Put yourself out there

I wrote an article about breastfeeding. I dropped the F-bomb a lot. It turned out really ridiculous.

I realized something. When talking about breastfeeding, politics, or whatever the controversial issue may be…in the moment it can feel great to outshout or outsmart people who we think are wrong. However, in doing this those people likely aren’t going to change their minds even if they do back off. Instead, they will go to someone else who isn’t as smart or outspoken and fight with them. It seems to me we have only succeeded in passing the fighting along to someone else.

I don’t want to pass fighting to others. What do I want to pass to others? Kindness. Actually putting this into practice can be difficult. With certain people, it’s hard to deeply listen, look the person in the eye, and try to understand. We can choose to see difficult people as an opportunity to practice and an opportunity to be the person you want to be. Acting kind does not make us pushovers or weak people. It means we are strong.

Know who you are, the kind of person you want to be, and then go out there and do your best no matter what happens.

Living your values in life is just like breastfeeding.  Literally, all you can do is take your boobs out in front of God and everyone and do it.

Real Beauty is Modesty: Part 3

Are we morally obligated to other people to dress a certain way? I say no.

In my opinion, as long as someone has their basic hygiene met so that they are not emanating an odor into others’ personal space that’s all other people really owe the world.

What about in church? Aren’t women morally obligated to dress modestly? After all, if a women were to wear reveling clothing to church it could distract men and then they would not be able to concentrate on the service.

Even at church I stand by this statement: we are not morally obligated to other people to look a certain way.

I may wear a knee-length skirt to church with a short-sleeve top. Most people would think that my outfit is fine but others may think it is still too revealing. At that point, after I made a good-faith effort to dress myself based on my definition of an appropriate church outfit, I cannot worry about pleasing other people. If I am a distraction to men, it is not my problem, it’s theirs.

In church, we should look into our own hearts and think about why we are there. We want to listen to the service and learn something. Maybe we want to look nice too. Or maybe we just threw something on because we are stressed out and care more about making it there then dressing up. Our goal probably shouldn’t be to look sexy. However, it is not our job to determine what other people’s intentions are.  From time to time, we may see someone dressed a certain way and our initial reaction is something like, “Hey, that’s distracting. I came to church to hear the sermon and she is not letting me.” Instances like this can act as a reminder for ourselves. Really? Are you sure? How is she stopping you?

It can remind us to come back to ourselves and think, “I treat everyone with respect. I need to focus on myself, God, and the sermon. I need to remember that this other person is not just a female body but another human being.”

Real Beauty is Modesty: Part 1

“For women, real beauty is modesty.” This statement is from a book I’m reading.

Hmm. Let’s think about this statement literally.

I think of people I’ve seen who are covered up.  In some Christian denominations, women wear long skirts.  Nuns wear habits, Amish people wear Amish clothing, and Muslim women wear long skirts, sleeves and headscarves.  Modern American women sometimes dress modestly too like wearing a sweater over jeans.

Women who are dressed modestly can certainly still look pretty. Jeans and sweaters can look nice. Some long skirts are colorful and gorgeous. There are ways to intricately tie a hair scarf so it looks just striking as the fanciest hairstyle. Nuns, Amish people, and others who are dressed plainly can still look beautiful since simple dress can really makes a naturally beautiful face stand out.

Now what about people who wear revealing clothing?

I see people walking around in dresses and skirts in various lengths.  I see women at the gym wearing shorts, t shirts and tank tops. Women wear bikinis at the beach. I think many of them look beautiful too.

Do I see people who are not beautiful? Sure.

Reveling does not always equal attractive. Some who are dressed in revealing clothes don’t look so great. Sometimes the style is not the most flattering to that person.  Sometimes I see a woman constantly pulling down their skirt or pulling up their shirt to cover her cleavage and she just looks very uncomfortable rather than attractive. Sometimes it’s freezing out and girls are shivering in short skirts.

And modestly dressed people have the same issues. Sometimes the style not so flattering. A woman may look uncomfortable, stressed out, sick or tired. Having negative feelings will register on our faces and then we do not look as beautiful.

Sometimes we can cover up skin issues or dark circles with makeup, try to dress a certain way, do our hair and force a smile on our faces so we can still try to look nice even when we are not feeling well on the inside. If one does not believe in wearing makeup or showing her hair she would not have the hair/makeup options. However, that type of person also saves on time and the stress of going through these cover-ups and can save her energy to work on whatever her real issues are at that time.

Neither modesty nor showing some skin can guarantee beauty. It seems to me that real beauty depends on being happy, healthy, confident, and at peace on the inside.

W.W.J.D

W.W.J.D. or “What Would Jesus Do?” is a popular Christian phrase. It seems so simple but trying to apply it in real life can be really hard. Would Jesus watch Titanic or Friends or read Harry Potter? Finding the answer takes some deep looking.

Let’s try to apply W.W.J.D to watching the show Friends. Should I watch Friends? Should I let my teen watch Friends?

Let’s look at Friends.  It’s funny! It shows this great group of friends.  It’s a secular show so the friends do not go to church but sometimes there are still good moral lessons like the time Phoebe somehow got credited $5000 in her bank account and she decided be honest and tell the bank. When the friends lie to each other, like when Monica starts hanging out with Julie, Ross’ new girlfriends, and lies to Rachael so not to hurt her feelings, they always end up feeling bad and telling the truth in the end.

Although it has some moral lessons, the show is still risqué by Christian standards. Sometimes the friends drink alcohol and have premarital sex.  Premarital sex-big no-no. Casual sex is a bigger no-no.

The Bible sometimes refers to light as truth. Finding the truth takes thinking. It takes awareness, mindfulness and time. The light is a muscle that takes work and maturity to develop.  Should a teen watch Friends? I say sure. But the best way for a teen or anyone to watch Friends is with mindfulness. The ideal situation would been for the teen to watch Friends with their parents. Afterwards talk about issues in the episode such as premarital sex or casual sex and really talk without judgement.  Questions like, “What happens in casual sex when one person get emotionally attached and the other does not want to make a commitment?” There is an episode where Chandler sleeps with Janice and Chandler wants a commitment and Janice does not. Chandler gets really sad. Some people may believe that casual sex is just fine if it’s between two consenting adults who use protection and are up-front to each other about their intentions. But, as we can see in this episode, casual sex always runs the risk of things getting messy emotionally.

Also point out the fact that this show is fiction and does not mean “everyone is doing it” in regards to sex in general.  Watching the show with mindfulness and talking with your teen would be a much richer and valuable learning experience than simply banning a teen from watching non-Christian shows.

We also have to protect ourselves by avoiding images-violent, sexual or otherwise.  Sometimes it’s not worth it to look at a bad violent or sexual movie-if one does not find it entertaining anyway why watch it? It’s just a waste of time and energy. Watching violent or sexual images that serve no purpose will just disturb our peace later on. I would rather save my energy and time for truly excellent books, movies, and T.V shows.

If we isolate ourselves from non-Christian people and things we miss out on some positive people and experiences. My opinion: Friends and Titanic were excellent productions and Harry Potter was an excellent book series. A lot of effort and care were put into their productions. Even though one may not agree with some of the actions of the characters if we view excellent books, movies, and T.V shows with mindfulness and awareness we can guard our minds and build our understanding of the world and other people.

In the Bible, Matthew says that Christians should be a light on a hill. To actually build our light and understanding we cannot completely isolate ourselves from the rest of the world or worse-pretend we are isolating ourselves and then watch a certain movie, T.V show, or read certain books in secret. Honesty is part of that light too.

The light of God is everything good.  It is love, kindness, awareness, mindfulness, honestly and truth. We can ask ourselves what Jesus would do when faced with a certain movie, T.V show, book, website, or conversation. Asking this can help us know when to pass something up and when to view or partake with mindfulness. And afterwards, we can talk to one another about it with kindness and the intent to help. That is an art which will take a lifetime of practice. Doing these things will build the light in each one of us.