in the midst of… domestic violence

Over the past few weeks, domestic violence has been an issue that has come up over and over again in the media largely due to a few NFL athletes and the league’s widely-believed to be mishandling of the situations.  So I thought this would be a good time to write what follows.

Domestic violence is wrong. There is seriously no excuse for it, and honestly, there’s not a whole lot of things that we can do to stop other individuals outside of ourselves from taking part in the vicious cycle, but there is something that we can do to affect the culture.  So, here’s a few ways we can positively affect our culture to potentially prevent this abuse.

Stop blaming the victims. I am sick and tired of hearing people say (especially regarding the Ray Rice incident) that the victim (usually female) should not have been doing this or that, and that nothing would have happened if she had just controlled herself. I was listening to the radio a couple weeks ago when a female caller said that she (Janay Palmer) was asking for it because she pushed him (Ray Rice) first.  A couple things: 1.Rice spit on her at the beginning of the police video. 2.That does not give Rice a valid reason for the haymaker that he threw.  There is never a reason to throw a punch at your wife, girlfriend, mother, sister, anything.  Seriously.

Set an example. Guys, we have been put on this earth to teach each other.  For twenty-one years I have watched my dad love my mom so much.  It’s not like my dad is a wuss or doesn’t “wear the pants” in the relationship, but my dad knows that God gifted him with something awesome, and he treats her like it.  Maybe I am spoiled (I probably am) in this way, but what if every kid growing up had at least 5 examples of a husband who treats his wife with respect?  What if people kept those vows they make when they get married?  You want to know why I feel like men should respect their partners? Because I have seen time and time again that success in relationships (marriage and other) starts with a mutual respect for the other person.  In the Author’s Note of one of my favorite books, Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller writes:

Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way.

How can anyone know how to love their spouse if they have never been around people who live that out?  Nobody learns how to play basketball by going into a gym and picking up a ball and trying over and over again till it works, at least, not anyone who is good at basketball has done that.  So, as men, we need to love our wives, mothers, and sisters, and bring those around who don’t have that example.

Take this issue seriously. For myself, this is the hardest section to write.  So often, I have taken lightly the need for female equality and the respect that they deserve.  Honestly, I think it is because it was never really an issue in my sight.  I knew that women were deserving of my respect, so these were obviously meaningless jokes, right?  Well, since then I have realized, both gracefully and ungracefully, that this is not really a laughing matter.  Not everyone is from the same sparkly background that I was blessed with.  To many in our culture, this is no joke.  *Writing to the world now as someone who needs much improvement in this way*: we need to better ourselves for the sake of the world.  Women have use to us other than sex, cooking, and cleaning.  You know that joke about how women should be in the kitchen, it’s not funny anymore.  Frankly, there are a lot of amazing, Christ-centered women out there who can kick my butt and probably yours too.  We should no longer write off the possibility that women can do things as well as we (men) can.  Who knows, maybe men will be better because of it.

Ok, rant over.  Now I’m going to bring a little scripture into play (after all, God’s word is infinitely more credible than I am on this matter). Ephesians 5:25-33:

…love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her 26 to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. 27 He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. 28 In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. 29 No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. 30 And we are members of his body.

31 As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” 32 This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. 33 So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

A self-respecting man shows respect for his wife.  God has given us a gift.  We should love like Jesus loved us: giving up our lives for each other.

in the midst of the chaos… love like Jesus.

-MC

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in the midst of… brokenness

I will be the very first to admit that I am way less than perfect, and anyone who knows me well is aware of that fact.  This is something that I often have struggled with inside of my calling to ministry, specifically youth ministry.  

How can I possibly show teens how to live a life fully devoted to Christ when I struggle to do so myself?

This is a question that has haunted me in the past. Well for a while, at least. Then I watched a little. Then I listened a little. I got to be around people in ministry.  I watched them deal with their imperfections. This was eye-opening for me. For the longest time, I struggled with telling people what field I was studying in, and what type of life I was preparing for. Was this because I was ashamed of my faith? Was I ashamed of Jesus? No. I was ashamed of myself. Being completely aware of my own brokenness and sin, I could not dare to let people know what I felt called to do or who I felt called to be.  Then I found a piece of Scripture from 2 Corinthians that comforted me.

To keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.

8 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.  -II Corinthians 12:7-10

Even Paul, the great missionary of the Gospel, was in need of grace. God has used some really screwed up people to bring about his glory throughout history.  King David, “a man after God’s own heart,” was an adulterer who then covered up his adultery by conspiring to have a man killed.  Rahab was a prostitute, but God used her to help his people.  Paul himself was a killer of Christians, and his letters to churches are now known by many as the “inspired word of God.”

One thing that these people have in common (other than the fact that God used them for great things) was that they did not dwell on their own brokenness, but instead chose to live into a better story. We live in a world filled with stories. Some of these stories are of God, but many are not.  Whatever we do, whether good or bad, will be part of our story, but what do the bigger pictures of our lives look like? Overall, are we choosing to serve God with a few hiccups along the way? Or are we rolling around in the muck of our lives? These are the questions we have to answer for ourselves. Personally, every second of every day, I have a choice to make.  I can spend my time focusing on my brokenness, or I can choose to live unashamed.  Unashamed of myself and fully turning my brokenness over to God, only then is there full life.

While writing this, I thought of a song I grew up singing at Church Camp. Here are some of the lyrics:

I’m trading my sorrows,

I’m trading my shame,

I’m laying them down for the joy of the Lord.

Brokenness is something that exists in everyone’s life, but it is not something that we have to hold on to.

in the midst of brokenness, let us hand it over to Jesus. Again, and again, and again…