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I’m so Pretty

Recently I was listening to “Betcha Gon’ Know” by Mariah Carey. It was the version that features R. Kelly. It made me think about how R. Kelly is now known for abusing women and how many were pushing for the mute R. Kelly movement, among other celebrities that are outed as abusers or pedophiles. I see why people want to shame these people and want to take away their star power. However, there are abusers all around us. There’s millions probably billions of people that abuse other people but we are only aware of the cases that make the headlines, nationally or locally. If we knew what literally everyone was up to in their spare time no one would be allowed to do anything in the court of public opinion. It seems that we have entered a new era in history. Pedophilia and abuse against women in general is taken more seriously in some ways. Despite the “anything goes” culture, the “consent” culture, there seems to be thirst to know the truth even about our supposed heroes or favorite celebrities. I cannot emphasize enough though that it shouldn’t surprise you that the World is busy being the World. That is, if you’re a Christ follower.

In Genesis 6:9, the Bible tells us that “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.” He [and his immediate family] was the only one selected to survive the Great Flood. Literally, no one else.

As far as God was concerned, the Earth had become a sewer; there was violence everywhere. God took one look and saw how bad it was, everyone corrupt and corrupting—life itself corrupt to the core. Genesis 6:11-12 MSG

Further in Genesis 18, the Bible tells us that Abraham interceded for the town of Sodom. He asked if God would spare the city if fifty righteous people are found and God said he would. However, I think Abraham knew there wasn’t fifty righteous people so he kept bargaining for less. He stops at ten. He asks God if he would spare the city if there are ten righteous people found and God gives His word, “for the sake of ten I will not destroy it.” We read just one chapter later that God did not find ten righteous and only allowed Lot, his wife and two daughters to flee as God rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from Heaven. Out of the four fleeing, three made it to the next town.

Skipping ahead to the book of Daniel, we learn about a young man named Daniel that was trafficked to Babylon after Nebuchadnezzar took over Jerusalem. Daniel became known for maintaining his purity in the midst of the Babylonian culture. Daniel refrained from the foods and drinks they served as to not defile himself. God gave him favor and Daniel was allowed to not partake in the lifestyle. Daniel continued to see favor throughout his life while living in a different kingdom.

Just as in the times of Noah, Lot and Daniel- these men were counter-cultural. Within their generations and throughout history, their names and stories were written down to be known forever for their righteousness. These are just three examples, but three out of the billions of people that have gone to the grave before us and will go after us… THREE stands out to me.

We are living in modern day Babylon or Sodom or Gomorrah. These cities are basically cliché in 2019. But if you are a Bible reader, you need to acknowledge the time in which we live. Our culture is a secular one. Our country didn’t begin that way but as history repeats itself, Secular is what we have turned into. That is why there is so much hostility towards the Christian life. Real Christians standing for Biblical Truth in the Post Modern Culture.

You’re probably wondering when I’m going to explain how I’m so pretty and what that has to do with R. Kelly, historical and biblical references.

[I apologize if you’ve lost interest already. Context is one of my top strengths and I feel compelled to give the context to help lead you from one idea to the next. It’s just how my mind works! ]

While we live in Babylon just as Daniel did, we are called to stand out. We are not to participate in everything that the opposing culture offers. Daniel could have forgot his identity and dismissed his God but he did not. He could have sold out to the dominate culture, a foreign culture. Time and time again God warned his people to not worship other gods or idols. To not become like those around them. In the Old Testament, God very clearly gave those instructions repeatedly. In the New Testament, God gave us his only son to give us the grace that we might finally obey his commands. He allowed Jesus to come to love us by allowing us to see our hearts are knitted together with His. That we see ourselves and others with His gracious loving eyes. We have to distinguish what is the culture permit and what does God command? They should not be the same. We are to pursue Christ and aim to be Holy not assimilate to a culture that rebels and rallies against our God. It can feel uncomfortable but if our eyes are on eternity with Christ, saying no to permissive cultural practices should become easier over time.

Earlier that day I was running errands. I went to a Target for one thing. That one thing was not in the store so I decided to walk around a bit. Dangerous, I know! I walked through the women’s clothing, accessories, bedding, back through the accessories and women’s clothing. I tried on a lot of sunglasses and touched many handbags. I left the store only buying one t-shirt!

As I was driving away, I began to think about how much I desire to buy new clothing and accessories. How much I desire to join in the beauty and fashion trends taking place. How the pull of obtaining more clothes, more accessories, longer lashes, specific nude colored lipstick permeate my mind. I follow a lot of online boutiques on social media so I constantly see the clothes I don’t have and decide very often that I need thirty new tops every month. Social media is now interwoven with ads of all types. These ads are catered specifically for you through algorithms. Its easy to get caught up in striving to look a certain way or follow current trends.

I often feel I need to be prettier. Prettier and prettier. I have to achieve more as far as appearance. I have to improve my appearance. I have to aim to look better than I do today. Its feels like a beating drum…. Prettier….prettier….prettier. A pounding drum.

For men, it could be you feel you need to make more money, improve your wages, get a bigger paycheck. More money…money….money. A pounding drum.

I then wondered what if I replaced that beating drum with the beating drum of God’s love? What if I put that appearance drum on mute. I believe I would hear the pounding drum of God’s fierce love. I Love You. I Love You. I Love You. DEEPER. FIERCER. That sound would be overwhelming and no other sound could replace it once I heard it truly.

It made me think of how I long for a husband. A husband that would take delight in me. That would be excited when I walked into a room. Or if I were doing something like the washing dishes a very mundane activity. My back is towards him as I zone out in the task before me. He, on the other hand, very much intently watching me. Radiating beautiful thoughts towards me.

So, if I take this vision and transplant it on the Lord…

Can I fully grasp how much he loves me already? How much it isn’t about my appearance? The clothes I wear, the makeup trends I choose to follow or reject, my hair style, my weight. When I catch a glimpse of myself in a reflective surface and instantaneously think “ugh,” when I don’t measure up to the standards I decided were important… NONE of these influence God’s love. God has been radiating beautiful thoughts on to me since before he knit me together in my mother’s womb. For every beat of “be prettier,” God beats “I LOVE YOU” louder, “I LOVE YOU DEEPER,” “I LOVE YOU FIERCER”….its a beat more steady and full than our own heartbeat. Its a rhythm with origins in Heaven that God gave us the grace to tune in to.

Havilah Cunnington posted this the other day on her Instagram. I thought it fit perfectly into the revelation I had.

Related Reading:

Sister, Your Worth is Not Found in Your Size

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Gender Issues, Men

10 #manproblems

I asked some men what “men issues” are to them. I have narrowed it down to this list of 10. These are their items but my thoughts on the topic.

Temptation
Response: When boundaries seem old fashioned and constant access to people is the norm, impropriety can take over if you’re not careful. Simple texts turn into all day conversations between two people. With social media its easy to look at profiles and unlimited photos of other people. Its easy to plan out in your head just how easy it would be to take things to the next level with someone though you may already have a Someone. Though most people value fidelity, there’s always those that are on the bench ready to be put in the game. There are women that don’t mind playing second to the wife or girlfriend as long as they get to play. As a man, understand that a woman after you may not be after You. It may feel that way but she could be after you as an escape from her own problems, and you are just a pawn in the game shes playing. She’s looking to fill a hole in her heart. The flesh is weak and its more than just carnal desires. Your emotions, your spirit, your thought-life, your wisdom—its all weak. You may be lusting for sex, and she may be lusting for love, affection, and attention.

“To put it bluntly, your flesh is a weasel, a poser, and a selfish pig. And your flesh is not you.”
John Eldredge, Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul

Respect
Response: Men want to be respected. I’d like to think I respect men. I didn’t always. I have seen the negative effects of women Not respecting their husbands. Running them over with decision making, decisions for the home, decisions for the children and overall their relationship. Men want to know they are THE MAN! Like Maximus in Gladiator. Maximus has the respect of the Ceaser, the army, his family, and later the other slaves. He gains the respect of all who meet him. He has the respect of the Roman crowd. He does not fight for himself but always for others. It is plain to see and that is why he is respected. He values what is Right, and every move he makes shows that. He doesn’t shout Don’t You Know Who I Am?! He respects those around him no matter his circumstance. Women claim to want a man like that, but will not honor him in their average interactions with him.

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Leadership
Response: I hear often that men need to Step Up. Anytime something goes wrong, I’m sure there was a man somewhere sitting down. *sarcasm, kinda* We want men to step up but shut up. Do what I want you to do and don’t say anything while you do it. At one job, we acquired a new Lead. At first, there were mumblings that he was just what we needed, a Man. However, during the first week I heard something to the effect of Yeah, He was tellin everybody what to do. I kept my laughter inside. We wanted a strong male figure, but we don’t want to take directions from him. I almost made it a point to submit to his leadership, I wanted to be an example of a positive male (leader) to female (helper) relationship. There were many times when he had my back and came through for me. I didn’t require he do things my way. He also made it a point to say during my last week, “What will I do without you, Ms. Liana?” I don’t know what kind of praise and recognition others prefer. A simple statement like that proves to me my worth and value.

Failure
Response: Men are expected to perform. Just think, even sexually. If they cant perform in the moment with a woman its the ultimate fail. Even with the Independent Woman syndrome, a woman still holds high expectations for a man. After all a man needs to step up.Take care of his responsibilities.Provide for his family. Pay the bills, put food on the table. Make money. A lot of money. Be father of the year. Be my knight in shining armor. When a crisis arises, a woman looks at a man and says DO SOMETHING. Men are expected to pull money out of air, be Mr. Fix-It, solver of all problems and righter of all wrongs. We expect them to show up, but shut up until we need them. Until the boxes are too heavy, the tire is flat, or the bedroom grows cold.

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Being Enough
Response: Is he enough to make a woman happy? Probably not. I believe now only God can fulfill us. When we look to others to make us happy, they will fail us. I’ve spent many years waiting for a guy to make me happy.Thinking once I’m in a relationship, I’ll be happy. It seems as though when you hit one benchmark, another one surfaces, and another and another. The train to happiness keeps adding stops to the journey. Its seems we’ll never get where we’re trying to go. I can understand wanting your partner to be happy with the choice they made when they chose you. I get it, you don’t want them to regret that they chose you. We all want our partners to be proud to be with us. Not embarrassed.

Racism
Response: For those of us that are not-white, Race is all around us. You always know if there are other people of color in the room, or not. You always analyze the relationships between people and understand if issues of race/color are taking place underneath the surface. As a woman of color, I see how often men of color are effected by racism. Men of color are over-represented in all levels of the criminal justice system. They are under-represented in official roles of leadership. These two truths give way to stereotypes and miscommunication. Men of color are fighting against what the world thinks they are. The overriding messages of what black men are, Latino men are, etc. In Heaven and Hell, there will be no demographics. But the enemy wants us to believe we are forever different from one another. With perceived differences, come injustices, superiority, inferiority, hate crimes, genocide, and more. A man carries a heavy load and race is often times what breaks his back.
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Authenticity
Response: Googling “knowing who you are as a man” is quite disappointing. I decided on a quote:
“The man who views the world at fifty the same as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.” -Muhammad Ali

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I had the privilege of visiting the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, KY. I learned more about him there than I had ever known. I learned that he took on some controversial views on race and women at one point in his life. He was steadfast in those beliefs at the time. Decades later, he admitted his beliefs had changed and that he hadn’t always treated women how he ought to have. Having gone through four marriages I would think he was the common denominator. Muhammed Ali, born Cassius Clay, was a boxing machine at the age of 12. As a teenage boy, he didn’t eat junk food. He set himself apart from the rest of the crowd early on. Muhammed Ali would not be the legend he is today, had he not decided who he was going to be. Every man must decide who he is going to be as a man. During this time in America, everything was black and white. Muhammed Ali gained respect, notoriety, and fame because he sold everyone on who he was. He was a force to be reckoned with.
“I’m young, I’m handsome, I’m fast, I’m pretty, and cant possible be beat!”
There was no doubt who he was and he didn’t waver even when others didn’t back him up. When his beliefs became too controversial, he stayed true to his beliefs until he decided to change. Even upon changing his beliefs, he was not regarded as fickle, but still a Man.

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A Woman’s Needs
Response: If women got together to write a list of what they need, I’m sure it would be never ending, and there would be constant revisions. As I mature, my list shortens but deepens. I need to know that whomever I choose to be with, will in fact, BE THERE. I need to know that when we approach a crossroads, he will CHOOSE to continue with* me* wherever we may go. That he wont decide I’m just too much trouble and this is where we end. I need to know that we are on the same TEAM, and you will not conspire against me. You will not make me look stupid. That if I’m pulling away, you will come closer, even its uncomfortable for you. That you can be strong enough to hear my doubts and my problems and HELP. I don’t know how well you can always give a woman what she needs, but trying is half the battle.

A Woman’s Perception
Response: Let me quote my friend, ” A woman may want a certain type of man, that she has in her head. And if a guy doesn’t meet that perception then something is wrong with him and he either has to change or he isn’t a “man.” When in fact he could be a good man for you.” I admit I have done this repeatedly in my life. I broke up with my first boyfriend because I realized he didn’t deserve me being disappointed in him all the time. He deserved for someone to love him all the way through; something I could not do or, was not willing to do. I hold the belief that a man should be who you want him to be when you meet him. If hes none of the things you are wanting then that most likely wont change once you get involved. A year later, you will be upset that he never changed. But it will be your fault that you continued against your own standards.

The Scumbag
Response: Why do women choose the scum bags? No girl plays dress up and says “I cant wait to grow up and be disrespected by a man!” I have heard other women’s stories and am amazed at the BS they put up with. He doesn’t have a job or car but he sits around your house all day? You buy him clothes and shoes? He cheats on you? He hits you? Hes rude, demeaning, and patronizing? But if they heard the BS I’ve put up with. We all have our stories so I try not to judge. Our “bottom lines” vary. I know that in the back of my mind, I like to be the Good one. The Good Influence. I may choose to spend time with a guy that is rough around the edges so that I can look good. The same reason I don’t care too much for a white collar man. He looks more important than me. He looks better than me. It is because of my own selfishness, my own self-centeredness that decides I need to look out for myself. That a man cant come through for me so why pretend that there is more out there for me? Its easier to put the blame on a man, then it is to CHANGE yourself.

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And, Scumbag Steve meme just for fun….

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Related Reading:

http://www.girldefined.com/call-manhood-part-2

http://winteryknight.wordpress.com/2010/10/02/why-do-some-women-prefer-jerks-for-boyfriends/

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