome Jesus. Simon “the Zealot” (according to Preston Sprinkle, I have not checked this information) and all the other zealots were basically “Jewish jihadists” who killed people. And Matthew was a tax-collector. I like how Preston Sprinkle described this; he said it would be like “you found out that your childhood friend was making a living…funneling money to ISIS” (side note, if you can look up this article, you should. Preston Sprinkle does a good job putting this information into modern, easy-to-understand terms and the whole article was really good thoughts). That’s five of the disciples right there who would be the LAST people you’d imagine being great Christians, and Jesus chose them as his disciples. In Luke 9 (again) it says that the disciple argued about who was the greatest at one point. Can you imagine that conversation? “Murderer!” “Backstabber!” “Hotheads!”. I can’t help but remember when Jesus said “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the ill”. There are times I almost wish I didn’t grow up in a Christian family, that I knew the dirt of the world, because then I’d be able to understand God’s grace so much better. But I wonder how much harder my life would have been.

So, yeah, I’m not good enough. But Jesus didn’t associate with those who were “good enough” (we see the pharisees as prideful, bad people, but in that day they were the people who were “good enough”). Jesus associated with the people that would make many Christians today recoil. He associated with the people whose faith would be questioned in today’s world. He associated with those people. So the biggest thing I should worry about is whether or not my heart is chasing God.

You’re not good enough either. That’s okay. Neither were the disciples. Neither was David. Neither was Soloman.

Hidden Gem

I get really frustrated with myself sometimes. I was supposed to post this Sunday, and I even knew what to post! Argghh! But it’s getting posted today. So.

How many of you have ever had a moment reading the Bible when you just stumble across a whole random section of it that you can’t remember EVER really reading before? Like, maybe never ever ever? And then it’s like, woah! And of those of you that have, who found a passage that was just a little gem with double the woah factor? Yeah, that was me Sunday. And I was pretty surprised. I’ve been a Christian for as long as I can remember (I was four when I became a Christian; I’m 16 now) and I’m a reader. I’m also smart. So between the reading, smarts, and lifetime of Bible, I’m usually sitting in class thinking I know this story, and I’ve heard these points before (Side Note: that’s pride, people. The “I know the Bible” thing, not the smarts. Stop pride before it starts). But then, I found this little nugget! And it has a name. It’s James. Yes, as in the book of James. (I’m going to smack myself for this, but James the Gem people. James the Gem. Okay, I’m gonna go sit in the corner now. Not really, ’cause I’m writing this.)

Really, you should just go read James for yourself. The whole thing is amazing. But let me highlight a few things that popped out at me.

  • Favoritism is a Sin – Yep. James 2 starts out with calling favoritism a sin. It uses the example of showing favoritism to a rich man over a beggar, but it applies everywhere. Christ’s love does not show favoritism. Neither should we.
  • Warning Against the Tongue – Not as new, sure, but still a valuable piece of advice. Even when it feels like you’re about to explode and you can’t help but think how unfair it is  (especially if they’re being mean to you), hold your tongue. It doesn’t matter who it is, do NOT let something unkind and/or venomous come out of your mouth.
  • Submit Yourselves to God – Seems obvious, but I realized I’ve been kinda prideful lately…instead of submitting. I did a post about rebellion a while ago. That and this are cousins or siblings, who knows. They’re related. I found verses 11 and 12 especially interesting. I’ll give you verse 12: “There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you – who are you to judge your neighbor?”
  • Warning to Rich Oppressors – Yep, this is in here too. God doesn’t ignore those who are suffering under others. He tells them to bear with it. He tells their oppressors, Watch out. Your judgement is coming. Verse 3: “Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire.”
  • Other Notes – I was not kidding when I said you should read this book yourselves. It’s extremely powerful. I just wanted to point out a couple other things that popped out to me but didn’t have a whole section. I’m just going to type the verses, since they speak for themselves.
    • James 2:26 – “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”
    • James 1:26-27 – “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
    • James 2:8 – “If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right.”
    • James 4: 5 – “Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely?”
    • James 5:12 – “Above all, my brothers, do not swear – not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your “Yes” be yes, and your “No,” no, or you will be condemned.”
    • James 5:20 – “remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”

Aaarghh! There were so many more good verses! Seriously, read this book. I love it. Anyways. One of my favorite verses in this book is James 2:26. I have this sneaking suspicion that my spiritual gift is serving – I love being able to help people, especially elderly people and anything to do with children or (ohh, yes) babies (don’t get me started on those cute little bundles). However, there is a problem with that: I am very, very, VERY socially challenged. I’m shy. I’m an introvert. I’m socially awkward. The worst thing in the world for me is having to start a conversation (I can order for myself at a restaurant now without too much discomfort, and just last month I called several places to get myself an internship for school, so I’m slowly improving!). Getting involved with peopleInitiating that? Umm…no. Oh, wait. James 2:6. Wow, okay, I just got sucker punched. There’s also a verse in James that says something along the lines of, If anyone knows what he’s supposed to do and doesn’t do it, he’s gonna get judged. I am caught between a rock and a hard place. But really…there’s also a verse in the Bible that basically says If you have not received, it is because you have not asked! (John 16:24 might be it, I don’t quite remember). Not too long ago I was thinking about how I would definitely join a club that would provide me with the opportunities to help people, that’d be great! Guess what happened. Yep, such a club appeared! (Side Note: While I encourage you to do it, I’m always terrified to offer myself to God to use because I know he’ll challenge me and say, are you really willing? And that usually involves social interaction. He knows where to hit *gulps*. He will absolutely put me between a million different rocks and hard places, and it’s SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO uncomfortable. But I know it’s good for me so I do it anyway. Every once in a while (I should do it everyday. If you need something to pray for, pray that I gain the strength to do that)). So yeah, now I need to follow up on that club. But the thing is, God provides. If you want a service opportunity, ask him. If you want personal growth in Him, ask him (But be prepared to work yourself. He changes willing hearts, but your heart should be willing first). Ask, and you shall receive. Even when it’s uncomfortable and feels like a slow, torturous death, God will help you complete his commands. I know I’m supposed to be serving. I also know I’m not going to lack service opportunities anytime soon.

Anyway! Thanks for putting up with my rambling. Read James for yourself. Let God speak to you. It’s so much more effective than when I do it. Ciao!

Red Letter

Hey guys. This won’t really be a run-of-the-mill post, exactly. This is going to be a letter to a friend I have now, and friends I may have in the future. It expresses some of my thoughts, as me, and might give you guys some insight into stuff too.

Let me explain the original situation first. Flowers were donated to my school today. I got two bouquets and managed to get one for a friend who was away today due to health issues (I basically go to a boarding school. See my page for more info). She came back this evening, and I gave her her bouquet and let her pick some flowers from my two – since I had two. She knocked the flowers out of the cup, we went to the bathroom to take care of the mess. While coming back, to warn her about my flowers sitting in the entryway to her room, I said “Watch out for the pretty ones.” Now my letter will explain the rest.

Friend,

I’m sorry. I realize how that sounded, but I didn’t really mean my flowers were prettier. I was trying to come up with something witty, something better or more intelligent than “watch out for those”. Mine were blooming since they’d been in water longer, so prettier just popped out. I got nervous, a little. I don’t think you understand. I know how awkward, crazy, and/or insensitive I sometimes sound. But I don’t know what else to do. Really I just want to make sure you’re still my friend. I’m so so so socially awkward. You say you are too, but let’s compare for a minute. We are both in our junior year of high school, our first year at this accelerated school. We live in the same wing of the same floor. I am healthy, you have a host of health problems. As we walk around, a host of people come up to us. Any given moment, any given place, it’s plausible for someone to come up and say “Hey, how’s it goin’?”. You say you don’t like to talk to people, but you go around and you know so many people. You know what’s going on in their lives, you say hello, you’re so involved. Maybe you don’t like talking to them all the time, but you still don’t understand. Because as you say hi, I don’t even know them, nor do they know me…and we live in the same building and have all school year. You talk to people and ask them for help and anything else. You hang out with them, and not only with them but with college students too. You have so many friends, and how many guys have/had crushes on you?

I have two people I basically ever talk to, and that’s you and my roommate. How do I tell you you’re the only one who ever invites me anywhere? I’m not dumb. I value my personal relationships so so dearly. I know more pros and cons than you do, I know the power of those skills, I know the technique behind them. I just can’t do them. It’s so natural for you. You build a relationship with ease in 5 seconds that I can’t build with all the effort in the world in 6 months. I know, I know, you don’t like talking to people, you prefer to be alone…you still don’t understand.

Did you know that without you, I would never leave my room except for classes, meals, and, when spring comes, volleyball all alone on the outside court? Even when I’m so bored I could scream, so tired of my room, it’s better to be there and on a screen than out watching everybody having fun with a friend and not approaching me, or worse…scaring away someone who does approach me. Even volleyball. I can play volleyball outside for hours with people passing and not have one person approach me, but the instant you come out six people ask if they can play too. You don’t understand.

I get it. I know my limitations. Most of the time I remain completely level-headed. But occasionally I don’t. I get nervous that my odd humour will make you think I’m too weird, that my tendency to laugh to much might make you think I’m trying to hard – or an idiot – or that I might laugh at something you don’t think is funny and you end it. I know it’s unreasonable. But what if you did? What if our relationship just slowly faded. I can’t laugh over Starbucks with God, much as He’s my Savior whom I love. If we stopped hanging out, I’d be stuck in my room, asking myself what I could have done better. Wondering if I’ll ever get another friend. I’ve made four close friends my whole life, and you’re one of them. .

I didn’t mean that my flowers were prettier. It was that tiny, tiny niggle of fear. I’m not desperate. I’ll restrain myself and avoid torturing myself too much. But it does scare me. I can see myself all too easily having no friends as I grow older. Or having the one best friend, who’s so close I call her my sister, but being far away and so we can only call, and I’m stuck at work or my house all day. I can operate in society now. It used to be much worse. But there are times when I just can’t quell the panic at the idea that I might be stuck alone. I’m independant. I’m an expert actress. You’ll never see any hint at this in my face. But being alone? You have no idea. Wondering if you’re just staying with me out of pity or compassion? Yeah, that happens. You say you’re an introvert who likes being alone. And I’m telling you, you have no idea.

Females Today, Part 1

I know what you’re thinking. Maybe. Oh joy, some more stuff about females. Wonderful. However, I’d appreciate it if you just read for a little bit. There are two things I want to discuss in this post series: society’s view of females and females’ view of females. I’ll start with the latter.

I am female. I am a teenaged girl and, as snarky and possibly stuck-up as it sounds, I am different. I only have one social media – Facebook – and I don’t want anymore. I just learned how to put on eyeshadow and blush this past summer, and it wasn’t because my parents were trying to keep me away from it. I have purposely avoided learning make up until then, and it was actually my mom who wanted me to learn this past summer. I would’ve been content either never learning it or waiting. I’m not a naturally pretty girl – some days I’ll look pretty depending on what I’m wearing and how I do my hair. I have very strong features. I say this factually – I don’t have a low self-esteem about my looks; it’s a fact and I think it would be more dangerous to lie to myself. My looks don’t matter anyway and if somebody doesn’t like them they can go jump in a lake. So now let me tell you why I avoided makeup. Throughout my life, my dad has told me this super irritating refrain whenever I say “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to.”. He would respond with “But did you mean not to?” He wanted me to get this idea of purpose – not just passively sitting by but actively moving for a purpose. And unknowingly, I applied this idea to makeup.

The other day I heard someone tell a friend “I wouldn’t feel pretty today without it” speaking of makeup. That just sounded so extremely sad to me. That somebody – a young female teen around my own age – felt she needed makeup in order to look pretty, even for just one day. That she would feel ugly without it. I saw a meme or something on Facebook a few minutes ago that spoke to guys and told them if they wanted to be in a relationship they’d have to accept that there were going to be days their girlfriend would have a bad attitude because her eyeliner didn’t turn out right. What!? But the thing is, this idea is all over the place. This idea that all girls wear makeup and all girls are dependent on their makeup and all girls care about their makeup. But why? I purposely avoided learning makeup because I didn’t want to be one of those girls. I didn’t want to rely on makeup to feel good about myself and feel pretty. And I don’t. Makeup is like a bubblebath to me; it’s something to wear when I feel like putting a little extra into myself that day. Or sometimes I just like to play with the colors. But everywhere around me there are girls who care so so much. They use face masks and hair products and everything under the sun. Why? Even Christian girls. God says that we are beautiful. My friend was talking to me about dying her hair one time because she didn’t like it’s color and my dad overheard. He told her “I don’t think you should do it. You know why? Because I think dying your hair because you don’t like it’s color is telling God you think he made a mistake.” That’s stuck with me. It wasn’t the action itself he had a problem with, it was the thought behind it. I don’t like my hair color; I would look better with x color hair. You know better than God? It’s similar with makeup – you don’t think you look pretty without makeup? News flash: if God thought we would be better with makeup on, he would have made us that way. Makeup does not define our worth. Going without makeup has it’s problems in today’s society, but let me tell you something else: I walk around more confidently when I’m not wearing makeup than when I am. I am comfortable in my own skin. I have acne and big eyebrows and strong features and a nose that might even be described as slightly bulbous, but I love myself.

So I have a challenge for you females reading this: For 1-2 months, go without makeup. Not completely – allow yourself makeup one day a week. And during those 1-2 months, surround yourself with friends and do fun stuff. Laugh and forget you don’t have makeup on. And when you go into the bathroom and see yourself without makeup, smile at the mirror – even if it’s forced – and focus on your eyes. Think about the fun times you’ve had and watch your eyes light up and see yourself without makeup. You can even pull in a friend to do it with you! (Please, please don’t do this without a good, supportive friend!) While you do this, read your bible every day and ask God to show you your beauty and ask him to use it to help someone else.

Taking action on your own starts the process, taking action with someone else keeps you accountable, and taking action for someone else takes the focus off of you.

One more thought: Whenever you get married – or if you are married – your husband will/does wake up next to you when you don’t have makeup on. He will not/does not love you for how you look with makeup on! If he does, then he needs to get something right with God.

Transparency is Protection

This post is about transparency, and in order to write about it requires me to be real with you guys. I refuse to write about something I’m not willing to put into practice. So I’ll put it out there now: I struggle with masturbation. Obviously I struggle with other things too, but the one I keep failing in without seeming to make any significant progress is masturbation. I don’t remember when I started. I remember reading things I wasn’t supposed to in seventh grade. Maybe it started in ninth grade; I know I was sinning in that area through tenth. But when I first started, I told a close friend about it – close enough that we call each other sisters. I was trying to gain an accountability partner in order to stop. It didn’t work out quite like that, but that’s not the point of this story. A while later – in tenth grade – I told another close friend who isn’t a Christian. It came up in an indirect manner. I had refused to do something or said something and my friend asked why. I chose to be real – to be transparent – with her. I told my mentor. Shortly after that my parents found out, which I still kinda wish they hadn’t.This year, I’ve told two more people – a Christian who was falling away from the faith and a strong Christian friend (a.k.a my friend with the nonprofit). And now I’m writing it here, on my blog.  I told the first person this year because they told me they admired my “strong” faith; I wanted them to realize I was human. People I identify as having a strong faith have always seemed like superhumans to me, like they’re at a height I could never reach. I never want someone to look at me and see me as better than them or more christian-like. Obviously I have my share of struggles. I’m human, nothing more. The second person I told as a conscious attempt to open myself up. But what I want to get at I just realized recently, in talking with that very first friend I told.

She told me she hadn’t understood why I had told the second friend. It took me a while to tell her, and it seemed like I told the second friend so quickly, even though I hadn’t yet known her for two full years. My explanation was a thought that had been half-forming in the back of my mind for several days. So I told her I was trying to be transparent. In telling all these people, my goal at the time may have been to be real and human and approachable (I’ve said I have trouble making friends, right?) but now it’s about transparency. I read a lot of books, and in so many of them trouble arises because of secrets. I generally have a very limited enjoyment of these books because I know what’s going to happen and I know it’s going to cause problems (with a few exceptions, like Tamora Pierce’s books Trickster’s Choice and Trickster’s Queen). It’s hard for authors to write a timeline like that well. And it’s hard because it’s so predictable. That secret will get them in trouble. How do they not realize this!? Yet for some reason, they keep it. The most enjoyable books are the ones where the character is actively striving to destroy whatever is making them keep this secret; the ones that refuse to be blackmailed. I know it happens in real life, too. As I tell the people close to me, I am making this secret less and less of a weapon as it becomes less and less of a secret. Proverbs 2:12-15 says “Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse, who have left the straight paths to walk in dark ways, who delight in doing wrong and rejoice in the perverseness of evil, whose paths are crooked and who are devious in their ways.” Is telling people wisdom? I don’t know. But if it helps keep the men described in this passage from being able to manipulate me even once, then it works, right? Luke 8:17 says “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.” By telling people now of my own volition, I’m saving myself a lot of pain and embarrassment later. One more thing.

Luke 8:17 is in the section of passage that compares believers to lamps on a stand.. The full passage reads “No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light.For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they think they have will be taken from them.” We are supposed to be lamps on a stand. We are supposed to be the lights of the world. That is done most effectively not when we’re perfect (’cause we’re not; it’s a lie and people know it) but when we are real about our sin. It isn’t when we say we have no sin, but when we admit we have sin and say it has no real power over us because we are in Christ Jesus. It’s when we admit that we’re human and show people that we are different because of Christ. Maybe telling people has been easier for me because I have an awesome support group that’s willing to help me and not judge me. But you know what? So often sin has power because it’s a secret. How much more would the church open up if they started sharing the burden of their sin instead of shouldering it alone? Every person you tell takes a little bit of power away from that sin and makes it more and more unwieldy for the devil until he can’t use it against you. Being transparent protects us. And what shines brighter – a flame with a colored cover or a flame with a clear cover?

 

Okay. So maybe this post scares people off. Being transparent does that sometimes. It lets God shine through a little more and draws them in a little more and weirds them out a little more. It’s another way of being different. Secrets are a burden on people. Some people are like “No secrets? Oooh, shiny! Me want!” and others are like “What is that disgusting creature get it away from me why is it so fascinating” but either way it makes us stand out. Sorry if you think it’s too forward, but that’s what this blog is. But please don’t think it’s too forward because I already told my dad-mentor (new name for him. I like it) that I had one follower (hi!). And this post may have rambled a little bit, and I am sorry for that. Welp, that’s all! Bye!