“To me, if you’re not being honest with someone you’re not being kind to them, and I think [people] are associating kindness with niceness, and I associate kindness with the action of loving. So niceness is agreeable, it’s people pleasing, it’s pleasant. Niceness says ‘let’s not talk about politics.’ And I don’t want to sound like I’m knocking on niceness because niceness is great, niceness is pleasant, and agreeableness at the right moment is just lovely. You can’t constantly be confronting everyone all the time. But niceness doesn’t have hard conversations. The action of loving someone is about working toward the good of them, the good of you, and the good of the world. And sometimes that means having a hard conversation…that’s really uncomfortable, but when you do that, you’re seeing what you believe they could be and saying ‘we need to work through this hardness to get to the good on the other side.’”
- Tessa Violet
These words have been marinating in my brain a lot the past few days.
I speak my mind a lot. I've spoken my mind about politics a lot. As a journalism student, studying media coverage of politics is the majority of what I do day-to-day, and sharing what I know to be true based on what I've learned is something I will never stop doing. It's my job. It's my responsibility.
But of course, in an election season, being the one who speaks up makes you controversial. You become THAT person whose facebook feed is filled with political posts. You're seen as always being negative and a "downer." You lose friends. You get called names.
In the past semester alone, I've been called ignorant, arrogant, disrespectful, insulting, and judgmental. I've been called a "feminazi cunt" and a "stupid twat bitch." I've been told that the Christian ideal I should be following is to not "attack" anyone for what they believe. I've been told that speaking out against injustice is the same as slander.
Holding people accountable is not done out of hatred. Holding people accountable is not slanderous. Holding people accountable is not an attack. Anyone who has known me for a decent length of time knows I unapologietically question authority. I do not climb on the "happy train" for the sake of making others comfortable. I am not passive.
This isn't to say that I engage all the time. I do not bring up hard subjects on a whim. We're in a age of instantaneous communication where thoughts can be spread before our brains are done processing them, and that has its own value, but it's not how I operate. I write drafts. And drafts. And drafts. Any facebook post of mine that is more than a sentence long was written in a separate document, left overnight to be looked at with fresh eyes, then re-drafted again before posting. I don't say a lot, but when I do, it is well deliberated and it makes a point - probably a point worth considering.
Having hard conversations isn't the easy route, but it's a route I continue to take. I can respect the office of the presidency without respecting the person in it. I can give the president a chance without giving him a pass. I can be kind and loving without being nice and agreeable.
Nice girls don't change the world.
It isn't uncommon to see cutesy blog posts directed toward Christan women telling them things to do/not to do , how to be and not to be, and how that relates to finding a husband.
I have major problems with this idea as a whole, but the reasons why are for another day. Today's issue is a specific post, "Date a Girl who Loves Jesus." (the link leads to the post and my dear friend Liz's response to it, which I love.)
Here is the long and short of how this relates to me, a 21-year-old single Christian girl living in the real world:
I don't believe the automatic alternative to spending my Friday nights partying is spending my Friday nights at home reading Scripture. Is reading Scripture a great thing? Of course, but just because I'm working on Friday nights or spending some time on Pinterest or reading a book OTHER than the Bible doesn't make me less of a lover of Jesus.
I don't believe I'm less of a Christian intellectual because only one shelf of my two bookcases is dedicated to Christian books, and I don't believe that I'm a bad person because I don't read Spurgeon and Piper on a regular basis (...or ever.) Are Christian books great and powerful things that demand to be read? Of course. But my shelves are overflowing with fiction because I believe God gave writers the artistic talent of crafting stories, picture books from my youth because God blessed the artists with amazing skills in drawing and painting, books about acting because it's a passion of mine, and magazines about weddings because I'm a wedding planner. That doesn't make me less of a lover of Jesus.
I don't believe that spending my own personal spending money on clothes and cosmetics is frivolous. Is giving money away generously a good thing? Of course, and I tithe and give generously to the church with my money and my time, and in seasons of gift giving I use the money I have to bless my friends and family instead of spending on myself. With the money that's left, I often spend it on clothes and makeup because I work in fashion retail and I have a fashion blog and I really like looking cute and presentable. That doesn't make me less of a lover of Jesus.
I don't believe that not carrying my Bible with me everywhere I go means I'm not passionate about the Gospel. Would it probably be nice if I did, and would it be good to at least have a Bible app on my phone so if I need to look up a reference I have it at the ready? Of course, but sometimes I simply have other things to put in my purse, and sometimes my purse isn't big enough for my NIV Study Bible. Only taking my Bible to church, ministry, and missions doesn't make me less of a lover of Jesus.
I don't believe that if people don't see that I'm spending time with friends in need, they can't see my love of Jesus. Would it be nice if every spare moment of mine could be spent being the personal psychiatrist for my friends who have problems? Of course, and I strive to be there for the people in my life who need me. I also have to acknowledge that I work two jobs and go to school full time and have responsibilities at home and sometimes I just need to be alone and unwind by myself instead of being with other people. That doesn't mean I'm not responsible with my time or that I'm neglectful of my friends or that I'm not a lover of Jesus.
I don't believe that I have the capacity to be thankful all the time for everything. Would it be nice if I could be like that? Yeah, of course, and I wish I could. But sometimes things in life suck and I'm angry and I behave like an ungrateful little brat, which is perfectly human and doesn't make me less of a lover of Jesus.
I don't believe my expression of worship HAS to be raising my hands or falling to my knees or dancing in church or singing so you can visibly see the light living in me. Would it be great if that were how I naturally expressed myself? Of course. But it's not, and as an introvert it isn't my tendency to show what I'm feeling on the outside. That doesn't mean I don't feel the power of worship on the inside, and it doesn't make me less of a lover of Jesus.
I don't believe that, as an American woman who has been flooded with insecurities and self-doubts and negativity since I could crawl, my semblance of self-respect has anything to do with my relationship with Christ. Should I be more conscious of the fact that my worth is found in Christ and Christ alone? Of course. But it's HARD. I don't think I'm beautiful, it's extremely hard for me to accept it when anyone tells me I am, and that comes from a place that has nothing to do with Jesus. I know Christ designed me to be the way I am and I know He knew what He was doing and I know I am an intricately designed Child of God, and all of that flies out the window when I remember that I haven't been on a date in 5 years. That doesn't make me a good example, but it also doesn't make me less of a lover of Jesus.
I don't believe that the opposite of lusting after actors and wishing romance novels to come true and watching trashy movies and TV shows is studying and learning and thinking and engaging with the world around you. Do I think women shouldn't use their gifts solely for worldly pleasures? Of course. Do I think using your gifts for the world can absolutely coincide with advancing God's kingdom? I sure do. That doesn't make me less of a lover of Jesus.
I don't believe that I should live in dishonesty by putting on a happy face and always being patient all the time and always being content in my current life stage and always being willing to wait upon the Lord's timing in my life. Would it be nice if I were able to REALLY do those things? Of course. But again: I'm human. Sometimes I'm impatient and sometimes I really think that my current life stage sucks and waiting sucks and I want to move on and God isn't letting me and I get frustrated. That doesn't make me less of a lover of Jesus.
I don't believe that the greatest gift a man can offer me is reading the Bible with me. Should we both be actively engaging in God's word? Of course. But...together? No thank you. I've done enough group reading as an English student to know I don't like it, nor do I want someone preaching God's word at me like I don't know how to read for myself. I'd much rather we both read independently and learn independently and then share what we've learned with each other and value our individual reading and learning capabilities. That doesn't make me less of a lover of Jesus.
I don't believe that expecting my boyfriend or husband to have the wisdom of Solomon or the leadership of Moses or the faith of Abraham or the heart for God of David is a reasonable expectation or qualification. Are Solomon and Moses and Abraham and David positive role models whom he should strive to emulate? Of course. But the comparison game never really works out in a relationship. I don't think he should expect me to be just like Esther, Mary, or Lydia either. They were great people with great qualities, but I'm not them and he's not them, and we just won't measure up, and I think that's okay. That doesn't make me less of a lover of Jesus.
I REALLY don't believe that Proverbs 31 is a rulebook that women in the 21st century are suppose to "align" our lives to. Do I think it had applications within the context of history and do I think it is God-breathed and do I think there are applications to be taken from it today? Of course. But if everything in every book of the Bible were to be taken directly as written and used as a rulebook, none of us would have tattoos and none of us would be eating shellfish and all of us would be slaughtering a heck of a lot of calves to cover our sins. I know what all the women's study books with the pink flowers on the cover say about Proverbs 31, but it simply doesn't add up word-for-word to me. That doesn't make me less of a lover of Jesus.
I don't believe I should be submissive to my man without him also being submissive to me. Submission isn't a woman-only trait, particularly since men are to love their wives as Christ loved the church, and Christ sacrificed everything for the church, and sacrifice involves a great deal of submission. Do I think we BOTH are to submit to Christ above all else?
And THAT is what a lover of Jesus should do.
Submitting to Christ above all else means different things for everyone, so a list of standards and things to do or not do cannot be universally applicable. We can't turn the Bible into a to-do list of a thousand points when Christ's to-do list can be boiled down into "Love God, Love people."
If we're doing that, we're doing okay. We're not perfect and we never will be, because we're sinners and we always will be. We should indeed date people who love Jesus, but it definitely won't look like what the blog posts say it will.