A Prayer For The Partyless

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Lord, I am not qualified to write this. I am so very deeply flawed, so very unqualified.

It’s just this world, Lord. Lord, this world is so divided, so bitter, and when everyone is right, everyone is wrong. We are uncaring and unyielding, unable to have civil discussion. Lord, even now as someone – I can think of more than a couple I know – reads these words, they will scoff. They will pass off this message as trash, they will discard my plea, they will label me.

“Too liberal.” “Too conservative.”

Lord, we have lost the ability to relate to one another in any meaningful way. With just one meme or emoji, we can fool ourselves into believing we have negated an entire movement, an entire party, or an entire perspective. We have lost all comprehension and compassion, Lord. We have lost historical reference. We have lost the ability to hold our leaders up to any kind of moral standard. We have lost the clarity to call a spade a spade if they bear our chosen party affiliation. We have lost the ability to see the good in someone if they bear the opposing party’s affiliation.

There is right on both sides. There is wrong on both sides. There is an endless supply of hubris propelling both sides. Any appearance of moral high ground is a mirage.

We are both jailer and prisoner. We sling sweeping generalizations like mud at one another with such flagrant disregard, and we rebel against the padded walls of the stereotypes and assumptions that have been placed around us by others.

We don’t generate many thoughts that aren’t led by knee-jerk reactions, scare tactics, click-bait-politics, conspiracy theories, and FEAR.

Oh, dear Lord, the fear we feel. We want to say we’ve got it under control. We want to believe that we have the power to make it all better. But Lord, we are terrified. On both sides.

It did not happen overnight. It was not a thief breaking in, no. It was a door left open, and then a window, and then a careless forgetfulness of our founding principles, a forgetfulness that stole so much of what we wanted to be. It was a stubborn adherence to a long-held prejudice. It was a bilateral breach of identity and character, a bipartisan failing, an expulsion of everything that is good and just and righteous.

Ideas are good and can be for good, but they are never OF you if they are not spoken in love, God, and so many of YOUR people have forgotten this. That’s US, God, the collective followers, that’s US arguing amongst one another on social media, posting hate-riddled jokes about some man’s wife or some woman’s child or somebody’s life.

I am not exempt. I am a sinner. That is what I am.
But what I am not: a joke, or a snowflake, or a hard ass, or a neo-fem-nazi, or a passive, sniveling princess.

I am not writing this asking for a rescue.

I am asking for your resolve, God.

I have purpose and so, so much strength, Lord, and I know it comes from you and everything good in me comes from you, and God, I cry out to you today to bring us back to the collective mirror. Show me my failings. Mute my mouth when it stops serving you – a practice which I’m sure will leave me more silent than I used to be. We have to see ourselves and see the ugliness we bear more clearly, if we are ever to have any hope of leaving this world in a better state for our children.

Lord, we have GOT to look at ourselves and look at you and find moral truth somewhere in the midst of all this hurt and hate. Lord, we are so lost.

The last thing I will ever be qualified to do is talk about the morals of others, but I want so badly to move towards you and yet this world pulls so hard in the other direction. And Lord, I know you see your own followers doing it just as much as those who don’t believe in you at all – probably more so, in some cases!

We’re phonies, Lord. I know you see it. I know you shake your head at us sometimes. When fear and anger drive actions, I know it creates a current that just pulls us deeper and deeper into the waters. I know it creates the heaviness in my chest, the shaking my head because I don’t fit in any specific interest group or party.

Lord, when I feel this weight sitting on my chest, I need you to remind me, remind US, that we were never made to fit into a party, to fit into any one movement, to be nailed down to one single phrase or slogan. We were never meant to put our trust in something so fickle, so superficial.

We are more than this. We have forgotten how to love, how to listen, how to serve, and how to support one another. We seem to only know how to admonish and taunt one another. We have got to me something more than this. Please show us what that is.

Amen.

Someone else might’ve.

“Please stop debating whether or not I’ve aged well. Unfortunately, it hurts all 3 of my feelings. Youth and beauty are not accomplishments. They’re temporary, happy by-products of time and/or DNA. Don’t hold your breath for either. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, someone else might’ve given a f—.” – Carrie Fisher

I feel the same about *most* celebrities as I do about politicians. At best, I’m lukewarm-to-apathetic. But nevertheless, I’m going to quote a celebrity. A few weeks ago, Carrie Fisher passed away, and sadly it was only after she died that I had the opportunity to read some of her finer, saltier quote-worthy statements. This one really stuck with me. And while I am starting to deplore the mindless modern practice of using the term “badass” as a catch-all for any time a woman does something beyond standing still and looking pretty, I think Fisher’s message here was in the upper echelon of certified badassery. Not “female badassery,” like it’s somehow different…just…badassery. And I wish more people understood what she was truly getting at.

Before I dive in here, I want to acknowledge the sadly symbiotic relationship here, that in order for me to write a post about why looks don’t portray inner qualities or a lack thereof most of the time, I kind of have to validate people making really stupid comments about peoples’ looks. Cause I feel like if I don’t acknowledge it, nitwit assholes will point that out, and I make it a sport of beating them to the punch.

As we approach the exit of President Obama and the inauguration of President-Elect Trump, I have noticed it becoming curiously popular for people to bring up Michelle Obama’s looks as some sort of back-door indictment of her husband and/or their shared politics. Because those two things are obviously so connected? This confuses me and also troubles me. The most common cut-down I’ve heard? Well, I’ve heard varying phrasings, some more creative than others, but it typically amounts to a comparison of our First Lady to a dude.

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A man? A man. Riiiiiiiiiiiiiight. Right. Sure.

In other words, some folks are saying Mrs. Obama “looks like a dude.” Somehow, this is the pinnacle of what many people can come up with to express their dislike of her politics. That she allegedly “looks like a man.” Says who? Who decides that? And which man does she look like? Folks can’t seem to produce her supposed male doppelganger. But that’s what they keep saying. And THIS is the thing that they zero in on. They could go with “I disagree with her stance on ____.” But no…they go with “looks like a dude.”

Now, if I sat here and told you I was a card-carrying liberal, I’d be lying. I am not. Nor am I a full-on conservative. And I don’t apologize for either of those stances. Plus…well, it wouldn’t be any of your damn business anyway, now would it? But this business of hurling insults about how this beautiful woman LOOKS? Come on, people. If you have a complaint about someone’s politics, have the chutzpah to present a cogent explanation of what you disagree with and leave it at that. Let your stance speak for itself. That’s how adults behave.

And it’s not just your everyday people doing this! It’s “the media.” Though the term “the media” doesn’t actually mean anything. “Media” is merely a qualifier for what may be a magazine, newspaper, radio station, etc. – media literally means the communication outlet. Not Anderson Cooper. He’s a journalist. That’s not a question. Anyways, just take a look at this headline and tell me it isn’t total crap:

“How clothes defined Michelle Obama?” I’m sorry, did the copywriters at The New York Times think that was going to charm intelligent women, when they wrote THAT headline about a woman who graduated from Princeton? “The media” is just as much to blame for this. It’s far too popular to tear down someone – especially women – for their appearance if you dislike their stance, their songs, their book, their words, their beliefs, their ____. It’s so, so easy. And if it’s not easy, then the next best thing is to say that they themselves are easy.

And I want to be inclusive here. In just as much as I’ve read hatefully vapid comments on Mrs. Obama’s looks from the one side of the aisle, I’ve heard just as many “slut-shaming” (hatehatehate that term) comments about Melania Trump. Yeah, I’m lookin’ at you, “women’s rights” people. Y’all came out in DROVES with those naked pics of Melania, and I’m taking you to task for it. Cause it’s really easy to defend the past salacious modeling shoots of someone whom you agree with. It’s very do-able to defend someone whose politics you agree with from the masses of “haters” who are “hatin.” But it’s a whole other thing to have to try to practice what you preach when you really, really don’t want that person’s husband to be the President of the United States of America.
Funny how that works, ain’t it?

Anyways…Ya know, in my lifetime, I’ve been called a lot of things based upon my looks. You name it, I’ve probably been called that.

Boyish. (Sounds fun)
Weird. (My personal favorite)
Chubby. (Certainly at times)
Fat. (And?)
Wide Load. (My high school nickname, kid you not, and I definitely, definitely had the last laugh, I’m happy to report)
Too skinny. (Heh)
Too muscular. (Thank you)
Big jaw. (Team Underbite! You should see my kids!)
Man face. (…I feel like I should quote Austin Powers here?)
Angel face. (Eww)
Bitch face. (That one might be fairly true)
Slut. (At points, sure.”
Hot mess. (Abso-friggin-lutely)

Did that stuff hurt? At the time, sure. Not so much now, but anyone who tells you they enjoy being called those things is either lying or lying. Though personally, if Donald Trump ever called me ugly, my first response would probably be “Oh, thank God.”

My dad wasn’t perfect, but he and my mom were and still are substance people. I don’t agree with them on everything (some politics included), and that’s okay. Because they had this crazy idea that maybe I’d go on to do pretty cool things that had nothing to do with my looks. They had this wild, hair-brained idea that they might ought to help me learn to form arguments and inform opinions, rather than teach me that my main source of worth was my looks.

Strength, an attractive body, and good looks all fade. We are dust. If you don’t like someone’s opinions, their character, their politics, whatever…dig a little deeper than “She looks like a man.” Find something concrete to take issue with. Make it count with a real indictment of whatever it is you disagree with. Don’t waste our time with a sad attempt at an insult. Because there will come a day that those who are currently busy kicking ass and taking names will be living a life they are pleased with, living out the purpose God instilled in them, removing the mirrors from their walls because they no longer bear as much value as an extra family photograph would.

You’ll wonder where is the relevance of your opinions? Suddenly all our bodies will be old and our (man) faces wrinkly, and it’ll be 6 of one, half dozen of another. Will it matter anymore? Nope. And it’ll be too late to make it matter. Cause a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, someone else might’ve given a f—.

But by then, they won’t.

 

 

No Sleep ’til…

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Okay, remember all that stuff I said the other day about joy? Let’s hit pause on that for a moment, cause I’m gonna hit you with another honest one:

Sometime around 1 o’clock this morning, The Struggle Bus ran off the road, overcorrected, and smashed me flat.

One thing that new parents almost always get is some moron telling them to “say goodbye to sleep.” It’s not that this isn’t completely true. It’s NOT that…believe me, I look back on pictures of me from before kids, heck even when I had just one kid, and I am so much better looking in the face. Specifically, the undereye area. So no, I’m not getting a lot of sleep. Most days, I do fine with that.

No, what absolutely just grinds my gears all to bits is the attitude with which that phrase is said. I’m sorry, but could experienced parents maybe be less asshole, more encouraging? You guys know the reason that people without kids are often irritated by us is because of that patronizing, intentionally antagonistic crap, right? No? Well aren’t we just so self-aware. One thing about me: I cannot stand an antagonistic personality. My mom and dad chalk this up to the fact that when my brother and I would fight and pick at each other, as punishment they would make us sit in the middle of the kitchen floor while holding hands. You learn real quick to just make it a bit easier on one another, stop causing unnecessary annoyance.

And yet, here we are in a world full of 30 year olds who really enjoy talking to other 30 yr. olds as if they are clueless about the obvious fact that babies don’t sleep so well sometimes.

Everyone has their version of a solution for a problem that, in all honesty, is often unavoidable and really just related to babies dealing with the overwhelming nature of the new world they’re living in.

“Is it something you’re eating?”
“Have you tried the Ferber method?”
“You need to read THIS book!” Seriously…you know who you are, and you need to stop this. Just stop.
“Well what did you think, that having a baby was easy?” YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE AND I WISH YOU A THOUSAND STUBBED TOENAILS. Jerk.

It’s hard for me to be loving to people when they do this. It’s really, really hard. Because for one thing, I make it a standard practice to just try to be there for my friends who are becoming first time parents. I’m not perfect of course, but let’s just say I don’t get my rocks off by being a self-righteous, belittling asshole just cause I’ve magically popped a few kids out. It doesn’t help parents complete the mission we’re all supposed to be on (to raise happy, healthy, well-adjusted kids) when an older, more experienced parent (or even just a less experienced but more arrogant parent) talks down to someone who is currently adjusting to one of the hardest jobs they’ll ever have.

It’s really hard for me to not put down my kindness and pick up the big ol’ verbal bat I’ve been hauling around since I was about six years old and just start beating people senseless. I don’t get why people need to do that. Maybe it’s an overcompensation thing. Maybe it’s an underdeveloped or immature sense of humor. Maybe it’s just that they’re gigantic jerks who can’t read a situation to save their life.

Whatever the case is, this is my warning. I will give you the shirt off my back. I will bake you fresh bread and a homemade meal. I will sit and listen to your problems just to hear them and say I’m there – even if I can’t offer advice (which often times, I honestly can’t). But if I catch you being a dick to a new parent who is running on minimal sleep and coffee, you will find your way to my shit list so fast. So. Fast.

Just stop being assholes to tired parents, world. They’re busy raising the kids who will one day fight your wars, manage your financial portfolios, and change the sheets in your assisted living centers. So you might wanna spend a little more time on encouragement and a little less time being uber-douche bags about sleep, feeding, and other things.

Just a pro tip.