i read banned books.

banned books week.jpg

I follow a lot of bookstagrammers and have been reminded several times this week that it’s Banned Books Week.

As I looked over the list of banned classics and the lists of the top ten books banned every year since ’01, I realized that I’ve read a lot of them.  And I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

For instance, The Bible was banned for “religious content.”  To Kill a Mockingbird was banned for “racial slurs and profanity.”  Lord of the Rings (and other Tolkien novels) were banned as “satanic.”  The Grapes of Wrath was banned for “sexual content and profanity.” (Find all these reasons and more here.)

I didn’t write a blog post about Banned Books Week last year, but I thought about it.  And now, since I’ve read so many more classics (seriously, this American Lit course is kind of ridiculous), I have many more thoughts about it.

(Hence the blog post.)

One of the things I’ve thought about books is that while there are valid reasons to ban books from libraries – especially school libraries – it’s ultimately just up to the reader. There’s nothing stopping a reader from simply going to the bookstore or getting a book online that wasn’t available at their library.  Of course, it’s less likely they’ll spend money on it rather than just find a library that has it, but there’s very little point to keeping a book out of a high school library.  (Elementary and middle schools are a completely different story, however.)

However, the main reason is that people shouldn’t tell other people what not to read.  I understand parents not allowing their children to read something, but you can’t just mass-ban something just because you don’t agree with it.

Many of these books were banned for good reason, and I understand putting warning stickers on them or something (like the “Explicit” stickers on albums)… but banning them?  What about all the good in them?

To Kill a Mockingbird isn’t just racial surs – it’s about friendship and family and – HELLO – the opposite of racism.

Lord of the Rings isn’t just – well, first of all, it isn’t even satanic, okay?  And it’s about love and friendship and courage and defying the odds and it’s just all-around amazing.

The Hunger Games is about standing up for what’s right and fighting for what you believe in.

Harry Potter is about tenacity and friendship and John 15:13 love and courage and perseverance.  (And that doesn’t even scratch the surface – read my posts about it here and here.)

Some of my favorite books of all time have language and/or inappropriate scenes in them. I recommend Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell to lots of friends because I connected so much to it, as I do with The Little Women Letters by Gabrielle Donnelly.  Both have language (although the former has significantly more than the latter), but I still recommend them. Why?  Because they’re good.

Bottom line, books shouldn’t be banned.  Decide what you want to read for yourself.  If you don’t like language, don’t read something that has language – simple as that.  I’ve “ClearPlay’d” books before for friends (and for myself) and while I kind of dislike it because you’re defacing a book (!!!!!!), it does get rid of the language.

Have you ever read a *gasp* banned book?  If so, which one?  Do you think they should be banned?

why are feelings: current thoughts on love n’ stuff.

I feel like Katie Gregoire whenever I give advice about relationships or talk about relationships because I’m “the relationship guru who’s never been in a relationship.”

What can you do, though, when you’re a girl stuck in a culture where girls initiating anything is “forward” and “flirty,” coffee dates mean proposals, and “I want to get to know your daughter” means “I want your daughter”?

(Just kidding.)  (But not really.)

I was talking to a friend a few months ago about how she’s developing feelings for a guy, even though she’s just in her early teens.  “Why?!” she asked me.  “I’m not ready to be married or date, so why do I like this guy?”

“Because feelings and hormones are stupid,” I told her.  (And that’s the truth.)

We went on to talk about why God might’ve brought the guy into her life or brought the feelings on.  I explained that – although I’m no expert – I thought that God gives us feelings like that to teach us lessons, primarily self-control and patience.

“It’s not our feelings that are the problem,” I told her, “but rather what we do with those feelings that could potentially be a problem.  It’s a waste of time to develop feelings for every other guy you come across – but sometimes it just happens.  You’ve just gotta stay sane and remember that you probably won’t marry any of those guys, so it’s not worthwhile to spend time dreaming about them.  Just give it to God.  Surrender is a daily thing.”  (etc etc)

Like I said before, I’ve never been in a relationship.  But I sure know people who have.

My friend Katelyn and I were talking the other day about how, although we’ve never been in relationships and it feels like we’ll be perpetually single, we’ve been able to observe others.  Their mistakes, their amazingly wonderful choices – all of it.

“We’re Watchers,” she told me.  “We watch the couples around us and learn what works and what doesn’t.  By the time our turn comes around, we’ll be experts.”

I completely agreed, although I doubt I’ll ever be an expert (at anything amiright).  Better to watch and learn than keep your head in the clouds romanticizing about what’ll happen.

I’ve been so content about my relationship status for the last year or so.  No ridiculous pining, no dreaming about my “someday,” blah blah blah.  I’m very content with there being no prospects in my life, no guys even on my horizon.

But the other day, I was watching Friends and a cute Monica/Chandler thing happened and I just started bawling – first because I was happy for them, then because I wanted it so bad. Blame it on stress from school, staying up too late studying, whatever, but when it all came down to it, it was just just a yearning for a relationship like theirs.  (Because Mondler is about as #goals as you can get.)

I had to have a good shower cry and go before God, saying, “Um, I know I’ve been asking for contentment and You’ve given it to me and I haven’t forgotten that, but I’d like to remind You that I do want it.  I want a relationship.  I want a boyfriend.  I want a husband – eventually.  Not tomorrow, not even next month or next year, but I just want it. Sometime.”

So, despite all the above and all the things I’ve learned through observation and the stupid mistakes I’ve made relating to guys… I’m still learning.  I’ve still got those days where I’d just like a boyfriend, if only to get free guy-hugs whenever I want them or to steal his hoodie.  (Well, that and to know that I’m actually likeable.  Because sometimes I feel like the Hulk – like I can crush but I cannot be crushed [on].)

But I’ve made it this far, and I’m holding out hope that it’ll happen someday.

bad boyz.

(whenever i think of bad boys, i think of this video.  CLASSIC STUDIO C!)

My sister and I have recently gotten into Gilmore Girls.  Mild obsession there, totally justified because it’s just SO. GOOD.  The dialogue is witty and quick, there isn’t a flimsy, undeveloped character in sight, and the story is amazing.  Not to mention the ships.  *clutches heart*  Luke&Lorelai forevahhhh.

If you aren’t familiar with it, the story follows Lorelai Gilmore and her daughter Rory and the ups and downs that go with growing up in a small town and trying to make their way in the world.  With that comes a series of boyfriends for both women, starting with Max for Lorelai and Dean my precious, angry ray of sunshine for Rory.  Everything goes fine for Dean and Rory – they love each other, they’re adorable, they help each other…

Then Jess Mariano comes in town.

jess1

He’s super smart and loves to read, but hates going to school.  In the first episode he’s in, he steals Rory’s book, writes notes in the margins, and gives it back.  He’s dashingly handsome and knows it, rebellious, hates living in Stars Hollow, and basically wants to be anywhere else but where he is – and grouchily lets everybody know it.

My sister – and the entire female population of the show’s viewers, apparently – immediately fell in love.  Understandably, too.  He’s had a super hard life, a rough childhood, and nobody seems to see past his “bad boy” facade and try to figure out who he really is underneath that.  (And my sister didn’t fall in love with him because he was hot, although it was a contributing factor.  She loved him because nobody else seemed to, because she wanted to see him succeed, and because she thought he had potential.  Completely understandable.)

I, on the other hand, didn’t like him.  I liked Dean.  Dean was precious and sweet and may have had some anger problems and was a little controlling, but there was so much LOVE between him and Rory!

If you’ve seen the show, you know what happens.  (And if you haven’t, here be spoilers.)  For some reason, Rory becomes infatuated with this kid.  Dean notices and gets ticked.  Rory tries to keep their relationship going, but she’s too distracted by the new kid.  Eventually, Dean gives up and breaks up with Rory, culminating in one of the most intense throw-downs of all TV history, second only to their massive fight at the end of the third season.  Rory and Jess immediately get together.  Because he doesn’t know how to communicate, they work together, but not as well as they could have.

jess and rory.jpg

To be completely honest, I still don’t really like Jess.  (WHY DOES HE HAVE TO BE SO CUTE, THOUGH?!)  I want him to be redeemed, but I can’t stand how rude he is to Rory.  My sister and I are at the end of the third season, and while I still don’t love him, he’s grown on me a little.  But STILL.  He’s gruff, rude, selfish, and does a lot of irresponsible things to get Rory’s attention.  My sister and I have had a lot of conversations about him and other bad boys.

There are so many of these “bad boy” characters on the screen today.  Shawn Hunter from Boy Meets World, Dean Winchester from Supernatural*, Moriarty from Sherlock, Jack Harkness from Doctor Who*, Jayne Cobb (and, to an extent, Malcolm Reynolds) from Firefly, Han Solo and Kylo Ren from the Star Wars franchise, Loki from the Marvel movies, half the guys from The Outsiders, and Draco Malfoy from Harry Potter.  (Starred are characters/shows that I’m aware of and know enough about, but don’t watch.  Just fyi.)

These bad boy characters are suave, always have problems with authority, have a devil-may-care attitude about everything, are kind of cocky or disrespectful, usually don’t treat ladies well, get into fights easily, are played by super hot actors, and typically wear leather.  (Does Draco wear leather?  I need to look into this.)

Girls typically swoon over them faster than the “good guys” on the show, or – like me – find themselves inexplicably drawn to this character, regardless of their initial hatred.  I’ve become deeply interested with the bad boy characters because they’re so interesting.  A few of my favorites are Shawn, Mal, and the boys from The Outsiders.  (If you’ve never liked a bad boy character, congratulations.  You’re a special snowflake.)

shawn hunter

So why are bad boys so entrancing?  All of the above characteristics should be immediate turn-offs… shouldn’t they?  Why do girls fall in love with them so quickly?

Well, let’s look at Rory’s situation.  Jess was mysterious.  He had a troubled past.  (They all do, don’t they…)  More than that, he needed her help.  At least, she thought he did.

My theory is that Rory and other female heroines who fall in love with these types of guys have some kind of Superman complex.  If only they could save this guy, he’d be such a catch!  And sometimes they don’t even go that far – he’s just so hot they can’t help but want to save him, regardless of what he does in return.  They pity him because of his troubled past or because “he’s just misunderstood” or because he’s just so smooth and hot and looks good lounging against a street sign when he should be in school.  A friend also suggested that they promise adventure.

kylo

Most of all, women were born with an innate desire to nurture, and sometimes we pick the worst off.  This leads me to always fall in love with and cheer on the underdog.  Show me a slightly pathetic, deserves-everything-yet-has-nothing character and I’ll keep him for forever.  Neville Longbottom, Shawn Hunter, Johnny Cade – those are the kinds of guys my mothering nature leads me to.  For others, that may mean the bad boy character.  If you can heal or help him, you will.

I personally think that the bad boys often have the most potential.  If they can get out of that bad situation, they’ll stop at nothing to keep themselves from going back.  I’ll take a redeemed bad boy over an unchanging good guy any day.

So what do you think?  Agree?  Disagree?  Do you fall for bad boys or do you prefer good guys?

LIE: you have a terrible existence if you don’t {xyz}.

Friends

A few months ago, a good friend introduced me to the show Friends.  Well, I need to back up.  Back when it was on TV, my parents used to watch it after they put us to bed and I would sneak out of my bed and watch it from the balcony.  They probably knew I was there, but I never got caught.  *sunglasses emoji*  I officially started watching it from Season One, Episode One back in May… and I’m hooked.

I recently had an almost-meltdown when I found out that my library didn’t have the season I was supposed to start next (seriously, what library buys the first six seasons of a TV show but skips over the fourth season?!), which resulted in taking total advantage of the Netflix free trial my mom got while we were at WITAlive and blowing through the episodes as quickly as I can.  (Don’t worry, I haven’t totally thrown away all of my free time – I’m using them as incentives to get my school done and it. is. working.)

As I fell in love with the show and the characters, I wondered why I hadn’t seen it before. Obviously, I wouldn’t recommend it to anybody under, say, eighteen, and I’m glad I didn’t watch it until now because I wouldn’t have appreciated it as much.  (I’m three steps behind all of the characters because I’m just about to graduate college and figure out what to do with my life, while they’re a few years out of college and still don’t have it all together.  It gives me so much hope.)  Still, I was so happy that I was finally able to understand references to one of America’s greatest sitcoms (“WE WERE ON A BREAK!”) and enjoy all of the jokes that the generation before me enjoyed.

I typically like to savor shows and books (which is probably why I still haven’t finished Boy Meets World), but for a while with Friends, I kind of felt like I had to catch up.  It felt like the entire world had seen this show… except me.  I love watching episodes in between intense study sessions and as rewards for submitting papers and reading classic novels that I struggled to get through (classics aren’t my cup of tea, tbh, but I’m trying to develop a taste for them) and even just to destress after a rough day.  However, I think part of my (mild) bingeing of the show had something to with the fact that I felt so behind.  I wasn’t pressured by my friend to watch it after she said, “You haven’t watched it yet?!” – instead, I pressured myself.

I do this a lot, especially with books, shows, music, movies.  Just the other day, I incredulously said to a friend, “Wait, you haven’t. read. Harry. Potter?!” even though I hadn’t read them for myself a year ago.  Oops.

Especially with more popular things, I think people pressure others into doing stuff – almost guilt-tripping them into thinking they’re missing out on something because they haven’t experienced it yet.  “Wait, you haven’t played Pokemon Go?!”  “You stopped watching Downton Abbey?!”  “You didn’t like Fault in Our Stars?!”  “Wait, you’ve never had a pumpkin spice latte?!”  “You haven’t seen all of Sherlock – or read the books?!  AND YOU CALL YOURSELF A FAN?!”  I’ve had all of these things said to me.  And, yes, I’m guilty of all of them.  I haven’t played Pokemon Go, I stopped watching DA in the middle of the third season (for no reason in particular except the fact that it’s a soap opera and I have enough drama in my own life), I don’t love TFIOS, I’ve never had a PSL, I haven’t seen the last season of Sherlock or read all of the stories.

Does that make me a terrible person, though?

Nope.

Listen, just because somebody hasn’t seen or done a popular thing, it doesn’t make them a lesser person.  Not doing something doesn’t invalidate someone’s existence.

We can’t do it all.  So why do we pressure ourselves and others?

Just like I thought I was “behind” because I hadn’t seen Friends or still haven’t seen all of Gilmore Girls (and will probably binge on that with my sisters over the next few months in preparation for Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life) or haven’t been to ComicCon or DragonCon or GeekyCon, other people feel the same way.  We’re pressured by society to experience everything that’s popular, especially music and movies and TV shows and books, but we’re also pressured to get off our rear ends and do something because all of our friends’ Instagram feeds are full of pictures of mountains and iconic places in foreign countries.

Our lives are expected to look like everyone else’s.  In Friends, all of the characters have finished college (except maybe Phoebe), gotten a job, and found an apartment.  That’s what society expects of us twenty-somethings.  And that’s great and all of those things should be desired.  But I’m almost twenty-two and I’m still living at home while finishing my degree.  I know friends in their mid-twenties who are still living at home, too, and are getting higher degrees or don’t have “real” jobs.  And that’s okay.

Just because something is the norm or part of pop culture doesn’t mean it’s automatically a part of everyone’s lives.  And discovering that that thing isn’t a part of someone else’s life doesn’t make them any lesser of a person – and it doesn’t make you any more of a person because it’s part of yours.

My existence isn’t lesser because I’m not seeing the world like some of my friends are, just like some of my friends don’t have a less fulfilled life because they’re not getting a degree like I am.

Do. not. guilt-trip someone just because they’re not interested in what you or a lot of the world is interested in.  If they want to stay at home and lay on the floor and just listen to music, let them do it!  If they want to use the money they earn to travel, let them do it!

Obviously you should compromise with your friends sometimes and obviously you should get out of your comfort zone and do stuff (or sometimes just relax and forego doing stuff). But it’s never okay to make someone feel bad for what they are or aren’t interested in.

More than that, maybe this friend is on to something.  If they’ll let you, lie down on the floor with them.  Ask if you can go on their next road trip with them.  You may be surprised and find yourself interested in the stuff they like to do, too.

So what do you think?  Have you felt pressured to do something by your friends or society, or have you pressured someone else?  Did you end up liking it?  Did they?  Leave a comment and let’s talk!

{This blog post is sponsored in part by my college coursework, which was gracious enough to be easy and let me finish it by ten in the morning – something that hasn’t happened since I was in elementary school.  THANK YOU.}

“to abstain is to not… is to not.” | a rambly post about relationships.

{Partially inspired by this interview of one of my favorite people, Phylicia Masonheimer.}

girl standing in field

because every purity post needs a random picture of a girl with her hands up.

We’ve all heard the purity metaphors – the sticky note, the cake, the sucker…  As I wrote this post at Starbucks I came up with another.  (Bear with me.)

It was nearing lunchtime and I was hungry.  Starbucks doesn’t have any gluten-free options, so I really wanted to drive over to McDonald’s and get myself some fries (because fries are my one weakness – they’re so good but so bad).  However, I know they’re not gluten-free (which I have to have because of thyroid problems), so I know they’ll ruin my stomach.  Plus, I didn’t have any money to spend at the moment because I’m a poor college student, so I decided to wait.  I knew my mom was cooking a big Sunday lunch and that it would be delicious and healthy and fill me up and – best of all – it’s FREE!  (Bottom line: Instead of filling up on junky stuff, I waited for the thing that would truly satisfy me.)

As stupid and imperfect as that analogy is, it works.  (Sort of.)

I’ve been thinking about my convictions a lot recently (as you have probably noticed) and really trying to figure out what they mean to me. I’ve always understood that your parents’ convictions aren’t grandfathered into your own life, just like your parents’ faith isn’t. It has to be your own.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about purity and what it means to me. I shouldn’t blindly hold to what my parents think about purity and abstinence or else I’ll be swayed when a better opinion (or temptation) comes along.  I have to OWN my convictions so I can stand when temptation comes. (See Ephesians 6:10-18. Paul uses the word “stand” three times in the space of twelve words – I think that means something!)

There’s nothing wrong with thinking critically about your convictions, guys. I thought there was when I was in my teens, but then I realized that it’s just a part of growing up. It’s hard and it’s confusing but it’s what proves you’re maturing.  Owning your convictions – really knowing what you believe – is not something to be taken lightly.

Because of how much I’ve examined my convictions, I have some beliefs that my parents don’t have, just like they have some that I’ve let go of. As my siblings and I have gotten older, we’ve ALL – as an entire family – let go of some things that we used to think were mandatory. For instance, I wear shorts outside the house now, as opposed to up to a few years ago, when the girls in my family mostly wore skirts.  And even though we grew up completely sold on courtship, my sister – with my parents’ blessing – recently went out on a few dates with a guy to get to know him.  It didn’t work out, but neither she nor the guy were emotionally damaged or anything, and they both know a little more about what they want and need in a significant other now.  I’d say their experience wasn’t a “failure” at all.

Some of my family’s convictions have changed simply because my siblings and I have gotten older, and some have changed because our opinions have changed.  For instance, in the above paragraph, the shorts thing was a change of opinion, whereas the dating thing was a change in situation.  (The dates my sister went on would’ve looked a little different had they happened when she was sixteen or eighteen.)

Taking a closer look at my convictions has helped me understand the faults in modern dating and modern courtship and know what I want my relationship life to look like.  It’s not going to be perfect – far from it, knowing myself – but I’m learning from what other people who are, or were, in relationships have to show me.  And even though I was homeschooled most of my life and am now finishing my degree at home, I’ve still made some mistakes.  Shocking, right?  (Sarcasm.)

(And, yes, I think there are some faults in the idea of courtship, just like there are in dating.  HERESY, I KNOW.  I can explain my thoughts in another blog post if you guys want to hear them.  I’ve been thinking about it a lot.  Katelyn knows this.)

Rest assured, I haven’t given up on purity because of all of my thinking.  In fact, because of my research, both in the Bible and through mentors, I’ve become more firm in my convictions.  We all know the verses about how “your body is a temple” and how we should “set an example in purity,” but do we – and do I – really live like we know it?  And if we do, what does that look like?

I’m not saying it has to look the same in everybody’s lives.  Over the past few years, I’ve had dozens of conversations with people about what relationships look like to us.  Dating, courting, half-joking arranged marriage – I’ve heard it all.  I’ve talked to girls who have courted/dated several guys with no luck, girls who are nearing (or in) their thirties and don’t have any prospects, and girls who are married at or before twenty.  And I’ve talked to guys who have had good and bad experiences with dating, too, but mostly courtship (which I’m planning on talking about in a future post).

Here’s my main question: Does it matter whether you call it dating or courting?

When it all comes down to it, I really don’t think so.  What matters the most is glorifying God through your relationship.  What that looks like is between God, you, and your significant other.  Nobody else.

Who cares if somebody thinks you should always or never have a chaperone, or if somebody else thinks the parents should or shouldn’t be involved?!  Courtship, dating, whatever you want to call it and however you do it – it’s going to look different for every. single. person. and. every. single. relationship.  If that’s what God wants your relationship to look like, that’s what it should look like.

People are too judgmental sometimes, including myself.  Too often, I give unsolicited advice because I think I know best, even if I really don’t.  Just the other day, I found myself thinking, Well, she shouldn’t think that way because…  And then I just had to stop and tell myself, Who the heckydizzle am I to decide what’s right for her life?!  I’d hate it if she were doing this to me, so why am I doing it to her?!

Well, this post kind of derailed, but that’s what my brain is doing constantly.  Blame it on the stress of college.  Anyway, thoughts?  Agree?  Disagree?  Let me know in the comments.  I love talking with you guys.  🙂

P.S. The title is a quote borrowed from one of my new favorite rom-coms, She’s the Man.

P.P.S. Thanks for all of your help on my last post!  I was able to revise the short story based on your feedback (and other stuff I needed to change), and submitted it yesterday.  I’ll post the final version later when I get my grade!

you, sir, are wrong. {a response to “an open letter to rey”}

you, sir, are wrong.

I made the mistake of reading Nathan Alberson’s article, “An Open Letter to Rey” at Starbucks, around other people.  To say I was livid would be an understatement.  I wanted to punch something.  Thankfully, I read two responses to the article (Mirriam’s and Jennifer’s), and my anger calmed a little.

HOWEVER.  Because I can’t keep my opinions to myself… I’ve decided to write my own response.  Read it or don’t read it, but this is my personal opinion.  If it offends anyone, I’m sorry, but I’m not backing down.

OKAY.

First of all, I completely agree that men and women have different roles, both in society and in God’s eyes.  Usually, the men are the breadwinners and the women are the… oh, I don’t know, helpmeet-stay-at-home moms.  That’s how it was in my homeschool circles, and I thought it was completely right.  (I still kind of do, even though I’ve learned that there are ALWAYS exceptions to the “rule” or stereotype or whatever.)

NEVERTHELESS.  To put men and women in a box like Mr. Alberson did is a travesty and it’s completely and totally wrong.  Like Jennifer said, the lines between masculinity and femininity are rarely black and white.  I know plenty of girls (including myself) who would rather shoot a gun or get their hands dirty than sew anything, just like I know plenty of guys who like to bake and paint and – GASP – dance.

Sure, there are God-ordained roles for men and women to play, but to say that women are the weaker sex and therefore only suitable for the kitchen or taking care of the kids?

UM, HOW ABOUT NO.

The way I see it, men and women are equal.  Because of verses in the Bible that talk about submission, I totally agree that women should submit to their husbands (not all men, though).  But men have to submit to God’s authority, too, or else they’re abusing their God-given right to have authority (but not total authority) over women (which is why so. many. marriages – especially where both husband and wife are Christians – end up in the gutter).  (See Phylicia Masonheimer’s post on why Biblical submission is dangerous.)

Women aren’t meant to be only there for men to save and defer to their much smarter male lead.  Women aren’t meant to be “protection objects” or “damsels in distress.”  Women aren’t put on earth solely to be a man’s wife or have kids.  Women are not less.  A woman’s worth is NOT defined by men.

And if a woman’s worth is wrapped up in what a man thinks about her, she’s got some work to do.

Women are loved by God just as much as men, and designed by Him for specific purposes in mind – yes, for helping their husbands to raise godly children and being keepers at home, but if we’re going to tout the Proverbs 31 woman, we also need to acknowledge that she’s able to earn money and buy things that will further her income and be hospitable to people other than her husband and family.

And another thing.  These three paragraphs were especially incorrect.

Men lie to themselves and women about the sort of women they want. Women are gullible and believe the lie and become the women they think men want. Then men reject them because men never wanted those sorts of women in the first place.

How is this the woman’s fault?  I. Don’t. Understand.  Women shouldn’t change themselves for a man (because men aren’t worth it) and men shouldn’t reject women because they’re not “their type.”

And men do reject them. Look at the divorce statistics, look at the TV shows and books and articles by women desperately wondering why it’s so hard to hold on to a man. That’s a bigger problem than the purview of this letter, but you fictional female warriors are part of it.

Men rejecting women because there’s more to a woman than the pleasures of her body or her willingness to submit to his whims is wrong – and it certainly isn’t the woman’s fault.  “Fictional female warriors” are definitely part of it, but certainly not for the reason you imply.  (More on that later.)

So stop it. I’m nobody’s idea of Prince Charming, but let me do my little part to rescue you from yourselves.

SHOCKINGLY ENOUGH, MR. ALBERSON… NOT ALL WOMEN WANT TO BE RESCUED.  Rescued by God, sure, but by a fallen, sinning man?  No thank you.

(And I’m going to stop responding to specific phrases because it’s making me too mad.  I need to take a break.  Brb.)

So what’s Mr. Alberson’s point?  Why does he think that Rey and Katniss and Leia and Black Widow and River Tam have no destiny other than… what???  He doesn’t even give his readers the courtesy to explain what he thinks women in these movies should be doing instead of being the strong heroines that they are.

(The only thing he says is that women are put on earth to be rescued by men and that women having the indecency to be anything more than that “robs men of their dignity.”  How egotistical is that?!  Men and women were put on earth for many more reasons than to simply fulfill one another.  If a man or woman’s identity is wrapped up in what the opposite sex – or anyone else – thinks of them, they have some serious work to do on their true identity.  REVELATION: Maybe – just maybe – that’s why people are so unfulfilled???  Shocking, I know.)

Every. Single. One. of the women were pulled out of their comfortable environments by outside circumstances and into something greater.  Rey wanted to wait for her family to return for her.  Katniss didn’t want to be Reaped.  Leia didn’t want her planet to blow up.  Natasha didn’t want to work for the Soviet Intelligence.  River Tam wanted an education so she could help people.

These women were made stronger because of the complex circumstances they were pulled into.  They weren’t destined for what they wanted – they were destined for making their world a better place, even though they went through struggles and incredibly hard trials.

If Rey hadn’t been pulled into helping Finn escape the Alliance,  she wouldn’t have discovered the truth about her family or saved Finn’s life and helped the Resistance fight against Kylo Ren.  If Katniss hadn’t been Reaped, Panem wouldn’t have escaped the tyrannical rule of President Snow.  If Leia hadn’t been kidnapped by Darth Vader, she wouldn’t have known the truth about her family or met Han Solo or {eventually} become chief commander of the Resistance.  If Natasha hadn’t been tracked down by Clint because of her status as an assassin, the aliens would have overtaken earth and Tony probably would’ve died and so would Steve and Bucky and SHIELD/Hydra’s information would still be secret.  And don’t even get me started on River.

It’s so ironic that Mr. Alberson would pick all of these characters because the stories that they’re involved in would be so different if they were doing what they’d originally wanted to do.  (See the previous paragraph.)  They all pass the Blechdel and Sexy Lamp tests.  They’re strong, well-rounded, and important to the plot.

MUCH LIKE REAL-LIFE WOMEN.

In my opinion, the world needs more characters like this – characters that prove to women that they’re needed, wanted, and important.  This is why I write books with strong female leads.  Too many female characters in books and movies are whiny, one-dimensional, flimsy girls whose only purpose is to further the male lead’s storyline.  (See almost every action film ever, especially the highly-irritating Mission Impossible II.)

That’s what movies are telling girls, Mr. Alberson – that they’re unimportant and only suitable as pretty companions for the uber-ripped male lead.  And when directors make movies that tell girls anything other than that, they should be applauded, not condemned.

So, ladies, keep watching movies with strong female characters.  You weren’t put on earth to define a man’s dignity or satisfy him.  Guys, you could definitely benefit from it, too.  Women aren’t your playthings – they’re precious individuals made by a God who loves them dearly.  JUST LIKE YOU.

Ladies and gentlemen, your worth is found in Christ alone, and not what anyone else thinks about you.  You will never be satisfied until you discover that.

why i took off my purity ring.

{inspired by this post, and partially by this one}

{The reason I’m writing this post isn’t because I love controversy – and this post hopefully won’t be super controversial.  I just want to write about things that matter, rather than about movies or books all the time.  (Although I’ll probably be back on Friday with my thoughts on Captain America: Civil War.)  This matters to me, and this is what I’ve been thinking about lately, so here I am.}

photo (3)

here’s the picture of my ring that i couldn’t add last night bc wordpress was being stupid.  isn’t it gorgeous?

If you’re a conservative, homeschooling Christian, there’s a 98% chance you’ve heard of purity rings – and there’s a 76% chance you’re wearing one right now.  Even if you’re not, there’s a 62% chance you know what they are.  (And those percentages are all accurate.  Even if I made them up. *wink*)

I grew up learning about purity.  I read all the books.  I participated in all the Bible studies.  I signed the paper (and I’m pretty sure I even gave it to my dad).  I didn’t get the ring for my thirteenth birthday because my mom forgot, so I got it for my sixteenth.

By the time I was twelve, I knew all about saving myself for marriage.  (At least, I thought I did.)  I swore I’d never kiss before marriage, never get into a relationship that wasn’t destined for marriage, and that I’d probably never date, either.

I’m still sticking to those commitments (except maybe the dating one – we’re a little fuzzy on what courtship looks like around here, especially as my siblings and I are getting older).  I have no intention of starting a more-than-casual relationship with a guy unless I’m pretty sure he’s a possibility.  I’m going to save my first kiss for my wedding day (and everything after that too).

But I’m done hiding behind my purity ring.  I’m done with the legalism and I’m done with the completely unbiblical stereotypes it puts on me.

Maybe it’s just me, but the purity ring thing always made me think differently about people.  When I was younger, I would subconsciously judge someone based on whether or not they had one.  If they did, fantastic – they’re pure.  If they didn’t, well… they had some learning to do.  (After all, how could you claim to keep yourself pure for marriage and not wear a purity ring?  GOSH.)  And if a guy wore it… WOW.  Hashtag marriage material, amiright???  (I knew guys whose mother forbid them from wearing them because rings were too feminine.  My sister and I walked away from that question wondering how wedding rings were different… and how wearing a ring deprived a man of his masculinity.)

When I consider how I used to think, it makes me laugh – and shudder a little.  I was a really judgmental teenager.  (Oh if only I could go back and give my teenage self a good talk – and a slap across the face!)

I’m not a perfect person.  I haven’t done everything right in my relationships with guys.  I’ve made quite a few mistakes.  Not purity-shattering mistakes, but things I still cringe over and issues I wish I’d handled differently.

It wasn’t until last year that I started thinking really about my purity ring.  I usually wore it on my left hand, but I switched it to my right for a conference (so none of the guys would think that I was married or engaged or whatever).

That’s what got me thinking about what it really meant.  I asked myself over and over, Why did I do that?  Am I looking for attention from guys?  Am I wanting to proclaim to the world that I’m pure, but I’m available?  (*wink*)

Let me tell you something I’ve learned: Those are all bad reasons.  It should say something that one of the first things I thought was that taking off my purity ring would encourage guys or bring unwanted attention to myself.

My desire to remain pure is mainly between me and God – and my future husband.

I’m not saving myself because Josh Harris or the Botkin sisters or Sarah Mally told me to.  I’m not wearing a purity ring is the “right thing to do” or because most of my Christian friends did it.

I’m doing it because I’ve been convicted by God.  I’m not going to settle for less than His best for me.  I’m not going to compromise.

More than that, I’m not going to sit around and wait for a guy to knock on my front door.  I don’t like the assumption that “waiting” looks like me in my late thirties, sitting by a window in a rocking chair and crocheting.

I have a life to live.  I have a calling.  God put me on this earth for a reason, and while marriage is a wonderful thing that I’m really looking forward to… it’s not my main goal in life.

My only desire is to glorify my Savior while I’m here – nothing less.  If writing novels glorifies Him, so be it.  If marrying a godly guy and having a few children with him glorifies God, so be it.

I’m not here to bring honor to myself.  All of my actions should be for Him and Him alone.  (I already encourage too much exultation of myself because of my wicked pride.)

I still think about my purity ring, even though it sometimes gets lost in the jumble of jewelry on my bedside table.  My ring was always too big, so I’d spin it around on my finger when I needed to fidget.

To be completely honest, that’s actually the main reason I took it off that last time – my finger always somehow got smaller during the winter, and I was afraid I’d lose it.  I was afraid I’d lose it at one of our orchestra’s five Christmas concerts, so I took it off.  Then I just never put it on again.  I thought about putting it back on a few times, and it made me think about why I was wearing it in the first place.  Coming to all of the above conclusions reaffirmed why I didn’t feel like I had to wear it.  It’s been seven months now and I sometimes move my thumb to spin it around before remembering it isn’t there anymore.

Taking off my purity ring wasn’t a huge deal.  It wasn’t an open rebellion of what I’d always held dear – actually the opposite.

Since I’ve taken off my ring, I can tell that my commitment has gotten more intimate – more precious, almost.  I haven’t felt the need to proclaim to the world my purity in a long time, or for more conservative girls to judge me while I’m casually talking with one of my guy friends (whose friendships I highly value).  My commitment is strictly between me and God, unless someone asks or the topic comes up.

It’s incredibly freeing and I’m so grateful.

Disclaimer: This is my personal decision and I’m not trying to encourage you to do the same.  If you’ve made a commitment to stay pure for your future spouse, I applaud you.  If you’ve decided to wear a ring to show that, I still applaud you.  Purity rings are a wonderful thing – they’re just not for me right now.  I may slip mine back on at some point in the future, but it probably won’t be any time soon.  Right now, I’m focusing on God more than my relationship with my future husband.  I’m focusing on not having any other gods before Him.  And, like Grace said in the post I linked to above, I’m focusing on learning that “having Him is everything, not a means to the life we think He would want us to have. … I already have Him, and He is everything.”

P.S. I mentioned legalism and unbiblical stereotypes earlier, but didn’t go into what I meant.  If you’d like to hear more, I have a ton of pent-up opinions I’d be more than happy to share with you guys.  (If you want them, that is.  That one would definitely be controversial, lol.)  Let me know in the comments!