Leggings, Meggings, and Titus 2

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2

The world is an interesting place. Today the “PC Police” were all over me for expressing what I would call a “traditional” viewpoint. I was trampled on like crazy. I do believe we are feminizing our men. Women who protest don’t want equality – they want to be men. They want what men have. They want to take it away from a man and be the “top dog.” Jealousy and envy are closely related. So many women are envious of what men have, they want it for themselves. They are jealous of their “power base,” or whatever definition is in vogue today (not the magazine). Me – I like being a woman. I like being around a man. Do I have gay friends? Yes; I do. Do I have more liberal friends? Yes; I do. Does that hamper my relationship? Not at all. I don’t need what my husband has, insofar as career and income, to feel I am equal to him. I do not need to usurp what he does or who he is in order for me to feel better about myself. Nor do I expect him to wear the same clothing I wear, and visa versa.

I have discovered that being a dissenting opinion in a sea of those who agree can be challenging, disheartening, brutal, or maybe even, rewarding. Today wasn’t all that rewarding. In our world right now, there is a wave of political correctness that leans so far to the left that it is almost tipping over into outright illegal civil disobedience and, even what I would dare to categorize as evil. Many say that our politics have become so virulent because no one remembers where the middle ground is anymore. I would opine that it has become a blanket over the whole of our culture. Very few people can truly discourse without becoming violent in speech or action. You know how it is when people post something on social media in all caps? That’s considered shouting in typeset. Or when someone is so angry, they start messaging you privately to continue the rant? Yeah; had to block a few of those. Or when you are sent a text message in all caps..over and over again?? Yeah; that has happened, too.

My kids tell me I am an old-fashioned parent. That I do not parent like other parents. And I am comforted by that. I don’t want to raise my kids the way the world is raising kids. It scares me. I have seen teenagers up close and personal the last few years and I must say, I am concerned. The kids that have gravitated around us are a little different. They think and believe a little differently. They have faith, most of them. They have something that is central to their lives and they are clinging to it. Even amongst all the chaos in our modern world. They are choosing a different way and it does give me hope.

The group that scares me are the 20- and 30-somethings raising kids. Wow. That is primarily who jumped all over me today on a post on social media. And I realized that they operate within a “real housewives” mentality wherein their conscious is formed by the media. They don’t read or research. They don’t want to offend anyone (which is commendable, when done with a well-founded moral compass) and they go to great lengths to denounce anyone they feel is offensive to their mindset. And they get nasty so quickly. Their grammar is abhorrent, which is neither here nor there to most people, but to someone who tries very hard to write and express herself well and in a coherent way, I find grammar and spelling errors to be especially heinous when you are attacking someone. At least spell what you are mad about correctly. At least express yourself using a vocabulary that is larger than profane words.

I believe it is beyond time where we stand up for what we believe. In the marketplace, at our jobs, in our government, schools, and most especially online, in social media. I am getting tired of being the moral minority. Because we aren’t. We truly are not. We are just quieter, and far more polite and giving. Christ warned us that the world would hate us, but that it first hated Him. The world hated Him so much, they killed Him. On a Cross, horribly hanging there for three hours, for me. And I am tired of not saying anything, worrying I will offend someone. Or of speaking too quietly. I am getting more angry each day and through each incident I experience. My country, my world is going to hell in a handbasket, as my grandma would say, and it is time we all stopped allowing it to happen.

Today, I espoused traditional roles for men. Not that women need to be home or “barefoot and pregnant” – we didn’t get that far. It was about clothing choices. I was expressing the thought that boys ought not to wear leggings. I think they are fine for little babies and toddlers, but school-aged boys should be wearing pants. Trousers. Jeans. Shorts. But not leggings. My HS senior son said some boys wear them at this campus where he attends special classes, but not the general HS population. I said perhaps they were dancers. (Most ballet dancers, male or female, wear leggings). He said they were not; they just wear them. And he said most guys wear jeans. Up here, most males also wear boots – hiking or snow, not cowboy so much. It’s the weather. I see lots of little baby boys, toddlers, wearing leggings with snow boots and they are cute. But I don’t think grown boys and men should wear them as general clothing. And then there are meggings, which are leggings for men. Oh joy.

Okay, so I am just not all that impressed with the idea of men wearing leggings. I also do not appreciate gender-fluid bathrooms, either. I believe that men should look and act like men and women should look and act like women. It disturbs me to hear mothers say that they are not going to allow some stretchy cotton fabric determine whether their kids are happy or not. And that is okay, I guess. Heaven forbid we tell kids what they can and cannot do, or wear!

To me, we are feminizing our men, starting with putting our boys in leggings past the toddler stage. We are neutering men and causing there to be an absence of fathers in families and men who take responsibility for their actions. Wearing jeans or “meggings” is a choice for men to make. As a woman, I do not want to see my sons or husband wearing leggings. I don’t want my grandson to wear them, either. I just don’t see that it is appropriate. One woman today said, “But in history, men wore leggings.” And I agreed…medieval styles had men wear “hose.” But this is 2017. We also now have bathrooms and drive cars. But leggings for boys and men?? Not for me.

We don’t want our daughters exposing their bodies for the world to gawk at; I think we should use the same standard for our boys. I don’t want to change the world; I want to fix it. We are spiraling downward so fast, it is hard to comprehend. We need to stop accepting things because some media dude says it is okay. We need to question everything. We need to judge what is right and wrong using our faith as a yardstick. Our faith has told us how we are to conduct ourselves, through the Apostles:

” Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you.” Philippians 1:27-28

And all of Titus 2:

“But as for you, speak the things that are consistent with sound doctrine. Older men are to be temperate, dignified, self-controlled, and sound in faith, love, and perseverance. Older women, likewise, are to be reverent in their behavior, not slanderers or addicted to much wine, but teachers of good. In this way they can train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, managers of their households, kind, and subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be discredited. In the same way, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. In everything, show yourself to be an example by doing good works. In your teaching show integrity, dignity, and wholesome speech that is above reproach, so that anyone who opposes us will be ashamed to have nothing bad to say about us. Slaves are to submit to their own masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not stealing from them, but showing all good faith, so that in every respect they will adorn the teaching about God our Savior. For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men. It instructs us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live sensible, upright, and godly lives in the present age, as we await the blessed hope and glorious appearance of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. Speak these things as you encourage and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.”

Somehow belittling and berating people, thwarting authority, civil disobedience that flouts the Rule of Law, and civic discourse that is rude and angry…these things are not of God. And the words we use mean something. The way we impart ideas means something. The impressions we give mean something. The clothing we wear says something about the person we are. What does it say about you? I realize that an online discussion about leggings is not that earth-shattering. But it is an example or symptom of greater issues we are facing. We need to start somewhere and take a stand. For me, I still say boys should wear pants and not leggings.

“…whenever you face trials…”

The weeks seem to race past us. Days become a blur. And every once in awhile, we stop, look around, and get confused. What day is it? What was I going to get accomplished today? Some days I am so tired and I cannot figure out why. I think stress is taking its toll.

I know I am not the best when it comes to managing issues. I prefer to ignore them until I have to deal with them. Putting your head in the sand truly helps no one – especially yourself. We always hear about people being afraid of something and then when they experience that fearful thing, comment something like, “It wasn’t all that bad. I don’t know what I was afraid of.” And truthfully, you sleep better once you tackle that thing you are avoiding.

For me, there are just so many plates I am juggling right now. And the pots are boiling over. And I dropped the ball…again. Sometimes it is just more than one person can focus on. I feel like I should just fall down in a blob of crying messiness. But somehow, when I think I will collapse, I just feel empty. Like a great silence. I can feel my heart racing. I know my blood pressure is raised because I can feel it in my ears and at the top of my head. And yet, I feel still and silent. And that sort of scares me.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Inside my heart, and sometimes actually in my right mind, I know this verse. I know the Lord is with me, and what I face is NOTHING compared to those 3 hours spent on the Cross for me. NOTHING is compared to that sacrifice. And so I started thinking of other promises from God, as I could hear my heart beating in my ears:

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

Just reading these verses calms my heartbeat and restores a lovely pattern of inhaling and exhaling that is not one of stress. And as I calm down, once more I recall one of my favorite Psalms:
“When hard pressed, I cried to the LORD; he brought me into a spacious place.
The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” Psalm 118: 5-6
It is hard to stress too much, when we truly believe in the promises God has given us in his Word, and through our Traditions. God has placed Himself here for us. We can visit Him in
our hearts and minds, and we can join others in rejoicing when we attend Church as a community of believers. It is so nice to know that there is a place I can go where I am welcome and I can pray with others. We can also seek asylum in the friendships we develop around us. We can share our stressors and sometimes just talking about them really helps.
Sometimes we are just called to juggle things for awhile. The Lord is setting the pieces in place and when it is time, everything will settle in. I know that. I do. Reminding myself of that is the hard part. Reminding myself that the Lord is in charge, and not mere mortal man, gives me great comfort. It is a practice I need to hone! LOL!  And as I look at facts, figures, and my calendar, I sometimes let the issues of mortals cloud my peace; they interrupt my sense of the holy. And that is a man-made construct, of which I am guilty. I need to embrace that emptiness and that silence I find when I stop to contemplate my stressors, because what I have come to see is that the silence is the peace of God and the faith of God in my life. He is allowing me to calm my heart rate and my breathing, and grasp the fact that He has all of this. Truly all of it. I write this to remind myself. And if I can help give others hope and a sense of security by sharing this crazy journey, that is an extra blessing.

“Because of your little faith.”

It’s like banging my head on the wall..why do I insist on going my own way? It always, always, is much harder. Ugh. I started out my day taking a couple of phone calls, and then diving into a headache-inducing paperwork snafu and dealing with all sorts of other annoying tidbits (in and of themselves not huge, but together, my own mountain). But I did not start out in prayer, nor in grounding myself in the Word of God. I tried to just carry on and “git-er-done” all on my own. The result? Headache, stress, rushing around trying to accomplish a myriad of small tasks, and then rushing out the door and collapsing in stress in my car.

Some days I just cannot get it together. And then I realized that those are the days I think I can accomplish everything by myself. I don’t seek prayers from people; I don’t actually ask for help; and I never even think to open my Bible or pray. How is it we can rely so heavily on our faith, and then forget to use it??

Last night I attended a talk from a retired police officer about the legal use of force. He was speaking to a group of women who all belong to this wonderful organization for women shooters. (https://thewellarmedwoman.com) Last night, I listened as this officer talked to us about armed intruders. He was saying that when we challenge an intruder with phrases like, “Stop. Don’t move a muscle or I will shoot you” we have to command them, not meekly ask them. And he also said we need lots of hours with our weapons, making sure they are in perfect condition and ready to fire; that we spend hours upon hours at the range, getting comfortable with our weapons, and that we develop muscle memory with our weapon. Then he suggested we wear them (as our conceal carry permits allow) and go about our lives, with a smile on our faces. We are aware of our surroundings, we are armed and know how to protect ourselves, and we can enjoy life – and he said, “Smile.” And it made me think.

I have been working my weapon – my faith. I have become familiar with it, developing my “muscle memory.” I have taken care of it. And I command it when I speak of it, to intruders. Right? Well, it seems to me that when I need to depend on the stores I have built up inside of me, I fall flat. I totally revert to panic mode. Which, in the case of an intruder intending to commit bodily harm, would not bode well for a successful outcome, for me. Reacting, through muscle memory, is how our faith should work. If I were to be cast on an island, by myself, what would I do? I would not have my bible or my study to do; my journals would not be with me…what would I depend on?

There are many stories and many people diverge greatly on their acceptance of these stories, but for an example, the Apostle John (and let’s not argue if it is him, John the Elder, etc) is exiled to the Island of Patmos. Patmos means “my killing” and it is believed to be a sterile island in the Aegean Sea. It was common practice for the Romans to banish from their lands people who disagreed with them. We also know they were very fond of crucifixion as a form of punishment. The story goes that while on the Island of Patmos, St. John penned the last book of the Bible, the book of Revelations. It is agreed that this was around 95AD. On that island of banishment, John did not wallow at being on a sterile island (not much grew there; very little flora or fauna) but instead, He listened to God and he wrote the inspired words of God, and shared it with the world. The book of Revelation. Wow. Me? I more than likely would have died.

“When they came to the crowd a man approached, knelt down before him,
and said, “Lord, have pity on my son, for he is a lunatic and suffers severely; often he falls into fire, and often into water. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him.” Jesus said in reply, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long will I be with you? How long will I endure you? Bring him here to me.” Jesus rebuked him and the demon came out of him, and from that hour the boy was cured. Then the disciples approached Jesus in private and said, “Why could we not drive it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17: 14-20).

And today, in the light of my dismal trust and poor faith yesterday, I realize that I do have faith. I do. Because I realized that I was wrong in trusting only in myself. I sought prayer from friends and many offered more in the way of help, as well. I performed a task that I did not wish to do, but was able to do it with a thought and prayer of thanksgiving. In my gratitude journal I wrote, “I am releasing my wants and melding them to the wants and needs of my family and the desires for me that God has in store for me.” That is the start of great faith…trusting in the small things. Because truly, my tasks for the day were small things. There were many of them, but they were small. And God is blessing us, over and over again. Truly blessing us. Sometimes we do not see the blessing, because it is clouded by our wants and desires. I know that I need to subsume my desires and wants, and allow God to direct my steps and my future. Because without Him, I wander, I lose faith, and I panic. How silly of me. He is always here, waiting for me. Always.

 

“Whatever you did not do…”

I had such an ugly experience on Wednesday. It colored my entire day. I even made a chocolate cake (I have not been eating cake or sweets in awhile) because chocolate usually helps. I also showered… twice! Did you know they make Godiva Chocolate Liqueur? So good.

I was sipping my morning coffee and perusing my newsfeed on my Facebook page. I came across a disgustingly vivid photograph that apparently a friend had “liked,” that was in fact, pornography. I was so shocked. I immediately made sure my son was nowhere near me.  Then I proceeded to complain to FB admin.  If you have any knowledge of FB, you know how ridiculous their administration of their pages are. They will remove photos of women breastfeeding as being too offensive, but they allowed porno on my wall. And trust me when I say that this photo was so bad, it made me sick to my stomach. After I complained to FB and requested it be removed, I also did the same to those who had posted it. I was then verbally assaulted through instant messages by the owner of this particular photo.  The verbal tirade made me sick to my stomach, again, and caused me to shake. Literally. I also cried at one point. No one has ever used such vehemence combined with such horrible terminology towards me – ever. I finally figured out how to block the person from my FB wall, as well as from instant messaging me. (They are two separate procedures). I never heard from FB, but when I spoke to my friend who had supposedly “liked” it, we could no longer see the photo; I guess FB pulled it. We both decided to change settings and passwords and move forward. But it really got me thinking.

I will be 60 on my next birthday. I just never thought of myself as 60 years old. The friend this happened to, well, we share the same birthday and have been friends since High School. I have 4 grandchildren and my baby is almost 17 years old. My oldest son is almost 30 years old. I go to church at least weekly, if not more often. I read a lot. We watch a little TV, usually things we have TiVo’d, or DVDs we have purchased. I choose my entertainment carefully. I do not have interaction with pornography, nor even profanity (at least not of my choosing). We just don’t cuss. I have gray hair, for heaven’s sake. I cannot fully express to you how horrid this experience made me feel. I felt sick and dirty, somehow. The worst thing was the verbal tirade this man assaulted me with. I felt vulnerable and kind of scared. His words frightened me. I shared with with my youngest son, who still lives with me. I even called my husband, who is off traveling this week. I know they listened. I told a couple of friends. I know they listened. But I don’t think any of them appreciated how I felt. And I know it’s silly, but in a way it is not. Can you imagine how women who are physically abused or assaulted feel? Women who are brutalized in war zones and through ethnic cleansing in war-torn countries? Women who are forced to be sterilized, impregnated, or mutilated simply because they can be? All that happened to me was I saw a pornographic photo of a woman, and then had a man verbally harass me because I complained about it. It was not in my face, but on my phone. But I felt that assault and that vulnerability and I was frightened. I was able to lock him out and change passwords for access by anyone else. But what about those who are vulnerable and cannot change a password or privacy settings? What about the thousands of children who are attacked on a regular basis, who have no options, no control over it? I cannot help but think of the Sheep and the Goats in Matthew 25:31-46:

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.  All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

How do we help those most vulnerable around us? How do we comfort and clothe and care for the sick around us? This hit home yesterday, when I felt somehow violated and unable to protect myself. In reality, I am perfectly safe. But emotionally? Not so much. God is good and the shower, the chocolate, and some great movies with my son helped me feel much better. And when I went to bed, I prayed and thanked God for keeping me safe. I tried to forgive the man who verbally assaulted me. I prayed for the woman in the photograph, hoping her life is better than that now. And I prayed for all the vulnerable around us. I do not want to ever feel helpless and vulnerable again – and I certainly don’t want anyone else to feel that way, either. How can we all buckle down and really, truly, and honestly help those around us who need it? Sometimes it’s just listening. Or a smile on a bad day. Letting someone cut in front of you on the highway or check out line. Taking cookies or coffee to a friend who needs it. Saying “I love you” even when it’s not necessary. Or saying “thank you” when it is unexpected. Saying a simple prayer and letting God put it to its best use. No prayer is ever wasted. The difference in our world has to start with each one of us. We have to protect those who cannot protect themselves, especially the innocent in the womb, our most vulnerable. It has to start with me.

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”