Tuesday, March 17, 2015

“Dear Future Husband”: The Bachelor Effect

Meghan Trainor has come out with a new fun doo-wop hit sure to be stuck in everyone’s minds for weeks to come.  I wrote letters (not songs), to my future husband as a younger woman and I completely understand the excitement and longing that come with being a single woman daydreaming of a future spouse.  Admittedly, my letters were naively sentimental, but I admit I was shocked to hear the sassy, self-indulgent lyrics presented by Ms. Trainor.  I am confident if she sang this song in all seriousness to a suitor he would not be “buy-buy”-ing a ring.  It’s the kind of “take, no give” I like to call “The Bachelor Effect.”  Every season on this reality show a man is presented to a group of women as looking for a future wife.  For some unknown reason, the next few weeks are spent with women throwing themselves at the same man who does nothing to win their affections.  I can’t help but wonder what happens when the cameras are gone and the “winning” woman is left with the reality of who her prince really is- an imperfect man who may or may not deserve her affections.

Meghan Trainor’s song “Dear Future Husband” is similar in its assumption that a man must work hard for her affections with little in return.  Ms. Trainor makes a long list of demands from her future husband and warns “don’t think I’ll be home and baking pies.”  She also makes a bizarre threat, “And know we’ll never see your family more than mine.”  She does agree she’ll at least buy groceries (clearly the most important aspect of any marriage relationship), but demands the left side of the bed and daily compliments.  She then proceeds to make statements that I believe border on abuse:

 “After every fight / Just apologize / And maybe then I'll let you try and rock my body right / Even if I was wrong / You know I'm never wrong / Why disagree?”

Despite Ms. Trainor's insistence to the contrary, this statement is wrong for several reasons.  She is disrespecting her partner’s feelings and opinions and minimalizing her role in the conflict.  In addition, she is using physical intimacy to manipulate her husband. She reiterates this sentiment later: “Open doors for me and you might get some kisses.”  This is a kind of blatant manipulation that is never seen in healthy relationships.  Withholding intimacy for selfish reasons is abusive.  In addition, she’s asking her husband to lie by leaving conflicts unresolved and by fulfilling her demands just to get to what he wants from her, thus repeating the cycle.

I don’t want to ignore the importance of having standards in a future spouse.  It’s important for young women to have the self-respect to demand their future husbands treat them well (and vice versa).  However, shouldn’t we as women take it upon ourselves to be decent wives for our husbands?  Despite what this song and The Bachelor may teach us, selfishness kills relationships.  Let’s learn to give to those we love and then whatever we get we’ll cherish.  The “I deserve it” mentality is robbing us of joy.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Love and Hate at the MN State Fair

The "Great Minnesota Get-Together" has come and gone, a sure sign that summer has ended and this "winter" thing I keep hearing about will soon hit me like a Dairy Queen Blizzard to the face.  Jerrion and I had the pleasure of attending this fabled festivity on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.  We parked in one of the many park-n-rides in Minneapolis and swiftly found ourselves on the bus to the fairgrounds.  Along with us on the bus were several giddy small children who kept asking every parent's favorite question, "Are we there yet?"  Their squeaky little voices rambled on with excitement about all the animals they would see, the rides they would scream on, and the sweets they might feast on!  Finally the bus came to a stop and all the families exited the bus and began the short walk to the ticket booth.

Amid all the excitement and cuteness of the families in front of us, I was truly dumbstruck by what greeted us just before the entrance gates:  "God hates you!"  "You're a whore!"  "Cover your nakedness!"

Now I don't know if it was Westboro Baptist or some other hate group-wannabes, but sure enough, there to protest everyone's fun was a small group of men and women carrying signs with the above phrases written on them.  Although I kind of agree with the last sign I mentioned (booty shorts, anyone?), to say that I was irate with the other statements would be an understatement.

The first image that came to my mind was Jesus knocking over tables.  Do you know what made Jesus angry in the Bible?  I mean really angry?  Angry enough to use words like "hypocrites," "brood of vipers," and "sons of hell" (Matthew 23)?  Jesus was infuriated by the spiritual authorities of the day who added to the Scriptures and condemned people without offering them grace.  Rather than calling the woman caught in the act of adultery a "whore" Jesus saved her from being stoned and then forgave her (John 8).  Jesus was harsh with judgmental people and merciful to repentant sinners.  He loves imperfect people and offers unmerited favor and inexhaustible grace.

Jerrion and I had a great time at the fair.  We sipped fresh-from-the-cow milkshakes, gawked at giant vegetables, petted alpacas, and learned more about the Minnesota culture.  It should be noted that 90% of the state fair here is related to food.  Oh, and next time you see someone spitting hate just remember that Jesus sacrificed his life because the opposite is true: God loves you.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

My Hero

I'd like to spend a few minutes today sharing about a great woman's life.  Sallie Ride was a great inspiration for women to reach their dreams, and women around America are mourning her loss.  But there's another strong woman who defied social norms that I want to talk about today - my cousin.

Of all my family members I have always felt the strongest connection to her, most certainly because we both felt different from the rest of the family.  Teresa always did what she felt was right, even when it went against the strong Southern values of the rest of the family.  Teresa was a free-spirited artist, yet was incredibly down to earth.  She loved to garden and to make things - food, sculptures, whatever she wanted.  She loved antiques and nature.  She had her own orchard and complained when the city built a highway near her property.  She loved vegetarian cook books.  She loved order, and I inherited my love for libraries and all things alphabetized from her.  Most importantly, Teresa loved God.  She demonstrated that in a way few of us ever do- with her money.  Teresa was an incredibly generous woman when it came to God.  Ironically, what annoyed the rest of the family is what made me love her most.  Teresa lived out her own values to the fullest despite what everyone else wanted her to do.

Cancer often comes into our lives without knocking.  There was no way of knowing how quickly it would steal her away from me.  James 4:14 KJV tells us " Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away." How quickly she vanished.  And how quickly her memory seems to vanish from the rest of the family - but not from me.  In true Teresa fashion, she is leaving her house to the church, something that has angered the rest of the family.  My good friend Hannah said it best "I am actually shocked but thrilled that Teresa would leave her house to her church! :) It's very fitting. If she has no dependents, why leave it to people who probably don't need it and aren't really part of her life?"  How well said!  What an inspiration she was to me, to follow my faith to the fullest!  I really hope she knew what she meant to me.  I have the hope that if she didn't, I can tell her all about it when I see her in heaven.  What a mansion she'll have there.  These are the heroes we need - not just women who flew into space despite the cultural stigma against them (although we need those, too!), but real, every day women who led their lives the way they felt best, even when their own family resented them for it.  And what a kind and loving heart she kept through it all!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Owning Ordinary

When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw Jesus eating with the tax collectors and "sinners," they asked his followers, "Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?"
Jesus heard this and said to them, "It is not the healthy people who need a doctor, but the sick. I did not come to invite good people but to invite sinners." -Mark 2:16, 17

Children in America are taught from birth to become "anything you want to be."  We are given this idea that the world is at our fingertips and we must simply reach for what we desire.  But how realistic is that?  Often preference in America is given to those of a certain racial, socioeconomical, and educational status.  And even with those things, this is a competitive country, and positions are often granted based on who you know.  I have several close friends who are still holding out and waiting for nothing less than their utopian dream jobs.  While I of all people would absolutely encourage trying for those things, at some point you have to move out of your parents' basement.  No one prepared me for an office job.  I was prepared to go to outer space and fly airplanes and go to the Olympics and be rich and famous. Those images are so stuck in brain that as I sit at my cushy, airconditioned desk at a job I love surrounded by great co-workers who are passionate about what they do I still stop and question- is this ok?  Is it ok for me to just work here?

Which brings me to what I really want to talk about.  In a similar way, no one taught me how to be an ordinary Christian.  I heard a great deal about "discovering God's calling for your life."  It sounded so important I thought surely He was sending me somewhere fabulously exotic.  I watched my peers commit to being pastors, youth leaders, worship leaders, and missionaries.  I thought surely God was "calling" me to become a missionary, since that seemed to be the thing to do.  Yet here I sit at the age of 26, with a desk job and a husband who loves Jesus as much as I do.  Did I miss God's "calling?"

I find it fascinating that Jesus ministered to so many ordinary people.  I am still amazed when I consider the story of the woman at the well (John 4).  Who was this woman?  Why did Jesus spend His precious time on her?  There was nothing great or special about her.  But Jesus went out of his way to pour His love out on her.  There is no record of her becoming a great missionary or a pastor.  She simply told her friends what God had done for her.

So is it ok for me go to work, go home, have dinner with my spouse, and go to bed?  Is it ok for me to just join a Bible study, and try to set a good example for others whether they ask me about Jesus or not?  Micah 6:8 tells us "The Lord has told you, human, what is good;  he has told you what he wants from you: to do what is right to other people, love being kind to others, and live humbly, obeying your God." To my best understanding, Scripture teaches us that God desires a relationship with us.  He desires us to be fulfilled and happy in Him.  He wants us to know we are loved and to glorify Him because of his mercy.  Our life goal should be simply to know God.  If God called me to be an "ordinary" child of His, I could not be happier to be Ordinary.

*disclaimer* I have been friends and loved ones who are in the ministry and want to be sure to express how much respect I have for those in full-time positions.  My goal is not to at all belittle that calling.  I simply want to address the fact that my personal experiences did not teach me that God could bless a life that was not devoted to full-time ministry as a profession.  That was a lack of knowledge on my part that I am owning up to.

Monday, August 8, 2011

To the Last and Highest Degree

I struggle with understanding God's love.  Always have.  The fact that I am a sinner and that my sin has brought me under a perfect God's judgment makes complete sense to me.  But I cannot understand why God chooses to display His mercy to me when I don't deserve it.  I'm mad thankful for it, don't get me wrong, but it defies my reasoning capabilities.  Let me share with you something that blew my mind yesterday.

John 13:1(AMP) - " [NOW] BEFORE the Passover Feast began, Jesus knew (was fully aware) that the time had come for Him to leave this world and return to the Father. And as He had loved those who were His own in the world, He loved them to the last and to the highest degree." (emphasis added by me).

Now when God said He loved somebody to the "highest degree" that's not just puppy love.  That's the kind of love that only a God can obtain.  And when the passage mentions "those who were His own in the world" I get the distinct impression that he's not just talking about the 11 disciples.  He's talking about ALL the people in the world over all time that are His - meaning those who want him and choose to follow him.  Why, that includes ME!  Could it really be possible that at the last supper feast, when Jesus knew he was about to face the cross, when Jesus was "troubled in spirit" (v. 21), that he thought about me?  That he was reminding himself about all of his adopted children?  And how could he have loved us "to the highest degree" if he were not to give his life for us?

It's a topic I need to meditate on for at least the next couple of years. :)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Part Dos

Part 2 of my article "Carried Away" has been posted at http://www.risingvoice.com/format/thoughts/carried-away-part-2/.  Thank you to all who have read and left comments!  The more buzz the more likely I am to be invited to write again!  It is truly appreciated!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Rising Voice

It's here!  Part 1 of my article "Carried Away" was posted today on Rising Voice, a webzine brought to you by Citizenlink, an offiliate of Focus on the Family.  Part 2 will be posted tomorrow at risingvoice.com.  Check it out!!!