women

Do Teenage White Females Understand Their Privilege?

Last Saturday, I went to Tout Suite to indulge in their infamous brunch and do some leisure reading. As I approached, four young white women stopped to take selfies, bare-shouldered and Birkenstocked. I stood patiently waiting for them to either finish or notice they were blocking me. Eventually, they politely let me pass. I walked into Tout Suite and was struck by the privilege I afforded them. One they didn’t even know they had. They had a luxury most minority girls don’t. In their aloofness and adolescent frivolity, they had been privileged with innocence. This innocence, that made them not a blockade, but just teens being teens. This innocence, that if something happened to them, they would automatically be victims. This innocence, that frees them to be nonspeculative of the world around them. It was a careless and free innocence.

I hadn’t ever noticed it before. I wasn’t angry or upset with these girls. As I settled into my book, I watched them. Lingering in front of the case of desserts, unaware of the line behind them. No one tempting to urge them or hurry them. They took selfies in front of everything. Older couples looked upon them and smiled. One spilled their drink, and several people stopped to help this damsel.

I don’t want to spend much more time discussing these 4 white adolescent females. I cannot speak on their assumed innocence. Rather, I was heartbroken for my own. I work with a predominantly African-American community. I spend a substantial amount of time with black girls. We talk. We laugh. We cry. We do each other’s hair. When I look at them they are innocent girls, but I know the world does not see them this way. Black girls don’t get the luxury of innocence. My girls get hyper-sexualized earlier. I don’t know if it is hitting puberty earlier or the commodifying language we use with black skin. All, I know you never hear anyone saying about little white girls, “Your skin is like a yummy dollop of mashed potatoes”, but there lives a level of impurity and “chocolate sinfulness” in a black girls’ skin.

Those 4 girls, were allowed to be free, and the world accommodated that.

Perhaps, history or society or a blend of the two has placed a filter on the innocence of the black girlhood. Recently, a study was released discussing the Erasure of Black Girls’ Childhood. It is a good read. It is pretty spot on. I agree not only based on my experiences but the experiences of my girls.

I don’t know where is post is meant to go. I have thought about this for a week. It makes me scared for black girls. Worse, if there is little innocence to be given to black girls. I cannot imagine the consequences for black women.

Actually, I can…

God help us.

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Single, but not Incomplete.

Confession, I have never seen Jerry Maguire. I was six when it came out. Twenty years later, I can’t get past the fact that I don’t like the three main actors (Tom Cruise, Renée Zellweger, Cuba Gooding Jr.). Even with never seeing this film, I know the most popular line:

“You complete me.” 

Intro romantic music, smoke, and cherubs. C’mon, what single person does not want to hear those three little words? I mean the only other phrase a single person might be interested in is “I brought pizza”. Just kidding. We all know it’s, “I love you”. 

However, there are millions of spiritual and emotional problems with that phrase. Because, I don’t get paid to write (nor do I have the energy), I will focus on one massive issue.

People who are not in a relationship (single, divorced, widowed) are not complete people. 

Men and women experience brokenness. This is a universal truth, even if externally your world is perfect, there has been a time of where internally things were askew. Additionally, we are born with normal healthy longings. We long for companionship. We long for someone to spend our lives with and love. We long for a hand to hold, a shoulder to cry on, lips to kiss, a partner in crime, a person to embrace, someone to romance us. We long. It is normal and healthy. God placed this desire in me.

However, at some point we got our wires crossed. Two healthy separate desires (completion and companionship) morphed into one obsessive unattainable unrealistic goal.

Of the two desires completion is for more important, and MUST take priority over companionship. There is too great of a risk when incomplete people look for companionship before completion or wholeness. See any friend or person who has gotten their identity from the person they are dating. If, we are to be made whole, What must be done? How do we become whole? Because again, we all agree that we are broken people living in a broken world with broken ideas working in broken systems and structures that will not save us from our demise.

I will give you my answer. I have found my completion and wholeness in Christ. Paul writes about being made complete, “In Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness.” I am full. I lack nothing. I have longings, but longings are not lack. Believing this truth and living in it are difficult. It is frightening. I have lived longer as a broken and incomplete person. So, wholeness is still sometimes unfamiliar to me.

I, as a single young adult, get to live in completion singularly. The benefit to this is that my completion before companionship, will make companionship much more fulfilling. Mark dictates the words of Jesus, “A man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh.” There is no discussion about two halves becoming a whole. It is about two wholes becoming one. It is about peanut butter being completely peanut better and jelly being completely jelly and placing them together to make one sandwich. Not half a key lime pie and half and apple pie coming together to a nasty pie. In Christ, I am not a half. I am a complete one. 

In my oneness, I am able to do much. I am able to serve my teens with vigor. I work long hours often, but with joy. I travel on a whim, but how wonderful to simply get away. I dream and do life BIG and with unbridled intensity! I empty myself as often as I can, because in Christ even when I am running on empty, His eternal nature makes me full again. I do everything I do with joy because one day, when I am married, I will be divided. My attention will be filled with fulfilling my role as a wife and mother.

Even as I write this, I can feel my longing for companionship. Yet it is one I feel with joy because I know I am whole.

My First Dance

“I try not to think about marriage too often” is one of the trite, silly, and Biblically misinformed ways in which single women are taught to cope with their singleness. However, there are some days in which my mind is so free that it wanders into a space where I contemplate these things.

As, I walked to my car after a long day of work, my mind was flooded with a simple scene from my potential wedding day…well more like a frame. There where many things I still cannot picture: my groom, the venue, a date and time, but the one thing I could not shake was our first dance.

I already know the song. I heard it a year ago and it symbolizes everything marriage truly is, while maintaining the tempo of a waltz. God has used partner dancing to teach me about relationships. It, ultimately, points back to Ephesians 5. Women are to respect their husbands. Men are to love their wives, sacrificing for her, considering her as his own body, and laying down his life for her.

With every crescendo, I see the little girl fantasy of my skirt twirling through the air. I can even envision my eyes gazing at him, with deeper affection and love than before. An affection and love, only he experiences. Most importantly, in this dance, I see how we are a magical, mysterious miracle, the Lord uniting us hand-in-hand.

In this moment, I realize the solution is not to disregard these feelings or trash them on the grounds of being heinous. But, to simply surrender them to the one who gave me them in the first place.

The Lord gives. The Lord takes away. Tonight, I thank Him for this small gift. Amen.

An Open Letter to My Husband

To My Mortal Companion…

During this season, the general yearning in my heart for you stirs and intensifies. I hope you feel this way for me. While I long for you, I am not waiting for you. Before you get all sensitive about my virginity and what not, relax. I am waiting, but that is more about God than you.

What I am saying, is “I am not idly waiting on you”.

I am not waiting on you for my life to begin. My life began twenty-five years ago. There has been joy and sorrow, stability and transition, fighting and peacemaking, logic and emotion, and people. Loads and loads of people. You are not my life. You are a major part of it, but not the sum of it. God authored my life. He is the one that dictates its beginning; as I said in the beginning of this paragraph it was 25 years ago.

I am not waiting for you to experience romance. This may sound weird, but I don’t think romance is limited for dating or married couples. In my head, I have these lavish ideas on how to surprise you and plan picnics for you and fun dinners to cook. I would love to do those things for you now, but I have friends who need to be romanced now. Who don’t need to wait to experience what it is like for someone to surprise them because it is a Tuesday or plan picnics for them. My hope is that I am sowing seeds in our marriage by doing this. I pray you have the thoughtfulness to be romantic.

I am not waiting on you to make me feel special. I never feel more special than when people surprise me with gifts. I love when people send me flowers on a Tuesday or write me a random note. I shouldn’t seek heavy external validation. Lately, I have wanted to be in a relationship so someone could affirm that I was special. How selfish is that? That’s not your job. God created me. God has imputed value on me, through Christ’s work on the cross. Now, all the talents and skills I have are directed towards Him being glorified. I am special.

I am not waiting on you to “complete me” or “fix me”. Allow me to make this super clear. YOU WILL NEVER “COMPLETE ME.” And despite what Coldplay says please don’t try to “fix me”. There is a deep brokenness in both of us. One of the delusions the enemy has utilized in relationships is: “dating people is about being completed”. God makes me whole. The Master Craftsman takes the toy who fell to bits and restores it. My hope is, when I enter into this relationship with you. I am further along in my restoration process.

I am not waiting on you to go on adventures with. Yeah, it is too late for that. I have been a foster mom. I have traveled. I have danced and danced. I have met people from across the world. I left my home. I have experienced a degree of homelessness. This goes to the first point. God writes the story, and He is the BEST author. Have you read the Bible? Eep, it is SO GOOD!

I am not waiting on you to make me feel loved. This is one of those harder truths to live out. I connect feeling loved to being chosen. There is something beautiful about two people actively and constantly agreeing on each other. If I can be frank with you, no one has chosen me. Randomly, I get this bitter sinking feeling of being unloved. God loves me. The more I learn of Him, the more loved I feel. Also, in His graciousness God gives me great friends who love me.

I am not waiting on you to create a home. Hospitality makes a house a home. Hospitality is outpouring of abundant love on others. Leading to an invitation into not only that persons personal space, but life. No where in Scripture does it say that hospitality is reserved for those in relationships.

I am not waiting on you to honor you and love you. I don’t do this perfectly yet. But it is important to me to practice honoring you now. You are worthy of my respect. Whether, I know you by name now or won’t for another 25 years, I do not want to harm our marriage presently or in the future. God authors stories and know them well. If marriage is in mine, then it is already a reality to Him and real to me.

There is a harshness to this letter. Allow me to call two things your attention. (1) If I don’t put the full weight on you to “complete me” or make me feel loved or to begin life with, it frees you from a burden that can only truly be accomplished by God. Listen, kiddo, I already love you (or at least the idea of you). The best thing I can do for our marriage is have a rightful view of God. (2) I would be brash to not share what I am waiting for. I am waiting to partner with you in a special way to do ministry. I am waiting to build a family with you. (Depending on God’s timing this may change. I already feel strongly about adopting kids). I am waiting to explore what romantic friendship looks like with you. I am waiting to hold your hand and rest my head on your shoulder. Friend, you are worth waiting for.

Anyways, I don’t write to you often. Which is for the best. However, I thought of you today and wrote.

Love You (flower)Bud,

Tose

Weighing In

I finished Whole30 yesterday. I capped it off with my favorite dessert: melon trifecta (watermelon, honeydew, and cantaloupe). Today, I simply attend work meetings and have the rest of the day to myself. When, I wake I will go to the gym, where I will be able to weigh myself….and I don’t know why, but that thought scares me.

Thanksgiving, after months of a poor girls diet, I stepped on the scale and weighed more than I ever had. Two hundred and sixty-five pounds. Instantly, I hated every pound of myself. I didn’t want to look at myself. I couldn’t find anything lovely about me. My face was hideous. My body horrendous. My esteem demolished. Every insult hurled at me about my looks resurfaced. Fat. Ugly. Cow. Behemoth. I clearly saw the faces of all the boys and girls who made me feel so small. I began believing that my weight was the reason no man was interested in me. No one wants to date a fat girl. I remember telling that to myself as a teenager. I told myself that yesterday.

I am scared to step on that scale, because I know that a massive part of me still places such deep value on that number. My beauty is in that number. My value is in that number. My hope is in that number. I don’t even know what that number is. There was no set amount of pound I desired to lose. All I know is that a number dictates so much of how I feel about myself and I hate it. I really do hate it. I hate that a decade past adolescence, I still have similar fears. I hate that I believe no one wants to date me because I’m fat and because I’m fat, I’m unattractive. I know this massive body positive movement going on, but even if I am positive about my body it does not mean I am perceived to be more attractive. Most of all, I despise that I work with teenage girls and still struggle with this. The young women, I serve, are so beautiful. It is easy to see their loveliness, but so hard to see my own…..

This is an area where I needs God’s grace. Because ultimately, I choose to surrender my worth. I choose to operate from a lie…even if feels true because of my empty relationship history.

God, silence all these voices. Silence me. Remind me my worth, that it was ordained before my birth and that is has nothing to do or say. When, I am slim or weigh 310 pound remind me that my worth is not assigned by man, but by God. You make me worthy.

Today, I step on a scale and pray all I see is a number.

An Open Letter on How to Handle Rejection

August 1, I attempted to thwart my desire to date. By doing the “faux-Christian, falsely secure in my singleness, everyone around me is Noah’s Arking” thing, by not dating for a year. I wanted to use the year to focus my attention on the hellish relationship with my father, how it affects my current relationship with men, and how God could redeem it.

While lust got the best of me, in August, no one was worth casting my gaze upon. September was different. September allowed for a friendship to emerge. In this friendship, I remember seeking wisdom and direction from the Holy Spirit. Our friendship was encouraging to me. I appreciated his kindness and knowledge. Conversing with him was typically a delight; there was always this elegant waning among the spiritual, the silly, and the serious. I appreciated his transparency in our conversations. I appreciated how in his transparency, I also saw how delicate he was as a person. And in his delicacy, I saw strength. I appreciated that I was able to see him in a different context and manner than others did. I saw his flaws, but knew they were not mine to solve. As he walked with God, God would do the work.

Soon, I found myself unexpectedly keen on him. With my best attempts again sought wisdom from the Holy Spirit on how to navigate the keenness. I prayed  God would keep me from romance conspiracy theorizing, but I did like him. While, he verbalized friendship, his actions often spoke an alternating message. I was confused, but I wanted to honor our friendship, and honor a commitment he had made. April 2015. If our friendship continued in the trajectory it was, I planned on reaffirming or reevaluating our friendship.

The reevaluation came sooner than anticipated. He took on a beau. Our friendship was stripped down. All I appreciated about him was gone. In attempts to honor his steady, I was shut out.

I decided to lay low for a while. If, I had to lick my wounds, I wanted to do them solemnly and privately. This passive rejection was all a hurtful reminder, that I was not good enough, to be considered worthy of a relationship. All, I could ever be was a couple of laughs, a dinner, and a farewell. So, I kept quiet. I kept to myself. I tried not to kick up a stink. In time, things began to scar. Sorrow evolved into anger. With no opportunity to address my hurt with him, I chose spite. I was juvenile and said hurtful words to him and about him. I sought ways to despise him. I was angry and still struggle with not feeling angry. My anger was so great that, I was unable to think clearly of him and how to manage this tension.

This evening very poignantly, the Holy Spirit spoke and asked why I stopped allowing Him to guide me. It dawned on me, God desires to guide me in all things, but especially when I experience failure, hurt, and rejection. God wants to navigate me through passive rejections, but also wants to strengthen me through them.

I am not writing this and stating that I have forgiven him. I need to forgive him as well as be forgiven by him. If I had voraciously pursued the Holy Spirit to guide me when I was shut out, I would have never lashed out. I would have chosen humility rather than being overcome with hurt.

It is unclear where to go from here. I don’t know if I desire his friendship any more; he doesn’t seem to reciprocate his previous levels of transparency or authenticity. I am no longer keen on him. I do mourn the loss of the way I once saw him. I would love to just talk to him and share this, but I am not longer worthy of his audience. I guess my desire for knowledge will not be satiated this time.

Verse of the Day

God, sometimes, I think so highly of You, that I simply assume You don’t care about the trivial aspects of my life. That a foolish little heartbreak is not worth the time or attention of God. Help me to be humble enough to turn to You for the little things. Remind me that I am terribly unfit to even handle the small situations. Lord, You are not calloused. You understand how I feel, whether it is justified or ridiculous. Forgive me for forsaking You. God forgive me for my unkindness. Whether he knows he hurt me or not, it is not my place to be malicious and defame his character. Forgive me for not being mindful of Your creations. I’m sorry that ultimately, I hurt my brother in Christ.

Father as I experience a passive rejection, I want to rest in You. I want to experience Your vibrant beauty in sorrow. I want to serve you well. I love You. Protect me from fortifying my heart and allow me to remain open to new friendships.

Holy Spirit, help me love my him well. Remind me to love my brothers in Christ.

Finally, I pray for my husband. Jesus walk with him and guide him. Lord, he is imperfect as I am imperfect, but allow us to both desire for growth as we journey towards You and each other. Set his heart ablaze for Your kingdom. Let his love for You be seen clearly in the manner he loves and worships You. Surround him with a community of men who pour out wisdom and knowledge on his head. Let him be accepting of their discipleship. Also, surround him with a community of young men or boys that he serves. Strengthen him to be a mighty warrior in Your army. I thank You for his life. Thank you for Your faithfulness to him.

In Christ’s name,

Amen

This is Why I’m Fat

It was the first time, I had stepped on a scale in 7 months. The last thing I remembered was weighing 240 pounds. While, obese I was content. I was close to 200 pounds. I could drop 40 pounds pretty easy. 265 pounds. I couldn’t believe it. Then, I looked in the mirror and saw it. I saw every single pound of it. My flaws became so apparent. My skin looked aged and old. There were new stretch marks, I had never noticed before. The hairs on my chin overtook my face. My clothes became tighter. Hindsight allowed me to see all the outfits I had worn recently and how I looked like a balloon in the Macy’s Day Parade. I noticed my stomach bulging over my jeans. I suffocated. I feel helpless.

My cognitive weight loss plan oriented itself around these thoughts: “no wonder guys aren’t attracted to me”, “I am so huge”, “there is no way I can do missions being this size”, “I hate myself”. It’s so easy to begin disliking oneself. I pulled out a notebook and began scripting how I was going to lose this weight, do’s and don’ts, meal plans for the week, how much water I needed to drink, and a fitness regimen. I didn’t fall asleep until 2AM. Nonetheless, even with the best laid plans, I felt helpless. I feel like I am going to fail and continue getting fatter until one day, I surrender the idea of ever being seen as beautiful by men or women.

I woke up the next morning dead set on eating healthy. I wasn’t going to go for seconds. I was not going to eat carbohydrates. I am giving up soda. I will not east fast food. I am exercising. I am going to do this right. I will lose this weight. I failed today. I began today with a workout and ended it with a bunch of dumplings. Which makes me feel like even more of a loser.

However, I am learning not to trust so much in my strength and place a little less confidence in myself. I can’t lose weight of my own power and my own will. I am not strong enough for it. Food is a stronghold and an idol. I have never not known what it was like to be anything but fat. As a child I was fat. Teen fat. Adult fat. My weight has followed me so closely. Too closely. I eat not to feel full, but to simply feel something. As each word comes out, I recognize this food issue is more tied to a lack of trust in the Father to have my needs met.

I guess I need not start with a meal plan, but a prayer.

Verse of the Day

God,

Too heavily do I lean on my own understanding. What do I even know O Lord? Have I fashioned this form? Have I orchestrated one molecule in my body? Nothing. No. And No. But rather than humbling myself to You and asking for guidance, I take it upon myself to fix a problem. I can fix nothing, for I am the one who destroys. Only You bring life, Jesus. Only You can restore what these human hands breaks. And Jesus, I am breaking myself. With each meal, I am attacking the vehicle You allow for my soul and spirit to be mobilized in. Father, forgive me. I am not worthy of Your grace. I am not worthy of Your mercy. I am not worthy of this body.

Lord, I cannot do this on my own. Countless times, I have tried and failed to lose weight. And with each failure, I deny that You fashioned me as beautiful. I doubt that You look down on me and call me good. I need Your Holy Spirit to quicken me. Please stir my desires toward loving You fully. Direct me towards worship Jesus. Lord, I don’t worship You enough. I don’t love You enough. I don’t acknowledge how vast and wonderful You are enough. As my spirit worships You, allow my body to fall in line and follow suit. I desire to be with You. I desire for You to be my everything. You are my Living Water and Daily Bread.

Holy Spirit grant me discernment on how to do this. I don’t want a weight loss plan. I want a lifestyle revolution. I want my body to be one, You are able to send anywhere at a moments notice. Make me more aware of when I am hungry. As I go through sugar withdrawals teach me self-control. I know what You think of me, but please remind me of Your thoughts towards me. Enrich my time with You. Father direct me towards a gym membership where I am encouraged by those around me. Teach me what to do and what classes to take and how to love my body and steward it as an act of worship to You. Lord, help me be faithful to carry this to completion.

God please raise up some people to walk with me through this and keep me accountable in this journey. Lord, thank you for the way You have already placed me with someone who is setting the pace before me.

God, I love You. This is not a blog, but a permanent prayer. You are magnificent and wondrous and marvelous. I can not tell you that enough. You have been so gracious to me. I am not worthy of the manner You have blessed my life. I am lowly and You are high and lifted up. You sit on Your rightful throne above and rule and reign over all creation. Whether we choose to acknowledge You or not. Yet You see and understand every single word I write. You know the weight and the depth of each letter. You know the inner workings of my heart so well. You know where my greatest need for You lies. You know my sorrow and my joys. You know my fears and my future. You know how I will look. The way You know me scares me. It is scary to be known so intimately by God. You know the mysteries that remain in me that haven’t even been revealed to me. To You be all glory and dominion. What am I that You are mindful of me? That You turn Your ear towards the laments of a wayward child. Lord, I love You.

Be with me tender sacred Spirit.

Amen