Going back to the basics.

I revisited My Report Card post, someone just looked at it recently. Of course, the reason I re-read it is because, as I said in the post, I need my own advice.

Disappointed again.

Boy, it’s hard not to just let this become your attitude toward life, isn’t it?

Funny story: back when I was a kid, I got disappointed frequently for awhile, and one day I got it into my head that if I said I hoped for the opposite of what I wanted, then what I actually wanted would happen. It even seemed to work.

But what’s not funny at all is how many of us still think that as grown men and women.

I realize now that my negative thinking was more likely to prevent what I wanted from happening than to allow it, but at the time I had a rather negative view of myself. It wouldn’t be the last time I felt almost like I was cursed.

If you check out Genesis, you’ll find that the original human beings were indeed cursed, but it was for trying to get what they wanted by doing the wrong thing.

The Man was cursed with thorns and thistles and constant work.

The Woman, which to us at least sounds worse, was cursed with painful labor, even though of course, it’s not constant.

As John Eldredge has pointed out in “Wild at Heart.” The curses are more than just what they sound like on the surface.

Men were cursed with futility and failure. Which I think doesn’t mean things like work are futile, or that men will constantly fail, a curse is really a lot more about your perception of what’s happening.

And don’t men feel like their lives are futile a lot of the time? And like they are failing?

So do women of course, but for us it’s even more personal, I think.

It’s not just having kids, it can seem like whatever women do, it ends up being a long and painful process, and one we never really feel ready for.

And of course there’s the part about having desire for, and being ruled by, your husband.

Relationship difficulties, am I right? Not fun.

Women feel like their desires contradict themselves, after all. We want this, but we also want something very different. Ah! Why can’t we be simpler?

Well, where’s the fun in that? But my main point is this all feels like a curse… and it is.

But not completely. Like I said, it’s your perception.

The reason I think that is because Christians like to say Jesus freed us from the curse of Adam and Eve; which is true; but not in the way we think.

At bottom, a curse leads to sorrow and suffering. Jesus was cursed if you can believe it, because the Word says “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.” Which is what a cross is made from. Major suffering.

But Jesus does not free us from having to suffer and know sorrow. He knew plenty himself, and part of the deal of being a Christian is learning to be like Jesus.

I’d venture to say 90% of our problems as Christians come from not understanding what being like Jesus entails. Maybe even more.

I like better the answer I heard from another source, that Jesus’ suffering redeemed our suffering. The thing about a curse is, it never makes your life better. (Read “Ella Enchanted.”) But suffering can ultimately make your life better, if it is in the right hands.

So in a sense, maybe my younger self was right. But now that I know this, I know that my disappointments don’t have to make me bitter, or just plain delusional. (Why do we use delusional as a word to apply to people who believe things are better than they are? IT’s far more often the other way around.)

All that said, will disappointment hurt? YES!!

Does it have to break you? No.

It might, being broken isn’t as bad as being bent. Broken is fixable.

So is bent, but it’s harder, definitely.

But once you’ve cried, or ranted, or whatever you do to feel better; it’s time to pick up the pieces.

Because as bad as I feel, and as much as  might want to quit, I’ve come to far to give up now. I’m finishing this thing.

Frankly, I can’t accept defeat because I’ve staked everything on victory.

You can’t quit when you realize what you have to lose.

And looking at the bigger picture, I see that one disappointment is not worth throwing away everything.

In a way, I needed to write this more than any of you needed to read it, because I had to remind myself of all that.

Still, I hope it was helpful to someone else besides me, thank you for reading, and until next time–Natasha.

The Lost Art.

Hello

Hola

Bonjour

Sak Sabai (phonetic spelling.)

Aloha

As you noticed, all of these are greetings. These are the words you begin a conversation with.

But what comes after that?

For most of my life, the conversations I’ve had with people I’d just met have centered around school, grades, and age. That’s what kids ask each other about…and adults.

I mean, it doesn’t really change when you get older. “Where do you work?” “What do you do?” “How’s business?”

These are just common questions, and they aren’t bad, they just aren’t super inventive. But I don’t really want to talk about those conversation starters, because as rote as they are, they are getting rarer.

I feel like there’s no real established mode of getting to know someone anymore. You can go and meet people, but it’s often hard to really get a conversation going with them. The main reason tending to be that they pull out an electronic device within two minutes.

I  have found a welcom exception to t his patter in the groups of people I’ve been hanging out with lately, but before that, I found it difficult to connect with anyone new. Who wasn’t way older than me. I honestly don’t know if this is because of me, or becuase the older generation is jsut better at communicating, or both. Whatever the case, it’s been a lot of work to learn how to talk to my peers.

I think people who grow up in tight knit communities don’t appreciate how difficult it is when no one lives near anyone else, or is likely to have much in common. Thankfully there are things everyone knows about, like movies and music.

What I see a lack of is genuine interest in other people’s lives.  It used to be the case that even though most people were not consideed remarkable, they were at least consdiered worth knowing about. Some take this too far and turn into busybody’s, but a healthy interst in others is a good and rare thing.

Have you ever just sat and listened to someone talk about their life? Probably. And Probably they were far older than you. not to marginalize anyone. It’s very lucky to find a younger person who will listen like that or be listened to.

Recently I was asking someone about themselves, not wierdly, just casually; I almost thought they were pleasantly surprised that anyone would do that.

I am not the best lsitener either, but I try.

All this to say, Conversation was once called an art.

I have an example from Kim Possible, the’rs an episode, I think it’s  called “Job Unfair.”

Init Ron and Kim are praparing to jusmp from a plane (I think, or a helicopter) and Ron asks one of those questions that your’e supposed to politely reply to with curiousity. Yo uknow “Do you want to know where I got__?” And Kim responds by asnwering the question herself. As people will do when they don’t want to hear about it. Ron mournfully says “The Art of Conversation is truly dead.”

Of course, Ron is mostly kidding; but I think that does hit the proverbial nail on the head.

We all have so much going through our minds at all times. We start to think we’ve seen and heard it all, because every situation is probably in a movie, or a song, or something we’ve been through a hundred times. I have to wonder if movies are doing us a huge favor in the long run. At least the ones that all ahve the same basic plot.

The problem is, you have to find people intrigueging to care about them. I don’t mean they’re partciuclar personalities have to be intersting to you, but human beings in general need to be being disinterested in that sense is cold and cruel.

A disinterested party is thought to be one that can judge fairly in a dispute, but beyond that, they can’t help you much, they have no reason to.

I have to wrap this up now, I hope you enjoyed this post, until next time–Natashsa.

It’s not what you do.

I’d like to start off by personally thanking all of you faithful readers who keep coming back to this blog, even on days I don’t post, it really is encouraging.

Also, it was finals week, so I had to devote more time to finishing up my project, that’s why I only blogged a couple times, but it’s Summer Vacation time and hopefully that will get better. You other bloggers know what I’m talking about.

So, today’s topic: What’s wrong with Millennials?

Okay, that was kind of a joke.

The thing is, we get criticized a lot, and I can’t be the only one who feels like it’s a problem. People judge us before they even know us.

Movies aren’t helping either, they show us more and more often addicted to our handheld devices, or they show the next generation down (whatever they’re called) addicted even more.

On the other hand, movies at least feature main characters who aren’t typically glued to a screen, because who’d watch that movie? Not me.

But, this is no time to start whining about how nobody understands us.

I actually sympathize with the older generation who thinks we’re throwing away our lives on things that don’t really matter.

They say we’re not mature.

And a lot of us aren’t.

But, it’s not all our doing either.

I notice a constant theme in the material aimed at our generation: Self Discovery.

I like Self Discovery to an extent. It’s perfectly healthy to be independent and creative and try new things.

It is crucial to your development to know yourself.

But I have some concerns about where this train is taking us.

I saw a bit of a show the other day, one of those “reality” shows where they aren’t filming actors, but the lives of real people. And there was a baby shower happening, and some moms were passing around advice. But to my slight horror, all they said was “Let the little things go” and “Don’t worry because you’re going to be a great mom.” Don’t doubt yourself, basically.

Look; it’s all well and good to not be afraid of being a mother, but since when is that all you need to know about it?

Isn’t it kind of selfish to focus on how you feel and not on how your child is going to feel growing up? I think some advice in that area would have been timely.

Plus, “Let the little things go,” is advice most of us aren’t taking. Who is famous for freaking out about every little inconvenience?

Yet, simultaneously, we also are known for going with the flow.

This is not everyone to be sure. It may not even be most of us, but it is what is being made into our image. Thank you, television.

The worst of it is, we are warned about not accepting what the people around us think about us, but not against not accepting what the TV and Movie industry says about us. I find what they say very offensive a lot of the time.

We all should take a moment to ask ourselves who made teenage promiscuity, drinking, and rebellion, cool in the eyes of the culture?

Who made dark and gritty the new face of teen movies and novels?

Who made a mockery of parents?

Beep be deep a deep– The Entertainment Industry.

With a lot of help from other sources of course.

See, it’s not what the majority of people do that makes it a cultural trend, it’s what the majority of people see as normal.

For example, we all have lied. But if it wasn’t accepted as normal, few people would admit to doing it. And less people would keep doing it.

I don’t lie, at least on purpose. The scary thing is that there are kids who, when they hear that, scoff at it.

What have we done?

In all fairness, a lot of blame does go to parents, since it’s not like it’s a law that kids have to watch certain shows, and shows or no shows, it is the parents who set the moral tone of the house.

And the shows warn us that parents don’t understand us, but guess who does? The shows themselves.

But I’m sure you’ve heard all this before.

And I don’t want to make things harder for parents by making them feel guilty.

But we all need to think, hard.

Personally, I’m considering the effect movies with swearing and a lot of sex jokes have on my mind. Just because I won’t tell those jokes, or swear, does it mean it’s not affecting me?

But I’m lucky that the only way I see the corruption of the world is generally through the screen, literally. Most of you probably see it every day, in person. If its’ disheartening to me, it must be worse for you.

It is exhausting to stay positive in a world with so much negativity. But let me offer a small tip before I close.

Remember that comic book I keep referencing?

Well, there’s a very important character in it, Auralie. She’s got only one line, but it’s what we see her doing that is important. It is said of her “Her thoughts are beautiful, she creates beauty with her mind, imagine doing that on a world like Apocalips.”

It’s really not what’s around you that makes you happy or hopeful, it’s what you grow inside you.

For me, that is faith.

And if Millennials and other generations alike choose to focus on growing those good things inside ourselves, then it won’t matter what’s happening around us. I mean, it won’t harm us.

It’s not many who will make that choice, but everyone has the option.

Those are my thoughts for now–Until next time, Natasha.

Speed Limits

Lately I’ve been studying my Drivers Manuel so I can take the test–yippee.

I just want my license, but it’s a slow process.

Anyway, I noticed something yesterday, not reading the manual, but just thinking about cars and trucks in general:

Every single vehicle has the ability to go almost twice as fast as it’s allowed to go.

That’s true with other things. Ovens can go up into 500+ degrees, whoever cooks stuff at that? Have you ever used all the levels on an electric beater? Microwaved something for longer than five minutes straight? You can. But you don’t.

And if you have done those things, God help you.

As far as I know, those temperatures or times aren’t ever used for practical purposes. And it’s illegal to drive faster than the posted speed limit, as we all know. (If you have one.) Of course everyone breaks that law out where I live, unless they are superbly law abiding citizens.

I started to think this was odd, that they even make cars to go so much faster than they should, or build other things to go over the safety limit.

But then I thought, they’re actually wise to do that. There may come a day when people will make stupid laws that cars cannot be built to go faster than say, 80 miles per hour, but if that day comes, we’ll be no safer for it.

Driving is dangerous, but necessary, (as I have found out in trying to find a job without having a set of wheels available.) A lot of things are like that.

And it’s good that things are dangerous and have risks. Because in the end, it’s safer to have a known danger and to teach people how to deal with it responsibly, than no have little or no danger, and give them free reign.

It’s good when we teach each other a fundamental truth about how God works.

The way God set it up, living is dangerous. Not always in that it can kill you, but of the risks you take of falling. Of messing up. Of sinning. God set us a speed limit.

If you want a happy life, you have to balance it, you have to stay within the speed limit. And as oversimplified as that sounds, in the end, it works.

But here’s the thing, you need to have the ability to go faster than you are supposed to go, because, as we all know, different roads have different rules. And the criminals won’t follow any of them, so it’s important to be able to switch gears.

Parents, teachers, government officials; all of them can be quick to try to make a safer environment, and to an extent, I’m okay with that, but you have to allow for some amount of risk.

The risk is there whether you see it or not, so to tell children there is no risk is to lie to them, it’s better to let them face some risks and learn how to deal with them so they’ll be able to face the ones we don’t see coming.

The reason cars can go faster than they should is so in an extreme circumstance, you’ll be able to protect yourself, or you’ll be able to switch gears on a different road. It’s the same with guns. The same with fire.

Good things aren’t generally safe things.

Heck, I painted my nails today with deadly poison, called nail polish; but it’s harmless once it’s dry, and if you do it outside where you won’t breathe it in too much. (I wouldn’t do it every day though.)

Even germs are actually healthy for you in the right amount. Because the only way to protect yourself from danger is to embrace it, and you can quote me on that.

That’ll be it for this post, until next time–Natasha.

Sick day

So, I’m not feeling so hot, well actually I do feel hot. I’ve been fighting a lot of allergy symptoms and even a slight fever yesterday.

I don’t even know why.

To be honest, I hate allergies. They are your body’s reaction to a perceived threat, like a toxin, only without the threat being real.

See, a real threat like smoke, requires a reaction to get it out of your system; but something like pollen, or dog hair, or peanuts, those aren’t toxic, but foe some reason your body thinks they are.

In my case it’s hereditary. Some people develop food allergies because they were fed whole foods too early in their infancy.

It’s just something you deal with, you don’t really have an explanation.

But it was kind of a big week for me and getting sick was not on the agenda.

Of course, I know things happen unexpectedly. I know you can’t control life. But knowing that can make it frustrating. The temptation is to blame God, or life, r chance, or your own poor luck, for dumping these problems on you that you weren’t ready for and couldn’t prevent.

Or maybe you could have, and then you start blaming yourself for being so stupid.

The thing is, I am way healthier than most of the people I know. No one in my house has serious health issues, that can’t be managed easily at least.

But if all I have is allergies and an occasional cold and once in along while the flu or some other unexplained minor illness, I’m doing pretty well.

Still no one likes it, whatever they have.

But I do have a lot to be thankful for. I can be thankful that this only happens every so often. I can be thankful that I no longer get migraines or bad eye headaches on a frequent basis. I can be glad that I don’t have asthma or any lingering heart problems from when I was a baby.

Sure, I’m miserable, but I’m not dying. And I can do stuff, it’s just a matter of how comfortably I can do it.

I get a few minutes of relief every now and then thanks to medicine, which I have access too.

Much as I’d rather complain, I know it could be so much worse. Also, complaining makes you unhealthy, it’s a proven fact.

So this isn’t an in depth post about a movie (though I did just re–watch the original Karate Kid) or about a social problem. But it’s about my personal life.

And my faith is involved. I know better than to wallow in self pity. I do look forward to the day when my health will not even be a matter of caution, but in the meantime, God doesn’t promise perfect health all the time. Just that He will give you enough strength for whatever you need to do, sometimes more, sometimes not.

I believe in healing, but I know it doesn’t always happen, and not always when we want it to. I also know sometimes we have to deal with other issues before we can be healed.

Most of all, I know that the best testament to the power of faith is being able to smile even when you feel bad. A real smile. I

I

m still getting there, and some days I get close than others, but the point is, I at least have that option now.

That in itself is enough to be a miracle.

I remember, sometime last year, I had a night where I was throwing up at least three times, and again the next morning, and though I was tired and miserable and thinking I had eaten the wrong thing; for awhile at least I was able to praise God even while sitting next to the toilet. (And if you’ve done it you know how uncomfortable and lonely that is.) IT didn’t stop the throwing up, but it did give me peace. And that’s more than I used to have.

So, it’s good to look back and see how far you’ve come.

This isn’t just another happy–slappy testimony about how God brought me through something, it’s about how HE’s bringing me through it. Even while I’m still suffering. I hope that count s for something more than the normally criticized too–happy–to–be–relate-able stories.

Maybe you have a similar experience, or you’re going through something rough yourself, I hope this post was a slight encouragement then, 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.

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.

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.

Learn me right–1.

Today I started thinking about the years I spent sitting in Youth Group feeling frustrated.

I’ve started going to a new youth group by the way, which appears to be much better.

But I always wanted to know why youth don’t seem to take their faith or the bible seriously.

The conversations I’ve had with other teens about passages in the bible that aren’t often talked about, well their ignorance or indifference is surprising.

But over the years I’ve sat in Church services that talked to grown men and women pretty much how the youth leaders talk to their youth, only the adult services focus more on sin.

as any Christian teen over here can tell you, Youth Groups tend to cover purity, identity, and not behind addicted to technology by being a good example to your friends.

And all those are great messages, which I have needed and still need. The problem was, those messages should be seasonal, or every so often, but they made up the bulk of my youth group teaching.

As a homeschooler, I always felt like it was to easy for me. No one talked about books much, no one watched the same movies as I did, often enough; and no one expected me to retain much of what I heard, or to do the ridiculously easy assignments.

People could come to our youth leaders with their problems, but they couldn’t seem to actually follow their example. Why?

I don’t have a magic answer, but let me tell you about a contrasting experience I had.

When I went on my missions trip, the other teens were the most well-behaved, respectful bunch of peers I’ve probably ever been around. Except other homeschoolers. (Sorry, but it’s true.) We all wanted similar things, we all took pains to be nice to each other and to serve the people of Cambodia well. A lot of them also ate bugs, but hey, that’s normal in Asia. (And most other places except America.)

Phones were still a bit of an issue, but they at least kept it to a minimal. what made this group so different?

Well, the sad thing is, it didn’t stay that way entirely. Once we all go back, all of us hit some heavy obstacles in our everyday lives. Some of us floundered, others kept right on swimming. I admire one member of the group in particular for continuing to be of service to the people around them. I myself had to deal with a lot even the very day I came home.

I’ve never been common, and I don’t think anyone else would exactly fit the societal mode either, so what caused some of us to lose our grip?

My theory is it’s the same thing that plagues most other young people, here and in every place where kids have the opportunity to d more than survive.

You see, there’s a principle of life. Your situation is not what matters, it’s your outlook.

The fact is, no matter how hard our life is, we choose whether we live just for survival or not.

I have known plenty of people who are just trying to get through every day, whether its’ doing their school, their work, or possibly actually trying to keep food on their plate.

And like or not, when you live like the day-to-day challenges are the worst thing in your life, you have adopted an attitude of survival.

It’s not a good way to live, because it’s selfish, and it makes your vision very narrow.

They wonder why teens don’t care about church, it’s probably because they have learned to survive without it.

Personally, if I hadn’t found a good church to go to, I’d be at the end of my rope right now. I need the encouragement of being around other people who believe, people who I can sing to God with and they wont’ think I’m crazy. Non-believers take that kind of freedom for granted, I think. But it’s harder to find than it seems.

They say that the church is not relevent. That may true of some churches. But the ones I have gone to are usually quite relevant to some people. They feed the homeless, provide free childcare in a safe environment for busy parents. provide na alternative to secular culture; and give Christians a place to feel they are understood.

The church is much more than a safe haven of course, but the one problem is, very few teenagers appreciate having a safe haven unless they are in big trouble.

The teens I’ve known who came to church consistently were the ones with the most unstable lives, often enough. Sometimes they were more committed. Sometimes they were pastor’s kids and took more of an interest because of that. But I never heard any one of them say they came to church because it was a challenge, or because they felt it was dangerous.

That is, in my opinion, a huge percent of the problem.

we’ve taught kids that they can be anything, and prepared them for an adventure when they are young, but when they are teens, we start saying “Only a few more years of school.” There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, in other words. I don’t blame anyone for hating public school as I can’t imagine going to it myself, but church is treated the same way.

And I know you may not go to church and so may not care, but trust me, this is affecting you too. What do you get when a whole generation starts living just to survive. I almost prefer the past generations who lived for fun or to make a wealthy lifestyle, kids have grown up hearing that is not the most important thing, but they have no heard what is.

Or maybe they just don’t believe it anymore.

I am not letting teens off the hook. No one can make you stop caring except you.

But I’ll have to continue this in part two. Until then–Natasha.