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Sex and Self-Righteousness at the Superbowl

There is great wisdom in accepting that we are made in the image of a God who created with words. He spoke, things happened. We do that, too. We speak, things happen. We alter mindsets, outcomes, personalities, and people when we open our mouths and let words come out.

If you’re a parent, you know the power your words have over the formation of your child. If I tell my child he is unkind, unworthy, a failure, and ugly then he will believe these things about himself. The words I spoke over him become his truth and he feeds that into the world. But I also have the power to call him creative, strong, kind, gentle, and loyal – and watch as those become the bedrock of his identity and are poured out into the world.

So, when I consider what 118 million people had chanted over them by a beloved American celebrity – I cringe. I fear the outcome of individuals waking up this morning and humming these lyrics as they go about their work. This wasn’t a small concert somewhere. Not something that a tiny portion of the nation did or did not elect to hear. This was performed at the largest sports event in the nation, a part of the fabric of the culture here. Do you know the lyrics of the Beyonce song “Formation” that she performed last night? Here’s a sampling [warning: foul language]:

courtesy HollywoodLife.com

courtesy HollywoodLife.com

Oh yeah baby, oh yeah I, ohhhhh, oh yes I like that
I did not come to play with you hoes
I came to slay, bitch
I like cornbreads and collard greens, bitch
Oh yes, you best to believe it

I see it, I want it
I stunt, yeah, little hornet
I dream it, I work hard
I grind ‘til I own it
I twirl all my haters
Albino alligators
El Camino with the ceiling low
Sippin’ Cuervo with no chaser
Sometimes I go off, I go off
I go hard, I go hard
Get what’s mine, take what’s mine
I’m a star, I’m a star
Cause I slay, slay
I slay, hey, I slay, okay
I slay, okay, all day, okay
I slay, okay, I slay okay
We gon’ slay, slay
Gon’ slay, okay
We slay, okay
I slay, okay
I slay, okay
Okay, okay, I slay, okay
Okay, okay, okay, okay
Okay, okay, ladies now let’s get in formation, cause I slay
Okay ladies, now let’s get in formation, cause I slay
Prove to me you got some coordination
Slay trick, or you get eliminated

Verse 1:

When he fuck me good I take his ass to Red Lobster, cause I slay
When he fuck me good, I take his ass to Red Lobster, cause I slay
If he hit it right, I might take him on a flight on my chopper, cause I slay
Drop him off at the mall, let him buy some J’s, let him shop up, cause I slay

Cosmopolitan called this “the most perfect song since the Paleozoic Era…”

This is how we, as women, use incredible gifts like music and television? This is how we better the world? This is how we use the equal voice we have? By singing about sex and what we do to reward a man if he’s good at it? By encouraging people to, Get what’s mine, take what’s mine?

“Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. Treat other the same way you want them to treat you…”(Mark 6:29-31)

There is no power in selfishness.

No joy in being stingy.

No strength in taking.

No actualization of the mature self is found in demand.

Your best self doesn’t take; it gives.

Thankfully, the halftime show ended with Coldplay’s “Fix You” with slightly adjusted lyrics.

We gonna get it, get it together right now
We gonna get it, get it together somehow

The crowd held up signs that read, “Believe in love.”

“Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy. It does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking…” (I Cor. 13:4-5)

I wonder if Beyonce read those cards in the crowd? Did she feel a twinge – even a tiny one – that she’d just spewed self-righteous ugliness all over a crowd now encouraging millions to focus on the opposite of her diatribe? Did anyone at CBS pause and wonder if maybe this wasn’t the highest use of their ability to reach millions?

 

 
3 Comments

Posted by on February 8, 2016 in Industry Reflections

 

Living Out Loud, Defined (LOLv1)

“I’m not like you. I don’t live out loud.”

The woman before me kept talking, but the rest of her words floated over my head. “Live out loud?” Me? Um, no. I’m an introvert. [small smile to you other introverts here) I may have learned how to “turn it on” for public events, but I go home from those exhausted and in need of non-people, no-talking time to recover.

I lose my mind if I don’t have at least some alone time every day. By that I mean I get agitated, fidgety, exasperated, easily angered, and feel as if the world is caving in too close to breathe easily or think fully. My mind tries to shut down, to stop the inflow of experience.

It’s kind of like going underwater in a swimming pool. I can glide through the cool environment, feel the water slide over and around me, hear the dull thud of someone jumping in, see the blurry edges of pale legs all around, watch the sunshine play on the surface above, kick into the deep to retrieve the pennies or dive sticks, put my hands down for a handstand, twirl my arms for a somersault, and revel in the sensation created by each…but the whole time, I also acknowledge my chest getting tighter and tighter as I do not give it the oxygen it craves.

At some point, I have to surface and gulp the life-giving air up there.

My hubs and kiddos know this about me. If we go out – to one of their basketball games, to a birthday party, to an event – or have a lot of people over, they know that afterward Mom will retreat to her bedroom and crave quiet. I need to let all the communication and sensory experience settle. I must sort and sift the tidbits, casting aside what has no further use and pondering and testing the rest for wisdom and lesson. I participate in the events, talking and laughing and letting the experience flood in (swimming), but it doesn’t mean I am energized by it or need it to feel alive/useful/worthy/genuine.

Interestingly, my son is this way as well. He’ll say, “Mom, I need some non-people time,” and go off to his room to lie on his bed and stare at the ceiling a while. I’m grateful to know exactly what he’s saying and feeling.

So, having the “living out loud” concept applied to me struck a wrong chord. I’d always known that phrase to be interchangeable with “life of the party” and “social butterfly.” Words for those mysterious people who breathe underwater.

Now, though, I think I know what the speaker meant behind those words. And I plan to spend a lot of my foreseeable writing here on the topic.

The speaker was a woman who is very dutiful to authority. She does what is expected of her, even when she does not want to and does not appear to get particular fulfillment out of it. For her, to fulfill expectations is its own end. There is worth in living out the life others mapped out for her, in doing as she should.

And that might very well feel like she is only living on the inside, quietly.  By day, she is what she ‘should” be. In her mind, where no one else can know, she is her real self.
When she declared that I live out loud, I think she meant, “You do what you believe you were created to do, you pursue the becoming of what you were created to become.”

I think ultimately she meant:

Girl makes the graceful throw at sunset“You live with abandon.”

The more I learn about others and myself,

the more the race and pace swirl around me,

the more I see loved ones living but not alive,

the more I watch a decaying world age passionate minds and stop courageous hearts,

the more I think it’s worth spending some time writing about life like that.

 

 
1 Comment

Posted by on February 3, 2016 in Life Lessons, Living Out Loud

 

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Win the Holidays? Really?

WBestBuy_WinTheHolidays_120hen I first saw the ad, I thought I must have misunderstood. Between the kitten being in his nightly Pyscho Cat mode (read: running all over the living room climbing lamps and curtains), the dog barking to go outside (he’s a basset hound mix with the deep bark to show for it), The Hubs banging pots and pans around in the kitchen behind me (thank God he can cook or we’d all starve), Firstborn practicing his trombone upstairs (man, that sound carries) and Darling Daughter watching an iPad at top volume in the chair beside me (headphones, gotta get her some headphones), it’s conceivable that I mistook the gist of the commercial.

“Everybody hush for one minute!” I yelled and pushed the rewind button. Darling Daughter pulled her headphones off to see what caught Mommy’s attention. Hubs paused. Even the kitten and dog calmed down for a second.


“….because when you give tech,” the voiceover intoned, “people won’t just love it, they’ll love you. Win the holidays at Best Buy.”

Oh. Okay. Guess I heard it right the first time.

“They don’t know what Christmas is about,” Darling Daughter said, and put her headphones back on.

“Wow. Talk about crass materialism,” Hubs said. “It’s not even tongue-in-cheek. They mean it.” He went back to food prep.

I shook my head. I may not get all up in arms about whether someone says, “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” but this is a bit much. Christmas is NOT about the presents, Best Buy and Aban Commercials. What a sad, isolating concept you’ve put into the world: buying love.

Christmas is about the human birth of One who would perform a selfless act for undeserving people that will stand forever as the Greatest Gift of All. It’s the only Gift that sets us free from selfish traps like materialism and competition to outdo each other.

“. . .but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

That “Christ” is the One whose birth we celebrate at Christmas. We give gifts to each other as we remember the good gifts that were brought to Him upon His birth, and the best gift He gave the world.

Take a breath, Best Buy. Step out of the rat race, Aban Commercials. I think your soul took a detour a few miles back.

Things aren’t the thing. Why use your precious marketing dollars and broadcast time to promote such a sad concept? Your brand is (was) better than that.

 
3 Comments

Posted by on November 30, 2015 in Industry Reflections, Uncategorized

 

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From Beneath the Trees

“I just cannot believe that you’re gone…Rest in peace, my friend.”

I read the posting of an old high school friend to another high school friend’s wall on Facebook last night. Confusion. Alarm. What was she talking about? I frantically clicked over to the friend’s page and began scrolling through condolences and utterings of shock. It took a few minutes before I read the post explaining that a tree had fallen on our friend’s car as she went to pick up her kiddos from school, killing her instantly.

A tree.

Fell.

At the exact moment she came down a two-lane country road.

Falling in the precise way needed to cause immediate, deadly impact.

My mind scrambled. Where was the logic? How could this make sense? It’s one thing for someone to lose their life because they were doing something or being somewhere they shouldn’t have. Then we all nod our heads and think it makes sense and it can’t happen to us because we’ll make wise decisions and avoid that kind of danger.

But this? A tree fell. A RANDOM TREE. Who can prevent that? Outwit it? Prepare for it?

And why her? I live in a town whose main road is Pine Ridge. It’s lined with, you guessed it, pine trees. Giant ones. I’ve marveled at their majesty and rolled down my windows just to listen to them as the wind blows through, to breathe deeply and take their scent into my lungs. I never considered them a threat.

Now, fear lanced through me. With the fervor of a mom whose kiddos have been threatened, I started planning routes to school, work, the grocery store, the hairdresser, and the bookstore that wouldn’t involve Pine Ridge Road. Should I write the city and ask them if the trees could come down? Tell my husband of other, safer, less treed routes?

Within an hour, our high school class rallied together on Facebook, coordinating donations for flowers at the funeral and funds for her children. And then, once it was clear all the details were handled for the logistics of our meager attempts to do something, anything, to combat this incomprehensible tragedy, the postings turned to grief. And then, as if we all realized everything we hadn’t said to her when she was with us, what we hadn’t said to each other in years, these people I haven’t seen for twenty years began reminding each other, “I love you. I miss you. Kiss your babies tonight. We should get together. A reunion.”

I trudged up the stairs and fell into bed. Wrestled through the night as falling trees and high school memories collided in my mind. Woke up to the realization that this is how the enemy ruins life for me. He wraps fear and tragedy around beauty, encompassing it so completely that it can barely be seen or felt and so I abandon the beauty inside. He robs me of the joy of a good thing that succumbed to the broken world in which it was placed. He doesn’t let me see the “I love you” and “I miss you” and pulls my mind hard toward the fear that this could happen as easily to anyone else I love, or to me – leaving my babies behind – and that makes loving people a dangerous thing, not a beautiful thing.

But I didn’t die yesterday. Which means I need to live today. Somehow. Even as I fear and try to handle the troubled soul in me. So I got out of bed. Showered. Dressed. Dressed the kiddos. Piled them into the car and backed out of the shelter of the garage. And, as my little girl read a story aloud and my son told me about the basketball practices he’s loving, I drove us right down Pine Ridge Road.

The pine trees still majestically lined the road, drinking in the morning sun and gently waving in the breeze.

And I defiantly chose to acknowledge their beauty from my broken place here, beneath the trees.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on November 18, 2015 in Life Lessons, Uncategorized

 

His First Sleep Away Camp: A Mama’s View

Since that moment the ultrasound tech announced, “It’s a boy!” I’ve been committed to raising an incredible man. A man who knows his own mind and chases the One who gave it to him. Who models his heart and self after his Maker’s heart and self. I’m not a mom who keeps the apron strings tightly tied or keeps her chicks close to the nest. I’m raising a leader here. Two of them, actually. He has a little sister.

Andy and his camp counselor

Anderson and his camp counselor

And then came the first sleep-away camp.

Four weeks. Thirty-two days, to be exact.

Jumping in with both feet.

At ten years old, my firstborn eagerly anticipated attending the same sleep-away camp in North Carolina that his father enjoyed for four blissful childhood summers over twenty years ago. Tales of swimming, sliding, hiking, and shooting filled our home, inciting visions in young Anderson’s vivid imagination that could not be denied.

He wanted to go at nine.

I said no.

Not because of the apron strings or umbilical cord, but because he wasn’t ready. Moms know these things.

This year, though, I felt pretty sure he was ready.

Until we arrived at the camp. Oh my goodness, what a place. Running water was the biggest luxury the place could claim. “Cabins” more aptly described as “shacks” or “shanties.” Hanging on to their stilt-leg foundations by a prayer. Gang “showers” with shower-heads that even Lowe’s has the decency to not sell.

My modest boy changes in his bedroom with the door closed. How would he handle showering with eight strangers every day? And then sleeping in a room with five more of them? I eyed the “mattress” of his bottom bunk, fairly certain the bubble mailers I use to send books to clients had more padding.

My son’s face also registered misgivings. My mama heart and mind went into overdrive. Ready? Not ready? I hid on a hill and peered through the trees as he stood with other pale-skinned boys in front of the freezing pond chosen for their swim test. Some jumped in – loud, so loud, covering their panic and fear with voices that hadn’t yet deepened into manhood – while others paced the makeshift deck, casting furtive glances to the water and counselors, gauging if this test really had to be taken right here, right now.

My boy elected to take the test another day, in a pond they promised would be warmer.

I wondered anew. Ready? Not ready? I had the camp leader get him from his cabin and bring him to me. We set off down the gravel path across from the freezing swimming hole. I showed him where I’d spied on him. Asked him if he’d felt scared. (Yes.) Disappointed in himself for not taking the test. (Yes.)

And then I turned and faced him full on.

“You’ve had a taste of this place. You want to do this? You feel ready to do this?”

I watched him fill his lungs, chest expanding – a chest so much wider now than that day they’d placed his 7lb frame in my waiting arms.

He gave one nod. Short. Quick. Hard. “I can do this.”

Mama pride filled my chest and I fought tears. “Yes, you can.”

We walked back to the camp leader and I handed him over with a fast hug and soft, “I love you.”

I drove away thinking of Hannah taking her newly-weaned son, Samuel, to the temple and leaving him to be raised to serve God. How did she do that? What a woman. A real mother.

I sent Anderson his first letter today, along with the bar of soap he forgot in the van. (Did Hannah send Samuel care packages?) I made sure to let him know I’m proud of him. That he doesn’t have to choose between growing up and pleasing me. The two are synonymous. I told him, “My job as your mama is to discern the moments for testing and the moments for resting.”

My boy is on a grand adventure that will come with testing. He’ll come home a little less boy, a little more young man.

And I’ll walk the path a million other moms have walked before me. Raising our baby boys into astounding men. Goodness, it’s not for the faint of heart.

 
5 Comments

Posted by on July 6, 2015 in Life Lessons

 

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How Do We Respond to Confederate Flag Fighting and Other Brouhaha?

Okay, y’all, this flag debate has gotten past a momentary foolish distraction from a very real tragedy to dangerous levels of cultural cleansing of an entire people. Apple, Sears, Wal-mart…the rebel flag is even being removed from the car made famous in “Dukes of Hazzard”, the General Lee!

Girl with a laptop on the table

Is anybody else feeling as scared and undone and confused and exhausted as I am? Anybody spending way too much time in mental debate about whether to post something on FB or just let it go?

Ignorance is ruling the day because, in our media-obsessed culture, the loudest voice is granted “truth” status. Bandwagons increase exponentially when just enough lemmings hop on. Tipping points come early if the speaker knows algorithm tricks. The illusion of “rightness” is granted when the “views” or “comments” or “likes” numbers go up … which creates truth by perceived public opinion.

Seriously. Think about that. We’re determining truth about history – hard facts – by how many people agree with them.

We’re determining truth by people.

People who we truly love, but who don’t believe this if we disagree with them. On anything. Agh! So frustrating!

Consider yourself for just a second. Do you know everything about everything? (Me, neither.) Have an eternal view of existence so that all your judgment calls have proper perspective? (Don’t I wish.) Know what’s coming tomorrow, next week, next year, two generations from now? (If I did, this blog would be $2.99/minute to read.)

And yet we’re relying on each other to decide who gets a presence in the public square and who doesn’t? To “officially” determine what happened in history and why? We’re okay that opinions, screamed and repeated enough, become the “true” story of an entire people?

Are you kidding me?!

We don’t do this here. This is America, where we lay down our lives for the right of our fellow citizen to voice an opinion we do not agree with. An opinion we may even hate. Here, the standard is to talk and listen. We are not a country that silences with force those with whom we disagree.

Or, we weren’t a few days ago.

But there is comfort and it is this: Real Truth, lived one life at a time, one day at a time, one relationship at a time, speaks for itself. It cannot be silenced.

Truth, lived, cannot be silenced.

I’m not a consistent living example of it – only Jesus can claim that – but I am a consistent believer in it and a consistent get-back-up-and-try-again walker in it. And I truly believe that this is more powerful than screaming back at an angry mob.

So, I’m going to follow a quote I put on Facebook just a couple of weeks ago before the current cultural chaos began:

“There’s no spirituality in opposing a fool. We need only spend enough time on the matter to discern that [the individual]…is a fool and then get on with what God is doing.” (Eugene Peterson, Leap Over A Wall)

I’m putting the screamers in my rearview and continuing to be about what I’m about.

Acting justly.

Loving mercy.

And doing my dead-level best to walk humbly with my God.

I’m supposed to ask you at this point to “share” this or comment on it or link back to it on your own blog if you agree or have a reaction. That’s what I teach to writers, so they can amass a tribe and be able to get their viewpoint into the world. Put an ask at the end of your post. Because that’s the way of the world in which you’ve been placed. It’s being wise as a serpent yet innocent as a dove.

But I don’t want you to share or like or comment or link this post to get people to agree with me or you so that it’ll appear we have the loudest voice.

I only write this today because I needed to give myself permission to let the swirling arguments alone in favor of living in the real world. I needed to say out loud that my silence online isn’t a reflection that I don’t care about what happened to my believing brothers and sisters in Charleston.

I care too much to do anything but keep living.

And I thought maybe somebody else might need permission, too.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on June 26, 2015 in Life Lessons

 

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Thanks, Charlie Rose

CharlieRoseThis morning. My bedroom. Getting ready for the day. Pausing in front of the TV to watch a CBS Early Show segment on how losing sleep makes us gain weight.

When it happened.

Gayle King had just asked clinical psychologist and sleep medicine specialist Michael Breus a question. Mr. Brus opened his mouth, began to answer—

And Charlie Rose’s cell phone rang.

(kid you not, click the link, happens at the 1:15 mark)

On air.

Live television.

Gayle made a joke of it, asked what girl was calling him. Even told the audience, “It was a 516 area code. Hey, he’s busy right now.”

A sheepish Charlie snatched his phone and hit the button to silence it. He shook his head, clearly embarrassed at breaking the cardinal rule for anyone on set: silence your phone.

I froze in front of the TV. It felt like watching a tornado touch down on a perfectly sunny day. What was I seeing? What journalist is more seasoned for long-runtime, on-air appearances than Charlie Rose? He’s been doing this for decades. In an age of slapstick humor on set and anchors who can read tele-prompters but not discuss the content on their screens, he’s one of the most professional journalists remaining in broadcast news! And HE left his cell phone on, at full volume, sitting on the desk?

I returned to my morning routine, listening with one ear to the broadcast and thinking over what I’d witnessed.

If Charlie Rose can make such a basic mistake in front of millions, then maybe I should stop thinking I have to get it perfectly right all the time or else I don’t deserve to stay in this role. Perhaps a rookie mistake made long after the rookie years have ended doesn’t mean I’m completely unqualified to do this project, hold this title, [insert your thing here]. How many others mess up and I just don’t know it because it doesn’t happen live, on-air? Why do I think no one in leadership makes a little, dumb mistake now and then besides me?

Why is being imperfect not a catalyst for community in business since we all share the characteristic?

Good stuff to consider. Thanks, Charlie.

 
 
 
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