Tag Archives: christianity

Drifting

I went to bed last night reluctantly at 10:30pm, selfishly angry that my alarm was set for 6:00am. I had received a text earlier in the week from the production crew coordinator at church letting me know that call time for service had been moved up an hour. Throughout the week I contemplated backing out, since I hadn’t been feeling well and also because I’m stubborn, and I just couldn’t wrap my brain around having to be somewhere that early on a Sunday. My conscience won and I decided to stay committed, excusing it by telling myself this would be the last time I serve on the media team. I barely slept and getting up was rough, but I made it. Over and over in my head I kept questioning to myself why I was there. Why I was needed. My energy was low and my patience thin.

 

It was well past 9:00 and people continued to file in, filling up almost every chair in the room. It’s usually pretty crowded, but something was different today. After the first worship song people were clapping and cheering, and by the middle of the second song at least half of everyone in the room had hands in the air. I could hear God in my ear saying, “I know you didn’t want to listen, but I put you here for a reason.”

 

I’ve been in somewhat of a funk lately, not one I am unfamiliar with. I am well aware that my faith is a roller coaster and it holds a pattern based on what’s currently happening in my life. For weeks or months at a time I’ll find myself closer to God than ever, attending church every week and my small group regularly, making time for daily devotions and prayer. And then slowly I’ll drift into a state of apathy and selfishness. This could last weeks or months or even years, depending on who I’m dating and what my friend group looks like. My faith gets put on the back burner until I crash mentally or emotionally and realize that I still need God after all. And then I seek Him and find Him all over again.

 

For a long time I would be frustrated with myself during those “off seasons,” almost like when I gain weight and think “how did I let myself get this far?” I look at other people at church and think they have it all together, since they are there every Sunday and seem to be on a steady path in their own faith. But I’m realizing that my entire life is going to be made of these ups and downs and so is everyone else’s. And that’s okay. I feel okay drifting because I know God will always lead me back to Him, just like He did today.

 

I watched nearly 20 people get baptized today. And not because it was scheduled, they didn’t reach out to someone a few weeks ago and say “I want to sign up for baptism.” These people happened to come to church today and when they were invited to come up and publicly give their lives to Christ, they accepted. I witnessed twenty lives start over today. I witnessed twenty people’s sins vanish right before my eyes. I witnessed twenty people turn their heads to God never to look back. Last Sunday NINETY-FIVE people were baptized. I’m watching one church transform an entire community. 

 

And so it all made sense. Another face-palm moment for me in my walk with God. Because of whatever He put on my heart I could not walk away from my commitment today, no matter how early. I could not stay angry or irritated because it was so clear that I was there for a reason, and that I have a purpose in the church. Every single person in that church is a part of a whole. We are each a part of this HUGE thing that’s happening. I can feel it moving within me, and I can see it changing others. I know my journey is far from over, and even though there will always be highs and lows, the high I felt today behind that camera makes up for everything else.

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Hello My Name Is: Independence

All this Women’s Rights mumbo-jumbo-social-media-rhetoric has gotten me really worked up lately. I’ve summed my emotions into “If you aren’t for it, you’re against it.” And how any woman could be against her own fundamental rights is simply beyond me.

I was in a relationship for over two years that made me feel like a beautiful, kind, caring doormat. Now listen y’all, I am a ballin’ ass girlfriend. Once you hook me and reel me in, I make it my life’s mission to keep you happy. That’s not me being submissive, it’s just what I enjoy doing. I like to see the people I love happy, therefore, I get really excited to cook a good dinner, do laundry or dishes when my man is sick or stressed out, or anything small that I know makes his day a little better. I like this aspect of myself, because I know I’ll make a damn good wife some day. (Does this paragraph make me look single?)

The problem with this mindset for me is it always takes too long to realize when I’m extremely under-appreciated. I’ve been in more than one relationship where I’ve taken a step back after the relationship ended and asked myself “What the heck was I doing there for so long?” The thing about feminism is it doesn’t mean women are superior, it means women and men are equal. So many fellow women of mine fail to see the equality they are being denied on a daily basis. If you are treating a man with kindness and respect, you deserve just that in return.

As women, I strongly believe that we should never rely on man, but especially A man, for anything. We should constantly be relying on God, and ourselves, to satisfy our needs. If you rely on a man for anything, that thing is no longer yours. That goes for your material belongings like your clothes, your car, your home, but it can also be applied to your emotions, your self-worth, your confidence.

Picture this: You fall in love with Mr. Right. He has a great job, great hair, he’s funny, charming, and takes care of you. He makes enough money to support you and even your kids once you have them. He’s generous, he buys you gifts every now and then like a new pair of shoes, he takes you to fancy dinners and tells you you’re the most perfect woman in the whole world. He tells you he loves you and you trust him. He gives you a big ole’ diamond. Sounds dreamy, right? Sign me up!

So naturally, you get married, you quit your job and start popping out babies. You get fat, you lose your confidence because he stops appreciating you. He takes you and everything you do for granted and you resent him for having to stay home all day with the kids. You fight a lot because you’ve lost your self-worth and want more out of life than talking to toddlers all day. Then one day, he cheats on you. He decides to leave you for the other woman. I don’t know how you find out but you do, because you are woman. Your life crumbles before your eyes. Literally. He. Owns. Everything. Your house and everything in it. Your car. Your insurance. Your clothes and shoes and bags and jewelry. Your body. Your mind. The groceries in your refrigerator that you were going to use to cook him dinner! 

Custody of the children (and probably a hefty settlement) aside, you are now forced to completely start over. What’s on your resume? Nothing, child care. What’s your credit score? Nada, nothing in your name. I would say it’s not your fault, but it totally is. Where did you lose your independence? When did you forget that you are a perfect and beautiful creation of God’s that deserves happiness and fulfillment? When did you forget that you have a purpose for your life here on earth? A lot of women will say that being a mother is their purpose, and I am 100% on board with that. But please, I am begging you, do not give up your independence in exchange for motherhood. That child needs a strong, unwavering woman to teach them how to be the best version of themselves.

When I see women marrying (or dating) for money it makes me want to crawl out of my skin and force my hands around her neck. You are submitting in the worst possible way! You are giving that man complete control over who you are and what defines you. Not to mention, you should never waste your time dating or marrying someone who you could do without. Call me a romantic but, I believe there is someone out there for everyone. Yes, a soul mate! And that soul mate wasn’t put there so you could use them for their money, their money should have ZERO influence on your feelings for them. If their money or worth has ANY influence on why you’re with them, you need to reevaluate your life, my dear! And your identity, and motives, and passions. Who the hell are you, anyways?

The moral of this rant is…Don’t ever let a man control you. Whether he does that with money or manipulation, you are your own person and should ALWAYS be your own person. Don’t forget to take that step back every once in a while and ask yourself if you are being treated equally and with respect. And if the answer is ever anything besides “YES PRAISE JESUS FOR THIS AMAZING SPECIMEN OF A MAN,” get the eff outta there!

 

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Open Letter to Tomi Lahren

Dear Tomi,

Sweet, innocent, closed-minded Tomi, you are so sorely mistaken and misinformed about this Women’s Rights Movement. Your anger and hatred are so loud that I can barely hear the judgmental, ignorant words coming out of your mouth.

I imagine you and I are alike in many ways. We were both raised by a mom and dad in an average, predominantly white town. We both attended a high school about the same size, and we both attended college for journalism. We both got into the television industry almost immediately out of school, except that you were handed your own TV show at the inexperienced age of 21, where I worked as a production assistant for a year, part-time at minimum wage, until I was forced to find a different, better-paying job. Here is where our stories begin to differ.

You have never known adversity. You have been riding a cushy six-figure salary since you were of legal drinking age. You didn’t “earn” your job at One American News Network, you didn’t start from the bottom and work your way up a career ladder that some spend their entire lives aiming for. A man looked at you and realized the opportunity for a fantastic ROI. You’re beautiful, sassy, and entertaining, and in news, that means money and ratings. It doesn’t make you right, or smart, or even good at your job. It simply means you are entertainment.

With that being said, OF COURSE you don’t understand this Women’s Rights Movement. Why would you? Every time I see you, your brow is furrowed and your mouth is open. LISTEN. Even if for just a moment, remove yourself from your shiny, blonde, polished Fox News-esque pedestal, take a step back and really look at the world around you. I’m not talking about your friends, and family, and coworkers, I mean the people you don’t even see on your way to work every day. The homeless woman, the cab driver, the single mom with three kids using food stamps, the woman who’s been silenced by a broken and abusive relationship. Don’t you see these humans? Or are you too blinded by your privileged past and present to completely miss what is your imminent future?

The difference between me and you is that I don’t stand for myself and my own selfish desires. I stand for others who weren’t dealt the same cards as you and I. I am not the victim, but I stand with women who have been the victim. Of discrimination, of assault, of abuse, of oppression. I believe wholeheartedly in equality, from gender, to race, to religion, to sexuality. I believe that we are all humans, and that we are all brothers and sisters as children of God. At the end of the day, we are all equal in God’s eyes. We are commanded to love one another, and by attacking other women, your fellow sisters, you are defying the very premise of Christianity.

You have a voice where other women don’t. You are literally handed a microphone and camera and the opportunity to make a difference on a daily basis. Use your voice for the betterment of society. Use your voice to empower other women and inspire them with your own strength and work ethic. Don’t shoot them down because they aren’t like you, lift them up higher than they ever thought possible because they aren’t like you.

No one is asking for “free stuff,” this is so much more than that. And if you did any actual research besides scribbling down a rant and reading it from a teleprompter, something in those facts (not alternative facts, just regular facts) may change your perspective a little. The moment you open your arms and start loving others the way Jesus loves you, your entire world will shift. I urge you to try it sometime. 

I believe in you, Tomi.

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In Church

In church I don’t care how fat or skinny I am
or what I ate the day before
or when I’m going to the gym next.
In church I don’t think about how much I hate my job
and how hard it is to get out of bed in the morning
and how I come home in tears most days.
In church I don’t wonder if I’ve chosen the wrong path
or if my efforts are tiresome and pointless.
In church I don’t worry about when I’m going to meet the “right” guy
and fall in love and get married
and whether I’ll be able to have babies
or live to meet their babies.
In church I don’t doubt that I am capable
of anything and everything I set my mind to
as long as I fully rely on Jesus for my successes.
In church I don’t care about what the people around me think
about the fact that I’m crying over the sermon
or stretching my arms high into Heaven while I sing.
In church I know that today is the only day that matters
and that tomorrow’s worries and burdens should be placed on Him and Him only.
In church it doesn’t matter what mistakes I made years ago
that I feel define me sometimes
because I am a child of the Lord and my sins are forgiven.
In church I am me
just as He made me.
Perfectly imperfect.

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See: Tattoos and Gay Marriage

It’s hard for me to write this post because the very premise of it feels conflicting in my mind, but the only thing that truly angers me is when I try with all my might to understand something and simply cannot.

I consider myself a Christian, and for that reason I strongly believe in being accepting and loving of others, no matter what, because that is what Jesus did and does for all of us. And if we are to live our lives to the best of our ability in line with what Jesus taught, then the cliche of “What Would Jesus Do?” should be ever-present in our minds.

I attend a weekly small group through my church. One night, among other things, we talked about what it means in Phillippians 3 where Paul says “beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the concision…” And to my surprise, one girl explained that to her, this means that some people may sound like they are trying to be good people, but can still be going against what the Bible says. And her example was gay marriage. That people can defend gay marriage thinking they are doing it for the greater good, that they should be accepting of it, when the truth is that biblically it is wrong.

I’m going to be completely honest here, I was close to getting up and walking to my car. But, I tell myself every day when I encounter different beliefs than my own to LISTEN. So I listened, and I stayed. No one else spoke up, no one argued, and no one agreed. And the fire in my heart burned so bright for the gay community. All I could think was this must be their enemy. Christians sitting in a circle and saying that even though good people are telling them to accept and love everyone including gay people, the Bible says it is wrong (Leviticus 20:13). And although in that very same book (Leviticus 19:28) the Bible says not to mark yourself with tattoos, the girl and her husband sat next to me with tattoos on each of their arms.

My point here is that we all interpret every situation, every interaction, every sentence differently, so I understand that my interpretation of the Bible is different from the next person’s. What I CAN NOT bring myself to understand is how any Christian can argue that whether they agree with homosexuality or not, that a person arguing for gay marriage can be labeled as an “evil worker.” I vie for gay marriage and LGBTQ rights for these fundamental reasons – not in any particular order:

1) It is of no relevance to me.
2) Everyone is entitled to their own version of happiness.
3) Everyone’s beliefs are unique and their own.
4) God commands me to love my neighbor as myself.

My view of Christianity is similar. While I don’t sit and literally dissect every verse in the Bible (see: tattoos and gay marriage), my beliefs rest on several very similar building blocks of my own personal interpretation or version, if you will, of Christianity:

1) Love your neighbor as yourself. (This could really be the only one.)
2) Trust in the Lord and lean not on your own understanding, as God has a plan and a calling for every child he creates.
3) Because Jesus died for my sins, I have been granted eternal life by believing in and dedicating my life to God.

Obviously there is much, much more to Christianity than these three points, but this is what I base majority of my thoughts and actions around. And because I definitely do not believe any of these points to be arguable from a Christian standpoint, I will never be able to fully wrap my brain or heart around alienating a person or a group of people in spite of their beliefs or individual identity.

This weighed so heavily on my heart tonight that I could not push it out of my mind. If I do one thing with this life I hope that it is to convince you to go love others the way Jesus loves you.

 

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Trapped and Broken

This day has never hit me quite as hard as today. The older you get the better things come into focus that were hard to understand as a child, and somehow they become even more difficult to grasp. Everyone has their 9/11 story so it doesn’t matter what mine is, but today has been building up in my heart for a long time. I’m not sure what ignited the emotion in me today, between the anniversary of a tragedy, one of the most humbling sermons I’ve ever listened to, or the perfectly harmonized music and renewing energy in my church this morning. I have so many words and scriptures and inspirations running through my head I don’t even know where to start with this post, so I’m just going to dive in and see what happens.

Of course at church today the 9/11 tragedy was the theme, as well as the Charleston Sofa Superstore fire, two of the most devastating events in U.S. history as far as the number of lost firefighters. A story was told about a woman named Janelle, who worked on the 64th floor of the WTC, and made it all the way down to the 13th floor before the building collapsed on top of her. Trapped in the rubble for over 24 hours, she found herself on top of the dead body of a firefighter. That firefighter’s reflective vest caught the eye of another first responder, who reached down to pull him out and found Janelle grabbing his hand. Even in death, that service member saved her life. Just like the Charleston 9, who gave their lives to save others’.

The message today was that there are two types of people: the rescue squad, and those who are trapped and broken. Those in the rescue squad dedicate their lives to saving those who are trapped, broken, lost. Through God’s word and Jesus’ sacrifice, they pull others out of the rubble, one by one, and give them something to live for. The rescue squad runs towards the disaster, when everyone else is running away. It’s a crazy concept to think that there are disciples out there, who we consider strangers, who would lay down their lives for us. Many first responders are not only serving their community but, first and foremost, serving God.

“No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry, to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny”

 

Something inside me has been brewing for some time now, and I’m learning that my journey with Jesus is more like a roller coaster. I feel close to Him for a while and then slowly veer away, focusing on other, less important things in my life. And then I get this feeling of anxiety, fueled by incompleteness, that becomes so overwhelming that when I finally find my way back to Him, I bubble over into this embarrassing heap of raw, dependent woman, and in the midst of it all I find myself again.

Yes, embarrassing. Because I’m not a big cryer, I’m really good at ignoring my emotions and tucking them away somewhere and dealing with them later in the privacy of my own home or room or car or wherever I can be completely alone. But, like any woman, eventually we have a breakdown from all that we keep locked up inside. And if you’re a Dane Cook fan, you understand how his joke about a “good cry” is actually so true. It starts with a catch of your breath or a single lip quiver, or for me that feeling in the back of your throat that feels like you might choke to death if you don’t entertain it. And I keep pushing it farther and farther down until it doesn’t fit there anymore, and then one random Sunday in the middle of my favorite worship song it fights its way out. For me, my mouth starts doing this awful twitch that I absolutely CAN NOT control. It’s only happened a handful of times in my life, always in public, where I want so badly to choke that cry down until I get home but I just can’t. And I know that if I allow my mouth to stop twitching, the next step is a full-blown sob. Wedged between a row of people I’ve never seen before #iliterallycantevenrightnow. For the record, still didn’t let it out today, so those of you in my immediate friend and work circles, hurricane Allie could develop at ANY second. This is your warning.

Today I sat in front of God and my church feeling like I was back, exactly where I am supposed to be. I worked my way up to the top of that roller coaster again, every climb is harder and higher, but that peak is always the answer for me. All I keep thinking about today is my own personal rescue squad, and how I never realized that’s what they were until now. Andrea Morris and Kristen Suraci for reaching out and welcoming me into their church family. My mom for giving me the best Christian-based and sound advice in every aspect of my life. Adam Caudle for shining His light on me all the way from Atlanta. My support system in Charleston and elsewhere. Thank you for pulling me out of the rubble, dusting me off and showing me Grace and Love and Jesus, no matter how many times I find the bottom of that roller coaster, my rescue squad is there to lift me back up.

 

A simple “thank you” will never be enough to those who lay down their lives every day for strangers. You are the truest disciples and allow God’s word to continue on in the lives of people you have saved or sacrificed for.

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