Posts filed under ‘intimacy’

Mother’s Day and The Hunger Games

Does every girl dream of being a mother when they grow up? I have four girls, and I can say from personal experience – it’s a mixed bag. Even my own history testifies to the ambiguity in answering this question. When I was young, I wanted to be the first woman president and I wasn’t going to get married, or if I did, I wasn’t going to take HIS last name! That way I could also be the first King of the United States – my maiden name is King. 🙂 I don’t remember being interested in having kids at all. If I played those schoolyard games of picking out future kids’ names, it was only to fit in and go along with the crowd. Perhaps it was growing up as a child of divorce, passed back and forth between abusive and alcoholic homes that soured me to having kids. Who knows. My sister was the one who wanted to get married and have kids. Maybe it was because she fell in love in High School. But, the odds were not in her favor.

In The Hunger Games Trilogy, Katniss never dreamed of getting married or having kids. She couldn’t imagine bringing children into such a bleak world. The dystopian imaginary of Suzanne Collins is a reality for many. I love how Suzanne Collins deals with the romantic ideal and the myth of the “good mother”. Katniss did not have a typical “good mother” role model – a reality for many that makes Mother’s Day a difficult day to celebrate. While I don’t hate Mother’s Day in the way that Anne Lamott does, I appreciate her critique of the holiday.

I appreciated the intricate interaction of free-will, cultural/social pressure, and destiny in The Hunger Games Trilogy. Katniss stubbornly clings to her independence and desires to choose for herself whether and whom she marries, while faced with the extreme pressure of The Games to conform to the expectations of the world around her. Many girls are pressured to marry – in some cultures they are even forced to marry or sell themselves for what feels like the salvation of their family. Katniss resists the injustice of such a forced marriage arrangement, yet is willing to consider it as an option to protect those she loves. I was a little disappointed in the ending when Katniss confesses, “I know this would have happened anyway.” This line gave the sense of some sort of inevitability that minimized her choice (I won’t tell you her choice in case you haven’t read the books). But, the ending also represented a sense that Katniss had finally reached a level of self-awareness that allowed her to make the choice of a partner that best suited her. Isn’t that what we want for our girls – that they will have choices and that they will choose the partner that best suits them? And, that they would have the freedom to choose a career or choose to raise a family or both?

Collins did a good job developing the character of Katniss to have a legitimate choice between two young men who genuinely loved her, balanced with the possibility of choosing neither of them. The complexity of the character development was well done with Katniss loving both Gale and Peeta in different ways and for different reasons, showing us that the romantic ideal is not often a reality. Love is a choice. Loving and being loved in return is not a given. The tension and the uncertainty was well played, even though it felt a little bit like the “Team Edward” vs. “Team Jacob” rivalry in the Twilight Series. Fortunately, the rivalry in The Hunger Games was a bit more realistic, exposing the possibility that life circumstances may prevent romantic love from flourishing.

One thing that frustrated me about the Twilight Series was this notion of a soul mate – or the sense that one person is destined to be with another and can’t survive without them. While it may make a good story, I wonder if it sets our girls up for unrealistic expectations in regards to choosing a life partner. The idea of a soul mate – or someone we can’t live without – makes love and marriage almost inevitable and gives a sense that there is some cosmic matchmaker who knows what’s best and will make it happen. It also gives a feeling of incompleteness – I’m not enough unless I find that one person designed to complete me. I don’t think this is the way love works, nor am I convinced it’s the way God intended for love and marriage to work.

When my girls dream and talk about their future husbands and kids, I dream with them and celebrate their choice of kid names. But I also push back a bit. My sister wanted to get married and have kids, yet at age 50 she remains single and childless. Was it because her first love died in a car accident before graduating high school? Was it because of the abuse when she was a girl? We could speculate about the reasons, but I don’t think that would be helpful. Most people say really stupid things to their single friends over 40. The reality is, we don’t always get what we want. So, I ask my girls, “What if you never get married?” “What if you can’t have kids?” We talk about options, choices, reality.

I didn’t even imagine having kids until after I committed my life to Christ around age 17. I gradually started opening up to the idea. If that’s what God wanted, I was willing to consider it. But, I was planning to remain single and go to the far reaches of the world for the sake of the Gospel. In my church culture there was this subtle message that marriage and child-rearing was a woman’s primary call and function – some sense of “this is why God created women.” Well, sometimes the message was not so subtle. I had friends who were part of the Quiverful movement – a movement of couples committed to having as many children as physically possible with God’s help and without the use of any birth control methods. I knew others who were intentionally childless because the end of the age and the tribulation were certainly near! After reading A Full Quiver, the argument made some sense to me, though the fear of an impending apocalypse was tempting as well. Four kids and a “quiverful” later, I am not so persuaded by either argument. I chose to marry and have four children – and my choice was largely influenced by love and hope – love for my husband and hope in a better future than my past predicted. Love changes things. Hope changes things.

So, what’s a mother of four girls to do? Do I wish marriage and motherhood upon them? Do I pray that someday they will meet Mr. Right, have children and live happily ever after? Honestly, that’s not my prayer for my girls. For centuries motherhood was the only sure way for a woman to find value and have a place in society. Times have changed. My prayer is for my girls to choose and be chosen for roles that they are best suited for – whether raising a family or having a career or both. I pray they would find their value and worth in their identity in Christ, not in their roles or in what society expects of them. I pray they will reflect the image of God in their choices and that they will be faithful to their true selves. I pray they will resist pressure from society or cultural systems that are in opposition to God’s Kingdom vision. I pray they will choose to participate as valuable and valued members of unified communities of cooperative friends of Jesus living lives of creative goodness for the sake of others.

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May 15, 2012 at 6:09 pm 2 comments

One Reason Why I Talk to My Girls About Sex

They did it in the back seat of a ’57 Chevy. It was her first time. It didn’t take long for them to learn that yes, you can get pregnant your first time. Virginity was not a virtue in the world I grew up in. By the time I was a teenager I knew my parents married because the barrel of a shotgun stared them down. I did the math – my sister was born 9 months after my mom’s 18th birthday and while they told everyone they got married in July, they really eloped in October. By the time I was 16, not only did I know that I was a product of the rhythm method of birth control, I knew that many of my friends were no longer virgins. I heard sex was a lot of fun, but, more than anything, I thought if a guy wanted to have sex with me that I was somehow special, valuable, worthy of love – if only for a moment. Even in the midst of multiple casual relationships, sex still had some sense of making love attached to it. It didn’t take long for me to figure out that sex and love do not always go hand in hand. When we separate sex from love we lose something. We lose some of our humanity. We become like all the other animals on the planet, driven by passions and instinct – responding to physical stimuli without thinking, without feeling, without loving. That’s not what I wanted for my daughters, but neither do I want to ask them to make a promise to NOT do something that statistically they have little chance at succeeding at.

While I may have some anecdotal evidence from a few young people around me, the statistics show that (almost) everyone is doing it before they get married (Relevant Magazine September/October 2011, pg. 65) – even Christians. Yet, I remind myself that statistics are a description of past behavior, not a prediction of the future. While some are speculating about why young Christians aren’t waiting anymore, I’m looking for the reasons why some people ARE waiting – and I talk about it often with my girls because I hope my girls will make better choices than I did. Isn’t that what most parents want?

“If I could just spare her that pain – the pain of feeling dirty and unlovable after having casual sex,” I thought. “If I could just make sure she knows she is special, valuable and worthy of love.” I had no idea whether a purity talk and signing a purity pledge would do the trick and protect her from the pain I had experienced or help her feel special, but I hoped it would make some kind of difference. I searched the local Christian bookstores and looked online and finally found a program called Passport2Purity. I invited my daughter’s best friend and her mom to do a Passport2Purity weekend together, hoping our daughters might be a little more receptive to our instruction if we had someone else to back us up.

Glue, construction paper, puzzles, balloons, … We gathered the supplies listed in the parent manual and embarked on my first purity talk weekend getaway. The Passport2Purity curriculum is good, though I’m using The Purity Code Book and CD now – it’s a little more up to date. But the curriculum is not the most important thing. The most important thing is continuing the conversation and making things that are often un-discussable between parents and children discussable. While sex and intimacy are private matters meant to be special moments between two people, keeping things secret and hidden promotes a sense of shame and fear. Using a curriculum helped me organize my thinking and talking as well as touched on subjects I may not have thought to talk about. I have been exposed to a variety of views on purity and sexuality – from the free love and sex mentality of growing up in Woodstock, NY to the conservative Christian view of “kissing dating goodbye” and waiting until marriage to even kiss. I wasn’t exactly sure where I would land on the spectrum with my girls, but I was pretty sure it wouldn’t be on the same end of the spectrum I came from.

March 20, 2012 at 1:56 pm 9 comments

The Road to Intimacy – Part 4

Faith leads us to intimacy with God.

God has made a way for all of us to know Him through Jesus Christ. He has revealed Himslef to us through Jesus and has shown us the way to intimacy with Him. God desires intimacy with all who will believe and put their faith or trust in Him.

“Loneliness is the most terrible poverty” – Mother Teresa

You can know God by faith.

“Trust in the LORD forever,
For in GOD the LORD, we have an everlasting Rock.” – Isaiah 26:4 (NASB)

“…these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” – John 20:31 (NASB)

Faith is believing what you cannot see.

“Seek the LORD while He may be found;
Call upon Him while He is near.
Let the wicked forsake his way
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
And let him return to the LORD,
And He will have compassion on him,
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon.” – Isaiah 55:6-7 (NASB)

“For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once…” – 1 Corinthians 15:3-6a (NKJV)

Prayer is an expression of faith.

Talking to God is sometimes called prayer. When we talk to God we demonstrate our faith or trust in Him. You can talk to God intimately any time you want.

April 5, 2007 at 4:59 pm

The Road to Intimacy – Part 3

God provides the way to intimacy.

God desires to walk with us in intimacy. Our sin keeps us from walking with Him in unashamed intimacy. in is an offense to God and when we offend someone we need to make restitution and seek forgiveness. Our disobedience to or disbelief of the revelation of God has caused separation from God. Through Jesus, God has made restitution for our sin. God has made a way for our sin to be forgiven and forgotten.

“The more we know, the better we forgive. Who’er feels deeply, feels for all that live.” Mme. de Staël

Forgiveness brings us close to God.

“Blessed is he
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the man
whose sin the LORD does not count against him
and in whose spirit is no deceit.

When I kept silent,
my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.

For day and night
your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was sapped
as in the heat of summer.
Selah

Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
my transgressions to the LORD “—
and you forgave
the guilt of my sin.” – Psalm 32:1-5 (NIV)

“…the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:7b-9 (NASB)

Jesus is the way to intimacy with God.

“They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the LORD, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” Jeremiah 31:34 (NASB)

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.'” John 14:6-7

In sending Jesus Christ to die on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin, God has provided the way to regain lost intimacy with Him – through Jesus Christ.

Stay tuned for Part 4.

April 2, 2007 at 4:49 pm

The Road to Intimacy – Part 2

Sin separates us from intimacy with God.

In the beginning, perfect intimacy existed between God and man, between God and woman, and between man and woman. That intimacy was broken by sin. Adam and Eve doubted God’s care for them and chose to trust the word of another over the word of God. Trust is essential to sustain intimacy. When they began to doubt God, their intimacy with God was broken. Ever since then we have all been separated from intimacy with God by our sin.

“Doubts and mistrust are the mere panic of timid imagination, which the steadfast heart will conquer and the large mind transcend.” – Helen Keller

Sin is disobedience to or disbelief of the revelation of God.

“All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:6 (NKJV)

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 (NIV)

God wants to forgive our sin.

“The Lord longs to be gracious to you, and He waits on high to have compassion on you.” Isaiah 30:18 (NASB)

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23
(Death here refers not only to physical death, but a spiritual death and eternal separation from intimacy with God.)

Stay tuned for Part 3…

March 31, 2007 at 3:51 pm 3 comments

The Road to Intimacy – Part 1

I am including the contents of a women’s devotional I put together a few years ago. I am revisiting it in response to Scot McKnight’s teaching on “mistakes missional gospel folks need to avoid.”

Please comment and let me know which mistakes I may not have avoided well in this piece. I will include the whole text over the next few days.

The Road to Intimacy – Part 1

This life is like a Journey,
but I do not know the end.
Where will this road lead to?
Will I travel with a friend?

The road to intimacy is an oft traveled one. We meander down that familiar route hoping to find the desire of our soul, but too frequently we are disappointed. Companions promise to travel with us and satisfy the longing in our heart, but many turn instead and go another way. There is one companion, however, who not only desires to waslk this road with us, but who will never leave us.

God desires intimacy with us.

God created us to know Him and to walk with Him in this journey of life. God walked with the first mand and woman in the beginning of creation. Adam and Eve were intimate with God and with each other. Completely comfortable in each other’s presence, they walked naked and unashamed. God created us for intimacy and He wants to fulfill our need.

“Oh the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person; having neither to weigh thoughts nor to measure words but to pour them all out, just as it is, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keeping what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness, blow the rest away.” – George Eliot, a female writer in the Victorian Era.

God wants us to know Him and live with Him forever.

“Be still and know that I am God.” – Psalm 46:10 (NIV)

“And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” John 17:3 (NKJV)

God has always loved us.

“Yes, I haved loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.” Jeremiah 31:3 (NKJV)

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (NKJV)

Coming soon – The Road to Intimacy – Part 2

March 30, 2007 at 4:36 pm 3 comments


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