02-10-2017

Fifty Shades Darker: Abuse at its heart

Because Fifty Shades Darker opens this weekend. Because abuse is the opposite of love. Because this is near & dear to my heart.

{A repost from when Fifty Shades of Gray movie opened in theaters.}

For two weeks now, as I watch ad after ad of 50 Shades trailers, I have been in a mood of outrage at our society.

How can we be outraged when Rihanna takes Chris Brown back and we watch a Super Bowl ad and say “oh, yes…domestic abuse is an atrocity.”

But then we turn a blind eye to a movie that at its heart embraces abuse, condones misuse of power, and degrades a woman’s self worth.

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What occurs in this movie is much more than just BDSM. What happens between the two characters is emotional manipulation, controlling another person’s thoughts, words, and deeds, threatening another person’s safety, and the list goes on and on.

At numerous many points in this book {just to name a few…the stalking, the threats, the inequality of power & control} I want to say “The worst thing about these books is…”

But perhaps, the worst part is the underlying effect when abuse embeds itself into one’s psyche.

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…the Grey Shade of Shame
while hiding black & blue bruises on our backs, afraid to undress at the gym for fear of being found out.

…the Grey Shade of Torture
while hearing “If you had done what I told you to, I wouldn’t need to whip you with this belt.”

…the Grey Shade of Fear
while hearing your abuser threaten to rape you.

When caustic comments are repeated day after day, situation after situation, year after year, they get under your skin, degrade your worth, and eventually they tear a woman down. They make her feel she deserves those beatings, she deserves being talked to as if she is a filthy human being.

Whether verbal,physical, or sexual…abuse is psychological.

It gets underneath your skin and affects how you view right & wrong.
It skews your beliefs until you don’t know what to be confident of anymore.

You take a controlling man who preys on a woman and batters her down
until nothing is left
but a stubble of who she used to be.

His actions make her not just FEEL but THINK that she wasn’t worthy of decent love from the beginning.

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Or, perhaps it is this that is the worst part…

For many supporters of this trilogy, they see the plot as being redemptive. For by the end of book 3, Ana has changed Christian to be a better man. Because of her, he is now a loving husband, a doting father.

Women, hear me loud and clear.
No woman has ever changed a man.
NEVER, EVER, EVER.

You love him for who he is. And if he happens to become better over time, that’s great. But at the end of the day…

You only have the power to change yourself.

So what message are we sending young ladies, teenagers, college bound girls….that they will be able to change a man? That their self esteem, their self worth doesn’t matter?

Young women…hear this…

There are awesome and wonderful men in this world who will cherish you, treasure you, and respect you and your wishes more than you ever thought possible. Trust your heart and your body to a man like that.

A man who gets his pleasure from hurting you, from controlling you, from knowing where you are every single second of the day…avoid those men like the plague. The man who makes you second guess yourself, makes you question what his true motives are…those are the ones to leave behind in the dust.

If someone can’t respect you for who you are, if someone has to undermine your value in order to make themselves feel more important – move on to bigger & brighter futures.

Because, you, you are worth SO MUCH MORE than being the object of someone’s issues with their own past.

Let them get help on their own. Let them figure out how to release the demons of their past. But you don’t need to stick around for them to do that.

Instead, find your worth in who you are…a beautiful, brilliant, talented, witty, funny, caring, loveable creation of God.

jessica

p.s…if this post has been touching to you, please forward to the young women in your life. Abuse happens more often that we realize, everywhere around us, even to men by women.

And if you are in an abusive relationship, there are people that want to help you. www.thehotline.org or 800.799.7233

10-22-2015

Confession of a People Pleasing Lady

{Whew…I’m getting pretty humble up in here today…sharing my flaws with ya’ll.}

I wish it weren’t so, but sometimes when I serve others, I consider how great it’s going to make me look.

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It’s not intentional, I never consciously aim to do that.

But a few years ago, upon some deep reflection, I realized I often want people to know all the ways I serve others.

Yeah, that’s me… this approval seeking, people pleasing lady.

Blame it on the middle child syndrome, but all I want is for other people to like me.

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And you know what, they probably do already…so why am I going out of my way to blatantly seek it?
And if they don’t, then who cares???

I remember Anah who sat beside me for years.
Us young twenty year olds, crammed into a much too small cubicle, making way too many cold calls.

One day she shared how each evening she made her husband an amazing sandwich when he got off work.
The sandwich sounded like a creation worthy of Dagworth’s fame in Blondie.

The awe inspiring part of her story was that Anah made the sandwich as an act of true love.

You could just tell. It wasn’t for her husband’s praise. She didn’t tell me so I would think she was a great wife.

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We just happened to be talking about her husband having to work late and as a consequence he didn’t really eat dinner. Thus, she made him something really special every evening. I’ll never forget the smile on her face when she talked about making it. She delighted in doing such a mundane task and filling that work with an abundance of joy.

Her serving was simply an outpouring of the love she had towards her husband.

When we serve others with a gracious heart we aren’t focused on the accolades or the recognition. I’m reminded in Anah’s story that a serving heart is most often found in the mundane, in the small tasks we do every single day that never receive a thank you or praise.

And I pray, that as I grow older and wiser, my heart will be more content to serve without being seen.

jessica

 

{Day 22 of the #write31days challenge. I’m writing all about A Servant’s Heart, the series list can be found here.}

10-19-2015

Spewing Evil – The treacherous game of criticism in marriage

There are numerous qualities that I think comprise a servant’s heart…

Trusts the good intentions of another…
Serves without seeking praise…
Doesn’t keep a list of whose done more…
Lets go of resentments…
Seeks other’s comfort first…
Does not criticize…

When you pledge your life to another, do you think it’s going to be a bed of roses?

Well, as Gran informed me on my wedding day…
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Wedding day bliss cannot be contained but as time rolls into years and years into decades, this person we’ve promised to serve and encourage begins to dim a bit in our eyes. Eventually, we find ourselves compiling lists of their flaws, of all the things we just KNOW they need to change.

At least that is what happened to me.

But what has taken me a decade long of learning to realize, is that no amount of criticism makes any situation better.

Criticism wears a person down.
Criticism weakens my marriage.
Criticism breaks the threads of friendship we share.

While we all have areas in our life we need to improve, is criticism the best way to go about it?

Is a loving, kind, constructive word not always more readily heard than a word meant to destroy and destruct?

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Perhaps I should be focused on improving myself rather than my husband.

Jesus knew what He was talking about when he spoke of how people judge the specks in other’s rather than focus on the log’s in their own lives.

It is infinitely easier to focus on a spouse’s ‘wrongs’ and ignore my own.
Because if I focus on my own shortcomings then I actually have to work on me, be disciplined, have self control.
{All areas I sorely lack in.}

I can criticize, rant, and harp all day long.

But hold my tongue in a bout of anger?
Stay silent when I’m bursting with evil words?
Put a smile on my face and instead give LOVE abundently?

Those actions take work and seem insurmountable.

Christ reminds me though that the work is not for me to accomplish alone.
God wants me to depend on Him for the changes I long for.
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As I lean on God to sculpt my heart with gratitude and grace, I strengthen my relationship with Him.
When I remember it is not my job as a spouse to change and fix my partner, then my marriage grows stronger.

Christ, would you show us today all the wonderful ways our spouse loves us.
Give us eyes that see all their fantastic attributes.
Help us appreciate all they do as a parent, friend, and spouse.

jessica

{Written as part of my 31 Days to a Servant’s Heart series. Click here to see all post within this series.}

10-12-2015

A True Servant is Focused on Giving rather than Getting

Unfortunately, I sometimes {more times than I’d like to admit} utter up phrases that sound something like this…
“If I do this whatever it is, then will you do this other thing for me?”

What better description of a non servant’s heart is there,
than a servant who only serves so that they in turn will be served?

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If my service to others is about what I’m going to get in return, then it is all for naught.

As Tim Keller writes, “When you say, “I’ll serve, as long as I’m getting benefits from it,” that’s not actually serving people; it’s serving yourself through them. That’s not circling them, orbiting around them; it’s using them, getting them to orbit around you.”

Part of putting other people before yourself means that we aren’t looking for what we will receive on the flip side. Instead, we care more about the needs of other’s than caring about what they can do for us.

One of the best examples I’ve ever read on this topic, especially with it related to marriage, was written in a viral blog post by Seth Adams Smith. He writes “You don’t marry to make yourself happy, you marry to make someone else happy… a true marriage (and true love) is never about you. It’s about the person you love—their wants, their needs, their hopes, and their dreams. Selfishness demands, “What’s in it for me?”, while Love asks, “What can I give?”

So when I’m stuck in my rut of keeping track of whose done more or what can I ask for in return,
I have to remind myself to pray.

Asking God to keep my heart focused on giving rather than focusing on what I am receiving.

jessica

 

{Day 12 of the #write31days challenge. Every day I get more & more excited as I inch ever more closely to October 31! Click here to see a listing of all the posts written in this series. Or click on the right sidebar link to receive these posts in your inbox.}

10-10-2015

Thoughts on being subservient in marriage…yes, I’m going there!

Today is Day 10 of my writing for 31 days in a row and in many ways it is thrilling to try a challenge. But I find that on the weekends I have little motivation to write. If the post is not going to be read by many {which might happen on the weekend} then I don’t feel like writing.

So I am having to remind myself of my motivation to participate in this challenge. It wasn’t to grow blog traffic or the quantity of people signed up for post in their inbox. Those are nice bonuses, but the real reason was to improve my writing and become more consistent in how often I blog.

So even though I feel like time is running out on me getting a blog completed today, I am reminding myself it doesn’t have to be perfect. Just Do It will be my mantra for this post.

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I often hear people say that the Bible is antiquated in its view of a woman being subservient to a man. And to some extent, I get it, because when I google Subservient, the definition is blaring and I would never want those synonyms to describe me.

sub·ser·vi·ent
adjective
 prepared to obey others unquestioningly.
  1. synonyms: submissive, downtrodden, obedient, biddable, passive, unassertive, docile, subdued

But what if preachers {and readers of the Word} focused on the Bible as a whole?

Looked at the Bible as THE SUM OF IT’S PARTS.

Not just pulling out this verse or that single word and basing whole platforms on them.

What if instead of only preaching on women being subservient, they also preached on the importance of men serving their wives as Christ served the church?

Which means being willing to lose their life for their spouse.
Giving up your life sounds all glorious but isn’t the majority of serving found in the mundane, in the everyday?

So perhaps men should lose themselves every day for their wives?

….Tell your wife to get out with her friends for the evening after your extremely long day at work. Even though that means you’ve got to handle all three kids by yourself, along with making dinner, giving baths, and wrangling kids to that thing called bedtime. Sure, it isn’t fun, it isn’t easy…but it’s putting your wife above yourself first.

…Or what if it’s truly listening and engaging with your wife when she talks about her not interesting day…we get that diapers and breastfeeding aren’t exciting. But when a husband takes the time and effort to listen, then us women, want to do the same for our husbands.

I think we need to look at husbands as being just as much of a servant to their wives, as their wives are to them.

I get that this is a controversial topic and there is so much more I could say on the topic.. For example, I consider myself extremely blessed to have a husband who highly respects me…so for me, it’s not hard to think about serving my spouse because he serves me so well.

But for way too many women, their husband’s are abusive, controlling, demanding…everything Christ commands a man NOT to be to his wife. So where does the subservient relationship fit into those roles? I’m not sure.

I just wanted to share my thoughts on the topic because I don’t think you can discuss how to serve your spouse without also considering the meaning of being subservient.

jessica

10-08-2015

Love Each Other As I Have Loved You

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{Image Source: fiercemarriage.com}

Day 8 of 31 Days to a Servant’s Heart

10-07-2015

How to Have A Servant’s Heart in Marriage

It’s laughable that today I’m writing about a servant’s heart in a marriage. I’m definitely not writing this because I succeed at this whole serving your spouse thing.

Most days I tank right there in the mud and get clogged up thinking everything is about me, my desires, my needs.

But if I am praying God will help me have a heart bent towards getting to serve, then what better relationship to focus on, than in the one I wake up to every morning?

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But it’s hard isn’t it?

It’s much easier to…serve the homeless… travel to Uganda to serve the barefoot children… have a servant’s heart of compassion for someone I don’t know.

But I do know my husband. I know his strengths, his weaknesses, his good, his bad.
{Unfortunately, he knows mine too.}

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And when faced with serving the person I commune with daily, he receives the least amount of grace from me. I can tell my heart isn’t in the right place when doing something kind for him feels more like a begrudging action or when I tally up my mental scorecard of who has done more around the house that day.

What I crave is that making his lunch, ironing his shirts, or saying ‘yes’ to watch that documentary on black holes will become a priceless way for me to give him love. To give him a piece of me. And in so doing, I have been the hands and feet of Jesus.

I want my heart to delight in doing things for my husband.
Just because.
Not for anything it gets me in return.

Serving my husband with a gracious heart is a choice I have to make countless times each day. And as Ruth Soukup writes “…the reality is that true change will come only through prayer… continual, wholehearted, and passionate prayer.”

So practically speaking, what can I do differently so that I may actually see change and not just talk about it?

What if today, before I rise from the bed, I ask God…

…Give me insight on something kind I could do unexpectedly for my husband, just because…
…Slow down my racing ways so I remember to truly kiss my husband goodbye before I leave the house…
…Help me see & focus on my husband’s positive attributes and tell him how thankful I am for him…
…Please take away the tally marks in my head of who has done most and focus me instead on the things he does for our family…
…Help me share with my husband how grateful I am he is in my life…
…When it comes time to make dinner, bathe the kids, read them bedtime stories…give me courteous words when I need to ask my husband for help…

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And when I get it wrong and gripe or when I fail and keep those tally marks, I am so thankful for a God that reminds me that each day is a new day.
“Great is the Lord’s faithfulness to us. His mercies begin afresh each morning.” Lamentations 3:22 & 23

jessica

 

 

{Today is day 7 of the series 31 Days to a Servant’s Heart that I am writing for #write31days challenge.}