09 February 2017

There is No Grey Area for Abuse & Misogyny

There has been a lot of talk about women in the news lately.

The Women's March in DC (and other sister marches around the country) and the March for Life shortly afterward. Then of course there are all those disgusting things the President has said about women. #gross

Women's rights, empowerment, and equality are certainly not bad. Some of it is awesome and really good stuff. I am all about the empowerment of women today.

But let's not be all about championing women's empowerment and then waltz over to the theater to see 50 Shades Darker opening tomorrow.

We live in a culture that is horrible confused and screwed up when it comes to a healthy understanding of love, sex, and relationships.

Apparently the sexual revolution of the 1960's was to make us happier and more free.
From where I sit, I don't see much more sexual freedom.

What has it gotten us?

A pornography EPIDEMIC.
1 in 3 women is a victim of sexual abuse.
50% divorce rate.
Crude sexual humor is tolerated, widely accepted, and deemed as "mere locker room talk."
Women and children are bought and sold into sexual slavery.
Terms like "Mommy Porn" in relation to movies like Magic Mike (aka stripping men).

Movies like this illustrate to me how wrong we've gotten it. 
Sexual abuse, manipulation, coercion are never something to be tolerated, let alone glamorized. Misogyny and mis-treatment of women (and children) is something we as a culture should not settle for.

We don't know what the Hell we are doing. And maybe as a society we haven't for a long time.

All the sexual pain, brokenness, and abuse we see play out in the world is connected and it affects us all. 

In our own way, let's not be silent about it.

Let's not support it.

Let's not tolerate it.

Because "that stuff" never empowers women. 

And it certainly does not honor the dignity and beauty of woman.

I don't know what your plans are this weekend. Personally I need to tackle two baskets of laundry that have been staring at me for a week.

Whatever your plans, please don't confuse talk of empowering women and marching in the streets to watching this movie or supporting this attitude at large in the world.

Because crap like this doesn't support or honor all that women have and are in the world...

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06 February 2017

Three Books That Actually Changed My Life (and that every woman needs!)

Over the years, I have went to counseling on and off at different times. Counseling is great thing, and at some point in life I think everybody should go. We all have issues and baggage to work through. Why not face it and use it as a growth opportunity?

The woman I currently see I have been with for 3 years-ish. She has challenged me in more ways I can count and helped me work through stuff in ways I never knew I needed. Continuing to work with her is one of the best ways for me to heal and be better prepared for a future relationship someday.

There are three specific tools, or books we have used in our time together that have been absolute game-changers in my own healing and self-discovery.

Disclaimer: No I don't think self-books are all we need to heal and work through our issues but there are a tool in our toolbox; one way to help us face the painful, even traumatic stuff in our lives.

Hi my name is Patty, and I am recovering codependent. #truestory

I spent about a year working through the above workbook, which is also accompanied by this book. In terms of counseling, this is what I am just finishing reading and working on. 

Both books are very, very good, but also quite painful at times because it goes into the nitty-gritty of past abuse and/or trauma which lead to codependency. 

So what exactly is codependency?

According to author Pia Mellody, codependence as "the lack of those functional internal habit patterns regarding the body, thinking, feeling, and behavior that are necessary to be a mature adult of having healthy relationships and finding a reasonable level of comfort in life."

Codependents have difficulty:

  • experiencing appropriate levels of self-esteem
  • setting functional, healthy boundaries
  • owning and expressing their own feelings
  • taking care of their needs and wants
  • expressing thoughts and feelings moderately
Mellody, herself a recovering codependent, goes into great detail about each symptom and how it plays out in and affects our lives. She helps the reader dig deep, really.deep. Working through this with my therapist helped me look at my childhood honestly, acknowledge and work through past abuse and trauma, and untie all the unhealthy knots to learn how to be in healthy relationships with others. Its like I'm giving a future relationship a complete detox of all the unhealthy I used to function out of.

Highly, highly recommend. 

I come to realize I've had some very faulty, idealistic idea's about love and relationships. Sure all those Disney movies and happily-ever-after stories probably don't help, but I cannot blame it all on that.

Looking back on all dating relationships and to some degree my relationship with men has not been healthy. Much of it seemed from my own neediness, emotional insecurities, low self-esteem, and falling in love with the idea of being in love. Just looking back at how my perspective has changed over the last year has blown me away.

This book is based off the 12 Steps and has lots of exercises and journal prompts to make you think. 

I can look back and see what were the unhealthy dynamics present in past relationships. It can feel a little embarrassing to of course learn this all after the fact of going through a divorce but I'm not gonna beat myself up about that either.

You know what you know when you know it.

And I know a lot more about myself which is only going to help me in my future.

Very good read, not as triggering as the previous workbook and accompanying book.
Very practical.

I stumbled across this book quite by accident right before the holidays. It wrecked me.

Shame is one of the most powerful, deadly lies Satan can get us to believe about ourselves. It can sneak in and take over your mindset and what you think about yourself.

Herself an abuse victim and passionate Christian, Christine breaks down the hidden consequences of shame and the effects of it in our lives. She breaks down powerful Biblical truths in strong and mighty ways.

This book surprised me. It was like the cherry on top of a delicious ice cream sundae, the finishing touches of many other things I have been learning and wrestling with.

Very easy, yet powerful read. Every woman needs to read this book.

I hope you check out these books and find them as helpful and life-changing as I have. If you ever get a chance to read them, send me an e-mail and let me know what you think of them!

Do you have any life-hanging books to recommend? 

What have been game changers in your own personal story?

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03 February 2017

3 Sins I Wish the Church Talked About More

When I was a little kid, I used to think because I didn't commit this or that sin I was a better or holier person. Because I hadn't killed anyone physically or stolen millions of dollars I was a relatively decent, okay kinda Christian. 
Which as I got older set me up to compare myself to the public sins of other people I noticed quite easily.

I've come to learn whenever I am dangerously close to seeing the splinter in another eye without seeing the freaking beam in my own, it never ends well. ever.

I love the Church and there are a ton of things we do really well. But sometimes there are things I wish we would talk about more.

 I love me some good food and drink (on occasion). For most of my life, I have a somewhat unhealthy relationship towards and with food. I have used food as a crutch, a way to numb myself, and sadly as a way to reward or "treat" myself with a weight loss. Gluttony is one of those seven deadly sins I think that gets easily overlooked or downplayed. 

Is gluttony equal to lust? Well no, at least I don't personally think that.

Gluttony is really a heart issue; its a deep craving for excess. And gluttony is something that tries to fill the voids that only God can really fill.

I was well into my late 20's before I had a priest (lovingly) call me out in the confessional for using food in an unhealthy way just as a person could use drugs or sex in an unhealthy manner. It really helped drive home the point that anything in excess is never healthy for us.

I wonder if more people saw gluttony as a problem would that foster a deeper awareness to those who don't have enough food to eat? Would it challenge us to be more conscious of our own consumption or see how much food we waste? 

For me, actually naming and seeing when I am gluttonous has helped remind me of the other things in my life I can use in excess or try to fill with instead of God.

I was the kid growing up if I tried to lie to my parents, one of three things would happen. The truth would be written all over my face or twenty minutes later I would come back to my parents telling the real truth or I would immediately get caught. I suck at lying. 

As I got older, at times I would try and justify things like little, baby "white lies." You know the kind. When you actually don't want to see that person and let them know you're not feeling good. Or saying  "something suddenly came up." I don't live here in this reality regularly, but over the years I have told more my share of "white lies." I have rationalized my actions or reasons for doing so. On some level, I am sure we all have.

I have come to realize though that when I have caught or experienced people lying to me, it is awful. I feel unsafe, threatened, and wonder if this is a really trustworthy person. We all know how it feels when someone breaks our trust. It is awful.

The older I get the more I see I cannot rationalize my poor choices. If I except someone to be 100% truthful and honest with me, I have to hold myself to the same rigid standards. Living in that reality is hard, but for me it has also been a freeing reminder to really treat others the way I want to be treated.

The quickest growing addiction in our culture is pornography and sexual addiction.

I am 31 years old. I have heard 2 pastor's speak publicly on this.

I get that it is very, very difficult for a pastor to publicly address. I get that is so tricky when you have families with children at church on Sunday. Marriages are falling apart and dying from this (mine did). People are trapped in deep, painful addictions. For the mission of Jesus to truly be effective and life-changing, we have to go to the messiest, most painful places with individuals and families. 
And this is one of the most broken places where both men and women are today.

We know our culture doesn't have a problem with porn. But the Church has to get MUCH deeper in the trenches. Over the last year or so, I have become so personally convinced of this because I experienced it first hand. I know God wants to use me in some way to help witness into this.

I certainly do not know exactly what that will look like or have all the answers. But I am convinced I'll somehow play even a small part to minister to others and the wider community.

What do you think we as church need to do a better job of talking about and facing together? 

What are the unsaid things that need to be talked about more?

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