My Adventures in Online Dating, Part 2: If You’re a Christian, Swipe Right

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Give me a little time and, take all my money, take all my money

You’ll come around and someday, I’ll be the one you love.

– “Broke,” Bear Attack

Hey!

According to most men on dating apps, that’s not how you should begin a conversation with them. But I think I can say hey to all y’all, instead of thinking of a witty pickup line. (I mean, what do they want other than ‘hey’? A deep question about systematic theology? Very confused.)

But I’ll get to “what men want” in another post. What do Christians want?

In other words – should Christians use dating apps?

Well, my obvious answer is probably “yes,” since I’m currently using one myself. BUT like most topics, different people have different opinions about it.

The Bible isn’t cut-and-dry about dating apps…obviously. We all know Hosea didn’t have an awful marriage because he accidentally swiped right. Ruth didn’t get Boaz’s attention with…well…~pics.~

And then there’s Song of Songs.

BUT ANYWAY

Dating is different now than it was in Biblical contexts. It’s more different than it ever has been before. Until the later part of the 19th Century, most women were still given away by their fathers and/or the patriarch of their family – sometimes to someone they’d never met. ~Love~ really didn’t come into play all that much. It was more mutuality or convenience that drove most courtships and marriages. (Not always…I mean, we’ve all read Jane Austen. I hope.)

What I’m trying to say is, the dating game has changed. But the name of the game is the same. (Lame.)

So has Christian dating. There was that whole courtship phase we all collectively went through in the 90s, until that was overruled by both Christians and non-Christians alike. Courtship is a bit stressful, with a little bit too much commitment far too soon. (It was so bad that the guy who wrote the book apologized.) And we have our ideal, “celebrity” Christian couples, like the Duggars or the Robertsons, who we then found out each have their own fair share of problems just like the rest of us.

So now what? Now what phase are we in? If we’re not being given away, or being courted, what are we doing?

Are we being swiped? 

Well, in a word, yes.

The game has changed, and I don’t think we need to sit idly by and let it change without us. Of course there’s dangers to online dating, but there’s dangers to live dating too. And I’m not even saying you have to limit yourself to an exclusively Christian dating website. Put yourself out there.

So that’s kind of my answer. Yes. Of course a Christian can date online. But, like all aspects of living in a fallen world…you have to be careful.

Actually, I would encourage Christians to date online. The great thing about dating online is you’re spreading your net further than if you simply mingled among your work, school, or church friends. (Because to be honest, sometimes the pickings are slim. Especially at church. Everyone’s already married. Or maybe you go to an old person church.)

So yeah, definitely set up an account on a site you deem appropriate and go on dates.

But here’s the “no-duh:” only if you actually want to. 

If your female relatives keep asking you why you’re still single, that’s not a good enough reason. If your guy friends are telling you about their amazing wives, that’s not a good enough reason. If you’re just plain lonely and want someone around, that’s not a good enough reason.

The church definitely puts undue pressure on single Christians to get married. (You can’t graduate from your 20-something small group into a couples group until you do.) So if you’re seeking a partner just because you feel like you have to (or your grandma keeps asking) don’t do it. That goes for both offline and online dating. Just don’t do it. Wait til you are ready.

And only you can know if you’re ready.

That took a much more serious tone than I meant it to. But the song remains the same: I invite my young, single Christian friends to check out the online dating scene. I’ve had more interesting conversations on these dates than I normally have. And I’ve met other Christians who have different opinions than me (gasp.) So even if you don’t find your soulmate, you’ll probably meet some pretty darn cool people that you wouldn’t have met otherwise.

One last thing before I let you go. When entering the dating scene, whether it’s for the first time or after your last-breakup, remember this (another no-duh clincher:) If you like someone, don’t change your convictions for them. This can come into play especially in online dating. You see a cute guy’s profile and see what he’s interested in, and you might be tempted to, well, change. Maybe he smokes marijuana, and you’re not comfortable with that. Maybe he doesn’t mind sex before marriage. Maybe he has vastly different political opinions – or even some opinions about the Bible that you disagree with. Even if he (or she) is a Christian, that does not give you a free pass to change who you are in order for them to like you “more.” Seriously. It’s super easy to do online. I’ve definitely done it a few times.

So, my Christian brothers and sisters, go on dates. Talk to people. Swipe left. Swipe right. Remember what you believe and why you believe it. If it doesn’t work out, it’s okay. God has something better in mind for you.

Now you kiddos go have fun.

a. w.

 

 

My Adventures in Online Dating, Part 1: Initiation

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So here’s a surprise: I’m single. Very single. I kinda write about it a lot. But the good thing is, I’ve sort of come to terms with my singleness in the past year-ish. After only going on a handful of dates in my lifetime and having had a few ~serious~ crushes, I’m pretty comfortable with being a smart, sassy, single girl.

I’m at the point where I don’t need a boyfriend, but I’d like a boyfriend.

Or, at least, I’d like to meet people. Talk. Get to know people. Go out. Have a good time.

If you’ve met me, you know that I’m abismal at meeting new people. And that’s not a stretch. That’s the truth. My go-to method of flirting is staring at someone attractive across the room until ~maybe~ they notice me (this has only worked once.) If I actually get the guts to talk to someone, my conversation is either bland and uninteresting or WOAH CALM DOWN AUDREY DON’T HIT THEM WITH ALL YOUR WEIRD AT ONCE.

If you haven’t noticed already, I’m my own worst critic. Which is why I’m bad at meeting people.

A few months ago after some emotional setbacks, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I was going to dive into the world of online dating.

That phrase has a lot of weight behind it – and a lot of stigma. Swiping left and right and pictures of things you’d rather not see. And Tinder. Lots of Tinder. (I didn’t use Tinder but we’ll get to that later.)

“Audrey, you must be super ~desperate~ if you’ve turned to online dating,” you might say.

And you’re probably right. But it’s mostly because I’m so awful at freaking meeting people. A lot of people have told me it’s hard to meet people after college. Well I’m almost done with college, and even in college I haven’t had much luck either. So…online dating.

I actually have been staunchly against the idea for awhile. Why would I meet someone online when I’m CERTAIN that God is gonna whisk a dude my way in the most romantic way possible?

Concept: Garden party. I’m relaxing under a tree, wearing a breezy dress that perfectly matches my skin tone, sipping rosé. Sara Bareilles is probably playing in the background. I turn to the stairs leading up to the patio and there he is – MY DREAM MAN. He floats over to my shady perch and joins me. His shirt is probably a little bit unbuttoned and he might look like Colin Firth. The rest is history.

Ha. Ha. Ha. (I’m not gonna pretend I haven’t fantasized it happening that way.)

But the thing is, I can’t just sit around and wait for something to happen to me. That’s not how things happen. It’s a little give and a little take, if ya know what I mean. (I don’t even know what I mean at this point.)

But then I listened to this great podcast where a woman was talking about how millennials date, and the way she talked about dating sites made it seem a bit more legit than I’ve heard them talked about before. (One of my friends met his (ex)-girlfriend on Tinder and told everyone they met at Chipotle. Like I said…stigma.)

So I decided to embark on a quest. I was going to find love via the Internet. That sounds like a horrible tagline for a movie.

But guess what? You’re about to get a free ticket.

So the two dating apps I decided to use, in chronological order, were the following:

Coffee Meets Bagel: This is a free phone app (I’m not paying for a subscription…I’m not that desperate) that matches you based on mutual liking, which I found out is pretty typical for dating apps. You put up some pictures, write some stuff about yourself, and you’re off. Then you head over to “Discover” to look at potential match profiles (a weird caveat is their names aren’t given until you’re matched…so I can’t Facebook stalk them at all and that’s frustrating.)

  • Pros: It’s free; it doesn’t overwhelm you with choices; it allows you to filter through categories like religious affiliation, age, height (yeah that’s a serious subject), and distance; ladies get the final choice on whether or not you match
  • Cons: If you want a subscription it’s 34 FRICKIN DOLLARS A MONTH (money can’t buy me love…but a free app can?) and there are lots of features that require a subscription. You also have a certain number of points (called “beans,” like coffee beans, hahahaha) that you can spend on liking profiles. They’re pretty easy to earn, but if you want more, you have to PAY MORE FRICKIN MONEY. The Beatles were right. Also, I’ve had instances of 30- and 40- year olds liking my profile, and that weirded me out a little bit. This cradle is not getting robbed.
  • Result: I’ve gone on one date as a result of Coffee Meets Bagel. We found out that we were waaaaay too different, so no second date. As of a week ago, I’ve deleted the app off my phone. I’d rather focus my energy on one app.

Bumble: Bumble is popular because the lady initiates contact first (which can be stressful – will explain later) after the match is made – or after you both “swipe right” on each other’s profiles. Then you have 24 hours to initiate contact, but your chat never expires, which is kinda nice. It’s like a safe Tinder. Safe being a relative term. Bumble has also branched out to helping people find friends or simply helping them network. They recently opened up an IRL place for dates to meet.  I was introduced to this app after seeing countless ads for it on Instagram (I’m the gullible demographic they’re looking for). So I decided to give it a shot.

  • Pros: You have a lot of time to chat with each other (which I like, because I need a while to get to know someone before outright asking em out); there’s a “report” feature in case you find a shady character; you can make a fun lil bio for yourself (highly encouraged – I’ll talk about that later); you can filter who you see age and location wise.
  • Cons: It can be a bit overwhelming, almost like online shopping, so it’s probably good to use in moderation. You’ll run into a lot more shady characters here than on CMB. Sometimes people don’t utilize the bio portion, so you have ~no idea~ who they are. And if you’re like me, going from zero prospects to several prospects is a bit harrowing.

Not to mention. I’m bad at starting conversations on the Internet. Case in point:

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This was an actual message I sent to an actual person I was matched with. He never responded, and less than 24 hours later, his account was mysteriously deleted.

I really know how to reel em in.

On the other hand, as a result of being on Bumble, I’ve been on two dates with two different people, and one of them have merited a second get-together.

This post has gotten a bit long-winded, so I can’t talk about everything I’ve learned so far. But I can tell you that this will become a ~blog series~ (I’m so professional) including topics like:

  • Can Christians date online?
  • What Men Shouldn’t Do on Dating Apps (from a Female Perspective…you could call it womansplaining if you’d prefer)
  • General Advice on Online Dating: An Introvert’s Perspective
  • How to Talk to Strangers
  • Smooth-as-Heck Pickup Lines

One of those will NOT be a blog post. Guess which one. (Hint: It’s the last one.)

So, until next time, may all your swipes be right and all your chats be longer than 24 hours. If that wasn’t the most millennial signoff ever, I don’t know what is. Stay tuned, friends. It only gets better from here.

a. w.

the Hope that You Have.

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“Back when the Bible was written, then edited, then rewritten, then rewritten, then re-edited, then translated from dead languages, then re-translated, then edited, then rewritten, then given to kings for them to take their favorite parts, then rewritten, then re-rewritten, then translated again, then given to the pope for him to approve, then rewritten, then edited again, the re-re-re-re-rewritten again…all based on stories that were told orally 30 to 90 years AFTER they happened.. to people who didn’t know how to write… so…” – David Cross, actor and comedian

Any good Christian would blanch at this quote and start to sputter. “But – but – wait – that’s not the whole truth.” It kind of sets a fire under you, doesn’t it? I don’t know about you, but it definitely gets me fired up. My apologetics sirens start going off. I stare that quote right in the face (or the screen, since it’s usually on Facebook) and say, “Sit down, I got something to tell you.” When I got them where I have them…I…

…blank.

A few weeks ago, I had coffee with someone who has walked away from the faith. He gave great evidence for his lack of faith, for his issues with Christianity. He hit me with scientific evidence against God. He hit me with the contradictions of the Christian faith. I sat there getting fired up, twiddling with my iced-coffee straw, waiting to say something. When I had the opportunity…I…

…blanked.

And his words sunk in.

And I started to doubt.

He asked me why I believe in God. “Is it just blind faith?” he asked.

And I blanked. And I doubted. And I questioned. And I prayed.

Why do I believe in God?

It’s like I forgot everything I was taught. I forgot tenth grade apologetics, twenty years of going to Sunday school and church and youth group, sixteen years of Christian education. I sat face-to-face with an atheist and had no idea what to say.

Why do I believe in God?

That’s not an unfamiliar question for most Christians. We reach a point in our lives when our parents aren’t around to tell us how to live, whether they were Christians or otherwise. They’re not there to tell us to go to church or tell us what to think. We have to get up and go to church, wake up and pray every morning…and have a better reason to believe than “I was just raised that way.”

This goes for any religion and any ideology, really. Once you’re on your own and can think for yourself, you have to know why you believe it.

Ever since that question was posed to me, I’ve mulled it over in my brain. In order to get answers, I went to the most reliable place I know – Facebook.

After posing the question to my friends, I got a number of different answers. I got a few different categories of responses, and most of them were to be expected. Most of them fell into the following three categories:

Evidence. “I have yet to find a reason or argument or fact that proves he doesn’t exist, and I doubt I ever will find or hear of one.” This quote from one of my friends sums it up pretty well. Similarly, one of my other friends cited her pastor who said “they’ve found the bones of Buddha and Mohammed, but not of Jesus.” Evidence-based people look for facts to back up their beliefs. Some Christians operate this way, which is why we have so many “Case for Christ“-esque films/literature.

Grace. “I don’t know where my belief and his grace even begins.” It’s hard to argue with grace, especially when it’s given freely and often. That’s what the Christian God promises – grace without end for those who choose Him. Many of my friends’ testimonies involved stories of grace and marveling at its mystery.

General Revelation. Any good Bible student knows what I’m talking about here – the way God reveals Himself through nature, to anyone who wants to take a peek. There’s not special knowledge needed, just the senses. I think more friends of mine responded with this than any other reason. “I have much faith in an intelligent creator, a higher being that created us and continues to watch over us,” said one. “I listen to or help create beautiful music and cannot stand to believe that sound could have been accidentally created,” said another, who happens to be a musician.

“Can everything that we see, and all of the infinity finite details that make up all of the world around us be unguided, random chance?” It’s kind of hard to imagine our world was created by just the right mixture of whatever matter, or an explosion.

But some might say it’s far-fetched to believe in a Big Dude in the Sky, too.

Which brings me to my other point – some people responded why they don’t believe in God. I got some fairly compelling answers there, too. Here’s a segment of one:

The way I see it, the Universe is way too wonderful and weird for there not to be some higher power or whatnot, but I guess I’m not comfortable saying that it’s the Christian God. Maybe it is, maybe it’s multiple gods, maybe it’s something even bigger that all of that, and maybe just maybe it’s nothing at all. These things, for me, are too much to try and comprehend, so I leave it alone, and focus on the things that I know and can see in my every day life.

This person identified as an agnostic, and also talked about how faith and the Bible are good things for certain people. What was interesting was no one responded by outright saying they don’t believe in God. Maybe I don’t have enough atheist friends.

A compelling comment I got was this:

I believe god either died or abandoned us long ago and that’s fine, he was selfish, full of himself, arrogant, and merciful only to those who fell for his lies. He probably had daddy issues which is why he needed mankind to worship him and acknowledge him because his dad could care less about him. I can see why. I can’t believe in that god. I believe there was a war of the gods at some point, and somehow that god won. I can no longer believe in that god. I can’t believe I ever believed in that god. I hate myself for believing in that god.

How does a Christian respond to that? How do I respond to that? It makes my skin prickle and gets me fired up…but how do I respond?

As you can see, opinions are diverse when it comes to higher powers, but they all seem to point to the same thing – a need for Something Else. Something Beyond. A belief that we’re here for a reason. Because what would the point of all this be, if that weren’t the case?

But my question still wasn’t answered. I now understood why they believe, but why do believe?

“Because my parents do” isn’t going to cut it anymore.

Neither is “just because I do.”

So, in the midst of twenty years of Christian training, hundreds of people who’ve trained me up in the way I should go, waiting for me to give voice to my faith with bated breath, I make my response.

So, why?

Because I refuse to live in a world without hope.

We can’t just be here by accident. It would be impossible for me to live if I thought this was it. There’s got to be something. Something Beyond.

I can’t live in a universe without a Creator. A truthless universe is no universe at all.

And most importantly, I can’t be a human without a Savior.

And that’s what sets Christianity apart for me. Not only is there a God, but there’s a Savior. A Savior who had the audacity to take on human flesh and save people who don’t deserve it. What other god has done that?

Is it blind faith? Quite possibly. But I’d rather believe it than believe in nothing at all.

Could I be wrong? Maybe. Maybe this is all there is. But what have I got to lose by believing?

Why do I believe? Every day, I stand in the midst of the Great Creator. He stands above any evidence against Him, rises above all doubt, and loves his Created so much that He made the ultimate sacrifice in order to declare, “They are mine.

That’s why I believe.

a.w.


Oh the mystery of it all
I can never peer within 
I’ll never find the words or understand 
The fullness of a God
Become a man

Vapor, The Liturgists

Deep Roots, Small Wings

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I walked arm-in-arm with an 80-something Slovak woman in the dead of night through the streets of Vrbovce. I had known her for all of ten minutes and she didn’t speak a word of English. We were united only by mutual curiosity, and a desire to go to sleep. The town was dead quiet. No planes, only the occasional car passing through, or a dog barking at nothing.

When we arrived at her house, she gave us a full meal – with a shot of peppermint Schapps. I learned that night how hospitable my “grandmother” Betty was, and how much I don’t like liquor.

In a town that’s barely on the map, my life changed.

I stood beneath tall, solemn trees in Brettheim, Germany planted in front of a cemetery. Father Michael, a tall, sad-looking man, told us the story of an exhausted town at the end of the second World War, when a group of Hitler Youth marched through the town but were stopped by three men, who took their weapons and sent them back to their officer. The boys reported the men, and they were hanged in Brettheim for treason.

“Look up,” said Father Michael. “They were hanged in these trees.”

In a town that the world has forgotten, my life changed.

I sat at Wartburg Castle, an ancient bastion where Martin Luther changed the world by translating the Latin vulgate into German, so that the common people could finally come face-to-face with God. I looked out over endless forest, imagining Luther doing the same thing hundreds of years before. And I heard the still, small voice of God – “Be a Luther.”

And I, like Moses, responded incredulously, “How, God? I’m one person. Luther literally changed the world. How could the things I do today change the world 500 years from now?”

On a quiet perch in the middle of a foreign country, my life changed. I underestimated the power of God, and He proved me wrong.

Sometimes we need to be taken out of our comfort zones in order to come face-to-face with the majesty and glory of God. It’s easy to become comfortable with His daily providence, so much so that we wake up in the morning and forget to thank Him for breath, we eat and forget to thank Him for food, we drive to work and forget to thank Him for safety.

But then you get on a plane that’s held aloft by shafts of air and you pray fervently for safety. You thank God for food after trying to order it in a different language and failing miserably. You thank God for rest after a long day in a country you’ve never set foot in before. You become a stranger in a strange land, and you realize how much you take for granted.

Language, for instance. Here in America, most people speak only one language and maybe a smattering of another. I don’t speak a word of Hungarian or Slovak. Being in those countries made me understand what it’s like for a non-English speaker in the United States. Talk about feeling like a stranger, or feeling unwanted or unnoticed, even.

So, I’m back. I arrived back in the U.S. yesterday, jet-lagged and grateful to see familiar sites. I have returned to my roots where I feel most comfortable. That comfort is both a blessing and a threat. God, let me not forget your providence even in the safety of my home. Let me be ever grateful for blessings great and small. 

On this trip, I have found my wings. My wings are still small. I loved every moment of traveling, but I won’t deny that I often got homesick. My roots are planted deep, and to be so far from them was a strain on me.

But if I had been afraid and decided not to go, I would’ve handicapped myself. I would have remained comfortable and unaware of the daily blessings of God. I would have been unaware of some of the deepest truths of our faith.

I don’t think it’s bad to have deep roots and small wings, nor do I think it’s bad to have shallow roots and large wings. I think it is bad to be content with either. If your roots are shallow, why not try to water them? If your wings are small, why not try to beat them and see how far you can fly?

That’s all I have for this one, but I’ll be back soon, I promise. I have plenty more to share.

a.w.

Life Update: Hiatus because I’m going to TRAVEL THE WORLD

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A badly lit picture of me surveying the Himalayas. Just kidding. That’s Colorado. I’m barely six feet off the ground in this picture.

It’s about that time, friends. Time for a weekly blog update. The last weekly update for awhile.

Why?

Because next week, I’m going to be a world traveler for 22 days.

By “world” traveler, I mean eastern Europe. (And Detroit, if you count where we’re flying out of.)

Since I’m going to be busy, I won’t have time for a weekly post. But I’m sure I’ll have lots to say when I get back. Here’s the countries I’ll be traveling to:

  • Austria
  • Germany
  • Slovakia
  • Hungary

(If you’ve ever been to any of these countries, leave a comment about what it’s like!)

This is my first time out of the country. Ever. And to be honest, I’m afraid. I’m excited, but I’m afraid. I want to know as much as possible before I go somewhere so I won’t be surprised, but…what if something surprises me? What if something bad happens? What if I can’t find the bathroom?! 

If you have traveling advice, I’d love to hear from you. I’m by no means a seasoned traveler. I’ve been to half a dozen US states, flown on a plane twice, and look at pictures of British Columbia in my spare time. Don’t have a lot of street cred in the traveling regard.

And yet I meet so many people who hunger for travel. Their passport is half full. They have trinkets and doohickeys from every corner of the world. Their Instagram is full of beautiful pictures of exotic places.

But you know what? I don’t really have that hunger.

I never really have.

I’ve always been a homebody. I like traveling, but my favorite part of traveling has always been coming home, returning to what I know and love. I’m kind of like a hobbit in that way. Bilbo Baggins didn’t want to leave his hole in the ground, but he did, and it was uncomfortable. But it was what he needed.

I’m a homebody. Maybe that will change after 22 days abroad. I don’t really know right now. I do know that things are less frightening once you get to the other side. So I guess I’ll make like a chicken and try to get there before deciding if I like traveling or not.

Fear has prevented me from doing a lot of things, but it’s not going to prevent me from doing this.

Anyway, I hope this post isn’t too rambly. It’s half blog post, half pep talk for myself. I just figured I’d give a life update to the 38 people who actually follow me and occasionally read this.

It’s not a goodbye – it’s just a see you later.

 

What is Authenticity?

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I follow this page on Facebook called The Dirty Christian. It’s run by a guy named Drew Koehler who found God after serving in the US Navy. This guy has a story. He also has a blog that you should check out to find out more about him. Click that link and then come back here and listen to me talk.

Koehler’s philosophy is that Christianity is supposed to be offensive. It’s not supposed to be soft and cute, full of Joyce Meyers and  “type Amen if you agree.” Real truth is disruptive. It’s not a book that we keep on the shelf and pull out only when we’re feeling sad.

And you know what Christianity also isn’t? Authenticity.

What the heck is Authenticity anyway?

Search me.

I’ve been messing around with this word in my head for a long time, pretty much ever since I stepped into the Christian college scene. “Authenticity” gets thrown around a lot in these circles. Authentic Christianity, authentic worship…you name it.

And looking around on a college campus like this, you’d probably think you’re seeing a lot of authentic Christians. These are people who lift their hands and fall to their knees in “real,” raw worship. These are people who strum hymns on their guitar while sitting in the grass. These are people who post verses and encouraging words on their Instagram photos –

Hey, wait a second. That’s not authenticity.

I just Googled the word “authentic,” and the computer bots gave me this answer:

“Of undisputed origin; genuine.”

Do all Christians come from the “undisputed origin” of Christ? I’d wager a yes.

Are all Christians authentic? …it depends.

I think that in Western Christianity, we have a great need to hide ourselves. And sometimes the place we hide is not in the shadow of our Savior’s wings. I’m talking about me too, here. I think sometimes we’re afraid of disruptive love and truth, so we hide further in our darkness while putting on a masquerade of light.

We say that we’ll pray for someone, but our prayers remain selfish.

We search for answers, but we don’t search for them in Scripture.

We pray that our bad habits will be replaced, but we make no effort to replace them.

Because we don’t want our lives to be disrupted.

C.S. Lewis had a lot to say about nice people. Nice people are nice all on their own, it seems. They’re not super amazing people or super “bad” people. They’re just…nice. There are a lot of just “nice” people in the world. And, unfortunately, those “nice” people don’t feel the need for that disruptive love that is offered to them, whether they realize it or not.

A lot of us are “nice.” Nice people with hearts full of tar.

We’re all “dirty Christians.” There’s a reason John Calvin called it “total depravity.”

I think our problem is we think we can get by on our own merits. No surprise there – that’s been a constant struggle for religious folks since the Pharisees. Everyone wants to look good to other people, right? So we try to be especially spiritual. We talk about Jesus with authority even though we haven’t cracked open our Bibles in months, we lift our hands in praise when our hearts are from it, we hide the muck of our souls from people by using the fake gild of Authenticity.

I said it.

Authenticity is a disguise.

For every Christian.

An authentic Christian is one who knows he’s addicted to alcohol and needs help. An authentic Christian is one who opens her Bible every day, not in public, but in her living room at 5:30am with a cup of coffee. An authentic Christian is one who knows he sins daily, hourly – but clings to the healing and disruptive love of God.

An authentic Christian is one who invites the love of God to disrupt every corner of his soul.

I’ll be honest with you, friends. I’m not there yet either. If anything, this entire post is me calling myself out. There are corners of my heart that I don’t want anyone to see – not even my Savior. Most days, I don’t love Jesus as much as I should. I sail by on my own merits, existing as a “nice” person.

So here’s my punchline: What is authenticity? It’s vulnerability. It’s bearing your soul fully and completely. It’s that whole-hearted knowledge that you 100% can’t do it on your own. That the only true shelter you will find is in the shadow of His wings.

No amount of hand-raising, hymn-humming, Hebrew-tattooing, or Bible-memorizing will make us anymore authentic. Our authenticity comes from our wholehearted identity in Christ.

Only then will we be seen as branches of the true Vine.

 

 

What if We’re Not Actually Busy?

There are five other things I could be doing right now, but instead I’m writing this.

That’s a predicament we find ourselves in often, isn’t it? We have a laundry list of things to do, but we don’t do them. We find something else to do that is much more trivial. Netflix, for example. (Or blogging…)

But we still manage to let people know more than once a day that we are “soooo busy.” Sometimes it becomes a competition. “I have three papers and a text this week!” “Oh yeah? Well I have FOUR papers and THREE tests this week, plus I have to walk to Canada and back WHILE studying for my THREE tests! Beat that!”

Hang on a second.

What if we’re not actually busy?

What if we just like telling people we’re busy?

There’s a kind of badge of honor that comes with being “busy.” It means we’re important. People need us. We have deadlines because we hold important positions. We whisk ourselves away from one thing to another, wearing our “Hello, my name is busy” name tag with pride.

I took a class my sophomore year called creativity, innovations, and problem-solving. It’s a requirement for everyone at my school. And you guessed it – creativity was the key talking point. Many people think they’re not creative, but really they’re just not giving themselves enough time to be creative. Some people use the excuse that they “just don’t have time.”

You know what my professor said to that? “When students say they don’t have enough time, I offer to go through their schedules and find time for them. They never take me up on that offer…because they know I’ll find time somewhere.”

It’s our best excuse. “I just don’t have time.”

But what if we actually do?

Take a minute to take inventory of your time. You don’t need to be excessive. Just think through an average day for you. I’ll give you my example. I wake up at 7:15am. I hit a button on my coffee maker so it can do its job, and I sit down with breakfast until 8, when I get ready. During this time, I’m usually on my phone. I have classes in the morning, then a lunch break at 12. Sometimes I’ll do homework, other times I’ll be on my phone…again. Then I have class and work until 4, then about an hour til my evening activities, which will go til either 6 or 9 depending on the day. Then I’m in bed my 11.

It might look busy, but I can pinpoint places where I actually have time – my hour-and-a-half lunch break, the half hour I have between class and work, the hour I have before dinner and evening activities. You might have less time than this, but I can still guarantee you that somewhere, you have time.

I’m not going to be the grumpy “get off your dang phone!” mom-ish person, but – sometimes you gotta get off your dang phone. I think sometimes we feel like we’re busier because when we’re not busy, we’re keeping up with everyone else’s busyness. Then all of the sudden – gasp! Off to the next thing!

That’s not the point of this post, though. I’m not saying we all *think* we’re busy because of our phones.

I think it’s because we’re supposed to be busy.

This is America. (Probably, unless you’re reading this somewhere else.) Everything is time-based, schedule-based. Our phones ding when we have an appointment. We have color-coded planners. We have to-go food. Because we’re always going. We’re looking ahead on our planners to see what’s coming next. When we’re not actually doing things, we’re looking at what’s coming next. 

What if you just stopped for a second? Record-scratch, freeze-frame style?

e.e. cummings wrote a fantastic little poem called “little man in a hurry.” Take a look:

“little man
(in a hurry
full of an
important worry)
halt stop forget relax

wait

(little child
who have tried
who have failed
who have cried)
lie bravely down

sleep

big rain
big snow
big sun
big moon
(enter

us)”

(Source)

Since it’s cummings, it’s a little bit hard to interpret and remains somewhat ambiguous. But I think you can get the gist of it. Halt. Stop. Relax. But even his “little man” is stopping and halting breathlessly, as indicated by no punctuation – “halt stop forget relax” like it’s a to-do-list in and of itself.

Relaxing isn’t just another thing to check off your to-do list. It’s necessary to your mental and physical survival. 

And if you do decide to relax, you’re not being lazy. 

What “important worry” are you carrying around? Is it really that important? Can you “halt – stop – relax” for just a moment? I think you can. Because sometimes we wear our busyness like a badge of honor.

I’ll make the moral of this post short and sweet. To quote Elizabeth Schuyler from the immortal musical Hamilton:

“Take a break!”