I think you and I both know that I don’t really know what I’m doing here. We’ve established that, right? I like to write. I like to be silly. I like to write silly stories. I especially like to write about my family. I like Jesus. Sometimes I write about that too. Sometimes people read what I write. Sometimes they even like it (love you Mom and Dad). Some people don’t. That’s all I know. So, let’s get that straight, before you go off believing I think I’ve got answers. I don’t. I mostly have questions.
When I have time, I like to read other people’s blogs. I think it might help me figure out what I’m doing. I especially like to read blogs from people who share my faith in Christ.
I read this one Christian blog about bikinis. This author had a humble tone. He was kind of funny too. I bet if I met him, I’d really like him. He thought Christian women have no business wearing bikinis.
I do agree that Americans are way over the top with their supersized food and undersized clothing. We’re just a, “go big or go home” type of culture. That attitude probably doesn’t always serve us well. Moderation is pretty cool.
The last time I went on a tropical vacation, I think my swim suit would have received a Vatican stamp of approval. In fact, it was so modest, I felt sort of outlandish in that environment. So, it’s not like I disagree with this guy based on my personal preferences. Yet, here I am, disagreeing with him.
I don’t want people to tell me what to wear. I really don’t. I have never thought about telling other people what to wear, but I wouldn’t want to do that either.
When I was a freshman in college I went to a sweet little Christian school that was not meant for me. This was a really good school down South. Many humble, Christ-like people graduated from that school. Lives were changed there. They had some rules.
One day I went to the cafeteria for lunch. I was stopped at the entrance. I was told I couldn’t enter the cafeteria because I was wearing a knee length skort. Yep. You’re reading that correctly. I was once a sinner, and wore skorts. You might think that’s just a fashion sin. At that school they thought it was a sin sin.
I was so ill prepared for rules at that age. I remember it took me a decent amount of time just to absorb the information from the dress code enforcer. I stood there at the cafeteria entrance, waiting for him to smile. I thought he might tell me he was joking. I thought he might say he just wanted to see how I would react if he acted in a way that was unreasonable. He didn’t do any of that. He was serious. He was unreasonable.
I didn’t get it. It was such a nice school. Why were they being so weird? At 18-years-old, I had no personal experience with adults trying to micro manage my choices. I was not used to it. I did not like it.
On a spectrum of typical family life, I would compare my upbringing to the Waltons or Little House on the Prairie. We lived pretty innocently. So why don’t I remember having a bunch of rules? I don’t think we had a firm curfew. Nobody told us who we could be friends with, what to eat, drink, who to vote for, or what to wear. Everything my sisters and I knew about our parents confirmed their Christian beliefs. Why weren’t they strict? Isn’t that a hallmark of a Christian household? If it is, it shouldn’t be. Being strict doesn’t work.
That’s saying a lot, isn’t it? I’m usually more diplomatic. Let me rephrase. In my experience and time on this Earth, I have not seen evidence that being strict works. Better?
I can only know the stuff I know. What I know is that I have too many adult friends who went to strict, Christian schools when they were young, or had super strict parents. Now they reject Christianity. I have so many of these friends that I’ve come to a conclusion that there’s a connection between being strict and rebellion. Those adults I know are hurt and bitter. They want nothing to do with Christianity. That makes me sad, because it is my belief that Christianity isn’t what hurt them. Weird people who are strict did.
Did feeling judged for wearing a skort help develop me spiritually? Let me think back. I remember being embarrassed and my feelings were kind of hurt. Nope. It didn’t. I asked my self what good can come from all of that. I still do.
When I was a young mother, a really nice mom gave me a book. She said it was a great read, and would really help me learn how to discipline. I respected this young mom, and I suck at discipline; two good reasons to read the book.
I have never hated a book more in my life; I am talking about real hate. Usually, I work at keeping an open mind. I’m slow to develop strong opinions. I instantly had a strong opinion on this book. My opinion was that it belonged in our trash.
The author and his wife had a lot of children. The author’s philosophy involved breaking the child’s spirit. He compared children to horses. He spanked a lot, with a switch. He described what kind of switch to use. I’m sorry. That’s hard to even write. Did I mention what an awful book it was? Like reading a nightmare.
He said his oldest children were proof that his methods worked. They never questioned him, and they were always, instantly obedient. His methods proved to me that he’d actually scared his kids to death. Congratulations. He calls his methods discipline. I call them something else.
I felt sorry for the children in that book. And there’s nothing funny about adults hitting kids in to submission. But the methods discussed became a joke in our house. I found them so absurd.
When I described what I was reading to my children, their eyes became wide. I think they started behaving better just hearing about this guy. So, I guess he helped me after all. Too bad, I think he is so, so wrong. I’ll keep my naughtier kids with unbroken spirits, thanks anyway weird, strict guy.
My parents were not weird. They were calm and respectful. They gave us room to make mistakes and disagree with them. They heard us. Kids want to be heard. They gave us plenty of work to do, and we couldn’t afford to be spoiled. They never told us what the rules were for being a Christian. Their Christianity was personal. It was a relationship between God and them, and it happened in their hearts.
I’m trying to emulate that combination now that I’m responsible for my own kids. I can’t really know if it’s working, can I? It’s too soon. And you should know that just because I think out loud, in public, doesn’t mean I’m right.
I just know that I won’t be telling my kids that there are rules for being a Christian. I will tell them that being a Christian does not happen from the outside in. It happens from the inside out. It is a condition of your heart. It’s a personal relationship between you and God. Your personal relationship with God will help you make decisions about what you should say, do, eat, drink and wear. We don’t get to decide what God is telling other people about all of those things, and other people don’t get to decide what God is telling us.
I find talk about clothing and spankings tedious, really. I’m sorry for that. I would rather talk to my kids about being kind, faithful, humble, patient, self controlled, and joyful. I’d like to model that too. I want to tell them that they are going to have to determine for themselves whether they believe Jesus has the power to affect their lives. I want to tell them that’s what I believe, and that is what I have experienced. I want to tell them that divine relationship will be a solid foundation for building healthy human relationships and weathering life’s most violent storms.
I want to talk to my kids about all that, but mostly I want to show them. After that, my job is done. Then they get to decide what they want for their hearts on their own, and my job will be to love them no matter what.
I don’t want to try to control people. I’d be terrible at it. I do want to celebrate faith. My Faith is my light house.
A sweet friend sent me this song, listening always helps me celebrate! You might like it too.