Why I Pray My Daughters Don’t Grow Up in the Same Church I Did

I hope my daughters don’t grow up in the same church I did.

Don’t get me wrong, I feel very fortunate to have spent so much of my childhood and teen years inside the walls of a church. The life lessons I learned in youth group gave me moral standing and a deep sense of self worth that I still believe in today. The christian community throughout grade school and now college has given me a second family and has shown me examples of God’s love over and over again. However, this doesn’t mean there’s not room for improvement.

I hope my daughters are never told they should desire a man to be the leader in the relationship. 

I hope my daughters are never told they should desire a man.

I hope my daughters are never told that they need to be modest in order to keep their male friends from stumbling, rather than to dress modestly because they should want to honor themselves. 

I hope my daughters are never told that sexuality is dirty or shameful. 

I hope my daughters are never told that they can’t hold a certain position in the church due to their gender, because God uses women in other ways (aka you’re supposed to be the Sunday school teacher, not the pastor)

I can remember adults that I trusted and respected in my church telling me every single one of these things. As a young woman who has struggled, and still continues to struggle with what I believe and why, each one of these statements has given me grief. I understand that every adult who told me these things had good intentions. They were telling me ideas and interpretations of scripture that had been passed down for generations. However, as a girl who has always found herself unapologetically independent, strong willed, and a little bit loud, I felt shame for being who God made me.

I remember my junior year of high school I listened to an entire series of sermons on healthy christian relationships. I was told that if I wanted to be in an exemplary Christ-like relationship, the man had to be the leader of the house not only spiritually, but also financially and emotionally. I’ve read countless Christian articles that have said for a healthy relationship, the woman must always submit to the man because that is “God’s will” (as if that’s not a perfect recipe for normalizing abuse). As a a girl who has never been one to back down on her beliefs, the thought of always being submissive to my husband made me shudder, but then the realization that I didn’t want that made me feel like a sinner. I felt shamed for wanting to be a mutual leader of the household, rather than a passive moderator.

I can’t tell you how may times I’ve watched the church guilt trip girls into purity, or over sensationalize virginity. (News flash: whether you choose to believe it or not, virginity is a social construct that has been used to promote the patriarchy forever. And that is a fact. Not an opinion.) Even worse, I can’t begin to recount how many times I was told I needed to save sex for my wedding night, but I shouldn’t expect my future husband to be a virgin because that’s just unrealistic. I remember in an all girls small group the the leader highly discouraged any of us from performing oral sex, even within the context of marriage, because that’s not what God created sex to be, as if the Bible has definite set of rules on what sex can and can’t be.

My sophomore year of high school I wanted to be a pastor, and I was really proud of it. At the time I was sure that was God’s calling in my life. One Sunday, I delivered the sermon in church and an older woman came up to me afterwords to express how impressed she was with my public speaking skills. She asked what I wanted to do when I grew up, and I proudly grinned and told her I wanted to be a methodist pastor. She gave me a sorry smile, and told me about how her father made a great pastor, but that I couldn’t hold that position in a church because it wasn’t biblical. I was left confused as to why God would make me such a good speaker, but also make a girl.

My experience is why I want a better church for my future children.

I pray my daughters grow up in a church that encourages girls to pursue roles of leadership.

I pray my daughters grow up in a church that honors purity, but reminds girls that they are not sexual objects for their future husbands. That expressing sexuality is natural and healthy.

I pray that my daughters grow up in a church where it’s ok to be a stay at home mom, it’s ok to be a working breadwinning mom, it’s ok to be a single mom, and it’s ok to not be a mom at all. 

I pray my daughters do not feel objectified or over sexualized by being told that boys can’t control themselves when girls wear short shorts. 

I pray that my daughter does not believe that traditional gender roles are not a requirement for a healthy God honoring relationship. 

I pray that my daughters grow up in a church that doesn’t view marriage as an accomplishment. That whether single or in a relationship, they are exactly how they are supposed to be, and that Jesus completes them better than any other man ever could. 

In Jesus name, amen.

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Don’t Worry, Be Happy

The other day I was driving home from class listing to myself all the great things going on in my life right now. It’s fall and I’m back at FSU, which means lots of friends, football, and band. I like the classes I’m in, and so far I’m doing pretty well in them. I love the apartment I’m living in, and although some days I do miss the convenience of Landis, I love having my own room (and a cat). I’m dating a really great guy that loves Jesus, FSU, and stupid jokes. And I’m getting involved in research that actually interest me. When I got through the list, my next thought was “Okay God, this is all great but when is something bad gonna happen? I’m definitely not going to be this happy when I fail my first test this semester.”

This dark thought that came seemingly out of nowhere startled me. I was in such a good mood and my day was going well. Why did I automatically assume, with no real evidence or reason, that things were inevitably about to turn south for me? This is what Dr. Brené Brown (an author, researcher, LCSW, professor, and not to mention new personal hero of mine) calls Foreboding Joy. To be completely honest, I’m going to steal a lot of her ideas in this post, but I still chose to write this because I think it is something everyone needs to hear.

So here is what ruins our happiness- Foreboding Joy. Basically Foreboding Joy is that feeling you get when you’re happy, but then all of a sudden you panic, and wonder why things are going so well, and surely they can’t continue to go well. It’s when you don’t allow yourself to be happy, because every time you do, the universe/God/random chance always throws you a curve ball, and knocks the wind right out of ya.

Now heres the second part that blew my mind. It’s not easy to let ourselves be happy. It’s a choice we make. Happiness isn’t easy because it requires a lot of vulnerability. (Brené reinvented my definition of vulnerability with this one.) In order to feel true joy, we have to let go of the fear that something is about to go wrong. We are afraid to let ourselves be happy, because we think that the higher we are, the longer we have to fall when things crash. We think that we are protecting ourselves by bringing ourselves down. If we assume something bad is going to happen, it won’t hurt as much because we were expecting it…right? Even though this is what far too many people believe, research shows that this is not the truth. When things go bad for people who never allow themselves to feel uninterrupted joy, they only regret never letting themselves feel happiness when things were good. They regret under appreciating the good times, and unfortunately no matter how much we try, there is nothing we can do to fully prepare ourselves for the pain that comes with life. Whether it is death, a car accident, a break up, or even a bad grade on a paper, suppressing joy does not make the fall any shorter or less painful.

I know that when I allow myself to be unabashedly happy I’m simultaneously allowing myself to feel the hurt in life. I’m left open and unprotected from pain, and even though it’s scary, I’ve found it’s the most fulfilling choice every time. Surprisingly, allowing myself to feel joy actually makes the bad things hurt less. Whenever I’m having a hard time, I have perspective on the situation. Because I know of the goodness of life, I am able to stay optimistic when things don’t go my way. I know that hurt and heartbreak are a part of the human experience, and joy should be too. Choosing joy doesn’t actually make the falls hurt more, because even though the highs are higher, the lows don’t stay lows.

We don’t always practice foreboding joy on purpose. When I had the negative thoughts in the car, I didn’t consciously tell myself not to be happy, I just assumed something bad had to happen. I think that we have become conditioned to fear joy. I think for most of us, it feels natural to expect the worst, and uncomfortable to accept the best. However, I think it’s imperative to choose the uncomfortable path.

In short, I think Brené Brown and Bobby McFerrin got it right, don’t worry be happy.

Dear Evangelicals, I’m tired.

I’m tired of playing your game in order to be a Christian.

I’m tired of acting a certain way just so I can fit in.

Self-righteousness isn’t the way to salvation.

It doesn’t offer hope to a lost and broken Nation.

 

I’m tired of proclaiming a faith that preaches grace,

But rejects broken people, practically spits in their face.

If you practice your sin in secret its okay,

But please, for the love of God just don’t be gay.

 

I’m tired of evangelicals shouting “keep the Christ in Christmas”

As they sit back and do nothing, while their church continues to dis us.

You wonder why millennials reject a need for faith,

But the truth is, they’ve never experienced Jesus’ authentic grace.

 

I’m tired of a church that rejects questioning, criticism, and doubt

Because they believe it’s safer than silence, or anybody acting out.

The truth is silence breeds disbelief, rejection, and shame,

But there’s no room for disobedience in their little Christian game.

 

I’m tired of watching my black brothers and sisters get shot.

But white evangelicals ignoring it, or saying “you deserved what you got.”

They are unaffected by injustice, and proclaim racism isn’t real,

Which shows how removed they are from the issue, and their small capacity to feel.

 

I’m tired of a church that is uncomfortable with diversity,

Sending the message “you’re only welcome if you’re straight, and if you look like me.”

They read about diversity of the body of Christ in 1st Corinthians 12,

But only welcome people who think and act like themselves.

 

So where is the hope, unity, and reconciliation?

The qualities we actually need, to make America great again.

Not shame, not hate, not fear of the unknown,

Rather love and acceptance, the kind that Jesus has shown.

 

 

 

 

 

A Thank You Letter to Tallahassee

As my first year in Tallahassee comes to a close, I can’t help but reflect on how much Florida State has given me. 1o months ago I was in Jensen Beach sitting with my Dad, and he was telling me that my main priority in the upcoming years would be to get an education. While my dad was totally right, and I can truly say I have learned a lot in the classroom this year, Florida State has given me so much more than a world class education. Here’s a recap of a few of the things I’m most thankful for.

Thank you Tallahassee for giving me a new sense of confidence.
Who knew that breaking away from my life long label and friend group that I was given in high school would make me so much more confident? I always thought I was awful at small talk, clueless on flirting, and too shy to meet new people, but it turns out I just never practiced it. Thank you Tallahassee for giving me practice on meeting new people, and the new confident, extraverted personality to enjoy it.

landis fountain

Thank you Tallahassee for the best friends I’ve ever had.
One year ago I could not have dreamed of having the friends that are in my life now. From my fellow Landis friends, to my Cheifs friends, to my Wesley and DCC friends, I really have gotten lucky with the people in my life. Y’all encourage me to be a better person in every aspect of my life (spiritually, physically, educationally…I could go on). I know that this year would not have been nearly enjoyable without each and every friend I have made this year.friends.jpg

Thank you Tallahassee for Marching Chiefs.
Ok I know I talk about this all the time (MCATDT amirite), but the opportunity to perform on Bobby Bowden field every week in the fall, rehearse every day with some of my best friends, and travel with FSU for free, has been one of the greatest pleasures. Marching Chiefs made my transition into FSU so much easier, and has given me undying unrelenting school sprit, and I’m eternally grateful.

ncaa champs

Thank you Tallahassee for making me a better adult.
Doctors appointments, grocery shopping, calling insurance companies, I conquered a lot of it this year (with an unconquered spirit amirite noles lmao) ok but really, I did a lot of adulating this year, and I’m pretty proud of myself.

Thank you Tallahassee for all the famous people I got to see for free.
Free front row seats to Amy Schumer, Brad Paisley, Josh Turner. Lecrae, Zac Brown Band, and James Franco all came to the civic center. So many more cool performances all over Tallahassee that I could list. I never thought I would get the opportunity to see these people perform, and it’s made some great memories.

Thank you Tallahassee for helping me find my passion.
I came into FSU as a Public Relations major, wanting to climb the corporate latter post graduation. After working a summer at camp I realized I love kids, and my passion is helping people. Half way through my first semester I knew I needed to change my major, and I ended up as a family and child sciences major. My first day in my first prereq for my major (child development with Dr. Krantz wassup) I knew I made the right decision. Thank you, Tallahassee for allowing me to study a subject I love.

Thank you Tallahassee for making me a more socially aware person.
For those of you who don’t already know, I’m from Jensen Beach, which is a very small, very white, and very upper middle class town. For the first 18 years of my life I knew nothing other than this way of life. Tallahassee’s exposure and proximity to such a large homeless population was truly eye opening. The cultural differences I encountered on and around campus made me much more empathetic to those who have battled social injustices their entire lives. It made me realize that I can have friends who aren’t christian and aren’t band kids, and that’s ok. It made me understand the differences in the world, and that not everything, or everyone, is black and white.

I could list so many more things, but I’ve still got 3 years (and hopefully grad school) left here, and I don’t want to sound too winded. Point is, I really love this place and I’m already counting down the days until fall semester starts. So, that being said, thanks Tallahassee.

 

 

 

 

 

19 Things I’ve learned by 19

Here I am at midnight on my 19th birthday, sitting in my dimly lit dorm room contemplating the past 19 years of my life. It’s funny to think that just a year ago on my 18th birthday I thought I had it all figured out. I didn’t. I hope I can say on my 20th birthday that 19 year old Kim had a lot to learn too, because nobody really has it all figured out. That being said, at the risk of sounding like every other “Odessy” article written by an under qualified college student, I thought I would compile a list of 19 things I’ve learned about myself and the world by 19.

  1. You’re not a failure if you don’t go to an Ivy League

One year ago you were sitting in class listening to all your over-acheving friends talk about their acceptance letters into Vanderbilt, Duke, and Stanford. I know you felt like a little bit of an underachiever for going to FSU, but now that you’re here you wouldn’t change it for the world. It’s all about the opportunities you make for yourself and taking advantage of all that your university has to offer.

2. You’ll never be satisfied if you compare yourself to others

I’m cool. She’s cool. He’s cool. But we’re all different kinds of cool, so don’t try to make your cool talents like hers or his. Just be you.

3. GPA is forever, but so are friendships

Getting good grades is only half of college. There are so many opportunities to meet new people every day, take them.

4. But school is still really important 

You have a tendency to find self worth in building relationships rather than in your GPA or bank account, which is great! It makes you a good friend! But seriously, sometimes you need to cancel that coffee date or skip “family” dinner, sit down with a textbook, and study.

5. Good people can make bad decisions 

Took me a long time to figure this one out, but you’ll meet some really great people who do some really stupid things. Drugs, alcohol, etc. don’t make a person “bad” or any less worthy of love and grace. Sometimes those people need it the most.

6You’re destined to be the mom in every friend group

This one is more specific to me than the general population, but somehow you always end up being mom, and you’re totally ok with it. You don’t mind tucking your friends into bed, or walking them home after a long night out. You always carry extra snacks, water, and a solid stash of OTC drugs at all times. You were just made to take care of people.

7. It’s okay if you don’t have an over packed schedule

It’s pretty easy to feel like you’re not maximizing your potential if you’re not constantly running from one thing to the next, especially since that’s all you did fall semester. It’s ok to have some free time though. Go watch some netflix, spend time in prayer, or take a nap, you deserve it.

8. It’s normal to weigh more than 120 pounds

You were REALLY skinny in high school. It ok that you gained 10 pounds. You’re still healthy and slaying the game.

9. Scheduling doctors appointments sucks 

Avoid them at all costs.

10. You assume the best in people 

This can also be a really great quality. You’re an optimist who just wants everyone to live to their full potential! But try to remember that everyone is still human, and don’t get too bummed out when people don’t live up to your expectation of them.

11. ADULTS LIED, YOUR ACNE DOESN’T JUST GO AWAY IN COLLEGE

Self explanatory.

12. It’s really easy to be really selfish, but try to fight it

College culture is centered around self indulgence. It’s so easy to focus on yourself and throw volunteering, tithing, and giving to the wayside. Just remember the world doesn’t revolve around you and your education. You know better than that.

13. Manners can get you far

Always say “sir” or “ma’am.” Smile at strangers. Let others walk in front of you, and always hold the door. Say “excuse me” and be quick to apologize. It can make someone’s day, and it will make you feel better too. Don’t date people who don’t value this.

14. You won’t agree with everything the church taught you as a kid, but you still value the life lessons and friendships you made there. 

Suddenly you leave your small homogenous town of Jensen Beach, FL and you’ll realize not everything you believed about God makes sense in the context of the rest of the world. But that’s ok, that means you’re growing as a person.

15. But you’ll figure out what you do believe, and you should pursue that with your whole heart.

You still are thankful for the foundation your home church laid for you, but now its time to build on what you believe. Don’t let uncertainty get in the way of pursuing your relationship with Christ.

16. You love the noles more than your average girl

Yes Kim, you are a little crazy for sometimes crying when you look at your campus. It’s ok though. If you don’t obsessively talk about everything FSU, and try to get all the football players to tweet you back, who will?

17. FOMO is real

You have a serious case of Fear Of Missing Out. Any time you hear your friends invite you out, it’s almost impossible to say no. It’s ok to stay in though. You aren’t always missing that much, and remember number four on this list?

18. Getting outside is important 

Chances are it’s a beautiful day out. Stop watching netflix and go take a walk around campus. If it’s the weekend go on a hike or have a picnic in the park. Or at least watch netflix in your hammock. You’ll thank yourself later.

19. Don’t take life too seriously

Roll with the punches. Laugh a lot. Be a total werido around your best friends. You’re still a kid. You still are only responsible for keeping yourself and your GPA alive. Have fun while you’re young, and remember if things don’t go your way God’s got a plan for this life.

Man I Love College

Wow. So this is college. Although I’m still a newbie at this whole “college” and “young adult” thing that I’ve been thrown into, I thought it would be appropriate to reflect on these past couple months, and how drastically my life has changed within them.

First off, I just want to say in the words of Asher Roth, man I love college. These past few months have arguably been the best of my life. Although I was always happy in high school, I really think I am the happiest now that I have ever been in my life. A huge contributor to this is my migraines have almost completely gone away. Ever since I was 7 years old I lived my life getting 3-4 headaches a week, and body crippling debilitating migraines anywhere from once a week to once a month. I. Coming to college I have realized that a large part of this was having to wake up very early every morning after long nights of studying (never have been a morning person, never will be) and not being able to eat in class. Now I can adjust my class schedule to fit my sleeping patterns better, and since my school doesn’t impose jail-like rules (I’m looking at you Jensen Beach High School) I can snack throughout the day. This has honestly made all the difference in my quality of life, and I can happily say I’ve only had two migraines since I’ve gotten to FSU.

I’ve also fallen in love with all the once in a life time opportunities Florida State has provided me with. This varies from the once in a life time friends I’ve made, to the free Brad Paisley concert I went to, to getting to travel the country (FOR FREE) with one of the world’s best college marching bands. Even when I’m having a stressful day, I can’t help but be thankful for how much Florida State offers me, and how lucky I am to take advantage of it.

Classes haven’t necessarily been easy, but taking 12 credit hours this semester was definitely a good idea. Although my days can get a little hectic with Marching Chiefs practice every day, and I have already pulled an all nighter studying, my classes have not been overwhelming yet. I definitely think the heavy AP course load I took in high school prepared me for this (and I’m actually thankful for all those stupid AP classes) as well as a changed mind set. It’s not really a secret that I was a slacker senior year, but I came into college aware that getting good grades would require much more focus and studying. Although I’m still working to break bad study habits, I have definitely buckled down in school, and it’s really not too bad.

As great as all this has been, the thing I find myself struggling with the most is selfishness. I’ve found that college is an extremely self serving environment, for better or for worse. College (especially freshman year) is a time when everybody is just trying to figure out who they are and who they want to be. It’s a time where everyone is constantly investing in themselves, whether it be academically, socially, or financially. While it is important that we take time to figure out who we really are, I find that many people, including myself, struggle to pull ourselves out of our little college bubble and focus on serving others. Wesley definitely offers more opportunities to serve than any other organization I’m a part of, and for that I’m thankful, but it can still be difficult to step back on a daily basis and remember there’s a very real world going on outside of Florida State and that there’s a lot of things that matter more than my GPA and Florida State football.

That’s all the big stuff but here’s a list of other things that have changed in my life:

  • My hair’s gotten a lot longer since my mom isn’t here to make hair cut appointments for me
  • I care about college football a lot more
  • I changed my major from Public Relations to Family and Child Sciences. Don’t ask me what I want to do with that, I’ll get back to you in a couple years.
  • I’ve only been to target once since I’ve gotten to Tallahassee and I miss daily trips there a lot
  • I’ve talked to my insurance company by myself on the phone more than once
  • I’m the tannest I’ve ever been thanks to Chiefs
  • My nose ring fell out (no more pretending to be edgy) 😦
  • I’ve become a lot more comfortable with small talk and meeting new people
  • I’ll go out of my way to say hi to people, rather than go out of my way to avoid them
  • Despite a decrease in headaches, I get sick a lot more (thanks dorm life)
  • I actually enjoy cleaning and having a neat room

All that being said I couldn’t even dream of living the life I live now if it weren’t for my parents, and all the extremely hard work they’ve put in to getting me here. Being 6 hours away from home is tough sometimes, but that doesn’t keep me from being thankful every day that they’ve provided me with the opportunity to go to college debt free. I’m also thankful that they raised me the way they did, cause I think I have a pretty decent head on my shoulders, and I know most of that is due to the awesome 18 years I spent at home. Thanks mom and dad, for sometimes giving up your dreams to let me live mine.

Go Noles!

chiefs

What The Heck is a Servant’s Heart?

What do you think when you hear the word “servant” or “service?” For me, service projects and missions come to mind. Maybe when you think of a servant, you think of someone who is poor, or a person who works in full time ministry, or maybe even your waitress at a restaurant. Even though none of these perceptions are wrong, I think christian service extends far beyond any of these categories. “Servant” is a word us Christian folk like to throw around a lot. I’ve grown up my entire life hearing that I should be a “servant of The Lord” or that I should have a “servant’s heart” but I never understood what that meant until I started working as a camp counselor.

I took my job as a counselor at Warren Willis Camp this summer knowing that I was hired to serve campers for two months. Although going into this experience I had a small understanding of what true service looked like, I had no idea what literally serving others 24/7 meant. 7 weeks in, here is what I have learned.

Serving others stems from one of Jesus’ greatest commandments in our lives, loving others as we love ourselves. This commandment will look different for everyone. Here at camp, my service to campers can take form in many unique ways, like head banging at praise time even though I just woke up from a nap, trying to learn how to whip and nae nae with middle school boys, or even quite literally serving them food at every meal. Although it seems obvious that I am able to serve people at camp, I have realized these opportunities are not confined to camp, and that children in methodist youth groups are not the only ones who desire to experience this expression of love.

The most impactful way we can mimic Jesus’ love and service is through our everyday actions. Although foreign missions and jobs at summer camps are important, we can, and should serve others for more than a few weeks out of the year. Do we only love Jesus for 8 out of 52 weeks ? Do we only love our friends, family, and neighbors during the summer months? If we continue to profess our faith year round, then our service to God and to others should follow that trend. Service can, and should be a part of our everyday lives. I wholly believe that the world would be a much kinder place, and the church would be a much more welcoming environment if everybody woke up with the intention to continually serve others throughout the day. We can do this in ways as simple as letting a car pull out in front of you, sending someone an encouraging text, or asking how someone’s day went. “Acts of service” does not always mean rebuilding a home, or painting a church. It is considering others’ needs before our own. It is as simple as just being nice.

So to me, that’s what a servants’s heart is. It’s not being the first to sign up for a mission trip. It’s not the most talented roofer. It’s not the person who logged the most service hours.  It’s Continually loving people, and sharing your love for God by taking care of others before yourself.

How beautiful would it be if everyday we gave, and were given to, living to eternally pour into each other?