Black, White, and Grey.

You all know that you can spell grey with an e or an a? Weird huh?

The spelling of grey is arbitrary, it’s not even a British English vs American English thing as far as I know. (Unlike spelling honor, valor, favor, flavor, and other “o-r” words with an “o-u-r”, which they do in Britain. Or used to anyway. Which is why, I, being the C. S. Lewis fan that I am, still “misspell’ those words sometimes.) How you spell it is entirely up to you.

Doesn’t that just seem fitting? Because we like to say there there’s black and white morality, and then there’s a grey area. The grey area is your arbitrary perception of right or wrong, or your uncertainty thereof.

In simpler terms, the grey area is moral limbo.

Some say there is no grey area. (Gray area?)

Well, I think that there probably is. But I think we need to be more specific about what we mean when we say grey area.

We don’t mean that some things are neither right nor wrong, we mean that some actions are right or wrong in different circumstances, and those circumstances are not always plain to see.

See, I believe in situational ethics, but not what the term means now, but just that different situations call for different actions.

What I don’t believe is that your code of ethics can change with each situation. Just the enacting of it does.

See, if you are a inconstant person when it come to telling the truth, than your ethics are that truth is only important some of the time. So whether you tell it in one situation (where it won’t hurt your case), or hedge it in another (where it will), your ethics have remained the same.

Likewise, if you tell the truth whether it hurts you or not, you ethics are to be painfully honest.

Simple, right?

But that’s more of a black and white example. Or is it?

People would argue that lying is better sometimes in order to save someone’s feelings, I personally think lying is justifiable only when someone’s life is at stake, and that’s a rare situation.

But you see how this black nd white thing can quickly be turned into a grey area.

It’s kind of the inspiration for the title “Fifty shades of Grey,” but I won’t go there. (No, I haven’t seen it, and I won’t if I can help it.)

But this is where all this arbitrariness has gotten us.

Part of the reason I enjoyed Mr. Miracle so much was because in the 70’s, right and wrong could still be cut and dried things. Clearly, Scott was doing the right thing, and his enemies were monsters (literally often enough.) Barda sometimes verges on doing something bad, but she is always stopped or stops herself before it gets to that point.

But look at superhero movies and comics now, our heroes spend more time trying to figure out if they are really heroes than they do defeating the bad guys. Who often try to say they aren’t bad guys. You know, back in Shakespeare’s day, a riveting villain was one who knew they were evil and wanted to be different but had one vice they would not let go of (Read Hamlet.) Shakespeare called it what it was, insanity. There was no grey area. most of his villains don’t even want to change.

Now, we have bad guys who don’t want to change yet we feel sympathy for them because they are more human. Plenty of people will defend to the last this way of treating bad guys.

When this trend started, it wasn’t all bad. Some villains do just need to be shown some mercy. But I would argue they are the ones who are less evil and more confused or bitter. Which would not be the majority now.

Some people are cruel because no one had ever been kind to them, they can change because of mercy.

But some are cruel because no one ahs ever stood up to them. And that is not something mercy is going to fix.

Why should we sympathize with people who have never really been mistreated but decide that it’s their destiny to control everything?

I have both real life and fictional examples in mind, and I’ll bet you do too.

I think this is pretty long, but my word count is not working, so I’ll wrap this up.

We all need to realize that you don’t prevent evil by questioning good. Someone needs to tell the media this. (Of course, sometimes evil masquerades as good.) But when good is apparent, we should not second guess it.

There’s this thing called faith. I like what that one girl in the first avengers movie said after the big New York showdown. The avengers saved her life, so she believes in their intentions.

You see, it’s not the good guys fault that there are evil creatures raining from the sky, but it is their fault that the rain stopped.

That’s all for now, until next time–Natasha.

The S-word.

First of all, let me apologize for not posting so consistently, my problem is partly not having access to a computer as much.

But today I figure I need to post, so let’s talk.

Yesterday I had a unique experience, I went to teen bible study that talked about 1Peter 3. A little context, on that chapter, it’s about submission, honoring your wife, faith, and Jesus’ victory over hell and the devil.

Where do you start?

But of all the subjects that are controversial in a youth group, or in church period, or in any culture ever, submission is one of the top 3 or 4.

Now you all know my stance on feminism, and it’s no surprise then that I don’t view submission as a bad thing, but…I confess I haven’t liked the idea in the past, and I’m still growing into it now.

My problem with submission goes back farther than I even can remember; and it’s the same for many women. But it always, always is about not trusting men.

Most girls who have no initial problem with submitting to men have had good male relationships in their lives, and like a lot of girls, I haven’t. Partly because my contact with guys has been extremely limited living at home with my mom and no brothers, and only male in the house, my dad.

Despite my trouble with submission, I have stood up for it in the past, and still will; because it’s in the Bible, and God commands it, and for me that has to come first, before my issues, my mistrust, and my fears.

And fears are a big part of this. I don’t care how strong she seems, any woman who hates men and hates submission is afraid, deep, deep, down; and she is afraid of being found out.

Many women have been abused, physically and emotionally. Nearly all of us have been yelled at, manipulated, misunderstood, or mocked, by men. I won’t say it doesn’t hurt me when men act like women’s feelings are too much to handle or not worthy of respect, and then they mock things we are interested in.

But… that’s not every man. There’s a good portion of nice, sensitive guys, or strong and brave ones, hopefully a mixture of both, who are out there, and they treat women with respect. It’s a rare breed of men who would meet my standard of Uncommon (hence the term) but there are plenty who aren’t bad guys, and don’t deserve the sort of disgust and contempt they are often treated with.

And for the record, there are not many women who are what I would call a real woman, either. It’s rare for both genders nowadays to really be what they are. But I’ve talked about this before, so let’s get back to the subject of submission.

Like I said, women are afraid. That chapter we studied, 1 Peter 3, actually is one of the only passages in the bile to address that issue as the root of our struggles. It’s a big problem for men too, but women have a different sort of fear then men, and it’s harder to pin point, which is probably why it’s not talked about enough.

But in a nutshell, we are afraid of rejection, just like anyone, and also of not being enough; and if we’ve been hurt before, we are afraid that if we are hurt again it will break us.

So we tend to harden our hearts to avoid this, and we resist authority, or if we are not the type to do that, we resist love. Or maybe we hide instead, a lot depends on the personality, but the root of it all is fear.

I have been afraid, but unwilling to show it, so I would be belligerent instead. I’d put  up a fight over something not that important because something important had not been fought for a long time ago, and I was upset about that.

But the thing was, God never said you can get out of submission if you’ve been burned, on the contrary, it’s even more important then, and here’s why:

It’s easy to submit when you’ve never been deeply hurt, but it takes a very tough woman to submit when she has been hurt, and even more so if she knows she will be hurt again, whether she submits or not. (By submitting I do not mean submitting to being hurt on purpose, only to the possibility of it, which is very different.)

Doing the right thing is always harder at first than doing the wrong thing, but this rebellion against men has hardly helped our case anyway, and it’s destroyed many relationships. Sometimes you have to do the right thing and trust that God will take care of you no matter what.

And that’s a difficult thing to do, but so, so necessary if you want to heal. I know personally.

A word to the men: I just want you to keep in mind that girls need understanding. We aren’t taught about this sort of thing, and it’s left a lot of us feeling clueless about how to treat the men in our lives. Also, men need help with this too, it’s not just about girl power, it’s about man power too. I personally regret that guys get so overlooked on this front and they deserve respect just as much as girls do,.

But we need to keep in mind that it takes a lot less to upset a girl than a guy, usually; and so all of us need to watch what we say to and about people of the opposite sex. Also, though not always, it’s our actions that say the most to men about how we feel around them. And how we interpret their actions.

But since I’ve never been in a romantic relationship, I wont’ say anything about that, it’s just a general rule in any relationship.

Some final advice:

Men, don’t be afraid to invest in the women around you. Even if they misinterpret it, even if they hate you for it, and even if you have no clue what you’re doing, you’ll get better. And please, do not take any crud from girls just because they are girls. Stand up for yourself, but do it in the right way.

Women, don’t be afraid of every man just because you have been hurt. Don’t date anyone you can’t trust (a general rule actually) and don’t marry anyone who doesn’t treat the women in his life well. But also, don’t put down men just because they fail. We all fail. Most of us don’t really now what we’re doing. We need to accept that and be willing to forgive.

But even more so if a man (or woman) has been cruel to you, and especially if he or she has done it on purpose, the strongest thing you can do is let it go. It only gives them power over you if you let what they did ruin the rest of your life. And this goes for any relationship.

Now, read my advice to each gender and flip it around to apply to the opposite, because the truth is, we all struggle with the same stuff, in different ways.

Okay, I’ll stop this here, until next time–Natasha.

Give a little more than you take.

I haven’t yet mentioned that I read the second installment of the Mr. Miracle comic series.

I have a whole list of the problems with it, but I’ll sum it up as being far lesser than the first one.

Of course, as I do, I had some deeper thoughts about it and also about why it bothered me so much. You see, by comic book standards of the seventies, most of it was passable; it wasn’t terrible if I compared it to the Superman of the fifties and sixties. However bad it could be, Barda and Scott could never be that campy and still be the same characters. But they weren’t the same.

I know that this bothers me more than some would say it should, and some hard core fans would be even more upset than me, but for my part, here’s why I get upset when this happens, and it happens a lot.

When a creative person underperforms, it bothers me because it seems like they didn’t know what they had. Often, I think that even when I like what they’re doing. Because it seems too good to be the work of some one who was not trying to be astounding, and often the source was not.

Check out the making of Frozen, for example. It was a long process and what they were trying to do at first ended up being the opposite of what they did.

I also think of the early Ever After High series, it seems like the show was just supposed to be for kids and yet the points is made were worthy of a lot of adult consideration.

Generally something like this gets ruined because of a new writer who just wants to use the franchise to make money. But sometimes the staff remains the same, and they just seem to lose touch with what made their show or series so great.

(Forgive me, but I think this happened with the Percy Jackson series when it switched to “Heroes of Olympus.”)

The problem is, once you get a devoted fan base, you always have an audience, even if you were to do the worst thing possible some of them would defend it. And believe me, as an aspiring writer, I think about how I would handle this problem.

There will always be those who don’t like anything you do that’s new, either. When Ever After High switched over to covering the opposing point of view in their rebel-royal conflict, a lot of people weren’t happy, including me. But I had to hand it to them that a couple times it came out well and deserved some appreciation.

I don’t think a little change is bad, writers and movie makers are always expanding their vision, or so we would hope, and they fill out their stories. They have the right to do that.

so, I would not have faulted Kirby for that, and some would say that is what he was doing.

But there was a very serious problem with how he ended the story. He let evil have the last say. It was sort of like how the Empire Strikes Back ends, (always my least favorite by the way,) but even worse. Because we know it’s not over for Luke and his friends, and we have hope, but the evil figure of this comic book steals the best moment of the whole story from the best people in it. It’s just so unfair to them, and they don’t seem to realize it.

I can’t go into it fully, but that is what I had a problem with. The beauty of Kirby’s creation of Mr. Miracle was in how good triumphs over evil against all odds, and even against our human weaknesses.

Together Scott and Barda are unstoppable. But only when they are being the best they can be. I’d say that’s true in real life. I hope all of us have met at least one couple who was like that, amazing separately, but together they became an inspiration.

That’s what made the whole thing work. I liked Scott okay by himself, and I like Barda by herself, but I didn’t really get into their stories until they were together.

And it wasn’t that that changed, it was how they were together. It just wasn’t the same. But worst of all was I felt like Darkseid showing up at the end made it his victory.

In fact, I really wonder if Kirby did it on purpose. But that’s a whole other discussion.

I guess the point I want to bring out of all this is that, fan base or no, your work will not be worthy of admiration if you lose touch with what made it special. It’s important to know what truth you want to show, and to listen to what your positive feed back is telling you; what people are getting out of your work, I mean.

I’ve been surprised by what people got out of my stuff sometimes, but once I saw it that way, I thought it was even better than what I planned.

Which is not to say you can never try anything different, I try different plots and usually I like the result, and my siblings are always trying new things with their creative pursuits, but you have to have a core.

Otherwise you might start to think it’s about you, and how great you are, instead of about what you give to other people through your creativity. Or your service, if that’s how you give.

I think I’ll end with this song which is about that very thing:

“A single voice is joined by multitudes in song, with every note they’re finding harmonies that rise to carry on, richer and richer the soil in which they thrive, higher and higher a hymn of what it means to be alive.

You’ve got to give a little more than you take, you’ve got to leave a little more than was here; you may be prideful of the strides you will make, but keep one things clear. You’re just a player in a much bigger plan, and still you have to give it all that you can, the very measure of your soul is at stake, you’ve got to give a little more than you take.”

–Natasha.

National Women’s Day.

A while ago, the women here in America celebrated this “holiday” by boycotting work and going on marches.

And I didn’t even know there was a national holiday dedicated to women.

Of course, I didn’t celebrate, but I got to thinking, maybe a day to celebrate being a woman isn’t such a bad idea. Or a day to celebrate being a man.

But I’d do it a bit differently.

I think celebrating womanhood should look less like one big hate letter to the male population and more like one big love letter to the people around us.

On that day, a woman would make it a point to either dress up or dress down, depending on what makes her feel more comfortable with herself. (Personally, dressing up does that for me.) She’d either do her make up or not do it, whichever makes her feel confident and pretty.

A woman would spend the day, not protesting that she was a victim, but taking control of her time and spending it doing things that she feels really matter. Which could be hanging out with her kids, cleaning up a park, volunteering for a charitable organization, or visiting her family, or going out with her other female friends for a girls day.

Then she should do something fun, like go on a date, or if she’s single, do one of her favorite things.

The perfect day would include the kinds of talks that women love to have, and the kind of peace that they love feeling when they feel loved and cherished.

A strong woman does not need a man’s permission to be feminine; she would celebrate whether anyone else did or not.

I’d put hearing my favorite songs; eating assorted chocolates; watching a good movie or reading a god book; and hanging out with people I care about in a relaxing place; all on my list of things that make up a perfect day. Not to mention feeling close to God.

How men would treat women on this day would just be to say the things they should say all the time. To admit that they need women in their lives. And to be equally proud to be men.

Because when both men and women are glad to be what they are, it’s an irresistable combination. People like to see it.

Which is not to say all the problems between men and women would be fixed in one day, or even that everyone would celebrate. But the point is, if you will celebrate, really celebrate.

I just don’t see the joy in ranting and raving about injustice on the one day you get to be celebrated on. Which goes for any holiday. Who celebrates Christmas by protesting all the people who don’t get of give gifts? Or don’t go to church, or don’t celebrate at all, no one does that. (If they do I feel sorry for them.) What people do instead is they give to someone who has nothing, or they invite someone to go with them, and take someone in.

Celebration is about joy, and sharing that joy with other people. There will always be those who’d rather be miserable and gloomy, or who will focus on the wrong thing. but no one should pay them any mind except to help them.

That’s what I’d call celebrating my womanhood.

If nothing else, just taking a minute to be glad for what you have is celebration. We have so much in America, and if you’re reading this blog, you’ve got a lot more in your hands than many people will ever get to see in their lifetime.

Let’s not complain so much.

Until next post–Natasha.

Totally Scott Free.

Like I asked a moment ago, what is total freedom?

Well, it turns out it’s not just being able to choose. Scott had a choice. That didn’t give him freedom.

Of course choice is a big part of it, but as weird as this is going to sound, freedom is actually the ability to choose the right thing.

What’s the difference?

There’s a big difference.

Take the extreme example of drug addiction. Most addicts are not force-fed the substance they are addicted to, they choose to take it. They bring their hand to their mouth, or whatever form they use. They are not free. They were at one time, one time they had the choice to not try drugs, and they forfeited their freedom from drugs when they chose to try them. Now they can’t stop.

Choice is not freedom, it is the medium freedom is accessed through, if that makes sense.

Freedom is a state of being, not an ability.

Total freedom is humanly impossible without some sort of Divine intervention, and that is just the truth.

But what about all that stuff about taking freedom?

That’s all true. Freedom is a fight.

“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” John Philpot Curran.

It’s a fight for me.

There’s another quote about freedom being in disobedience, but as far as I can see that kind of thinking leads to disaster. Freedom is obeying the right thing. Like your conscience for example.

We do choose what we listen to, but what we listen to is what makes us free or slaves.

To go back to Scott Free, he spent years listening to Granny Goodness. (The name is a misnomer.) It wasn’t until Granny took away her voice from him (as punishment, but if you ask me, the psycho was just too arrogant to realize she was doing him a favor,) that he started listening to Metron and then Himon.

You got to be careful what you hear. I can’t tell you how many times I did not struggle with a sin, or a fear, or even a symptom of disease, until I heard about it. Knowledge is not always power, or it’s not always a good power.

One more thing about freedom: It’s a lifestyle.

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”–Nelson Mandela.

We can blame other people for enslaving us, and some of us have a reason to do that, but blame will not free us.

We want to take our freedom, and then we want to pass it on.

Scott didn’t think of anyone else but himself needing to be free at first, but after Barda helped him, he realized she should be free too, and later he came to wish everyone could be, though he knew you can’t free everyone and that they really have to want it themselves.

Barda is an interesting example of someone who is uncertain about freedom at first. She wasn’t ready to leave when Scott did, but once she left, she resolved never to go back without putting up one heck of a fight. And she did.

Even though Barda never seems to want to free others, she is the one who is responsible for bringing four additional people back to earth with them. Four of her furies. Though the furies get a chance at freedom through this turn of events, none of them stay on Earth. They are too bound up to their home planet, even though it will be the death of them.

So we see that freedom is offered to all of us at one time, but few of us accept it.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow is the way that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:13-14.

This verse is generally taken as “It’s so hard to be good, why is it so hard? Why did God make so few things okay for us to do?”

The truth is, the things that are bad to do in of themselves, those are pretty much summed up in a list of ten commandments. Dishonoring God; dishonoring parents; dishonoring what’s sacred; lying; stealing; adultery; greed and covetousness; murder; etc. You can find rules like that in many other books and creeds.

But the list of mistakes we make with even the things that are good, that list is extensive. I couldn’t name all of them if I tried. The reason the road to freedom is narrow is because the road of slavery is so broad. We enslave ourselves to nearly everything; but we free ourselves only in doing what’s good, healthy, and holy.

Scott Free is a little bit like how they portrayed Moses in “The Prince of Egypt” movie. (Thank you Dreamworks.) He can have power, wealth, respect, fame….and he can live a life built on slavery. Or he can run off and become a nameless nobody in a strange land, only to return later to secure the freedom of others.

God is the one who told Moses to go back (and that was the part of the story they changed the least,) and I don’t think anyone ever gets fired up for the freedom of others without it being a Divine thing. Because there’s a certain power in fighting for other people.

So, those are my thoughts on the story and the concept. I hope it all made sense, since I’m still figuring it out myself. I do recommend checking out the stories for yourself. (With the exception of the Barbie Fairytopia one, please do not watch that.)

Until next time–Natasha.

“Freedom to dance, freedom to sing, freedom to grow, I’m telling you Pharoah, let God’s people go!”–Jason Upton.

Getting off Scott Free.

Some of you may remember the post I did about Mr. Miracle. Well since then I have actually read the comic book of that title, and I thought I’d share my reaction.

Oh my gosh! It is freaking incredible!

Seriously, I have never been a huge comic book person, but this one blew me away.

You don’t realize the first time you read it how great it is, you only see that it’s way better than most of the other stuff in the genre, but upon rereading you notice the details that went into the character arcs and plot build up, and how, remarkably, there is no real discrepancy anywhere (I can think of one place that something didn’t entirely add up, but it was minor, and I’m not sure it was really an error, and it was just one.)

Sorry everyone, I’m still in fan girl mode. Which for me is both way more excited and way less than what you’d typically see made fun of on TV.

Aside from geeking out about it, I do have another reason to share it with you guys. I need to do some writing about liberty for a school thing, and all I can think about is this comic book as a reference. (Which is the first time in my life that has happened, I assure you.) The reason is, liberty is a huge point in the story, though it’s ironically the one I’ve thought least about, because being the person that I am, I want to talk about the love story.

But it’s time I gave the idea of freedom some consideration.

Scott Free starts off as a brainwashed prisoner of the hellish planet of Apokalips. I won’t give away all the details here, it would be far too long, but suffice to say he’s different than the other drones. In Barda’s words, they never got to him. Scott is affected by his life on this planet, but he refuses, for a reason unknown to himself even, to ben to all their rules. He in encouraged in this by Metron and Himon, two people who try to help whom they can become free minded.

Now the narrator leaves no doubt in our minds that no one on Apokalips is free minded except Himon. And he has precious few people who are even willing to try to learn his ways. But Scott becomes intrigued by him.

Long story short, with help from is unexpected ally, Big Barda, Scott flees the cursed planet and comes to Earth. We aren’t told exactly what he does at first, but he learns about the place and develops a passion for seeing justice served, but always with a degree of Mercy. he takes on the name of Mr. Miracle and tries to live a quiet life. Or quiet for him.

But Scott soon finds that you cannot just run from oppression and think that will be the end of it, after Barda joins him on Earth both of them try to keep their enemies at bay using their respective skills, but Scott quickly realizes he cannot run forever. So they return to face their past. To face themselves in a way.

I  have avoided this part of the story for one reason, I was concerned that the story was trying to tell us that finding our self is the answer. I know many people will take that from it, and take it at face-value. But how many of us really know what finding our true self even means?

Oddly enough, what came to my mind was a Barbie movie of all things, and not one of the good ones either, it was the second one of the Fairytopia trilogy. (Gag worthy, especially if you already hate Barbie, which I did for a while probably because of those movies.) But there’s one good part, Elena, the “Protagonist” is faced with the option of eating a berry that will turn her into whatever form her “True self” is. Elena was born without wings, and wanted them badly, winning them as a reward for saving the day in movie No#1. Her fear now is that her true self will not have wings.

I actually understand Elena for once. But her friends tell her “Whatever you are, you’ll be happy, because you’ll be your true self.”

Mixed up in the sappy stuff of this whole idea is actually an important truth. Our true self is not always what we want it to be, but what it is best for us to be.

This applies to Scott, as well. He wanted to be free; he wanted, in his own words “tranquility;” and he thought he could find that by running until they stopped pursuing him. Barda knew better, but she would rather chase after a delusion with Scott than be realistic by herself.

But Scott had to realize that we cannot be free by running, running is just the start, the begging of the dive into the deep end.

Freedom is not something anyone can be given, it is something people take, and people are as free as they want to be.”–James Baldwin.

Barda, on the other hand, knew you have to take freedom. She lived this next quote.

Better to die fighting for freedom then to be a prisoner all the days of your life.”–Bob Marley.

Barda figured on dying in the fight to be free, but she intended to go out with a bang.

What makes this story oddly different is that their battle is a mental one. Scott literally fights it out in his mind. Barda nearly loses on that account, but Scott saves her in the nick of time.

It might be said that Scott will get out of anything, but Barda will avoid getting into it as long as she remains standing. She’d be free to start with if she could.

But the thing it, none of us are born free. We say we are, but we are all slaves to something. To sin usually, there’s always that one thing we can’t shake, sometimes its many things. Others of us get enslaved to people. Being a Christian is comparted to being a slave for God.

Only, in that last instance, it does not last. God wants free people. The reason we consider ourselves slaves fro Christ is because we don’t trust ourselves with total freedom.

What is total freedom anyway? It is not the absence of tyranny, that leads to anarchy most of the time.

I think I’ll dive into that in my next post, until then–Natasha.

Running away from Sadness.

Continuing from my previous post…

Now that I have defined Joy and explained how we find it, I need to expound upon it.

This, more than any other topic, is a Church related one, because it’s in the Church that the word is mainly used; and many people are frustrated that they can’t find it.

If it were as simple as I made it sound, than more people would have joy. Because accepting sadness is totally simple…right?

Wrong is probably what you all thought, but actually, it is simple. It’s just not easy.

We run from sadness. From our own and other people’s.

I know people who will cry over nearly every movie they watch, but they don’t talk about what’s going on in their life so much.

I also know people who seem to be perpetually depressed, and by choice, not medical condition; it offends these people if you tell them to cheer up.

You know, Pollyanna actually had a sequel, Pollyanna Grows Up, and in that sequel Pollyanna tells her friend Jimmy about a man she heard say that every time someone said to be glad, he just wanted to go out and shoot someone.

A rather extreme way of reacting, but how many of us have wanted to scream when someone makes light of our sorrow?

Which is the last thing I want to do, I’ve had sorrow too, and I’d be a horrid hypocrite if I pretended it was minor.

I handle sorrow in an unusual way, when I experience real loss, I am oddly unshaken by it. I am sad, but it is not crushing. I suppose it is because I have never lost anyone close to me. Another thing is I constantly hear false alarms, one side of my family is always having one problem or another health wise, but they get over it.

but when I have relational pain, it can be very depressing to me.

I think because all our self worth issues get mixed up in that sort of pain.

I won’t say either type of pain is less selfish, or better than the other, but it is true that the latter often makes us act very selfishly.

The worst is when we don’t feel the pain, but it remains there, undealt with, and affects all our behavior.

Which, if I go back to Inside Out, is what happens to Riley. Though she can’t feel her pain any more, it remains there, buried or lost in the subconscious.

Years of living like this are what make people develop neurosis and sometimes psychosis; it is also the source of anger issues, difficulty in committing, and submitting to abuse because one feel like they deserve it. Pain turned to hate against ourselves is lethal.

And it turns to self hate when we neglect is.

But there is hope. Through counseling, or our own personal journey, we can go back and grieve over what we have lost.

After that process, or even during it, comes the time to have joy again.

There is always a reason to be glad, no matter how bad things are, they are never without some silver lining, but it’s hard to find. Plus that is not exactly joy.

Joy is, as I said before, bittersweet, when it first starts. It begins as the feeling of peace after sorrow, or during sorrow. after you have stopped running from it and have chosen to embrace it.

But one cannot live in sorrow, Ecclesiastes says in chapter 3 that there is a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, there is a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to laugh and a time to weep.

I can’t really explain how you know when the time of mourning is over, I think it comes if you are waiting for it but not rushing it, you just know.

When this time comes, you put away your mourning clothes, so to speak, and you start enjoying things on purpose. You open your heart to new love, you might start a new hobby, or devote more time to an important person in your life. You move on.

It’s okay if it takes a year or two to completely move on, sometimes it takes longer, the idea is never to stay in one place too long, but to keep growing.

I think it has been said that the joy is in the journey, and I think that is true. Joy can be present when you stand still, but usually you need to be in motion.

That’s why joyful people dance, sing, paint, and write; or do whatever they do to express themselves, joy wants to be shared.

In fact if you are hogging your happiness, that’s a sure sign it’s not joy.

We will all run into sadness, but the key is to then run out of it, and leave it far behind. Though we will not forget, nor should we, because the sadness will eventually turn to joy if we are willing.

Those are my thoughts for now, stay joyful–Natasha.

Running after Joy.

I thought I’d do a different style of post today, I wouldn’t want to get entrenched in the same subjects all the time.

I want to talk about that elusive quality known as Joy.

I say known as, but if you google it, look it up in the dictionary or read about it, you’ll find that no two definitions of joy seem to be exactly the same.

C. S. Lewis thought Joy was a longing, or that a longing was how we experienced joy in this world.

Most people think of joy as some type of ecstasy.

The more practical of us think it is just another word for being contented with your life and your work and your family. (I am not using practical as a good thing in this instance.)

My guess is most of us don’t think about it at all, or not frequently if we do. I myself don’t give it as much consideration as I could.

To many people e, and I have felt this myself, joy seems to be a joke. Something people talk about but no one has found. If anyone claims they have, they are delusional. Maybe, we think, joy is just a delusion. Which is worse than an illusion.

We think joy only comes when we can forget our troubles, which we can’t, and that it is fleeting. Maybe we felt it at one time. It’s odd how it is such a strong feeling while it lasts, but it is so easy to forget once it’s gone.

It’s not like we’re left alone once the euphoria we think of as joy dies away. Trouble inevitably comes.

Now if you’re a Disney fan, perhaps your mind immediately went to Inside Out when I brought up Joy. I watched that movie once or twice, I had to give it credit for doing a good job of explaining joy and sadness. I’m gong to reference it in a second.

If there was no trouble in the world, we suppose, perhaps everyone could be joyful. Or I could be, but who can be happy knowing there is so much wrong going on.

The truly sad thing is most of us aren’t unhappy because of the sufferings of others, but because of our own problems. We could ignore the rest of the world if our world was fine. But the rest of the world affects our own, whether we like it or not.

In A Walk to Remember, the movie, Landon, when still pessimistic and bitter over his dad leaving, tells Jamie he has no faith because “There’s too much bad — in this world.” Jamie replies “Without suffering there would be no compassion.” Landon says “Tell that to those who suffer.” Jamie looks away. We later find out Jamie suffers plenty, and tries to stay cheerful and kind despite that.

However, I’ve never really bought that line that we need suffering for compassion, or rather, that we need to have compassion anyway, because if no one suffered, compassion would be useless. Don’t misunderstand me, I believe compassion is very important, but it is the compensation for suffering, not the reason for it.

The reason I went off about suffering is because there will be no discussion of joy if suffering is not dealt with too, even if I tried to leave it out, everyone would think of it anyway.

As is pointed out in both the book and the movie Pollyanna, the Lord tells us to rejoice over 800 times in his word. It would be hard to find a book of the bile where rejoicing was not mentioned in some form.

It’s a saying in the Church, though no any I’ve been to in my memory, that God wants you happy.

Many people have attacked this phrase because it’s used as an excuse to do whatever stupid thing you want in the name of happiness. Which it shouldn’t be.

But though God does not always want you happy, in the way you think of it, He does always want you to rejoice. He says so.

This is where we get to the big difference between joy and happiness.

In Inside Out, Joy starts off as what I would call happiness, a positive attitude, fun loving, goofy character who keeps all other emotions in check. Joy also avoids Sadness like the plague and always feels like Sadness is intruding on her turf, and complicating things. Sadness feel bad, but can’t seem to help herself, she knows that Riley needs her, but she doesn’t know for what .

But after some really sad stuff happens to their kid, Riley, Joy finds it harder and harder to keep control, and eventually she ends up lost, along with Sadness. Sending Riley into a crisis.

The big moment at the end of the movie is where Joy finally feels sad, which seems oxymoronic, but it helps her to see what she needs to do. Sadness finally is able to help Riley, and a new kind of feeling if forged, the bittersweet sort, Joy and Sadness mingled.

Which is the type of feeling C. S. Lewis called Joy. A deep sadness that it is happy to feel. Another oxymoron.

True Joy comes only when happiness has been baptized in sadness. Bapitized is kind of a religious word, but it means a thing has to be purified, usually be dying to itself, and then being reborn as a newer, better version of itself. (Basically what the idea of reincarnation tries to accomplish and fails because it uses the wrong kind of dying and rebirth.)

In other words, you will not have joy until you have accepted sadness and grief and allowed them to make you a bigger, better, kinder person; because let’s be honest, we all know people who won’t ever cry or admit they’re not dong so hot, and they are often the least compassionate people of all.

Or we may be that person, and that’s what bothers us.

The heart of Joy is to overcome suffering. Not sorrow, which is where we get confused, sorrow is good in the right amounts, but suffering if only good when we treat it properly, and that involves pursuing joy even through suffering.

I can get more into this in my next post, until then–Natasha.

Crossed wires.

“Though I may speak, some tongue of old; or even spit out some holy word;  I have no strength, with which to speak; when you sit me down and see I’m weak.”

These are the opening lyrics to a song from Brave, “Learn me right.” (Yes, it inspired the titles of my last two posts.)

It took me a while to even like this song, but I realized eventually that it was a description of how I felt about myself.

You see, like many Christians, I believe that God endows us with some of His power. (My faith gives me strength in other words.)

Like the song says, as much as I could quote the Bible or pray or even speak another language, (I actually speak three,) I lost it when it came to speaking up for myself.

I have no problem standing up for other people. I actually can be reckless in doing so and get myself into trouble; and I have no problem defending myself when I have done nothing wrong, but when it comes to explaining myself, there I have a problem.

A reoccurring scene in my life is one of having an older person take me aside, with one or two other adults, and explain to me how I’ve offended them with my behavior. (I have talked about this before, but I don’t remember how many people read that post, so I’m retelling it.) This has not happened recently…exactly, but it has happened a lot.

Anyway, once I realize what’s happening–again– I start to feel nervous, I freeze up. I have a hard time speaking.

I came to see that this bothers me so much because I feel weak. I can’t defend myself, and there is no one there to defend me. I also feel exposed, and not by my own choice.

I get angry very quickly when this happens, and though I don’t feel angry at the time, the feeling comes later. I can’t believe how I’ve been humiliated. And let me tell you, I’ve had some mortifying things said to me.

Honestly, when you don’t speak, people take that as an invitation to keep explaining your problem until you want to scream. Though I know I have done this to others too, so I can’t judge.

What has always insulted me the most is that people go behind my back and appeal to someone who has the authority to threaten me, punish me, and make me miserable at home; instead of coming to me first.

I know they meant well, but that is not the same as doing well.

I’ve been around the block now myself, I’ve been in a position of authority and had children misbehave and disrespect me. It is very annoying. A lot of the time it is also unintentional.

I can’t say I always handle it right either, but I do try to go directly tot he person who I have a problem with, and then to an authority if and only if that fails. you know what’s ironic though? Often the authority I go do doesn’t actually fix the problem by backing me up; they often throw it back on me.

I’m not saying all this to vent. I’ll bet you’ve had similar experiences.

But let’s talk about the most painful part, being misunderstood.

“I’m misunderstood,” can be used as an excuse nowadays. When it is used in that way, it’s probably not true. You may be perfectly understood to be a brat, or a wimp.

But, often the claim is made in frustration. Someone may have tried and tried to get their point across and found it was like they were speaking gibberish to the other party. That’s legitimate pain, and it’s happened all through history as well as our private lives.

If you’re like me, your personality may be so unconventional that people don’t know what box to put you into and so misunderstand your words, tones, and actions often. And sometimes, I actually deserve to be reprimanded, I’m not faultless.

Or you could be misunderstood because of crossed wires due to someone else’s accidental or sometimes intentional interference. That hurts a lot and you have my sympathies if that’s you.

Or, you like completely different things from the people around you and they think you’re a freak, or at the very least an oddball and they can’t connect with you.

whichever of these you are or have been, you’ve probably asked, along with me, what’s the solution?

Well, what’s not, is to do what a later verse of the song describes:

“So I had done wrong, to prove (put?) me right, my judgement burned in the black of night. When I gave less than I take, it is my fault, my own mistake.”

Two wrongs do not make a right. The worst thing for any of us to do would be to react poorly. Don’t retaliate. Don’t send a hate email or whatever. Don’t blast the person in question to you friends on social media.

Don’t judge too harshly,  remember the chances are you will do the same thing, we all have misunderstandings.

Also, and this is hard for me, don’t be afraid to look in the mirror. Make sure you were giving it your best effort, otherwise perhaps some of the criticisms or miscommunication is your own doing.

Give more than you take. Then, at the very least, you’ll be able to look back and say “I did my best, and I put the most effort into making this work. It was not for lack of trying.”

It rarely happens that the situation has changed drastically for me, but I have changed. I’ve gotten tougher, but also more willing to apologize, even if I believe I was in the right.

I’m still working on the right way to stand up for myself, but nine out of ten times, peace is better.

“We will run and scream, you will dance with me, we’ll fulfill our dreams and we’ll be free. We will be who we are, and now heal our scars, and this will be far away.”

–Natasha.

 

Learn me right–2

So, as I said at the end of y last post, no one can make you stop caring except you.

But what do teens care about? Is it really video games, and dating, and drugs, and pop starts.

Well, most of us do care about at least three of those, and often too much. But I think we choose to zero in on those things for a few specific reasons.

  1. We don’t listen to our parents.

I’m serious. Just about every parent I know thinks kids should not spend an excessive amount of time playing with a little screen in their hand. My parents would have never let me date till I was a reasonable age, which is not 13 or 14, like a lot of kids start now. And parents also disapprove of a lot of music and the behaviors of many celebrities.

If teens listened to their parents on this, being obsessed with that stuff would at least be harder, or more in check, then just having free reign over their choices.

2. Nobody stops us.

A lot of us are just dying for someone to keep us more in line, but we often end up being the more strong willed person in our interactions with authority figures. (Thanks due in part to the many unnecessary law suits over disciplinary actions.)

3. Perhaps most importantly, we aren’t given a reason to look beyond what’s right in front of us.

It really saddens me to think that by the time I have kids of my own, things like books, and manual driven cars may be close to being extinct. I miss letter writing or even email being a thing. And I miss people taking notes on real note paper instead of on an app on their electronic device.

Technology has its uses, the problem is we have this immense amount of power when it comes to information, yet we are not taught how to use it responsibly.

For my money, the experience of going on a field trip yourself beats any instructional video you can find on the internet. There’s no movie you can watch that make you actually be there, be breathing n a different culture or place. And nothing you see on a screen exercises your imagination like reading a page of  a book.

It’s fine to use a computer for things that aren’t super important, and won’t shape your character in a large way; but when that becomes our main mode of interaction, we fail to see anything beyond that.

I’m sure this is nothing you haven’t heard before, but though we talk about it, what do we do about it?

May young people who have ideals do not reach for them simply because they don’t know how. If fact, our technology may be the most contact we can have with something bigger than our own lives, which is very sad, but all too often the case. This is nothing new, teens have wanted to be part of something greater than their world for ages. Whether it was getting out of a small town or getting out of the city, or getting out of their country; they wanted more.

It’s my firm belief that we were all meant to have more. Way back in Genesis, God placed man and woman in a garden, but He told them to fill the earth and subdue it.

Think about that for a moment. A garden is a wonderful place, I’d gladly live there, but I would not stay there, and neither would you. A garden is a place to rest in and nurture, but we all want to expand, and we all want to go out and conqueor challenges. We are meant to.

I’d like to quote two characters from that old-ish show Kim Possible.

Both of them have something to say to this subject. The first one, Shego, my personal favorite, really won me over when she replied to her boss’s condescending suggestion that she spend more time on the internet “No thank you, I have a life.”

I cheered.

The other, Kim herself, once was summing up her accomplishments, and on top of saving the world, she added “And looked Josh Mankey straight in the eye.”

I thin Kim has a point here, not every thing has to be big and fame worthy to be important to you. And Shego at least understands that internet subsistence will leave you starving for real things.

Actually one of Shego’s better traits is to do things herself in the most efficient way she can, versus Kim who likes jumping over stuff, even when she could just walk through a door.

They are both right in a way though, it’s good to challenge yourself, but it’s also good to keep things in proportion. Which is why when we get bogged down in the everyday, like myself and my friends, we can lose track of the grand purpose of our lives.

I’ve never heard of someone being given an average destiny. God tells all his people that they are priests, and Paul tells all Christians that we will be rulers. There is no such thing as an average destiny.

Survival is really a myth. Human beings are not meant to survive, as a song I’ve heard says, we’re made to thrive.

To bring this back to my original point about young people and youth groups; my theory is, young people don’t truly want to survive. (Braveheart anyone?) They want to feel like they have an important role in life. But you can’t look at what everyone else is doing and figure out your role. Personally, I’ve realized I don’t want what everyone else has, I want, as Shawn Hunter from Girl Meets World said “What I’m supposed to have.”

I don’t think I’m alone in this either. We really need to listen to what teens actually are trying to tell us. And help them before they get caught in the web of survival.