Vulnerable Good

I have to thank beautybeyondbones for having this quote “Life is vulnerability.” When I read that it grabbed my attention.

I have heard of course that vulnerability is necessary. But I never thought of life as being all vulnerability. It is isn’t it? Everything we do, we could get hurt doing, it seems like life as an endless potential of disasters that could happen, and we hear about them happening a lot.

But I don’t spend my days worrying about all that could happen to me. There’s a few things that could go wrong even on this small blog, but I don’t worry about them every time I post. I wasn’t always worry free, there was time of my life when worry was a disease. I worried about getting sick, getting in an accident, getting bitten by animals, getting lost, and even worse stuff. Some of it was totally irrational, but as I’ve said before, fear is not rational.

Worry is always thinking about what might happen, or might be happening, so it is always dealing with unrealities. Extensive worry can even be a form of neurosis.

We are vulnerable it is true, but remember vulnerability also means being open to pleasure, to change, to growth. If we wouldn’t be hurt we couldn’t be healed either, if we couldn’t fall, we wouldn’t know why it’s so good to be standing. I am not saying we need bad things to appreciate good things, I am saying that to be free we must be vulnerable. Desiring safety too much makes you a slave to whatever seems to offer it. I’ve been more open on this blog lately because I realize that to be real I need to be honest. If there’s one thing people online have encouraged me to be, it’s open. Maybe its easier online, but if you do it consistently it becomes a habit in your life.

Those are my thoughts for now, until next time100_4974–Natasha.

Don’t be too nice

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I titled this in a very unusual way; but I think you can all guess where I’m going with it.

I just read Martin Luther’s “Before the Diet of Worms” speech. Worms (also spelt Wyrms) is a place in Germany, the Diet is apparently the Emperor and his cabinet,( the paper doesn’t say, but I gathered that from what I read.) I was struck by the points he made about in our effort to not allow fighting and arguments, we might fight against the Word of God itself.

As John Eldredge has pointed out in his book Wild at Heart; there is such a thing as being too nice. You know those people in movies who drive the audience (and often the other characters) nuts because they won’t stand up for someone else or even themselves? Or the type of person who Philippa Gordon, in Anne of the Island, calls uninteresting because “She never says but good of anybody.”

We all know there’s wickedness in the world, and while dwelling on it is gloomy and unhealthy, a person who will never speak of it at all seems hardly wise, smart, or realistic. And they also seem weak.

I have actually been lectured on how I need to know what’s going on in the world, which always means the bad stuff I notice, but I do dislike to think of the unpleasant things. I am not at all saying we should go looking for the wrong stuff in this world. It will find you. And when it does, as it did Martin Luther, we need to be willing to take a stand.

That’s a common phrase to hear nowadays, but taking a stand is a serious thing. It always has risks; it always could turn out badly, from our perspective anyway. We could be mocked, or ostracized, or we could simply fail to change anything.

And what’s more, we need to realize that not everything is worth standing for. For me the test is always in if it is biblical, if it is affecting an important thing, and if the potential benefits out weigh the potential damage. But I’ve taken very few stands in my life. If that seems surprising given the nature of this blog, then let me just say that it is much simpler to address the questions I have myself, via the internet, then to know when it’s a good idea in real life to make an issue of something. I have less to lose, and I am not fighting with my audience. That is not to say honesty on social media is not scary no matter who you are or how many followers you have, but real life is always more daunting.

When we take a stand we must care more about the truth then about what we want. But we also need to be loving and kind to the people we are standing against, remembering that they are human being just like us. Kindness does not equal niceness, it is unkind to be nice to someone who really need a good shaking up. It is also unkind to shake someone who really needs a hug. It about what is needed, not what either party wants.

A stand can be quiet, or it can be loud. It can be silence, or it can be yells and shouts. Both are right in their own time and place. But yelling doesn’t make something a stand. And quiet doesn’t mean kindness. It’s all in the reason.

But never taking a stand is worse then not making it perfectly. We are so anxious not to offend people. We are so concerned with who likes us. (Even now I can’t help wondering if I’ll get any likes or comments on this post.) I have seen a problem either ignored, or handled in the nicest possible way, so many times, and very few times have I seen anyone really take the harder route.

You know, we’ll never be complete human beings until we will fight for something with all our might and main. Sometimes it will even be with ourselves. But we can’t sugarcoat everything. We can’t keep turning a blind eye, unless we want to turn blind next.

This has been a little less encouraging than usual, but I hope you’ll take it not as criticism, but as a challenge to look around and face things with courage. I know the Martin Luther inspired that feeling in me. I just want o pass it on. With that–until next time.

Natasha.

Classified

It’s been a few days, but I had a creative dry spell, no point posting if you have nothing to say. But the other day I was thinking, (I say that a lot when I start these posts,) of how hard it can be to put myself in any designated people group.

Yesterday I was a an ASL class, and we were told to describe ourselves with a list of sign words, and I kept using opposites.

I like to think I’m unpredictable. But my family probably would disagree. I don’t fit into any category except perhaps homeschooled, which is general.

Maybe you aren’t aware of this if you don’t know homeschoolers, but we have our own set of stereotypes. So do churchgoers. We have both what we think most people think we are like, and what we think of each other. There was a survey once that found the people who responded all thought they were fairly average, but everyone else was strange. Or maybe you feel everyone else is normal, and you are strange.

Well, the most normal people in the world are the most boring. But for some reason we all feel we need to have groups, so we can understand others, and they’ll understand us. But seriously? Who really understand anyone in another group if they have not mingled with them and heard what they have to say?

Religious people are famous nowadays for being close–minded. And I’ll readily admit some of them/us are; but the fact is religion doesn’t make you close minded, you can be that way no matter what you believe in or don’t believe. Fear is the real cause.

I hate being generalized. When someone writes me off because of my age, or even my intellect, or my homeschooled education; they assume I think one way and they think another way. Or maybe we think the same because I’ve had a good bringing up. (Does anyone but me remember that phrase bringing up?) but even though it drives me crazy, I went through a phase where I was constantly trying to decide what group I fit into, whether by age, skills, temperament, beliefs, or personality. I seemed to be searching for an identity but each of these things was only a part of me, and I had on and off moments.

I could say I’m artsy, crafty, and creative; but what about the times I don’t feel inspired to do any of those things?

I could say I’m intellectual, but what about when I just don’t want to think or learn and when I want to curl up with a book or a movie and forget about the outside world.

I could say I’m radical, but what about when I feel mellow?

There you see? This isn’t just me, we all feel this fluctuating of our interests and our traits. You could say the human soul is like the tide, it rises and falls, in and out, some days its string, other days it’s just not.

And whatever words you would use to describe yourself, remember that no list can cover it.  A list is other people’s options that they give you, sometimes they’re good, other times they aren’t.

We love to create classes of the population. It’s what cliques, fandoms, parties, and demographics are about. And maybe you technically fit into one, but I think what’s inside a person can’t be put into one class or another. To paraphrase Gianna Jessen’s words, “No one cans ay to you this is how far you will go and no further.” Remember that though the message of not being prejudiced can be over preached, it is still true.

It bothers me when I hear others make generalizations about thousands of people, saying they are all idiots, or evil, or biased, or whatever.

Judge not lest you be judged, right?

Well, I hope this made sense, and you got something out of it. I was just thinking through writing. Until next post, don’t get classified–Natasha.

Parrot talk

Okay, my previous post about faith was surprisingly well received, and I still had more to talk about, so today I thought I’d talk about what I briefly mentioned in “In Faith.” A thing I’m calling “Parrot talk.”

What’s funny about it is that not two days after that post, I was listening to two people talk politics and I ventured a remark, I was immediately blasted with a retort that I shouldn’t talk, for I was just saying what I’ve heard my parents say over the years.

Perhaps my reader might wonder if that is a legitimate claim. I have addressed it before in my posts. You see I’ve long had the general idea that people will think that because I’m homeschooled, Christian, Conservative, and under 18, I’ve been so immersed in my parents’ ideals that I believe there is no other way and no one else could ever be right.

Now, I figure I’m not the only one to receive this impression, otherwise this post would just be me bellyaching about one incident. But I’ll bet some of you have heard it too, maybe from an authority figure, maybe just from an older person who seems to believe all people two generations younger than them are ignorant idiots. At its best, this kind of thinking assumes that certain people raise their children to be prototypes of themselves, programmed and sent out into the world to get on other people’s nerves.

Maybe that is true, some people do that. But you can’t assume that everyone who thinks a certain way demands that their children follow in their footsteps.

I have a confession, I myself tend to assume public schoolers don’t think for themselves. There may be reasons to assume this, but I can’t know it’s true in every case, anymore than someone who doesn’t know me well can accurately say I don’t think for myself. (And you would have to not know me at all.)

You have to actually listen to people to know. There are ways people talk that will show you where they stand.

I think the best indicator of parrot talk is a lack of curiosity on the speaker’s part. They don’t wish to know anything about the other point of view; they have not studied the subject to see what else is out there, and to know what the foundation of their own viewpoint is; and they accept everything pertaining to their ideology without considering if it really makes sense  or is even a good thing.

At the root of this is insecurity. People who parrot talk are afraid of the world and they want to keep it in a box that they have labelled clearly  and understand.

I’m not afraid of the world. I am only afraid of what the world will do to itself and the innocent people in it. (By the world I mean the lost, and wicked ideas of the world’s inhabitants, not the world as in the earth.) But I believe that we can all choose not to be a part of the worldly thinking and behavior. It is, again, up to you.

I have studied the foundation of what I believe, if anyone asked me a question about it, I would feel confident that I could answer. And if I could not, I’d still not be shaken because I have enough foundation to know that there are answers, but there’s no way I could know them all, my mind can’t hold that much knowledge.

I do have doubts sometimes. But what no one ever tells you is that the doubts grow less and less, the further in you go, and when they do come they don’t last very long. I am not perfect in the practice of what I believe, and I don’t know anyone who is, no matter what beliefs they have.

But I do know what I believe, and why, and I think its worthwhile to find that out. And for those of you who have done that, don’t let anyone make you feel like a nothing because of your age, your position in life, or your family. You have a mind and you do have the right to come to your own conclusions, so long as you have done the work to earn it.

Because to believe is a right, but a belief with a firm foundation takes work. There will be tests in your life that you will pass or fail and they’ll prove what you really believe.

So, with that said, I have done.–Natasha

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Not a statistic

There are statistics about almost everything that people do: about how we dress, and how we behave.

But I googled random acts of kindness, and there’s no statistic about how many people do them. Or how often.

I think the obvious reason is that most of us have done a random act of kindness (or helpfulness, if you’ve seen that commercial) at some time in our lives, but I would hope it would be several times.

But then I thought, what about the less obvious reason?

Kindness just can’t be measured. Remember what the fairy godmother says in the 2015 Cinderella movie? “What’s a bowl of milk? Nothing. But kindness makes it everything.” How can we know the effect of a single act of kindness? I love those videos that you can find on YouTube of people doing an act of kindness and it setting off a chain reaction of kindness. I think a lot of us might be skeptical about that actually happening, but would we be skeptical if we were told that a single act of unkindness (like cutting someone off in traffic) could trigger a whole chain of people being rude to  the next person they meet? If being mean is contagious surely being kind also can be contagious. Though it is true that  kindness can be harder to catch, if you’re not in the habit of it already.

Kind means proceeding from, showing, or having benevolence.

Have you heard that story about the horseshoe nail? For want of a nail the shoe was lost; for want of a shoe the horse was lost; for want of a horse the message was lost; for want of the message the battle was lost; for want of the battle the war was lost; for want of the war the empire was lost. All for the want of a horseshoe nail.

An Act of Kindness is kind of like that horseshoe nail, now, what if it wasn’t lost?

Brought to you by Natasha.

 

In faith

Here’s a thought that struck me today, what does the phrase “In faith” really mean?

I have read Shakespeare, weird as that may sound, (I couldn’t care less if it does,) and that phrase is about as common as us using the words “Seriously” “Totally” “For real” “Legit” and our other ways of saying we “really mean it.”

You may wonder why I’d bother to post about a phrase, but bear with me. The last verse of 1 Corinthians 13 says “And now abide faith, hope, and love, but the greatest of these is love.”

I don’t know if any of my followers noticed this, but my blog is called drybonestruth, my tagline contains the word truth, and several of (if not all of) my posts are centered around what’s true and what to do about it. But on my homepage I talk about hope. And a lot of my posts, the recent ones included, are about love. I didn’t do this to incorporate the above verse into my blog, I just did it because those were the things on my mind. So, love, hope, and truth, but what about faith?

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that I am cautious about mentioning my beliefs overmuch, since I don’t want just other Christians to read this blog and get something out of it, but I certainly don’t want anyone to think I’m ashamed to talk about it. Christian or not, I’m sure you can understand that, no one wants others to think they are weak in their convictions.

With this in mind, I began asking myself what the phrase “in faith” really means anyway. “In faith” is interchangeable with “in truth” or “in earnest.” It could also be interpreted as “I swear.” Simply put, it means “I believe what I am telling you.” Apparently in Shakespeare’s day it was normal for people to go around talking to each other and declaring what they believed to be true about life, and about other people, and about themselves. (If I can go by his plays anyway.)

So, my faith would mean what I believe is the truth.

That sounds obvious, but hold on, let’s really think about that statement. I’ve discussed what is truth in other posts, so for my thoughts on that you can search my blog, if you’re interested. Let’s just assume we all have a criteria for what truth is already. Now let me ask, do you trust that?

Do you believe that what you believe is really real?

I heard that in a sermon once, but it could be asked to anybody who even knows what they believe. If you had to look someone in the eye, and tell them what you, at core, believe is the truth about life, what would you say? Would you be able to say it? Would you say it like a parrot, or with passion?

What feelings does thinking about your worldview excite in you? Enthusiasm? Energy? Does it move you at all? Or is your worldview just something you accept, but don’t think about?

If my faith is my truth, that is, my faith is my trust in what I know is true; then I should be passionate about it.

I am, I get excited about what I believe. And that may offend some people. Who am I to get excited? What makes what I believe better than anyone else’s belief. Maybe they might even think I am an example of what’s wrong with religious people. We think we know what’s best for everyone.

Or, maybe someone might pause and consider that I’m not faking it. If I am nothing else, I am at least sincere.

I don’t need everyone to agree with me. I don’t even want everyone to agree with me about everything. Anyone who wants that, doesn’t have faith, they have preference. I can cover that more in a different post (it’s worth thinking about, believe me.) But suffice it to say I’m not talking about getting everyone on my side.

I’m talking about what I would stake my all on. My faith. The same thing thousands of people die because of in other countries, and even in this one.

Who among us in our western countries takes what we believe that seriously? Shocking to think about isn’t it?

Until you are willing to die for it can you really say your beliefs are “legit”? I mean, if other people are willing to pay the ultimate price,  doesn’t that give them some merit?

I am not endorsing every religion that people die for, I am only saying that they were nothing if not serious about their faith.

Maybe we should all think about that phrase “in faith” more often when we’re speaking about things. Well, in faith, that’s all for today–Natasha

The starfish principle

Hello everyone,

You know blog success comes in rhythm. You’ll have a couple good posts and then no one reads the next few. Here’s hoping I’m still in time for another good post.

I seem to strike a nerve when I talk about relational issues, or connecting with people. I wonder why that is. Maybe because I’ve had a lot of trouble there, so what I’ve learned along the way rings true. That’s one paradox of life that gets over-looked in most self-help resources. And I’ve read and watched quite a few things about self-helping. I’ve come to believe it only works to a certain extent.

I love doing things on my own, I need privacy, I need solitude, I am an introvert. And there is no shame in that. Even as a seemingly self-reliant individual, I often feel I need a helping hand from other people. I’m the type of person who likes to choose their own path, but prefers it if someone else had left mile markers and warning signs along the way, I’d rather not make a blunder unless I have to in order to learn. A good name for it might be being like a Sherpa. I like to teach others, I like to help others, and in the words of Evan from Girl Meets World “I want to help people get to places they never thought they could go.” But I’m not a huge trailblazer.

That being said, I’d like to say more about helping people. In the course of my almost 18 years of life, I’ve run into a surprising amount of obstacles that much older people still have to grapple with. Here’s a little personal back story: When I was born I contracted a kind of pneumonia, I spent a week in an incubator, and it was a scary time for a lot of people. But I survived, with a lot of prayer I’m sure. From the beginning, I’ve been a tough little girl, as my mom put it. And at the age of 3 or 4, I accepted Christ. And my first remembered witnessing experience (That means telling other people about Jesus, in case anyone is unfamiliar with the term,) was at about the same age, to a few extended family members. That was the first time I encountered resistance to my faith. It has surprised my siblings when I later admitted to always feeling that my beliefs were not safe ones to have in the world. I don’t say this because I view it as a bad thing, on the contrary, I’m glad I never had any illusions that what I believe is popular or welcomed in our world. It makes for less of a shock nowadays. But repeatedly I’ve found myself dissuaded, or even put down, for having stronger principles, stronger opinions, and more dissatisfaction with the culture than most kids my age. ( And I bet some of my readers have heard similar stuff, people who blog or read blogs probably have a lot of opinions.) I have never liked mediocrity, and my dislike of it only gets stronger with time. And I get cautioned for this, honestly, it’s like people don’t know what to do with teens who have ideals that differ from the average.

But here’s the thing, when you accept being average, you accept being unimportant.

When you measure people by the average, you limit how important they are, and you limit your own capacity to feel compassion for them. You limit your ability to feel passionate about changing lives. in fact, you may even adopt the cynical attitude of “No one really changes.” (An attitude the hero Kim Possible expresses in one episode of the show. I’ve heard it before, but not usually from the hero.)

In “Girl meets Communism,” Cory Matthews addresses the problem with average success, pointing out that being average makes you common, and then there’s no incentive to be excellent. This applies to helping people too, when problems are average, so is our motivation. When we see people as just a group with identical troubles, we create stereotypes. The thing about  stereotypes, is that stereo means it’s all around you, and type means it has the same characteristics, and when you put them together, you’ll start seeing them everywhere. Entertainment often counts on you having preconceived notions of things or people for you to find it funny, or emotionally stimulating.

I could be just another voice on an internet that has billions of voices already on it, you could be just another browser, when there are millions of us just in this country, and I get a handful of them, what does that change?

I may have shared this story before, but it’s worth repeating:

Once there was a little boy on a beach, and he noticed that the tide was bringing in starfish, many of them.  When starfish are out of the water too long, they dry out and die. The little boy started picking up the starfish and throwing them out into the sea. A man walked by and noticed what he was doing, and he commented “You’ll never save all of those, son. It won’t make a real difference.” The little boy considers for a moment, then picks up another starfish and throws it into the water. “I’ll make a difference to that one.” He says.

I’ve heard this told a few different ways, so I’m paraphrasing as closely as I can to the main point. Not everyone can speak to a large amount of people. But anyone can speak a large amount of something to one other person. I think we tend to see our circle of influence as someting that reflects on us, and our worth, not as something God has given us so we can do just what He wants us to do and do it well, instead of trying to do someone else’s job, or perhaps a job we aren’t ready for yet. It’s a rule of theatre that there are no small roles, just small actors. Small actors may get cast in small roles rather then let them spoil the whole play, or a good actor may give a small role it’s full meaning. It’s really up to you.

I do the best I can on this blog, because I hope to make a difference for even the one person who might read a post. Here’s a closing thought, if you have a big heart, and a small circle of influence, what’s inside you will force what’s outside to expand, or else it will pour into what vessels are available far more than if your attention was divided between a large group of people.

Here’s some closing lines, from  a song called “Give a little love.”

“Well I know my death will not come, till I breathe all the air from my lungs. Till my final tune is sung, for all is fleeting, oh but all is good. And my love is my whole being, and I shared what I could.”

I hope this helped someone. Until next post–Natasha

Everybody’s talking about…Love?

Hello readers,

S0, here’s my question for today: What is Love?

Love is a thing everyone hears about on a regular basis. But not everyone feels it, and a lot of us are confused about what we’re feeling and what part of it is love.

I remember as a kid I wondered why I didn’t feel the kind of love I saw in movies or read about in books, why I didn’t feel like they felt. I wondered if I loved my family at all, and what was wrong with me, how could I not know the answer to that?

My love tended to express itself through fear, I would only feel it when I thought about how horrible it would be to lose a member of my family, but that didn’t make me feel any more kind or sensitive to them. It just made me worry more.

Now when I say movies and books, I don’t just mean romantic love, people like to illustrate the ideal family, the ideal siblings, the ideal parent-child relationship. And they usually make it seem like every problem can be solved if people just listen to each other, and compromise a little. But that is easier said than done, as I’ve discovered. These sources don’t tell you  about how people can listen to you and not hear a word you’re saying, in their hearts. Or how you compromise and still feel unhappy and unsatisfied. What about when someone just doesn’t want to talk to you period? Or when they have so many issues of their own, they can’t really sympathize with yours. What about when they make excuses to avoid resolving the problem?

Who really has the ideal family? I’m sure my family might look like it on the outside, but we’ve had some bumpy areas over the past few years, I’ve been scared that we wouldn’t make it. And who has the ideal marriage? Or friendship? Or whatever it is we wish we had, but it seems unattainable.

So what is love? And why is it either absent? Or it’s not working like we thought.

Well, I’m nowhere near wise enough to really answer those questions. All I have is the few things I’ve learned. Or perhaps I should say I’m learning them.

That’s the first thing we need to know about our earthly relationships. They are a growing process. Mine have not stayed the same. They didn’t stay the same before I was a Christian, but after I became one, they changed drastically. But the change really was just the growing of the good things and the disappearance of the bad ones (almost, we’re never going to be perfect.) If you have a clue about love now, then you can grow that into something real, and very rare. I’ve been fortunate to live in a circle of  people that all know something about love, but I know that is not most people’s situation.

Another thing about love, is that it is hard. Loving people is about treating them the right way, and then doing a little more. And doing what’s right all the time is something none of us can maintain. We’d be lucky to even start out well.

Is love a feeling? Or is it an action?

I think picking just one of those choices is a mistake. Love is both. But at its purest, love is acting upon what you know you feel, even when you don’t feel it. That is, feelings tell us what’s in our heart, sometimes. Some feelings are deeper than others, and when we feel them it does more than make us cry, it creates a resolve in our heart to do, be, or see things differently than before. your feelings (they used to be called passions) may tell you at one time that you deeply love someone, or that they deeply love you. But it will take actions to prove either is correct. You’ll find out how loving you are when you find out how much you are willing to do, sacrifice, and go through, for someone else; and how little of it you did without feeling like doing it. And what someone else is willing to do for you will speak volumes about how genuine their affection is.

Love is not attraction, attraction is simply one of the things that may make love fun, or may snare people into thinking it is love.

Love is not selfish. Love is not greedy. Love is not too proud to admit a wrong doing, or to be the first to make peace. Love is not insecure and needy.

Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast. It is not stuck up. It does not anger easily. It is not rude. It does not look to benefit only itself. It doesn’t think evil of the beloved.

Love believes the best, hopes for the best, endures till the end, and bears the cost.

Love is not broken or fractured. It is not disengaged. It listens to us closely, holding every word as important. Love keeps its word. It honors what deserves honor. Love is not passive. Love isn’t anxious about things. Love  is not restless. Love is pure.

Love is not God, but God is love.

I just paraphrased 1 Corinthians 13, and a song called “Pieces.” (Amanda Cook, Stephany Gretzinger.) None of us can live up to this standard.

And the wonderful thing is, we don’t have to. Love covers us.

That’s all for this post–Natasha.