When the Future Changes

There were two men in my life. They both wanted to officiate my wedding. They both decided – separately – that if they never met the man I married, I wasn’t allowed to get married. Or, as one of them clarified, if I did get married without them, they’d act like the marriage was a figment of my imagination until they could reinact the ceremony with their involvement. (I didn’t dare act like they weren’t serious.) 

Both Terry and Ray jokingly-but-not-so-jokingly fought each other as they planned for my future wedding together as far as who would get most of the limelight as the officiator of my wedding, who got to kiss my cheek first and who got to harass my groom the best. 

I could never decide if their surrogate- fatherly arguments warmed my heart or added to my anxiety. Usually, I just laughed instead of focusing on the confusion. I was loved, that’s what I needed to remember. I was 16 and both these men had higher dreams for my future than I did. When I nearly ruined my life with childish decisions at 19 years old, they both spent hours (and I mean hours) almost daily on the phone talking me through my decisions and asking me the hard questions no one else wanted to ask. 

Both of these men passed away within a year of each other.  It didn’t hit me until last night for some reason that neither of these men get to see my wedding. Neither of these men get to ask me the hardest questions of all: “Can you support this man when he seems unsupportable? Can you make him laugh when all you want to do is make him cry? Can you show him Christ when all you want to do is show him yourself?” 

Even at 16, they warned me about those questions. They told me what they wanted the answers to be and what they would do if my answers didn’t represent Christ. They were futuristically minded when I couldn’t be. They cared more for my future than almost any other nonrelated acquaintance ever had.

They didn’t plan on not being around to help me grow up, but they prepared me for the future just in case they weren’t.

What if we discipled like that more often? What if we strove to be involved with our mentees but prepared them to be just as godly, wise and prepared without us as they are when they are with us? What if we didn’t shield them from hard things but rather taught them that they can prepare for a storm before it comes? 

What if we discipled in such a way that those we disciple don’t pine after us after we’re gone but rather strive to immulate the Christ-like characters we focused on the most?

A Lesson From An Atheist

Our differences are stark:
He’s a “man’s man who don’t need no woman.” I’m every type of tomboy imaginable but I still look for sentimentality in stupid places and love leaning on the man of my heart.

My friend is an atheist. I’m a Christian. 
He thinks I need more rights as a woman. I couldn’t disagree more.

He’s black. I’m so white I’m translucent.

He can’t stand “the system.” Though it rubs against my every day activities, I’ve learned to roll with the punches unless it’s biblically and morally uncalled for.

Our similarities crack me up:

We both love to argue.

We both like to argue.

In case you missed it, we both love to argue.

We both know how to source our facts.

We both hate politics, but our shared desire for justice makes most of our conversations about things we need to see change in this country.

There is nothing more comical than putting a determined atheist in a friendship with a stubborn follower of Jesus Christ. Many o’ times, one of us (usually me) calls a time out on our heated arguments about Jesus, religion, women’s rights, marriage, children and every other hot topic because our friendship matters more than our opinions. Too many times, I’ve wandered into the Throne Room screaming, “Why, Jesus?!” when the arguments can’t end on agreeable terms. I’ve been told a time or two this guy would love it if he could just program me to “get it.”

No matter how much our differences heat us up, though, we stop when our respect for each other is threatened. I have my boundaries, he has his. Crossing those boundaries is not allowed, especially if we feel like the other person’s value is undermined because of our disagreement. It’s acceptable to be passionate about something the other person is not. It’s also acceptable to shut up for a while. It’s even acceptable to decide talking till you agree isn’t worth sacrificing the friendship itself.

It is not acceptable, however, to devalue another person or attempt to strip them of their opinion because it makes you uncomfortable. 

Being acclaimed as right is nice, I’ll give you that. But sometimes, the people that are able to stand strongly by simply living out their views in how they treat others will leave the most impact.

Unobserved Double Standards

Dear Men,

In all honesty, I’m probably a little too concerned about my perceived modesty. Time and time again when I check my outfit with my significant other I get a befuddled look that seems to mutter one thing. 

Woman. It’s a shirt. Yes, you’re fine. Can we go now?

But then there are those days when I mindlessly put on my last clean shirt and I find out (usually days later) that particular shirt shouldn’t be in my wardrobe anymore. I am not a shapeless woman. The question, “Is this modest?” gets asked every single day. 

The answer changes more frequently than I thought it would. 

I’ve noticed in the past month how much women are required to double-check, yet men aren’t. If my jeans are too tight, my shirt showing too much midriff, or my neckline too revealing… How dare I. 

My spiritual maturity gets questioned; my moral character weighed. Don’t I know what I’m doing to the male population? I’ve been approached by men before (on a day I got dressed in 2 minutes & probably should have taken longer) and asked if my walk was right with the Lord. Granted, one look down my upper body and I knew what they were trying to say… But that shook my world. My standing with God is put on trial due to what I wear?

However, if as a man, your arms are well defined in the cut-off you’re wearing, your pecs easily observed because your t-shirt’s too small (women know your secret, by the way)… Well, you’re just manly. Good for you, Dude. You turned my head as well as countless other women’s heads. What a hunk. Good job. You don’t make us stumble, right? Women put up with it silently, so that means it doesn’t effect them, right?

As far as people assessing you spiritually based on your clothes; why would they? You’ve got a great heart… 

Men seem to think women aren’t adept to physical temptations by what we see. Oh, how very, very wrong that view is. Women are just as turned on, broken down and spiritually tempted by what walks in front of us as the next person. There have been quite a few men I refuse to talk to without people surrounding me so I have a reason to look away. You obviously dressed that way to get a reaction. You got one. But you also made it hard for me as your sister in Christ to see you as anything but eye candy. 

I hate being this blunt, but someone has to say it: Seeing you as my equal Spiritually is incredibly difficult when my first thought upon seeing you is Dang, you’ve got a great body. 

So, next time you speak to women about modesty, please do it with a fair mindset. I’m all about you telling me if what I’m wearing makes you stumble. If at all possible, I’ll change immediately. But it’s not only something we “stupid, manipulative women” do to you “innocent and unassuming men.” 

We do it to each other.
I realize we don’t live in a Eutopia where this is easily changed. Though I’m mindful of my body and the clothes I wear, I will mess up on occasion. Forgive me. But, so will you. I’m begging you, though, as someone who has chosen purity and to give that to one man someday, help me out. Help all women out. 

Realize the double standard and when you tell us to dress appropriately, realize what you’re wearing might be just as hard for us. If we need to adapt our ways to help you out, maybe you could be willing to do the same?

Not My Job 

I’m lonely. I need to talk. 

I hate hearing those words. They’re the two phrases that, once upon a time, immediately sent importance and purpose shooting up my spine; now, they send dread. Once upon a time, knowing that a guy was “lonely” meant I could fix something. I wasn’t sure what… but dang it, I was gonna fix it.

Age and experience (all 26 year of it <wink>) has taught me not to respond to inquiries from a man who openly declares his loneliness. It’s no one’s fault and he could very well be only lonely; but still, when I hear that declaration, I immediately look for another man to take over.

Here’s the problem: Outside my Christian-Bubble College surroundings, it feels impossible to find another man who is willing to step up to take care of a hurting/lonely brother. I get it. Women are busybodies (we really are) and men are ADD (sometimes). 

This is an incredibly vague plea to men who call themselves Believers in Jesus Christ. Step up for the men who are hurting. Though you may be able to turn the concern for a hurting brother off, it’s much harder for the women in your life to do the same. If you don’t take initiative, we will. Don’t make us do that. Let us lean on your ability to support each other. 

Multiple times I have found myself being confided in by a man over a situation that was none of my business. I found myself thrust into the confidence of a man over sexual, emotional and mental issues I still struggle with comprehending. Though God gave me the chance to walk away each time, it still bothered me. During my conversations with these  men, often times, older gentlemen walked within earshot, gave me an uncomfortable look and walked away.

Men, you do hundreds of things which I admire, cherish and adore. As a sister in Christ, though, I’m asking you to support each other more deeply in order to protect the hearts of the women in your lives. We need you to work us out of the job of supporting men we were never called to support in the first place.