You Know You’re a Christian Blogger When:

Ironically the first image found when one googles "Christian Blogger"

Ironically the first image found when one googles “Christian Blogger”

CLEARLY, this post is self-referential, as I am both of these things. I’m making fun of myself, of blogging in general, and the trends I see out there. If you can handle a little tongue-in-cheek sarcasm, please indulge me.

 

You know you’re a Christian blogger when:

1) You use the occasional four letter swear word to show that you’re just as edgy and cool as your “secular” writer friends, while also implying that you mean serious business. (Clearly, if you say “shit” in your blog, you’re letting your readers know that you’re a world-weary Christian, tiptoeing that blurred line of “in the world & not of it” with the grace and poise of a blogging ballerina. You’ve been around the block and just have to prove it, damn it.) Although, you would never, ever say “the f word,” just variations when you get really heated on an issue. Hey, if the King James version of the Bible says a word, it’s okay to say it, right?

2) You are the voice of a generation. Who else can accurately describe the plight of the millennial better than you? No one? That’s what I thought. Nobody else can write about purity or church culture better than you–nobody else read “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” or had a purity ring, of this you’re 97% certain.

3) Your blog topics are mostly about: Harry Potter, sex, purity culture, dating, abstinence, sex, churches, sex, modesty, the Church versus the church, homosexuality, sex, pop culture, dating in the church, and the occasional current political/social event to spice things up. And then when you run out of topics, you just write more about sex again. Because of…reasons.

4) You have a severe case of whiplash: sometimes you love everything about the church (note: little c, because knowing that difference is also a sign you’re a Christian blogger) and other days you are to the point of extreme frustration with every aspect. Being jaded is pretty normal.

5) Sometimes it’s hard to discern the difference between actually having valuable something to say and adding to the cacophony of meaningless rants.

I’m NOT joining a Nudist Colony (UPDATE on yesterday’s post)

Okay guys, I did it. 

Surprisingly, it wasn’t too difficult! Yesterday, I pledged to get rid of the excess in my life. I was supposed to pick out 48 pieces of clothes and shoes to give up to make my own 25% reduction quota–I found 58! Like I said, I go big or go home.

So, now instead of a closet of 195 shoes and clothes, I’m at 137…which is still an embarrassingly large number for one person to possess, but hey, it’s a start. And plus, I’m not doing all this so I can join a nudist colony–I still love clothes. 

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And some of those things were only worn like once…yikes.

These piles of clothes represent easily hundreds & hundreds of dollars put to poor use, but even more than that, they represent insecurity (needing to use clothes to make me feel pretty/fashionable/wanted/etc), an overwhelming need for accumulation, avarice, and worst of all, proof that I’ve been a terribly irresponsible steward of the time & money I’ve been given by frittering that away on expanding my wardrobe & not expanding Something more permanent & meaningful.  

I desire simplicity–of a life not defined by the things I own or what I wear but of the words I say and the experiences I have. I want to live with my palms open & facing up, not clenched into a possessive grip. A life of yes rather than no. 

And I just can’t do that when I own a lot of things (even things I love, like clothes.)

Maybe you might think this is crazy (and it kind of is), which is totally okay. I get that. I’m only responsible for my choices–I can’t tell you to stop spending money or buying clothes (those sales racks at H&M beckon me like a siren’s call).  But if you want to join me–we might have less, but I think it will mean so much more to give rather than hoard. 

Out of (my) Closet

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I own 173 items of clothing. One hundred and seventy three dresses, skirts, pants, shirts, blazers–and that’s not even counting winter clothes. Oh, and twenty two pairs of shoes.

….What.

(If you’re curious, the average American woman apparently has 90 items in her closet, but apparently, I go big or go home.)

Over the weekend, I read “7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess” by Jen Hatmaker, which I seriously recommend. The author outlines seven areas of excess & eliminates each for one month. The book absolutely wrecked my thinking on excess and waste. I complain about the lack of money in my life, but honestly, I think it’s just because I’ve been wasting it!

I mean, clearly, I just have to take a look at my closet at my 173 items of clothes and 22 pairs of shoes to know that’s true. I love thrift shopping and the thrill of the cheap purchase, but who am I kidding, usually the novelty of the price lasts longer than my actual interest in the item. I’ve always enjoyed fashion and style (throwback to when I was a fashion columnist for my university’s newspaper) but this is ridiculous. I could clothe 5 women plus me with all the things I own and never wear.

So many people go without proper clothing or shoes–how can I be so greedy? When I was in Mexico this past June, I learned that those who are homebound and cannot work sell whatever clothing they can find as their sole income–something I seriously take for granted as I peruse my closet and have “nothing to wear.” My “trash” could be someone else’s lifeline.

As Jen Hatmaker wrote, “I’m tired of calling the suffering “brothers and sisters” when I’d never allow my biological siblings to suffer likewise. That’s just hypocrisy veiled in altruism. I won’t defile my blessings by imagining I deserve them.” 

I don’t need or deserve to have a huge wardrobe. So, I’m reducing my wardrobe by 25%–that means giving away nearly 50 items of clothing or shoes. I’m not sure if I’ll hold a block party garage sale & donate the money, clothing swap, or just donate them to a ministry, but I’m doing something!

Stay tuned! (I need the public accountability!) Anyone want to join in?

How to Watch a Dream Die

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Last week, I traveled to Boston in pursuit of a dream.

Looking back, it’s kind of a mystical thing to do–spend real money and real time on something as abstract as an dream. I felt very “Eat Pray Love.” My dream was this: to attend grad school at Boston University and study their Emerging Media Studies program in the fall of 2015.

After nearly two years of  fruitless searching for grad programs, I somehow (not even sure how to this day) found this program last winter. I was at my most miserable, as my foot was newly broken, and the program seemed like a total God-send. Every line about the program seemed like it was written for me in mind. Maybe finding the BU program was why I broke my foot, I reasoned to myself (a recurring thought said about many different things during my 8 month foot break journey.)

And then suddenly this summer, life somehow slowed down into stagnancy. Everything suddenly felt plodding and aimless. I was at a proverbial fork in the road and needed answers, and not just from an admissions website. Sometimes with dreams you have to actually do something; there’s a time for talking, sitting, or reading, and then there’s a time to go.

So off to Boston I went. On the plane, I asked God to give me peace and confidence about moving forward to attend BU in the fall. I knew that if it was the path for me, I would know it by the end of my trip.

And the best part is that God gave me an answer.

The worst part was that it was a no.

BU is not where I am supposed to be next fall. My journey back to Pittsburgh had become a 600 mile funeral march rather than a victory procession.

Nobody tells you what to do when you witness a dream die.

Everyone says “When one door closes, another opens,” but why bother showing the door that’s about to close if it’s not going to stay open? I don’t understand why God shows us doors that look absolutely right, only to close them.

God always has something better, but sometimes it’s s difficult to see past the chaotic feelings of displacement and disappointment. Life is not nearly as neatly packaged as the metaphors we use to describe it. Sometimes a “chapter” ends and other times, the entire “book” is doused with gasoline and set on fire.

I don’t have answers. I just have a tiny glimmer of hope (based on the past) that the best is yet to come. So, as I face this nameless, faceless “other path” from that fork in my road, here’s to hoping for that.

Wei zeg dice what?: A Non-Expert’s Theory on Love

I choose to believe the people there were just as ’80’s fab as they are depicted here.

(I didn’t mean to start writing again, but it’s just kind of happening and I’m going with it. I kind of reverse-psychologized (totally not a word…) myself by saying I wasn’t writing anymore this summer, but as F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote himself (and yes, I’m being THAT person by quoting someone else): “You don’t write because you want to say something. You write because you have something to say.” And everyone kept telling me to write about this, so…) 

Love is a lot like the Tower of Babel. Or at least, I think is probably is.

In the story of the Tower of Babel (a less colloquial version can be found in Genesis 11), everyone was chilling out, speaking the same language, & working on a big real estate project, when BAM. God was like “Nope.” He confused everyone’s language so that everyone was speaking different dialects and nobody could understand one another and then He scattered everyone across the world. That’s how we got the name “Babel,” which is similar to the Hebrew word “balel” (“to jumble.”)

Can you imagine how utterly confusing that would have been? One second, you’re hanging with your friends building a tower and then the next, you’re speaking English, someone else is speaking Cantonese, and yet another person is next to you speaking Arabic (or whatever…just go with the metaphor.) I cannot imagine the feeling of panic and isolation as you (and everyone else around you) cannot communicate with one another. Can you imagine the relief and security when you finally meet someone who understands what you’re saying?

I kind of think love is the same way.

Love is finding someone who speaks your language.

Everyone speaks a different dialect or language and we’re kind of scattered all across the world looking for others who understand us. And it’s not easy! For some, maybe there’s only a few people in the entire world who speak your same language. Maybe others have a more widely spoken dialect, so it’s easier to find someone who speaks the same language. I don’t believe in a soul mate, but I do think that for some people, there’s a smaller amount of possibilities than for others.

And maybe those are the types of people who settle. Maybe people get tired of wandering around, looking for someone to understand what they’re saying. Maybe they find someone who brokenly speaks a little bit of their language, like Spanglish, and decide that this is better than waiting more.

Love isn’t an accomplishment. It’s something that happens, in whatever length of time that it happens to take. Long or short, trust the process.

Or at least, that’s what I plan to do. And to quote yet another author, J.R.R. Tolkien, “Not all who wander are lost [or desperate.]“

 

Haters 101

Lately, I’ve noticed lots of articles & posts about accepting oneself “as is” despite body shaming and maybe I’m weird, but it’s bafflingly strange that we need advice about whether loving yourself is okay or not.

It’s apparently revolutionary to not feel manically compelled to change immediately to fit in. Perpetuating the mentality where you’re only able to be “okay” with yourself when you fit a certain physical mold is indicative of a sad truth: we are a culture inundated by body shaming & the “never enough” mentality.

When someone says a comment to you that makes you feel less than valuable, call out the body shaming right there & then before you let the words take root. Literally just say “That’s body shaming and I will have nothing to do with that.” People tend to shut up after that.

Because if you’re happy and healthy, you are living well–those who choose to hate on you are neither happy nor healthy!

#YesAllWomen

I’ve had a lot of people argue with me about the validity and necessity of feminism. When you associate yourself with a misunderstood label, it tends to happen and I totally get it.  I’m always happy to explain that I believe in gender equality and egalitarianism, not one gender over another. But now, let me explain a little more: 

I believe in gender equality because every 2 minutes, someone in the United States is sexually assaulted

I believe in gender equality because one in four women are rape or attempted rape survivors

I believe in gender equality because 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 7 boys are sexually abused by the age of 18 (and those stats only account for the less than 40% of cases reported to the authorities.) 

I believe in gender equality because I’m a part of those statistics. 

I believe in gender equality because all women have had to deal with threats of violence, sexual abuse, degradation, or just creepy, scary situations every single day. The #YesAllWomen hashtag has brought many of these stories to light and the sad truth is, for women, none of the stories are shocking. It’s just something we’ve all dealt with at one point or another, in one fashion or another. 

I understand why people argue against the “feminist” label, but how in the world can you see these facts and hear these stories and NOT yearn for equality and a world where a body is not an entitled commodity? 

Violence, abuse, homicide, and degradation against ANYONE is never justifiable. This should not be the norm for 51% of the world’s population. No one “deserves” violence because of their dress, actions, or behavior. Nobody “has it coming.” (What a truly grievous belief.) 

We must do better.