For Mother’s Day Tell Mom She’s Not Special

Men love their mothers. Everyone knows that. You can tell your buddy that he smells or that he’s an idiot, and he’ll laugh it off, but you best not say a word about his mom. Everyone knows that.

Here are some of the things men say about their moms. “She’s the strongest person I know.” “She was incredibly smart.” “She was the hardest worker.”

I used to find it endearing when men spoke about their mothers this way. Often choked up, they speak as if they respect their mother more than anything else or anyone else in the world. There’s no way this man can be sexist, right?

If most men feel this way about their mothers, and if we know there are a lot of sexist men, then something doesn’t add up. I am starting to think that a lot of men seem to think that their mother is some sort of female warrior outlier. She is or was so special not because she, like many women, could budget for the house and build a fence and soothe a bee sting and work full time and drive everyone everywhere and help with algebra, but because she was one of the only women who could do all those things.

Better than MOST women.

Ask your friends, men. They will probably also have warrior outlier moms. Amazing! You and your friends happen to have moms that are better than most women.

The other day I commented on my Twitter account about Chris Matthews saying on Hardball that Sally Yates had handled herself in a way that some women don’t know how to. Just like men with their moms! Complimentary, with such respect, but only for that one woman, as if she were an exception to the rule.

Women are strong. Women are smart. Women can handle themselves in a hearing in front of congress. Your mom is not special. She’s a woman. And I suspect she wouldn’t mind hearing that you realize that this Mother’s Day.

 

I Understand Hamilton in a Way That You Don’t

I understand Hamilton in a way that you don’t.

I AM Alexander Hamilton, writing like I’m running out of time.

I’m Eliza. Helpless in love. A woman wanting to be a part of the narrative. Teaching my kid piano.

Both, white, seeing the poor treatment of non white but

Aaron Burr. Never in the room where it happens.

I’m King George losing my country.

Eliza. “Take a break.” Helpless.

I fear I’ll be Eliza. Unimaginable. Counting is for lessons, not for fighting.

Alexander Hamilton. Can’t talk less. Can’t smile more.

Not Eliza. Tell the story of someone who didn’t make me part of the narrative?

Not Lin-Manuel Miranda. God I wish I were.

You understand Hamilton in a way that I don’t.

And you.

Dear Christians

The other day, when Mo Brooks was trending for implying that people who live good lives don’t get sick (he did admit later that many people have preexisting conditions through no fault of their own) I commented on someone’s tweet by tweeting “A pastor’s wife told my friend, ‘your son has diabetes because you and your husband must have sin in your life.'”

Twitter being what it is, my tweet was retweeted by indignant antitheists with the alacrity I always hope for with my lonely, unretweeted writer-tweets. Of course, now the tweet was out of context and out of my control.

You might think that my “Dear Christians” is going to be a letter warning you about tweeting ammunition for atheists. It is not. I’m begging you not to get so conceited about your relationship with God that you think you understand his reasons for doing anything. You don’t know why your friend’s son is sick. You don’t know why someone died in an accident. There are so many Bible passages that warn of this conceit. The entire book of Job, where God gets mad at Job’s friends for telling Job that he was sick because he sinned; John chapter 9, where people ask whether a man or his parents sinned, and Jesus says that the man was ill in order to show the power of God and not because of sin; Luke chapter 13, where men ask Jesus what sin some other men committed that caused them to be crushed by a falling tower and Jesus says (my paraphrase) that they have a lot of nerve thinking they aren’t just as sinful.

This same pastor’s wife (and I know a lot of pastor’s wives, so if you know me please don’t try to guess) had a lot of good qualities, but she also claimed to know what a dream I had meant. I went from thinking God had called me to do something to second-guessing myself when she said, “No, that dream meant you’re supposed to help people who have gotten spiritually sidetracked.” I never pursued what I had woken up thinking God had called me to do.

The funny thing about my tweet was that I was immediately followed by angry atheists who thought I was one of them. The thing is, I AM angry about Christians who tell others that they have bad things happen in their life because of sin. These same Christians often decide that the bad things that happen to THEM are sent by Satan because they’re getting too powerful for God’s kingdom.

I sincerely hope that my new atheist friends don’t unfollow me when they see me tweet a Bible verse or something. These are people who have been seriously harmed by Christians. I’ve noticed that most people don’t blame wars on religion unless they have ALSO received deeply personal injuries from people in the church. They may have been assaulted by clergy, not received any grace from their parents, or simply had a Christian acquaintance tell them in passing that their illness was punishment for sin.

Atheists have plenty of ammunition against Christians. I don’t regret what I tweeted. I’d rather get it out there that yes, people within the church say unbiblical and hurtful things, and we’re sorry! My tweet was not retweeted because it was news to anyone, it was retweeted because so many people related to it.

Dear Christians,

Let’s read our Bibles. Let’s speak in love and let others figure out what God is saying to them. Let’s be humble about how many years it takes to really understand His word and be very, very careful with our words before fully understanding.

 

 

Are Christian Women Bloggers a Crisis for the Church?

I debated before writing this. For one thing, the answer is so obvious to me that blogging about it seemed a waste of time. For another, if people didn’t already know about the series Christianity Today was doing, I wasn’t sure I wanted to draw attention to it. Nonchristians already view Christians as less tolerant of women in authority, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to give them more reason to dislike Christians, and by extension (sadly) Christ.

But after seeing the reaction to Christianity Today’s series on Christian women bloggers and who’s in charge of them, I couldn’t keep quiet. Thankfully, I did see many replies on Twitter defending women’s right to blog without someone with a degree in theology checking in on them, but many people, including women, agreed with the first essay in the series which implied that women should be held accountable by their denomination—that there needed to be some sort of guidelines for these rogue Christian bloggers.

The essayist threw in a quick statement that men were to be held accountable, too, but let’s face it. Christianity Today’s Twitter headline said “especially women,” and the only blogger mentioned by name was Jen Hatmaker. I guess she got too popular and then made a statement that did not please the powers that think they be.

Crisis! Crisis! Who’s in charge of Jen? Who will control the blogosphere, they wonder. Well, I have three thoughts about all this.

1. If there’s a crisis in the church, I would argue that it might be something like how to help refugees or who is in charge of well-known pastors who shill for sexist, racist politicians.

2. If bloggers are a crisis, there is no way for the church to hold bloggers accountable even if it wanted to. Sorry!

3. If you have a problem with a blogger’s theology, you can blog about why they’re wrong. The blogosphere patrols itself. Get with the times.

Christianity Today had the gall to use the hashtag #AmplifyWomen, which came out of the women’s march. They may be amplifying women writers, but the first one they amplified in their series had a clear message—that women should only be amplified if they are saying what they are “supposed to” say.

If the women in the New Testament’d had the technology, they’d have been blogging their fingers off. “He’s alive! I saw him!” And good gracious, I hope Peter wouldn’t have said, “I know I just denied knowing him, but let me see that before you hit publish.”

I’d like to say that I won’t even read the other articles in the series, but I’ll probably get swept up in it. Someone needs to hold them accountable, after all.

The Time I Didn’t Go to Church on Easter

Easter is my favorite holiday. New Year’s Eve is a close second, but Easter wins because of Jesus. Christmas is nice, but there’s the stress of present-buying and the knowledge of all that little baby Jesus is going to have to suffer. Easter is the celebration. It is finished. He’s alive! Rejoice!

I haven’t voluntarily missed church on Easter since I started attending 20 years ago. My husband and daughter still attend our church, but I’ve decided that it’s not the right place for me. It’s Easter, April 16th, and it’s raining, and I’m at home blogging and watching people on Twitter criticize 45 for not going to church. My reason for not going to a service today is very different than his (he said he doesn’t need forgiveness, so I’m guessing that’s why he doesn’t bother) but it still feels strange and like something I have to rationalize.

Talk about awkward, my daughter was helping in children’s church, and since my husband was rehearsing with the worship team, I dropped her off. Everyone in their Easter best, and I hadn’t showered yet. Good to see you! Good to see you!

People in church leadership know that their church isn’t going to be a permanent home for every Christian who walks through the door, so why do I feel so awkward? I’m not uncomfortable with my reasons for leaving, so why am I uncomfortable with the thought that not everyone will agree with my reasons? Obviously they don’t agree, or they wouldn’t still be there.

I imagine they think I’m judgemental. I even imagine some of them think I’m a bit crazy. The truth is, most of them probably aren’t spending much time thinking about my reasoning at all.

Obviously, there’s no perfect church. I never thought I’d be the church hopper or the one who doesn’t go at all because there’s no perfect place. Don’t forsake the gathering together, I believe the Bible says. But here I am, home by myself on Easter and feeling utterly, well, okay with it. I believe in God with all my heart. I rejoice in the fact that Jesus came back from the dead and proved his resurrection to his followers so convincingly that they risked their lives to preach “We SAW him” for the rest of their lives. I am thankful that accepting his sacrifice is my ticket to eternal life in heaven.

I know many have been here before me. Some people will say, “You need to find a church family,” and some will say, “Do what’s right for you.” I guess the point of this blog is that we are all at various points along the “do what’s right for you” storyline. I recently realized that no matter what I’m doing, I have a vague feeling of “I’m not doing the absolute best thing I could be doing right now.” And I don’t even mean big things like career. I mean doing the dishes or choosing an outfit or teaching a concept. What a burden that I didn’t even realize I was carrying!

And so I’m probably making WAY too big a thing about not going to church for a while. I need a lot of alone time, and I take a long time to process things. I’m not a joiner. The thought of finding a new group of people who ask me to be a part of anything besides the music sounds exhausting right now. The thought of either grilling the leadership before joining or hanging around for six months to see how things run sounds exhausting, and frankly, futile. (Search for my previous blog about starting my own ideal church.)

I try not to write blogs that just meander through self-involved drama, and this is definitely a violation, but I know that someone can probably relate. Thank you for reading 600 words of me weaving my way to telling myself, “It’s okay. Stay home this Easter. God loves you just the same.”

 

Vacuuming Saves America

I’m getting resistance fatigue. After Trump spent our Meals on Wheels money on a purposely ineffective bombing in Syria, I remembered my blog series about what is saving America for me. First it was a hug from a stranger, then it was a stranger in a Starfleet Academy shirt paying for my groceries, and last it was young musicians putting on a beautiful concert.

So today I thought, “What’s saving America for me today? What is making the place I live still a place of hope and kindness?” Is it my recent trips to the beach and the redwoods? Maybe, but they also bring up somber thoughts about the current administration’s attack on the environment. Is it the baseball season starting? Almost, but Buster Posey, the best player in baseball, left the game today after taking a fastball to the head.

The thought that came to me made me feel a little silly. My bedroom really needed vacuuming, and gosh darnit, I was going to get that done. Clean up my little space. I felt silly about vacuuming saving America for me today, but there’s good news hidden in that thought.

It was something I could do for myself.

If you suffer from depression, you know that all the things people tell you to do to make yourself feel better don’t necessarily work. “Help someone!” Either you feel incapable, or you do it and don’t feel better. “Take a vacation!” You might not have the opportunity, or your spirits crash as soon as you get back.

I have never been able to lift myself out of depression. I have always looked for the kindness of others or the promises of God to keep me afloat. But today, I wanted to have a vacuumed room, and I got out my vacuum cleaner. Will the floor be covered with dog hair and nail clippings (come on, family, find the freaking garbage can!) in two days? Probably, but for today it’s clean.

This is the part of America where I spend most of my time, and for now, it’s all I have control over. And for now, it’s vacuumed.

Now, about that closet.

 

So You Married an External Processor

I am not a psychologist. I’m merely an internal processor married to an external processor. But I think I might have some insight that can help you with your marriage if you’re a different kind of processor than your spouse.

It took me nearly twenty years to see how my husband’s being an external processor affected our marriage. First of all, I didn’t hear the terms internal processor/external processor until a few years into our marriage, and then I didn’t really think about which one I was and which one my husband was for years after that.

When I finally labelled my husband as an external processor, I realized that I had wasted much time trying to please him in ways that he didn’t really want to be pleased. Example: Once, my husband said that we should have dinner every night at 5:30. Together. At the dinner table. As an internal processor, I don’t say these kinds of things out loud unless I’ve thought them through and decided that they are important and achievable. And so my husband cleared the crap off the table and I did what food prep I needed to do to make sure dinner was ready at 5:30. I don’t know how long I did this. A month? Two months?

Music teacher schedules being what they are, many times one or the other of us wasn’t ready for dinner at 5:30. Eventually, after much internal thought, I told my husband that I just couldn’t keep up the schedule.

HE DIDN’T REMEMBER MAKING THE REQUEST.

After a few things like this happened, I realized that though it made me feel like a bad wife, I needed to wait until my husband had brought things up a couple times and we’d really talked it through before I bent over backwards to make a change.

Conversely, I’m sure my husband assumed that I was like him. Whenever I’d say something was important to me and he didn’t seem to take it seriously, I would be really hurt. But what seemed like a lack of respect was simply his taking my request for a change in our schedule or lifestyle as a passing thought—the first part of the decision-making process. Because that’s how he is. He doesn’t expect me to take his every word as a fully processed thought.

It has taken him as many years to understand that I don’t bring something up unless I’ve thought it through and it’s REALLY important to me. You can imagine the frustration we could have avoided if we’d realized this difference in communication style earlier on.

I know there are many, many discussions for new couples to have, but this is one more to tack on. Are you an internal processor? An external processor? Do you even know? Let me know in the comments how communication styles and internal/external processing have affected your relationships.