So, I have a bone to pick with Christianity. And with the ones of us that call ourselves Christians. I have noticed some things lately that have severely alarmed me and I think maybe we have lost a little focus on what is important about being a follower of Christ. Not to worry, it can happen to anybody and I’m sure it has happened to everybody… and wait for it because the solution is super simple.
Now I am in no way, shape or form claiming to have the answers to the problems of life, because we all know that no one could possibly carry all of that around in their brain all the time. Jim Carrey tried it, remember people… totally not a human-possible thing.
Everyone’s interpretation of Jesus, how He taught, the parables, the life He led, the words that were spoken, the message that He wanted to get across, well they are all a teeny bit different, but I believe that Jesus wanted something to be very clear, and this He demonstrated continuously in His life, gospel, teaching, mannerisms, death and life again… Love. And this was coming directly from the great big Guy whom we all love to call Father, Daddy, Abba, My Darling, God… and anything else that is sweet and can be applied to a Holy Guy In The Sky.
Love; Love God, Love yourself, and Love the overweight guy standing next to you in Wal-Mart who keeps forgetting what he’s there for and every time he reaches up to a high shelf, lets a little fart slip out. Yes, that guy. Does that mean God wants you to go smell his fart, well of course not, but it does mean holding back the disgusted feeling AND look that are just seeping from your pores.
I get it, people can be frustrating. They can be crude, ugly, mean, nasty, bad-smelling, nose-picking, butt-scratching, weird-looking creatures. And I can’t understand all of the decisions that we as humans have come to, our ways of thinking do not make sense sometimes. But. God said for us to Love us, not to understand us.
Now what about things like: Abortion Rape Murder Pedophilia Robberies Sex-Trafficking Slaves Abuse War Bad Gun Control Manipulation Lying Deceit
What about those things? What about when I know what that man has done? What happened to those little girls, why that parent isn’t allowed to see their children, why you don’t want to walk down certain streets at night. What about those times. How is it possible to love people when we have seen the horrible things that they are capable of doing. How could you ever treat someone who has murdered another human being, with compassion, or treat them the same way you would treat your mother.
Because THAT is what Jesus would do.
God never said to Love your neighbor as yourself until he does something despicable and goes to jail, or to Love your neighbor as yourself except the girl who has a terrible case of acne and doesn’t know how to brush her hair. There were no asterisks next to that verse, no hidden meanings down at the bottom where Jesus said, “Hey you guys know that Mary Magdalene lady? Yeah don’t tell anybody but man is she just weird or what?! Like get a clue chick, I.don’t.want.to.sleep.with.you… yeah so you don’t have to actually Love her, just be nice to her face okay?”
Ha, what a sick idea, right? No way man, Jesus was like,
“Hey guys I know your feet are just wretchedly stank from the road, and who even knows when Peter bathed last, but I want to do this for you. I want to get on my hands and knees and wash your feet, I want to let you know how important you are to me.”
So yes, we do have a pretty high standard to live up to, and not to say that this is easy because we have had generations and generations of people before us who have struggled with the exact same things, and we all know how they handled it. So this is no slice of simplicity pie, granted. But we do have a chance, we always have a chance to make things different.
And different doesn’t necessarily mean sidewalk prophesying or some crazy high of ministering to people and bringing them into the light. Maybe it just means, giving someone in Wal-Mart a smile, because as we all know, shopping at Wal-Mart is rarely fun for anyone and we all could use all the smiles possible. Or paying for somebody’s dinner behind you or beside you. I mean come on, we all know how to do nice things. And MAYBE it means, checking your heart and asking for more patience, more compassion, less judgement, less criticism.
Can we bring a little Heaven back to earth.
Eating Healthy. Well it just sucks half the time doesn’t it? With bikini season coming up, I have started to become all-too aware of the little edges of my body that need fine tuning. Who even started the bikini fad anyhow? I know several women who aren’t too keen on getting body parts waxed every three weeks JUST to not have stubble in places that shouldn’t be looked at that close anyhow! And yet on every social media account I have there is a wave of treadmills, workout ponytails, and headphone selfies to drive any woman mad with panic. Beach season is a HUGE season for jealousy and competition with women. Who has the cuter clothes, who looks better in shorter dresses, who has the most perfect pictures with their tanned and 6-packed boyfriends, who has the skimpier (but she can get away with it) 2-piece…. it makes me feel like I’m watching the “pizza and beer” scene from Miss Congeniality all over again. And ironically, those happen to be two of my most beloved food groups.
So I hope I don’t seem rude or come across as inconsiderate, but I think the whole thing is a bunch of bologna (there’s a pun to be found in there somewhere). I think that there is a craze, and the need to be thin, tan, beautiful, and charming with a mint mojito in my hand is a bit ridiculous. Maybe this isn’t a real thing anymore and maybe girls don’t think this every time they step on a scale, but I know the last time I stared at myself in the mirror, this is what I felt… so if there’s just one other girl in the world who feels like I do – sister, I’ve got your back. And I think this is a really dumb problem, because I would really love to enjoy my summer and not worry about if the little dimples in my legs. And yes, although I thought my mom was lying to make me feel better, we do all get those dimples at some point.
Okay, so here’s where I’m going. I think that we are missing the point. Girls, it’s not hard to find a blog or a t-shirt, or a Twitter site or a Facebook post nowadays that doesn’t affirm us as beautiful, individual, independent and unique human beings, but out of all of those words… how many do we believe. Well, I guess I’ll speak for myself, how many do I believe. Do I really think that I’m fearfully and wonderfully made, for that matter do I even know what that means?! I know that if I sit in church and listen to my Pastor talk about the heart of a woman, how special we are, how needed we are, then I walk away with a little bounce in my step and feeling like the world is my oyster.
But… when I look at myself and wish my boobs were bigger, or that my hair would be either be straight OR curly but cut it out on being both, when I reject what I see and wish I had something else… I’m calling God a liar. And I’m saying that what He made isn’t good enough, and I want to change it, I want it bigger, or smaller, or thinner, or plumper… I want to be a different me. If you created a person, if you put time and effort and sweat and blood* into this person, put your dreams and hopes and desires and made them so special, and then watched them turn around and look at you and say,
“I’m sorry, I know you made this but it just isn’t good enough.”
Well, how would you feel.
Not to get super serious, or make this a downer, but honestly can we all agree that if you believe you were made in the image of God, that MAYBE you should just chill out a little? Now this doesn’t go to say that if you are unhealthy or drinking ten shots of tequila every night that you should be surprised to see a little extra baggage, and in such case some exercise would be advised. But my point is, we’re looking at it all wrong! We should be loving ourselves first! And then looking at the areas of our lives that need work. Because even if it couldn’t hurt for me to lose a couple pounds, if I hate myself… it’s gonna take a whole lot longer. And feeling happy releases chemicals in your body which speed up your metabolism. It’s science. Boom.
I think the focus should stop being on the external and start (or keep on) being on the internal. And when I stand before myself in the mirror, accepting myself for everything that I am, and am not. Be flirty with yourself every once in awhile. It may feel really silly to wink at yourself or admire that little thing you got going on there, but do it!
Life IS actually really short, and I want to say and do things that matter. And also one more thought, that girl who was sitting next to you who kiiinnnnddd of gave you a dirty look so you gave her one back and now you two are on the fast track for mutual evaluation and annihilation, why not practice something different. I have found that the first look you give to someone is very important, and if you smile at someone, chances are, they’re gonna smile back. I mean seriously girls, it’s really easy for us all to be friends, and who really cares about the guy who designed your purse anyway.
*I don’t actually know if God has sweat or blood. But if He does, I’m sure it smells of mahogany and pine trees… His sweat that is, I don’t think His blood would smell like anything. That would be weird. Unless it does…. Eh… I’ll just leave that up to you to decide.
I remember growing up, my Grandma would always make the best slaw for our family get together’s. I mean, cabbage and mayonnaise doesn’t really strike one as a delicious summer meal until Grandma puts her hands on it, and all of a sudden there were sparkles of magic, and ounces of love (that only a Grandma can give) and that bowl of nothing becomes one of your favorite summer dishes. It just isn’t a barbeque without coleslaw, and everybody knows that.
Well as I started reading different recipes and making my own little renditions of slaw that I will pass on to my children, and one day grand-children, I realized that making your own recipes isn’t nearly as easy as you thought it was! What once was a cherished memory has now become a few counter-tops covered in poorly-chopped cabbage and lots of regret to ever starting such a project, because who even gives a crap about slaw anyway?!
Well as I’m washing down my counters, trying to not get discouraged by all the purple scraps I’m finding in little corners, and by the failed attempts at “The Next Big Thing”, I’m really reminded that although we can dump a bunch of crap in a bowl, nothing really makes it a masterpiece without the right ingredients. All of the recipe books I’ve ever looked at have never given me any sort of satisfaction, than coming up with something totally new and ingenious on my own, and then sharing it – and having other people love it too. But those recipe books weren’t written for no reason. Someone, out there wanted to do the same things as me, and someone out there succeeded.
So why do I have so much trouble learning from others, why do I have to push through everything on my own- wanting all the glory for myself, not wanting to give credit to anyone else for anything that they had to do with my beautiful design. Why do I keep entertaining this idea in my head that I have to keep everything in order, and together, and I have to hold the hands on my body that will create beautiful symphonies out of compost. This desire, no, this NEED to be perfect, is exhausting. I have always wished that I could be one of those girls who lays her delicate fingers on a piano for the first time, and the whole room would fall silent, completely immersed in the impromptu melody flowing from my fingertips. However, the first time I tried that exercise, I was highly disappointed to find that all that came from my moderately stubby and way too average fingers was just clanging and piercing nonsense.
I think everyone, somewhere deep in their heart wants to become a better person. But this, was me wanting to be the BEST person. Because then, you cannot judge me, you cannot leave me, you cannot hurt me, and you wouldn’t want to, because I am everything you need and want… I am your god. No I didn’t intentionally ever think that wishing perfection onto myself was actually making myself into an idol, but in fact that is exactly what that is. And it made me miserable.
That kind of a life is no life. Besides how boring is it to be perfect. To never fall and bleed a little, to never sneak out and then realize your parents really do know a little more than you gave them credit for, to put too many jalapenos on nachos just because someone said you wouldn’t dare to, to put your hair in the tiny blue rollers and then realize you weren’t given those curls for a reason, to steal your sisters clothes only to have her give you some, to try trimming your own eyelashes to make them grow faster and longer like the commercial said – or your own bangs for that matter. Ah yes we try all those things and we probably fail, but just think… I’ll know forever the consequences of impulsively cutting off all my hair, of painting my toenails blue glitter, of believing everything a teenage boy says.
At the end of my journey, I found a recipe for my slaw. And it actually was inspired by many others that I have seen, and it is far from being completed, and it has no exact measurements. But that’s what I figure the right ingredients are, all the things you love, put into a bowl you love, mixed with wine you love, and given to someone you love.
Anna’s Summer Slaw
- – Half a head of Purple Cabbage (chopped)
- – Two apples (diced)
- – One Mango (cut however you can get it off the seed, with the skin removed)
- – One Nectarine (or a peach, diced)
- – A nice handful or two of Cherry Tomatoes
- – One ear of sweet corn (fresh and cut off the cob)
- – A good couple of splashes of Chardonnay
- – A couple Tablespoons of Agave Syrup
- – A couple splashes of Red Wine Vinegar
- – Mix in some Olive Oil
- – Fresh Mint (you can’t go wrong with how much you put in, but be very generous, as this is the most important ingredient)
– It’s best to let it marinate for a couple hours.
– Now put it in a bowl, and serve it.
Oh the season changes; how they can pull us, bend us, trick us, confuse us, infuriate us, and ultimately remind us of how completely out of control we are. Those little buds peak out from under the cold soil and all of a sudden summer shorts are being pulled out of bins and pale legs are venturing from the confines of sweat pants and warm sheets. But alas, the clouds have won once again, and we see all of our tan dreams disappear underneath a cold front that has destroyed those perfect petals and all hope of swimming pool afternoon. Winter, despite the joy of warm gloves and selfies of snowflakes on our noses, really has the less-liked vote on a scale of being a comfortable season. At least that is what I have found – in all twenty-three of my winters I have never looked as cute bundled in five layers of sweaters and scarves than white short-shorts and tank tops… a red puffy nose is not nearly appealing as freckles and the slight fragrance of tanning oil.
I find the change of seasons to be prevalent in our emotional journeys as well, and I have to say that it can be one of the most challenging things, to keep moving forward into new seasons when you couldn’t find your way around the last one. Feeling like you’re stumbling through your life with just a match that keeps getting blown out. Of all things that evil has ever proven of itself, the biggest, in my opinion is predictability. No matter how many times we get obstacles thrown at us, no matter how many different lies are whispered in our ears about ourselves, no matter how many people say the wrong thing at the absolute worst time, no matter how many nights we feel alone, no matter how many expectations threaten to ruin our best relationships… we can always be guaranteed that the same thing has happened, if not to us than to our sister who questions if her hair is long enough – soft enough, our brother who cannot seem to push himself out of that “funk” that he has been in for the past six months. Oh yes, it’s all the same story. It’s all the same lies. Your husband doesn’t desire you, you want to start making friends but can’t get over what someone told you ten years ago in middle school, there is an elephant in the room when you start singing to yourself, knowing what we should do, how we should act, who is trustworthy, what to tell people, how to be “real”, how to be just a human.
Maybe this is just me. Maybe no one else struggles over the growing pains of letting their petals bloom, only to feel the cold of winter creep over them, and wondering if the next winter if they will even show their petals at all. What does life want from me, who am I in this huge scheme of mess? Am I doing this right? Maybe I should have done something different, maybe I should have said something better, maybe I should have made myself more beautiful.
Well if there is anything that I learned in the cold, it’s that if you don’t put one foot in front of the other… you. will. freeze. You will be broken, you will be beaten, you will be (temporarily) destroyed, you will be even more confused. But if you start walking, if you just look at that beautiful body that no one else in the world has, if you just remember the things that God has promised you, if you listen to that secret song that makes you feel like a warrior over and over until you must find blue paint and a war zone… then it is possible to make it.
And not just make it, but enjoy it.