Category Archives: Living with Imperfection

A Plague of Indecision

Decisions, decisions, decisions!

We all face a plethora of decisions, every day of our lives; no matter the job, no matter the circumstance; and actually it’s more of a plague of INdecision rather than decision; an inability to choose between two or more directions that lay open before you.

Mine at the moment certainly isn’t an earth shattering choice. Actually, I simply can’t decide where to take the direction of the fifth Drifter Series book. I’m stuck at a certain point with two main characters and a villain, and can’t decide where to go from here.

It’s just a temporary case of writer’s block.

What led me to this writer’s block…aahh, these are the choices behind the choices. Continue reading A Plague of Indecision

There is No Better Test….

Photo Credit: Anna Cervova. Public Domain.
Photo Credit: Anna Cervova. Public Domain.

There is no better test as to whether a man is really preaching the New Testament gospel of salvation than this, that some people might misunderstand it and misinterpret it to mean that it really amounts to this: that because you are saved by grace alone it does not matter at all what you do; you can go on sinning as much as you like because it will redound all the more to the glory of grace. If my preaching and presentation of the gospel of salvation does not expose it to that misunderstanding, then it is not the gospel… There is this kind of dangerous element about the true presentation of the doctrine of salvation.

~ D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The New Man: An Exposition of Romans Chapter 6 (London: Banner of Truth, 1972) pp 8-9

To An Anonymous Parent II

change“What was that that just walked in…”

The lady was standing with her husband in my check-out line. The entrance doors opened and she walked in: Mid- to late-teens, black hair, bright red lip stick, black cropped top, black short shorts, pale skin, waist-length leather jacket even though it was pushing 90 outside, and knee-height boots (black, of course). What most of us would think of as full on Goth. I’m 6’1” and with those boots she could look me in the eye.

Striking would be the word I’d use.
Not glamorous. Not ugly. The girl was striking.

She was also with her mother.

The reaction of the woman in my line—under her breath and after the eye-roll—was, “What was that that just walked in?”

I don’t know if she was talking to me or to her husband, but neither of us answered.

As karma does, within about a minute, the mother and daughter circled around and came to stand behind the couple. Again, another side-long glance. Another whispered comment. Again, neither of us, the husband or myself, heard it.

 

What was that that just walked in?

The what was a who. A girl. A teen. With a story. A past. A history.

One that this unfortunate woman will never know because she had already written her own for the girl. And even more unfortunate, the woman had already condemned her for this ‘history’; the one of her own creation, without ever knowing or talking to her.

Without ever talking to her mother, either; who was with her by the way. Pleasantly talking to the girl the whole time. Without fear or condemnation.

Oddly enough, her mother seemed to accept the girl’s style choices.

Yet, still, this other woman couldn’t. That young girl’s upbringing had already been written and she just couldn’t overcome the preconceived notion of who she thought this teen to be long enough to even look at her. Or smile. Or nod. Or say ‘hi’. Or ‘boo’. Or whatever it is that those people say to each other.

It’s something we all do; I suppose it’s human nature, this innate need to judge others around us. I suppose it’s some form of inner insecurity that compels us to see some as “lesser” so that we can see ourselves as “more”; to see some as “worse” so we can see ourselves as “better”. Our history is riddled with this type of condemnatory thinking. We’re riddled with it, every time we come across someone with a different speech pattern, different skin color, different religious views, or different “lifestyle”. Every time we see someone without a limb, without certain mental faculties, wearing ratty clothes and curled up in a doorway in one of those neighborhoods, someone with different facial features or a speech impediment.

As a society, we’ve become so hardened in our own images, and with the images we project on others, that we no longer even see what we’ve become in the process: marblized, immovable, lifeless. We’ve gotten so calloused that we are no longer even concerned about expressing our judgmentalism in front of others. Or about others. Others who have lives, histories, pasts.

Stories.

And mothers.

 

As a people, and especially as Christians, we encounter those who Jesus saw as “the least of these” all the time. More often than we’d like to think. Or know. They’re pretty much everywhere. They’re pretty much everyone.

In fact, they’re us.

And each and every “least of these” have, or at one time had, mothers. And they still have a Father, whether you choose to see it (or Him) or not. And, whether you choose to like it or not. Even whether you choose to care. Or not.

So the girl was striking. She was also really nice. Kinda shy, soft spoken—you know, like a teenager.

And the mother was nice, too. Friendly. She probably would have talked to this other woman if there had only been some acknowledgement.

But that would have shaken this older woman’s world: The world she had created for herself, and for others.

That’s a scary situation to place yourself in, having a well-manicured, perfectly ordered world thrown asunder like that. But it’s also incredibly freeing. And it’s the right thing to do.

I can only pray that your world is shaken some day, that you’re rigidly formed mindset is thrown asunder, and that you come through as a better person for having it done.

To An Anonymous Parent…

The retail store where I work recently received several photocopies of a letter placed over the front of several magazines in various displays throughout the store. These letters covered over such diverse titles as Shape, Women’s Health, Vanity Fair (yes, that one), and others. Oddly though, not Cosmo or Maxim, but maybe these were just missed (or they ran out of flyers).

The letter said this:

PLEASE consider carefully how your placing these sexually alluring photographs affects the lives of those coming into your buisness. They plant seeds of curiousity in children and in spouses, altering families. Your leadership in our community should be used to better the lives of others, not steep them into a life of bondage with promiscuous and sexually explicit pictures. As a parent it deeply concerns me about the lack of responsibility for our future generations and their sexual purity. PLEASE DO NOT place these images in full view of my childern. You are encouraging the idea that a woman is a sex object. She is much more than that…she is VALUABLE!”

(bold, underlining, and misspellings are all the author’s.)

Seeing as how these photocopied letters were left in stealth and anonymously, neither I nor the retail store have any means to contact this parent regarding their concerns. Therefore, I have chosen to respond here:

To the anonymous parent who left photocopied notes over our retail store’s magazine section:

First off, let me say that I personally agree with everything you have written. I, too, am a parent who is very concerned with the pervasive culture of sexuality within our society today. May I add that I am a recovering addict and victim of this culture as well, having spent many years under the bondage of pornography and the very images you are rightly concerned about.

In other words…I get it. I truly do.

In that vein, I have a couple of thoughts for you:

First–planting “seeds of curiosity in children…” is not a bad thing. Yes, the slippery slope of material which you are addressing is questionable. But, prevalence of this material also provides many opportunities to engage your children in an age-appropriate dialog over what is being shown, why it is appropriate/inappropriate, and better alternatives to express the same intent this material is wishing to provide. If you do not think this material is appropriate, tell your children why—in a constructive, non-judgmental fashion. Or, simply tell them about what is being shown, eg: “That woman’s name is Jillian Michaels. She is a fitness expert, and she is showing that through exercise and a good diet, you can be an awesome athlete, like she is.”

Do you know what your children will probably say?

“Oh!” followed by, “…hey look, pool toys!”

Second, turning this material around in its placeholder, or putting photocopied condemnations over the covers, only serves to heighten a child’s curiosity. They think that now they’re missing out on something. That Mom’s hiding something. Something controversial. Something shocking. Something “adult”. As a result, of course they’re going to want to see it! Only now, you’ve added the additional stigma that it is “bad”, lurid, and taboo, which somebody probably told you it was, once upon a time.

Is it? Possibly.
But no more or no less than that same child can see during any given day at any given public beach, or in any afternoon at a local fitness center (or, occasionally, standing in line at your local retail store).

I also agree regarding the “lack of responsibility for our future generations, and their sexual purity.” However, your target of blame on exactly WHO is responsible is somewhat misplaced.

Would it help if our nationwide retail establishments did not carry such material? Undoubtedly. But, we live in ‘Murica, where capitalism reigns supreme and the almighty dollar is the language of choice. God Bless the U.S.A. If you want to protect the future generations, how about we start by raising up that generation of future consumers NOT to be driven by such provocative sexual imagery?

That all sounds well and good, right? But, do you know where all of that starts? In the home. Not in the retail store, not in the publishing business, not with the clothing manufacturers, et. al.

Do you want to discourage the idea that a woman is nothing more than a sex object? Do you want to teach your daughter or son that a woman is more valuable than that? Well then….

It starts (and ends) with YOU.

It starts with education.

It starts in conversation.

It starts with engagement, not by turning a cover around. Not by chastising a retail establishment via anonymity. All you’re accomplishing by doing this is promoting fear and cowardice within yourself, and curiosity and temptation within your children. The most effective thing that can be done, the bravest thing that can be done, is that which is going to have to be done by you.

Talk. To. Your. Kids.

Thank you for reading. Have a great day.

~ Kent