Monday, February 21, 2011

pda

My biggest pet peeve is P.D.A., public displays of affection.  I think it's gross and rude.  Before you say that it's because I'm single, not true; when I was in a dating relationship,  I didn't like showing too much affection in public.  And before you say it's a love language preference, my primary love language is actually a tie between physical touch and quality time.

There are a lot of couples (dating, engaged, married) around me so I'm constantly exposed to it.  P.D.A. is when a couple shows affection for one another in public...pretty self-explanatory.  I know that they love each other and stuff, but I would believe that even without them being all over each other.

It's not the general showing of affection that I dislike, it's when it gets to a certain point that I find to be inappropriate.  Hand-holding> go for it, arm around the shoulder>I'm game...but pretty much anything beyond that I don't like.  I don't appreciate kisses (long or short, steamy or innocent, face or elsewhere) because I'm trying to speak with you with those same lips I had to see you invade your partner's mouth with.  I dislike excessive touching (rubbing their back a lot, tousling their hair, rubbing of random body parts) because I don't like seeing you feel up your partner, it's none of my business what y'all do in the bedroom and it's distracting from the conversation/game/church/whatever activity.  I feel insulted when couples keep to themselves in a group of friends (whispering to themselves, sitting really close to each other with their bodies overlapping somehow), y'all were invited to come hang to engage with the group, not to be a PDA island disassociated from the group, you can be alone without a group around you.  I feel obscenely uncomfortable/violated when couples are laying all over each other, I don't like seeing my friends in the same position that babies are made, inappropriate.

With unmarried couples, when I (and others I've discussed this with) see them showing such affection, I worry that they take it further when they are in the private.  I question their purity.  But I also consider that perhaps they are so affectionate in public because they don't do that in the private and want to be held accountable for their purity.  Whatever the case, I don't want to see it and I know for a fact that most others don't either.  I'm glad you're in love, but I PROMISE that I'll believe y'all are without you having to prove it. And I won't even try to steal your man if you take your hands and lips off him.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

meany face

One thing I've never been able to understand is mean people.  Even when I was going through a mean "phase", I didn't understand it.  Being mean seems so counterproductive and exhausting, it seems like a lot of hard work.  I think when it all boils down to it, it's about injustice.  Injustice makes me angry from the 'smallest' to the 'largest' instances.  I know that I'm an idealist and people often label that as naivety, but I don't think that's it at all.

I know life isn't fair, but life doesn't need any help from people to be that way.  If life isn't fair, why be the person to encourage that?  What kind of jerk do you have to be to perpetuate the injustice in life?!  The answer is a selfish one.  Some people, I guess, don't realize that they're being mean, but I think a majority of people do.

I really think injustice is the one thing guaranteed to make me angry, especially when it's involving people I know and/or care for.  I always, especially now, struggle with how to handle this injustice.  I will always speak the truth, but how sternly and when and to whom?  When there's bullying (yes, adults bully), I wonder who to speak to; do I speak to the bullied to empower them, do I address the bully to get them to stop, or do I talk to the bystander to engage them?  Well I've spoken quite honestly and frankly to the bullied and made them aware that them allowing themselves to be bullied is negatively effecting those they love and are supposed to protect.  And the bystanders are completely in the same boat as me, trying to be as honest and engaged as me.  But no change has happened, so now what?  Well I'll tell you what I'd like to do: I'd like to tell the bully how I feel and the truth.  I'd like to expose and shame and punch.  This side of me isn't pretty, but I'm being honest;  I'm tired of this situation.  I've rationalized and made excuses for the bully, I've been extremely nice and tried to develop a friendship, but enough is enough.  When the bullied won't do anything, and the bully continues to mistreat and verbally abuse others, what's to be done.

The truth is I don't know what to do.  I know what needs to be done and what needs to change, but I'm in no position of power to handle the situation, but no one is handling the situation properly because everyone is being passive aggressive.  I am not a passive aggressive person, and I hate passive aggressiveness.  I hate it a lot.  There are more productive and honest ways to solve a problem.

Ultimately somethings gotta give, I hope the responsible parties will step up and deal with this elephant in the room like civilized adults (although this whole things is quite childish).  This elephant is big and smelly and its poop is getting closer to the fan...when will the poop hit the fan?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

hipster

A lot of my friends identify with the fad of 'hipster' or at least they want to; but, like the first rule of Fight Club, you don't actually talk about being a hipster, because "you just don't care" .  According to wordnetweb.princeton.edu a hipster is "someone who rejects the established culture; advocates extreme liberalism in politics and lifestyle".  I can't vouch for their political views and I don't think their lifestyle is really that liberal, but I could be wrong.  Here's how to spot a hipster (yea, I know I'm stereotyping, but it's my blog): TIGHT skinny jeans, tattoos, piercings (especially on the face), v-neck shirts, t-shirts that are clearly not cool but they wear them because they 'don't care about what others think', they listen to music that mainstream society doesn't care for because (I guess) it makes them feel cool, flannel plaid shirts (they're bringing back the lumberjack look), and they pride themselves on enjoying things that no one else cares for.  They think they're being quite ironic in being a hipster; I think it's ironic that they pride themselves on being very counter-cultural and individual, yet they work to fit into a very distinct group that is borderline exclusive.

Comparing me to a hipster, I don't come close to looking like one.  Also, I don't particularly hold extreme political views or lifestyle.  Looking again at the definition a hipster is "someone who rejects the established culture"; this is something I can identify with.  Culture tells us, subliminally or to our face, who we are.  According to mainstream culture: I'm not pretty enough, I'm a prude,  I'm closed-minded, I'm plain, and I'm uncool.  But I reject these labels that society gives me and I reject all the things mainstream culture tells me is conducive to a a good life. I reject letting money rule my life choices and mistreating others to benefit myself.  I reject materialism.

I reject these things because they are not true and I will not let society decide who I am or how to live my life.  As Christians, our identity is to come from Christ and no one/nothing else. "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus  for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."  Ephesians 2:10  Wow!  We are His handiwork (NIV), His masterpiece (NLT)!  What a privilege to be thought of so highly by the Creator of the Universe.  "But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God" John 1:12 says.  God wants us to be His children, and He's the perfect Father.

Lately, I've been hearing/thinking a lot about my identity...and I've come to this conclusion:  all my life I've felt/been on the outskirts of different fad groups (preps, goths, geeks, hipsters, etc), and I've never really fit in with/identified with one particular group of people.  But I'm not in high school anymore, so I'm not gonna worry about who I'm gonna sit with during lunch time.  Fads will always change and it's easier, cheaper, and safer to not spend my life chasing them, instead I'll spend my time and efforts pursuing a relationship with the Unchanging God.

I have nothing against hipsters or any other fad group, but my whole life I've been disassociated with them so why start now?  There are aspects of different fad groups that I like, but I'm not gonna tie myself down to fit into a particular group.  I'm gonna wear what I wanna wear and be friends with people that build each other up (Ephesians 4:29) and exemplify community, no matter what fad they look like.

Monday, February 14, 2011

things that kinda frighten me: MARRIAGE

It probably makes me unusual to say such a thing and to be a young, single woman.  In fact, many women my age want nothing more than to be married to the man they've always dreamed of and live happily ever after.  While I'm definitely not knocking marriage and would like to be married one day (if that's the Lord's will), I'm realizing more and more that marriage is: no dream to be taken lightly, doesn't solve all your problems, and it takes work.

With four engaged couples in my college-young adult group and plenty of married people in my life, marriage is always, at least, in my peripheral; all of this forces me to think about it whether I want to or not.  It's kinda annoying at times, for no other reason than there are things that are actually a part of my life that concern me. But that's no matter and that'll never go away, so I just deal.  But lately, marriage has been all up in my face, and it's not the pretty side I'm seeing, it's the side that isn't mentioned at the end of the princess movies.  It's the side that makes married couples split up, or that cause people to just "live together" because they want the convenience of just bailing out when times get uncomfortable.

I know that God created marriage and that it is to be a model of the relationship of Christ and His Bride, the Church.  But the truth is we imperfect humans will never completely get it right; we'll never be perfect representations of Christ and His Church, no matter how hard we try.  Paul called marriage a great mystery at the end of the fifth chapter of Ephesians and a mystery it is indeed.  There are so many things about marriage that I don't understand, that married couples don't understand.

The good news is God has all the answers and He's the perfect lover.  The Church is not perfect because it is made of humans, but God loves Her anyways because He is faithful and He created Her.  Isaiah 62 is about 'divine unrest until Israel [is] restored', but the first half of it is God speaking of his love for Jerusalem; verse five is a beautiful example of His love for Jerusalem, but I like it because He feels this way about me and everyone else who is part of His Beloved Church: "For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your sons marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you."  Is that not super?  He rejoices over us, His bride!

Lately, I've been seeing people's marriages fall apart, new and old; and the truth is I started off this blog post to express all my questions and concerns about marriage, but I was reminded of the goodness of God. I certainly don't have all the answers to a perfect marriage, and no one will ever have a perfect one, us fallen humans will never get it all right even if we do know the answers.  The comforting thing about...everything, really, is that I'm in love with the Ultimate Lover and my love, though inconsistent, unsteady, and imperfect, is growing.  Even better, He rejoices over me, and His love is consistent, steady, and quite perfect.

Happy St. Valentine's day...be romanced by the Ultimate Lover.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Submission is warfare

I can't think of a time when I was individually disciplined.  In school, deadlines and rubrics kept me on track, and I did quite well in school (with a few exceptions).  At home, there were rules/regulations and I followed them (with a few exceptions).  But if it ever came to simply me wanting something from/for myself, it's always been a challenge.  I'm not ambitious or competitive, and there are very few things in this world that I think truly matter.  One thing that does matter to me is my relationship with God.  I understand that my sin gets in the way of me being closer to God, but I love Him enough to want to fix that.  I want to be closer to God and I know that takes discipline on my part.

I want discipline of my mind, heart, and body, but ever since I realized that I wanted that, I've felt ill equipped to do so.  Recently a friend gave me the book Discipline: The Glad Surrender by Elisabeth Elliott.  When I got the book, I first thought what an unusual book to give to someone for a goodbye gift, but then I thought 'Great! I love Elisabeth Elliot, I'm sure I'll love this just as much as I love her other books.'  The truth is I've always approached self-discipline with the wrong perspective/method.  I've tried methods that put me in control, but that ain't right, God's to be in control.

Well lately I've been feeling kinda convicted about the lack of discipline in my life, but I've not known what to do to attain that.  As I read the aforementioned book,  I keep thinking 'well this is all fine and dandy but HOW?'  Finally, this Sunday I learned how!

Sunday was the marking of the new sermon series called Cosmic Conflict, and Pastor Jonathan started off talking about the basics of spiritual warfare.  You may be thinking that spiritual warfare has little to do with self-discipline...but you're wrong.  Satan tempts and oppresses us, and when we try to do what's right, he works harder, pulls out his flashiest tricks and his truth wrapped lies.  Really, we have no defense against him, except by relying on God.

This Sunday, I learned that submission to God is our best weapon in warfare.  When I'm feeling tempted, instead of telling the devil off, I should submit what I'm being tempted with to God.  I often, to remind myself of humility, say why I am being tempted.  For example:  if I'm struggling with feelings of loneliness, I would pray/think something like this:  "Father, I submit to You this feeling of loneliness.  I know that I am never alone, because You are faithful.  I feel lonely because I have chosen to not feel satisfied by You.  I only need you, please help me to seek full satisfaction in you."  That's a lot different than telling off or rebuking the devil, it puts the focus on God rather than satan.  The Bible says to "Submit yourselves therefore to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." James 4:7  Our sin-susceptible-selves are not strong or wise enough to resist the schemes of the devil, but when we bring God in the picture, the devil must flee.  God is big and cuddly, but He doesn't let anyone mess with His children.

It's not always easy for me,  I want what I want when I want it, but I know that ultimately what God wants is the end-all-be-all.  Before, I had no hope of ever breaking these strongholds,  I felt overwhelmed and disabled.  I didn't know what tools it took to develop discipline in my life, but now I feel more equipped than I ever.  I have hope and it feels good!

Here are some of the scripture from the message Sunday:
>Ephesians 6:11-12
>2 Corinthians 2:10-11
>1 Peter 5:8
>Luke 22:31-32
>Romans 8

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

peace with God

I often hear of people 'making their peace with God', mostly in sappy moments in movies (i.e. Forrest Gump speaking of Lt. Dan), but I have always been skeptical and uncertain as to what was meant by that phrase.  It borderline offended me because I felt that there was an implication of bargaining with God, which is, in my opinion, theologically unsound.  But I do believe I have made my peace with God for the time being.

I was angry with God for over a month, which is quite unusual for me because I don't get angry at really anything or with anyone and I'm terrible at staying angry/upset.  So for me to act out that anger I was harnessing toward God was a big deal for me.  But I have exciting news (for me anyway)!

This past weekend was EXCELLENT! Lots of great things went down and the weather was gorgeous!  Sunday, the 30th, my church celebrated its fifth year anniversary with quite class; the celebration and service was held at the former PTL Broadcasting site in Fort Mill, SC (if you don't know where that is Google it, quite interesting).  As we were worshiping as a body, I heard 'enough is enough, it's time for you to come back to me'.  Instantly I agreed; I had had enough time away from Him, enough time not talking to Him, enough time being angry with Him.  During the message, we read 1 Samuel 17:32-51, this is when David killed Goliath, great story.  Verse 37 reads: "...The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of the Philistine..."  When I read this I realized God has delivered me from many bear and lion paws and so surely He can deliver me from the hand of the Philistine of uncertainty!  God is consistently faithful, that's how we know we can trust Him in all circumstances.  He reminded me of times He's provided not just for me, but for those I love and care about.  He invited me to trust Him wholeheartedly again, to give up control of my life to Him once again.  I took His extended hand and relinquished control of my life.

I'm not angry with Him anymore, I understand that God's sovereignty works beyond human understanding and can sometimes make us uncomfortable.  But He does these things because He loves us and He knows what is best for us, even though what's best for us doesn't always feel very good when we're in the middle of it.

It's good to be back in His arms.