Friday, May 17, 2013

Choosing Relationships Over Being Right

I don't know about you, but I love the feeling of superiority that comes with being right. The "I'm better than you because I know more" high. The feeling of being worthy.

And because of that, I can focus too much on dichotomies: picking a side and debating it, even if it really doesn't matter.

I've had to work very hard at not being obnoxiously dogmatic when stating my opinion. I'm a naturally passionate person, and when you combine that with the black-and-white thinking I was raised with, you get some serious arrogance.

Time has mellowed me. I've learned that not everything is black and white. I've learned that issues often have many, many more than two sides. And I've changed my mind about a lot of things.

For instance, I've embraced panentheism. I support gay rights. I am politically pro-choice while remaining personally pro-life. I believe women can be pastors. I believe in an egalitarian view of marriage. I am leaning toward a universalist view of salvation. I practice gentle, grace-based discipline. I believe in theistic evolution. Any of which could get me labelled a heretic at my current church. Or a liberal. (They're the same, you know.)

So, why do I attend a church that on the surface is so at odds with my personal views?

I value people and relationships over being right.

The people at my church love me. They care about me as an individual much more than my stance on issues. And I love and respect them enough to let them believe and live their convictions without trying to change them.

When someone is saying something incredibly narrow-minded (like, "A real Christian can't believe in evolution."), yes, I will speak up. I say something like, "Just because someone has read the Bible and come to a different conclusion than you doesn't make them any less Christian. If they love God and love the Bible, they are your brother or sister in Christ, even if you differ in your beliefs in this area."

I most certainly have confronted those who I believe are damaging in their dogmatism, but not to prove I am right. Frankly, I'm not certain I am right about anything, anymore! I just point out that there are people and feelings involved, and denigrating someone else's convictions because they differ from your own (whether based on your interpretation of the Bible or simply personal opinion) is inappropriate, at best. At the very least, that attitude of "I'm right and they're wrong" is not humble; it's not exemplifying the spirit of being wise as serpents and harmless as doves.

Because life is not about being right. It's about how you relate to others - whether you agree with them, or not.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

You're Beautiful...Just the Way You Are!

You're beautiful. Did you know that? Has anyone ever told you?

You are. I believe everyone is beautiful in their own way. What's absolutely contemptible is that at some point in your life, someone tried to hide or change the thing that is most beautiful about you.

I see it in my childhood. I talked too much and too loudly, I moved my hands too much when I talked, my voice was too sing-songy, too high-pitched. (I decided the last two on my own after hearing recordings of myself.) I was fat (really, I wasn't; I have a rounder body type, but my weight was in the normal range). I was ugly - that random kid at camp told me so when I was 8 years old.

I learned those lessons well. It wasn't until I was in high school, suffering with constant sore throats that I decided to pitch my voice higher. I sing in the soprano range, but I was speaking consistently near A below middle C. No wonder my throat was sore!

I spoke in a near-monotone unless I was reading; then I was super-expressive. Teachers loved having me read aloud. My kids still love hearing me read because I give each character its own voice - like radio theater! It's a lot of fun for me, too. But it wasn't until recently that I allowed myself to be expressive in my daily speech. In fact, when I first began speaking with my (natural) lilt, my oldest son thought I was making fun of him!

I did struggle with weight in 6th grade, but I'd lost 20 lbs. by 8th grade. I steadily gained weight throughout high school, but I was still within normal limits and wore a size 8. I now am a size 12, which isn't bad for a mom to 5 with no time for any kind of regular exercise. I am truly content with the shape my body is in at this stage of my life.

I did internalize the ugly comment. I wore glasses, and I felt plain. I look back now at pictures from my childhood, and gosh, I was so stinkin' CUTE! I mean, truly adorable.

I have had to work at feeling beautiful. I took negative comments and false beliefs and let them define me. Perhaps you've done the same?

No more! I am living the truth of who God made me to be. I am effervescent. I am gregarious. I am fun. I am a superb storyteller. And you know what? I'm pretty darn cute, with my purple glasses, trendy haircut, and warm, welcoming grin that invites others to come laugh with me!

I am beautiful.

What I want is for you to revel in the truth of who God made you to be, too. You may have been told you are too this or too that. You need to "tone it down" or "lighten up." NO! God made you perfectly you; to water down your personality  because someone else said to do so is a complete travesty.

I don't know if you're into affirmations, but if you are, I want you to write affirmations for those areas you were told to change and say them for a week. See if you notice a difference! Immerse yourself in the truth of who you were meant to be. Stop letting others' opinions define the choices you make in how you live your life.

Because you? You are beautiful. Just the way you are!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Finding My Voice

I apologize for the hiatus from blogging. (I'm sure you were waiting with bated breath for my next post, weren't you? No? OK, then.)

Frankly, I think I set myself up for failure with my grandiose idea of blogging about "finding God in my life and parenting."

Because God is omnipresent, so I don't have to really find the Almighty, y'know?

Because I am a random person and the thought of having to make my posts fit into specific parameters is kinda soul-sucking. (And boring. Which makes me rather unenthusiastic about writing.)

Because my life is crazy and fun and messy and sometimes hair-pullingly frustrating and trying to make it into something serious and/or inspirational is not working for me.

And finally, because I am still trying to find my voice. I still (in my mid-thirties) am discovering who I am. Maybe you can relate?

See, I grew up in Fundamentalist Christianity. I had no voice. As a child, I was ruled by adults who mostly loved me, but believed they were my "God-given authority" to dictate who I was to be.

I went to a Fundamentalist university, where (again) I was under the authority of "God-given leadership" who dictated how I dressed, where I went, and what I did.

I married and attended Fundamentalist churches. I was under the authority of my husband, and gracious, loving submission (code for subservience) was the litmus test of how good a wife I was.

Perhaps (un)surprisingly, I carry some baggage from that. I find it extremely difficult to speak up appropriately. I sound as if I'm making a suggestion, or else I come across as rude and demanding. Finding my voice will require the practice of actually using it.

Also, my writing style wasn't true to me. I was taught very well how to write in a semi-formal style, so others would take me and my words seriously. There is nothing wrong with writing that way, but this is a blog, for cryin' out loud.

My blog.

My words.

My voice.

I have gone from being voiceless to trying to imitate others' voices. I've learned I'm no prophetic Sarah Bessey, nor warrior-poet Preston Yancey, nor exhorter Rachel Held Evans, nor truth-proclaimer Elizabeth Esther.

I'm me. My purpose, my voice, my calling is different.

I empathize. I encourage.

I scatter sunshine like fairy dust to life's dark corners. I breathe hope into the gloomy dungeons of desolation. I buttress wavering faith and weave gold threads into the damaged tapestries of relationship.

How that works as a blog? I have no clue. None.

But that's ok. I promise -to you, my readers and to myself- that I will use my voice, follow my calling from now on.

I hope you enjoy reading the real me.


Korrine Britton