Sometimes I forget to spit out the seeds…

Archive for May, 2014

The “M” Word

It’s ironic how a prim and proper word like “modesty” has turned into such a dirty word.  It’s seen as judgmental and legalistic.  And it’s probably a bit cliche for a Christian blogger to write about it, especially in the spring.  I’ve read other bloggers’ takes on this (surprisingly) controversial topic.  Their posts are sometimes greeted with a resounding, “here, here!”, but just as often with mocking and scoffing at the ridiculous notion that public near-nudity is a problem for anyone.

I want to start with a few disclaimers to un-muddy the waters.

1.  A blogger I follow, and heartily enjoy, by the name of Matt Walsh (www.themattwalshblog.com), recently wrote about how modesty is about more than just clothing.  Modesty is about not bragging.  Not showing off.  I agree, wholeheartedly.  However, in the smallness of my immediate world, it’s physical, bodily immodesty that seems to crop up most often.  So it is that that I’m writing about today.  Physical modesty is not the most important measure of character or Christian faith.

2.  I’m not going to evaluate any specific articles of clothing in this post.  There’s value in those discussions, and they certainly have their place among friends, fellow moms, mothers and daughters, and yes, sometimes even a blog readership.  But we will never all agree on how many inches of cleavage or thigh is acceptable, or how long a shirt must be to sufficiently cover a legging-clad booty.  There will be those that argue that culture dictates modesty (which it does, to some degree), and as long as you are more modest than the rest of your peers, you’re good.  Those conversations are worth having, but they are worthless and actually do become all about legalism if we don’t also discuss where modesty comes from:  The heart.  True modesty can not be dictated; it must be heart-felt.

3.  If you know me in real life, or have read my blog, you know that I have recently become overweight.  It’s a mystery to me, but it is my reality.  I have seen other bloggers torn to shreds about their position on modesty because, apparently, being overweight means one thing only…..you are jealous.  My position on modesty does not in any way stem from jealousy of thin women.  Believe it.  Or don’t.  Whatever.

4.  While both men and women struggle with lust, men are more visually stimulated than women.  In general.  It is not an all-encompassing rule, as there are many exceptions.  However, this generalization is a scientific fact.  Google it.  Likewise, it is not only women that are guilty of immodest dress.  Men do this, too, but it’s not as prevalent.  Generally speaking.  Please assume that when I’m referring to women (how they dress), it also applies to men; and when referring to men (how they respond), it also applies to women. 

5.  Yes, men already know that you have breasts, and a rear-end, and legs, whether you are dressed sexily or not.  Yes, they can be distracted by the sight of a “hot” woman, even if she is dressed modestly.  Let’s not ignorantly claim that it doesn’t make a difference how you dress because men are pigs who will stare and gawk anyway.   Let’s use common sense, ladies.  Does a well-built man look the same in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt as he does in just his underwear?  Either way, you can tell what his best features are.  But….not. the. same.

6.  Men are not pigs who have no control.  But they are hard-wired to respond to visual stimuli.  Again, Google it if you don’t believe me.  Yes, they are responsible for their own thoughts and actions and should work to control them through the grace of God.  Discussing modesty is not about blame.

So with all that as a framework, here’s what I want to say:  Modesty is, first and foremost, about love.  You know, that 2nd greatest commandment, right from the mouth of Christ?

Matthew 22:35-40    One of them [a pharisee], an expert in the Law, tested Him with this question:  “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”  Jesus replied:  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

The Pharisees hated Jesus, and were trying to trip Him up, asking Him to choose just one of the ten commandments (“the Law”) as the most important.  Jesus’ answer summed up not only “the Law” in one word, but also His entire mission.  Love covers it all.  If we love, we do not murder.  If we love, we do not cheat on our spouse.  And it’s the love of our Savior that enables us to love others.  So how does this apply to the topic of modesty?

Love one another.  Love your spouse (current or future) by keeping the precious gift of your body just for them.  Love the men and boys in your life by not giving them one more picture of overt sexuality to be tempted by.  Love the women in your life by helping to protect their men from unwanted sexual images.  Love the young girls in your life by modeling self-respect and true beauty.  Love God by keeping His gift of sexuality in its proper, and more glorious, framework.

One blog post I read on the topic of  modesty was followed by pages and pages of arguments, and hundreds of (mostly) angry comments.  An astounding quantity of them were from self-described “Christians,” vehemently defending their right to wear whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, claiming no personal responsibility for any repercussions, and if men were tempted to lust by their appearance, too bad.  Is this love?

 

 

 

 

 

Rotten Day

During my lunch “break” yesterday (in other words, while I picked the meat off a leftover chicken carcass, dipped it in buffalo sauce before eating it, then worked on school corrections) I watched an episode of the show “Revolution,” which I love, and has also just been cancelled (not sure if I have any friends to commiserate with me on the injustice of that decision).  The show takes place 15 years after a worldwide apocalyptic blackout.  Life is primitive, and brutal.

In one scene of this episode, our hero, Miles Matheson, is racing in his horse-drawn wagon to evade a band of bad  guys trying to kill him, as usual.  The wagon overturns.  He is a sharp-shooter, so as soon as the bad guys catch up to him, he has no trouble doing away with most of them.  With one guy left standing, Miles is out of bullets, darn it!  They reach for their swords, and Miles eventually kills his opponent, but only after sustaining a severe stab wound to the gut.  Ouch!  He wanders off in search of his friends.

Coming to the ruins of a house, Miles stops to look around, and falls through the rotten floor boards into the basement. Obviously injured further, and wincing in pain, he looks over to see a First Aid kit on the floor next to him.  He can barely reach it, but when he does, he finds that it is empty.  “This is a really bad day,” he says.  Just then, a teetering brick wall of the ruins falls over, crashing over the opening to the basement, where he is now trapped.

I’m not sure if the writers of this intense sci-fi drama intended for that scene to have a touch of humor, but I laughed out loud.  One life-threatening situation after another, and he says it’s a “really bad day”?  It was the ultimate understatement, and it was also a statement I could relate to.  I was having a really, really bad day.  Here’s why:

1) The health issues I have blogged about have impacted my sleep pattern in a big way.  I used to wake up early enough to work out, eat breakfast alone, shower and dress, and do some light yard work before my kids woke up.  It was glorious!  I felt relaxed, put-together, and ready to face a day of parenting and home school.

Now I can barely drag myself out of bed, usually after a few of my kiddos are already up.  After 7 or 8 hours of sleep, I still feel like I could sleep for hours, and each step of getting up takes a concerted effort (open eyes, remove covers, swing legs to floor, sit up, etc.). I have no alone time, and I’m rushing to get ready for the day when my kids are already asking for help with their school work.  I have neither the energy nor the time for working out.  As a result, I’m grumpy.  A lot.

2)  Also due to the changes in my health, I have a negative, self-depreciating narrative on a loop in my brain, which I fight against constantly.  I pray it away, but it just comes back.  I feel like crap most of the time, both mentally and physically.

3)  On this particular morning, my three younger daughters, who are required to amuse themselves while the big kids do school (that’s why God gave you siblings!), could not seem to get along.  First the middle one came crying that the other two won’t be her “best buddies” anymore.  Then the older one complained that the little girls won’t play with her, or that what they’re playing is stupid, or that they’re stupid, or that I’m stupid because I look unimpressed with her tragic dilemma.

4)  We were having a rough school day.  Warm, breezy weather distracted us.  A dead mouse on the porch was uber fascinating.  The work was too hard.  The teacher was unfair.  The teacher hates the students.  By lunch time, I had spent all my time breaking up arguments and fielding complaints, while the correction pile had grown to a leaning tower of workbooks (how they actually got any work done is still a mystery).

So my lunch “break” arrived and I endured a few interruptions (no, you may not have Pepsi.  yes, please eat the leftovers.  do whatever you want, but for the love of God, please let me eat!).  I chuckled at Miles Matheson’s “really bad day.”  I smiled.  Ok, so maybe my morning wasn’t so bad.  Deep breath and move on.

Only…..my day didn’t get the memo that we were moving on from rotten.  Ready for act two?  (If you are still reading, I promise there’s a point to all this…..I hope…..still waiting for that part to download.)

5)  Bad school attitude continued until it was time for chores to begin.  Most of the children complied, but two little ones laid on their bedroom floor and refused to clean up the ankle-deep dress-ups and dolls.  Stern discipline was employed, followed by wailing.  I had a hard time drumming up tenderness for the follow-up hug.

6)  After a relatively smooth preparation for a family outing to my husband and son’s church league softball game, I realized on the way there that I forgot to take my vitamin D supplement, which affects both my energy level and my mood stability.  Great.

7)  We arrived at the ball field to find gusting winds.  It cut the humidity, which was nice, but posed a problem for our dinner plans.  We rarely try to eat at ball games, but this night we had take out Haitian food from a fundraiser.  Strong winds do not mix well with serving rice, beans, and chicken on paper plates to small children.  Food went flying, and my church friends got to hear the opposite of my “super-patient-in-public-you’d-never-guess-I-have-a-temper” voice.  I was so irritated that I was only slightly embarrassed at my tone.

8)  Haitian food got mixed reviews.  Some children started asking for snacks.  I had brought none, of course, because we were having dinner.  Here’s a Dum Dum, kid.

9)  It was dry.  Like, desert dry.  And you remember I said it was windy, right?  It was an action-packed game.  With every mad dash to steal a base, or slide, or really, even a batter getting walked to first base, an immense cloud of dirt wooshed over us.  Only on our side of the field.  The wind never changed direction, the whole time.  I could taste it, gritty on my teeth.  My hair went stiff with a coating of dirt on it.  It’s in my eyes.  I had to close them for 5 minutes when dirt got stuck under my contacts.  I almost ripped them out of my eyes to throw them away, but my tears finally did their job.

10) When we left the game, it was almost 8pm on a school night, and every one of us needed a bath or shower when we got home.  It started to rain, and then we were driving in a torrential downpour while I clenched my armrests and prayed.  We made it home alive.

And that’s it.  The rest was cake.  I filed the kids and adults through the shower, one after the other.  Here, eat a banana.  Night-night.  As I walked through the final, and peaceful by comparison, hours of my day, I began writing this post in my head. It seemed too ridiculously frustrating and real not to share.   But I kept coming to a dead end.  What was the point?  Where is the lesson?  What grand conclusion will I wrap up with a pretty bow to give this rather long-winded list of bad-day events some meaning?

Well, folks, it’s nothing profound or new or insightful.  This is real life.  Whether you have 2 kids or 20, there are bound to be days when everything goes wrong.  Some people assume that because I have a large family, life must be chaotic.  (On a side note, be careful what you say in front of your kids.  I once had a young child say to me, “You must be SO stressed out with SO many kids.”  Gee, I wonder where she heard that?)  The truth is that my life is no more chaotic than it was when I had a smaller family.  Really.  On most days, there may be a squabble or two, or one kid is a little grumpy.  Days like yesterday, when everyone seems to be in a foul mood, and things go wrong the entire day, and my body and brain can’t keep up with it all…..those are few and far between.

At the end of every day, including the rotten ones, I can rest in the arms of my Savior and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He has my back.  When I fail, He covers my mistakes with grace and love.  He shows me how to love my children when the you’re-so-mean’s make it so, so hard.  It’s in His power that I mother, on good days and bad days.   Period.  On my own, I’m weak.  The inevitable failures destroy me and leave me without hope.  But with HIM, there is always hope.  Sweet, life-saving hope.