Tag Archives: Christian

Jesus the Introvert pt.2

Jesus the Introvert pt 2

Matthew 14:13, “Now when Jesus heard this, [the death of his cousin John the Baptist], he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself.” Matthew 14: 23, “And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone,…”

In part 1, I wrote about Jesus’ displays of introversion based on his 40 days of retreating to the desert and him being tempted by Satan while there. This time I will be looking at Matthew 14 where we are shown more of Jesus’ introvert style.

After Jesus is informed about the beheading of John the Baptist, he decides to go off by himself, not to just any place, but to a deserted place on his own. It is easy to say he did this because he feared being next on the chopping block, but I don’t believe this theory is the sole reason for Jesus retreating into isolation. By being alone Jesus is able to process the death of John, pray to God, and gather strength and clarity for deciding what his next steps would be. In the bible, Jesus displays a range of human emotions, he shows compassion, fear, anger, frustration, love, and grief complete with tears. His (possibly) introverted nature leads him to a deserted place to be alone with his thoughts and emotions and most importantly he is finally able to be alone with God.

When people are faced with the loss of someone or something important to them, their friends and acquaintances tend to flock towards them with advice, condolences, questions, and their own emotions regarding the loss. I can imagine the men mourning alongside Jesus, while simultaneously asking him a series of questions: “Jesus, what should we do? Do we organize and fight? Do we leave the area? Where do you think John is in the afterlife? Are you alright?” and on and on.

Jesus knows he needs some time to be away and alone, but somehow others don’t understand that. The crowds found out where he was and went to him. In the midst of his grief and mourning, he chose to acknowledge those who found him and healed them of various illnesses and even made time to perform the miracle of turning 5 loaves of bread into enough pieces to feed over 5,000 people. Again, as in the story of Jesus’ 40 days in the desert, he shows us the importance of refueling one’s self and making time to be alone with God. His times of solitude segway into his healing others and performing miracles. If Jesus did not give into these introvert character traits, I’m not sure what his ministry would look like. An emotionally stretched and drained person has less to offer to those he or she serves. Recharging yourself is an important and critical part of being an effective servant of God.

John 6:15 tells us that after feeding thousands of people, the crowd wanted to make Jesus a king against his will. Thankfully Jesus did not get drawn in by such an honour. Jesus knew what his calling and his role was, and it certainly wasn’t to be an earthly king. The end result is that Jesus dismisses the crowds, sends the disciples ahead of him in a boat on their own; and for himself, he chooses to head to the mountains to be alone.

Jesus’ alone time prepares him to say no to the temptations of the world and instead focus on the will of our father God. For introverts, being around too many people for too long not only drains their energy, it also affects their moods, and decision making abilities. Jesus knew how he was wired and he knew what he had to do in order to stay focused on the will of God and not the earthly temptations of people and power.

Read all of Matthew 14, make note of events that happen after Jesus has spent time in solitude.  I don’t think it is a coincidence that the writers mention that Jesus had engaged in intentional times of withdrawing from others.

 

QUESTION: When you have to make important decisions, is your natural tendency to discuss your options and dilemmas with others or be on your own to ponder the situation? Think of some recent examples from this past year.

Why might it be important for extroverts to also spend time alone with God when faced with upsetting news and major decisions?

ACTION: If you are an extrovert, think of some ways that you can spend quality time recharging so you will be well fueled for your calling, your ministry, and your duties.

If you are an introvert, take time to schedule meaningful quiet, alone time so you can be recharged as well. Book the date and time in your planner or electronic calendar. Be intentional.

Peace.

Yes, you CAN do it all !

you can do it

Over the past couple of years I’ve been hearing a lot of women say, “You Can’t Do It All”. This is an expression and belief uttered by many women. I’m here to say the opposite, “Yes, You Can Do It All!” If you’re wondering how it’s possible to do it all, I’ll tell you how; you need to be realistic.

 

Sometimes women aren’t realistic, they want to do things that they are not ready for, not good at, not qualified for, or don’t like doing. There are women who are in happy marriages, with children, who manage to do it all. They exist, you might even know a few. Or better, you might even be one of them.

All Includes

As females we are gendered to be competitive with each other in the nastiest of ways. We are taught to compete against each other, but not against men. I’ve encountered many jealous, catty, and spiteful women in my lifetime. I often wondered why they needed to put me down, or become manipulative in trying to end my goals. I wanted so badly to tell these women that I have my own goals and I will reach them without having to personally attack another women, lie, steal, cheat, or be part of a mean girls group. It has meant that reaching my goals has taken longer, but when you do something with dedication, honesty, and integrity while helping others along the way; it will take time.

 

Women often want to do everything right now, all at once. Heaven forbid they should miss out on something and risk seeing yet another female achieve the same things you want. Your inability to do it all can often be rooted in your inability to keep up with the Jones.

 

Does it matter if ‘Suzy With Six Kids’ is able to be employed full-time, take her kids to leisure activities, and make homemade desserts without needing anti-depressants? It shouldn’t. You’re only job is to take care of your own life and your own family. You truly might not have what it takes mentally, physically, and spiritually to do as much as others are able to do.

 

Does it matter that ‘Single Sally’ is able to go to the gym six mornings per week before the sun rises, volunteer two times a week, and hold down a full-time job while having a seemingly non-stop social life? No, it doesn’t matter. Again, your responsibility is to focus on your own life and not that of others.

 

The root of becoming depressed, frustrated, and envious of others who can and have done it all is comparison. Try being happy for those who can successfully juggle multiple things in life without coming undone. It isn’t an easy thing to do. Instead of spiteful comparison, respect the sacrifices these women make in order to have the things in life that they value and cherish.

Can't do it all? Then try your best, that itself is something to be admired and respected.
Can’t do it all? Then try your best, that itself is something to be admired and respected.

A great way to not become obsessed with doing it all is to make time bound goals that are flexible. Break them down into 1: week, month, year, and decade. It also helps to have a 5 year plan as well. When things are spaced out you won’t feel pressured to achieve everything at once.

 

Let’s not forgot about the saddest book of the bible, that of Ecclesiastes. “Meaningless! Meaningless! Says the Teacher. Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 1:2). The writer of these words sounds hopeless and depressed. I’m not interested in his view of life on earth. Our lives our meaningful, but short. We are only here for our one appearance, so it’s best to make it count.

 

If you want your life to be meaningless then do things you weren’t meant to do. Make no time in your life for things that feed your spirit and your soul. Be angry, be bitter, be boisterous. Demand things you haven’t earned. Treat people with disrespect. Love only those who love you back. Live by the motto ‘an eye for an eye’. Never forgive, but if you do, don’t forget.

 

When you feel as if you have to do it all, remember those women who truly have to do it all. The single mothers who are the sole support for their children. Women on the other side of the world who have to wake up and walk miles for clean water then spend all day in hard labour cooking and cleaning, and doing whatever they can to survive so their children can literally survive as well. They are the ultimate definition of “doing it all” and doing it every day without stopping or risk the mortality of their families. We have a choice as to what constitutes “all”, they don’t.

 

Life is what you make it. This is more than a cliché, it’s a mentality.

 

Ladies, before you decide to do it all, please be realistic and ask yourself some of these following questions:

  1. Why do I want this?
  2. How will this make my life better as I work towards my goal? How will this make my life better once I have achieved this? How will this make the lives of my partner and/or children better?
  3. Is this something that I necessarily need to do now? Can it wait for another year, 5 years, or 10 years? Can’t this be something that places on a bucket list instead, of on my daily to-do list?
  4. What are my weaknesses? Do I give in to the feelings of anger, jealousy, envy, racism, sexism, or competitiveness?
  5. How will I handle my emotions, and my life if I don’t achieve this goal?
  6. Have I been doing all that I can to achieve the things I want?
  7. Am I ready, willing, and able to make sacrifices?
  8. Is this something that I could be at minimum, marginally good at?
  9. Do others, who are not in my inner circle see me as being good at what I want to achieve?
  10. Do I rely too much on confirmation from others instead of measurable results?
  11. Have I included God and much prayer and meditation on His word?
  12. Will my actions cause harm to others?

Additional reading:

Superwoman Syndrome and the Pressure to Do It All:  http://anastasiaamour.com/2014/11/12/superwoman-syndrome-and-the-pressure-to-do-it-all/

 

Basic Christians: Labels and meaning

Church Lady SNL

We’ve all heard the term “basic b___”, from here on I’ll use the word “basic” because I have no need to refer a woman as a b___. If you haven’t already become familiar with the pejorative, the simplest definition of a basic is the woman who, “like(s) popular, mainstream products or music.” (Source: Wikipedia) 2014 was the year online media took to defining the term with various qualifiers for being a basic.

You were labelled as a basic if you owned or have ever owned Uggs, Michael Kors handbags, love your seasonal Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte, or wear brand named yoga pants even though you don’t attend yoga classes.” The list of criteria is never ending and will never cease because people love trends and long to be part of whatever has been deemed popular.

I’m not ashamed to say that for a non-basic woman, I sure do engage in a lot of basicness. I love Pumpkin Spice Lattes, I wear yoga pants almost every day of the week, I posted a picture to Facebook of an Aromatic Chai Tea Latte that I had tried for the first time in a local vegan restaurant frequented mostly by non-vegans, and a host of other faux pas that make a woman basic.

I don’t pay too much attention to what is considered basic because I don’t follow trends; I’m not in a financial position to live like that, but when I do pay attention it is because I’ve grown tired of basic behaviour. Lately I’ve been craving a more spiritual and deeper level of Christian community among other females, but instead I’ve encountered one too women who want to bring their basic behaviour into sacred spaces such as bible studies, workshops, and times of prayer, to name a few.

When I gather with other females for times of biblical uplifting, edification, and character strengthening, the last thing I want to do is talk about trendy, mundane topics. I’m all for having fun, but not when it is time to be serious. Being basic can be a problem if you’re not able to stop being so basic when necessary.

If women don’t learn to make time to put aside their basicness and enter the world of depth, they run the risk of delaying their spiritual growth. I was made aware of an example of this while in the midst of a conversation with some other women from church where the shallow conversations revolved around stories about being drunk on vodka mixes, wanting to take pole dancing classes, and going out to a local Latino bar for Salsa lessons because the men make them feel sexy and sensual while dancing. One of the most annoying parts of the conversation went something like this,

Married Christian Woman: “I love Black men.”

Me: “Oh you’re married to a Black man?”

MCW: “No, but Black men like me because I have a big booty.”

Me: “Oh, I’m not sure if that’s a compliment. Are you comfortable with being big?”

MCW: “Well, Black men tell me they like my booty, so that’s a compliment.”

Me: “Oh. O.K.”

I had an issue with this particular person because I know that as fellow Christians we could and most likely never would sit down together and have a spiritual conversation about things such as Ferguson, the role of socio-economic status in racism, and the cultural impact of absentee Black men in single family households. The shallowness of these conversations isn’t only related to race. I have never been able to engage with many women at my local church about a variety of issues facing our society. In other words, these women are not only basic in their taste, but also in their Christian walk.

You're Basic!

As I venture towards a new phase in my walk of faith, I remind myself and encourage others not to fall into the trap of being Basic Christians. It’s perfectly alright to be a basic woman, you are free to wear, watch, and eat what you please, but to do so in your relationship with God and within your Christian community is never a spiritually healthy way to live. Jesus was never basic about his journey of faith, if he was, it would have meant thinking and living just like everyone else, and he never did that. Instead, Jesus listened to our Father and allowed the Holy Spirit to guide him towards his calling in life which was to show us the way to a godly relationship with God and others. Let’s not allow a basic way of living prevent us from venturing towards the deeply spiritual, unique and meaningful life that God has gifted each and every believer with. God and His Holy Spirit has never been basic and that means our relationship with God will never be like that either. Peace.

QUESTIONS: What areas in your life show signs of being ‘basic’? (Follows trends, likes what everyone else likes, focused on social status, limited in authenticity, lacking in depth or thought, etc.)

Does your faith (relationship with God and relationship with others) reflect basic behaviour?

This month think of one thing that you’d like to do/see/purchase/try that is not considered mainstream or trendy. Examples might be: going to see a documentary on a topic of interest, reading bible verses in less familiar English translations you’re not used to, listening to a sermon from a pastor that has a different ethnic or cultural background from yourself, reading a book that never made it to the best sellers list.

ACTION: Pray and ask God to reveal areas where you have stopped giving thought to why you do the things you do? (e.g.

Different Christian woman

 


 

Below is extra reading for those who want to explore the topic further. The quote is from the comments section of an October 2014 article on NYMAG.com.  

“ 2. For what it’s worth, to me the word “basic” expresses a frustration with the culture deeper than an overprevalence (sic) of lattes. It’s about when one’s highest aspiration in life is to be… comfortable. This is what I mean by a “basic b__”:

  • doesn’t read
  • listens to dumbed-down, repetitive, feel-good music, if any
  • has little to no knowledge of anything that happened before her living memory
  • has little-thought-out opinions on complex issues, which she probably got straight from someone/ somewhere else
  • has a comformist (sic), average appearance- hair, clothes, make-up, everything
  • almost never challenges the status quo
  • almost never expresses or acknowledges deep/complex emotions, even to those she is close to
  • lacks a sense of larger-scale empathy with humanity- from not caring about events in other countries to being extremely self-absorbed in day-to-day human interactions; usually arrogant to service employees and an obnoxious driver
  • spends an inordinate amount of money on unnecessary consumer products
  • attempts to reference pop culture trends in a shallow, uninvested (sic) way
  • ultimately, takes no interest in learning about or accomplishing anything of significance in life; just wants to be entertained, get new stuff, and fit a certain image

This is not an attack on femininity- which can be intelligent, sophisticated, powerful, creative, subtle, and clever. Men can be “basic” too… But there is a historical and cultural stereotype that women should be childlike, or simple-minded.

Ironically, “basic” women (as I have defined them) are actually the ones who are submitting to a male hierarchy of culture. Most significant aspects of culture- politics, academics, economics- have traditionally been the province of men. Women who only care for frivolous things perpetuate the equivalence of femininity with a juvenile status.

Being “basic” is not about being feminine. It’s about being a child.”

http://nymag.com/thecut/2014/10/what-do-you-really-mean-by-basic-bitch.html?mid=pinterest-share-thecut (comments section, Oct 16, 2014).

 

Christians Don’t Have “Cheat Days”.

Junk Food Cheat Meal

Cheat: (as an intransitive verb)

1a :  to practice fraud or trickery

1b :  to violate rules dishonestly

2:  to be sexually unfaithful

(Source: Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

 

 

 

Cheat meal seems to be a commonly used phrase in the world of dieting and weight loss. I go out to eat and I see people saying they are having a “cheat meal” as they proceed to order something unhealthy or highly processed from the menu. For the past several months I’ve been wondering why Christians are comfortable with the term “cheat meal”; since when is it acceptable for Christians to schedule or make time for cheating. I don’t use the term “cheat meal”, instead I say “treat meal”. When you say that you are cheating during a meal or worse, having a day of cheating; who exactly are you tricking or whose rules are you violating dishonestly?

Eph 4 29
Healthy Talk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For myself, I’m not yet at the stage where I can claim something to be a treat meal. If I eat chips, cookies, or drink pop it means that somewhere during the day I had given into food temptation. People who are well disciplined with their healthy eating lifestyle are those who have actual treat meals. The occasional unhealthy meal or snack is not going to harm a person, but when these treats become a regular part of your eating plan, they are no longer treats. If unhealthy foods are a regular part of your eating plan, I would ask why you need to refer to it as a treat.

My main concern isn’t about what people are eating for cheat or treat meals; my focus is on the terms that we use when we know that we’ve given into temptation. Cheat, bad, mistake, fail, slip, etc. Words like these are terms used to describe a feeling of defeat. As believers we need to feed our minds words of strength and encouragement. Our journey of healthy living produces resiliency over time when we learn not to label ourselves with self-defeating words.

The self-hate meal
Pretty much

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everyone who struggles with eating well has at least one food item that is a problem. These are the foods where once you start eating them, you feel as if you can’t stop. Once the food item is gone you end up being more vulnerable to overindulging again. I do my best not to bring pop into the house and second on my list is cookies. For others they will have a different list of foods that they need to abstain from.

 

Dear fellow believers, we are not cheaters; let’s stop using that word.

My hope is that we can find a more positive term to use, one that is not self- defeating. I have become more comfortable with the following two terms: treat meal and break meal (meaning a break from your usual eating choices). Regardless of what you choose to call these times of indulgence, what you feed your body and how much of it still matters.

For further reading, linked below is a great article about cheat meals from Nia Shanks of Lift Like A Girl. http://www.niashanks.com/the-dark-side-of-cheat-days/

Here are other article about cheat meals:

http://www.leangenetics.com/the-cheat-meal/

http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/5-ways-cheat-meals-can-improve-your-body.html