The Beauty of Smallness

“If you must choose between Bible and breakfast, choose Bible, and grab an energy bar. Then plan better. Man shall not live by bread alone.” John Piper

This really made me chuckle, but if you know anything about John Piper, he is not kidding about that breakfast bar. He wrote an entire book about not wasting your life. Perhaps this is a perspective that comes with age and hindsight, but I find myself resonating quite a bit with what he’s saying. Don’t be wasteful with your time, your talents or your calling. That old saying ‘the days are long but the years are short’ is so very true.

We inhabit a big, loud world where the only way to get any attention is to be big and loud. We are supposed to hustle and be fierce and do hard things, at least that’s what all the coffee cups tell me. Honestly, I don’t wake up feeling fierce or fearless or any of those things. Most days, I just wake up… tired. The last person I need more of is myself, so when I scroll my phone and read things like “I am my own healer, protector, muse… what I have to offer is limitless”, I feel a little nauseated. Sometimes I literally can’t remember what day it is, so to be my own muse or healer is a bit much. All this inward focus, this incessant need to be bigger than we actually are, it’s sucking the very life right out of us. Have you noticed it lately? When everyone is big, no one is. It’s like the crazy awards shows on TV… there are so many now that no one pays attention to any of them. Everyone is so busy congratulating themselves, no one is impressed but them. I can say the same for the selfie phenomenon… the longer you spend editing that picture, the less impressed I am. It’s off-putting when others do it, but still our flesh pushes us to keep sticking our big faces out there for recognition. It’s fascinating really. How do we navigate this trap? Is being small the same as being insignificant? Piper puts it this way:

“The really wonderful moments of joy in this world are not the moments of self-satisfaction, but self-forgetfulness. Standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon and contemplating your own greatness is pathological. At such moments were are made for a magnificent joy that comes from outside ourselves.”

I’d like to stand at the Grand Canyon and feel small. I would not like to be the self-obsessed tourist trying to get that perfect filtered shot of myself overlooking the biggest hole on earth. Does anyone remember traveling before the invention of the smart phone and selfie stick? You could just be present in the moment and not worry about how you were going to share this moment with the entire free world. I cried the first time I sat in Notre Dame Cathedral because I felt so small. I was in total awe of the men who built such a place and the God they served. Even staring out the window of an airplane is enough to put things into perspective.

The self-focus thing is such a tiresome, dead-end road. One of the things I’ve realized with my own family is how much better we function when we get out of our own selfish little patterns and go join in something bigger than we are. Some days that means just getting up and going to church. We really do have to be reminded these days that there is an actual world outside our door with actual (not virtual) people who may need us. Irony of ironies, the more we bask in our own little world trying to make ourselves big, the smaller and more insignificant we become.

I saw this list while looking up Piper’s book, and though it reads a bit harsh at first, I think it is spot on.

What do all these things have in common? Choosing to place self over Jesus. Making myself big while I shrink Him down to nothing. It’s that simple. So the original question maybe is more serious than I thought: do I sacrifice anything at all to just be with Jesus? Would I settle for the silly breakfast bar if it meant settling my heart for the day? I’d like to think I would, but some days I’m not so sure, because, well #6 on that list…

So, help us Jesus, to run the race set before us, to bear our cross daily, to humble ourselves and be made small so that You have room to do big things. Help us to maybe leave the selfie stick at home and go feel small in a big world.

Dismal Forebodings

One of my favorite books as a teen was the classic Christian allegory Hinds Feet On High Places by Hannah Hurnard. It’s the story of a little girl named Much-Afraid, who lives in the Valley of Humiliation with her family The Fearings… they plague her existence with their negativity. The aunt who raised her is called Mrs. Dismal Forebodings, a fearful old soul afraid of her own shadow. The poor old woman could hardly stand to go outside or open a window for fear of what calamity may befall her. One day the Shepherd comes to invite Much-Afraid on a pilgrimage to the High Places where He promises her a new life and identity. She is frightened at the idea but longs to leave the Valley and go with Him. Her family is no help. Everyone in the old Fearings clan is so wrapped up in their own bondage, they try to keep poor Much-Afraid locked up with them. When the Shepherd passes by the cottage  with his sheep, He gently calls to her to come along. Her cousin Coward covers her mouth so she cannot respond. They all begin babbling negative thoughts so she cannot hear the Shepherds voice. She feels an “incoherent fear” come over her and is so confused, she can’t even move. The valley-dwellers love company and will do almost anything to keep someone from leaving for the mountains.

Dismal Forebodings… the inexplicable feeling that the bottom is about to drop out. The nagging fear when you wake up in the middle of the night and everything seems dreadful. Little things are big, big things are paralyzing. Have you ever just longed for it to be morning? Not because the sunrise brings a solution, but because things just aren’t as bad in the light of day. You can combat things more easily, move around, get some perspective. The night is just dark and quiet. We spend our days soaking up fear like sponges, it’s no wonder we can’t sleep at night.

Bible addresses fear a lot. Everyone from Abraham down to the disciples is given some kind of ‘fear not’ along their journey:

After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.’ Genesis 15:1

“Then the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Joshua 8:1

“Immediately he spoke to them and said, ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’” Mark 6:50

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you.” Isaiah 41:10

In addition to the ‘fear nots’ the Bible tells us not to worry, despair, or be anxious. As long as we humans walk the earth, there will be no shortage of things to fret about.

So we have pills advertised non-stop on our televisions and calming apps on our phones. If the first pill didn’t work, there’s an add-on pill, surely that will help. The app tells us to be ‘mindful’ of what triggers us. Map it out. Rate it on a scale from 1-10. Control it, and maybe it won’t control you. It’s a sidestepping game, like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

When Much-Afraid finally leaves the Valley with the Shepherd, He tells her they are climbing up to the High Places. The journey will make her whole and most importantly, she will get to know Him better – but they must climb together. She will not be able to go around the mountains, that would be useless. There can be no gazing up at their beauty from the valley. What she needs is up on the steep slopes, and she is going to have to climb up to get to it.

It can be a hard climb up and out of fear. I thought that as my kids grew older, I would get better at it, but the fears just rearrange themselves into newer, more distressing forms. It’s not going away with a pill or an app… only the light can dissipate the darkness.

“The Shepherd laughed too. “I love doing preposterous things,” he replied. “Why, I don’t know anything more exhilarating and delightful than turning weakness into strength, and fear into faith, and that which has been marred into perfection. If there is one thing  which I should enjoy doing at this moment it is turning a jellyfish into a mountain goat. That is my special work,” he added with the light of a great joy in his face. “Transforming things —to take Much-Afraid, for instance, and to transform her into—“ He broke off and then went on laughingly. “Well, we shall see later on what she finds herself transformed into.”

May we be changed. May we go with the Shepherd up to the High Places and see who we really are. Floppy jellyfish can become mountain climbers when they put themselves under His care. It’s Jesus’ special work to transform us and what an honor it is to leave the valley and go climbing with Him!

 

Self Care Shenanigans

“Lets talk like Christians. Lets talk about fellowship and rest. Let’s talk about serving God and others. Let’s talk about thinking others are more important than yourself. Your time in the Word is not self-care, it is obedience. Having a coffee is not self-care, it is something to thank God for. The selfish bus is going to hell, and it is driving there fast, why would we want to be on it at all? ” Rachel Jankovic

It’s all the rage lately, the self-care phenomenon has been in full-force since the new year. Everywhere I go, I am encouraged to take a moment for myself, be mindful of what is stressing me out, and simply turn to something that makes me feel better about it all. This bag here was at Target, reminding me to love myself more. It’s not a new craze, but it seems to be really taking off lately. From living minimalist to blowing bubbles in the park, the universe (or the savvy marketers) want me to get hold of some awesome me-time. Here’s a helpful little list from some scholarly people at the University of Buffalo in case you need some ideas.

Such mindfulness! After you’ve listened to the cat purr, planted a flower, and/or walked a labyrinth… do you feel better? If not, you need to up the workout routine and drink more water, obviously. The anxiety has disappeared. Or not.

Hold on, you say… there’s nothing wrong with taking care of ourselves!

Mark 12:30-31 says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Notice the often overlooked part of that verse… love your neighbor as yourself. We already love ourselves pretty well I’d say. We are born loving ourselves. God wants us to value ourselves, we are His creation!

Ephesians 5:29 says, “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church…”

None of us need to “practice” loving ourselves as they say. We value, nourish and cherish ourselves as His creation, but we certainly don’t need any more help looking inward.

So what is wrong with a little self-care? The entire movement is an experiment in mindlessness. Do yoga, watch a candle burn or whatever else is on that list and feel better for a minute because you are focused on that particular thing. Taking a hike usually makes me feel better. So does eating a cake-pop. Life has little pleasures that are meant to be enjoyed (without guilt by the way) and there’s nothing wrong with that.

But to look out onto the sunrise with no acknowledgement of it’s Creator? To worship and obsess over my aging body without remembering Who made me and numbers my days? Futile. Sad, actually.

I honestly believe the world has turned everything into an inward-pointing exercise and is discovering there’s not much “in there” to get very excited about. Social media leaves us empty and longing. Drugs and alcohol hold things off for just a little while and wear off. We’ve minimized our pantry and gotten rid of things that don’t ‘bring us joy’. In the name of freedom, we’ve banished all rules moral codes that held us back from enjoying our own lives. So now we try the self-care thing and see where that will take us.

But Jesus took time for Himself! Indeed He did. But not in the way the Target bag suggests.

Jesus took time to be alone with the Father, for sure, but it wasn’t under the silly guise of “self-care”… it was because He knew His very life-source was in something outside of Himself. He looked up, not in. We go to the Father because nothing in this world can fill us but Him.

The worship of self is a dead-end street. Looking inward and living for self is one of the most futile and vapid things we could possibly do. I feel like the more the world realizes this, the more rabid they get about chasing it: when one thing doesn’t work, it’s on to the next. Now we need bags and mugs and shirts to remind us that we need to love ourselves more? Ick.

No thanks. The human definition of fulfillment is not God’s. If the thought of being ’empty’ scares you, the worst thing you can do is try and fill your own cup. We don’t share a moral compass with a “me first” world, so to glean self-care tips and tricks from them is a recipe for disaster. I for one, refuse to take my cues from a bunch of people whose morality changes according to the latest political fad.

God’s kingdom works backwards from all that. When Jesus fills us up, we have an endless river of Living Water to pour out onto others. We don’t need to obsess over where our next fix is coming from. As we understand the treasure we are in His eyes, our self-care routing becomes so much bigger than our own fulfillment.

Psalm 115 talks about the ways in which we become like what we worship. The idol-maker worshipped his idols, the work of his own hands. If we just look inward at our own sinful and flawed selves, we will become more sinful and flawed. How exhausting. Love who you are in Christ, but don’t fall into self-worship.

It’s ok to talk like a Christian. We need to think like Christians too. We are new creations, image bearers of the Living God. We can love ourselves while keeping the worship on God where it belongs.

We have to get God’s words ingrained on our hearts, because the inspirational quotes are out there… and they are coming for all of us. 🙂

Secular Puritains

“A mob of secular Puritans…” 

I read that phrase this morning in a Wall Street Journal article and it really struck a chord with me. It was a write up on the recent hysteria over the fact that the Vice President’s wife, Karen Pence, works at a Christian school that is… well… Christian.

This past week has been both discouraging and maddening. I’m dumbfounded by the ability our culture has to create chaos at will, out of thin air. Take a big ‘nothing-burger’ as my son would say and drop in some phony accusations, half-truths, innuendos and ‘voila!’… you have yourself a scandal. Let’s all be outraged.

While we were all focused on taking some Catholic kids and a Christian art teacher down a notch, something else happened.

They said it was a big deal and it sure is. Read up on it if you can stomach it. See through the loopholes and the fancy language. This is pretty rich coming from a guy who wants the death penalty off the books. In addition to the unimaginable ‘abortion up until birth’ bit, do you know what else these folks did? They redefined what it means to be a person. A person is now “a human being who has been born and is alive.” In order to keep the industry thriving, you have to sanitize it a bit I suppose. If it’s not an actual person, there’s nothing to feel yucky about. And how special that One World Trade Center was lit up in pink to celebrate. You know who else did this?  Slave owners. Actual Nazis.

The mob of secular Puritans is an impossible group to reason with or fight against because they have no real truth other than what they deem good in the moment. Their false righteousness will embrace you one day and slay you the next. You can be a Christian, but you can’t espouse any beliefs that make you actually act differently than the world. You can fully embrace government programs for children while simultaneously celebrating their murder when they are not convenient. This is a sad and pathetic way to live for sure, but aside from complaining about it, what is a Christian to do? I’m genuinely asking here… I certainly don’t have the answers, but here are some thoughts:

  • While doing all the fact-checks, make sure you do a heart check as well.
    • Facts mean nothing if we can’t present them with some kind of humanity. “…in humility, correcting those who are in opposition” (2 Timothy 2:25)
  • Pay a visit to the issues, but dwell with Jesus.
    • Life still has beauty and worth and God is still good. We can’t be effective disciples if we only surround ourselves with controversy. Shut down the apps, the media, and go hang out with some actual people. “Let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things which one may edify another” (Romans 14:19).
  • Remember what’s behind the curtain.
    • The evil can be overwhelming. The battles can seem too much. We don’t need to get tangled up in personal offenses and conflicts that lead to more strife. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

God is still good.

We can walk in the light and expose the darkness at the same time (Ephesians 5:11).

We can be His children in the midst of a crooked generation (Philippians 2:14).

In Biblical times the people would tear their clothes and put ashes on their heads. I thought of that when I saw that building all lit up in celebration. Things aren’t as “nuanced” as they would like us to believe. God is pretty black and white, and He won’t be mocked. In the meantime, keep on keepin on as they say. Love the truth, love your neighbor, and pray for this great country.

 

 

Unhappy Birthday Roe v. Wade!

Yesterday, our country celebrated the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his legacy of nonviolent activism. Today, many are celebrating the “birthday” of the Supreme Court’s legalization of abortion on demand. The irony of posting “happy birthday” to Roe v. Wade is lost on many it seems, but I digress. Regardless, we stand at 60 million abortions and counting since the decision 46 years ago.

Planned Parenthood made the rather bold move of equating MLK’s civil rights struggle with the struggle for reproductive “freedom”, a statement that prompted his niece to come out and say that making such claims on his birthday was “inhuman”. They were not alone, however, as story after story posted on mainstream media this week seem to agree:

  • Abortion is about freedom. Freedom to start a family on your own terms.
  • Jesus never mentioned abortion. The Bible never mentions abortion. You can oppose choice, but claiming it’s about Christianity is baseless.
  • Most Americans support reproductive justice and safe access to abortion.
  • Abortion helps ensure that every child is a wanted child.
  • Abortion is normal.

Several articles lament the devastating effects of what happens when women don’t get an abortion. We are told that this sacred right is under attack now more than ever. The New York Times ran a story telling us all to get better prepared and more aggressive, because abortion is still not easy enough for some women. They may have to drive a few hours to a clinic. They may miss the gestation ‘deadline’ in their state be “forced” to go through with their pregnancy. Not to fear, the New York assembly will vote today to legalize abortion up until the time of birth. The Mother Jones article referenced above reminds us that when women are “forced” into having a baby, they just can’t ever catch up financially to their fellow sisters who had access to this most empowering and lifesaving procedure. Un-ironically, they bemoan the devastating effects that will last for generations. They assure the reader that over time, women who have had abortions are just fine… their children however, really pay the price from the get-go and are set up for a life of hardship. Better to never be born than to suffer financial hardship or inconvenience.

Of course, no one speaks of the effects of a culture that makes women feel they have no choice but to choose an abortion. The “me first” society in which anything goes is never to blame. We’ve somehow equated being ’empowered’ with a most un-empowering act and called it freedom. Their tagline is “on demand, without apology.” 

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said recently that anyone who disagrees that there is a right to abortion is “not in line with where we are as a society.” 

I realize this is a topic that stretches far and wide with lasting consequences on both sides. Those staggering numbers are people’s actual lives, and as much as those parade signs implore me to be loud and proud about my body and my choice… I sink low with the heaviness of how we have created a culture so detached and so numb to anything outside ourselves and our immediate wants. I don’t sit up on a pedestal and judge women who have been through this. I ache for them to know the forgiveness and healing that only Jesus can give. But we have to surrender the empty propaganda and accept the truth of what this is really about.

The “shout your abortion” crowd calls their movement a triumph. Collectively, I think we know better than to go that far. The sacrifice they make to avoid a temporary or permanent change in lifestyle is a heavy one. Many do not regret it. Some do.

Forty-one years ago, a young woman carried me for nine months and then parted ways with me. Was it inconvenient? Yes. Was it humiliating, embarrassing and confusing? Yes. Was there a bigger picture for her to think about? Yes.

Time doesn’t make it go away. That beautiful woman still struggles. I have my little moments where the trauma rears its ugly head. When all is said and done, is she any more traumatized than the woman who chose an abortion all those years ago? I think not. As an adoptee, the lens through which I see all this is admittedly colored. But the excuses just don’t sit well with me. The frequency and ease with which this is happening should be distressing to everyone. Our self-centeredness is leading us to self-destruct.

So when a guy like Justin Trudeau has the nerve to preach to people like me with the weak argument that I’m wrong because I’m not marching lockstep with the rest of society, I take it as a compliment. History is littered with the masses making utterly tragic decisions thinking there is safety in numbers.

I realize that without a Biblical worldview, my arguments are useless. Sin wreaks havoc on the human condition, and a person without Christ can easily normalize sin. Abortion is never normal and it never will be. If our biggest fear is that we don’t have enough access to it, we need to re-examine why it is we are so thirsty for it in the first place.

The greatest human stories come from struggle. I am forever grateful that the woman who couldn’t take care of me at least had the conviction to see things through. I would argue that many women who were afraid of the consequences of having a baby have faced equally devastating consequences by not having one. Regardless, let us please instill the truth in our children and ourselves that life is never disposable. May we understand and accept that sin has consequences, but Jesus forgives and frees. He is able to take the mess we’ve created and make something good out of it. My entire life is a testimony to that truth, and if it changes just one person’s mind, if it leads just one person to the foot of the cross… it will be well worth it.

So un-happy birthday Roe v. Wade… you may be legal and even loved, but I will keep speaking up and speaking out against your disastrous consequences until you are no longer so high on that altar.

Fewer Hot Takes, More Jesus

Reading in 2 Timothy this morning and it may as well be subtitled “current events”. Paul’s life on earth is coming to and end and he knows it: he writes from a prison cell with the knowledge that he’s probably about to die for his faith. He therefore doesn’t mince his words, wasting no time reminding readers that there isn’t time to be ashamed or fearful of what may lie ahead.

Here’s the short list of some of the things that we are promised to come across:

For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! (3:2-5)

Sound familiar at all? Have you looked at the news cycle today? Honestly, it’s beyond parody. As we slip further and further down the rabbit hole of truth being whatever we want it to be, lets take a look at some of Pauls’s advice:

He tells us to “hold fast the pattern of sound words” (1:13). In this culture of keyboard warriors, arguing over words could be an olympic sport. Unsound words bombard us all more than we even realize. Once someone loud enough decides something is true, it just becomes true. Todays example: employees over at Google have come to the conclusion that the word “family” is “offensive, inappropriate, homophobic and wrong”. Family. As in… a unit of people living together or related to one another. We all know it’s the tip of an otherwise very large iceberg… but words are worth fighting for because truth is worth fighting for.

Interestingly enough, Paul also makes a point to warn us about getting involved in too much nonsense. I absolutely love and cling to these verses:

  • “But shun profane and idle babbling, for they will increase to more ungodliness.” (2:16)
  • “Avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife.” (2:23)

So we are to hold fast to the sound words, and steer clear of the ridiculous stuff. This makes sense until I realize that almost everything lately seems to fall into the “foolish” category. How do we know when to fan the flame or when to let it die out? The truth is worth fighting for, but we have to be very careful about how we fight.

Are we arguing for the sake of it? Do we want to score points for our team? Put someone in their place? That isn’t of God, that’s just good old human pride. Our society as we know it is not only camped out here, they are entrenched. Whatever it takes to take “them” down a notch and bring “us” up is fair game.

By humbly correcting those that are in error, by showing people a better way…  they are removed from the snare of the enemy (2:25). Humility and graciousness don’t make us pushovers, they simply make us true and effective disciples. As for those who are “always learning and never able to come to the truth” (3:7), those are the ones we are to avoid. Some people are more interested in the fight than the solution.

As the wise man Kenny Rogers said years ago… “You gotta know when to hold ’em… know when to fold ’em.”

We can stand up to injustice when need be. We can also walk away from the proverbial dumpster fires when we must. What a freeing thought that we don’t actually have to take  every dramatic development on all at once.

This epistle is short, but I find it so relevant for us today. Things may not get easier. In fact, we are pretty much guaranteed that we are going to be sharing space with some unsavory and difficult characters. Paul tells us not to be ashamed to speak up, but do so with grace. “Be strong in grace!” he tells us… (2:1) Did you ever think of it that way? The grace of God makes us strong.

We are not fearful and we are not ashamed. Christians who are full of grace and full of truth are what the world needs. Less witty comebacks and hot-takes… more time with Jesus.

“…love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power that eventually transforms individuals.” Martin Luther King

 

 

Boys Will Be Boys… If We Let Them

“The warrior must learn to yield his heart to nothing. Not to kill his heart for fear of falling into temptation, but to protect his heart for nobler things, to keep the integrity of his heart as a great reservoir of passionate strength and holy desire.” John Eldredge

Because I am on that crazy Twitter thing, I get a front row seat to the latest cultural outrages and moral lessons du jour we all are supposed to be having big opinions about. The latest brouhaha being the Gillette razor company and their new ad challenging men to confront their innately barbaric behaviors and act more civil. Depending on your personal views, it’s either touching or pandering propaganda. Regardless, for some reason it’s going down as one of the most ‘disliked’ ads in internet history. In an interview, the president of the company said,

“By holding each other accountable, eliminating excuses for bad behavior, and supporting a new generation working toward their personal ‘best,’ we can help create positive change that will matter for years to come.”

It sounds nice and good on the surface I suppose. Lots of buzzy buzzwords, but it’s not horrible. Everyone should at least aim to not be a jerk to others in life, right? A new generation y’all… working toward their personal best, whatever that may be. We are holding each other accountable for what, exactly? The criminal behavior of some? Or just behavior we deem unsavory and disagreeable? Who decides what everyone’s personal best should be? 

Some in the Twitter-verse called this ad “breathtaking and necessary”, jumping on the idea that toxic masculinity has ruined basically everything, and a new kind of modern masculinity needs to take it’s place. Others say the condescension is just too much… imagine a shampoo commercial asking women to rise above their innate manipulative cattiness… I don’t see that succeeding in the same way. See the problem? It’s not that anyone is actually threatened by a silly razor commercial, or even against the idea of respecting one another… it’s the continual, relentless message to men and boys that something is inherently wrong with them because they are male, and the one-sided argument that they (never women) contribute to a toxic kind of society. The Dove commercial parades women of all shapes and sizes around and tells us “you’re fine just how you are!”, while the message to the guys is, “men, you have some work to do.”

As a mom of two boys, it is definitely NOT my goal to raise hyper-aggressive, emotionless man-bullies. My basic dream in life is that they grow up to be godly men of character, integrity and morals. I just don’t believe in neutralizing or stifling what makes them who they are and replacing it with something completely unnatural.

Men are born warriors. Whether we like it or not, whether it offends us or not, they have innate drives in them to protect, to compete and well… be different than us women. Just last night my teenage son “accidentally” kicked his foot through a wall in our game room because he lost a ping-pong game to his little brother. A foot through a wall you guys. My first words were, “Whyyyyyy would you do that?!” My brain can’t comprehend it. Of course I don’t want ragey, angry boys parading through the house punching things when they don’t get their way… but I know that sometimes boys will be boys. (The Gillette commercial says I can’t use that phrase to excuse terrible behavior, but I’m using it.) There is biological stuff happening here, and if women can use the hormone argument, so can growing boys. It doesn’t mean it’s excused or that there isn’t a consequence – he’s going to pay up for the new drywall, I assure you. It doesn’t mean my kid is a neanderthal either. No, a girl would probably not kick a hole in a wall over a ping-pong game, but you know what? My boys would never spread gossipy rumors about people the way some girls at school do on a daily basis. Pick your poison, because it goes both ways. Masculinity run amuck is indeed harmful, and so is its feminine counterpart.

Just last week, The American Psychological Association  came out with what they say are very well-researched ‘guidelines’ regarding what they think makes a healthy man. Being adventurous, taking risks, stoicism and competitiveness are out. It’s scientifically acceptable for a man to want to become a woman, but abnormal for a man to pursue the innate drives that make him an actual man. What garbage. 

So, to the John Eldredge quote and why I am addressing this topic: we can’t kill our hearts just because we don’t know how to completely control them. Yes, we humans have a terrible knack for veering off course with our God-given abilities and drives… but if we would yield to our Creator and His purposes… if we would channel all that passion into a great reservoir of holy desire as he calls it… wow. A change of heart, not a change in gender roles, makes men and women Godly and effective. Trying to squash boys down to fit some new idea of masculinity won’t lead to a better culture. Showing them how to protect their heart for the pursuit of noble and better things though, that makes a man. In fact, it makes us all better in the end because we are being who we were created to be.

Hooray to a razor company for wanting to raise the bar a little in our bottom-feeder culture… but no to thinking that the way to do it is by taking away the very things that make men (and women) who they are. God created us to be different. It’s a shocker, I know. Our hearts don’t need to be tamed, they need to be directed. Full-steam ahead, passionate men and women with a holy desire are a force to be reckoned with.

“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:13-14