Saturday, December 8, 2018

Baby It's Cold Outside

To say I’ve noticed a lot of heat over what has become a classic Christmas song … Baby It’s Cold Outside … is an understatement. For whatever reason while doing dishes this morning I was inspired to share my thoughts. It’s only one perspective; on second thought it’s really two because I’m both a wife and a mother. I’m also a Christian, so keep in mind that’s going to temper my view.

Let’s face it … this song is an easy to sing romp through a clever duet exchanged between a man and a woman. Toasty when the temperature drops and the sky darkens by 5. But I’ll also admit that in all honesty it has always been a little bit creepy. Maybe even a lot.

All the same, it is also much like an exchange between a weary mother and her amorous husband … I’m trying to be a little more bold and brave with my writing, so consider yourself warned...

I’m often a touched-out lukewarm clutter of uncooperative hormones. And absolutely no means no even in marriage… but if my first sigh of exhaustion meant Tim and I never consummated our marriage after having children … baby, it’d be cold inside too.

“Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” - 1 Corinthians 7:5 NASB

He sweetly brushes aside my myriad excuses, and I’m thankful he does. He’s never talked me into something I regret. Isn’t the flirting and half-hearted protest part of the (yep, I’m going to say it) foreplay? Were we more musically gifted, our evenings often might going something like this:

This evening has been (Been hoping for time alone)
A trial of patience again (I’ll help you relax, just let me begin)
What if a child awakes? (See this door? That’s all it takes)
I’ve not slept so well you see (In the morning leave the kiddos to me)
I want to but I’m just so tired (Have I told you, you’re beautiful tired)

Many nights my heart is willing, my husband is handsome and romantic, but it takes my exhausted body a while to switch gears. Playful banter and furtive glances over our children's heads help move me from reluctancy to enthusiasm.

So, within our marriage I appreciate my husband’s gentle persistence. In our relationship such banter and pursuit is safe and welcome. From my Christian perspective, within a marriage is the only place for this. I don't mean that as a judgement towards someone who has not accepted Christ. But as a Christian I believe relationships work best and are safest when we respect the boundaries God has given us because He loves us. It is a safe place for us to play.

On the other hand, especially as a mother, I understand the “#metoo” perspective. I have been out in the dating world, and there are too many men who are detestable in what they think they are “owed” when they take a woman on a date. Excuses are not playful invitations for you to persist and pour the wine, they are something to be respected as polite, gentle no. In an unsafe, uncommitted relationship this “gentleman” is not behaving as one.

As a mother, I would want my daughters to have the confidence and self-respect to stand up to this guy and bust out the rude and unmistakable no. Whatever her reasons, he needs to accept them or be ready to become the recipient of some violence! I would hope our son would be a true gentleman. Of course, I also hope he grows up to be a Christian young man and doesn’t take a young woman home with such intentions in the first place ... I pray this for him.

Don’t get me started on this guy's pride. Your pride shouldn’t be tied to whether or not she stays the night. I would be so much more proud of my son if he realized he was going to far, pushing too much, and politely made sure she made it home safe. He should also respect her parents enough to care that they are worried about their daughter. If you are meant to be in a relationship together it is going to work out. Your polite patience and mutual respect will pay off with interest.

The song is controversial because it is uncomfortable. I can only imagine that was the intention. I’ll probably continue to listen to it and even find myself absentmindedly humming it. At this point in my life, it’s always been around at Christmas … and the subtly coy lyrics can provide innocent (or not so innocent) playful banter for my husband and I.

The scene in Elf where Jovie is singing in the shower and Buddy innocently, naively joins in to me epitomizes this song. It’s uncomfortable and wrong and innocent all at once. It really just depends on how you look at it. But for me, I guess I’m still ok being a little bit uncomfortable. And as the kids get older the lyrics offer an opportunity to talk about relationships and respect. I'm not kicking it out of my playlist but I wouldn't dream of insisting someone listen to it when it is making their skin crawl.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Used Furniture

Youth camp can impact you for a large portion of your life. It can change your life.

A handful of well-intentioned words of warning at a youth camp in my teens have left me with a wound that has festered for most of my adult life.

My pain has not been wasted. The thorn left under my skin, rubbing me the wrong way, swelling with inflammation when I dared to forget it existed, humbling me lest I become proud, bringing me back to my knees asking for Jesus’ lavish mercy to cleanse me and comfort me … it has helped me see the pain in others. Helped me try to remember to temper my words with grace, His grace. His bountiful, unending, matchless grace that can cover a multitude … nay … every sin.

But this morning in His immeasurable, complete, and compassionate mercy a seed God had planted long before bloomed into healing beauty before my eyes. I don’t think I have ever felt more clearly that He loves me. He sees me. He hears my prayers. He knows my pain. He cares that I have suffered.

God can redeem anything. ANYTHING. Nothing is beyond His influence. He who hardens the hearts of pagan world leaders (Exodus 7:13), brings the dead to life (John 11:43) … I can trust that same God to recover a careless, scare-tactic attempt at behavior modification by fear meant for teens.

I don’t remember exactly what year it was, but I know I was 15 or older. I remember the room at the camp where the preaching took place with icy, crystalline clarity. It’s hard to forget where you were when hopelessness crushed your spirit.

“You’re like used furniture - without value, worthless. Nobody wants to buy used furniture.”

How the enemy has belittled me with those words time and time and time again. Like an ugly, scratched and outdated credenza or the faded, stained couch on the side of the highway that probably smells like vomit. Broken, unwanted, distasteful.

In my shame I didn’t tell anyone. To their credit there were friends and family around me who would have wept alongside me and reminded me of the truth … that I am a child of THE KING. That He is Go’alenu me’olam, Our Redeemer from of old … nothing is a surprise to Him; there is nothing He can’t repurpose for His purpose.

Today in Sunday School (yes we still call it that) we’ve been slowly going through the War Room Bible study, and there, at the bottom of page 51, was the seed God planted for me. An excerpt from “A Touch of His Freedom” by Dr. Charles Stanley:

“…Christian transformation, like RESTORING OLD FURNITURE, is a two-stage process. First, one must take off the old. Then you have a clean slate to put on the new.”

In the hands of the Master (y’all, JESUS WAS A CARPENTER), old, used furniture can be made into something valuable and beautiful. A one-of-a-kind creation full of character that brings usefulness, joy, pleasure to the family it was meant for.

We are never too far gone. Though consequences may be far reaching, there is NOTHING that is beyond His reach. Never let anyone tell you differently. Jesus didn’t die just to save us, He died to REDEEM us. To buy us back from Satan, full price. You are valuable to Him.

Furniture restoration photos courtesy of Eclectic Home Boutique in Houston, Texas