Give Me Sex Jesus

Yesterday I saw on Twitter that there was a documentary screening in Pasadena for a movie called Give Me Sex Jesus about that insanely popular Evangelical movement True Love Waits which if you grew up in a church particularly in the last 20 years or so, you know all about it. And it has probably scarred you in some way.

I watched the short trailer and promptly got tickets for my boyfriend and I. In our relationship so far he and I have talked a lot about the things youth group told us about sex before marriage, things our parents, pastors, and friends did or did not teach us.

The weird shame feeling that comes with wanting someone.

The insane way a past can feel like you’re on a sinking ship that’s taking you into your future.

My boyfriend and I are sitting in the room before the documentary starts, I look around and I see people and couples of different sexual orientations all coming because their teenage years (and lets be real, their adult years too) were intensely impacted by this purity movement. I turned to my boyfriend and said, “Whether or not this movie is any good, it’s incredible to be in a room of people wanting to reconcile and make sense of this. So many open minds and hearts.”

The documentary shared stories from people who grew up in this era of pledging to wait till marriage. We heard stories from couples who did wait, couples who didn’t; gay, lesbian, and transgender men and women who had to try and find their identity in the midst of heavy un-acceptance and intolerance. Even heard a great deal from the man who began the entire movement, who without intending to, kind of screwed over a generation of youth’s sexual understanding. (Not that he feels responsible for it, anyway.)

There were so many moments in this humorous and very real documentary where someone would say something and I would think, “Yep, I’ve heard that a thousand times from my friends.” and “Mhmm, that’s always how I’ve thought too.”

So very many moments watching it where I could do nothing but shake my head.

A gay man named Chris shared his story in the documentary about growing up in an extremely Evangelical home, his grandparents founded Campus Crusade for Christ college ministry, he talked about when he was young his prayers were less that God would make him straight and more that God wouldn’t let him die while he was gay because it meant he’d go to hell.

I sighed, a heavy sigh. Heart aching.

Even worse though, after the film played there was a short panel, and Chris who shared his story was on the panel, and people asked questions. One guy in the audience asked Chris, in so many words, whether or not he had come to term with his faith while being homosexual. Chris said, “Am I a Christian? No.”

He went on to answer a bit further but as soon as he said no the tears began to pour down my face.

Thankfully it was the final question for the panel and as my boyfriend and I headed to the car I couldn’t hold back the tears.

I’m not asking your opinion on the subject, because I don’t care what it is, that answer… “No.” It tells me and it should tell you what a shit job Christians can do at loving.

Late in my high school years I walked with my dear friend through his journey of accepting that he was gay and through that acceptance he could not figure out how to hold onto his very real faith. A huge part of that was the lack of acceptance and love felt by the people who had helped mold him in his faith.

It was incredible hearing everything that was shared but that end note just shattered my heart.

Again, I am not interested in upsetting or hearing your beliefs on the matter. I’m telling you, something is wrong.

There were so many rough and insightful stories shared in the documentary and as easy and uneasy as it is for a group of 20-30 year olds in Los Angeles to watch it I hope it hits the people in the small town in Michigan where I grew up.

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This white girl and MLK Day.

I have the enjoyment of being the primary content writer for the blog I oversee where I work at The Giving Keys. On Friday I wrote a post about Martin Luther King Jr. Day to go up today. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so unqualified to write a blog post in my life.

Recently seeing the movie Selma re-stirred within me, and I am sure a great deal of others, the impact that this man has made on history. Particularly civil rights and African-American culture.

This is weird for me to attempt to write out and describe, but seeing Selma along with writing the post on Martin Luther King Jr. have had this way of making me feel the color of my skin. And the rotten history attached to this color.

I spent years of my life working with Detroit youth, where I was generally the only white girl in a room of young black girls that I counseled. And I adored it. I adored them. Adored, adored, adored. I had big plans to spend the rest of my life working with Detroit teens and then other plans happened. But through those years I came to understand and acknowledge race and racism in ways I otherwise never would have had the chance to. For that I am forever grateful.

I learned how ignorant hatred is, and how powerful love is.

I learned the sheer force that culture has on an individual.

I learned how difficult it is to reshape that culture.

Leaving the movie theater a couple weeks ago after seeing Selma, I couldn’t help that my stomach churned with that question of, “If you were alive in that time, in that location, which side would you have been on?”

No one wants to dare say such a thought aloud but I can’t imagine I am the only one who thought it. Believe me, I know it’s a disgusting question and it’s extremely hypothetical and really there is no way of knowing. I mean it was a different time, and place, and things are different now, right?

Re-listening to King’s “I Have A Dream” speech on Friday when writing the blog post one of the lines that stood out to me was this:

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality.

Maybe, things are not so different yet. We are not yet standing in the day that Martin Luther King Jr. dreamt of when our current events are still exactly that.

There are still sides. Tragically. Horrifyingly.

You still choose whether you stand on the side of paranoia and prejudice or do you stand on the side of peace and equality. In some ways we may be less naive and less hateful than years before, but we are still not where we should be.

At the Golden Globes last week Tina Fey made the joke, “the movie Selma is about the American Civil Rights Movement that totally worked and now everything’s fine.”

We are not where we should be. We are not where we should be when over 50 years later we are seeing the same issues, the same violence, the same preconceived notions without bothering to understand.

Everything is not totally fine.

I can’t help but look at the life Martin Luther King Jr. lived and wonder what things would be like if more of us viewed humankind the way he did. If more of us fought for peace and equality with even half the vigor that King did, what levels could we reach together?

Because that’s the thing, it has to be together. No one can do it alone.

It’s time to come together.

What are you looking for?

For some reason, I have been asked a lot lately what I’m looking for in my future husband. A lot. Like, maybe two dozen times thus far in 2014 have I had this conversation… That’s a lot…

The interesting thing is, each time I answer the question I get more sick of answering the question. Not because I think it’s a stupid question or not worth discussing. Today even, for the second time THIS WEEK, I found myself answering again what I’m looking for in my husband. Once I answered it I wished I hadn’t even said anything.

So I thought to myself on my way home from work this evening why this question has begun to get under my skin. Turns out it’s a really simple answer, it’s because I know what I want. I’m a very black and white person. (Though, I had to admit to myself awhile back that not everything is always black and white.)

I know what I want. To the level where I almost find it not worth talking about, though I’ve mentioned it before.

I’ve had these conversations with people about what they’re looking for in a spouse where they get this twinkle in their eyes and their voice grows so hopeful you would think they are sensing this ideal person is around the corner coming for them as we speak.

I almost envy that.

Years ago I sat in front of a guy friend I was falling very much in love with as he told me about the girl he was going to ask to coffee. My world stopped. My heart became tightly squeezed in a vice that didn’t release it for far too long.

Now, years later, I have come to realize what a deep insecurity I have formed from that moment. I feel like every guy I like is about to tell me about another girl they’re interested in that is not me. It’s only recently dawned on me how deep that fear goes.

When you’re part of a good community and everyone loves you and wants what’s best for you, you receive a lot of, “If he doesn’t like you, he’s crazy!”, “Obviously, there’s someone way better for you!”, amongst others. These are 98% wholly annoying and 2% slightly comforting. Realizing this insecurity has brought me to a place a reevaluating my identity and recalling my worth, what I know of me not just what people who love me will say. In general I would say I’m not an insecure person. I know who I am, I’m okay with who I am. But this one little thorn in my side can sting pretty good.

I’m not counting on a man to reverse this insecurity for me. But I am believing I will be the girl that gets asked out for coffee, not the one who hears about the girl worthy of a coffee date.

So, I know who I am and I know what I’m looking for. I can tell you on repeat what I want, what I won’t be settling for, and why I won’t be settling. Though I’d rather just show you in the way I live my life.

 

The majority of my heart.

There’s a few topics lately that have been turning over and over in my heart, constantly on my mind, unable to shut up about them. And since I have neglected this blog something real, I figured I would do what to me is the healthy thing–get it out in writing.

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A few weeks ago I finally saw a little movie called Short Term 12. One of the most real and beautiful movies I have ever had the privilege of watching. Being me, obviously, I cried my way through the entire movie. The movie, for those of you that haven’t seen it (which you promptly need to after reading this), it is about a girl that oversees a short term foster care unit, after having grown up in one herself. That’s all I’ll say about it now. Go watch it though.

A couple weeks ago I had a dream one night that my brother and sister-in-law had fostered a couple kids without telling the rest of the family, and they only announced it to us because they were adopting these kids and they were so excited and wanted us to celebrate with them. In the dream, I completely lost it. My jealousy was off the radar. I was so completely envious of them. Married, fostering, adopting… While I was still single, motherless me. In the dream, I left the celebration because I was so upsettingly jealous that I couldn’t handle celebrating. I woke up in tears.

Here’s the thing about me, I talk quite a bit about adoption in case you haven’t noticed. But, it’s not just “a thing I want to do”. I called my brother a few days after I had the dream and I told him about it. His question of course was, “Would that really be how you feel if we were adopting?” I said, “Right now, on some level, probably. Unfortunately. But I would also be so, so, so happy.” I explained it to him like two sisters, where the younger sister gets married before the older sister, the older sister can’t help but feel it was supposed to be her getting married first. I said to my brother that fostering and adopting isn’t something that’s big on my heart, it’s the majority of my heart.

The other day I was out to lunch with a friend and we saw this pale blond little girl with blue eyes, and my friend says to me,  “That’s what your kids will look like.” I looked at the little girl who had the same towhead hair color I had as a child and did not remotely feel like I was looking at my future kid. A few months back, my friends and I were getting brunch in Vegas before heading back to LA. In the restaurant sitting across from us was this beautiful family, I looked at their son, a little black boy with long curly hair sticking out all over his head. I remember saying out loud to my friends, then, that I felt like I was looking at my future child.

You can tell me my young age until you are blue in the face, but to my heart (not every single moment, but the majority of moments) it makes no sense to me why I am not already a mom.

Me. Career building/desiring me. Full of dreams and plans, and zero desire to be a housewife ever. Me.

It is not something I want to do, it is something I am.

 

I believe communication CAN exist.

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This past week I dedicated a ridiculous amount of thought time to figuring out what the hell was going on between me and this guy, when suddenly a new guy entered the scene seeming pretty great…

This has nothing to do with last week leading to Valentine’s Day, this has to do with last week being a regular week of life.

Sometimes I think, there has to be simplicity out there somewhere. There has to be a relationship that isn’t a minefield of confusing games and misunderstood words.

And I mean that far beyond the guy/girl aspect.

There must be a way to communicate well and have healthy relationships with those around you devoid of consistent pain.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about communication. I pride myself on being someone who was taught well how to communicate and resolve conflicts, literally–I spent years being taught those subjects. And Lord knows I don’t always ace them, but the amount of times I have had to go back and repair relationships because of miscommunications that happened ages ago is astonishing.

We are people, we are frail, we are all vulnerable whether we like to think so or not. But there must exist some rightful balance between honesty, vulnerability, and thick skin.

There must be a way to go through this life without growing more and more numb to emotions, and on the flip side, there must be a way to go through life without letting your emotions reign your behavior.

Unfortunately, I’m not offering any answers. This is a blog written by a girl on her way to gather wisdom, not a girl who has all the answers, remember?

But I do believe there is a happy medium. I’ve witnessed people that take care of themselves and others in a way that gentle and effortless, yet thoroughly practiced.

For myself, I think the beginning of finding that medium is to surround myself with people who handle their emotions well and communicate in a healthy way. If you want to be like someone, be around them, and it will happen. (Though that fact has positive and negative consequences attached.)

And for all of us, I think we should get in the habit of dealing with the thorn in our side the moment we feel it. Don’t wait for the pain and agitation to get worse than it could be.

He’s just not that into you.

Some girls I know are challenging themselves this year to try to find love. They’ve decided to go out on at least one date every month for 2014 looking for a love connection, something real to spark from a date.

This challenge was extended to me and for a few days I really considered it.

And then I decided not to.

I reference this often, but there’s this line from the show How I Met Your Mother where the lead character (a single guy, looking for the one) looks at his best friends (who are a solid couple that have been together for years) and he says, “Look at that, that’s how it’s supposed to be. Easy, simple. On some level, it has to just be easy.”

With Valentines Day soon approaching we’re all thinking about relationships. I have reached a point in my journey as a single woman (God that sounds cheesy, my apologies.) where I’ve realized that all the dating advice from youth group and church, and all those fabulous Christian dating books kind of massively screws you over in adulthood. They prepare you to meet “the one” at youth group, church, or the Christian university everyone attends.

What if you make it past those intersections without running into this supposed “one”?

Well, I will tell you this. If you make it past all those check points and you’re still single be aware the world of dating is much more like He’s Just Not That Into You than it is like the book Dateable. (Do you guys remember the book Datable?! Kill me now, please.)

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If he’s into you, he’s into you. Fortunately or unfortunately, that is honestly as simple and as complicated as it gets.

But for us girls I think there has to be a balance… A line between sitting still and waiting to be noticed by some prince charming character, and saying yes to every chump that Facebook messages you “We should hang out”.

Have standards, know your worth. Know what you want in a guy. Don’t hold still in life waiting for someone, go meet people face to face and see how you feel about them. Don’t decide not to even try, you are worth someone’s time and affections, but they will never know it if you stay in watching old Meg Ryan movies every weekend.

Jumping back to the How I Met Your Mother quote, that idea has kind of become a standard for me. I have couples around me that I look at and see how effortlessly they work together. I’m not saying they don’t work at their relationship Ben and Jen taught us all that marriage is work, but there are those that just fit each other perfectly. That is what I’m looking for. I’m not trying to find a Taylor Swift song in everyday life, I just want someone where spending everyday with them feels as normal as breathing.

Know what you want, ladies. And don’t become hopeless ever.

And just as a general tip, don’t go out with guys who ask you out via Facebook.

Legendary woman.

The other night I was at my friend’s place way too late. We were sitting on the couch talking about things and talking about nothing as it crept toward 2am when a wave of demanding exhaustion came over me. He was mid-story, and I remember thinking how I just wanted to fall asleep right then, as he was talking. Not because the story was boring or his voice was dull, but suddenly the idea of falling asleep to to someone’s voice seemed the idea of absolute comfort.

All throughout my childhood every time I slept over at my grandparents, when it was time for bed my grandma would sit with me and tell me the story of Goldie Locks and the Three Bears. Now, you’d somewhat expect a woman who at that point had been preaching for over half her life to be more likely to read me a Psalm or tell me the story of Ruth and Boaz, but no, my grandma would always tell me the story of Goldie Locks and the Three Bears.

Every single time she told it it sounded the same, never missing a detail, never skipping a line. She had different voices for Goldie and each of the bears. And every time she would tell it I would get caught up in the sound of her voice and it was always the most comforting feeling.

My grandma passed away on January 2nd of this new year. And although I am thrilled she’s in heaven it’s been an odd experience going through the mourning and missing while on the other side of the country from everyone who knew her, being unable to attend her funeral.

Jean Tulip was a pastor for 50-some years. A wife for just over 60. She could give sermons and hugs that would change lives. She’d answer the phone at any hour of the night to help others. She exemplified Christ’s love to hundreds, more like thousands, through her life. I couldn’t go anywhere in the state of Michigan without someone recognizing my last name and asking if I was related to Jean.

About 6 months ago my grandma asked me if there was anything of hers I wanted when she passed away. I thought for a minute. Then I told her I would be honored to have her Bible. The Bible she had through 50 odd years of being a pastor. She lit up, telling me how much she would love for me to have it.

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About 3 months ago as I was leaving Michigan to return to California my grandma told me that if she passed away while I was in California that I shouldn’t worry about trying to make it back for her funeral because I was with her while she was alive, and that mattered so much more.

She passed away 4 days after I left Michigan for a Christmas visit. And it was those words that brought me comfort in not being able to fly back out for the service.

She was so much to so many. But to me, she was grandma.

Of the women I’m related to, I am most like her. I have her strength (minus the ability to get dental work done without novocaine–not joking), her stubbornness (Lord have mercy, if you ever fought with Jean, you probably lost), and I like to think I have her insatiable love for others (I mean, I hope I do).

There’s really no other way to say it than to say she was one hell of a woman.

I’m thankful for her, I miss her, and I am so happy she’s in heaven because that was always where she belonged.

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