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Posts Tagged ‘friendship’

Her shoulders hunched, she slinks down the hall, clutching her books to her underdeveloped chest.  She does her best to be invisible.  Maybe today they won’t notice her.  Maybe today they will just leave her alone.

She catches a glimpse of her reflection in a classroom window.  “Oh, God,” she thinks, “am I that ugly?”

Maybe if she were thinner…

“Hey, Freak!”

The familiar shrill breaks her train of thought.

“Hey, Freak Show, we’ve got a question for you.”

They circle her.  They are the predators; she, the prey.

“Yeah, we were just wondering – are you a boy or a girl?  We can’t tell.”

“I think she’s a lesbo.”

“Totally.  Or a dog.”

“Well, a female dog!  You know what they call female dogs, don’t you?”

She hurries past them, through the chorus of laughter, barking noises and obscenities.  And she promises herself that today, she will not eat lunch.

____________________________________

Conflict-avoidant person that I am, I write in shades of vanilla.  I never want to offend anyone, or take too strong a stand on any issue.  But there are times that silence is wrong, and vanilla tastes foul.  This is one of those times.

As a mother of two daughters, I am keenly aware of the insane amount of pressure on young girls to be something they are not.  If they don’t wear pounds of make-up, then they are ugly.  If they are not waifs, then they are fat.  If they don’t look like barely-covered/air-brushed/computer-enhanced models, then they are nothing.

To adults, the requirements for fitting in seem ridiculous, even unbelievable.  But to a girl in her tween and teen years, the Rules of Acceptance are very real indeed.

The world shouts at them that they aren’t good enough.

Their friends turn on them in an instant, if it keeps them from being odd girl out.

They feel utterly alone in their misery – though sadly, they are not.

And then there is the bullying…

Someone needs to make war on this bacteria-infested petri dish of a culture in which girls must fight for survival.  Right now, that someone is me. 

I am beginning a ministry.

While even typing those words sends a quiver of fear through me, I am more afraid of what will happen if I stand silent and do nothing.  Who will tell the girls that the messages they are hearing as truth are, in fact, lies?  Who will tell them who they really are?  Who will say to them, “You matter.  You are chosen.  You are loved beyond measure, and more beautiful than you know.”? 

We will.

Here is my first step (and I hope you’ll join me):

 www.4thegrlz.com

It is a Christian site by and for girls.  It is hope and encouragement for girls in the torrential sea that is adolescence. 

I invite you to take a look.  Then, tell your friends who have daughters about it.  Tweet about it.  Share it on Facebook.  Pass it on by e-mail.  Encourage your own daughters to sign up, comment and guest blog for it(I am not the blog author, but a blog author.)

If God is willing, this site is only the beginning.  Last year, I finished writing a book for girls.  It has not seen the light of day, but when God gives the “all clear”, I will shoot that book like an arrow out to wherever God wills it to go.

I am doing battle.

Somebody has to.

oddgirlout

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I’ve never done it before.  My kids didn’t get it.  My husband only partially understood it.  This weekend, I joined three friends for an overnighter at a Franciscan retreat center.  We’re talking no TV, no internet, not even any music.  Just lots of opportunities to… well, I’ll get to that later.

I had such big plans.  I thought I might catch up on some writing, or study for some lessons I’ll be teaching.  I half-considered getting the Christmas cards out of the way.  Oh, yes.  Wendi the Responsible was going to get some work done.

Ha. 

Sometimes, God gives you what you need before you even know you need it. 

After a short hike in the woods, my friends and I sat down to lunch.  Just as we were finishing, I looked out the window.  Snow! 

Perfect, I thought.  I’ll grab a cup of joe, head to my room, pop open the laptop and get some writing done by the window.  But as soon as I sat down, all I could do was stare out at the snow.  I couldn’t move. 

I really need to work, I thought.  But…oh… look at the pretty, pretty snow…

The balance of the weekend went about like that.  I would pretend to study, write, or read.  Then I would find myself wanting not to do, but to be.

Sunday morning, I went into the chapel.  No one else was there.  Just me.  Just God.  I sat in the front row and looked up at the crucifix in front of the giant picture window.  There was no sound.  I didn’t know how to have church all by myself, so I whispered the Lord’s Prayer.  And that was good enough.

I kept replaying the story of Mary and Martha in my mind.  All my life, I have been a Martha – doing what I’m supposed to, doing what I think I’m supposed to, doing what other people think I’m supposed to – and sometimes going crazy for it.

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42, NIV)

For once in my life, all I did was sit and look up at Jesus. I didn’t do anything.

Well, whaddaya know?  Somewhere underneath all of my hyper-responsible Martha-ness is a Mary who can simply sit at Jesus’ feet.

Maybe we all have this ability in us.  It’s just buried under too many expectations.

This Advent, choose what is better.

If you do, it will never be taken away from you.

4 Marthas turned Marys

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We were already late for church.  In two cars (because my husband was going to stay after for a meeting) we drove fast, trying to make up for lost time.  As we approached an intersection, something didn’t look right: an overturned scooter, a helmet on the ground, and a man sprawled on the asphalt.

Another man parked in his SUV was calling 9-1-1 on his Bluetooth.  My husband and I pulled over to see if we could help.  The SUV man didn’t get out of his vehicle, but spoke to the downed man through his window.

Suddenly, our priorities shifted from what was urgent (getting to church on time) to what was truly important (helping this man, who was in terrible pain).

I suppose because I am female, I could get away with this: I knelt next to him and held his hand.

Now, I am not a touchy-feely person.  Though I feel much affection for others, my physical boundaries are usually pretty tight.  But this time, something was different… 

“What’s your name?” I asked.

“Darren,” he said.  “My ankle hurts.”

I looked at his ankle, and saw an angle where there shouldn’t be one.  “Darren, if you want to squeeze my hand, that’s just fine.”

We talked, and I held his hand until help arrived.

What is wrong with me? I wondered.  Why did it take an accident for me to step outside of my boundaries?  And what was so different this time?

Jesus showed up.

By myself, I am a miserable excuse for a Christian.  I don’t, can’t, or won’t love others the way I should.  I concentrate on my own needs, instead of those of others.  But there are times when Jesus ignores our selfishness, puts us on like a pair of work gloves, and gets the job done. 

What if we were “Jesus gloves” all the time? 

Would you hold a stranger’s hand if it were a different color than yours?  Would you ask his sexual orientation first?  Would it matter if she wore a burka?  According to Jesus, we are to love our neighbor – and if we are humans, we are neighbors.  Period.

That morning, we were no longer two people who wouldn’t normally hold hands: an uptight, middle-aged lady in church clothes and a younger man with machine grease on his hands and a busted up leg.  We were humans having an encounter with Jesus.

“The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”  (Galatians 5:14, NIV)

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I had a strange experience this week.  It wasn’t the first time it happened, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.  I was surprised by it, nonetheless.  I was … unfriended.

The word “friend” used to be a noun.  Now, with the rise of social networking web sites, it is a verb.  To friend someone, you simply make an invitation to them via one of these sites, and all they have to do is admit to knowing you.

Voilà!  You are friends.

Once you become “friends” with someone, you can “unfriend” them with the click of a button.  If you dislike their politics, their religion, or the photo of their dog, just click and – poof!

Voilà!  You are unfriends.

This cycle of friending, un-friending, re-friending, and re-un-friending has happened to me several times in cyberspace.  It’s a weird daisy-plucking game of, “You’re my friend.  Now you’re not.  You’re my friend.  Now you’re not…”

Call me old-fashioned (my kids do!), but I feel a little uncomfortable with this arrangement.  It used to be that if you wanted a friend, you had to take a risk.  You had to extend yourself.  You had to share secrets, build trust, go through some trials together and simmer that relationship over low heat until at last you could say of someone, “He is my friend.”

Now, I believe a lot of good can come of social networking. (Some friendships are even better left-over and re-heated in the microwave.)  I’m just wondering, out loud, if we have drifted from the kind of friendship that Jesus was talking about when He said, “I have called you friends.”

I know that human friendships often don’t last forever.  People change.  People move.  People are broken and hurt one another, sometimes unintentionally.  People are imperfect, so friendships with people are also imperfect.

Luckily, I have a friend who will never unfriend me.

He is intimately acquainted with every detail of my life.  He knows all my hurts.  He celebrates all my joys.  He is intensely loyal, even when I take things out on Him.  He has millions of friends, but He’s the kind of friend who makes you feel like you’re the only one.

If you want friends, make the effort to be a friend.

If you want an unfailing friendship, pursue the only perfect Friend.

If you accept His friend request, you will never be unfriended again.

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