life, Light

Manipulation & Weenies

“Christian manipulation at its finest,” my daughter said, as she walked into the kitchen.

“Let’s hear it.”

She proceeded to read a Facebook message from some random guy who wants to connect:

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[link removed]

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Free Dream Interpretation Line?

Needless to say, she denied the request.

“It isn’t the same kind of manipulation,” I said, “but it reminds me of a time, when I was your age, that I received a letter in the mail at work.  It started, ‘Dear Julie, You are unattractive, no one likes you and you are a failure at work…’ The letter continued to insult me for several paragraphs before inviting me to a seminar on self-esteem.

What? You’re going to tear down my self-esteem and then invite me to pay you $250 to build it back up?

Unfortunately for the letter’s sender, I was really cute back then, had lots of friends, and I had just received a raise, so I couldn’t have been too much a failure at work…”

Manipulation of the Weeny Sort.

The hub was away fishing this morning so my daughter and I went out for breakfast. Over omelets and pancakes she told a familiar tale of manipulation of the weeny sort.  One of her friends, who has been seriously dating the assistant minister of a hip downtown church, just got dumped.  They had been dating for a very (4+ years) long time.

“He probably said something like, ‘The Lord told me it isn’t His will for me to continue in this relationship,’ ” she said, “because that’s what they always say.”

They being the “fine” Christian men who date, dump and then blame it on God.

“Four years of her life,” my daughter said, shaking her head, “and then trying to pass himself off as all spiritual.”

“If I were the young woman being dumped,” I said, “I’d want to know whether God mentioned anything to him about the relationship not being His will FOUR YEARS AGO.”

Because the fact is, he’s a jerk.  He can pretend that the break-up is him being all godly and obedient, but where was his obedience 4 years ago?

If the relationship is not God’s will now, then the relationship was not His will then. So either he ignored God then, or God has nothing to do with it.

Chances are good that it was the hip young minister’s idea to date her – take her off the market for 4+ years with no intention of marrying her – and it was the hip young minister’s idea to dump her.

Because God doesn’t string people along.

“I want to smack him silly,” I said as I finished my orange juice, “because how is anyone supposed to argue with, ‘blah, blah, blah, blah, blah … and I must be obedient to God.'”

As if God has any part in breaking a young woman’s heart.

 

 

 

 

 

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All In

My daughter went to the library this afternoon to study and ended up writing instead. Thank God because I haven’t written anything for NaBloPoMo today.

So, with no ado at all, it is my pleasure to bring you a guest post, written by my daughter, a chip off her momma’s block:

It was years ago on a retreat that I was first challenged to look at the book of Genesis 3 and what it means for women in an entirely new light. In verse 16, in the aftermath of the encounter with the Serpent, God says to Eve, “Yet your desire will be for your husband, and He will rule over you.” This is part of the curse of mankind, one of the consequences of that original sin. It is often referenced as a Biblical defense for man’s authority over a woman, but maybe, just maybe, the words aren’t so much a command as they are a prophesy, a foretelling of the way things will play out for humanity. God isn’t commanding husbands to rule over their wives or men to rule over women, He’s acknowledging that the downfall of woman is her desire for man, that throughout time and generations her desperation will lead her away from God down paths of destruction. I see it all the time. I hear it in the stories of the women who come in for counseling at the practice where I intern- it’s one of the strongest and most consistent themes there is. We as women are so prone to live out the sometimes implicit sometimes explicit ideal that it is better to have any man than to not have a man at all. We make a lot of bad choices because of it. We put up with a lot of crap because of it. We open ourselves and those around us up to a world of hurt because of it. We end up in horrible situations we refuse to leave because of it. Man rules over us because we let him.

The new perspective on Genesis takes it one step further to the possibility that God didn’t actually banish Eve from the garden. Chapter 3 verse 23 says, “therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken.” Verse 24 continues, “So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned over direction to guard the way to the tree of life.” Never is the woman mentioned. Never is the pronoun “them” used. No, I don’t know for sure that Eve wasn’t banished. Yes, it is possible that God intended for this curse to be all-encompassing and that His inclusion of woman either goes without saying or got lost in translation. But it seems to me that Eve may have had another option. If Eve was not specifically banished from the garden, she could have stayed with God. And if she could have stayed with God, her separation from Him was a choice. What if the only reason Eve left the garden is because she followed Adam out? I realize that Eve’s sin would have necessitated some sort of separation from God, so I’m not fully convinced that this is the way it all went down, but I think it’s a question worth considering because whether Eve left the garden by choice or not, I believe that we as women do have a choice. We have the option to stay with God, to choose him over men. But it won’t be easy.

There’s nothing wrong with men themselves. They are not the problem, here. Men are wonderful and uniquely created; loved by God and meant to reflect His image just as women are loved by God and meant to reflect His image. In fact, we need both man and woman for the full reflection. Man and woman together make up the complete image. God created man and woman for relationship with each other. He loves marriage and He loves family, so not only is there nothing wrong with men themselves, there’s nothing wrong with the desire for romantic relationships with them. A relationship between a man and a woman who are both following after Christ is a beautiful, sacred thing. But there is something undeniably wrong with consciously or subconsciously putting the desire for a man above all else, forsaking all standards for the sake of having someone to love.

This is my task for the present: not doing that exact thing. I hear God asking me over and over again to stay with Him and I want to more than anything, but it’s hard. It’s hard even for me, who constantly witnesses the disappointment that results from “any man is better than no man” mentality. It’s hard for me, who’s more passionate about standards and choosing good men and never settling than I am about a lot of things. I had an incredible man who was following after Jesus, and now I don’t. I thought the memory of my relationship with him would make it easier to not settle. I know what a good thing looks like now. And yet. Yet, I still struggle with the temptation to settle for the sake of companionship. Most men who show interest don’t phase me. But then there are the men who have something attractive about them, something that resonates with me, though they may not follow Jesus or love Him the way I do. These are the “good” men, though they’re not the godly men. They are the men who have me questioning everything, thinking “not having a partner to have my back is hard” and “maybe I’m being too picky anyway” and “perhaps having a companion is better than not having one.” Wait. No. That’s not right.

This is the mental space where I’ve been fighting and have to keep fighting. A “good” man will never be someone who can walk beside me spiritually or be my partner in ministry. He will never be about the same things, or want to live the same kind of life that I do. I will inevitably sacrifice part of who God has created and called me in joining my life with his. I will inevitably abandon some of my precious intimacy with the Lord in following him. Is it better to have a man like this than to not have one at all? I know the answer is no, but whether motivated by a desire for something as simple as a night out and physical chemistry or as big as assurance of a future that includes marriage and family, the temptation these days is to say yes to this kind of man. Sometimes that yes seems pretty harmless, but I can play the tape to the end. Those paths aren’t for me. I won’t let man rule over me. God is asking me over and over to stay with Him. He’s asking me if I trust Him; if He’s enough. He is. He’s more than enough. I just have to remember that.

#loftyideas  #Itaughthereverythingsheknows  #allin

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My heart is broken today.

Experts say the minimum age to allow your children to start dating is 16. Those who start dating before they are 16 are much more likely to become sexually active before graduating from high school than those who start dating after age 16.

But I gave my daughter something better than a minimum age, back when she was in high school, I gave her a minimum standard. I told her she could start dating when she was mature enough to hold another person’s heart in her hands without wrecking it.

It takes a lot of love and maturity to be truly careful with someone’s heart.

I wish ALL mommas would teach their children to hold hearts with the utmost care.

To not use and abuse.

To not bide their time in a “lie.”

To see the holding of another’s heart as a precious, sacred privilege.

I wish ALL young men would take the same care that my daughter takes.

My friend Dale used to say that he could tell within 3 dates whether a woman was right for him. If he wasn’t feeling “it” by the third date he would end things right then, before the woman’s heart became attached.

By “it” he meant potential marriage.

If most men know within 3 dates whether or not a woman is right for them, then anything beyond a third date is just plain selfish.

And reckless.

Because you can’t detach an attached heart without doing some damage, without leaving some scar tissue.

It seems so unfair that a beautiful, kindhearted young woman, who has always held the hearts of others so carefully, has had her own heart smashed into a thousand pieces.

The only thing that comes close to the excruciating, soul-crushing pain of a breakup is watching someone you love walk through it.

Even when you can see a bright future ahead.

Next time a young man comes along I’m going to want to advise her to bail after the third date.  Make him work for it. Make him prove he really wants her before she allows him into her heart.

I’m going to want to build a protective hedge around her.

But then I’ll think about my husband and how impressed I was that he was brave enough to open his heart to me after all he had been through.

And I’ll remember that Jesus knows something about giving one’s heart to the reckless, the clueless, the unworthy.

And yet He keeps taking the risk.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

 

 

 

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Wrong on So Many Levels

In the words of Bob Newhart playing Dr. Switzer in an SNL comedy sketch, “STOP IT!”

I was smack-dab in the middle of putting two brilliant pieces of the Revelation puzzle together for you when I was interrupted by my family’s high-maintenance need for dinner.

My daughter entered the kitchen as I was slicing the avocado:

“So this young, engaged couple from my church has a gofundme page to pay for their wedding.”

“What?! That is wrong on so many levels.”

“The appeal, which was supposedly the groom’s best friend’s idea, is based on the fact that they are young and cannot afford the wedding of their dreams.”

“Oh well.”

“The groom said, ‘God has shown us what kind of wedding He wants us to have,’ but I say, God wants you to have the kind of wedding you can AFFORD.”

To which I added, “God wants you to have integrity and a little self-respect.”

“I know what they’re probably thinking. They think that they are supposed to invite tons of people to their wedding because their love is such a great testimony.”

“Great testimony to what? Do they think theirs is the first love story? Do they think they are the first couple in the history of Christian couples to do it right? Or is theirs a gutter to glory story?”

It doesn’t matter. Fund your own dang wedding youngsters, just like generations before you.

I’m too bugged to get my head back in the Revelation zone. I’ll finish that post tomorrow.

Hope your Sunday was restful and worshipful. Mine was iced in.

 

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matchmaker, matchmaker…

I was peeling sweet potatoes and my daughter was cleaning brussel sprout after brussel sprout after tedious brussel sprout when her phone buzzed with a text from her best friend. It was 10 p.m.

Her friend’s sister, who is a senior resident at a downtown hospital, suddenly had an epiphany: My Christian daughter would be a perfect match for one of the junior residents, who is also a Christian.

So, though it was late and weird, the sister texted him. She asked him whether he is single and ready to mingle, then she asked him what he is looking for in a wife.

“That’s a hard question for me to answer,” he replied, “I tend to think too much. I have to factor in what my life will look like in a year, five years. I really can’t give you a straight answer.”

To which she decisively typed, “I’m looking for tall, dark, handsome, educated, funny and Muslim. That was easy!”

“Dude,” she went on, “I even have pictures. Listen to your senior. This is how Muslims get married.”

I’ll keep you posted on any wedding plans.

 

 

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The Devil Worship that is the Modern Dating Scene

My daughter came home from an enjoyable day of work yesterday with something to report. She had lunch with two co-workers – Becca, a 23-year-old who is well on her way to becoming engaged, and Camille, a 26-year-old who is single and wanting desperately to be married.

Camille lamented that her mom and others keep telling her she is too picky, that she’ll never find a husband that way. She was singing my daughter’s song. As the two of them commiserated and considered reassessing their standards, Becca chimed in:

“Don’t change!  Stay picky!”

She closed her eyes and paused for a second to come up with a descriptor powerful enough to convey how passionately she felt, then continued with gusto:

“Stay pure and untainted by the DEVIL WORSHIP that is the modern dating scene!”

God bless them all.

Later my daughter added that Camille’s mom often tells Camille that she is looking for someone like her dad and, unfortunately, they don’t make men like him anymore.

“So, great, Camille’s mom got a great husband but too bad for Camille.”

“I don’t think that’s what her mom meant,” I said. “I don’t think she was saying they don’t make good men anymore, I think she was saying men are different now, they’re more girly.” (My daughter knows that by girly I mean hip and metrosexual.)

“There’s nothing wrong with girly men,” my daughter interjected.

“I know, and I know you like girly men, but if Camille’s dad is a manly man and that is what Camille is looking for, she might not find him. I think that’s what her mom was trying to say. They don’t make good manly men anymore, but that doesn’t mean they don’t make good girly men.”

There are still good men out there, they’re just a different kind of good.  Right?

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