To Be a Woman

I was never taught how to be a woman.  It was never a choice I made.  So it was never something that I put much thought into.  Sometimes the word woman even almost makes me cringe when applied to me.  Maybe because the word woman seemed too mature for me, too momish, too much like a feminine adult.  Not that I have any issue with being feminine, I am feminine.  I just have never been able to box myself in with women who life fashion or makeup, or powerful women, or career women, or women leaders.  I don’t even group myself with women writers.  Because I just am a writer.  I just am a woman.

As a kid I was a tomboy.  It was what my mom wanted me to be.  She never wanted me to feel confined to being one thing.  She never wanted me to feel like I couldn’t do something just because boys did it.  I got to play paintball with my brother and his friends.  I got to play soccer and go hiking and ride my bike wherever I wanted.  I could wear silly tshirts with my favorite cartoon and shorts that I found in the boys section.

But I also got to take ballet when I wanted.  And I got to wear makeup and bikinis and carry a purse.  I could have sleepovers with all of my girlfriends.  I could bake brownies and stay up late watching chick flicks.

And I don’t really think either side of the spectrum makes you more or less a woman.  But it seems to have become popular to point out who is more woman or who is less woman or who is the best feminist.  It’s always been so hard for me to care.

I think I thought I had a lot to say.  But maybe I have nothing to say at all.  I am woman.  Hear me… or don’t.

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You Come in Close

You come in close
I can feel your breath on my neck
Breathing your life into me

You come in close
Loosening these chains that bind me
Watching my shackles fall to the ground

You come in close
Lifting me to my feet so I can stand with you
Preparing me to run

And we’ll run
You take me on a wild ride
Over mountains, through valleys, crossing streams, conquering deserts

You come in close
You take me on endless adventures
And let me rest when I grow weary

You come in close
You carry me out of the holes I dig for myself
Teaching me not to fight anymore

You come in close
You piece together my aching heart
You make me whole again

You come in close
Wrap your arms around me in restoration
Your warmth is unmatchable

You come in close
And it’s like magic without the tricks
And it finally all makes sense

You come in close
You love me as your own
Because that’s exactly what I am

You come in close
And I can feel you

Unintelligence

I have a good job.  I really like my job.  I just got promoted at my job.  And it’s okay that I’m not doing the type of job that I thought I’d grow up to do.  Welcome to our economy.

The job market is fairly small.  And sometimes it seems that people have forgotten that.  A lot of people go to college, but most people don’t get jobs in their field after they graduate, and that’s not for lack of trying.

A month or so ago, I was having a conversation with someone I work with who also has a degree.  People come through all the time and act like we’re dumb because we work at Starbucks, even though Starbucks will actually give tuition reimbursement to their partners who are trying to get their bachelors if they go to ASU.  Starbucks cares about education, so why would someone assume that only stupid or uneducated people would work a job like that?  No, you don’t need a degree, but I never wanted to get a job in my field anyway.
But I digress.  I was talking with my coworker about working at Starbucks and about how college isn’t for everyone and having your degree doesn’t really make you any better than anyone else, because in this economy, it’s usually pretty hard to get a job in your field unless you’re either top tier or you have a lot of connections where there are openings.  It’s luck and who you know, not necessarily intelligence or capability.
An hour after our conversation a very loud man walked and announced that he had a question.  But he then went on to say that his question required intelligence, and that was pretty hard to find in Starbucks.  Both my coworker and I looked at him with obvious offense on our faces.  He began to laugh and told us to take a joke, then my supervisor came up front and he got to ask her his question.
During their conversation though, he told her she should go back to school, because she dropped out when she realized it wasn’t for her.  He was trying to force his worldview on her.  And she was annoyed.  We were all annoyed.

It’s fine to value education.  I’m currently planning on possibly going back and getting my masters degree next fall.  And that’s not because I think my current job is beneath me.  It’s not because I’m dying to do something else.  Even if I do get my masters and find a job in that field, I might still work a few days at Starbucks, because I enjoy it, and I like the benefits.

A degree does not necessarily mean a career.  And a lack of a degree does not equate stupidity.

It’s okay that I have a degree and am a barista.  Welcome to the real world.

The Worst of These

I think that all Jesus wants is to give us eternal life so we can spend it with him.  I think all he wants is to love us.  No matter what.  I think that he came to the world to save it, to save us, from death.  That’s all.  And what began in the garden, what began with sin, was death.  There’s no escaping this, because although Christ came to save the world, and although he succeeded, we did not suddenly become perfect.  But we do get to have a choice now.  We do get to choose him, if we want to.

It seems to me that a lot of people have forgotten the “if we want to” part.  It seems to me that some people swing to the side of “you must choose him or you deserve to die.”  As if they forget that we all deserve to die, whether we choose Christ or not.  Because you do not suddenly become perfect or sinless just because you call yourself a Christian.  Yes, your slate is wiped clean in his eyes, but he still knows you.  He still knows the judgment in your heart.
In Matthew 18: 21-35, Jesus tells the story of a ruler who decides to collect on his debts.  He calls a man before him who cannot repay him, and the man falls to his knees, begging for more time, begging not to be thrown in prison.  The ruler has mercy on the man and forgives him of his debt completely.  But then the man seeks out someone who owes him money, as if he has learned nothing, and demands the money be repaid.  When the money is not repaid, he has him thrown in prison.  When the ruler hears of this, he throws the first man in prison to be tortured until his debts are repaid.
Forgive as you have been forgiven.
I think a lot of us forget that we have been forgiven already.  We forget about our sin as if it never existed, as if we had never done anything wrong, as if we had never been in debt, and then we try to force others to “turn or burn.”  We tell people little one liners like, “hate the sin, but love the sinner.”  HELLO! WE ARE SINNERS TOO!!  All have sinned and deserve death.  And all sin is equal, because all sin is deserving of death.  
So we do things like telling someone, because they’re gay, they’re probably going to hell.  No.  Because they were born into an imperfect, sinful world, they might miss out on eternity with the Creator.  And you telling them their lifestyle is wrong does not allow them to see the loving God you claim to serve.  Who wants to follow a God who will not accept someone for who they are?  I honestly don’t believe anyone wants to be gay.  Nor do I believe anyone really wants to be straight.  I think you just are gay.  You just are straight.  You just are short.  You just are tall.  You just are lanky.  You just are stocky.  You. Just. Are.  I cannot make myself taller unless I add something that is not myself into the mix (tall shoes).  I cannot make myself love a woman unless I pretend to be something I am not.  Wearing high heels is masking who I really am.  Someone pretending to be straight when they’re not would be masking who they really are.

Christ did not come so we could point out people’s differences, flaws, or downfalls.  He did not say to Peter, “stop being so zealous and causing trouble,” he said, “follow me.”  He did not say to Mary, “don’t sleep with so many people,” he said, “follow me.”  Follow me.  The rest will get figured out along the way.
I had a professor in college who told a story about when he first gave his life to Christ.  He went to his pastor and said, “Well, now that I’m a Christian, does that mean I have to stop doing all these things,” and he listed off a bunch of “sins.”  Because he didn’t want to stop.  The pastor told him that he didn’t have to stop doing anything.  It was more about what he started doing.  He started spending time with his savior.  He started serving more.  He started worshipping.  And a lot of those sins?  He stopped doing them when he felt he needed to, when he felt led to, through his personal relationship with the Spirit.
That’s how I honestly believe God wants it to be.  Not every person is the same, so what is “sinful” for one person might not be for someone else.  Yeah, murder in cold blood is probably always a sin, and infidelity, and anything else that can hurt someone else.  But having a few drinks?  Loving someone of the same gender?  Eating shellfish?  Probably not across the board sinful.

Paul, who wrote most of the New Testament, said in 1 Timothy 1:15, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst.”  Paul equated himself with every other sinner, while we like to call him a saint.  In fact, he put himself below everyone else, because he knew his sins, knew himself, better than he knew anyone else.  Yes, he did his fair share of judging and calling people out.  But you know who he was calling out and judging?  Those who had already turned to Christ.  He was calling out those in the Church!  He wasn’t finding random strangers and telling them they were going to hell because they weren’t in the pews every Sunday.

Be like Paul.  Be like Christ.  And never forget who you are.

 

 

Two Kinds

This was supposed to go up several days ago, but my internet has been out because of the rain.

A week and a half ago I ran a 5k in Birmingham, at the zoo, with my friend, Eli.  He’s not yet a strong runner, so after the first mile and a half, we decided to walk for a little while.  It’s a 5k, it’s not like it mattered for anything either of us was doing.  Anyway, the race was pretty obviously on the road and we were walking on the sidewalk.  After about a minute, a slightly overweight, older woman passed us running, which didn’t matter.  However, as she passed, she chose to yell at us for walking because we weren’t walking single file, even though we were on the sidewalk and there was more than enough room to run on the road, where the race actually was.  People like that make me so mad.  I told Eli that one thing I’ve noticed in the South is that if you’re doing something that someone doesn’t like, they’ll say it as rudely as they can.  In California, you judge everyone, but you’ll say it to your friend, and if you really mean it, you’ll say it loud enough that the person can hear.  Yes, I know that this isn’t a nice thing to do, but I think I prefer it.  I hate confrontation anyway.

Later on in the race we were just reaching a water stop, and we had decided to run after we got a drink.  While we were walking to the table, an older lady passed us and started saying, “Come on, go go go go, don’t let an old lady pass you!”
At first, I was unsure that she was talking to us, but she most definitely was.  It annoyed me, but she was trying to be encouraging.  And after we got our water, we ran.  And we finished the race.

We passed both of these women.  One of them was proud, even though she’d never met us, simply because she was probably a nice woman.  Whereas when we passed the mean lady, I said loudly to Eli, “There’s a mean lady.”  Then as we passed her, I said, “Bye mean lady.”  You know, because I’m a child.  One woman was proud that we finished.  The other one, I was proud to have passed.  She deserved to finish far behind me.  It still irks me.  So stupid.

Anyway, we have the choice to be one of two kinds of people.  We can choose to be annoying and encouraging, because everyone deserves a good life.  Or we can choose to be cranky because not everything is exactly as we wished it was.  Who will I choose  to be today?

White Carnations

I need to write.  I’ve been meaning to write.  I’ve been meaning to set time aside.  I’ve been meaning to.  I’ve been meaning to.  But there are so many things that have almost lost the words.  Or maybe just one thing.  Because I’ve felt a little numb.  Or maybe I’ve felt as though something was missing and it’s not a space I can fill.  And I haven’t even been trying to fill it.

I’ve missed my mother lately.  I always thought that we never learned to love each other right.  I thought we were too different to understand each other, but I have realized that we were almost too much alike.  She raised me to be strong and independent.  She raised me to value intelligence and adventure.  She raised me to never say no to the possibilities.  She raised me to value my own opinion, but to learn the opinions of others.  I am who I am because of who she raised me to be.

I find that I talk about her more now than I ever did before.  She was always a fixture in my life, even when I moved thousands of miles away from her.  She wasn’t everything that I thought a mother was supposed to be, but she was a thousand times better than her mother could have ever hoped to have been.  She was everything she knew how to be.

And maybe I’m just angry.  Maybe I’m angry that I never got to show her my new home.  I’m angry that I can’t ask her questions about living on my own that a daughter should get to ask her mom.  I’m angry that I’ll never get to introduce her to Bobby and ask her how she likes him.  I’m angry that I can’t travel with her anymore, even though she’s who put the love of travel in me.  I’m angry that life goes on, even when it doesn’t.

And I think I’m allowed to be angry.  And I’m allowed to not talk about it, because there’s nothing for anyone to say.

On Sunday, while I worked, Bobby spent mother’s day with his family.  He told me that his dad had gotten me a white carnation, because that’s a southern tradition.  You get someone a white carnation if they don’t have a mother on mother’s day.  It was my first mother’s day without her.  It was my first carnation.

For the First Time

I went home last week.  I was there for a week.  I adventured from LA to Mammoth, through Death Valley to Las Vegas, and as I always do when I travel, I didn’t relax at all.  But, this time I brought someone home with me.  My boyfriend and I flew on an airplane, and he went further west than he’s ever gone before.  It was easily one of the biggest adventures I’ve ever been on.

I’ve never taken a boyfriend home before.  I’ve never traveled anywhere with a boyfriend.  And now he’s met almost everyone.  We spent time with at least three of my closest friends, my dad, and my brother.  We went to the top of Mammoth Mountain and took photos.  We ate tri tip.  We drove through Death Valley.  We went from the cold to the heat.

While in Mammoth, we attended the Lighthouse Conference.  Most people know that Lighthouse is the Global Church family that I attended while living there.  There were words given.  There was music played.  There was community and food shared.  It was so good to be home.  It made me miss church.

Not that I haven’t been attending church here in Alabama.  I have.  But I have disengaged.  I hear far too much about the church politics.  I analyze the words without ever hearing them.  I am tired.

I brought a boyfriend home.  Because I’m in love with him.  And I fell in love with life again.  I fell in love with community again.  I fell in love with God again.  I tried something new, and I’m pretty sure I’m okay with it.