What’s a Modest Girl to Do on Halloween?

Maybe I shouldn’t be shocked but for some strange reason I am. I took my children into the big pumpkin costume place that sets up camp near our local mall weeks before Halloween. I’ve been in there before and maybe it was the same then and I just didn’t notice. But I don’t think so. I believe women’s and girl’s costumes have digressed to a level that goes beyond sexy, beyond “pushing the edge of the envelope”, beyond perverted to completely disturbing. I stood there in the women’s costume area scanning the costumes looking for one that didn’t look like a costume that would be used in an adult film. There was the nurse, the librarian, the cop, the witch and the french maid all so short there is not a conceivable way you could sit down without revealing whatever you have on underneath or the lack there of. I made my way to the girl’s area and was horrified to find that even the youngest girls costumes have been amped up to a level of sex appeal that has formerly been reserved for adults. The young girls costumes were belly dancers, mermaids, starlets, cheerleaders, kittens and superheroes that were mostly obscene and inappropriate for young girls. Is this ok? Is this just the world we live and we are to just accept it? Have you ever thought about the connection between the decreasing sense of modesty, the rise in sexually explicit images and the depiction of young girls and women in videos, commercials and print ads to the increase in the multi-billion dollar industry of child pornography? A quick search of the internet reveals some sobering statistics: In 2005, child pornography became a $3 billion a year industry (Top Ten Reviews). In a recent study of those charged with possession of child pornography, 40 percent had also sexually victimized children. Of those arrested between 2000 and 2001, 83 percent possessed images of children between the ages 6 and 12; 39 percent had images of children between the ages 3 and 5; and 19 percent had images of infants and toddlers under the age of 3 (National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, Child Pornography Possessors Arrested in Internet-Related Crimes: Findings for the National Juvenile Online Victimization Study 2005). Maybe, just maybe if women and young girls chose to dress more modestly then women might begin to be less exploited and degraded in the media. It’s time to change the perception of women and to stop accepting that “sex sells” as simply the world we live in. I don’t buy it, maybe it’s time you don’t either.

Mean Girls

The popularity of shows like “Real Housewives”, “Teen Mom” and the 2004 movie “Mean Girls” draws attention to the increasing division and animosity among women. In these shows young women are made to think that gossip is a normal part of relationships between girls. They also are taught to believe that they must compete for a boy’s attention and that they will be happier if they have a boyfriend. All of these “reality” situations seen on TV are creating distrust and disloyalty in women’s so-called friendships. Unity among females is clearly under attack and it is very purposeful. As women we have a bullseye on our backs because according to God’s word there is a very real enemy who knows there is power in the unity of women. When women join together and encourage one another and stand by each other it strikes fear in the enemy. He knows the impact we can have on each other when  we display the very characteristics of the One in who’s image we were created. But instead of standing in unity women are constantly comparing themselves to other women. And due to the lack of reality on “reality TV” and a lack of truth in the media, women believe they don’t measure up to other women which in turn fuels isolation and division. The problem with the comparisons are that they are not apples to apples. Women today are comparing themselves to something false, staged or edited to a point that it’s impossible for them to measure up. The images and portrayals of women in music videos and print advertising further add to the isolation and lack of authentic relationships among women. Women need real friendships. They need other women who they can trust and rely on in their times of need. They need good friends that they can share their goals with, tell their struggles to and who can let them know they are not alone in their doubts and worries. They need girlfriends to laugh with, to cry with and to share life’s moments with. Women are not your enemy. Men are not your enemy. The media is not your enemy. They are all just tools used by the one true enemy of your soul who longs to keep you in isolation so you will be less likely to have a relationship with the One True God and to keep you from authentic friendships with ladies who can encourage you, pray with you and walk with you during times of struggle. Isn’t it time you turn off the TV and find some real friends you can do life with?

Time Heals All Pain

Time heals all pain, or does it? I am the primary caretaker for my 99-year-old grandmother. Each morning about this time I get up and set the necessary things out in the bathroom for her and then knock on her door to wake her up. Most mornings she’s already awake and responds with a chipper “come in”.  For her age she is in remarkably good health. She is on one medication, she reads the entire newspaper daily and she loves to watch Dancing With the Stars. Of course she is slow in her movement, especially in the morning when I help her out of bed but she walks without assistance. Her body isn’t what it used to be but she has very few limitations considering her age. But ironically it’s her emotional limitations that are most paralyzing in her life. She is gripped by fear – fear of death, fear of falling, fear of someone breaking in the house, fear of not having enough money to pay the extremely minimal bills she has, fear of being alone, and fear of not being in control. I remember earlier in her life she had a fear of flying which prevented her from traveling anywhere beyond a reasonal driving distance. Her fear of driving in snow kept her homebound whenever there was even a minimal snowfall in our town. Her fear of water kept her from enjoying time on the lake with family. And her fear of germs created extra work for her as she felt the need to sterilize everything before it was used. But back then her fears were more of a hassle than a handicap. My theory has always been that over time things would get better – that at 99-years-old and having never had to experience any extreme illnesses or tragedy in her life that she would be living carefree with not a worry in the world other than the obvious physical concerns. I thought she would feel free to not worry about the things in life that caused her such concern when she was younger. Based on her life experiences I assumed she would find enjoyment in her twilight years with a peace of mind that she has lived a fulfilling life, is blessed with family who loves her dearly and with the comfort of knowing all her financial needs are securely met.  But what I have found in not only my grandmother but others, is that over time the things in our lives that go unchecked, unhealed, and unanswered only get worse. The roots begin to go deeper in our souls and take hold of our lives with a grip so tight we become bound by whatever it is that has us held prisoner. For some it’s unforgiveness toward someone who has hurt them, for others it is insecurity and fear of failure, for others it’s the fear of rejection rooted in someone they thought loved them and would always be there for them leaving them unexpectedly. For many it’s a sense of shame and guilt associated with something they did that consumes their thoughts and affects their relationships and behaviors years later. We falsely believe that over time we will feel better – that the hurt won’t hurt so bad, that the guilt will diminish and that the anger will subside – but it doesn’t. We become a prisoner to our past. There is only one option that will bring the true freedom we seek. Only One who can set us free from the things that keep us bound from living life instead of just trying to make it through it. His name is Jesus and He died for your freedom, He died for the forgiveness of the sins that hold you captive and for the unforgiveness toward others that keeps you bound. It’s time to cut whatever it is off at the root before it goes any deeper. It’s time to surrender it to God and let Him begin healing those deep-rooted wounds and hurts in you. It’s time to heal all pain.

Wounded Warriors

I grew up and still live in a military town. I served in the US Navy. I respect and appreciate those who serve and their families who make incredible sacrifices for our freedom. My heart aches for those who return from war wounded. Many times the wounds are very obvious. Other times the wounds are not so apparent when you look at the soldier and their family. It’s the wounds we don’t see that cause the most damage. I’ve seen marriages and families in crises because of the unseen wounds of war. And in many of those cases the wounded turn to indulgence and excess to provide healing for their invisible pain. That type of healing is temporary and eventually the wounds reach a point of irreparable damage. The same holds true for wounds we received as children. Many of the hurts we endured during childhood create wounds that as adults we attempt to heal on our own with a myriad of remedies. We seek out various indulgences like food, shopping, alcohol, excessive exercising, or busyness to bring us relief from the aches of our wounds. These addictions bring temporary reprive from the pain but they also imprison us. The shame behind our addictions cause us to build walls. But the trouble with building walls around yourself against the harshness of reality is that the same walls that secure your life against being destroyed secures your life also against being opened up and transformed. There is only one way to bring complete healing to hurts and wounds of this life and that is the love of Jesus Christ. Allow Him to bring healing to the deepest aches of your heart. Having to live with the pain for the rest of your life is not your only option.