In Honor of My Father

My Dad passed away a few days ago. My stomach does a bit of a churn when I write it. With only a few days past receiving the news, I feel all sorts of feelings and I can imagine those will ebb and flow with bursts of tears for some time to come. I have so much to say, but then want to say nothing at all. One thing is certain, I want so very badly to give him another hug or say goodbye. That’s the most painful part for me right now and it just makes me feel so very sad and the tears feel like they’ll never stop once they start. The finality of death is alarming once it’s here. It’s feels a little panicky. Of course, I just wish I had more time.

I know my Dad loved me so much. Because of childhood pain and trauma that I couldn’t even begin to understand, he hurt. Because of genetic susceptibility to anxiety and depression, my Dad hurt. Because of unfortunate major health problems and chronic pain, my poor Dad hurt. With all of these factors combined, along with the challenges of life in general, it’s been so very difficult for him. Because of his natural pride and feelings of defeat, he didn’t know how to accept help or engagement from the people that loved him the most. It’s been terribly painful and frustrating to see him withdrawal over the years from the potential of a fulfilling life. His friends have missed him so much. I have felt utterly heartbroken over the joy he’s missed through his grandchildren. He was absolutely crazy about them, but pain can create an unintentional mile-high wall. He expressed his emotions, thoughts and memories through email over the last few years, so it is without hesitation that I know his love for us.

To know my real, true, deep-down Dad/Tim/Timmy/Vito/TR/Grampy was to positively love him. My Dad was witty, incredibly giving and compassionate. My brother and I would agree what we may miss the most is this small part of him that would peek out at rare times over the years and make us have deep giggles. His humor was so clever. I miss it so much. He modeled hard work and because of that hard work, my husband and I were able to take over the business that he and my mom created decades ago. He was immensely proud of this and I’m so thankful for it. Just yesterday I had the honor of meeting with the women in our office and sharing with them that responsibility and honor of creating a strong future for our business with honor and character. I know it would make him very proud.

My brother and I were able to make a visit to see our Dad just a month before he passed away. Of course, we are incredibly thankful for that opportunity. We could tell that his physical health was in bad shape and declining, but not expecting his death would come so soon. It nourished his spirit to have us there and oh, how I wish we could go back and do it again and stay longer. The things I would say or not say, the last hug I would give him; to have the chance to hold on tighter or longer. As I heard myself praying aloud just a few hours after learning he passed, I asked God to hold him so tight, to let him know with everything inside that he is so loved and safe. To think that he is with his brother and mother again brings me bits of joy. I love you so much, Dad.

Dear reader, you may be wondering why I mentioned his pain rather than just honor his memory in solely a positive light. My brother and I both feel very strongly that life struggles, whether that be mental health, addiction, trauma, etc., not be masked or ignored, but rather have light shine on them so they are not as scary, intimidating, or embarrassing. Life is hard. Circumstances can feel overwhelming. No one should ever feel alone and it is never too late to accept a helping hand. There is always, always hope. To you I say: Do speak the words you want to say. Do seek forgiveness, if needed. Hold on to the hugs just a bit longer. Accept the helping hand. Look for the silver beneath the tarnish. You are loved.

Valentine Baby

On this day ten years ago I was in the hospital anticipating the arrival of my first child. My baby was already revealing his stubborn nature by staying put until I had to be induced at ten days overdue! Because we’d kept his official name secret until he was born and with a February 14th birthday, the family jokes started flowing as to whether he’d be named Valentino.

Labor was intense in the morning due to the induction process, so an epidural was ordered and administered much to my delight. Minor struggles occurred through the afternoon as they tweaked the dosage and we endured a rather intense pushing window, but by 5:15pm, my chunky 9-pound baby had arrived.

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Here was this little human being that my husband and I were now completely responsible for and although we’d taken the classes and read the books, it was a little (lot) scary. The unknown was looming. My little brain wanted so badly to be well and handle the stress of a newborn and the challenges that awaited us when we went home. Long nights and the zombie phase came and went, my anxiety disorder intensified in his first year of life and I experienced an arduous battle over the first several years of his life. But, as I look back at the last decade and see the challenges that have been allowed through the providence of God, I also see tenderness and love. This little boy carries several habits and traits of mine and that allows for locking of horns at times, but like I’ve begun to tell him so often that I get eye rolls, I LOVE being his mother. He is bright, funny,  and clever. We both love to read and often share read-aloud time at night. Like his Daddy, he is so wonderful with younger kids and often plays so well with his little sister. It brings me immense joy to think that she has him for the rest of her life; a caring, protective big brother. He has been especially brave this past year by starting a new sport and will be heading away for a real summer camp in a few months.

As an older friend of mine said, it can be sad when all of the sweet little kid seasons pass and you mourn the gentle baby you can hold in your arms, BUT what fun it is to see them grow up! There are numerous seasons to come that I get to be a part of and I’m honored. My little boy is ten years old today; my Valentine Baby. I love him and as I prayed when he was tiny, I pray that he will lead others to Christ, learn and develop a servant’s heart, and most importantly, I hope he will always know that he is loved, NO MATTER WHAT. Happy 10th Birthday, Sweet Boy! I love you!

You Down With OCD?

2018!

In my head last New Years (2017), I thought, “This is going to be a great year, I just feel it!” I was specifically expecting that my mental health would greatly improve and I’d be a new woman! Well…by mid spring, my tune was quickly changing because my anxiety started acting like a rabid dog and took a chunk out of my arm. However, through avenues that I am hoping were God-ordained (because I do try my best to believe He’s working ALL things together for a solid reason), I found Ariel’s “Whole New World” of mental health and took a detour that I think makes a big difference for my little brain.

After over a decade of traditional counseling and years of an ebb and flow pattern, I just felt deep in my gut that I shouldn’t be feeling so awful and that there’s got to be a different strategy. While casually talking to a friend (that I’d talked anxiety struggles with in the past), she mentioned that I should talk to a friend of hers. A phone call later, a tiny light was peeking through the crevice and I followed it. Over the river and through the woods, it led to an evaluation and diagnosis of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

When most think OCD, we think, “OMG, I’m so OCD!” Or you imagine people washing their hands a million times a day. Although there are people struggling deeply with what is called Contamination OCD, millions of others suffer internally and silently with other themes. In my beginning research, I learned that it’s an average of 14 years before a correct diagnosis is given! That blew my mind and in a strange way, was a comfort to me. I finally knew what was wrong and why I think the way I do! I’m still in the thick of the battle, but it is such a gift to know why and what I can do.

OCD is also known as the “doubting disease” and the key is being able to practice and eventually accepting uncertainty in life; not being able to prove 100% that something may not happen or that a thought doesn’t mean something you fear it means. There are many categories and I have my own personal cocktail of several different ones.

A friend and I were discussing how often one should share personal things like this, especially on a public forum such as this blog. I hesitated, as I do very often, before posting. In the end I decided that although I would never want this to define me or be what someone thinks of immediately when I come to mind, but I do know that finding the help I did came from someone sharing that they had the same struggles. Life is short and if I can be a lifeline to someone wallowing in confusion and discouragement, then I’m willing to share. I won’t blab it to the world, have my Mom make me a personalized button, or publicly share the details of my OCD struggles, but I can

Cheers to Twenty Years!

I loved high school. Almost every bit of it. Academics were not my forte, but I sure loved all the fun and the school spirit of being a Palmetto Tiger. Which is why it was so surprising for me to not want to attend my 20-year reunion this past weekend. I’ve been feeling dumpy and even though I’d helped a bit on the reunion organizing committee, I had been undecided as to whether I would attend. Luckily, I decided to go and am so very glad I did!

Maybe this is true about many schools, but there is something incredibly special about the group of folks I graduated with. I know that time makes the heart grow fonder and we’ve all matured a great deal, but even so, my heart is warmed by reflecting on my high school days and our time this weekend. I was almost proud of us last night. We were real grownups loving each other and doing a great deal of silly shenanigans (and I didn’t even make it to the extended late night after party!). I can be a touch sentimental about things like this, but it was such a delightful thing.

My favorite thing about this group is the beautiful diversity. It’s always been one of my favorite parts of both growing up and also teaching in my hometown; the great mix of cultures and community. There didn’t seem to be a lick of racial or political tension as we came together to celebrate and I hope everyone else felt the same. Times are tough in our country and I like to think that in our own small way, we are working to heal and love.

Like my dear friend (and Senior Class President that did an amazing job leading the reunion organization) Nikki said last night, “I wish we could do this every year!” There were so many faces I wished could have made it and several that died too young that would have loved to celebrate with us. We missed you!

Thank you, PHS Class of ‘97! Go Tigers!

Knock, Knock

Death is one of those things that we generally don’t like to talk about. When it comes to visit, besides being awfully sad and emotional, it also has the power to stop time and give everyone a proper shake in their boots for a bit. Depending on the closeness of the loss, it can be debilitating. Sadly, I think for many of us, the daily grind of life and striving for happiness seeps back in rather quickly and we no longer have death at the forefront of our minds. Not that I think we should be morbidly thinking of the Grim Reaper every morning, but the preciousness of life is something we too easily forget. I was skimming back through Francis Chan’s book, Crazy Love, and found a quote from Frederick Buechner where he writes, 

“Intellectually we all know that we will die, but we do not really know it in the sense that the knowledge becomes a part of us. We do not really know it in the sense of living as though it were true. On the contrary, we tend to live as though our lives would go on forever.”

I just attended a funeral of one of my high school classmates this past weekend; a death of someone far too young. She was delightful and shining in so many ways. I saw the effects of this loss in her family and friends as they were mourning and it was heartbreaking. A couple weeks back, we celebrated the life of my grandmother-in-law and although I knew her fairly well for over the last 15+ years, it was so beautiful to hear the words of her grandchildren as they recalled how impactful she was for the duration of their lives.

As most would agree, I hate death. I hate the uncertainty of when it will come knocking. It’s one of my earliest fears as a child; wanting to have all the people I love in one room with me so I could keep them safe. As I heard the pastor say several times during his message at this most recent funeral, “We just don’t know”. We don’t know the time or place of our deaths and those we love. I’m re-reading The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom and there’s a time when as a young girl, Corrie is exposed to the reality of death.

She cries out to her father, “You can’t die! You can’t!” In reference to their weekly train rides to Amsterdam, he asked her “when do I give you your ticket?” Corrie says, “Why just before we get on the train” and her father replies, “Exactly. And our wise Father in heaven knows when we’re going to need things, too. Don’t run out ahead of Him, Corrie. When the time comes that some of us will have to die, you will look into your heart and find the strength you need-just in time.”

We have a vet appointment for tomorrow afternoon to put down my dog, Millie. Although I’ve been thinking of it for a while now and I know it’s time, the reality of it makes me sad. I don’t like the finality of it. I’ve been wanting to do all I can to make these last couple of days really comfortable and trying to make sure she knows I love her. Death is hard. Life is hard, too, and we can work at a furious pace trying to keep all of our ducks in a row and strive to be “social media happy”, but I sure hope for a deeper and more grateful style of living. At least for today while it is louder than normal, I will try and recognize who is here and hug them a little tighter. After all, we just don’t know. 

“Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.” Psalm 139:16

Who The Heck Do You Think You Are?

First of all, this blog entry is my husband’s nightmare and makes him shudder. He is not a fan of reflecting or rehashing his feelings. He’s not an insensitive rock, but let’s just say we are a good balance! Now to my dramatic point: Anyone else ever sit back sometimes and wonder who you really are? You are likely not as introspective or slightly obsessive in your thinking as I am and you can thank God for that! However, I’ve heard the phrase “mid-life crisis” in many a movie scene and it may be more common than we recognize; maybe just not as dramatic.

As a teenager, I was as confident as they come. Don’t get me wrong, I made plenty of poor choices based on the desire to be liked or funny, but overall, I felt like the world was my oyster. Then, as I hit the end of college my anxiety crawled into my life and left me crippled internally by the age of 25. If there’s anything that can shake up your confidence, it’s an anxiety disorder. I’ve made my way through life since then and now at almost 38 years old, I can see my Little Blue Confidence Engine saying, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…” I was down in the valley for some time, but hope to keep chugging up hill.

All the time in the valley has recently made me evaluate who Emily really is. The real one. The one that’s been stripped of prideful confidence and wants to be humbly confident in my skin, cellulite and all! ha! Have you spent any time on this? If you’re not an over-thinker, you may just be living and not worried about it (like my man)! I envy you! I have some older women in my life who have described what happened when they hit 40 or 50 and they began to care a lot less about what other people think and are overall more confident in their skin. That sounds great, doesn’t it?

Well, either way I hope you will stop and consider what makes you, YOU. What makes you genuinely smile? What do you love to wear that makes you feel confident? What would you most want your children or family and friends to say about you once you’re long gone? What colors, scents, or art make you feel vibrant? What music makes you feel good all the way down to your toes? How do you want to be treated? Is there anything you want to do that would improve your well-being, sleep, or stress level? How does God see you? What makes your shoulders release and fall and gives you a sense of peace? Do you love your work or do you feel purposeful in your work? What is your purpose?

I’ll go first: I love the word cozy and everything it entails. Rain makes me less anxious and gives me a feeling of calm. I want to wear comfortable clothing (with the exception of a fancy dress every now and then) that is stylish and modest, but not frumpy and certainly does not involve tight jeans that reveal my butt crack or muffin top! I want to clear out my closet to only make way for things that make me feel good. I don’t want to care what the scale says, but still want to balance good self-care with good chocolate desserts. Being a mother is something I am deeply honored to be and I love it. I wish that I were born in the early 1900s and could live at Green Gables on Prince Edward Island and walk magically under the poplar trees. I love the beauty of mountains, rambling creeks, and stretches of green. I love reading books that help me grow and grin and giggle. I absolutely love teaching and encouraging kids to know they are special and valued. I wish that I had a deeper relationship with my parents and hope that my children and grandchildren will feel safe to share life with me as long as I’m alive. I crave balance; solid sleep, quiet time with God, a tidy home, and check marks on my to-do list. I am still working diligently on healing and freedom from my anxiety and depression and believe that someday soon I will be free of unnecessary guilt and yuck. Although I don’t often believe it enough, the Creator of the Universe knows me and adores me and I want to love Him back. I want to glorify Him with everything I do; not out of guilt, but because He is so wonderful and powerful and yet so intimately aware of us. I want to be respected. I want to be someone that people feel comfortable sharing their struggles and to encourage them with honest hope. I want to be Emily.

If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say…

Well, I wondered if I’d ever step foot into blog world again after my last one stirring the political pot on Facebook. There is irony found in the connection between my last two posts: one being about my people-pleasing tendencies and then the next one about Trump that allowed me to get a bit of a verbal whoopin’ and lose some respect from people that I care about. It is the complete opposite of what I strive for (to a fault) in wanting to make sure everyone likes me. I have thought many times that I wish I’d kept my thoughts to myself on such a fiery topic, especially when I question my decision as the future president continues to tweet nonsense…However, as I reflect on it, I think it was good for me in a lot of ways. My pastor has reminded me that because of Christ, I am free. I’m free to share my opinion on things and that is true regardless of the push back I may receive. However, I still feel sad about what feels like damage that has occurred with some relationships or even acquaintances; just for giving my opinion on how we should be treating others with a different perspective or choice of vote. I feel like any walls I may have worked at tearing down from certain people that are different than me (i.e. politics, religion, sexual preferences, etc.) were built right back up and maybe even a little higher. That may not be the case, but it feels like it and feels discouraging.

One area that in which I have prided myself and sometimes maybe a little too desperately, is the fact that I tend to consistently play devil’s advocate on issues and try to remain open-minded and seeing both sides. I never, ever want to be considered close-minded to issues in our country, world, or what’s to come in eternity. I am extremely sensitive by nature and that helps me to feel deep compassion for others struggling with life. My wonderful husband is a conservative-minded guy who reads up and listens to the news consistently and I value his opinion on things because he’s done his research, but like Paula Abdul successfully coined, “opposites attract” and we don’t always agree on the issues. With other family and friends on a more liberal field, I try my best to hear their side, too and often find myself right in the middle on big issues because I can understand both sides. I think it’s great to be willing to hear different sides and I will keep doing that, but not in an effort just to win approval.

So, the lesson from all of this? It could be that one should never publicly share their opinion on politics or other hot topics and only blog about fluffy things. But, that’s lame and not brave. Here’s what I know and will type out for all of us to see as a reminder:

Be mindful of the way you react to someone else. Stop. Pray. Breathe. Then you can respond, if you still feel led. (another great tip from my pastor)

Be willing to slow down and listen to the other side. They feel just as passionate about it as you do.

So long as you are being respectful, you are FREE to share your thoughts and opinions.

Not everyone is going to like you. And they may even say ugly words. That’s OK.

When you respond inappropriately out of strong emotion or act ugly to someone, tough up and seek their forgiveness! What a beautiful example that can be.

Overall, if you know and trust in the Bigger Picture, you are FREE in Christ.

Trump, There It Is!

I’m processing and stewing over the presidential election results from earlier this week. Facebook has been flooded, as expected, but many of the posts have been slaps in my face and I have been fluctuating between frustration, sadness, fear, and confusion. Yesterday I read something along the lines of, “If you voted for Trump, be ready to explain to your Muslim, gay, and/or black friends why you don’t love or support them”. Today I was extremely disheartened to hear of school-aged children that are frightened for deportation or judgment. It should not be this way and something is clearly wrong.

Trump is sexist and crude. That I don’t deny. Where I stray from some of the people I love on this issue is that I don’t see where he is a racist and hateful. I don’t understand why someone believes that he wants a “white America”. I feel that the media has done a “quality” job in bashing and twisting his words and not acknowledging any clarifications he may have made to mend misunderstandings. What I see is that he clearly does not think before he speaks, nor is he “politically correct” in the things he tends to say. That became misconstrued to mean he’s a racist and hates people unlike him.  I think he doesn’t want illegal criminals crossing over into our country and he wants to do something drastic to stop the flow of criminals bringing both danger and drugs into our country. I think he doesn’t want extreme Islamists coming into our country and plotting dangerous ISIS-related terrorist attacks on our soil, not a Muslim family wanting new opportunities in America. The video showing him allegedly mocking a disabled man…the videos of him doing the same hand motions when describing other non-disabled people, even in the same speech,were honestly very convincing to me that he did not do what he’s accused of doing. This is not me trying to find excuses for the man. Why would I? I am honestly confused and honestly frustrated. It is so interesting to me that I can see this so differently than other people in my life and that’s not meaning that they should be seeing it the way I do. To me, it seems the media hates him so much and they took his tacky way or maybe even inaccurate way of saying certain things and have blown them up in an outrageous way, to the extend that we have children scared and frightened because they’ve been told that Donald Trump hates them. It should not be this way! They (the media) were trying to make certain Clinton won and as a result, have helped to spread this fear. On top of that, the real crazy citizens that do hate like that, feel like they have the right to spew it out on others and think Trump represents their beliefs, too, and I just don’t think it’s the case.

I’m not an idiot for thinking that either, but of course I’ve been indirectly accused of it. Frankly, it pisses me off that I, someone that circled the bubble next to Donald J. Trump, am being lumped into a group being labeled as racist, heartless, hateful, etc. Are there “white sexist men” out there who hate gays, blacks, Muslims? Sadly, yes. Are they the majority of voters that elected him? That’s doubtful. I have been made to feel that I am not allowed to feel ANYTHING except what YOU say is right. I do not hate ANYONE. I do not spew hatred in any direction! I simply see things differently than you and have looked at the issues: concerns on terrorists and illegal criminal activity, abortion, freedom of speech and religion…and made a decision. I know it’s the people-pleasing tendency I have that makes me care so much what others feel about me and that I shouldn’t care, but I do; mainly because I want them to know that I honestly see it differently than they do, and although it’s so strange that we can be so different, that should be ok.

On a slightly different note, if this hate hadn’t been misconstrued, I wonder if Trump would be an somewhat ideal candidate for all political parties. He seems balanced on some of the important issues. Unlike a stereotypical Republican, he doesn’t hate Planned Parenthood and sees the good they do (besides abortions). I also don’t believe he’s against gay rights for marriage equality.

What is to be done at this point? I’m frightened for now. I’m hoping that with time and continued clarification over Trump’s intended plans, that everyone will feel safer and calmer. As my Dad would say, “it is what it is” at this point, and we as Americans need to do the best we can. The hate-spewing and riots ain’t doing the trick though.

I Don’t (Wanna) Give a Crap!

I have a good friend who is a big-time people pleaser and I can really relate. I’m tired of caring so much about what other people think of me. Are you one of those that don’t worry much about what other people think? Do you have a “girl power” attitude and are just naturally proud to be you and can say, “I don’t give a crap what people think of me”? I am sometimes doubtful of that persona and wonder if anyone really feels that way, but I imagine some do and I envy that quality. I think back to a couple of guys I knew back in the day that acted like tough cookies with sarcastic responses given left and right, but in reality, they were just as self-conscious as I was. I think we all care to a certain extent, but I’m more on the unhealthy end of the spectrum and I’m ready for a change. Last night at a party, I prayed again, “Help me to just be me” and today I tried to be extra mindful of it, but it is much harder than I’d like. P.S. I overthink things. That might be the problem!

My brain wants everyone to like me. I don’t mean that I desire to win the “most popular” award, but just “approved” by a variety of people. The ultra-trendy gal (and you’ll notice that I lost the chance of describing myself as trendy seeing as I just used the word “gal”)that I occasionally run into, my neighbors, the mail lady, my kid’s teachers and fellow moms at school, even family members…I try to keep up my smile and hope they think I’m “cool” enough, or even more than that, I want them to think I’m kind and friendly enough. It sorta makes me tired.

I’ve said before that I don’t always feel the need to wrap faith into this blog of mine, but it inevitably finds its way there; especially on a topic that has to do with my value. I can go to verses in the bible that serve as reminders of what is most important when it comes to my worth and how I’m ultimately seen: Psalm 139:13-14 says “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” I have been created on purpose and am loved very much. I don’t need constant approval of others, but I also don’t want to be a big grump that doesn’t smile at anyone either. I think it can be a tough balance and may be harder for folks like me (and other friends I know) who tend to lean more on hoping others like us. Another encouraging verse on this matter comes from Zephaniah 3:17, and one of my very favorites: “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” He adores us!

Knowing I don’t have to have anyone’s approval can feel like a relief and that’s what I love about verses like the one above; it serves as a sweet reminder to my little heart. But knowing it, and then living it, is hard. However, I also think that if we can practice resting on that truth of being loved so deeply by our Creator and that it is enough, it will only naturally allow us to want to be genuinely kind and friendly to others (not talking every moment of every day here because we are humans living life).

I wear an extremely bright, possibly too-bright, neon shirt to exercise sometimes and it says, “Be the Light” in reference to Matthew 5:14-16 where it says,You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Isn’t that a beautiful picture? I don’t want it to place a burden on ourselves to strive to always be liked, but rather rest in our God-given value and allow Him to work through us to love others and glorify Him.

Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby

Why don’t I just jump right in and write a really awkward list of some of the song bites that I have stashed away in my brain from when I was a kid:

“Let’s talk about sex, baby. Let’s talk about you and me.”

“Freak me, Baby, awe yeah. Let me play with your body, baby, make you real hot.”

“I need $50 to make you holler, I get paid to do the wild thing”

“Boom, boom, boom, let’s go back to my room…”

“I wanna sex you up, all night!”

I could go on and on (till the break of dawn. ha!) and make myself and most readers continue to squirm and have sweaty palms. Did my parents know I was listening to such inappropriate songs at a young age? I doubt it. One of the funniest jokes a friend and I have is over the overtly sexual piano sheet music that she bought and we played and sang together as young girls. Oh, how our mothers would have cracked if they’d known! Has mainstream music always had an edge to it that required older folks to declare, “Those young kids and their loud music!!” Sure. But, do we really have any clue how sex has infiltrated our current generation of kids and teens beyond just the lyrics in mainstream songs? I don’t think so.

I have twice now seen a commercial advertising a new reality show and one of the quotes coming from a 20-something girl was, “Am I still bang-able?” Yikes! It’s the norm. It’s what young ladies (and guys) are seeing everywhere. I know the basic idea of sexuality being woven into music and entertainment is nothing new because it has been a risqué piece of many former generations, but again, I don’t think we really have a solid understanding of how entertainment and social media is distorting sex for both Millennials and beyond. The YouTube videos bombarding our youth about sexuality, the pressure to be Instagram ready with just the right selfie, the television shows like Keeping Up With the Kardashians that are portraying what our young girls should look like and act like and talk like. Modesty has gone out the window. Am I sexy? Am I hot? Am I “bang-able”?

This past weekend, I attended an extremely interesting and informative conference on sexuality. It was from a biblical perspective, but it was no holds barred as it covered almost every aspect of sexuality in the mainstream culture, from same-sex attraction, pornography, the biblical definition of both women and sexuality, singleness, how to address it with kids, etc. I was thankful to get a nitty-gritty discussion going on this issue because I don’t want to lay low on this as my kids grow. As the conference’s guest speaker, Melanie Cogdill (managing editor for Christian Research Journal), emphasized, God created sex and we must talk about it age-appropriately, frankly and regularly. Does it make me squirm a bit to think about bringing up these issues with my children? You betcha. But, it’s a part of my job and as I try to do with our Christian faith in general, I want my kids to know what they believe and why they believe it. That requires an open and welcoming environment at home where they can ask anything they’d like and feel comfortable sharing any feelings they have. Is that far-fetched? Maybe, but it can at least can be the goal. 

What I learned this weekend that was so incredibly important to remember, but that initially sounds like it’s removed from the issue of sexuality, is that of our core belief in God. Without a moral compass that was instilled by our Creator, what value is found in modesty or sexuality modeled in the bible? Why not fall head first in to the sexual revolution that’s taking place in our current times? As Melanie Cogdill said, “It all goes back to Genesis 1-3.” Do we believe in God? If so, do we believe that the Word of God is our authority? If so, what is the biblical definition of sexuality?

I can think of many ways that my own perspective on sex was distorted and most of that was from the exposure I had and lack of any memorable conversations that may have helped. I don’t write this to lay fault on my parents because how many millions of other families typically avoid it because of it’s awkwardness? It only increases my concern for our up and coming generations with the seemingly quadruple amount of exposure they have nowadays and leaves me wondering how they will view sex as it pertains to marriage. How do they think they need to look in order to attract someone from the opposite sex? What language, forward flirty-ness, or sexiness must they exude in order to get attention?

It feels like a drowning fad to consider the idea that girls dress modestly and that boys are gentle and encourage girls to act like a lady. I have an entire future blog idea on how we, alongside other parents in the same peer group, can hopefully support our kids through the dating phase, but for today, I’m leaving you with this: If God created sex for good, and as Tim Keller described it, “Sex is God’s appointed way for two people to reciprocally say to one another, ‘I belong completely, permanently, and exclusively to you.'”, then how are we helping to encourage this truth, whether that’s in our own marriage bed, in relationship with others if we are single and/or dating, or in guiding our children? It’s a question I’ll be asking myself, too.

Sources:

Crowe, J. (2016, July 28) 5 Lessons My Parents Taught Me About Sexuality [Blog Post]. Retrieved from https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/5-lessons-my-parents-taught-me-about-sexuality

Cogdill, Melanie, (2016 October) Conference on Biblical Sexuality at Covenant Presbyterian Church, Lakeland, FL