Friday, December 30, 2011

That's Right, I'm a Nerd

So that I can give my time and attention to Christmas, husband, and a freaked out seven-year-old, I'm going to repost some of my favorite blogs from earlier. I'm told this is what some bloggers do... Rest assured, I will be back.

If you haven’t gathered by now from my repeated Doctor Who references, I’m a huge nerd. And I’m cool with that. Even though I may have appeard to have a certain je ne sais cool in my distant past, as a proto-goth, member (okay, follower) of the eighties Chapel Hill music scene, I am going to go out on a limb here and say, I do not maintain one drop of that coolness quotient in this nerdy mom-bod of mine.

THE church lady.
But I am comfortable with being a church lady who cooks with cream of mushroom soup... Who occasionally teaches Sunday School and takes her kid to Cub Scouts... Who loves Doctor Who and Buffy the Vampire Slayer and willingly attends Comic-Con with her husband. Any hipness I may have had at any time, is gone, daddy gone...

I accept myself as someone who does not shun “classic rock” because it’s ubiquitous – and it’s just not cool in some circles. My husband (who wouldn’t touch classic rock with a ten foot pole – unless it was Neil Young, maybe)  teases me that I say, “this is a good song” about every song that we hear in the muzak they play in Five Guys... but that just isn’t true. I just have no artificial limits on what I will consider for my list of “good songs.”  I actually listen to the classic rock station in the car sometimes... and I believe there is nothing at all wrong with singing along with the Steve Miller Band or Queen. (Click here for a great scene in a recent episode of Louis where he was taking his kids on a trip and jamming out to Who Are You ... His kids are like, “Whatever, Dad...” It’s just like my life.) Sure, I draw the line at Journey or REO Speedwagon, but other than crummy 80s bands like that, I am on board with classic rock. 

Besides being a discriminating music fan, my husband has been a movie critic for a couple of different newspapers. As movies go, I like indy flicks, but am not ashamed to admit that I enjoy a Mel Gibson film  (I know, I know, the dude’s got problems) or a chick flick now and again. A really cool artist I know asked his Facebook friends, “What do you think of Tim Burton?” All the cool artsy people were saying deep stuff about his art and and how it’s too popular, but my answer was, “Johnny Depp. Yum.” See...? Very non-cool. It gave me an renewed appreciation for this Crash Test Dummies song about hanging out with artists.

Yes, despite appearances, this nerdiness of mine, has been lifelong – even when wearing my cool costume in the groovy eighties. My roommate and I would have parties and we would always bake a cake and have nibbles ... at first, people thought it was strange. (Imagine a bunch of goths sitting around eating cake.) But after the first one or two parties, people began to warm to it and walk straight over to the food table when they arrived. I would bake my boyfriend’s friends cakes on their birthdays... Okay, maybe it was a little odd... for that time and that group of people. 

And then I started going to church. How uncool can you get? And I’ve embraced the inherent uncoolness of it all. I love the Emergent Church – I truly dig what they are about, but occasionally a little judgmental demon screams in the back of my brain that those guys might as well just wear signs that exclaim, “I AM NOT UNCOOL!” Go with it guys, church is nerdy... and there’s nothing wrong with that! Of course we are talking about a definition of cool that is in the world, and not God’s definition of cool. I realized at a certain point that the lady who led our women’s Bible study and homeschooled her kids and wore church dresses every day of the week, and the spinster that lived with her mother were probably goddesses of cool at God’s nightclub... This is the kind of cool the church is. As far as most people's definition of cool or hip... NOT.

Don't let the beret fool
you – I'm super nerdy.
For a while I wavered... I listened to my “I gotta be cool” thoughts, but eventually I just got tired. I guess if I were truly cool, maintaining my hipness would be effortless. But it's just not... and I realized... it’s just too limiting. Why would I deny myself simple things like baking and certain songs just because they have negative HQ (hipness quotient)? I’d rather dance all over the floor than just in a tiny spot. 

There was a show last year called Happy Endings, which had an episode where one of the single women starts dating a hipster. At first she tries to go along with all his irony and apathy, but in the end, cannot contain herself and begins to yell out all the things she loves and exits a room crowded with his hipster friends tap dancing and singing show tunes. And that girl is me. There is just so much in the world to enjoy that I can only maintain a facade of irony and apathy for so long. And if that’s uncool... well, that’s me!

Sometimes Weird Al says it best:

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

In Which I Wonder, What if?

So that I can give my time and attention to Christmas, husband, and a freaked out seven-year-old, I'm going to repost some of my favorite blogs from earlier. I'm told this is what some bloggers do... Rest assured, I will be back.

I’ve got kind of a headache today... I think from crying. I went to see The Help a little while ago... It was wonderful, as advertised, but boy did it make me cry. And think.

It took place in Jackson, Missisippi, in 1963, and was all about some women and their maids... the women who cooked, cleaned, and took care of their children. It was wrenching to see these strong, capable women being treated like ... non-people... and by people who are strikingly similar to the women I grew up with.

I grew up in the South, and my family nearly always had a maid. As children, we had no idea what was going on... I think my parents treated the maids reasonably well, but what do I know? I was just a kid. I wonder what the maids were thinking?

And I have to wonder ... had I been an adult at the time of the movie, how would I have behaved? Which character would have been me? Skeeter, the most sympathetic character, is an aspiring journalist who was writing down the maids’ stories to call attention to their way of life. She starts the project at the advice of a publisher, but grows to love the maids and see the worth of the project. She even shares her earnings from the book with them. Would I have taken initiative like this? Would I have been this brave? 

My family in the early sixties -
Looking an awful lot like the people in The Help
At the opposite end of the spectrum is Hilly, the leader of the pack of prominent young, Junior League women. She is pretty much an evil witch... pushing for separate bathrooms in the home for their maids, and firing her maid, Minnie, for not using the outdoor john during a tornado. I really don’t think I would have been Hilly... because I’m not the leader type. It would involve way too much iniative. And also, too, I hope I am not that mean!

No... but the character Elizabeth – she’s a little too close to home for me... a follower to the core... cowed by her friend Hilly into building one of the horrid outdoor bathrooms for her maid, Abilene. In order to not make waves, or piss off overbearing people, I am afraid I have not always made great choices. This character is familiar to me, but I hope I would do better.

I guess I will never know how I would have behaved... I was raised in the South, and back then racism was in the air and in the water there. But I had the good fortune of being born AFTER the civil rights movement... so there were other things swirling around in the air and the water by that time.

A great guy named Tim Tyson wrote a book called Blood Done Sign My Name, about racial violence in Oxford, North Carolina, the town where I grew up. All I remember from the incidents his book describes was the curfews and people saying the name “Teal” (the name of the man who set events in motion.) I also remember the integration of the schools, which made no difference to me. It just meant a different set of kids to play with. Are children color blind? Maybe. Or maybe I had heard enough about civil rights to have those concepts in me...  These are the things that I remember, and as a child, really couldn’t do anything about them. Again, had I been an adult, what would I have done? 

In the same way, I often wonder if I had been around when Jesus was here, would I have recognized Him? He did make some outrageous statements... like about drinking his blood and all. I am not surprised that it freaked the Pharisees out. I always felt a little sorry for them because, bless their hearts, they were so dense. At the same time, Jesus was pretty enigmatic. What would have been my reaction? Would I have just followed the leaders, or discerned the truth and been brave enough to follow it?

And in what ways, now, am I blindly following the crowd and not making courageous decisions? I have been brave from time to time in my life, but I have also been quite chicken at others. I guess I just keep having to follow the advice of James: “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” And as I write this, I realize that James was the brother of Jesus, and even he, at first, didn’t recognize Jesus for who he was. So... I guess he eventually learned to pray for wisdom. I guess I’ll have to do the same.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Mock Me Gently

So that I can give my time and attention to Christmas, husband, and a freaked out seven-year-old, I'm going to repost some of my favorite blogs from earlier. I'm told this is what some bloggers do... Rest assured, I will be back.

I am not sure what factors contribute to the formation of a "people pleaser" such as myself – being from a large family? Being a middle child? Being a girl? Being a chubby girl? Being insecure? Fear of making waves? Just being plain hungry for love? All of the above? None of the above? How ever it came to be in me, it's there. I wanted to be popular in school and even now it bothers me - probably more than it should - when I think someone may be angry with me, or not like me.

I was reading in 1 Peter 4 about suffering for your faith, and I have just realized that it is ironic that a person such as myself - a people pleaser to the core - would choose to become a Christian. Because even though there's no actual physical persecution occurring right here and now, Christianity is just a turnoff to a lot of people. One biographer of Bob Dylan had a theory that Bob's Christian phase was designed to alienate people... if that is the case, it worked splendidly. He got a lot of "boooos" during that era... although I have to say that Saved is a fantastic gospel album. 

In the past - and also in the present in some other countries - Christians were/are persecuted... executed, imprisoned, exiled. Here and now, it's a little more subtle... In the movie Bernard and the Genie, the genie, who is 2000 years old and from somewhere in the Middle East, recommends that Bernard, a modern-day London art dealer, slay his enemy. Bernard says something like, "That's not how we do it now - it's more like, we give them a dirty look, or we shun them and maybe get our friends to shun them."

That's the kind of "persecution" Christians face here and now. Here's an example from my own life: I have a friend who throws awesome parties, but never invites me. Eventually a mutual friend told me that she didn't want to offend me with the drinking and carousing that inevitably went on. I felt better, but I also had to hope I don't put off a disapproving, judgmental vibe. 

And there's mockery. People, TV, movies love to mock us! I can't say that some of it isn't deserved. We are pretty funny. And sometimes real harm is done by people who call themselves Christians. I am not denying that. Some horrible things have been done in the name of Christ. But that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about everyday people who are just trying to love them some Jesus.

So we get shunned and mocked... I'd say we have a pretty good deal compared to Christians in other eras, or places. Freedom of religion is a beautiful thing. A while back, I read a book called "The Mystery of Providence" by John Flavel, a Puritan writer who wrote in the 1600s. At one point he says something like: be thankful you were born here [England] instead of in America, among the savages. As an American, I found this funny... especially since it is a great place to be any religion you want without fear of real, physical persecution.

Still, to someone like me, who really, really cares if people like her, the subtle slights can cause real pain... When I think about it, that just might be an intriguing recommendation for the faith – that a person whose purpose up until now has been to please people, is so sure that Christianity is all true, that she will go against her own natural grain... stepping out into an area that is a little scary, and damned uncomfortable.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Louie, Louie, Oh No

So that I can give my time and attention to Christmas, husband, and a freaked out seven-year-old, I'm going to repost some of my favorite blogs from earlier. I'm told this is what some bloggers do... Rest assured, I will be back.

Last night my husband and I watched an episode of a show on FX called "Louie." It is written by and stars a comedian who calles himself Louis CK, and if you are easily offended or in any way sensitive, I don't recommend this show to you. It is brutally honest and shamelessly vulgar.

The show is part standup comedy, part vignettes of him doing everyday things - dating, hanging out with his friends, taking care of his daughters, of whom he shares custody with this ex-wife. There is something I love about him. He is so painfully truthful that I really can't help but admiring him. I actually imagine his honesty as a model for what I want to do with this blog - but much less blue, of course.

He says things like, "The reason we don't do bad stuff is because we don't want to get caught." Which, if I am completely honest, as he is, I would have to say is true. I mean, sure, I do want to be a good person and to please God, but getting caught and going to jail is a much stronger deterrent to me, for sure. I really wouldn't do well in jail.

The latest season has been mainly about his kids. It is so clear that he loves them more than anything. The show last night was about him looking for an apartment to live in with them, and he looks at a gorgeous house that ends up being 17 million dollars... But he imagines how much they will love living in it, and how much it will "fix" everything and he just can't let go of the idea of buying it - even though all he has is $7000.

But then in his standup, he says that bedtime with his girls is torture - he can't wait for them to go to sleep so he go can eat the ice cream in the freezer. Kids are the best things in the world, but this is exactly how it is, right?

I think I love it because he is not saying this stuff like, "Look how bad I am! Haaahaaaahaaaa!" (That was a maniacal evil laugh.) It's purely confessional. He is so self-deprecating, so aware of his own failures, the frustration of being human. He is so true to himself, that I actually find him attractive, which is a little bit funny, as he is no Johnny Depp.

Occasionally Louis probes deeper: Last season they had an episode where it flashed back to his childhood in Catholic school. The principal and teachers wanted to impress on the children just how brutal the crucifixion had been so they could comprehend what Christ had done for them. It was much too harsh for the kids, but it actually had the desired effect on young Louie... In the middle of the night he broke into the school and pulled the crucifix down and was trying to pull out the nails. The poor kid was sobbing and saying over and over, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry."

It was so gripping - sad and sweet - and the show ended with his mother tranferring him out of the Catholic school and telling him "You didn't do anything, don't worry about it." Of course, as a Christian, I would have to say that this is not entirely accurate... but on the other hand, what that child needed was grace. And that's what his mother was trying to communicate to him - sheer grace. And as a Christian, I have to point out the irony... To take him AWAY from the church when he was looking for grace? Maybe it was an indictment of the church and the school, not of the actual Source of grace?

It kind of reminds me of an anecdote I heard about WC Fields: During his last weeks, a friend stopped by his hospital room for a visit and caught him reading the Bible. When asked why, Fields replied, "I'm checking for loopholes." I wonder if he ever figured out that Christ IS the loophole?

Anyway, I love Louie... and I'm rooting for him. I hope he finds the grace he is looking for.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Pot Luck at My House!

So that I can give my time and attention to Christmas, husband, and a freaked out seven-year-old, I'm going to repost some of my favorite blogs from earlier. I'm told this is what some bloggers do... Rest assured, I will be back.

Guess what? I’ve achieved my ideal weight! I’m sure if you know what I look like, you’re going to say, “What?” And I’m not going to tell you what it is... not because I’m embarrassed, but because it’s not really a number. It’s a state of mind.

My weight and I have had a rocky relationship since... well, since I was nine and noticed that my gut stuck out. At that point, it was probably just the way a girlish tummy is shaped, but I, who had a mom who looked like Jackie O, thought it was a situation that needed fixing. So... I spent my teen years dieting, then my twenties as a weird-looking, tortured anorexic, and a great deal of my thirties as a person who just really watched what she ate. I ate low fat, no fat, high protein ... and I exercised. Like crazy. 

Anorexia is sort of a superpower... and not a good one. It gives you SUPER willpower, so that no matter what logic is presented to you, you will follow your diet. It keeps a body running on little to no food, and if you really work the superpower, you can also function – hold a job and maintain relationships (although I won’t say they’ll be that good.) You can do your work, interact with people, and count calories and calculate energy burned – all at the same time.

Of course, people know that something is wrong with you because, well, you look, in the words of Bridget Jones, like a stick insect. Also because you don’t eat and always have to run home and exercise. I don’t think they know the extent of it, though. They don’t know your mind is constantly counting and calculating... and when it’s not doing that, it’s beating you up with a giant, spiky guilt and fear club.

Finally, though, I lost my superpower... and my body won out. I think it was so tired and so hungry that I just began to eat. And eat. My body had missed a lot of meals! I struggled for a while to recommit myself to my diet, with no result... Fortunately for me, that crazy period ended after a short time – because I actually let myself eat and rest. 

For that time, I am extremely thankful for my friend Grace who taught me how to love food – and that there was nothing to fear... and my husband, Tom, who has known me at all sizes and loved me at each and every one of them. 

And I don’t remember when it was, but I do remember having this moment of clarity at one point: When I am able to just live in freedom – eating what I like and exercising a reasonable amount... without worrying or thinking about food or exercise beyond what is needed... whatever I weigh at that time – THAT will be my ideal weight. 

And I’m here! I grocery shop, plan meals, enjoy eating out and trying new foods... but I really don’t EVER think about it beyond what I need to do my job as the primary meal maker in the home. And I exercise a reasonable amount, but nothing too strenuous or excessive.

So... celebrate with me! Pot luck at my house! Bring something delicious and fattening!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Maybe the Devil Really Does Wear Prada

Voldemort's fashionable followers
So that I can give my time and attention to Christmas, husband, and a freaked out seven-year-old, I'm going to repost some of my favorite blogs from earlier. I'm told this is what some bloggers do... Rest assured, I will be back.

Last weekend when I went to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Bill was worried that it would be too scary, so he refused to go. It took him an entire week to work up the nerve to go, and even up to the last minute, while we were watching the previews, he was worried about what gruesome images might be waiting to assault his tender eyes.

I was thrilled to be able to see it again because, as you know, I loved it. On the first viewing, I watched for plot and meaning. During the second viewing, I could not shake this thought: The bad guys sure are a lot better dressed than the good guys. 

Even though Voldemort himself is always in some kind of weird kimono type of robe, his followers are always decked out in sleek black designer ensembles. The coat that Narcissa Malfoy wears in the final scenes is gorgeous - a fitted, embroidered Victorian-inspired topcoat. Her son Draco wears a slim designer suit, and while the Bellatrix Lestrange is a evil witch (literally) with hideously decaying teeth, her wardrobe is pure gothic splendor. Snape sweeps around in his black cape with his long back hair, looking like he owns the night. Maybe it's all the black, maybe it's the "steam-punk" look they have going on... I just like it.

The brown, tweedy, ordinary Weasleys
On the other hand, we have the good guys. The kids mostly wear their uniforms and school robes; Harry, Ron and Hermione usually wear jeans and sweaters, Neville is fond of cardigans, and the Weasleys wear brown. Not that there's anything wrong with any of this... it's just plain.... and frumpy... and downright unremarkable.

I guess it could be a matter of money? But if this were so, why does the "Snatcher" look good? I mean, sure he needs a shower, but his clothing is like something Marc Jacobs would put on the runway.

The Snatcher
What does it all mean? Maybe it's just that the costumer put the bad guys in black because that's an easy way to show who's bad. Or maybe it's just that their style resonates with my history as a proto-goth and natural preference for black clothing. Or maybe these particular bad guys care more about how they look? Have more to prove?

Maybe it's to show that the world is saved by extraordinary actions by ordinary looking folks. Here's what Isaiah 53 said about Jesus himself: He had no beauty of majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

What does it say about me that I kept looking at and judging their clothes? I hope it's just that I'm a graphic designer whose mother subscribed to Vogue, and not a superficial mall rat. Although, I will confess that when I started attending my current church 20 years ago, this thought ran through my mind more than once: "These people do NOT know how to dress." I hope the fact that I don't notice what people wear to church anymore shows that I've grown maybe a little bit...?

Fortunately, I had no trouble distinguishing between good and evil in the movie - I wasn't discounting the bad guys just because they were dressed like grandparents. I wasn't tempted to pull for Voldemort's buddies just because they looked like a million bucks. 

Sadly, it's not always that obvious which side to pull for... Real life is much more subtle. I guess if you have trouble figuring it out, it's always good to remember what it says in 1Samuel 16: The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Chrome-Wheeled, Fuel Injected and Steppin' Out Over the Line

So that I can give my time and attention to Christmas, husband, and a freaked out seven-year-old, I'm going to repost some of my favorite blogs from earlier. I'm told this is what some bloggers do... Rest assured, I will be back.

I can tell already this is going to be a convoluted one... Since I’ve been working like crazy this week, I haven’t been able to write... So I’ve had a while to think about it. I got lots to say on the topic... which is a little hard to name. 

Will the Christian life turn 
me into this?
It’s just that, well, if you believe what you see on TV and movies, the Christian life looks like... Ned Flanders, the super sweet but incredibly naive neighbor and object of Homer Simpson’s scorn... Or like stiffly prim and judgmental Angela on The Office. She’s not just the moral compass of the show, pointing everyone in the right direction – she’s the moral spear, skewering everyone. Most extreme of all are the types of Christians on, say, True Blood... Militant and fanatic - not above using violence to achieve  their ends... Because, after all, “God hates fangs.”
... or this?

But it has been my experience that the Christian life is more like... Bruce Springsteen’s song Born to Run... An invitation from God to roar off wildly into the unknown... To “wrap your legs round these velvet rims and strap your hands cross my engines.” Going to see Bruce, aka the Boss, is a religious experience — each song is a prayer. But this song... I know its a classic and all, and everybody likes it, but for me, hearing it is like... getting a love letter from God... and He’s inviting me to escape the “deathtrap, the suicide rap” of ordinary life and ride through those mansions of glory... and go and walk in the sun with Him... I love the line that says, “I want to know if love is wild, girl I want to know if love is real...” Because, really, you’ll never know if you don’t hop on the back of that bike.

Or maybe it's a wild ride
through mansions of glory...
Or it’s also like the Otis Redding song Hard to Handle. Of course, when I think of it, I hear the Black Crowes... ‘cos I love Chris Robinson, but never mind that. I hear this funky number as an invitation to allow God to “light your candle...” “to prove every word” He says. That part reminds me of the place in Malachi where it’s actually talking about giving money to God’s work. It says,”Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” 

In my way of thinking,  it applies to life itself – as if God is saying, “Bring your whole life to Me and see if I don’t cause it to overflow...” And Jesus said this: “Truly I tell you ... no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age...” The reward is rich, but look, He is daring us to give our whole selves to Him! I guess in that way, He is “hard to handle” like the song says. (The Chronicles of Narnia books are always telling us that Aslan is not a tame lion!)

Not tame at all...
Sure it’s a scary prospect... riding this Lion who is very NOT tame. I mean, I remember being on the brink of that decision and wondering, what if he turns me into Ned Flanders or Angela on The Office? But I know now that it doesn’t work like that. Sure, i’ve changed in a lot of ways, but not in ways that I expected... Instead of going from regular person to super-nerdy judgmental person... I went, over time, from lonely super-broken person to on-the-mend person with a bit of help from His friends. It just made me more of who I already was... like in John Steinbeck's East of Eden when the Chinese man says that studying Genesis in Hebrew with a rabbi made the Chinese scholars more Chinese.

But I digress... What I am trying to say, is that, to me, the Christian life is not a tight, zipped-up way, but a crazy free adventure... Like riding in the Tardis with the Doctor... or riding on a wild lion's back... or jumping on the back of the bitchin’ motorcycle of the bad boy in the leather jacket...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

We Interrupt all the Realness to Bring You Some Really Realness

(a guest blog by Lea Holt)

Hunter Hayes
Ok so you pretty much get that I am a dork.  And that I love country music. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that my current favorite song is by Hunter Hayes. It’s called Storm Warning.  I may redeem myself somewhat here, as I think young Hunter actually wrote the song and played all the instruments on the song (some 30 instruments by the time the song was said and done) and that he appeared on the Grand Ole Opre and pretty much kicked it.  He is talking about a girl in this song... “I’m gonna wish I had a storm warning, I’m gonna wish I had a sign... I’m gonna wish I had a little heads up... a little lead way, a little more time... some kind of radar system locked in on love... I got a feelin by the time the night finds the mornin,  I’m gonna wish I had a storm warnin.”

Well Hunter, I wish you had sung this song by my bed when Jesus called to me and I accepted him.  Cause, um, Jesus didn’t tell me that it was this difficult. He called to me in such a grand and quiet way, and then He left me quiet to decipher everything...  He left me to decipher all the things that go with accepting Christ as my Savior.  Cause the spirit that called to me and spoke to me wasn’t the bad ass Jesus in the Bible, if I may be so bold as to say.  The Jesus who spoke to me and got me hooked was the Jesus who comes to you in times of trouble.  He was quiet and gentle and all-forgiving. He was the bed-side Jesus; the all-sweet and loving and “this is what you have been missing” Jesus.  The Jesus who spoke to me wasn’t the Jesus who requires you to study and think and change your life. To reconfigure your life... To question how much beer you drink and the occasional cigarette you sneak and smoke on the back deck after said beers, and how often you go to church...That Jesus didn’t tell me to quit gossiping and He didn’t say that the catty, funny remarks I say about people who are wearing sad sweat pants and Uggs or leggings when they should be wearing pants, are bad, and send bad karma into the atmosphere of my being and the world in general.  That quiet Jesus didn’t tell me that by accepting Him so wholly, it would pretty much screw up my whole personality. 

The sweet, easy Jesus
So this is where Hunter’s song comes into play. I wish I’d had a storm warning.  I wish I’d had a sign. A little heads up, a little lead way, a little more time.  Cause dang that Jesus, the bad-ass side of Him is in my head now, too. The Jesus who died on the cross in front of his family and his people-- the guy who just said “Yep, this sucks for me, being tortured and killed, but I see a much bigger picture. And my sacrifice will save so many of you.”   I was all in for the gentle, caring Jesus...who spoke so dearly to me, who said “Come on, accept me in your very soul and you’ll never need to feel alone or lonely again.  I HAVE YOU.”  But now the gorilla guy is there too.  The warrior Jesus.  The Jesus who died on the cross for me. The guy who was forsaken by his best friends, the guy who was tortured and scorned and endured such physical and spiritual pain in order for me to have a shot at heaven.  This isn’t what I thought I’d signed up for, when He so sweetly called me to accept Him, deep in the night.  I said “um ok” before I stopped to consider what He had actually endured, deep in so many of HIS nights... and that He might expect me to do some of the same hard, life-changing things. 

So here I am.  Reconsidering how I live and breathe.  How I talk... How I think.  Am I kind? Am I generous? Do I try and do the best for my kids? For my husband? For my job? For my friends? Lots of times, I know the answer is yes.  I think that the reason I could so wholly accept Jesus at this point in my life is that I knew about Him and have lived on the edge of true acceptance for many years.  I knew the right things to do. I understood honor and sacrifice and love and that sometimes doing the right thing is hard, but that somewhere down the road, you will be richly rewarded, even if it’s not in your lifetime.  But the Jesus who has stormed my heart of late is asking me for more.  He is asking me to live fully in His teachings. To go the next step. He is saying to me “Yeah, you’re a good person, you do some good things. But what if you heard me in your head all day long?  And what if you actually listened?”

Jesus showed His other side when He went
all, um, Roman... on the money changers.
Truthfully, hearing Jesus in my head all day long is a pain in my ass. The young co-worker who needs to be chewed out for being a jerk now becomes “maybe she doesn’t have the knowledge or the skills to deal with stress. Maybe that’s how she was raised and she just doesn’t know any better.”  When what I WANT to do is to be just as nasty and petty as she has been and tell her off and finally put her in her place.   Warrior Jesus, and kind Jesus, keep me silent.  Warrior Jesus tells me that I am older and wiser, and that my strength and experience in life will keep me from being as mean as she is, and that in time, I can kindly, and perhaps helpfully, lead her to a better way by example.  Kind Jesus tells me that she has been hurt by life... that it isn’t about me.  That we are all flawed and imperfect, and that we all need love and acceptance.  Damn that guy. Cause it sure would feel good to tell her off and say what I have been holding back and what no one else will say because she is a bully and... Then Warrior Jesus kicks in, and HE SAYS “Really, are you that weak and petty and haven’t I taught you better than that and given you more strength than that and the mental and spiritual tools to deal with someone like this?”  And He laughs at me. Kindly. But He is still chuckling.  And so I sit back and say DAMMIT!!!! 

I can’t speak my mind and be as crappy as my co-worker, because both Jesuses are pulling and talking and poking at my heart at the same time.  Be kind and loving. Be a warrior for the youngsters that she is crapping on... Be forgiving and non-judgemental, because you are also so very flawed and it’s not your place to judge... God, when you sent your Son down, I guess you knew you were creating a shit storm.  I know many a Christian wouldn’t call it that, but for me, that’s pretty much what it feels like. Not fun. Not easy. Easy answers?  I think not.  In fact, the answers were a helluva lot easier to come by when I just lived on the edge of Christ’s love.  That was a pretty cut and dry life.  This is right, that is wrong.  But now... warrior, kind person... stand up for your beliefs, be forgiving and patient.  Christ in the manger, Christ on the cross... I guess you gotta love a God who challenges you so deeply.  Yeah, that’s it. You gotta love that. Yep. Love it.  Tell yourself you love it. 

Well, obviously, I ain’t lovin’ it. I think it sucks actually. Because the combination of the Christ in the manger and the Christ on the cross is telling me to study and think harder and feel some stuff I’ve shut down and to become a version of myself that I haven’t yet envisioned or seen.  A version of myself that is unfamiliar... He is asking me to be uncomfortable in my skin for a while.... to perhaps think of a version of myself that might be better. To think of a version of Him that combines his child-like goodness with His warrior bad-assness.  No wonder this guy saved the world. 

Back to Hunter Hayes. I wish I’d had a storm warning. I wish I’d had a sign.  A little heads up. A little more time.  I didn’t know this Jesus business would be so exhausting.  So consuming. So life-changing.  Would I have accepted Jesus had I had a warning? Yeah, probably.  There really wasn’t much other choice.  But kind Jesus didn’t tell me that warrior Jesus would swirl like a hurricane wind around my everyday... around my thoughts and my heart and the way I make decisions and in every damn thing I do.  So if you truly sign on and give your heart to Christ, here’s the Storm Warning:  You’ve signed up with the kindest, wisest warrior who ever lived, and it’s gonna be a helluva ride. And I know I’m hangin’ on for dear life.