Thursday, November 26, 2015

I'm Thankful and Stuff

Ah, Thanksgiving. The day of food, football, and awkward family relations. There's turkey and potatoes and getting hit in the face with a football, and wishing you hadn't eaten as much as you did. Plus, you can get Christmas shopping done on this wonderful day, because now Black Friday starts Thursday evening.

Honestly, I'm not a big fan of Thanksgiving. I don't like watching football or most of the traditional food eaten on this day. But my least favorite part of Thanksgiving is the day after.

I don't think there's anything wrong with going out and getting a great deal on Christmas gifts for the people you love. That's great. Go shop on Black Friday at whatever time you want to. That's not what I don't like. But I've noticed this thing that happens around Thanksgiving.

For about four weeks, starting November 1, everyone becomes really grateful for everything. Grateful for family, and food, and friends, and football. I'm all for gratitude. But on the Friday after Thanksgiving, all the Facebook posts and trending hashtags and pretty Instagram feeds are just gone.

I listen to Christmas music starting on Halloween (don't get me started on Halloween). I love Christmas. The decorations, and traditions, and just the way Christmas feels (plus who doesn't love the occasional cheesey Hallmark movie?) is great. I love it. A few of my friends, however, have accused me of "skipping thankfulness" because I don't wait until the day after Thanksgiving to start Christmas festivities.

But here's the thing: Christmas is about gratitude.

|| "No one shows greater love than when he lays down his life for his friends." -John 15:13 ||

I'd go so far to say that Christmas is (or at least should be) more about thankfulness than Thanksgiving. The pioneers are great. Yay America. But shouldn't our gratitude skyrocket during the Christmas season? I greatly appreciate the people who began this nation. But 1000x more than that, I appreciate and cannot express the amount of gratitude I have toward the One who gave up everything to give me life.

But, instead of Thanksgiving marking the beginning of a season of gratitude and joy, Thanksgiving marks the beginning of a season of stress.

Thanksgiving should be a reminder to give thanks, not an obligation to post a long Facebook status about all the obligatory gratitude and the obligatory unhealthily big meal. Thanksgiving could be the start of gratitude, not just a day of football and the regret of overeating. Thanksgiving could remind us of the sacrifices made by those around us, and should inspire us to make those kinds of sacrifices.

I don't care if you eat a lot of food, or watch a football game with your family. Go ahead. Do those things. Have a great time. Be thankful. Be thankful today, and tomorrow, for the rest of this year. Be thankful for all you have been given, but more so for the people who have given to you. Let's make this day a reminder to be thankful all year, not just a day.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends. I'm thankful for you (yes you, reading this blog post when you should be spending time with family. Thank you). That's what's up.


Saturday, November 14, 2015

Paintball, Popularity, and Perfectionism

|| "'For we are God's masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.'(Ephesians 2:10) Our English word poem comes from the same Greek word (for masterpiece)." -Emily Freeman, A Million Little Ways ||

Getting shot in the thumb is not a fun experience.

Not even if it's just paintball.

When I went to the paintball place with my friends from speech and debate, not prepared to play. But when I got there, after a little bit of convincing and the gathering of funds, I ended up playing.

And I discovered that paintball is not my thing.

The fields were incredibly muddy, and I was wearing my good converse and jeans (remember, I did not come prepared to play). I walked through the mud (and by 'walk' I mean tried not to sink down into the pit), my breath fogging my mask, trying not to accidentally shoot myself in the foot, and wishing someone had put me on camera duty instead.

First round I got shot in the leg, but the paintball didn't break, which I later learned meant I wasn't really out. Second round, I got shot on top of the head (???) and it didn't break then either, but it hurt so I got off the field. Third round, we moved to a different field, one that was under cover and less muddy. I lasted a long time behind a stack of tires. It was a great hiding spot. If I got hit, I'd probably get hit in the mask, which doesn't hurt.

I'm still not sure who hit me, but that thing popped and and it popped on my thumb and I looked down and I could've sworn there was orange blood all over my hand.

I made my way off the field, trying not to get annoyed with the people asking if I was okay. A couple of other girls came off the field, both of them with neck shots, which probably hurt worse than thumb shots. They were all fine and smiling like, 'no pain no gain' and I, hardly able to hold my gun, was crying and thanking God for waterproof mascara.

I decided to stop playing after that. The mud and pain and my poor sneakers weren't worth the thrill of getting shot with bright orange paint.

That night, when we were hanging out at one of the families's house, the other girls who had been at paintball were casually talking about getting shot in the back, in the neck, shooting other people and I was like "I don't like pain" and they were like "no pain no gain."

I like wearing skirts and heels and sparkly eyeshadow and curling my hair. The other girls like those things too, but they prefer getting up to their knees in mud and wearing Nike shorts and t-shirts whenever the opportunity presents itself. That's not a bad thing at all, but it's just not me.

But when I see my friends like that, I sometimes wish it were.

Maybe if I didn't mind getting shot with paint, maybe if I didn't cry when feeling anything but 'okay', maybe if I were different, if I were more like then, they'd like me better.

But I cry easily, and I don't like getting shot, and I prefer skater skirts to athletic shorts, and I feel really weird sometimes. Sometimes I want to be what I think is normal.

This is really just perfectionism. Wanting to be different or more than I am to please other people. To fit in. To look good.

Sometimes being different feels like a curse, But what if it's actually a gift?

Maybe being more emotional means I can empathize with other people better. Maybe seeing deepness in everything means I can connect to more lives. Maybe being different isn't a bad thing.

Maybe the same is true for you.

Maybe you have words your afraid to say because someone might think you're weird. Maybe you're afraid others won't like you for who you are. Maybe you don't want to lose popularity. Maybe you just want people to think you have it all together.

You are different for a reason.

It may not make you popular or perfect, but it makes you who God made you to be.

So be brave, and be who you are created to be, whether or not you like paintball.

 || "We are walking poetry, the kind that moves, the kind that has hands and feet, the kind with mind and will and emotion. We are what happens when God expresses himself." -Emily Freeman, A Million Little Ways ||

Friday, November 06, 2015

Your Body is Not Your Worth

|| "The Lord will be your confidence and keep your foot from being snared." -Proverbs 3:26 ||

Demi Lovato makes me sad.

Not because she went through rehab, or writes sad songs, or because the end of Princess Protection Program is emotional (though it is my favorite Disney Channel movie). Demi Lovato was on the cover of "Cosmopolitan" magazine in September. What did she have to say to those criticizing how sexual the cover image was?

"I feel incredibly empowered and the most beautiful I have ever felt on this magazine."

Demi just came out with a song called "Confident."

I hate it.

I don't hate Demi, don't get me wrong. But her song isn't about confidence. I don't think she even knows what confidence isn't. That's not her fault. Almost no one these days knows what confidence is. It's a word that's thrown around a lot, and there are a lot of definitions, but for now I'm going to talk about the definition mainstream media supports.

Today I watched Ariana Grande's "Focus" music video I got exactly what I expected.

The song is repetitive, like most pop songs. The repeating line is "focus on me," not surprisingly. But Ariana isn't asking you to focus on her. Not her personality or heart or soul. She wants you to focus on how sexy she looks while dancing, and how pretty her lips and hair look, and how high she can sing. Very impressive, Ms Grande.

I watched the Selena Gomez "Good For You" music video. I almost cried.

Selena is sexy, I guess. She can run her fingers through her hair and show her legs off and have a racy album cover. She can break up with Justin Bieber and hang out with Taylor Swift and pose for magazine covers.

But listening to "Good For You" makes me want to cry. I don't care if she broke up with Bieber. She's desperate for people to think she looks good. She cries for attention by taking clothes off, all the while saying she's become "confident."

Demi, Ariana, Selena. They make me sad.

They make me sad because girls my age grew up watching them on Disney Channel or Nickelodeon. Because girls my age see album covers and music videos. Girls my age download their songs. Girls my age eat up the sexy lyrics, sexy magazines, and sexy videos. And they equate sexy with confidence.

|| "[People] say modesty is a result of body shame. They say women who cover themselves do so because they lack self confidence; that if they were really free, they would shed those standards and their “modest” clothes along with it." -Phylicia Masonheimer ||

Because Demi can pose topless and makeup free, she must be confident. She must love her body.

Or maybe she showing her cleavage gets her the attention she craves.

Because Ariana can perform some sexy dance moves, she must be confident. She must love her body.

Or maybe what she really wants is someone to see past the close ups on her lips and legs and focus on the real her.

Because Selena can have a "revival," she must be confident. She must love her life.

Or maybe she realized that being a sexy former Disney star gets her attention, and she equates attention with adoration.

Maybe all these young women, and others like Taylor Swift, Fifth Harmony, Meghan Trainor, Katy Perry, and a dozen more, are just desperate for the love they aren't finding in camera flashes, big paychecks, and millions of Youtube hits. Maybe they just need someone to tell them "you're beautiful," "I'm proud of you,""I love you." Maybe cleavage, sexy dance moves, and crazy performances are just masks, hiding the fact that they don't feel like they're enough. Maybe they feel like being sexy, this idea of "confidence," is the way people will come to notice them.

And that breaks my heart.

Real girls, desperate for real things. Real acceptance. Real love.

So they show off their bodies and call that being "confident."

Please, girls. Please, please, please don't buy that lie. Don't buy the lie that you can shed insecurity by shedding clothes. You don't escape skinny shaming or fat shaming by showing off your body and saying that's confidence. Finding your identity in how much of your body you feel comfortable showing off will leave you broken and insecure every time.

Your body is precious. Please don't throw it around like loose change. Sex, bikinis, nudity. These aren't the things that satisfy your heart.

"I feel incredibly empowered and the most beautiful I have ever felt on this magazine." 

Sorry, Demi. But I don't believe you. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think you feel the most insecure and needy than ever on this magazine. If you truly valued yourself, you wouldn't feel the need to show off your body at every opportunity.

Dear girl, you are precious. You should love your body. But that love should come from the fact that the one who made your body made your body as a temple for His spirit. He's given you a gift; don't abuse that gift.

Dear girl, if you're searching for worth, look no further than the arms of Jesus.

|| "God made me sexy, I don't care if only I know." -Tori Kelly ||