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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

SEX IS AWESOME!


At least that’s what I’ve been told by the people who surround me while shoving it in my face that I’m not having it.

EXCUSE ME?! GASP!

Yes, I am indeed one of those bizarre creatures from another planet that decided, while possessed by a demon [well, that’s what the majority of my peers seem to think], to wait until marriage.

Before I continue, let’s get the ridiculous questions I get asked by people all of the time answered first, shall we?

Yes, I struggle with this every day.
No, I’m not miserable or depressed.
Yes, I’m often left feeling out of the loop.
No, I’m not a-sexual.
Yes, I have a very healthy sex drive.
No, I’m not going to have sex with you.
Yes, I consider that to be sex.
No, you can’t convince me to change my mind.


Now that that’s out of the way! Time for a bedtime story, brought to you by ChastityRocks, collect cool rocks for your rock garden that are pure!

 […Wait, what?]

Once upon a time, when the school bell had rung, a little girl found herself forced to wait in the adoration chapel of the Catholic elementary school that she attended until her mother picked her up. Disgruntled and angry at the evil mother for being late, she grumpily stomped into the chapel, messily genuflected and went to the side room to see if there were any semi-interesting religious books to read. There, on the fourth shelf, was a brightly colored, but rather worn, thick book. She pulled it out a little, to decipher the title and found that it was a young adults book on the saints. ‘I guess this will do,’ she thought to herself as she moped to a seat in front of the tabernacle. ‘Okay God, if I have to be here…at least give me someone interesting to read about, ‘ she prayed, as she shut her eyes and let the book fall open.

St. Maria Goretti

‘Who the heck is that?!’ she, so elegantly, thought to herself.

Beginning to read, she was in awe of this beautiful saint’s story that unraveled before her very eyes.

” St. Maria Goretti, daughter of an Italian farmer, was the third of six children. By the time she was six years old her family became so poor that they were forced to work for other farms to make money and began to live with another family [which consisted of a man and his son, Alessandro Serenelli]. Maria’s father died of malaria when she was nine and soon it was just her mother and siblings working to make end’s meat. Often days, while her family worked in the field, she volunteered to stay behind to look after the children and tend to the housework and cooking. Though the family struggled, their mutual devotion to God and faith allowed them to remain hopeful for the future. Maria, specifically, had a deep love for the Lord and the Eucharist and found joy in the gift of purity He had given to her.

On July 5th, 1902 Maria was alone in the house as her sister slept. Alessandro, nineteen years old, made sexual advances upon the eleven year old, who begged him not to abuse her. She told him that it was a sin and that God would not like it, but he continued to make advances. He tried choking her in attempts to manipulate her into giving in, but when she persisted to say no, claiming she would rather die than be impure, he stabbed her fourteen times.

By the time her family found her, it was too late. She had already bled too much. While dying in the hospital, she forgave Alessandro Serenelli, and prayed that he too would ask forgiveness so that they might both be in heaven together one day. Twenty-four hours later, she died.

Alessandro Serenelli was spared the death sentence because he was a minor, and spent the first three years of his thirty-year sentence refusing to speak to anyone. Then, one day, he appeared to have a change of heart. Apparently, Maria appeared to him in a dream and had given him lilies. Once his sentence had been fulfilled, he immediately went to Maria’s mother and begged forgiveness. Maria’s mother knew that she had to forgive him, just as Maria had forgiven him on her deathbed. The next day they attended mass together, and Alessandro received reconciliation.

It is said that he prayed to Maria every day and even called her his ‘little saint’.

Alessandro Serenelli became a lay brother and died peacefully in a monastery in 1970.“

The little girl, only eight years old at the time, closed the book on the saints and stared at the tabernacle. ‘Wow,’ she thought.  Moved by the Holy Spirit, she knelt down and began to pray fervently, begging God for forgiveness for complaining about having to stay a little extra time after school. And then, as if divinely inspired she looked at the tabernacle and prayed, ‘I want to be like her, Lord. I want to value my purity that deeply. I promise to save myself, Jesus. I promise to wait until I marry the man that you have ordained to be my husband. I love you. Thank you for this gift of purity.’ And she sealed the deal, by blowing Him a kiss.

And the little girl grew up, joy-filled, at the cross that she had accepted from her Creator. 

And then got asked a lot of stupid questions.

So, that’s my story kids. That’s why I am the way I am today. I don’t know why her story hit me so very deeply at that age [when I barely knew what I was getting myself into] or why I felt the need to promise God I would remain faithful to Him and my husband…I just know that it’s the right thing for me.

As I got older, I found more scientific reasons to want to wait till marriage. How oxytocin, the chemical in women that is released during sex or having a child, makes us automatically attached to our partner/kids [Oh, hey typical break up scenes of women being emotional basket cases].

Granted, it’s been a struggle…and just as I’ve learned about love, I realize that this is a choice. Every morning I must wake up and make the choice to continue soldiering on. But I can vouch that it's not always easy.

Yet, growing up having made this choice has led me to the blessing of understanding what a great gift this was for me. I have learned so much about people and myself by treasuring this part of my being. I have met men who view me as a challenge, women who are rude and jealous because they weren’t raised to see it in such a way, even acting professors who feel that I am ‘missing out on a great learning experience by waiting’ and who urge me to ‘just do it’…but then, sometimes, I am lucky enough to meet those very few who cheer me on when they hear my story.

They might not know it, but they are my heroes for accepting me.

And, my favorite part of all this is the realization of what a wonderful gift this will be to give to my husband on our wedding night! Me. My entire self. What better way to prove to him how much I treasured his existence…long before I even knew his name.

Sex is sacred. It is truly a gift given to us by God. It’s a spiritual act that unites two people so that ‘two will become one flesh’. How beautiful. Our hearts, minds and bodies become so incredibly interlaced, till we cannot bear to part.

How lovely.

No worries, my friends, this is not a reflection meant to judge other people’s choices or lifestyles. In fact, I'm supportive of all my friends and family in their choices, especially if they're happy. I’m simply, sharing with you who I am. And while it’s scary to do in a world that is not always so gracious about such choices, I wanted to open my heart to you all.

It’s funny, the other day I was visiting my friend at her college. Her best friend found out [he’s a jock type personality] and while in shock his response…surprisingly uplifted me:

‘You’re still holding your v-card? You’re like 21, man! Actually…that’s kind of impressive.’

If only he knew.  

Do me this one favor, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ… Look into your hearts, my friends. Take a moment to reflect on how holy this act truly is, because in this society—we rarely hear it spoken as such. Recognize how beautiful it is, and how it is a GIFT! Gifts, especially from God, shouldn’t to be thrown about. We deserve to enjoy sex as He created it to be enjoyed; as a spiritual, physical and emotional journey that we can partake in without guilt or worry—with the one He has created for us to love.

It’s the least we deserve.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Serial Flirt.

When I was a little girl, I was made fun of all the time by my classmates. Many times they targeted me because I was really loud and overly affectionate. But, as I've grown up, I've realized the root cause of all the teasing was because all I truly wanted was for them to like me, and I bent over backwards to get them to include me. I became their carpet to stomp all over, and I simply...let them. To them I was pathetic. To my Lord, I was desperately in love with humanity. I was innocent and had no idea that these kids weren’t as simply happy-go-lucky as I was. They made fun of me for my weight, my looks, my quirky personality, and my deep love of Christ, but in all the years that I was made fun of, I never found myself blaming them. In fact, I often found the more they hated me, the more I wanted to prove to them I was worth loving.

Fast forward through ten years of repression and blaming myself for not being good enough, add an outgoing personality and a deep-seated desire to simply be loved and fit in…and you’ve got the potential for a serial flirt on your hands.

What’s a good Christian girl to do to avoid being a terrible flirt? In eighth grade I often begged God to bring me my future husband in high school to be my best friend. I prayed and prayed and prayed that He’d have mercy on my poor little heart and let me have someone to love, who could show me my worth and love me with all of their being.

But God didn’t respond.

So, I would scream and throw temper tantrums. I would tell the Lord He was cruel and unforgiving [you’d never guess I was an actor, right?].  I would cry for hours on end, feeling broken and bruised. Asking why He wouldn’t allow me to have my first kiss or first date. Why He wouldn’t allow someone to ask me out.

But God would not respond.

And, as if purposefully trying to test God, I gave in and began to flirt.

Ooooh, was I the flirt queen my freshman year. I’d flirt with just about anything that moved. Men, women, cats [too far?]…I ate up all the attention that was thrown my way.

And when I started getting what I wanted.. [i.e. attention, flirting, men, popularity, etc. All fleeting, yet something I had craved and was now becoming addicted to]...

...I stopped praying.

I mean, it wasn't necessary anymore, right? It hadn’t served me in my romantic life prior to this point, so why continue? God obviously didn’t care about me, or what I wanted. He didn’t acknowledge or understand the pain and self-loathing that I had felt in my heart.

He had abandoned me.

So, I didn’t pray for God’s will. I didn’t pray for direction or strength and courage to be a strong woman of God. I didn’t think or pray about my husband or what he deserved anymore. I let my foundation in faith crumble as I sat and cheered. I stopped caring altogether about what the Lord had created me for and instead started [attempting] to fill the void in my heart, for the first time, with what society told me to do: chase a man till he realized he loved me.

Yeah, yeah. I know. Stupid.

I had cracked, and was in need of serious fixing…but I was far from ready to allow God to make this brokenness apparent to me. Far from ready to allow Him to take care of me. So I listened to society and got rid of what they said was holding me back [God] and placed my hope in the brokenness of humans.

At fourteen, I was sashaying my way through high school, as the textbook definition of an attention-whore; an extrovert using her God- given gifts to manipulate those around her into ‘Pizza-Love’ing her.

What? You don’t know pizza-love? Oh, come on! We’re all very familiar with pizza-love! Coined by Mary Beth Bonacci, Catholic writer and speaker on the ideals of love, pizza-love is that fake love that comes and goes in an instant. I ‘love’ pizza, but when I’m finished eating it, do I think about it? Pray for it? Adore it? Recognize it’s inner beauty? No. I wrap it in saran wrap, throw it in the back of the fridge and FORGET ABOUT IT.

But it tasted good. And when boys smiled at me, when boys laughed at my jokes or seemed the least bit interested…I felt good. I felt like I wasn’t invisible or fighting to exist. I felt… wanted.

But they never fought for me, liked me or pursued me. They acknowledged my overt pushiness, enjoyed it and then metaphorically ‘threw me in the back of the fridge’ when they got bored.

And this is what I had chosen over God.

Pathetic.

[I was a freshman in high school, give me a break.]

Let’s get this straight: All women want to be chased. All women deserve to be chased. Not because they are fond of playing games, or because they really, really love ‘Say Yes to the Dress’ and want to make sure the dress they dream about from season three is still around when they find the right guy—but because God created us perfectly, and within us placed the innate desire to be loved and adored, but by the right people. And with the chase, comes the proving of worth and intention. But the part of the equation we so often leave out, that we have replaced all together with this flimsy idea of romance, is that we were created to desire love and adoration, not just from our romantic partners, but more so from our Creator! 

God is SO in love with us.  If only we would have the courage to allow Him show us this. It’s as though we’ve become numb to the idea that He loves us after hearing it so often through our childhood that we can’t fathom the idea that He gets joy out of our existence! And until we realize this, until we see how He loves us, we will never know how to be loved by another.

It was hard to see this amid the chaos of high school. With the confusion of growing up, I was suffocating myself in hopes that a man would help fill me. Fill a void that I knew in the core of my being only God could fill.

It took my mother, one of the most beautifully devout women I have ever had the pleasure of knowing, to drag me to the adoration chapel. Better yet, drag me mid-tears, drowning in my negative thoughts of how ugly and alone I was. 

But my mother took my hand, and sat me in front of the tabernacle…and let Him prove me wrong.

I felt Him there. I felt His arms wrap around me. And I wept…but not tears of anger or anxiety, but tears of complete and utter… joy. It’s amazing how just being in the presence of the Lord can inspire understanding and calm. 

He, my best friend, my spiritual husband, my love, my life, my God…had read my soul during all of this and knew that the fondness, peace-filled romance, that love-story that I had craved…  would not be satisfied in the relationships I was pursuing. So He did not let them grow.

Instead. He smiled, lovingly gazed at me and He said…let it be me.

It’s been hard, and I’ve struggled not to chase, but it has certainly opened my eyes to reality. It has allowed me to weed through those who are worthy of my time and allowed me to let go of those who just don’t get it, and most likely never will. And while there are moments when I find myself desiring that attention, drooling over the ‘pizza’, I have finally come to terms with the fact that the ‘pizza’ will never satisfy me.  

So I will wait. I will wait for the one that chases me, and more importantly, chases Him.

Until then, I’ll just flirt with God.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

PRiDE.

Auditions were this past Sunday. I was lucky enough to participate in ten audition process’, all quite complex and incredibly different from one another…but by far the most interesting was that for our main stage production of Faustus.

Two months prior to the audition: ‘Create a one minute piece on one of the seven deadly sins. Anything you want. Go, and enjoy.’

Um. Awesome.

I sat in my room mulling over ideas, from songs, to poems to dance. I thought of each sin and wondered how I could incorporate them into a neat little piece that show cased my creativity and talent.

It wasn’t a hard decision, honestly. I’ve often meditated on the seven deadly sins, a bit enthralled with how inter-woven together they are. I chose the one that scared me the most, my least favorite, but certainly the most deadly…Pride.

--

I held a red balloon in my hands, crouched down, back to the audience. I had one minute to execute my performance and to prove worth to my viewers.

‘pulsing, and Pulsing…’

I grew tall, raising the balloon over my head as I gradually stood in the upright position. The audience could now see that the word ‘PRiDE’ was written on it, the ‘i’ underlined twenty times, but surprisingly was in lower case.

‘And PULSING—WHAT?! YOU DON’T THINK I’M GOOD ENOUGH?!’

I whipped around and popped the balloon. The pieces fell to the ground, and I found myself crumbling along with them. Soon I was reaching, grasping at the pieces, but writhing in pain.

‘Selfish. Selfish. Me. Yeah. Me. Yeah!
Boyfriend. Break. New one. One night stand. Cheat. Cheat. Repeat that.
Drug use. Clean up. Drug use. Drug Use.  Clean up. Drug use. Rehab.’

Every time I seemed to find a word that felt good, I could finally hold the balloon in my hands, as if finally beginning to build up my ego, but then the healthy words seem to drive me towards humility and I was forced to throw the pieces back to the ground.

‘[Expletive]. I suck!  DUDE. Self loathing.’

I am broken. I am nothing without my pride. I am sprawled out on the floor, helpless. But then, a spark of devilish hope. I grab the pieces of the broken balloon, slowly beginning to rise. I’m calm now, collected.

 ‘Self- esteem.’

I can fix this. I’m the best. I’m better. I pull out another balloon from my pocket. Now, I realize that I’m gracing them with my presence…I’m standing upright, squared off with my main viewer. She’s so lucky to see me perform.

‘Ego.’

I blow into it once. I smirk, I’ve won. I’m in control. Screw the audience.

‘And then me again.’

I turn around. They don’t deserve me. The balloon, partially blown up, is in my hand.

--

And there it is. I guess you kinda had to be there. Hah.

The piece was put together as I listened to an album of rap that my best friend had given me. An entire song that almost seemed to be on pride…and soon the rappers words became the monologue for the piece. Everything else seemed to fall into place as soon as I knew what I was going to say, and before I knew it…the audition was over.

But I walked away, surprisingly…dissatisfied.

Granted, the audition went well, and I felt great about the piece…but as I found myself pacing about the theatre school, waiting in anticipation for the next audition I couldn’t seem to shake that feeling of…unrest?

God loves us. He gave us free will because He loves us so much that He didn’t want to force us into loving Him back. He respected us enough to give us a choice, and yet…how many times have we hurt Him because we couldn’t admit that we were wrong? Or how many times have we hurt Him indirectly by hurting one of His other children by not including them because we think they’re less than worthy to be in our presence? How many times have we looked Him in the face and denied Him? How many times has our Lord felt the nails driven further into His hands and feet because we’re so caught up in our own stupid problems that we can’t make time to humble ourselves to help, listen and love those around us?

I sat in a corner and worked through my worry, my utter sadness at this thought and prayed that I find humility in my own life. Because, honestly, I couldn’t think of the last time I had intentionally humbled myself to glorify the Lord.

The day continued on. It was long. A long waiting game, filled with…well. If you hadn’t guessed. Waiting. And I soon saw each sin take physical form around me. One person refusing to read the scene out of laziness, another stuffing their face with food out of nervousness, another fondling their significant other to take their mind off of the stress that surrounded them…. and even more prominently, I saw envy. It seemed to me that envy had crept into the theatre school, lodging itself in the heart of this person and of that person. Each actor seemed to be looking at another actor wishing to be as good or better. And within this envy, I saw pride. Pride that they thought God had given them less. Pride that they thought they ought to be better or more worthy. Pride that they were more deserving.

And I saw that I was judging, even if with an unbiased view. I was judging. So, I put my blinders on and began to love. I loved and laughed and listened and enjoyed being back in my theatrical ‘home’. And I tried to take the focus off me and put it on those I cared about who surrounded me. We were all waiting. Waiting to hear about callbacks and see if we made it to the next round. We were all in the same boat. In this moment, I decided to have no expectations, no desires. God was going to bless me with whatever I needed. I didn’t care who I was, or how big my role was…because I knew I would learn something regardless of how grand my character was.

The first list was posted. It was for the first main stage show. The crowd ran to the board. I, on the other hand, stayed behind, not in any rush to see. I stood on the couch behind them all, watching them gather together into a frantic cluster…and then they stopped. Collectively. They grew silent. Slowly they began to turn and look at me. My ‘parent’ in the program looked at me, smiling, as she spoke ‘Katey, sweetie…come look!’ Confused, I jumped over the couch and squinted as I tried to read the fine print.

Callback
Mrs. Van Buren:
Katey Kerman

I was the only girl called back for the only white girl in the first main stage show of the year. A third year actor. My first time auditioning and I was called back for a main stage role that probably ought to have had a list of MFA Actors and fourth year BFA Actors under it…but my name was the only one written beneath the characters name.

I stood, absolutely stunned.

The first words out of my mouth surprised me.

‘This doesn’t mean anything.’ I laughed.

They looked surprised as they watched me react in such a way. But, my friends, it was the most amazing moment. I felt…nothing. My ego didn’t jack up, I didn’t think I was a shoe-in, I wasn’t thrilled or amazed or had any desire to run out of the building to call my mom and tell her the ‘big news’.

World hunger had not been solved. Wars had not ended. Life would move on.

Because, it was just a callback.

I am blessed, and God was kind, but this was a gift not a reward or an affirmation that I was soooooooo much more talented than my classmates. It was simply a gift given to me by my divine friend.

And she grew, because of His mercy and love. Praise God.

[UPDATE: And, as God had provided me with this message of humility-- I did not receive this role. I can't wait to see His plan for me this quarter!]

Monday, August 22, 2011

Love like a tree.

"Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being "in love" which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Love is having roots that grow towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossom have fallen from our branches we find that we are one tree and not two."
-St. Augustine

I have only ever been ‘in love’ once. Okay, okay...Perhaps I should be clearer—I’ve only ever convinced myself that I was ‘in love’ once. He was the kind of guy that was ‘perfect’ on paper. Well known and well liked. Exactly what I thought I needed and wanted. He was the first man that I could imagine compromising my dreams for, the first man that I envisioned settling down with…the first man I thought might actually see me the way God saw me. In my head, I planned a home with him, and was content on living out this, stable, sensible, very un-Katey like dream with him. And I was happy with this. I thought.

It is often said that God laughs at our plans, and I have to say that when He laughs—He laughs until He has fallen over in tears.  At least that’s how I imagined it when the man I believed to be my future husband broke my heart leaving me devastated by my very first gulp of romantic rejection.

And there it was. That feeling that you see in the movies when all the famous, drop-dead gorgeous actresses try to make themselves look disgusting as they sit on the couch in sweats with a tub of ice cream yelling at the chick flick they are so appropriately watching after a bad break up. Come on, you know that feeling! The one when where you can’t really breathe because there seems to be a hole in your chest?

And with that feeling came the torrents of prayers. I prayed for our Lord to keep me from falling deeper into desolation, to ignite a hope in me that I had lost long before this young man had ever left me. I prayed to fall in love all over again with God, my savior. Rosary after rosary, mass after mass, I couldn’t imagine any more tears left in my body and yet whenever I began to pray the tears seemed to stream down my face just as you’d see in a cartoon.

Until finally, St. Augustine shook me out of my depression.

I am infatuated with the idea of love. This idea that one day I will understand what it means to look into someone else's eyes and feel completely and simultaneously…at peace and joy-filled.

I have been praying for my husband since I was five years old. I have daydreamed about him, thought about him, questioned his very existence and even written him e-mails (uh, we’ll get into that in another reflection). Twenty-one years old and you would think I was an old maid the way that I worry for him!

But here I was ready to settle for a man that did not see my value. A man that could not offer me the love that God knows I need and has imparted specifically to my future spouse. I did not trust our Lord to know what I needed, but even when I did not trust—God knew better than to allow our hearts to become entwined as St. Augustine’s trees.

Because, you see, ‘all the pretty blossom’ did fall away, and to him...I wasn’t the one. But that’s perfectly okay. Because, now that I’m far enough away from the situation, he wasn’t it for me either. Here I am a beautiful child of God, a devout Catholic and Christian who knows what she wants…and I know, especially after dating him, that I want a friendship and marriage with a foundation in Christ.


Let’s be a willow, darling.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

'Be still and know that I am God'

God is always speaking to us. Sometimes it’s through scripture, through a spiritual experience, from time spent in adoration or at your local church. Other times the Lord speaks to our hearts through friends, family and sometimes even strangers.

If you’re anything like me then God tends to hit you over the head in every possible way until you hear Him. Yes or yes? Yes. He does that. It amazes me how persistent He is when He wants us to hear something important.

A week or so ago He began by whispering sweet nothings of stillness to my soul.  Out of the blue my friend began texting me about Psalm 46:10 and her desire to find stillness in the Lord. I thought very little of this, and went about my business as I often do (she’s a Catholic Studies major with a fetish for theology, so I just sorta roll with the punches). A week later I find myself listening to a song that she had sent to me entitled ‘Be Still’, part of a taize prayer service. I found my spirit filled with a peace I had not felt in days, but once again…I didn’t think much about it. At this point God was irate, you know? I mean, HELLO! He’s trying to get some point across, Katey! So, here I am, packing up my things before I move back to Chicago when I stumble upon a calendar an agnostic friend gave me back when she thought all I enjoyed was Catholic/Christian paraphernalia (Dear Lord, please don’t smite me for having preferred something from Urban Outfitters). I laughed as I opened the calender entitled 365 days of ‘faith filled inspirational quotes’,  to today’s date. I was ready to toss it into the trashcan…but there it was, 

“There is nothing harder to obey than the command the Lord gives us to be still.”

WHAT?!

I sat back in my seat in awe. I felt winded, confused and yet…thrilled, all at once. On fire, and ready to drop my work to meditate on what ‘stillness’ meant—instead, I gave the Lord another reason to hit me over the head. ‘You have a lot of work to do, so just work for another hour or so and then you can meditate,’ I thought to myself as I put the calendar away for safe keeping, knowing now that I couldn’t throw it away, even if I wanted to. Moving to the next book in the pile, my acting notebook, I smiled and almost immediately forgot about my message from the Lord on stillness. Theatre, my earthly love and passion, often completely void of faith…and on the first page that I open to, written in bold, in my own handwriting on the top of the page what does God smack me with?:

STILLNESS IS POWER.

Hello, meditation!

Stillness. What is stillness? What does it mean to be still? Let’s go to the dictionary.

n. silence or tranquility

If you know me, then you probably know that I am rarely silent. I spend my days giving advice to my friends, conversing with my professors and laughing, at or with, my parish priest (mostly the latter). I even chose a career where speaking is key to my making, a very small amount of, money—Acting! But here I am, being asked by my creator to find tranquility in my own silence. Why would Christ ask this of me? Does He not relish in the sound of my voice? Does He not find my thoughts exquisite and profound?

Silence.

I gotta laugh as I write this, because I am once again taken aback and amazed by our Lord. My soul is elated at how better He knows how to care for me than I ever will. He knows exactly what we need, regardless of how uncomfortable it makes us feel.

And doesn’t silence do just that? At least for me, in my life as an entertainer...silence makes me feel like I’m not doing my job. Like I’m not working hard enough. And this makes me feel awkward, and often makes me babble about useless and pointless things. But that’s just it… why would the Lord want us to be uncomfortable in silence…where He waits for us.

Silence.

In the silence, where we are able to put down our guard, the Lord sits, waiting patiently to share His word. He fills us with calm, beckoning each of us to allow His impenetrable light to warm our souls. And in this immeasurable silence, we are able to hear His voice echo through each and every cell of our being, as He blows us kisses of His eternal love, mercy and hope.

Silence.

I have often found myself saying that I know who my closest friends are because they are the ones that I can sit in silence with. Well, here’s to God being my best friend, and to finally spending some quality quiet time with Him. Here’s to learning how to be still.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Body Image Disorder, the contemporary Woman & Christ

When I was in high school, I had the pleasure of going through an entire year of stomach problems. It began with not being able to keep anything down in the morning. I would sit, slowly chewing my toast in hopes that this would be the day that I would actually feel alive. This would be the day that I would prove to be healthy, awake…and in the midst of these lofty daydreams I would find myself running to the porcelain basin of doom. My medical issues continued to evolve, as most things in life do, and it soon became a problem after every meal. And before I knew it, I was starving myself to avoid being nauseous and still couldn’t help but throw up five or six times a day.

Rest assured, I wasn’t anorexic or bulimic-- in fact gluttony has always been one of my major downfalls. [I mean, how does the Lord expect me to love baking and not love pie, even He knows this is a ridiculous request!]

But more scary than it not having been a choice, more terrifying than having no control over my body, were the thoughts I found myself having in reaction to this nameless gastro-intestinal disease.

Me, the sinner: ‘Oh, thank God! Look, I’m finally losing weight!’

The Lord: ‘Seriously? This is how you’re invoking my name at a time like this? Really…? Oy, what am I going to DO with this kid…’

[In these kinds of situations I enjoy acting as if the Lord is my older brother, so forgive me if he doesn’t sound quite as you’d imagined. I digress.]

Vanity thine name is Katey. .

Or. Have I simply been programmed to think this way? Have we allowed movies, magazines, celebrities, etc. to tell us that what we possess as creations of the most Holy Creator are qualities that simply…aren’t good enough?

What is a Christian woman to do when she is being taught one thing through the love of Christ and another through the society she is immersed in?

Alright, let’s be honest, this society equates being skinny to being beautiful.

It was a sincere struggle to look in the mirror and see anything of worth as I was growing up. Granted, I was never obese or even that much overweight, but the stigma of being ‘chunky’ followed me where ever I seemed to take root. By the time I was in fourth grade, I began labeling myself as the token ‘tomboy’, attempting to hide the fact that I felt less that worthy to hold the title of ‘woman’ . I hid. By wearing over sized clothes and hanging out with the boys who often spent their time getting dirty and killing bugs. While I appreciated the attention that I received from the boys, who I knew in my heart truly loved me for me, I was often envious of the pretty skinny girls I would hear them talking about.  You know, the ones that wore the cute little tank tops and always had their nails done. They were the girls that the teachers smiled at because of how tiny and adorable they were…I was the girl that the teachers smiled at because I was a huge goofball who used her loud personality to cover up her physical insecurities.

And so I grew up, thinking that I would always be the girl that would have a ‘great personality’ and a ‘cute face’, but would never be seen as a beautiful woman. And finally, I arrived in high school. Where I wore sweatshirts in the hottest months of Florida to hide my body. Where I looked at the overweight girls who wore tight clothing and judged them for being so bold and comfortable with themselves. Where I convinced myself that I would have to lose, at least, thirty or forty pounds before a man would ever love me. I arrived in high school to discover that all the praying that I had been doing to become who God had created me to be…had been in vain. Not because of our Lord, no…He had been working over-time to get me to see my true value. No, I had been deaf, blind and stubborn to keep Him from telling me that I was gorgeous. I had insisted that He leave me to believe that I wasn’t worth being looked at because I was not a suitable weight. I told Him to leave me alone.

And He laughed.

…and then He made me get sick.

It’s funny how the sick part didn’t bother me so much…the long hours spent in the bathroom. The overnight in the hospital for tests. My parents who frantically ran around trying to figure out ways to make me better. It was kind of fun to feel like a mystery that no one could figure out.

What truly bothered me were those thoughts of being happy to finally be skinny.

Do you ever sit down in church, your home, outside and look at the world? God thought up each creation, spent time making sure they were perfect for their purpose on earth and then placed them exactly where they were needed. Down to the very moment in time.

Similarly, the Lord God created each one of us, individually, with a fervor and love that none of us will ever understand while still alive on this earth.  He, the creator of the universe, spent His precious time thinking each of us up, making sure we were as beautiful as He. And the cherry on top of this already magnificent deal is that He not only loves us, but He finds joy in our very existence!

And yet we find ourselves distraught and unworthy of love over not being a size four.

Granted, if gluttony is a sin that you struggle with, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t pray for the grace and strength to continue fighting yourself in over-eating. I also believe that exercise and eating healthily are wonderful ways to work towards glorifying God and the gift of the body that He has given you. What I am worried for is the obsession for thinness that seems to have infected the masses. An obsession that I have heard women go so far as to defend, even when facing health issues due to the strain they are placing on their bodies.  

It’s time to wake up, girls.

Losing weight won’t make a man love you. A man will love you for the strength and confidence that you possess. A man of God will love you for the light that shines from your soul. If a man needs you to lose weight for him so that he can love you, he doesn’t know you, love you or deserve you.

Losing weight won’t make YOU love you more. I get it, it feels great to finally fit into that dress you’ve been pining over, but the truth of the matter is that your losing weight won’t change who you are on the inside, and if you aren’t happy first with how your soul looks, changing your body won’t make a difference. If you feel a void in your heart…losing weight will not fill it. The only thing that will make you love you more, is recognizing your worth through Christ’s eyes.

Last, but certainly not least, losing weight won’t make God love you more. God loves you exactly the way you are. If you are a good person… loving, kind, faith-filled and on the path that He has made for you—You’re golden in His eyes. He wants nothing more from you than to see that you are working towards being a light for those in darkness.

I pray for my husband everyday. Since I was five, I have prayed for him to be safe and sound. That he is walking towards me and that he will see me the way that God, my first true love, has seen me since I was first created. Maybe it’s time that this prayer is changed. Maybe I ought to do as I say and not as I do… Maybe it’s time that I begin to pray that I see myself as God sees me.

I’m not perfect. I am a sinner, a selfish and imperfect dimly-lit version of what Christ had in mind when he created me. I’m impatient. I struggle, I whine, I fall…but I always get up in hopes that each step I take, will bring me closer to Him.

And I know that when I stop writing this, I’ll have a moment where I wish I was as skinny as Natalie Portman, or one of my friends. But this is a battle that we will have to fight our entire lives, ladies…but it’s an upward spiral! The Lord wants us to win! He wants us to embrace not just our souls, but our bodies too. And every moment that we take to recognize that we are beautiful just the way God created us to be, that God loves us, regardless of size or shape…we are winning against a culture of brokenness.