Cheerful Thoughts & A Thankful Heart

It’s been a good week, y’all.

I know a lot of these posts are about a theme (I say “a lot” like I actually have a lot) but right now I just want to write about what’s been going on around here. So here goes!

Part One: The Proposal

So, I’m a part of a few different friend groups. The one in question involves myself, Callie, Kayla, Ben, Brandon, & Reilly. Kay & Rei got engaged last Sunday. #bridesmaidstatus

Part Two: The Parentals

When I first got home for the summer from college, things were really tense with my parents. They wanted to go back to when I was in high school (don’t be fooled-it was only last summer) while I wanted to stick with dorm life. Staying out when I wanted to, keeping my room how I wanted to, taking a shower without fear of using up all the hot water, and eating out regularly. So things got more and more tense, and finally we got in an argument. But we talked it out, and now we’re all fine!

Part Three: The Coworkers

Did I mention that I love the people I work with? At the snowcone stand, they’re all in my age range, and we all get along (For the most part. I was subjected to a ten minute speech on why letting gays be in Boy Scouts was a terrible awful no good very bad thing. Poor thing didn’t realize he’s becoming his father.) At the school, it’s the people I work for – the Political Science/Criminal Justice professors. They’re so fantastic. And I quote:

“Maggie, you’re at the time in your life when you can do whatever you want. You can pick up and move whenever and wherever. It’s great! One time, I picked up and moved to Mexico for a year under the name Esther – I spoke perfect Spanish, so no one suspected a thing! But once you have kids, the nights at Guitars are over!

Part Four: The Close Encounter

This summer, I’m going to get to teach a class with my old youth minister at a summer camp at LCU called Encounter. And the kicker? It’s over redemption (See my post Comparisons, you’ll understand why this topic is in fact a kicker). And Ev even asked if I’d talk about how it’s impacted my life, and how I’ve handled redemption, and then we’re going to have a prayer station where the students can come and talk to/pray with one another – or me!!! I CAN’T WAIT.

Part Five: The Winchesters

I’m officially in season 7 of Supernatural. 

Part Six: The Bionic Woman

One of my best friends, Jenae, has been battling severe fibromyalgia for about a year and a half now. She just had a surgery where they implanted these little pulse thingies that minimize her pain, and for the first time since she had to drop out of college last semester I got to hug her. I almost cried I was so happy when she got up to come answer the door herself. The pain has been debilitating, and hopefully now she can return to the normal life of a nineteen year old girl (she is one of the youngest to receive her procedure). (You can check out her awesome photography at & hear some more about her story as she updates it on her blog at http://seeinglifethroughsixnineteen.blogspot.com/) Kay, Rei, Ben, Brandon and I all went over to her house and ate dinner and watched POTC (the first one, of course) and laughed so hard! I don’t remember the last time I heard Jenae laugh like that. It was fantastic. God works miracles, guys. Rarely in the time frame we ask for, but He does.

Gatsby (SPOILER: This Isn’t A Review)

@SirJayGatsby is a spoof Twitter account of Jay Gatsby, the famous character. Sometimes, I like the tweets that come from the account. Things like “Never give up on someone you really want, old sport.” and “Someone will always be prettier. Someone will always be smarter. Someone will always be younger. But they will never be you.”. But sometimes, there are things that I absolutely do not think are okay. Like the tweet that says “A girl is happiest when she knows that you make her your everything, in front of everyone, every time.”

Sure, that would be sweet. In theory. But theory hardly ever plays out in real life. 

Point one: Why would you want the pressure of being someone’s everything?

The dream of most teens, as spurred on so violently by media, social networking, and stories, is to be someone’s “everything”. The NotebookTwilight, you name it. Even the stories that are good often have this sense of “everything”. But isn’t that too much pressure? Relationships can’t function when there’s that expectation. There’s an episode of Supernatural (one of my personal favorites) in which a djinn grants a man a wish: that this girl that he’s been infatuated with for his entire life would fall in love with him, and BOOM! She’s obsessed with him. And you can tell that it isn’t right. It’s off, she puts every single thing before him. It gets to the point where even he starts to question the relationship. And breaking an infatuation is very difficult.

If you’re under the pressure to be someone’s everything, you’re no longer free to live a life in service to community. And while it’s not by any means wrong to be in love (in fact, it’s right. It saves your life), being someone’s everything is detrimental. You break under the pressure and the love becomes a hinderance which hardens the heart rather than something that opens you up to a life of compassion.

 

Point two: This is grossly unfair to the male population.

Women are always complaining about how we are objectified and held to impossible standards of beauty and grace and perfection. But often we don’t realize that we turn around and do the same thing to guys. We expect guys to be a Prince Charming who puts us ahead of everything. And while we shouldn’t “settle for less”, we also can’t set expectations so viciously high. It breaks guys down in the same way that lingerie advertisements break women down: doubt, reinforced, crushes souls and hearts and sends us into a spiral headed down fast.

Personally, I don’t want a guy who makes me his everything. I mean yeah, I want to be up there in importance. But his everything? I can’t handle that pressure, and I don’t think I can ever make anyone my everything in return.

 

Dear Gatsby, 

You’re fabulous. But it’s more than okay if you don’t make the woman you love your everything.

Adios, Old Sport.

Living Foolishly & Expectations

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So, when I was first on Facebook (sixth or seventh grade) I joined tons of groups.

…It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Anyway, I was a part of a group that was “You were attractive till you put a cigarette in your mouth” or something like that. It was my way of getting to voice my beliefs to the outside world of Facebook, populated by mostly other middle schoolers. At that time, my beliefs were pretty much the same as my parent’s beliefs and my grandmother’s beliefs and my friend’s beliefs and my church family’s beliefs. (At least, the loud members of that family’s beliefs.) I never really experienced a rebellion because I was always squelched when I did. The most rebellious thing I did was write a paper on gay rights in my junior year English class in high school. I openly talked about the fact that even though I’m a straight Christian, I feel like it isn’t okay to deny the right to marry to any two consenting adults to my friends one night at my house, and my parents overheard. They were pretty upset with me for this, and demanded that I went back to my friends to tell them that I didn’t believe that being gay was right. (Apparently they only heard “gay” and freaked out.) So, I went back out to my friends and told them exactly what my parents had asked me to say. But my friends understood me, and we went on with life. It’s still something that my parents periodically try to convince me I’m wrong about, but I’m not budging from my views.

Well, now I’m in college, and I’m old enough to smoke, so I’m expanding my experience a bit. Part of the thrill of smoking is the chance of getting caught. My best friends and I will smoke a cigar every now and then, but we make sure not to do it too often because we’re more terrified of getting hooked than of getting caught. But the best part of smoking a cigar? I can tell you what, it isn’t when you get smoke blown in your face because you’re standing with your face to the wind. It’s the fact that I am finally doing something stupid. Something reckless, something that is generally frowned upon. This has led to a few other sporadic moments of stupidity. Like going to Guitars (a local dance/bar) the night before my 8 A.M. final in Western Civilizations, or like standing up through the sunroof in my friend’s car while going 50, or like deciding to go on and tell my friend about this guy that I had a crush on even though I kinda feel like that’s bad luck, going to see R-rated movies, staying the night at guy’s houses, and carrying a pocket knife in my back pocket pretty much everywhere I go [I know, John Bender would be proud, right?]. I guess I’m just trying to live more and more foolishly because I don’t want my life to have been always cookie cutter. I want to be able to relate to people I work with, and I want to say that I didn’t always try to exceed expectations.

Expectations kind of suck. They’re there to motivate, but a lot of the time they end up just confining our minds and our spirits to little boxes. Some boxes are tall and slim, like when you are expected to do great things…but as a certain person in a certain way. Some are long and squatty, like when you’re confined to class, gender, or racial expectations. When you’re put in a box, it’s natural instinct to try and break free. For example, you never, ever, tell a little kid not to touch something, because the first thing that they’re gonna want to do is touch it. Because I said so is just about the worst reasoning there is – and that applies to all ages. I don’t think I’ll ever be okay with being bossed around “because I said so” style, and unfortunately that’s pretty much what I’ve gotten for most of my life. It’s like people get so tired of having to explain themselves when they feel like they shouldn’t have to that they just stop trying and just say “I said so”. Heck, I’ve done that before as a counselor at camp I’m sad to say. Doesn’t make it right though. If anything, it backfires. 

Take, for example, banned books. I have two theories on people who ban books.

Theory 1: They’re a bunch of stuffy old men who are so concerned with how they think things should be run that they forget that people need to be free to think for themselves. Or they’re genuinely concerned and feel like this is the best way to go about things.

Theory 2: They’re the freaking coolest people ever. Their thought process is

  1. People who change the world/have the capacity to change the world are people who write banned books and/or read banned books.
  2. Banned books are going to be more appealing to people who want to cause change than other books.
  3. Why don’t we ban books that are potential catalysts for social change so that we get these people to read them.
  4. BOOM. WORLD PEACE.

I would like to think that they fall more in line with Theory 2. But Theory 1 is still very plausible, and either way, the thought process of people of the Theory 2 variety is in play. Because “because I said so” doesn’t work. Expectations don’t work. We need to be free to be foolish, to make stupid choices, to smoke and fight and go to bed at all hours of the morning because we need to make sure that we are making our choices for the right reasons.

That, I feel, is why God gave us free will. Who wants love to be programmed? Or making the right choice? He wants us to do what he wants because we want to, because we think it’s right. Not because it’s what is expected of us or because we have to. And the same should go for us, human to human. We need to realize that we’re going to make stupid decisions, and that our friends, brothers, sisters, parents, our children are going to do the same.

Comparisons

When I’m an old woman I hope to be working with teens who struggle with depression and suicide. Everyone needs compassion, but these days it seems all we do is compare one another and ourselves. We give ourselves numbers to describe ourselves. You know who else used numbers to identify individuals? The Nazis. Gah.

If you’re like me, then you’ve prided yourself on not caring your entire life, which is a load of baloney. Of course I’ve cared. I just always tried to ignore it. But I’m kind of tired of never being the one who gets a double take, ya know? So it looks like I’m losing weight. To fit in. To get approval.

This me would make convicted middle school me cry.

But that’s not what it needs to be like.

Love yourself. Take care of yourself. Believe that you deserve compassion. But above all, make sure that those around you know that they deserve compassion. We have to break this vicious cycle of self hatred by spreading compassion.

Still not convinced that you deserve love? Well I hate to break it to you, but you are loved. And my proof of this is Biblical. Christ died for all of us, before we were even close to being alive. He died for the men and women who died before he was on earth, and for those who would be there once he was gone back.

To say that I’m a bit of a worrier is an understatement. I had one of my semi-regular panic attacks the other night, about fear. I was terrified that I wasn’t doing enough, that if I were to die tomorrow, I’d go to Hell. What I couldn’t get out of my head was the verse where the people die and say “But Lord, didn’t we do anything you asked?” and God says “I never knew you.” I cried and cried and cried. Thank the Lord for my mom, who always talks sense into me.

Maggie, those are people who don’t have love in their hearts. Do you have love in your heart? You’re going to mess up. But God forgives us over and over and over again. Seventy times seven. And you remember the verse about how the birds and the lilies of the valley neither spin nor sew yet the Lord looks after them? And how much more does He look after you? Or the one about never giving your child a stone when he asks for bread, and how much more does He love us? Maggie, you are so loved. You can’t keep comparing yourself and what you do, are you trying to be Jesus? Because you can’t hold yourself to that. Nobody can. You are loved, just the way you are. And you want to help people? Get your degree, so you can go out and help people the way you want to, the way you can. Don’t you think you help people already? When you’re at work, and you’re kind to somebody, you help them. When you hold a door open, or when you smile at someone. It may not seem big, but don’t you feel better when others do that for you?

Somebody needs to give my mom a Nobel Peace Prize. The woman is fantastic.

So, after this, I went to church and we sang the song that says “Everyone needs compassion, a love that’s never failing, let mercy fall on me”. And I cried some more. (Good thing I was on the end of the pew, and the only person next to me was like two heads taller than me so nobody saw. I hate crying in front of people.)

We are harder on ourselves than anyone out there. We hate ourselves more, we hold ourselves to standards that we hold no one else to, and we beat ourselves up for not reaching these standards all the time. But just hearing that we are loved and that we deserve love helps. So show compassion, show love, and keep on living, because you are loved.

That Abercrombie guy probably just needs a hug.