Category Christianity

74 posts

Unsolicited {Relationship} Advice

Seems like a lot of people I know are entering into relationships lately, which is an amazing journey full of twists and turns and adventures. I don’t pretend to know *everything* (or much at all for that matter) about relationships (though, I have an *amazing* marriage), but I have learned a lot and I thought, in light of awesome events, I’d share some of the things I learned the hard way, and some things we did that worked for us. Just take this as a grain of salt, everyone has different personalities and different ways of relating, but some things (like being real and honest) are universal.
(note, this is coming from a conservative/homeschooled viewpoint, others may or may not have some of the same issues or inhibitions)

  • – Take it easy and let the relationship flow naturally (no need to speed it up)
  • – Talk about *everything*.  I mean everything, including finances, what you want in life, what your view of a marriage relationship is, and sex (though, I wouldn’t start off with that right off the bat, conversation deepness comes with relationship deepness)
  • –  Talk *alone*, go on a walk, make sure you have privacy to talk about important things, with no one eavesdropping or peering over your shoulder. You’re potentially going to spend your life with this person, don’t shy away from finding out who they are outside of their families (I’m more real with my husband than I am when I’m with family, it’s just how it is).
  • – Don’t be afraid to become “emotionally involved” or “emotionally attached”. Dude, you’re human, you’re made with feelings, let yourself feel. Denying them brings about a ton more pain and confusion than it’s worth.  Don’t ask me how I know.
  • – Be real. Be yourself. Be transparent – wearing a mask the whole time is just asking for trouble (or at least confusion) down the road.
  • – If you’re worrying about being “prepared” enough or “ready” to get married, you’re probably as ready as you’ll ever be (and it’s a good indicator that you are actually ready – kinda like worrying about being crazy,  usually a good sign that you’re not).
  • – Don’t be afraid to say no.
  • – Don’t be afraid to say yes.
  • – Don’t be afraid to ask for advice, but realize that the ultimate decision is between you and your partner and no one else has any final say.
  • – Sometimes good relationships need to be fought for, don’t be afraid to fight for each other.
  • – Relationships don’t always look like the “ideal”, so don’t try to force your relationship into the “ideal” model, it won’t work (also, learned the hard way).
  • – Actually, there is no real “ideal” because every relationship is unique.
  • – Relationships aren’t always easy, fights and disagreements aren’t always bad, and actually can be healthy.
  • – Be willing to compromise, know which things are important and which things aren’t. Relationships work both ways, you need to be willing to be flexible, no need to make issues out of non-issues.
  • – People change and grow, make room for that, each of you reserve the right to come back and change your opinion on things (and this is really fun when you’re learning and growing together and talking about things)
  • Do fun things! Relax, go to a movie, or dinner, or a beach, cuddle on the couch and watch TV, make time for just relaxing and enjoying being  together.

If you can't beat 'em

I was thinking about what I might have said to that if I were 15 again. I probably would have said something like “if you can’t beat ’em, you can’t beat ’em”. Actually I said a lot of things when I was 13, 14, 15, even 16. Things that I don’t necessarily agree with or should have said differently. So I was thinking about that today, and all the things I was involved in – Regenerate Our Culture, TeenPact, NCFCA, Homeschooling, The Rebelution – and I realized that I’m not the embodiment of those causes anymore. It’s not that I didn’t believe it all at the time, or that I was pretending, but that years later I’ve grown and now I find myself in a different mindset and way of thinking.
I’m realizing a lot of things I believed because I did, because someone said it was so, because I was taught. Now I’m becoming an individual, my own person –  and questioning, learning, and finding out what I believe for myself, not because someone said to. I’ve realized that where I stand now doesn’t line up with where I stood when I was 15, and that’s not a bad thing! I’m not off the deep end or abandoning all values, but I am re-evaluating and coming to my own conclusions.
These conclusions are different than they would have been if I were 15, but I’m not 15, I’m in a whole different part of life, I understand more and have a little bit more perspective (I hope). I also reserve the right, 4 years from now, to come back and recant and apologize for things I was wrong about. I want to grow continually and learn, not be stuck somewhere so hard I never budge even if I’m wrong or if “my party left me”. My identity is not the embodiment of a cause, number of causes, or a political movement.

Christianity, Simplified :: Where I am

I grew up in a Christian home, surrounded by Christian people, claiming Christianity is the way and that their interpretation of Christianity is the right way. It’s easy for a simple religion, or what Christian’s like to call a “relationship” to get complicated with interpretations of scripture, doctrines, and even bible translations. Before you know it, the religion that you thought was founded on love turns out to be a group of uptight people with lots of rules and guidelines to follow, and to hell with you if you happen to disagree.

Eventually, if you find yourself facing differences with church/spiritual leaders you’re bound to feel like someone on the bad side of the Red Queen while she’s declaring “off with her head!”. Obviously (thankfully) not all church groups, spiritual leaders, or christians are this adamant or uptight about their interpretation. It is because of these people, the ones who know what Christianity is really about, that I am still a Christian today.

We can debate all day about spiritual gifts, modesty, lifestyle, family, Bible translations, gender roles, the list goes on. In the big picture though, is the girl who was always modest going to be more holy or honored in heaven than a girl who was a prostitute prior to finding grace? Or are they both going to be loved and accepted equally? Is the large homeschool family going to have a better place and more favor with God than the couple who loves Him just as much? Or will they both be honored and met at the gates with “well done, my good and faithful servants?”

Unlike us, God doesn’t measure us in terms of who we are or what we did or how much we gave, because He loves people, regardless. It’s us people, who claim to be great spiritual christians, who are constantly evaluating which one of us is holier or has stronger faith because they’ve lost a home, faced death multiple times in childbirth, became a missionary and lived in poverty, became a major evangelist, or pastor a church.

It seems to me, more often than not, that it’s we, who claim to teach love and mercy, who are the ones who are showing the least love of all. We go from being excited about finding unconditional love and wanting to share that, to becoming condescending, legalistic, my way or the highway Christians claiming to be serving God with their whole life and trusting Him in everything. Our simple faith turns into a complex practical work based religion (though, obviously not by works, but faith without works is dead, so gosh people). We no longer revel in the love of our savior but constantly add weight and baggage to our load for the cause, because it’s what we feel or think, believe even, that we need to do in order to gain favor with God. Often times this causes us to lose sight of the fact that there are people who need love – sometimes, we are so caught up in being “right” about the little things, that we don’t care who we hurt.

If this constant worrying and trying to be oh-so-holy is what Christianity is supposed to be, and I’m missing it, then I understand why people think it’s worthless. A religion that claims to be about love and about the Creator accepting you for who you are and calling you good for no other reason than because He loves you, but really seems to be about inter-denominational feuds and relationship defining secondary-issue differences, is not something I want to be part of. This isn’t the point of Christianity, if this is all that we think it is, we’ve missed the point by miles.

And one of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?”
Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ “The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Mark 12:28-31

I believe, simply, that this is what real christianity is about, this is the bottom line :: He loved us so He came, died, and rose again. All we need to be concerned about is loving Him, and loving each other.

Hopechest tips

It’s sort of a cultural thing with homeschool girls to start preparing for marriage by building a hopechest. As old fashioned as it sounds it’s actually incredibly useful to have after you’re married. Quite a few friends of mine have been working on theirs for years, I didn’t start mine until I was in a serious relationship –  I didn’t see the use for it until that point. There are advantages to both waiting and starting one before you have a boyfriend. The advantage of starting one early is you’ll have more time to accumulate things you might need or would like to have around that aren’t necessarily practical (or you could save up for small appliances). However, what I liked about waiting was that I could talk with my boyfriend about it (as far as colors and decorations etc go) and then what was in my hopechest was a mix of styles and things that we both appreciated. For example, we wanted to decorate our kitchen with a coffee theme and have red be a central color – so I’d get little coffee towels and things when they were on sale and if he found something with that scheme he could contribute as well ( :D). This made putting together my hopechest more enjoyable for me personally, but I’m just weird like that.
Anyway, I know there are alot of girls out there working on hopechests, so I thought I’d throw out some tips from some of the things I’ve learned:
1.  You will be way ahead if you have a complete kitchen already put away in your hopechest (including small appliances). Kitchen items, even just baking sheets can be really pricey, and it’s nice if you don’t have to deal with stocking a kitchen while you’re moving into your place. Also, having multiple  mixing bowls is a great idea.
—- As a side note, finding a good set of dishtowels (for drying) will save you a headache (and from picking fuzz off your dishes) if you have a place without a dishwasher.
2. Having a nice set of blankets/sheets/linens is also a great thing to have put away (and also pricey otherwise). This is something really fun to pick out together, but also fun to pick out yourself.
3. Irons and Ironing boards are good ideas. I don’t iron much, but living in an apartment without an iron/ironing board makes you appreciate them…and saves money at the coin-op dryer. Clothes will get wrinkled, so I’m throwing irons in here as something I totally didn’t even think about.
4. If you like sewing or plan on doing some sewing, picking up a nice sewing machine when it’s on sale will save you a good bit of money, and you’ll also be able to start practicing. I bought mine  for $50 on Black Friday a year or two ago, and it’s been fantastic.  It’s also faster than hand stitching.
5. Decorations – If you already know what you/& your boyfriend want to do decorating wise keep an eye out for decorations or put some on your wishlist. I wanted to do a retro style dining area, so my grandparents gave me some retro coke items for christmas. Garage sales are good places to pick up random decorative items as well, and sometimes you can find some really great stuff on sale if  you look for it.
6. Keep in mind you can put whatever you don’t have on a registry, but you might not get everything you put on there. Back up plans are good, as well as already having  the essentials.