True Intimacy

Have you ever seen those incredibly talented make up artists who can transform themselves into a totally different person with some bomb contouring and eye shadow?  Well, I am not that person.  I can barely color inside the lines with my lipstick.  And I didn’t even know contouring was a thing until I was in my 30’s.

Now regardless of your skill level or how you feel about make up in general, the stuff is basically magic.  I mean, I once saw a woman turn herself into Nicki Minaj.  And in case you’re wondering, she looked nothing like Nicki Minaj in real non-make up life.

On the other hand, there are also millions of YouTube videos for make up dummies like myself.  Tutorials to help you enhance your beauty without going overboard. Or how to create a date night look that doesn’t resemble a Crayola massacre on your face.

And if you really think about it, intimacy can be the same way. It can transform said relationship into something much different than its initial intentions. Or it can enhance what God has already created, but at the right time and in the right context.

For those of you who aren’t following, here’s an example.  You’ve been seeing this guy and you’re getting the hunch that he’s really a creep. But since there are no other prospects or even men looking your way, you decide to take things to the next level out of boredom and desperation. Whether that means kissing, sex, or the whole ‘everything but sex, technically still celibate’ category, you know you’ve crossed a line.

And once that line is crossed, this man’s character and attractiveness levels up from Gollum of Lord of the Rings to Great Gatsby Leo Dicaprio.

Continue reading on Modern Ruth Project!

You are worth being single

Everyone I know on earth: “So.  How’s it going?  Are you dating anyone?”

Still single me: Sigh….”No, I’m not dating anyone at the moment.  Yes, I’m still single.  No, there are not prospects in the foreseeable future or the requisite 15 mile radius.  And, yes, I’m fine.”

Them: -_-

Me: “No, really.  I’m happy and content on most days with being single.  Why?  Do you know someone?”

Them: “Oh, goodness no.  You don’t want to date any of my friends!  They’re so (fill in the blank with some incredibly strange or terrible character flaw)!”

Me thinking inwardly to myself: Why do you have friends like that?

Does this conversation sound familiar?  I know I’m not the only one who feels like I’m constantly defending my singleness on a daily basis.

Keep reading here on Modern Ruth Project!

I am that prostitute…

This year I’ll be guest blogging with Modern Ruth Project.  Go check out this post on their site!

alley

I have nothing in common with a prostitute.

If you’re like me, I’m sure you’ve had this thought many times in your life.  Or maybe you’ve never even thought about it all.  Which is ok because It’s likely not a common comparison.  But I can tell you with absolute certainty that you, yes you, have many things in common with the ladies of the night.

And I just couldn’t believe that I was so wrong about this.  Because I tend to be right about many things in life.  Which is also a lie.

But let me tell you a story of how I came face to face with my inaccurate thought processes:

There I was.  With all my holy haughtiness.  Sitting in the back of a van with a few other ladies and one gentleman.  Riding around an area in Atlanta known for its high rate of trafficking and prostitution.  I was excited, scared, anxious, and relaxed all at the same time.

I was sure that I was going to venture out into the darkness to bring the light.  That I would touch the souls of men and women who felt trapped in lives where their bodies encompassed their worth.

And that’s exactly what was going through my mind as we approached the first lady to give her a rose and extend a hand out of that way of life.  But as soon as I stepped out of the van to dramatically save her soul, I was smacked by a sudden realization.

Yes, Jesus slaps people.  Right in the face.  And it’s not a gentle nudge.  It involves all five fingers and has the weight of the Holy Spirit behind it.  And also behind that slap was an epiphany that this girl, these women, were all me.

I am broken.  I am a mother trying to make ends meet to raise my daughter in the best way I know how.  I feel overwhelmed by circumstances.  I struggle with keeping my worth in line with my God-given value.  I believe the lie that one decision won’t change my destiny.  I have allowed tiny decisions to add up until the damage was evident to myself and others.  And that damage led me to surrender in the arms of my Creator.

But one more decision could have brought me to those same corners where I came offering roses and hope.  One more decision could have landed me on dark stages stripping off pieces of myself to gain hurt in return.  One more decision could have seen me depending on the cheap approval of men to feel loved.

But that’s the funny thing about doing things for the Kingdom.  You walk in all high and mighty ready to change lives, only to realize that you were the one who needed changing.

And trust me, you’d much rather learn humility through service and putting on the suffering of others than have God knock you down to size.  I mean, have you read the Bible?  He’s been known to rain fire, instant death, and turn folks into a pillar of salt.  No thanks.  I don’t want to be the seasoning on anyone’s meal.

So next time you step out to share life, remember to see yourself in every single person that crosses your path and leave your piety at home. Vulnerability is more powerful than holiness.  And service is much more effective when others can see where you’ve been compared to where you are.  That is dealing hope that their lives can be better, can be different, rather than sending them the message that they could never be you.

PS – If after reading this, you are still of the mind that you couldn’t possibly be that person you’re serving, just remember three things.  One, Jesus slaps people.  Two, God can rain fire. FIRE.  And three, you are not that important (Galatians 6:3).

Forgiveness Resolutions

Here’s a little tidbit about me.  I’m not one of those people who typically makes new year’s resolutions.  I’m like Ebenezer Scrooge or the Grinch, but for December 31st instead of Christmas.  I’ve always been of the mind that resolutions make for temporary fixes to mask much deeper and more complicated problems.

But despite my feelings of antipathy towards committing to a lack of commitment for the new year, I realized that there truly was something to the old adage ‘new year, new me.’  And somehow that new me will include forgiveness.

So, yes I want to tone up and get at least a 2 pack this year.  But it has also been brought to my attention that in order for any other resolutions to fall into place, I have to make forgiveness a priority.  Bah humbug.

Now before you get all religious on me and stop reading because you feel you have no one to forgive, you’re probably wrong.  We all have that one person (or five) that you would rather walk over hot coals than honor any portion of their being.  We all harbor a little unforgiveness in us somewhere.  And here’s why: most humans will not engage in activities that don’t benefit our lives in some way.

Volunteering make us feel warm and tingly, worship make us feel connected, bungee jumping gives us a rush of adrenaline.  Forgiveness does not do that.  At least not at first.  But it is still necessary.

So in the spirit of the New Year Scrooge-ness, I’m going to list 5 reasons why forgiveness is annoying, but I am still resolving to make this a new habit in 2017….

Read more of this blog post on Modern Ruth Project!

“There’s so much to see…”

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Coney Island and all its splendor.

Last month, the Monkey and I went on a whirlwind adventure of the Big Apple.  And when I say adventure, I truly mean it.  We landed, got an unlimited pass for transit and rode the bus or subway from Brooklyn to Queens to Harlem to Times Square to Staten Island to Manhattan to Coney Island and everything in between.  On most days we visited at least 3 boroughs and managed to see absolutely everything she wanted to see.  We had no plan, no prepaid passes.  Just a willingness to see everything we could stuff into our 5 day journey.

And I have to admit that when booking this trip I thought we would only see one major attraction per day.  I mean she’s five, has little legs, and I don’t really like love people.  But despite its busyness and overwhelming population, we managed to make New York feel small.

We took our lessons on history, geography, ecology, biology, paleontology, astronomy, and *ahem* crowd etiquette on the road.  Basically, I turned our vacation into one massive field trip and I allowed her to take the lead.  Each day she chose what we would do and where we would explore and I just tagged along….and paid for stuff.

So I guess the lesson here for me was when you make learning feel, look, at smell like adventure, everyone benefits.  And no one whines or complains or throws hissy fits about absolutely nothing.

We also got free donuts from the diner in Park Slope because my kid’s so stinkin’ cute.  FREE DONUTS.  And that made the entire trip well worth it.

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Free donuts taste better.

The Dangererous Position of Neutral

pilgrims-and-indians-pilgrims-and-indians-standing-together-muii4r-clipart

Recently, my kid’s school had its annual Thanksgiving feast and my daughter was not present.  Not because she was sick or had other five year old obligations.  But because I decided to keep her home.

Now before I continue I want to say that I love her school.  I love that she gets to experience both a school environment and learning with me at home most days.  I love that she gets to pray for others, learn about God and all his amazingness, and still learn how to read and spell at the same time.

But just because she is enrolled at a particular school or even public school doesn’t mean that I agree with absolutely everything that is taught or celebrated.  That would be negligence and ignorance on my part as a parent.  And recently one of those disagreements came up.  I sat down with her teacher, shared my views and opinions, was respected for my decision, and the show went on.

Growing up, I remember learning about Thanksgiving, Pilgrims and Indians, and the heroism of Christopher Columbus.  I remember dressing up in feathers and sharing fake turkey and corn during school plays.  I remember thinking that it was so amazing that a man could discover the Americas despite the doubts of his own people.

Then somewhere along the line I learned that almost none of the things that shaped my perception of Thanksgiving or discovery were true.  Yes, Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue and accidentally landed on various Caribbean islands.  But homeboy never actually set foot on North America.  So you can see the confusion as to why learning of his discoveries was so important.  And that’s not even touching the atrocities that came along when he found land, including slavery and wiping out populations with disease and murder.

On the other hand, I believe that our country and our world is coming to a precipice on how we react to cultural issues.  On one hand, there are groups of people screaming for justice, understanding, and equality.  On the other, you have those who feel these groups are being too sensitive and should understand that certain phrases, names, or traditions are just that.  And traditions never offend, right?

Well as a mother and a human, I felt like I needed to take a stand.  I didn’t feel the need to picket, protest, or angrily share my views and why I felt Christopher Columbus should not be celebrated or made part of a school assignment.  But I did feel the need to step away from what has become the norm and teach her that understanding the who, what, when, and why behind tradition is more important than the tradition itself.

I explained to her teacher that just because you or I may view someone’s offense as being too sensitive or not seeing the positive aspects of a Thanksgiving feast doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t acknowledge that hurt.  Because somewhere in that hurt is validity.  And whether I agree with it or not, I will make an effort to understand.  And once I understand, I will make the decision to teach my child that all traditions are not necessary and some of them may even be harmful.

Dressing up as “Pilgrims and Indians” may seem harmless, but there are echoes of discontentment that run deep in Native American culture that are dying to be heard.  Whether it’s cultural appropriation, cartoonish images, stereotypical war cries heard at football games, or the names of sports teams.  Each of these things has a history that I dare you to explore further.

And even if you decide these histories have nothing to do with you and bear no importance in the course of your life, at least acknowledge the weight they carry for others.

An Ode to the Lazy Daters

This post first appeared on Modern Ruth Project…go check it out!

The lazy person claims, ‘There’s a lion out there!  If I go outside, I might be killed!’ – Proverbs 22:13

Ok.  So I know that I’m supposed to be talking to all the single ladies.  All the Ruth’s out there waiting on their Boaz.  But for some reason I feel led to address the men first.  The guys.  The brothers.

Because if you were to Google the term “Christian dating,” “being single while christian,” or just plain old “dating,” 99% of the returned results would be geared towards women.  As if we’re dating or getting married to some invisible, non-existent species.  Or worse yet, that men are in no need of dating advice.  Which would be false.

But here’s what really grinds my gears.  I know so many incredible women who are being taught and inspired to wait.  To wait on God.  To wait on men to pursue.  But for some odd reason men are not being taught to actually do the pursuing.  Or even just the approaching of humans of the opposite sex.

Many times when you go to singles events at church, it looks more like a desert safari than a room full of grown people itching for a date.  Men on one side staying as far away from the imaginary entrance into the lion’s den of female hunters on the other side.

And that analogy may seem a bit far fetched, but you get what I’m saying.  Many men are fearful.  They’re afraid of rejection.  Afraid they might get ‘hurt again.’  Afraid they’ll look like a fool or less of a man if they put their pride on the line to pursue a woman intentionally.

Well you know what?  You might get rejected.  You might get ‘hurt again.’  And you will have to lay your ego down in order to let God take the forefront in your relationships – over and over again.  But don’t let the laziness or fear keep you from the great things God has for you because you’re afraid.

Because in the arena of dating, when you step outside of your comfort zone and take chances to get to know women God has placed in your life, it may not exactly be a confidence builder.

She might cut you with her words.  She might shoot you down with a nasty glance and a mean side eye.  She may not answer that text in a timely fashion.  But it is still your responsibility to take the risk of being rejected, cut, shot down, and sometimes even wait on her as long as you’re walking in obedience.

Now to my ladies.  To my Ruth’s still waiting on their Boaz.  Do not take that man’s fear as your opportunity to pounce.

A man who is too afraid to ask you out or take that chance in just saying hello doesn’t need to be coaxed out of his man cave of trepidation.  That’s where the ambiguous ‘friendgirls’ and ‘textlationships’ live.  And we all know how those stories end…Or how they go on forever and ever with no end in sight.

God did not call you to become less of yourself so as not to threaten the timid.  You were called to be dangerous for the Kingdom.  And the man who is not scared to take on the challenge and privilege of loving you will be drawn to, not fearful of your purpose.

So whether you’re trusting in the wait or following God’s lead in the pursuit, you can know for certain that there is no such thing as immunity from challenges or human rejection.

Faith is the epitome of freedom but it is not safe. There are lions out there, and you will learn a few lessons in humility.  But staying in the confines of fear is not an option when you walk with an almighty God.

Stay bold my friends…

Roz