Facing Your Giant

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The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    so why should I be afraid?
The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger,
    so why should I tremble? ~Psalm 27:1

I often forget that the people in the Bible were actual people, just like you and me. Real, living, breathing people with hopes, dreams, fears and favorite flavored ice creams (okay, maybe I’m stretching the last one a little bit). If you grew up in a church, like I did you, may have had a storybook Bible. But these accounts aren’t stories. I believe the Bible contains actual, true accounts of things that happened in the past. These accounts aren’t fairytales, they’re accounts of true people, their mess-ups, their successes, and God’s faithfulness.

The above picture of David and Goliath gives more weight to the verses David wrote. “Why should I be afraid?” “Why should I tremble?” David had gone up against his fair share of battles and large armies. If I put myself in the above picture, I get nervous. I’m sure David was nervous, but later in his life, He writes that he should not be afraid. That’s powerful.

My Current Giant

 

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My outline for one of my classes

 

I’m currently battling through the trenches of law school exams, and I have been fearful. Terrified. In law school, our entire grade comes down to how we perform on this one exam, and these grades have drastic consequences on the kinds of jobs we can have. My GPA very much determines the first few years of my professional career and my future income, gulp.

For the past few years it’s been my goal to work at a big firm. These jobs are the most competitive and also pay the best. I have a genuine interest in bankruptcy and employment, two areas of interest many large firms specialize in. The income is also appealing because in three years I will be drowning in educational debt.

Goals

It’s always been my dream to have a big house in Vermont. In fact, I’ve had the VERY house I want picked out for as long as I can remember. Here’s a picture of it:

 

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View House Here

 

 

I’m a planner and having the goal to get this very house has been comforting and a source of purpose. I know that if I don’t do well on exams, this dream house is going to become just that, a dream house. No longer a reality.

Running From Fear

 

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I have studied so hard for school this semester. This October my cousin was in a really serious accident, and even as I waited in the waiting room I still did homework. My aunt on my left has recently gone back to school. I know it’s not only my dreams that I’m carrying. I also have a duty to show everyone else fro my small town, especially the girls, that you really can become anything you set your mind to.

 

My whole life I’ve been running from the fear that I’ll end up like my mother: unhappy, living paycheck to paycheck, just overall not in a good place. There’s a lot more to this that I just don’t feel comfortable posting online. My whole life has been dedicated to doing things to not “end up” like that: don’t get pregnant as a teenager, don’t have sex until I’m married, marry the right guy, go to college, get a job, get good grades in college to get a good job, go to graduate school to get an even better job…running from this fear has been exhausting. And at every point in my life I have let this fear control me. My education to this point has been focused on my future career so that I can ultimately accomplish two goals 1) Build the big house above 2) End up better off than my mom.

Any first generation college student or someone who grew up in abusive home I’m sure can relate to this fear, right? Or, rather, running from this fear? It controls you. You battle the lies at every single step and turn and crossroad that you’re going to fail, that you’re not good enough, that you’ve been wasting your time thinking you can become something other than what those before you chose to become.

God Will Never Abandon Me

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    so why should I be afraid?
The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger,
    so why should I tremble?
When evil people come to devour me,
    when my enemies and foes attack me,
    they will stumble and fall.
Though a mighty army surrounds me,
    my heart will not be afraid.
Even if I am attacked,
    I will remain confident.

The one thing I ask of the Lord
    the thing I seek most—
is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
    delighting in the Lord’s perfections
    and meditating in his Temple.
For he will conceal me there when troubles come;
    he will hide me in his sanctuary.
    He will place me out of reach on a high rock.
Then I will hold my head high
    above my enemies who surround me.
At his sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy,
    singing and praising the Lord with music.

Hear me as I pray, O Lord.
    Be merciful and answer me!
My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.”
    And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”
Do not turn your back on me.
    Do not reject your servant in anger.
    You have always been my helper.
Don’t leave me now; don’t abandon me,
    O God of my salvation!
10 Even if my father and mother abandon me,
    the Lord will hold me close.

11 Teach me how to live, O Lord.
    Lead me along the right path,
    for my enemies are waiting for me.
12 Do not let me fall into their hands.
    For they accuse me of things I’ve never done;
    with every breath they threaten me with violence.
13 Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness
    while I am here in the land of the living.
Wait patiently for the Lord.
    Be brave and courageous.
    Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

~Psalm 27

I bolded the parts that stood out to me.

This week I’ve been reading Psalm 27 over and over and over again. This morning when I read it before my first law school exam I broke down crying. David, the older version of the kid in the picture above wrote this! Why do I tremble? Why am I afraid?

Although these ar “just”  test, this is such a big battle for me. It’s the culmination of all my fears. What if I fail? What if I just do average? What if I do below average?

This morning I had an epiphany of comfort to these questions.

Fear: What if I fail?
Answer: The Lord has never abandoned me and He will be my helper.
Life application: Even if I fail and am unable to get a high paying job God will still somehow provide for my physically and emotionally.

Fear: What if I just do average?
Answer: The Lord has never abandoned me and He will be my helper.
Life application: Even if I fail and am unable to get a high paying job God will still somehow provide for my physically and emotionally.

Fear: What if I do below average?
Answer: The Lord has never abandoned me and He will be my helper.
Life application: Even if I fail and am unable to get a high paying job God will still somehow provide for my physically and emotionally.

Fear: That I’ll be poor, lonely, angry, ect.
Answer: The Lord wants me to come to Him, the God of the universe desires a relationship with me, He is Good, He will provide.

And, just as this Psalm quieted my fears, it also convicted me. David said the thing he wants MOST, MOST is to live in the house of the Lord and delight in His perfections. Wow. Convicted. Am I doing that? Am I delighting in the Lord’s perfections?  Am I wanting to seek goodness and desiring to live a God-honoring life MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE? No, I’m not.

This Psalm changed my perspective going into my next set of finals:

  1. I need to be rejoicing in the Lord’s goodness: Thank you Lord for always providing for me financially and otherwise, Thank you Lord for giving me academic talents and the ability to think. You are so, so, so good to me. I should strive to do well, to do my very best, because doing my best honors God and the talents He entrusted me with.
  2. I need to stop living a fear based life. I am not my mother, I am Krista. I have a relationship with God. The God of the universe who has always provided for me and always will. A God who desires a relationship with me.

 

What’s Your Giant?

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What’s your giant, friend? What are you fearing? What is driving the actions in your life? Is it your fears of failure, like me?

God loves you. He desires a relationship with you. He has been fighting for you and has a plan. Starting a relationship with God is easy. Romans 10:9 tells us that, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart God raised Him from the dead you shall be saved.” Saved from what? From seperation from God that spans not only this life but all of eterenity. But God doesn’t want it that way. He wants a relationship with you, but he also, like any good man, isn’t going to force you into a relationship you don’t want. The door is open, you just need to walk in.

If you’re already a Christian what are you desiring? Are you desiring above all else to delight in the goodness of God? To seek him? To say, “Lord I am coming?” I know I have been slacking in this area. David is notorious for being human, that is, having great God moments and then slipping into sin: he was called a man after God’s own heart and wrote of desiring God above all else yet slept with a married woman, killed her husband, had hundreds of wives and concubines (sex on call), and was such an absent father that his kids engaged in some pretty messed up incest. He was so human. So freaking human. He wasn’t a person who had it all together, he was a royal mess, just like you and me. And that’s what makes God so awesome, and what we remember this Christmas season: that despite our messes and mishaps God loves us and wants a relationship with us.

He loves you, friend. He loves you.

As always, if I can be praying for you or encouraging to you in any way, please contact me via Instagram or Facebook. I would LOVE to pray for you.

xoxo

Krista

 

 

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God Loves Lawyers (Part 1): The Myth of the Less Godly Profession

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During Spring Break I visited the law school I will be attending this Fall. 

I’ve come to dread Christians asking me what I’m going to do now that I’ve graduated college. When I give my simple five word reply, “I’m going to law school,” I immediately feel my smile turn to a grimace as I read their face and anticipate their response. The responses are usually similar: a fake plastered smile and a slow nod preceded by a lawyer joke or being told, “Good, we need more lawyers to defend Christians.” I’ve received this response enough that I now simply return the nod and smile. I’ve previously made the mistake of trying to defend my career choice; not only of being a lawyer, but expressing my lack of desire in being a lawyer that seeks to only defend Christians. I had thought this was an experience unique to me and lawyers, however, I spoke with friends recently–a graphic designer, an engineer, and an accountant–only to learn that they have had similar experiences. It’s as if our professions aren’t good enough, aren’t Christian enough. We’ve even been accused of being “worldly,” simply because we are not pursuing the seemingly “more Christian” professions of missionaries, Sunday School teachers and full-time missionaries….although I would argue becoming a teacher at a Christian school or a nurse would also be an “acceptable Christian profession” by many.

These conversations are too similar. For too long American Christians have wrongly believed that certain professions are “more Christian” or “More Godly” than others. Are we not all called to different mission fields? Have we not all been given different gifts and talents and personalities? If we were all to be “only” mothers, nursers, and foreign missionaries how many tens of thousands of peoples would actually MISS an opportunity to hear the gospel?

God Called A Tax Collector First

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St. Matthew is often depicted with a pen. 

One of my favorite accounts in the Bible is that of Matthew, the tax collector:

As Jesus was walking along, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him. Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?” When Jesus heard this, He said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor–sick people do.” Then He added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: “I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices. For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”~Matthew 9:9-13

For the first part of this blog post serious, I want to focus on part of the obvious that I feel gets overlooked: Jesus called a tax collector to be His first disciple. One thing has not changed in the past two thousand years: no one enjoys paying their taxes. Even though we may be able to reason through the benefits of paying taxes, like “free” public school education, roads, and national defense, I have yet to many an individual that gets excited to see how much money has been taken out of their pay stub for taxes. I certainly don’t!

I have a deep pity for those who work for the IRS, because I can only imagine the slew of remarks they get when others learn of their job. However, few people would argue that what these people do is actually immoral. Sure, there are those who refuse to pay taxes each year because they believe their dollars are going towards funding abortion or wars they don’t agree with, but few feel their tax dollars are being used to persecute them and their own people. We are paying our government, after all, not a foreign invader. However, the Jews were being forced to pay taxes to the Roman Empire: an invader whom committed atrocities against them and their people. Obviously, Matthew would have been disposed.

Yet, Jesus called him, and called him first. At first glance this post my seem contradictory to my previous statements; after all, the Biblical account states that Matthew got up and followed him. Matthew left his job to be a discipline of Christ Jesus. When he left his tax collection booth that day he was guaranteed to lose his profession. That takes faith! I can’t help but think how many people would be willing to do what God asked if it meant seemingly complete and total financial insecurity…not many. Although Matthew indeed got up and left his sinful profession–and we should all leave our profession if it is sinful–he took his gifts, talents, interests and skills with him, and blessed the world through these.

Gifts, Talents, and Interests

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No gray area. 

I’ve been told that I think in the black and white a lot. For some of my friends, this can be annoying. To be, something is either right OR wrong. There is no gray area. Never.

Likewise, I absolutely love to plan! I planned out my entire college schedule while in high school after I accidentally gained access to my future university’s student website that listed class meeting times; and for fun I have attempted to plan my future law school schedule. I love lists and color coding. In fact, I will be put in a very deep rut for several days if something schedule did not happen, or the schedule was not followed.

I’m also a gifted speaker, outgoing, charismatic, and empathetic.

These are just some of the ways I’m wired. These above characteristics are part of who I am, and just happen to be gifts/skills that align well with a legal profession.

God does not ask us to give up our gifts and skills, in fact, He does the opposite. He asks us to use those gifts for Him. Matthew, as a tax collected, was accustomed to taking detailed notes and accounts. He obviously liked precision, and was gifted in retaining and sorting information. Although He had previously used these skills in his job as a tax collector, He then used his skills to record the first Gospel of the New Testament. Billions of people for thousands of years have read his detailed accounts, and individuals right now are trying to translate his accounts of his time with Jesus into every single language spoken on the planet and even those not spoken! Talk about a huge task! God was thus able to use his talents and interests to serve Him.

Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we each belong to each other. ~Romans 12:5

There are many specific spiritual gifts named throughout the Bible: teaching, prophesy, empathy, encouragement, ect. And these spiritual gifts are used to nourish, encourage and grow what we call the “Body of Christ”, that is, Christians. However, God has also designed each person with unique talents: being outgoing, creative, more reserved, or having an exceptional athletic/musical/other talent. As I will talk more about in my next post, these talents, our interests, and professions allow us to reach individuals with the gospel that those serving in traditional missionary fields (pastors, full-time missionaries, ect.) cannot reach. Instead of being ashamed of our talents, or think we need to give up these talents, we need to think: how can I use these talents and see my gifts as my mission field? 

Bloom Where You Are Planted

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During college I pursued four majors and several minors, simply because I enjoy learning. At my college’s awards ceremony these achievements were recognized. 

Growing up I was “shushed” a lot. I always had something to say. I read non-fiction historical books and watched documentaries from a young age. Although I’ve had to learn that there are appropriate times to share information, and am thankful for a recent ADD diagnosed and medications that have helped calmed the constant tornado in my brain, I have grown up thinking that being smart is not cool. My family talks a lot about how they wished I had more “common sense.” Many of my family members are gifted carpenters, plumbers, and overall handymen and women, they can fix just about anything and their mind works this way. I can only imagine how strange it must have been for them to have a child that wanted to read thick biographies about presidents instead of learn to fix things around the house. I was labeled as lazy, book-smart, and different. Although I’m 22, being categorized as these things, and not having my intellect and desire to learn nurtured and appreciated, still hurt.

I wanted to share these parts of my story, to conclude by saying: the gifts God has given you and the way He has made you matters. It should be celebrated. My outgoing personality, love for facts, and desire for truth will serve me well as an attorney. I can use the talents God has given me to work with integrity, and bring glory to Him by using the talents and interests God has given me, and using them well to the best of my ability, And, more importantly,  I can use my profession as an attorney to share my faith with individuals who would otherwise never set foot in a church or a mission outreach.

Never be ashamed of the talents and interests God has given you. Use these to do good, and to pursue things you enjoy that glorify God. We’re not all called to speak from the pulpit every Sunday, nor are we all called to sell our belongings and move to an unreached people group. Some of us were designed to stay where we were born, and do jobs that are wrongly labeled as “less Christian.” We must bloom where we are planted. God needs people of all skills and talents, including tax collectors like Matthew and future lawyers like me.

xoxo
Krista

What Not to Say to the Grieving: And What to Say Instead

prom jonjontMe and Jonjont family jonjont.jpg 228215_2068368035697_5221072_n 1909782_1097983016678_5650121_n

Hello, friends!

I’m writing with a heavy heart. Earlier this week one of the individuals I love most in the entire world died. I know it’s more socially acceptable to use terms such as “passed away,” because death seems like such a dirty, painful world. However, death, the dirty word that connotes suffering, pain, and the finality of separation is appropriate to describe how I feel.

My great-grandmother, known by us great-grandkids as Jon-Jont, was a remarkable woman. She was incredibly kind and encapsulated a true servant’s heart. She wasn’t a super hero, and by the world’s standards she did not do anything remarkable. However, she was ALWAYS willing to help others, even in the smallest ways. This theme, her willing to help everyone every way she could, was evident at her funeral yesterday: friends shared of the small things she had done for them that left an eternal impact.

Most importantly, she loved her family. Four generations of our family (her, her children, her grandchildren, and great grandchildren) all lived on a hill in our small town in Southern Vermont on land she and her husband gave to their children. She babysat all of us, and, as a result, I am closer to my second cousins than many of my friends are to their siblings.

She had been suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease and various health problems for the past few years, and hadn’t remembered my name in well over a year. However, the night she died, a miracle happened! She remembered my name, told me she knew Jesus, recited the 23rd Psalm from memory and had me pray with her. I have no doubt she is with Jesus. I  also have no doubt that being with God is so incredible  that she would have no desire to be back on this broken Earth.

All of that said, throughout this week I have been observing the ways various individuals have attempted to comfort me and my family, and support us through this difficult time. I want to share my thoughts with you. All of us will walk with a friend of family member through the painful journey of loss and grief, and I hope this can be an encouragement to you.

*Please note, I’m just going to be as raw and honest as possible.

First, why are you attempting to comfort someone?

It can be easy to want to post and say “I’m sorry for your loss” in a comment on a status announcing the death of loved one to make ourselves feel better. I get it, we feel socially obligated, or see all of our friends posting their condolences and want to do the same. However, if you’re about to offer condolences solely to make yourself feel better or less guilty, shut your mouth or don’t hit enter. If we begin to make grief about ourselves, and about the grieving, we are TOTALLY missing the point.

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Romans 12:15

We are told to weep with those who weep. I get it, grief is uncomfortable. Death is uncomfortable. When someone dies we are reminded of our own mortality and that one day we, and everyone we love, will die. Reading that sentence may have made you uncomfortable. When we comfort those who mourn we enter into their pain. It’s important to remember that we are there to help carry them through this extremelly difficult time, not to fulfill some social obligation.

I didn’t post about Jon-Jont’s death until the day after she died. I didn’t want to deal with superficial condolences. I didn’t want to read individuals write, “Let me know if you need anything,” when I knew they would not be willing to answer the phone at 3 a.m. and be silent as I cried.

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The last time Abby, Liv, Hannah and I were all together 2 years ago. Now we’re physically spread out throughout the country, but still close in heart.

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Sam is one of my oldest best friends, and has been there for me for every major loss in my life.

Instead, I reached out to my closest friends. Although, my four closest friends reached out to me before I even had time to try and contact them. My friend, Hannah, invited me to stay at her house the night Jon-Jont died. We shared a bed so she could be with me when I was crying at 3 a.m. and she went out of her way to make sure I was okay. My friend, Liv, called me from California and kept checking on me through texts and phone calls through the week. My friend, Abby, prayed with me on the phone and my best friend from high school, Sam, found a way to contact me from Central America where she was working for the week. I knew these girls would be willing to inconvenience themselves for me, and walk with me through the pain. I wanted to grieve with them.

Don’t Just Offer Words, Offer Actions

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Jon-Jont’s family has been on our land for eight generations.

It’s easy to comment on a Facebook post. As I said above, it’s even trendy. Researchers have found that one of the most powerful things about Facebook is its ability to cause users to feel “left out.” Therefore, if you see a bunch of your friends posting on a status, you may feel obligated to.

Instead, go out of your way to contact the mourner directly. I am so thankful for the individual emails I received. Individuals taking the extra minute (literally, that’s it) to contact me privately and personally meant the world. Some of the kindest things my family and I received were cards in the mail from individuals out of town and phone calls. Some of these friends we had not spoken to in years. I bet they wondered if it would be weird for them to send a card or call. Please know, these phone calls and cards meant the most to us because they meant that you thought of us and put effort into contacting us. This meant so much. They did not type out a sentence because a status appeared on their news feed, but actually thought of us, filled out a card, and took it to the post office. The cost of the stamp and the card inside, even with just their name signed, meant the world to us, and it will mean the world to those you are comforting. Even better, bake a meal and bring it over. I guarantee you will feel more awkward than your friends. In the unlikely event that your presence is inconveniencing them they will let you know and accept the food (again, your comforting is about helping them, not you!) and the effort you put in will help them feel loved and supported.

Don’t Tip-Toe Around Death, But Do Be Sensitive

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Family pictures 2015

We know our love one died. We know they’re not coming back. Too many people tip-toe around the this fact because they’re afraid of upsetting the mourning individual. I have spoken with several individuals who said they didn’t want to”bring it up” and therefore didn’t want to mention it. You can be sensitive and still acknowledge the fact that your loved one is going through a deep loss.

Grief is Lonely and Lasting

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Grief is lonely. We live in a society that teaches us to be superficial, always happy, and that grief is only a few days. After all, many employers only give a few days off after the death of a spouse or child. Grieving is a process, and it’s important to to keep checking in with your friend. You won’t annoy them, they will appreciate that you care. One week, two weeks, a month, a year after the death, just send your loved one a quick note or text that you’re thinking of them, and ask if there’s anything you can do if you sincerely mean it. They will often feel “strange” that they are still grieving, as they wrongly believe they must be “over” the death within a few days. Your quick note or conversation will validate their hurt and help them to feel loved.

Don’t Say “It Could Have Been Worse” Instead, Validate the Grief

Please, validate grief. Saying things like, “She lived a good life” or “It could have been worse” are honestly not comforting. Again, we live in a society where grief is feared. Say things like, “I know you must be hurting” or “I know you must miss her.” If the mourner mentions she had a good life, agree with her, but you bringing this up causes the mourner to feel like she should not be sad.

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Since Jon-Jont didn’t get to see me graduate, I brought my cap and gown to the hospital to show her. She died later this day. It was a special moment.

I believe Jon-Jont died well. Honestly, she died the best way an individual could. She had been suffering from Alzheimer’s and had no idea who I was for the past 2 years. However, right before she passed she remembered who I was. She told me she loved me, we recited the 23rd Psalm together, and we prayed together. As I left the room she told me she would see me soon.

I am thankful of the hope we share in Christ, and I know that one day I will be rejoicing with her in the presence of Jesus.

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 2 Cor. 1:3-4

Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

I continue to covet your prayers. Let’s continue to comfort each other!

Lots of love,

xoxo
❤ Krista

 

A Grade Is Not Your Worth: Finals Week Reflection

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If I had brown hair, this is seriously what I would look like right now

 

Krista’s D-day: Wednesday, May 4, 2016, 1:30PM

That is the time of my biggest, most stressful final of the year. I have spent FIVE WHOLE DAYS (minus eating, sleeping, ext.) preparing for this one stinkin’ 2 hour exam. I gave up Netflix, stopped talking to family at home, and neglected studying for all my other finals just to prepare for this test. And, you know what? I may still fail.

The only thing more stressful in my entire academic career than this test was the LSAT, which is saying a lot. I have re-read every work (and it’s a literature class), looked at the Sparknotes for each work, read over notes, watched youtube videos, LITERALLY EVERYTHING I could possibly do to prepare for this test. And, sadly, the material is not sticking. I struggle to remember the quotes, the dates, the types of sonnets.

Usually, I would not be this stressed about a test. However, I have tied a significant, and honestly pathetic, amount of my self-worth to this test.

I’m convinced the professor for this class does not like me, and, throughout the semester, I have become dedicated to somehow proving to him that I am smart enough, good enough, English-major-like-enough for his approval. I have sought his approval continually, only to feel rejected. I had decided after the mid-term that the final would be where I proved once in for all my worth to him.

Honestly, who else has been there?

Have you become so preoccupied desiring to prove to a boss, a co-worker, a friend, a coach, a teacher, a boyfriend, that you are good enough for them that it has become an obsession? Well, I have this week.

As I was curled up on in a ball in my room, sobbing 15 minutes ago with frustration and fear, I really felt God whisper to me, “My Child, this does NOT define your worth.” And I was overcome with peace.

Therefore, readers, whoever you are to happen to stumble upon this blog, I want to remind you that YOUR WORTH IS NOT DETERMINED BY A TEST, A SCORE, OR ANYTHING ELSE. Your worth comes from God. Nothing can change that.

On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts.~1 Thes. 2:4

xoxo

Krista

Women Rule the World, And Destroy Each Other While Doing It

I was notified that today is my “Blog-Aversary.” Therefore, I thought it was fitting to post about something that I’ve been thinking about for several months: girl wars. Prior to doing my senior research project on perceptions of working mothers, I had thought only “mommy wars” existed. However, it is not only moms that fight with each other about what moms should and should not do, it’s all women.

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Presenting My Senior Presentation

Mommy Wars

I grew up in a conservative faith background, in arguably the most progressive state (Vermont), in a family where the women “wore the pants.” I had my fair experience witnessing women, in person and on Facebook, tear each other apart for working or staying home. Stay-At-Home Moms (SAHM) argued that working mothers—regardless of if the woman was working by choice or because her family needed the extra income—were unloving and neglecting their children, while working mothers argued that SAHMs were ungrateful for all of the work women had done during the past century for gender equality. Both NOT true. The gloves really came off when a homeschooling SAHM went to bat against a working mother whose chose to send her children to public school.

My Experience

All of the women in my large extended family worked at a business or worked from home. My mom and grandma, and many of my extended family members, were at every single concert/meet/game I played within driving distance from PreK-12th grade. They asked me about my life, I was able to tell they deeply cared, and I was never able to empathize with the argument that because women in my family worked I was unloved or neglected.

However, as I became friends with more conservative families my sophomore year of high school, I heard the “other side.” Every Christian friend I had grew up with a SAHM. Even after they graduated, their mother chose to stay home. I made the BIG MISTAKE of asking one of their moms (we were close, so I didn’t think it would be terribly awkward), “What do you DO all day?” Only to receive the stink eye, a thorough lecture, and a large serving of humble pie. Do not ever ask a SAHM that. Ever. Nope. Never.

As I became close to these more traditional families, I realized I was “suppose” to be a SAHM. I listened to sermons at various places about how a woman was suppose to be a help-mate, how she was designed to care for her children, and how the majority of problems with our youth come from a MOTHER not being home. I came to understand that it was my duty as a woman designed by God, and (hopefully) a future wife and mother, to be a stay at home mother.

However, I’ve always enjoyed school. Always. I feel God has gifted me academically, and thoroughly enjoy reading research journals. During high school I completed the first two years of nursing school because I planned to enter an accelerated nursing program. I thought nursing could be my happy medium, as I could keep my license and maybe work part time when my future children were in school.

I didn’t begin to realize that maybe I wasn’t DESTINED to be a SAHM until my high school graduation. I received multiple academic awards, and was told about the bright future I had. And I hated it, because with each compliment  I thought, “It would be nice to continue school, too bad I’m going to be stuck home.”

DISCLAIMER: I don’t feel women who CHOSE to say home are uneducated (many SAHMs are super smart) or that they’re any less. But for ME I felt obligated and awful.

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Scholarship Announcement in the Newspaper

 

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My dad, me, my younger brother at Senior Awards Night

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I arrived at college, I had extra room in my schedule, and took classes that interested me. I realized I was gifted in, and really enjoyed, law and debating. After several tearful meetings with my academic advisor, I realized I should aim to go to law school. As I worked in sexual assault advocacy, and observed the work done by attorneys, for the first time in my life I really felt my calling, and God telling me, “This is what you’re suppose to do, Kris.”

To my disappointment, this “Divine Affirmation” if you will, provided little comfort. As I still felt like I was being a “bad” Christian. Yes, I was single and marriage and motherhood were no where close, but as a planner, it still stressed me out.

“How Can You Do That?”

When I began posting more about my law school application journey this past Spring, I was honestly quite shocked at the push back I received from many Christian women. “Why are you going to spend all that time and money when you’re just going to have kids?” Was a frequent question. Surprisingly, the only flack I received was from women. I think I’ve read more blogs about being a working mother than any single woman my age, because I wanted to have a good response to these questions.

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This is my letter of intent that I sent to say I would be attending Brooklyn Law School in New York City this fall. I received some pretty heated/unkind comments.

Woman Wars

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I took a Gender Studies class (yes, at a Christian University by an Obama-supporting liberal, chew on that) my junior year and I became more aware of the many struggles that face working mothers. I thought about this material quite often, and when it came time to chose a topic for my senior research project on perceptions of working mothers.

My Research

My project consisted of three scenarios: Karen, Jenny, and Mollie. These scenarios were split between nearly 200 participants. Karen was a mom who took maternity leave and then returned to work, Mollie became a stay at home mom, and Jenny chose to go back to work a few weeks after giving birth.

My original hypothesis was that a recipient would be less supportive of a woman working if a) They had a stay at home mom or b) Their mother did not possess a college degree or higher. This was not supportive, instead, I found that the ONLY CONSISTENT factors of approval/disapproval were religion and gender. Christians overwhelming did not support women working, and men were more in favor of women working. Not what I expected at all.

We Need to Stop the Fighting

Ladies, we must stop fighting. I firmly believe that SAHMs and working moms deeply love their children, and have made their career decisions with their family’s best interest at heart. So here are my questions:

  1. Why does it matter to YOU if another woman works or stays home?
  2. Why would her decision change how you treat her.

God has given everyone special gifts and talents. And I believe some of these talents (like law, for me) can really be best used outside of the home. Does this make me less Christian? Less loving? NO!

As Christians we need to support everyone woman’s right to pursue the talents God has given her, even if her decisions are different than the ones we would make for ourself.

Additionally, we must always be kind, encouraging and and respectful of one another. ALWAYS. As women, and Christians, we have enough against us. The last thing we need is internal division over how we pursue ministry callings.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Eph. 4:23

So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.1 Thess. 5:11

Be kind, be smart, be fierce.

xoxo

Krista

Social Media: The Desire to be Known

 

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Me Instagrammin’ in New York City c. 2015

Like many millennials, I am addicted to social media. Last night at my young adult Friday night Bible study, my friends joked about my addiction to Instagram. But, y’all, it’s a real thing. According to the American Association of Addiction Medicine, addiction is, “Characterized by inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioral control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response.”

According to the American Association of Addiction Medicine, addiction is, “Characterized by inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioral control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response.”

Last year I was blocked from instagram for commenting and posting too much. Yes, apparently that can happen. I had to a long, 24 fours without instagram, and I started having withdrawal. I was angry, searching for all possible ways to get on the app. I was freaking out worrying that I was somehow missing out on everything. My friends may have laughed at me, but it was a big deal.

Facebook has only bee around for about a decade, being launched officially in 2004. Therefore, studies on addiction to social media and how it affects the brain are an emerging science. It’s only been 10 years, and, yet, social media (particularly Facbeook) have helped lead to Revolutions, weddings, crimes, break ups, you name it! Why are we so addicted?

Without going into the specifics of addiction, chemicals, brain function, and research, I’d like to sum it up here:

We desire connection.

We desire to be known.

From the Beginning

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Rublev’s Trinity

One of the most famous paintings in the world is Rublev’s Trinity. It shows God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit sitting at a table together. God Himself lives in a constant state of community. Created in His image, it makes sense, then, that humans desire community, too.

Social media allows us to be in this community. All. The. Time. With two clicks you can see everything your friends and family are doing (and some people share literally everything they are doing), find encouragement, share prayer requests, get news, ext. It can be a really great thing that helps us fulfill this need for community.

However, like all good things, social media can be distorted. Bullying, affairs, sexting, illegal gun sales, and even human trafficking all occur on social media. Therefore, it’s critical to remember that what you do behind your computer screen has real world affects.

It’s critical to remember that what you do behind a computer screen affects the real world.

Cultivate Community

As you’re using social media to foster community, ask yourself, “Will what I’m about to post cultivate community or destroy it?” Are my words kind? Are they encouraging? Is this truthful? Community is built upon respect and truth. Therefore, if what you’re about to say or share is not truthful or kind, do not post it. It will destroy the community that your social media accounts allow you to create.

Let’s be community builders and kingdom restorers,

Krista ❤

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/krista.gay.5
Instagram: kristaann_vt

When You Are Rejected By Christians

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Rejection hurts. There is no way around it. No matter how much mental “Christianese” post-rejection pep talk you may give yourself, at the end of the day, if you’re honest, it still hurts. In a way, rejection in life is to be expected. No matter how hard you try, you will not be offered every position for which you apply, be picked first in every game, liked by every person you meet, nor will you be noticed by every person you find attractive. We experience rejection daily at different degrees. I expect these daily rejections. I can handle them. However, I’ve realized that, at least for me, the most difficult rejections to face are the rejections that come at the hands and lips of other Christians.

Christian Rejection

For this post, “Christian rejection” occurs when you feel rejected by Christians or by your own Christian faith community. What constitutes rejection will look different for every individual; perhaps it’s not being invited to the Bible study or prayer breakfast, not asked to say the benediction, or your child wasn’t invited to the after church play group. Either way, you know the kind of rejection I’m talking about. It hurts. In my own life, I have found this rejection more hurtful than other rejections because 1) The rejection is usually (not always) intentional. You were left out on purpose, for some reason unbeknownst to you. 2) Christians are supposed to be the most welcoming people, period. So, to not be welcomed by these welcoming people leaves you wondering “What’s wrong with ME?”

My Story

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My first day of Sunday School c. 1997

Let me share a little about me, and my experiences with this kind of rejection, first:

Although I am from what those “in” Christian circles deem a “broken family” (I was born to teen parents and raised by my grandparents) I grew up in church. I grew up going to a King James Version (KJV) only church. But, it was full of good people: people who worked hard, tried their best to do good, and were always, always there for you when you needed someone. I attend a Christian summer camp every summer. Fox news was the ONLY news allowed in our house. So, to most, I fit the “conservative Christian” mold. However, I also went to a very, very liberal public school, dated, and had no form of media censorship…behaviors some would call heathen.

I followed my high school boyfriend to a Christian college in the south. I was presented with different forms of Christianity, slammed with some tough trials, and confronted with questions about faith and God I could not answer.Here, I walked away from my faith (secretly) for a year, only to come back to my faith after attending a conservative home church group with a friend. A church more conservative than my Vermont church. Once again, I fell in love with the good people there, people who genuinely tried to do good and who I felt truly love me.

Although I was in a conservative church circle once again, I couldn’t shake off the liberal leanings I had picked up, ironically, at my southern Christian college. Through classes on gender studies, race, and poverty, I became politically moderate.

All of this to say, I became an “outsider” in many ways. I was from a broken home, yet attended a KJV only church, support welfare policies, and voted strait ticket Republican. I didn’t “fit” anywhere. As a child, I wasn’t invited to some play groups because I may be “a bad influence,” and in Arkansas I stopped being invited to some things after my liberal friends found out I went to a KJV only church (I was labeled a “fundie”), and some of my more conservative friends labeled me a “liberal”. I was rejected from things. (DISCLAIMER: These rejections were far and few between. And if I haven’t talked to you personally about this, you’re not involved). All of these thoughts came to light because I was deleted off of the Facebook and Photostream of some of my friends today. I do not believe I was deleted due to any of my posts or political leanings, but for some reason, it brought up the memories of Christian rejection. I realized, if you’ve been in church long enough, you’ve probably experienced it, and I wanted to share my thoughts.

First Things First

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Clashing Colors

Before I go any further, I must address these three, SUPER IMPORTANT things:

  1. You are not supposed to get along with everyone.
  2. You are NEVER responsible for the actions of others.
  3. Is is a relationship you actually want to save?

As point numero uno said, you’re not supposed to get along with everyone. Respect everyone? Yes. Love everyone? Yes. Want to invite everyone to your sleepovers? Nope. Nada. I think of people like colors. Take a look at the models in the picture above. Those colors are great, just not together. Why? They have different “personalities.” Could they work together to make a big art piece look fantastic? Sure. Should they hang out together in those outfits? Nope. I’m an ENFJ. There are other people, just due to our dislikes and likes and mannerisms, that I don’t spend more time with than I have to. That’s okay.
So, first ask yourself: was I not invited to X simply because our personalities don’t match? And then, take a hard, honest look. If the answer is “yes,” no matter how much you want to be that person’s BFF, it’s okay. Rejection still hurts, though.

Now numero dos. Despite what you may have been told, you a never responsible for how another person acts. I think it’s a shame that we now place blame on other’s for our actions. You can annoy me all you want, but if I punch you, that is my choice. (This mentality leads directly into rape culture…but that’s a topic for another post). Therefore, no matter how liberal or conservative your Facebook post was, if someone deleted you, they chose to do that. Don’t begin the victim mentality of “what did I do wrong?” Hold that thought, though, as I transition into my main points.

Numero tres: do you actually care about this relationship. We have all had what Aristotle calls “relationships of utility.” That is, relationships we are in simply because they benefit us. The pretty girl you hang out with to get guys to notice you, the super smart kid you always invite over to get homework help, the popular kid you feel cool to be seen with. If you were rejected by the Christian version of one of these, ask yourself if confronting them about the rejection is worth it, because the relationship may not be worth saving.

Do You Need to Apologize?

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If you have been rejected or not invited to an event, and you realize the people did not fit the above three categories, you must ask yourself what could have caused this rejection. It is okay, and healthy, to examine yourself and the context of the rejection/deleting ext. Did you say something hurtful? Did you do something to knowingly offend them? If they answer is yes, then you must apologize. As Paul said, “If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18).

“If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18

This is super important. Just as the other person is responsible for their actions, so are you responsible for yours. Living at peace with one another means saying you’re sorry and admitting fault when you done messed up, even if that means swallowing your pride in the process.

Conflict Is Healthy

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Conflict Can Be Healthy

When handled in an appropriate and mature way, conflict is a healthy part of a relationship. We are all different, and thus we should expect differences of opinions and beliefs. Having disagreements is okay. Becoming abusive or disrespectful is not.

Therefore, if you feel you were rejected and are hurt, and it is safe to do so, talk to the person who you felt rejected you. Make sure when you go into this conversation there is not a single ounce of pride or bitterness in you. Be respectful and polite. In private (if safe) say to the person:

Step 1: Identify the event so there is no confusion. Example: “I saw you deleted me on Facebook” or “I noticed I was the only person you didn’t invite to the prayer meeting”.

Step 2: Say how it made YOU feel (USE I STATEMENTS!). Example: “This made me feel left out” or “This made me feel embarrassed”.

Step 3: Name goal of conversation. Example: I wanted to talk to you about that, and hear your reasoning for doing that.

Step 4: Do not guilt trip and thank them. Example: Thank you so much for explaining that to me, I know sharing feelings can be uncomfortable sometimes, but I am now glad we’re on the same page.

Example: Hey Sally, I saw you deleted me off of Facebook last week. I was hurt by this because I perceived it as you not wanting to talk to me anymore. Could you explain why you did this?

Sally: It’s not that I don’t want to talk to you any more in person, I just was no longer interested in the things you were posting and I didn’t want them showing up on my Facbeook.

Thanks for explaining that, Sally. That helps me understand better. I know this could be an uncomfortable conversation, so I appreciate you talking with me.

BOOM! Done.

*Okay, okay. Most conversations, if the person is honest, will be a tad more hurtful: “I don’t want you influencing my children with your conservative views” or “I feel embarrassed to be around someone from a broken home.” We live in a culture that likes to hide behind screens. Therefore, be thankful for any honesty you get! Therefore, you must also ask yourself before you begin these conversations if you really want to know the answer.

Conclusion

I hoped this post encouraged you, and let you know that we have all been rejected, and if you’re in church long enough, you will experience Christian rejection of some form. So, key points to remember:

  1. Everyone gets rejected sometimes.
  2. No matter what, you are never responsible for another’s actions.
  3. Although you are ALWAYS responsible for your own actions.
  4. Apologize quickly.
  5. Conflict can be healthy.
  6. If you feel rejected by someone that is a relationship you would like to maintain, you must talk to them about it.

 

Have you experienced rejection before? Christian rejection? How’d you handle it? I’d love to hear.

Much peace and many blessings,

Krista ❤