Sunday, June 15, 2014

Why My Dad is NOT My Hero.


(My dad and I: June 17th, 2012)

Be her hero, they say. Every princess needs one. Our culture centers around this idea that every little girl needs a hero daddy. The perfect dad is the one that saves his little girl from all harm, who never fails her, who protects her, who fights for her, who wards off boys, and makes her feel beautiful. He tells her she can have the world and everything in it; that she is such a magnificent being that nothing could ever compare to who and what she is. He tells her she’s worth diamonds and then some. He tells her no one could ever be good enough for his little princess. That’s the dad every girl dreams for, because they are told by our society that their dad is supposed to be their hero. The thing is, society is wrong (that’s shocking, isn’t it?).

My dad has yelled at me. He has insulted me. He has discouraged me. He has ignored me at times. He has offended me. He has put the importance of his job over the importance of me in some moments. He has placed more importance on a phone call than spending time with me. He has valued sleep over coming to see me in a drama on a Sunday morning. My dad has failed me during crucial moments in my life. He has not always been there to save me. He has not always let me go where I want and do what I want. He has been strict at times. He never let me go out with boys or be in a relationship as a teenage girl.There are times when I  would go to him asking him to right a wrong done to me by a sibling, and, instead, he disciplined me. Sometimes, he was the reason I cried.

My dad is not my hero. He's never claimed to be a hero, either. He doesn't pretend to be perfect and, to be honest, makes sure I know he isn't. Sometimes, he seems more like the bad guy than the good guy. He expects so much of me it seems utterly impossible to achieve who he wants me to be. Often I am left discouraged and disappointed that I’m not everything he asks of me.

Here is what my dad understands that much of the world does not: He was never meant to be my hero. He was meant to be my dad. He was meant to lead me, to guide me, to do (to the best of his abilities) everything God asked of him. He was to train me up in the way I should go, so when I was old I would not depart from it. He was never meant to save me. He was meant to show me how to be saved. Only Jesus can save me. My dad knew that from the beginning. He never expected to be my hero. Only to be the best father he was able to be. My father didn’t save me from anything. He knew that God had a plan for me and in every moment that I cried for help or I went to him asking him to tell me what to do or how to act, he reminded me of that.

For every time he yelled at me, he apologized and showed me what it meant to humble yourself in repentance. For every insult, he reminded me of my strengths (and apologized and showed me what it meant to humble yourself). In the times that he ignored me, he spent time calming down so he wouldn’t yell at me or offend me. He spent time forgiving me because I had wronged him. Even though I hadn’t asked for forgiveness. He has failed me during crucial points in my life, but he has taught me to be strong and depend on the strength of Christ, not the strength of my dad. He hasn’t always been there to save me and has failed at times when he’s tried, but he trusted that he didn’t need to do the saving. He knew his power was in Christ, not in himself. He hasn’t always let me do what I want to or go where I want to, but he has taught me that I am not the most important being in this world; that other people always come before yourself. He has disciplined me when I wanted him to discipline my siblings because he wanted me to understand that, in order to be the best person I can be, I have to see my wrongs before I lash out at the wrongs of another. Sometimes he’s the reason I cry, but sometimes I’m the reason he cries.

My dad has taught me to be compassionate and loving. To accept all people and to reach for the best version of who I am. He has taught me to work hard and play harder. He has instilled in me a love for people so deep that it doesn’t end or wear out. He never told me that I was too good for any man, instead, he taught me how to be a better woman. He taught me how to know what a good man is. He taught me that by showing me who he is.

My dad is not my hero. He doesn’t ask to be my hero. He doesn’t expect it. He is a good man- a great man- who taught me what it means to be a great person. I respect him more than any other human on this earth. I’m not his princess. I never was. To him I am so much more than that. I am his daughter. And he, my dad.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Don't Judge a Kid by His (Album) Cover.

I'm not sure what exactly possessed me to watch it. I wasn't a fan, didn't like his music, am not really into the whole "fan girl" thing. I mean, there are some people I dream of meeting (Benedict Cumberbatch, Ian Harding, Colin Morgan...), but I would never, ever freak out the way his fans do. I mean, really. A little class, ladies. That's beside the point, however. For some reason, unknown to me, I got it into to my head to watch this movie. Today. That movie was... *drumroll* Never Say Never.

Like I said, I don't listen to his music (aside from it's airing on the radio), was never interested in being a fan, have always poked fun at him, and had a lot of misconceptions. I have an incredibly bad habit of stereotyping people. When I say stereotyping, I mean that I divide them up into multiple categories and rate them and who they are based on what they wear, what they do, how they talk, etc. Without even knowing them. I don't know Justin Bieber. Yet I assumed I knew "his type". This is what I would have told you about him a few hours ago:

1) He isn't even talented. He probably lip syncs everything.
2) People only like him for his hair. And his eyes. And his smile. And his baby face.
3) He thinks he is God's gift to women. He loves the attention.
4) He's in it for the fame and money.
5) He isn't even a real Christian. He is probably just saying that like who knows how many other people do.
6) He's really shallow. All famous people are.

These are probably the majority of the stereotypes I applied to him, seeing as I have never spent much time thinking about Mr. Bieber.

After watching Never Say Never, however, I was impressed. This kid... he had talent. I was in awe. The way he plays the drums? My jaw was in my lap. I can't even keep a steady beat. Dancing (rather impressively) while singing? I can hardly walk a straight line. Let's not push it now. We all know he has an adorable face. You can make fun of it, but you can't disagree with it. He has that going for him. But I had to admit... Justin Bieber has what it takes in the talent department. And I think he loves it. Not just for fame and money. Watching his face when he was told he needed to push back a show because he was sick pretty much knocked that one out of the park for me. I don't think it was fake.

Does Justin play with hearts? I'd say yes. But it isn't all his fault. He didn't ask tens of millions of girls to fall in love with him. They did that all their own. I must say... I was a little... shocked... at some of their behavior. I mean, jumping on stage and attempting to (basically) physically assault him? Declaring that he WILL marry you... HE JUST WILL? Fighting over who gets to be his first wife (though wouldn't you want to be the last???)? Isn't this just a little extreme, dearies?

Number 5....I know, I know.... I'm awful for thinking that. I'm sorry, I fall short, too. But in his defense, he proved me wrong on that point, too. I don't believe he's faking what he believes. I don't know whether he is really saved or not, because that isn't my department. That's God's. But he seems to genuinely believe in God, and I must say I'm sorry I ever judged him on that count.

One thing that really struck me throughout the video, too, is that he is definitely not shallow. He's just as fun loving, awkard, normal, and real as you or me. He just has to put it away when he is on stage or walking 'round town. A movie doesn't tell all, but I think he's a genuinely nice kid. I'm sorry I ever judged him.

So... does this make me a fan? No, not really. Still don't like his music that much (don't hate on me, please). So why exactly am I writing a post all about Justin Bieber? I'm not. I'm sharing my lesson of the day... don't judge a book by it's cover. I did, and I was wrong. Why am I sorry? Because I have really been realizing lately how I am falling to this daily. I see a person and I assume they belong in one category or another. And lately I have been reevaluating that... I started thinking, "What would people assume of me by the way I dress?". And I realized, I have probably been lumped into so many categories that aren't at all true. I change up my look allllllll the time. From vintage bomber pilot, to Audrey Hepburn, to office chic, to country girl casual, and every other look in between. Stereotyping doesn't work. It doesn't help anyone. And it's rude. It's just plain rude. I've been working on being more open minded lately (maybe my subconscious reason for watching Never Say Never?), and I hope you guys will think about it and join me in such an endeavor.


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Like Brett Favre, I can't stay out of retirement.

I had decided to retire this blog. I really had. I was done expressing my musings. It took too long, and I never felt, well, good enough. But I honestly don't care if I'm "good enough". The blog will get a revamp. It will be different. It's a new year, and I want to start fresh. I've never actually "started fresh", and I kinda want to this year. I want to take on new adventures. I don't promise any one anything, I think New Years resolutions are silly and petty. You should be able to make and keep a resolution any time of the year. So I'm not here to tell you all the grand and airy commitments I've made. I'm here to say, I'm back, and I hope to see some new things happening for me that I can share with you all.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

In Thirty Seconds...

This post was one I wrote for The Rebelution some time ago (almost two years, I believe) and I'm actually surprised I didn't put it on my blog, but this really struck a chord with me as I discovered it so many months after the last time I'd read it. I am always in awe of how God uses my own writing to convict me often long after I've written a certain piece, and this is one of those moments. I pray these thoughts of mine can touch you the way I was touched, and even transformed by them, as I wrote them.

In Thirty Seconds...

You could die… seriously. My reason for saying this is not to scare you, make you paranoid, nor say that you will.

In light of the recent tragic death of two young men from one of the churches I attend (one being my best friend’s brother), I have pondered greatly on the subject of death. And I don’t mean thinking about and getting depressed over death, rather exploring for and preparing my mind for it. Because to be truthful I could die in the next 60 seconds; I could die while writing this. I could die as soon as I am done. We do not know the time of our death. Only the Lord God Almighty can truly know the time of our death. And so I raise a question: Are you ready to die right now?

It seems such a morbid question, such a horrendous thing to be preparing for, but in all truthfulness, it is only right and honorable that we would! This does not mean that we are to be paranoid in our every action and always envision death looming around the corner, ready to embrace us in its grasp. This is not true! Death will come when the Lord wills it, not a day too soon nor a day too late. But what if you are called home young? What if you died at 14, 16, 18? Would you be ready, or are you too busy to die? Are your relationships in the right place? The Bible says in Ephesians 4:26-27 “"In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” There is a reason the Bible warns us to take action in righting wrongs. Psalm 89:47-48 points out “Remember how short my time is; for what futility have You created all the children of men? What man can live and not see death? Can he deliver his life from the power of the grave?” Our time is indeed short! How short we can never know, but there is no man that has lived without death, you will die as will everyone else. But as believers in Christ, we have an understanding of death, its meaning, and its value. Should we, of all people, be unprepared for it?

Ecclesiastes 8:8 says we cannot stop death. “No one has power over the spirit to retain the spirit, and no one has power in the day of death. There is no release from that war, and wickedness will not deliver those who are given to it.” Romans 5:12 states that all men must die “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—“  1 Peter 5:8 admonishes us to “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” We are to be prepared. We are to be ready. We need to live every moment like it’s our last. We need to always have patience; we need to always be slow to anger. We need to be willing to fix wrongs immediately after realizing what we have done. We need to put down our pride. We must never do tomorrow what we can do today. We have to be ready to die.

Once you are dead there is no chance to change things. You cannot go back and fix what you left undone. Again I say, we should not be paranoid about death. But we should be aware of it. We should be aware that you do not have to be old to die. We should realize the consequences of our actions. We should act always with wisdom. When you die will people say “They lived a good life, it was their time to go. Their lives were full and blessed.” Or will they say, “It’s such a pity they’re gone. They had so much left to do with their lives.”?

The good news is that “Death is no punishment for the believer” (Charles Haddon Spurgeon). We are only leaving this sin ridden world for the golden shores of the kingdom of Heaven.  Jesus conquered death by his death and we are now able to live eternally with our king. So we can face death with no fear of what comes with it and after it.

As I think of death, its effects, its rewards, and its depth, I come to the conclusion that death is something that needs to be evaluated. Most people spend their whole lives putting death on the back burner. Friends, I plead with you, please, do not push these thoughts away. Grab a hold of them, contemplate them, pray over them, and prepare for them. Ask God to grant you the wisdom and grace to know what to do, how to prepare. Take a moment to spend with your family and your friends. It could be your last one. Put nothing aside; pour everything you have into life. Never take life for granted. Don’t waste your life.

But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. (Acts 20:24)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Chameleon Christianity

In the few short weeks that we've had in this new year of 2012, I have had the blessing to be a part of the South Brandon Worship Center's Student Leadership Group. Last Wednesday was my second time attending, and only my third time attending youth group, but despite the obstacles I faced that day, going was worth it. I was sick and tired (no, for real, I was just sick and tired) and literally five minutes before I would have had to leave the house, I jumped up and go ready to go. I just felt like I needed to. I'm glad I did.

Once we got past the silly ice breaker of the day, we got to talking about passion. Passion for God, for the church, for serving, etc. Now, passion was always something I struggled with, because I've always lacked passion in pretty much everything. Now people who know me might disagree, but really, I've always possessed a great drive when it comes to determination, but determination and passion are two different things. Because I'm determined to do something doesn't mean I'm passionate to do it. My life was always lived in determination; there was never really a fire in my belly for Jesus or people or anything like that. The only thing that I've ever been passionate about was doing this- writing. That changed, though, a couple years ago, when I read CJ Mahaney's book "Living the Cross Centered Life", and I really had a passion for the cross. For Jesus. For the grace and the mercy that He willingly gave by His blood. I understood then, reading through this book with friends, and coming to tears at the awe and respect that I then had for my Savior. It was life changing. I understood what it meant to be a follower rather than just a believer. You can believe that smoking is bad for you, and still smoke. Or you can follow that believe and pursue a healthy lifestyle.

But, as I said, passion was something hard for me, but change is even harder. Getting out of my comfort zone is about as foreign to me as ice is to a tiger in Africa. It is seriously a joke in my family. "Hey, we should move!" "Nah, cause then Kaitland will freak out at the change." I mean, seriously. I have been trying to overcome this. Call me OCD, but having everything the same is my disorder.  This Wednesday was one of those chances. Never did I think (really, seriously, in, like, a million years) that Pastor Chuck would call on me- newcomer, Kaitland Conley- to help co-lead the small groups on passion for Christ. Maybe I seemed calm as I accepted the task, but I was panicking a little. First of all, I had no voice, and second of all, I didn't really know these kids that well. How could I share with them about passion if they didn't know me or what I was like? It was hard, but me and Courtney were assigned to our awesome group, and we lead.

It. Was. Amazing. Just all the ideas that these youth had on what passion was and how we could apply it in our daily lives. Their thoughts on how we could receive passion and what made a passionate person stand out from an ordinary one. And it was something on that last point- what makes a passionate person stand out from an ordinary one- that caught my attention. Once I asked the question the answer that stood out the most was this- "A passionate person is someone who lives one life. They believe what they believe wherever they are and whoever they're with. They don't change who they are for the crowd they're with, they stand boldly in who they are." Oh. My. Goodness. Wisdom Alert!

I realized just how true this statement was, and it occurred to me, that there are three types of Christians. Silly as this may seem, I see it this way. There are Ostrich Christians, Giraffe Christians, and Chameleon Christians. Ostrich Christians are definitely Christians, but they are, in essence, ordinary. There are spurts in time when they hold their head high and run after their Savior, but when the doubt creeps in, they stick their head in the sand until the danger passes. There isn't anything wrong with that, they don't deny their faith, but they don't always proclaim it, either. They are ordinary.

Then, there are Giraffe Christians. Giraffe Christians are the ones that really stand out. They stand tall and proud all the time. They never hide their heads from whatever is opposing. They don't try to forget the fear that comes with faith. They are constantly reaching out, reaching for the best, reaching for the leaves at the tops of the trees (and not just because they can, but because that's where the best stuff is). They have passion.

And then there are Chameleon Christians. These I will touch on more than the other two, because I think these are the most common. These are the Christians that adapt to their surroundings. At school they talk slang and dress like everyone else, when at church they're talking Jesus and wearing their nicer clothes. They are good with the good crowd and bad with the bad crowd. We can't be like this. When we choose Jesus we are declaring that we are laying down everything on this earth to follow Him. Everything. Nothing comes before His majesty. Nothing is more important to us than Jesus. Jesus is the only thing that lasts. Really. He is the only friend that goes with you after this life, that stands by you in every trial, who never leaves you, never breaks your heart, never leads you into bad situations. More than that, Jesus is the only thing that saves. The only thing. Those friends you're so afraid to lose can drag you to Hell with them, but they can't save you. Only Jesus can. Only the Cross. It is the one dependable thing in this life. The one rock that never tumbles, the only ground upon which you can stand solidly. Never forget this. Never adapt. Always stand by Jesus' side as He will always stand by yours. That is what passion is. It's choosing to never forget, always share, and forever remember what one man- one perfect, blameless, loving man- did for you, and always trying to share that love.

So, now that I have shared that thought, I'd like to have a little celebration, because, thanks to the same Jesus who never leaves me, I'm finally able to sit down and write something. I have been so blocked these last six months and it's nearly killed me. I haven't been able to express the things inside, and I finally have the words to do it, all thanks to some youth who get it. Some youth who have the same passion I always want to have. Yayyyy! ;) Hope you guys enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!