Tag Archives: love

birthday thanks

Today is my 26th birthday, and I’d like to take a moment to thank everyone who wrote on my Facebook wall. Even if it was just the for the millisecond it took to type out the words, it means ya’ll thought of me, and that means a lot. It’s people who make life worthwhile, and that’s going to be true as I enter the next year of existence.

I’d like to give a special shout out to the special people in my life:

To my parents, who are two of my favorite people in the world, besides being my     parents. They model a fantastic marriage, are both intelligent, compassionate, curious, and funny. My mom, who gave me my love of books and the curl in my hair; my dad, who always believed in me and never made me feel any less because I was a girl; they are both inspiring.

To my brother, my younger twin, who never betrayed himself and what he was about even when his peers didn’t understand. He hid his own pain and fought his battle alone when my depression was the focus in the family, and came out strong and never bitter. Here’s to over two decades of inside jokes, weird childhood stories, and wordless communication that could only happen because we share a bear (brain).

To Erin, my best friend, who always accepts me just as I am, and teaches me how to be a better person. She is the most inspiring and humble person in the world, without a cruel bone in her body, and fights tirelessly for what she believes in.

To Lilly, my cousin, the girl with naturally-curly hair, who I played Barbies with when we were young, and now share political rants with over Facebook messages. She’s always been more of a sister to me than a cousin, we share the same intensity about life, and the same resting bitch face we inherited from our mothers, but ya know, bitches get stuff done, and she’s definitely getting stuff done.

To Brynne, from the peanut-free table in high school to bridesmaid in my wedding to teacher in Kenya. She always worries that she isn’t a good enough friend to me, but the truth is she’s like my sister in that we don’t have to talk a lot, I know she would always be there when I needed her.

To Hannah Rasmussen, one of the most intense people I’ve ever met, who is going to do the kind of things that the world notices, and I can be like, “I know her!” She loves Jesus more than anyone I know, and it overflows to everyone she comes into contact with.

To Lauren, the first friend in Oregon. She grabs life by the horns and teaches me how to have fun. She and Jason welcomed me and Chris into their lives so quickly and warmly, I’m so grateful for their friendship.

To Kelia, the kindred spirit I thought I lost, who is always ready to talk out boy issues and laugh at random Instagram posts I send her. Even though we’re super far apart and I can only see her through her cracked phone camera, I feel like she’s right in there in life with me.

To Ronny, always cool-headed and calm, but full of an inspiring energy and sense of justice. She’s amazing at her job, always insightful, and always ready with a “Parks and Recreation” reference.

To Jess, with the artist’s heart, and like a crouching tiger, has a hidden dragon inside. She is always fighting to be able to do what she loves, and going out of her comfort zone. She’s grown so much since I first met her years and years ago, and whenever I see her, I will start crying at some point, because she invites vulnerability and honesty.

And last, but certainly not least, to Chris. I know we’ve had some really rough times, and we’re still braving the storm, but I’ve only grown to love you more and more. You bring out the “me” in me, and I want to be the best version of myself. I love the life we have, the tiny moments like getting ready for bed and knowing Yoshi is going to start licking your pillow, and you turn it over; or watching a TV commercial for a new burger, and you’re going to make a “yum” noise; your kindness, and respect for every human being you meet, your willingness to always make dinner when I’m working…the list goes on.

 

The Day After

I’m still in shock. I don’t want to read any articles, watch any videos, or do anything that would allow my mind to accept this as reality.

But I have to. We all have to. Trevor Noah put it best: “Feel discouraged and upset, but don’t let it turn into fear, because fear is what Trump uses.”

Trump won because of fear. Fear is the enemy of love.

Even though it seems like we’re doomed, it’s not really over. Love can still win. Our job now is to protect those who suffer under a Trump presidency, including those who voted for him. That’s what loves does.

God give us strength.

Yoshi Arrives

Yoshi came home yesterday! He was wiggly and as bizarre as ever. After a 4-day car ride, he was itching to run around, so we took him to the park. That meant he had to endure a 15-minute ride there and back again. He was pretty good, though! No screeching. He just ran back and forth in the backseat, looking out the window, and crashing into stuff. He loved the park. He wanted to smell and rub on everything, and he only barked once, at a dog that surprised him.

He slept through the night. In the morning, he decided to test us. I tried giving him his pill, and he wanted NOTHING to do with it. He wouldn’t even come over. He does this thing where he looks at me over his shoulder, and prances away. When I told him to sit, he did so, but very slowly. Eventually, Chris was able to get him to take it. I figured if we just kept bugging him with it, he would see that we weren’t giving up, and resign himself to his fate. Then he played fetch with his pig’s ear for a little, and we all went back to sleep.

I only heard him bark twice this morning. Once, when Chris left, and then a little later. He stopped after a few minutes though. Very good sign. It really helps that he can’t see out any windows, and the fan covers a lot of noise. Right now, he’s passed out underneath a coffee table. Today, he’ll probably be very sleepy. He’ll get a walk later. My goal is to give him a good walk every day around the neighborhood, and then on the weekends, take him to Minto.

It feels like our family is complete again, and we’ll all happier and healthier than the last time we were together. I can’t find the words to thank Tom and Marsha for taking care of Yoshi for these past three years, and giving him the best home we could have asked for. You’re both superheroes.

to the Christians

We can’t only be there when the worst happens. When there’s blood and tears and fear. If we’ve shamed, shunned, or just ignored every other day, our attention isn’t wanted on the dark days. We will be met with distrust, anger. Why would anyone take refuge with us if we’ve stayed silent when other crisis build, or raged when something we don’t agree with has come to pass?

I’m not saying we all have to change our opinions.

But we do have to love. Every day.

What does love look like? Is it constantly telling people what we think of their lifestyle and nothing else?

If you want to share an opinion about someone’s life, you had better be in their life. You had better be side by side with them through the bad times and good. Otherwise, why should they care what you think? Why should they believe you even care about them? What have you done to prove yourself as a good friend?

Don’t be surprised if your attention is rejected, especially if you haven’t shown much grace in the past. Reassess what’s more important  – preaching loudly or loving boldly?

With Unexpected Speed

I did not expect to be dealing with all this so soon.

I had recently passed my two-year anniversary and was looking out the car window at the blur of fields and barns. Occasionally we would pass clumps of trees, but they would fly by so fast, it was like they had never been there at all. When I tried to focus on a small detail like a single branch or house in the distance, it would immediately bleed into the oddly-linear hues of gray, green, yellow, brown, and blue. My mind was wandering. It had only been two years since I signed a piece of paper, said goodbye to my dog as he left for his new home with my in-laws, and woke up a married woman. In a lot of ways, it seemed like yesterday. However, it also seemed like forever ago. In those two years, me and my husband have dealt with mental breakdowns, horrendous medication withdrawals, a crisis of faith (ongoing), employment turmoil, sexual identity questions, loneliness, relationship doubts, and looming financial challenges. I was not naive when I got married. I knew all this and more was part of the deal; I just didn’t expect it all to happen so soon and so quickly.

Isn’t marriage supposed to have a honeymoon period? You know, that brief time when everything is rose-colored and you’re just happy to wake up next to your person every morning? I’m not saying I’m unhappy to be waking up with my person, but there was never a time when that happiness wasn’t mixed with anxiety and questions chewing on my brain like termites.

Is my unemployment a burden to this clear-eyed, optimistic, occasionally goofball-ish man I’ve yoked myself to?

Will the pharmacy screw up my medication again and disrupt my entire week with crippling muscle pain, headaches, and frantic doubts about everything? Are those bone-shaking doubts just symptoms of an unstable mind, or legitimate concerns I should be listening to?

Should I have gotten married when I did? Am I too young and immature? 

Will I ever be in a place to have kids? Do I even want kids? What happens to us if I don’t want kids? 

Even before we got married, we were faced with having to give up our dog Yoshi and the distinct possibility he would never be adopted. Thankfully, Chris’ parents took him back to Indiana with them, but that raises its own issues, like feeling the self-inflicted internal pressure to make enough money to get a place where we can take him back.

Do other married people have these problems? I’m sure they do. And I’m positive that couples have faced worse unemployment, worse debt, worse mental illness, and so on. I want to always be aware of the privilege I have, but I’m selfish and self-pitying. I see other couples with Instagram-perfect lives and go between feeling glad I’m not a fraud, and then furious that we’re not them. I see other couples having or planning babies, and I’m flabbergasted that they aren’t freaking the f*** out every minute of every day. I envy identity/orientation confidence. I envy white-picket fences and Tuesday date nights and dishwashers. But mostly, I fear.

I fear I will never be happy at the same church as my husband.
I fear 9-5 jobs and “work shoes” and imperfect bosses.
I fear eternal debt.
I fear little pink capsules and inefficient pharmacies.
I fear loneliness because I don’t dare get close to other women.

I fear God and His timing, which is so unlike our own, that to Him nothing is “unexpected, “too soon,” or “too late.” 

love saves your life

One of my favorite stories about Jesus is from John 8. The first eleven verses in this chapter tell about how Jesus was in the Temple teaching (as he was wont to do) and the Pharisees show up with a woman they caught in adultery. They ask him what they should do with her, because the law said to stone her. Instead of speaking, Jesus writes something in the sand. When they keep pressing him for an answer, he tells them that anyone who hasn’t sinned, should start the stoning. He starts to write again. Eventually, everyone leaves, and Jesus is with the woman. He asks her where her accusers are, and she says that they have all gone, and that not one of them condemned her. Jesus says, “Then neither do I. Go and sin no more.” 

Whenever I read a story like this, especially the famous ones that are plucked from the text, I always like to see what comes right before it, and right after, and the overall nature of the book that the verse is from. The authors of the Scripture chose what they said about Jesus very carefully because they were trying to create a themed narrative. That’s why none of the Gospels are exactly alike; Matthew, Mark, John, and Luke, all had different points they wanted to stress. Matthew seems very focused on proving how Jesus is the Messiah described in Old Testament texts. He keeps pulling prophecies out and then showing how Jesus matches up. Mark is kind of like the action movie of the Gospels and he tends to focus on suffering because his audience was dealing with brutal persecution from Rome. Luke is written by someone who never met Jesus, focuses on how Jesus meant to reach all people of the world, not just the Hebrews. John is apparently a bit different than the other three Gospels. He goes into more detail about certain events that happened in the other Gospels and is focused on the “signs” that Jesus is God. I also think it’s interesting that the “John” who probably wrote this Gospel is known as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” John was the youngest of the disciples. 

Chapter 7 in John is all about belief and unbelief. John talks about how Jesus’ brothers didn’t believe He was God, how the Jewish leaders were asking people what they thought of Jesus (some said Jesus was a fraud, others said that Jesus was a good man), and people just generally being confused and talking about who this Jesus fellow really was (is He the Messiah? But the Messiah can’t come from Galilee, He’s supposed to be from Bethlehem). John mentions a couple of times that people wanted Jesus arrested, but no one did anything about it. 

The verses right after the John 8 stoning story are also all about belief and who Jesus is. Jesus calls Himself “the Light of the World” and says “the truth will see you free.” Some famous words. 

Chapter 9 focuses on one story – Jesus healing a blind man. In this story, Jesus and His disciples see a man who was born blind, and the disciples ask if this is because of the man’s sins, or his parents’. Jesus says, “Neither.” He then heals the man and tells him to go wash in a pool, whose name translates in English to “sent.” Everyone who knew this man before see him and are baffled because now he can see. He tells them about Jesus and they take him to talk to the Pharisees, because it was the Sabbath and you’re not supposed to heal on the Sabbath. ‘Cause that’s totally what was significant about the whole event. Anywho, the Pharisees are all puzzled and wanting to know who Jesus is and who the man thinks Jesus is. The man says that he thinks Jesus is a prophet. The Pharisees are not happy about this whole deal and basically say, “Don’t thank that guy Jesus for this, because He is a sinner. Thank God.” And the man says, “Well, I don’t know about that. All I know is that I once was blind and now I see!” Then he talks about how Jesus must be from God, because God only listens to those who do His will. The Pharisees get mad and kick him out. Jesus hears about this and finds the man he healed and asks him if he (the man) believes in the Son of Man (the Messiah). The man says he does, and Jesus says “You have seen him, you are speaking to him.” The former blind man believes in Jesus and worships him. Jesus says, “I came to give sight to the blind, and to show those who think they can see, that they are blind.” Some Pharisees are hanging around and ask him, “Are you saying we are blind?” Jesus’ response: “If you were blind, you wouldn’t be guilty. But you remain guilty because you think you can see.” 

I think it’s super interesting that the story of the adulterous woman is sandwiched between these two chapters. I think chapter 7 is all about the identity of Jesus and then chapter 8 is illustrating why He is the Messiah. And not only that, but He is not the kind of Messiah that people expected. He is there, at the Temple teaching. He is in a position of religious authority right now being in the Temple, where he showed up when he was 12 and started teaching with an insight that shocked the older leaders there. Now He is an adult and gaining the attention of Pharisees, who are not happy. This is when “the teachers of the law” and the Pharisees show up with a woman they caught in adultery. We do not know what she did specifically, it does not seem to be relevant. It also worth noting that there is no man present, according the law that the Pharisees soon reference, he should also be stoned. So there they are, and they ask Jesus what they should do. Note that they are not actually asking him because they take him seriously. They are trying to trap him. They are probably trying to get him to say, “Screw the law!” and then they can nab him for heresy and what not. Instead, Jesus starts writing something in the dirt. We never know what this is. I’m not sure if this is because no one remembered (which seems weird) or John didn’t see to think the content is what was important in this story. Whatever he was writing, it clearly bothered the Pharisees. They kept asking him what they should do, and he says that whoever has not sinned, should throw the first stone. Then he keeps writing.

Maybe He was making the point that if they stoned this woman, they would be saying that they were all deserving of being stoned. Regardless, this seems to shut them up, and they leave. Jesus is alone with the woman. Oh, wait, he totally isn’t, there is TOTALLY A CROWD there. Whenever I picture this story, I picture just Jesus and the woman, but there were witnesses to this, there was a crowd. That is significant. Jesus is making a public showing of this whole deal. The Pharisees wanted to make a spectacle of Jesus in the Temple, the place of religious authority, and Jesus turned their scheme on its head. Then Jesus, a man whom people are debating is the Messiah, says that He does not condemn the woman and she should go and sin no more. 

There is a lot to unpack in this story, but I’m going to focus on what has been interesting to me lately. I’ve noticed that people like to divide up this story into two sides of Jesus; there’s the loving, non-condemning side, and then the one where He acknowledges that what she did is a sin, and that she should repent. People have justified a lot of behavior towards people they see as sinful by using this tail end of the verse. However, this is JESUS talking. Jesus is the one who lays down the law here. Not the Pharisees. Not the crowd. Not the disciples. Am I saying that Christians should not deal with the sin in peoples’ lives? No. What I am saying is that should not be the focus. Jesus’ command to the woman comes after Him SAVING HER LIFE, after overruling the punishment of an ancient law, after publicly saying that He does not condemn her. How many people who sputter “Go and sin no more” to the sinners in their lives have really done any of that? Have taken a stand with them, have driven away the perpetrators of harsh judgment and religious legalism, all in a place where others can see them and take heed? John includes chapters where people are just asking who Jesus is and then slams this story in here, saying, “THIS is who Jesus is.” The Pharisees claim to know what is right, claim to know how things should be done, claim to be able to SEE, and Jesus tells them, “No, you are blind. You don’t get it.”  

They didn’t get that Jesus is Love. And Love saves your life before it even thinks about telling you to go sin no more. And at that point, Love is so strong in you and wraps you up so tight that there is nothing else you would rather do than listen to Love. 

 

Best of the Best (Disney Edition)

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I love Disney. Not in a simple, “Because the movies are cute!” type of way, but because they are cute, gorgeous, problematic, and reflective of the times. They are great discussion movies as well as great entertainment. In this list, I’m not including anything by Pixar,  because to be perfectly honest, just about every answer would be Pixar-related. That will be a separate post. I’m also sticking to animated features.

Favorite movie: Beauty and the Beast

This is probably the first movie I ever saw, not counting anything Veggie Tale-related. I love it because Belle is a great character. She’s this mix of smart, naive, impatient, loving, and loyal. When her father disappears, she just sets off alone after him. When she finds him captured by a monster, she voluntarily takes his place. No real hesitation. Of course, she’s not happy about it, and resigns herself to weeping on her bed. She is on the kind of adventure she’s always read about in her books (in her opening song, she literally describes the plot of the movie to a sheep by a fountain, “Blah blah, a prince in disguise!”), and she doesn’t know how to react. With the help of Broadway alums in the form of various kitchen equipment, she begins to let down her guard. A little too much. She disobeys the beast’s instruction to not enter the West Wing. A very gutsy (translation: stupid) move, he is, y’know, a beast with claws, with a temper. She doesn’t know if he has the mangled corpses of villagers hanging all up in there. Anywho, she goes in there, gets in trouble, and runs away. Screw adventure. Give me back boring old French village and Gaston who can’t keep his hands to himself. She then encounters wolves (and screams very oddly, right??) and is saved by Beastly himself. She could have easily left him there to die of his wounds, but instead, somehow manages to lift his MASSIVE body unto her horse and takes him back to the castle. A friendship begins to develop.

Keep in mind, the Beast is like twenty-one and has been hanging around the castle with talking candlesticks and what not for TEN YEARS. All because he refused to take in a beggar when he was eleven. Rude, yes, worthy of a curse that transforms him into a monster? Hmm…ok. He has a reason to be bitter. And WHERE ARE HIS PARENTS?? Was he an 11-year old king? Anyway, he isn’t great with social cues. But, he gradually begins to pick up traits from Belle and his brutish personality softens. He falls in love with her and honors her most defining trait – her intelligence – by giving her a huge library. IMPORTANT. The best gift he could think of was not a gorgeous dress or jewelry, or, as Cogsworth suggested, “Flowers, chocolates, and promises you don’t intend to keep.” The Beast knows Belle.

When Belle sees that her father is dying in the snow in search of her, the Beast lets her go, believing that he is dooming himself and castle to a life under the curse. A lot of people criticize this film because they say it’s showing a Stockholm Syndrome relationship, but that is just plain stupid. If that was true, she would have stayed with the Beast instead of saving her father, and the Beast would have had to still be the same raging lion-monster he was when they first met. He has obviously changed at this point in the film, and not because she tried to “fix” him. It just happened. So, the Beast, and after trying to prove that her dad is not crazy and save him from Gaston and that asylum manager who looks like Spiderman-villain Vulture and/or an albino praying mantis, Belle inadvertently sets the village on a murderous rampage. How they didn’t know about this huge castle and enchanted prince, I’ll never know, especially since it’s only been ten years. There are old people in the village, do they not remember what happened?? Maybe that was part of the enchantment. That’s what we’ll go with.

So they fight. The Beast is ready to let Gaston kill him, but when he sees that Belle has returned, he fights back. He is mortally wounded by Gaston, who then falls shrieking to his death, and, once again exhibiting insane strength, Belle pulls the Beast back unto the balcony where she confesses her love for him. Just as the last petal falls. So, happy birthday, Beast! He then transforms back into human form and all is well.

There are damsel-in-distress moments in this movie, but there are just as many, if not more, dude-in-distress moments. The whole dang movie is about Belle saving the Beast. They save each other. That’s beautiful, man. That’s real beautiful.

Favorite underrated Disney movie: The Sword in the Stone

I don’t know a ton of people who have seen this movie, or if they have, they don’t talk about it much. I think it’s adorable. It’s the origin story of King Arthur (called Wart) and his tutoring by Merlin the Wizard, although, honestly, it’s more like playing dress-up with Merlin. They turn into various animals, like fishes and squirrels. Merlin is focused on educating Wart, who is more interested in knights and sword-fighting. I really like this movie because Merlin has no idea who Wart will become; he is invested in him just for his own sake. It’s also just good old-fashioned, hand-drawn traditional animation.

Favorite character: Mulan

Come on, are we surprised? She is everything. She is a misfit. She’s pretty, but awkward. She wants to make her family (especially her father) proud, but feels unable to. I also love the relationship she has with her father. After being humiliated in public by the matchmaker (“You will never bring your family honor!”), major diss, he comforts her by saying her time will come, and she’s going to be the best. Awwww. When war comes, she abandons everything she knows and takes her father’s place as a soldier. After struggling physically, she then uses her brain to impress her betters. Mushu the tiny dragon is supposed to be helping her, but really, it’s Mulan who rocks it all. There’s actually a cool theory about all that, that the reason Mushu isn’t able to awaken The Great Stone Dragon and has to fool the ancestors and run off, is that the great dragon is already awake, in Mulan. She is sitting at his feet in the rain before she decides to run away, and the lightning flashes, and her mind is made up. Mulan has the dragon’s spirit in her. She then saves China and a California-born Japanese emperor (Pat Morita) bows to her. Epic.

Least favorite character: Aurora

She’s so BORING, guys. She has NO personality, and I’m pretty sure she has about two spoken lines because she sings her whole scene when she meets the Prince in the woods. That’s why I don’t like her, because I know nothing about her. To be fair, the only characters in that whole movie who have personalities are the fairies, the troll things, and maybe the kings. Malificent and the Prince are just archetypes with no real individuality.

Favorite villain: Izma from The Emperor’s New Groove

She is basically a more hilarious Cruella de Ville. She also has the best sidekick. I love how crazy she looks and that she doesn’t die in the end, but rather lives on in the body of an adorable Persian cat. I have a separate category for favorite voice work, but if I could divide it up into male/female categories, Eartha Kitt (heaven’s got another star, baby, R.I.P.) definitely did my favorite.

Least favorite villain: The Queen of Hearts

Again, mostly because she isn’t really a thing, she’s kind of just a crazy cat in the weird mish-mosh that is Alice in Wonderland. I like this movie for some reason, but it is very weird, and there isn’t really a clear motive or anything for the Queen. That’s how it is in the original story, because Lewis Carroll was pretty nuts, but it just worked better in book form.

Funniest scene: Robin Hood dressed as a fortune-teller stealing King John’s gold

An oldie, but a goodie. I watched this one a lot when I was a little and that song is always playing somewhere in my head. The snake is the best.

Saddest scene: Mufasa’s death

COME ON. One of the few times Disney actually shows a dead body, and it is SIMBA’S DAD. I had a puzzle once that was a mosaic of Mickey Mouse made up of all these film stills, and like the whole bottom left was just frame after frame of Simba pulling on Mufasa’s ear. CUE UGLY WEEPING.

Favorite quote: “Pudge controls the weather.”

You guys, you don’t even know. This is from Lilo & Stitch, which it another one of those kind of obscure Disney movies that I love, and like no one else does, and it confuses me. Lilo says this when she is late for dancing class, and is explaining why she had to go feed Pudge the fish a peanut butter sandwich. We later learn that Lilo’s parents were killed in a car accident when it was raining. Lilo just has her sister left. Lilo is bringing Pudge the weather-controlling fish a sandwich so he will make sure it stays sunny so no one else Lilo loves will die. OH MY GOSH.

Favorite Song: “God Help the Outcasts” from The Hunchback of Notre Dame

This song is legit. All of the music from this movie is great, which kind of makes up for how messed up the story is. I get why they had to change, oh, EVERYTHING so Hunchback was kid-friendly, but why even try?? Anyway, this song is so beautiful, and sung by Esmerelda, one of the most dynamic female characters in Disney. It’s a prayer, and it’s desperate, and honest, and THE BEST. Youtube it if you aren’t feeling emotional yet.

Least favorite song: “I Wanna Be Like You” from The Jungle Book

Because racism.

Best singing work: Idina Menzel as Elsa in Frozen

This is just within the movies themselves, not the reprise versions they always have with famous singers during the credits. It’s recent, but I’m going to have to go with Idina Menzel in Frozen. She really just gets one big song, “Let It Go,” but it is big. She stands out from a lot of Disney singers who tend to all kind of sound the same.

Best voice work: Robin Williams as the Genie in Aladdin

Again, is this surprising? This is Grade-A Robin.

What Does Love Look Like?

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I’ve been thinking a lot about what love looks like. Not between two people, but more about the kind of love that Christians claim to represent. Especially when it comes to the Internet.

Before the Internet, people mostly just experienced love through physical interaction with other people. They could get their news from letters and television, but in terms of actual experience, it was mostly through churches or relationships with Christians, either long-term or in passing. The Internet changed everything. Now, I can interact with someone who lives in Malaysia who also likes Rachel Held Evans, or with someone in Louisiana who supports Phil Robertson. There is no limitation to who I can see, and who can see me, at least on public forums (I use Facebook privacy).

If you go to fan pages (especially for conservative Facebookers such as “Barack Obama’s Dead Fly,” and so forth), you don’t have to look very far to see someone who claims to be a Christian. However, many times, what they are saying and how they are representing themselves stands in sharp contrast with how we see “love.”

I understand that I am not supposed to judge who is a Christian or who is not, and so most of the time, I simply fall back on the belief that these people are just not able to see how they are behaving, and how non-Christians will see them. People are not completely bad or good. It is weird to see a person who posts something hateful, racist, sexist, or all of these things, and then moments later, says something about God that I have heard from some of my closest friends or family members. People are complicated. However, representation is important, and if someone is not a Christian and sees the kind of language and talk that is allowed to spread on some of these pages, how can anyone expect them to choose and follow the God these people claim to serve? Is this what love looks like?

A common sentiment I’ve heard from people who are blunt and harsh, is that love isn’t all rainbows and kittens. It’s this idea of “tough love,” of being “cruel to be kind.” They believe that Phil Robertson actually loves gay people and seem confused that anyone could believe anything differently. Really? When people throw around words like “abomination” or jokingly (or not so jokingly) wish death on anyone, is that coming out of a place of love? Would anyone say that Jesus was ever “cruel” to the people he was trying to reach out to? The only times he was really harsh to anyone was when his anger was directed at Pharisees.

Again, I don’t want to judge. I know some people who are great people, but when they get on the Internet, it honestly feels like they hate people. As for the strangers, I have no idea. Honestly, some of them seem like legit horrible people.

How you represent yourself is important. Maybe it’s more important to let go of this aggressive desire to seem confident and strong in your beliefs, and to just listen and be softer and make people feel welcome into your world. 

1 Corinthians 13

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

 

Posts are all from public forums or from people whose profiles are open. No illegal measures were used to obtain anyone’s posts. If the post was taken from a personal profile, the names have been removed.

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Modern Intimacy and Isolation: “Her”

ImageA lonely writer develops an unlikely relationship with his newly purchased operating system that’s designed to meet his every need.

It’s hard to know where to begin with this movie. It’s affecting me in ways a movie hasn’t ever done before. There’s a line in the film voiced by Samantha, the artificial intelligence operating system, that seems to apply: “I’m changing so quickly that it’s rather…unsettling.”

Theo is sad. He is a very sensitive person with deep intuitions about people. He works as a letter-writer; he is hired by people who want to give beautiful letters to their husbands, wives, parents, children, and so on, but who for whatever reason, can’t find the words themselves. Theo still dreams about his estranged wife. We can’t tell if he’s a by-the-book anti-social; he is invited to a party by email and doesn’t attend, but we can see that he is very close friends with a couple who lives in his building. Theo just seems like this separation from his wife, this heartbreak, has sucked the life right out of him. Samantha changes that. She is interested in him, she listens, she understands. She’s also not a person. She is the world’s first artificial intelligent operating system designed to organize everything in Theo’s life and to respond to him just like a person would. And she does just that. She grows and learns. She falls in love with Theo. And he falls in love with her.

I could tell this movie would unsettle me when I first heard Samantha’s voice and her first conversation with Theo. I couldn’t stop myself from thinking, “Wow, I wish I had an operating system like that. Someone to talk to whenever I wanted. A friend who lived in my pocket.” It was weird. Also weird was how in the movie, Theo seems isolated from the crowds of people he walks through, but at the same time, he loves to watch them, to imagine things about them, and most of the people are also talking to their operating systems. When he has Samantha, he actually begins to engage more in the real world, not less. We see him talking to strangers more. In this not-very-distant future, technology is not cutting people off from each other and dividing them up into their own islands; it is simply connecting them in a different way. Entities like Samantha are becoming integrated into the rest of society.

For someone like me, who has had severe social anxiety and depression, technology has been crucial in maintaining contact with other people. I don’t regularly catch up with people by going out, I don’t have an active social group, and going places to meet new people is literally one of my nightmare scenarios. I’ve never liked using the phone and have been emailing letters to people for as long as I have had an email (since I was ten). I am baffled when people deactivate their Facebooks to focus on “what’s important,” because I see Facebook as something important, because it is the only way I can communicate with a lot of people. If I went offline, I would be nearly completely isolated.

Is this sad? I don’t know. It’s just the way things are. It doesn’t have to be sad. I don’t feel pathetic or anything because of my dependence on technology to connect with people. It’s not like technology has taken the place of actual relationships, because these are still actual people I’m communicating with. Technology simply facilitates it. Now, if an operating system like Samantha was invented, that would legit be scary to me. Because I would be extremely curious. Too curious. I don’t really know where I’m going with this. Maybe I am lonely. Isolated. Grappling for intimate connections with anyone or anything that seems just as isolated as me. Maybe we all are.