Tag Archives: Bible

Hard Things or: How I’m Learning to Stop Whining and Love the Process

I have a general tendency to make myself do hard things even when there are easier ways just because I like to see if I can do them.  I once (rather proudly) hand beat meringue instead of going out and buying or borrowing a mixer.  When my car broke down and I needed to go to the post office, I (somewhat stupidly) walked three miles there and three miles back when there were rides readily available. I participated in and completed NaNoWriMo during my senior year of high school which was by far the most academically demanding year of my life (it involved writing for 8+ hours a day during nearly every day of Thanksgiving break, but I did it).  I’ve (absolutely stupidly considering the number of people who got malaria on our team) slept tentless while in Mozambique, tried everything that was fed to me in India, and forced myself to eat foods that my eating disorder deemed frightening.  If a friend is in need in some form or fashion, I’m accustomed to doing whatever I can for them and still managing to get most everything I need to get done accomplished by staying up late or getting up early (this is not so much something done for the sake of doing hard things, but more because I love my friends dearly).

I’m used to focusing on something and willing myself to complete it.

I can’t do that any more.

So, about 18 months ago I was diagnosed with this autoimmune disorder that runs in my family.  It basically causes my body to attack my thyroid.  Theoretically, if I’m given the proper medications, I’ll be fine: my hair won’t fall out by the handful, I’ll actually want to eat food, and, best of all, I’ll have energy.  The dosage of medicine I was on worked really well until about March of this year and then things started to go awry.

It may have been stress, it may have been my body just deciding (as you do) to launch a massive attack on my thyroid, it may have been some other third thing that I don’t know anything about. Regardless, I have been just exhausted for months, excluding some short-lived energy spikes I had a few weeks ago.

I’m not sure how to explain it to people who have never experienced an autoimmune disorder.  Basically, imagine that you are getting adequate nutrition and sleep and you wake up every single day feeling as if you’re about to get the flu. And sometimes, you wake up and want to cry because you’re so tired and you can’t get out of bed but, unfortunately, laying in bed all day doesn’t pay the rent, so you have to.  And other times, you have to choose between being there for a friend and being even 80% present at work the next day. And still other times, you have to decide if you will be social or have a clean house this week because you really can’t do both.

Quite frankly, I’ve had a really sucky attitude about all of this the past few weeks.  I just want to be able to do everything I was able to do before, but I really can’t.  I like being independent, I like being able to feel like I can accomplish things and, most of all, I really like thinking that I can will myself to do anything and everything I like as long as I’m determined enough.  That this has taken such a high priority in my life is not okay.

I’m realizing more and more how much of my worth I place in how much I do.  I like the idea of always having a clean house, visiting with everyone I love, and helping out my friends who are having a rough time — and in the past, I’ve been able to do all of that.  But, now that I can’t (at least until I hit some sort of sweet spot with my medication)…I’ve felt entirely helpless and sort of worthless.

I’m reminded often by dear friends that Christ loves me no matter what and desires my sanctification.  I know that what I’m going through is neither out of His plan or His grasp.  And I know that this whole thing may very well be the answer to some pleading prayers asking to be further sanctified.  It’s really hard, and I really haven’t even been trying to keep focused on the Lord.  This is totally wrong of me and I want to change that.  I know that what I’m going through or what my friends or family are going through are all apart of God’s plan…and I know that both myself and my fellow believers are being sanctified through circumstances and His Word.

I just want to be able to keep that perspective when things are hard.


Clothing, Lust and Christianity

Okay, I’ve written about Christian ladies and modesty before, but I’d like to touch on something again.  What sparked this was this blog post from A Quill and an Inkwell.  I was particularly troubled by this section:

#1 Myth of Modesty: ‘It’s His Job Not to Look’

It’s true, lust is a sin, and men shouldn’t entertain it.

But if we give them nothing to look at, how often do you think they would be tempted to lust after us?

The article I mentioned earlier said women have been unfairly singled out concerning modesty. While men are responsible to honor us with their eyes and minds, when we dishonor ourselves by what we wear, the real unfairness is to the men. Do we really expect to wear whatever we want and then tell them not to look at us? Do we really expect to fit in with the latest (often sexually promiscuous) trends and NOT be viewed as an object of sexual desire?

It is not just his job not to look: it is our responsibility to provide nothing provocative to look at. We cannot blame men for what we instigate, and it is time for women of God to start acknowledging our responsibility in this matter, taking up our cross, and honoring God with our dress.

Now, I would just like to clarify before I go into this that I do believe it is a Christian woman’s duty to dress modestly.  If we love our brothers in Christ, then we certainly don’t want to make their struggles with lust any harder.  If one of the simple ways we can make things easier for them is to dress modestly, then we need to do it for their sakes.  It’s a matter of laying aside our desires to dress a certain way in order to help our brothers out much in the way we might refrain from throwing a wine-tasting party for a former alcoholic’s birthday.

However, if a man lusts, it is 100% his responsibility.

The fact of the matter is, even if given nothing sexually enticing to look at, men and women will still lust.  Why? Because we’re sinful. We are born into sin.  Through the power of Christ’s work on the cross and his continual sanctification, we can certainly see victory over issues on an individual level.  But even if every woman in the world dressed in a burka, there would still be men who had lustful thoughts.

I know this because, otherwise, children would never be sexually abused.

I know this because, otherwise, sexual harassment in the workplace would be incredibly rare considering most business’ dress codes.

I know this because sin is a part of our very nature and, without Christ, we love it.

The aforementioned blog post crosses a dangerous line.  It’s the same line that is often crossed in courtrooms when rape victims have to justify the clothing they were wearing when they were attacked.  It’s the same line that allows and even encourages men to be passive in their fight against lust because, dang it, if only she hadn’t worn that halter top, lust wouldn’t be an issue.

This is like a reformed kleptomaniac blaming the shopkeeper for putting items on display.  He can’t possibly not steal them when they’re sitting out. Absurd, right?

Let me make something really clear:

Men: You are responsible for your sin.  I do not care if a woman is prancing down the street in lingerie, it is your responsibility to run to the Lord with your temptation.  If you lust, that is on you.

Women: With lust being such a common problem, we should dress modestly out of love for our brothers. But, once again, you are responsible for your own sin, they are responsible for theirs.

I’d like to wrap this up with the words of Jesus regarding the issue of lust.

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’  But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.  If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.  And if your right handcauses you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

Matthew 5:27-30 (ESV)

Jesus clearly holds the individual responsible for his own sin here.  He doesn’t say that it’s okay to lust if a woman is dressed in a certain way, nor does he blame shift.  The one who lusts is the one at fault and is the one who needs to resist temptation. Period.


FYI (if you’re a Christian human being): a response to the response to Mrs. Hall’s blog entry on modesty

So, there was this blog post I saw going around on Facebook.  And then I noticed that there was a large amount of backlash, frontlash, and sidelash surrounding it.  So, I thought I’d add to the noise.  This is sort of a response to the response to the blog entry with a few sidenotes based on my own observation of the way the Church at large handles the issue of modesty.

Christian ladies: You don’t dress modestly because that’s what Pastor Bob says, because it’s what your mother told you to do, because not doing so makes Aunt Marge cringe, because that’s what Good Girls do, or even to Respect Yourself.  You dress modestly out of love for your Christian brothers.  Just like you, most guys struggle with maintaining pure thoughts.  And just like you, they don’t want to have more issues in this area than already naturally occur.  You wouldn’t wave a mimosa in front of a recovering alcoholic at brunch and then tell them not to think about it, so don’t prance about in clothing that you know will give guys trouble and expect them to have an easy time of it.

Christian gentlemen: That being said, we ladies are not responsible for your sin.  We cannot know everything that causes issues for each individual guy.  I’ve had several married friends tell me things like, “I was always taught not to wear __________, but my husband says it’s not a big deal.” And I have other married friends who express the exact opposite.  Everyone is different and there is no possible way to cater to the triggering factors of others.

I am in the long process of recovering from disordered eating (this relates; I promise), an issue I’ve had off and on for at least five years.  Recovery from something like this is slow and arduous: first I look for good days, then good weeks, then good months.  Thankfully, I’m in the good months area of recovery at the moment.

There are a lot of things in the good days and good weeks stages that can trigger disordered eating thoughts for me.  Some of those things are easily avoidable; some are not.  One of the most ridiculous triggers for me (on a bad day) is someone I am close to just mentioning changing their own diet to lose weight.  If, upon hearing this information, my brain jumps to thoughts of starving myself or of how much weight I need to lose, it is not the other person’s problem.  Many times, this sort of conversation doesn’t phase me, but it occasionally does and is something I have to learn to deal with.  I can’t ask the entire world to stop talking about weight and food and exercise; I can take my thoughts captive, as the Bible commands, and ask God for help in this area.

My point is, we can’t know every issue you have.  Even my friends who are very familiar with the ups and downs of my eating problems can not possibly guess what may cause issues for me on any given day; sometimes, I don’t even know.  It is my responsibility to be prepared to shut down those thoughts as they come.  It’s the same for anyone dealing with any ubiquitous, unbiblical thoughts.

Christian parents: Okay, this is probably a tad presumptuous of me as I’m not a parent myself.  But there are kids in my life who I want to protect, and I do want to have kids and often think about how I will approach difficult issues with them.

First off, yes, it is your right and your duty to protect your kids.  Insulate them in whatever way you feel is necessary. But you also need to train them.  Train your daughters to dress modestly for the sake of the men in their lives.  Train your sons to treat women with respect and to consider them something other than sexual objects.  They need to be able to react to the world around them with biblical understanding.

Years ago, when I was knee-deep in disordered eating, I remember reading a blog post concerning eating disorders.  One thing to note for the uninitiated is that most ED support sites will have ***TRIGGER WARNING** plastered all over various posts in order to let those who are easily triggered know what they’re getting into.  However, the woman writing this post was somewhat against labeling everything with the warning — not because she didn’t care about how her writing affected others, but because she recognized the deeper want held by many recoverers of complete isolation from all triggers.  She essentially said, “I can put trigger warnings at the top of each post and you can avoid them and avoid the pro-ana sites and the fashion magazines.  But do know that there will come a day on which you are walking down the street and you will look up and there will be a giant billboard with a stick-thin model on it.  And you have to be able to deal with that.”

I can insulate my (hypothetical, future) children from every evil I have control over.  But there will come a day when my sons see a less-than-modest photo or even just have a friend who starts dressing less modestly.  And they need to have the tools and understanding to address any unbiblical thoughts that arise out of those issues.  They will only learn how to deal with such temptations if my (hypothetical, future) husband and I teach them to understand their human weaknesses and run to the Lord and take their thoughts captive.  They won’t learn that just from being isolated from instances of immodest, immoral, or unethical behavior.

Finally, (a slight deviation from the topic at hand) to every Christian out there: the issue of sexual purity isn’t just a man’s game.  I have run into far too many women recently who have told me something to the effect of, “Growing up, I didn’t think other women struggled with lust.  I thought I was the only one.”  Just as you men are responsible for your thoughts, we women are responsible for ours.  But don’t think that none of us understand the struggle you face and don’t think that we are beyond temptation in that area.  And please, please don’t neglect to teach your daughters how to handle that temptation.

Well, those are my thoughts.  I would love to hear the opinions of others on both the blog post I linked to and what I’ve expressed here.  Thanks for reading!


Morning thought (short and sweet)

When I deviate from my natural tendency to complain about life’s circumstances to friends who no doubt sympathize and care and instead go first to the Lord with my troubles, I am faced with the disgusting reality than my usual behavior is that of passive aggression and that my complaints assault the very character of God.  When forced to lob the whines, the wonderings, and the questions of why things are the way they are at the very Lord who created and currently sustains all creation, has orchestrated my brothers’ and sisters’ and my own sanctification in a way that most glorifies Him, and has, most of all, saved me from my own wretched state of being, I realize just how absurd my petty concerns can be and how gracious God truly is.


Dear American Christians Who Are Upset About This Year’s Election Results

Dear American Christians Who Are Upset About This Year’s Election Results,

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

(Romans 13:1-7, ESV)

Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. 19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21 Forto this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

(1 Peter 2:13-25, ESV)

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.

(1 Timothy 2:1-2, ESV)

Sincerely,

Chelsea


Dear Christians Who Are Planning on Eating Chick-fil-A Tomorrow in an Effort to Accomplish Something Spectacular

Dear Christians Who Are Planning on Eating Chick-fil-A Tomorrow in an Effort to Accomplish Something Spectacular,

I will not be joining you.

This is not because I don’t hold to a biblical definition of marriage.  This is not because I think that homosexuality exempt from being classified as sinful.  This is not because of the month I spent wiping down tables at Chick-fil-A when I was eighteen and someone left their purple acrylic nails all over one of the tables and it scarred me for life a little.

No, this is very, very different.

It seems that most people who are participating in this anti-boycott-whatever-it-is are those who feel very strongly that the United States should enforce Christian values and beliefs among its citizens.  While I am in full support of Christian values and beliefs (as I, being a Christian, hold them myself), I do not think that the U.S. should be the prime enforcer of them.

Why?

Because the Bible is pretty explicit with its own teachings, and I don’t think the Lord needs help from the government.

No, really.

The conservative branch of American politics seems to have it in their heads that the government needs to get back to upholding and enforcing biblical principles.  This is kind of ridiculous for two reasons:

1. People who haven’t been transformed by the working of God on their hearts are not going to act in accordance with biblical teachings.  It is absurd to assume that people who are not Christian will accept the standards of the Lord with open arms. And, an attempt to enforce them doesn’t make the nation Christian; it only spreads about shallow moralism that saves no one and misleads many.

2. The last time I checked, the Lord is the one who enforces His standards, He is the one Who defines sin, and I’m pretty sure He doesn’t need us to eat chicken to accomplish this.

This goes beyond American politics.  The fact of the matter is, the American government doesn’t define a godly marriage; God defines a godly marriage.  Politicians don’t get to decide what’s morally right or wrong; the Lord does.  And while I don’t think we should applaud or support things that we know are wrong biblically, looking to the government to create biblical laws is frustrating and pointless.  God can and will enforce His own standards, whether the President of the U.S. or the president of a fast-food chain agrees with Him or not.

Oh, and this support-showing anti-boycott-thing doesn’t accomplish what should be our true goal as Christians, which is preaching the Gospel.

This is a disgusting distraction from what Christians should be doing.  Even if every activist stride you take is rewarded with biblical principles being set into place in our laws and across our country, even if every homosexual person gives up their lifestyle because they suddenly find it to be wrong, even if every person that’s ever lied or stolen or cheated on their spouse or let their anger get out of control or been lazy reforms their ways and becomes a productive, moral member of society, they will still all be productive, moral members of society on their way to eternal damnation if Christ has not transformed their hearts.

This whole thing has gotten out of control, and it’s blurring the already hazy lines between genuine Christian behavior stemming from a heart changed by God and putrid, meaningless moralism enforced by a national government.  What good is it if people know that you hate the idea of homosexual marriage if they never hear the Gospel?

So, though I will undoubtedly crave Chick-fil-A tomorrow (it is Wednesday, after all…I always want Chick-fil-A on Wednesdays), I will not be joining any of you there.  I cannot support the propagation of Cross-less moralism.

Sincerely,

Chelsea


Dear Married Christians

Dear Married Christians,

I will abandon my usual sarcasm for this particular post.  The following I write in all earnestness:

Singles need you.

This is something that is rarely argued against but is, in my experience, something that is rarely practiced.

You see, when I say that singles need you, I am not referring to one half of your husband/wife relationship.  I don’t merely mean that the single females need married females in their lives, nor that single males need married males in their lives.  Though this is true, it is only a portion of the truth.

The fact of the matter is, we need both of you.

Really.

I need good, strong, Christian brothers in my life as much as I need my sisters.  And, while few would disagree with this fact, it seems to be a philosophy that crumbles upon marriage.

Now, I am not suggesting that I hang out with married men all by my lonesome.  I’m not asking for coffee dates with married, engaged or otherwise taken men, nor am I requesting midnight motorcycles rides with anyone.  I don’t want to disrupt or otherwise endanger family time.

However, I want to see how my peers operate in their marriages.  I want the input of men and women in my life, both single and married.  I want to hear thoughts and opinions from both brothers and sisters in Christ.  I want true, familial fellowship.

There seems to be this idea circulating about that married Christians can only spend good, quality time as a couple with other couples.  And, perhaps, it is a fallacy of the singles’ own making.  When friends get married, single people tend to back off for a bit.  It’s not because we want to shun or otherwise exclude them; it’s simply because we don’t understand their schedule.  We don’t want to interrupt or destroy their precious time together as a family.

However, that doesn’t mean we don’t want to spend time with them.

Personally speaking (though it is a thought shared by several of my single Christian friends), I want to interact with both genders.  As a single female, I get a lot of “girl time” as it is.  I’d like to interact with my brothers as well, whenever appropriate.

We have so much to teach one another.  And, even if we can’t teach, we can encourage.  There have been countless times in my life that I have been encouraged or just made to think by one of my sisters in Christ.  And, there have been just as many times that a brother in Christ has inspired me to consider things in a new light or encouraged me in Scripture.

We need one another.  We need to interact with and encourage each other as the body of Christ.  And that is something that is true regardless of our marital status.

Sincerely,

Chelsea