The Modesty Thing

Can you feel it? The onset of warm weather, birds twittering in treetops of sparkling leaves–can you feel spring? I’m looking forward to playing outside, free of a jacket. I’m looking forward to swinging, climbing into my favorite tree, and of course, my warm-weather outfits. 

Oh, the warm-weather outfits. I’d like to think that I can wear whatever I want in the springtime–or any time, for that matter–but no. Spring is the time when everyone comes out to give their bit on what I’m wearing–shorts too short, shirt too low–the list goes on. The main reason people give to me, trying to dictate what I wear, is that I might be causing men to “stumble.” 

First, let me say that there’s a huge double standard associated with this statement. A woman walks by in a bikini, and she’s bombarded with comments telling her to cover up and “save herself for the right man.” Then a man walks by in his tight little Speedo, or swim shorts pulled halfway down his crotch, and nobody says a thing. Do you see that double standard? It’s assuming that women are things for male pleasure, and that men are sexual monsters who can’t control themselves. That is seriously messed up and untrue. 

Even more so, though, I choose to believe that people–both male and female–can wear whatever the hell they want. It’s not my responsibility to keep that man from “stumbling,” as they call it. I’d like to not be treated as a liability, thank you very much. If a man looks at me wearing shorts and gets turned on, why is it my problem? He’s in control of his thoughts and actions, not me. 

Also, I could go on a wonderful rant about how sex is both demonized and idolized. (Think about what society is asking: be “pure” and to “not put out” but also to be “sexy” and “available.” Think about it. How am I possibly supposed to do both?) But I think I’ll save that rant for later. 

So, everyone, here’s a nice little modesty guide I’ve created to help you choose your summer clothing:

  • Tops: Do you like it? Do you feel nice wearing it? Wear it.
  • Shorts/Skirts: Do you like it? Do you feel nice wearing it? Wear it.
  • Bathing suits: Do you like it? Do you feel nice wearing it? Wear it.
  • Dresses: Do you like it? Do you feel nice wearing it? Wear it.
  • Everything else: See above. 

Of course, it’s not a bad thing if you choose to cover your body more–just make sure you’re doing it because you want to. You have the final say. Not your family, not your friends–you. Rock your body however you want to. It’s yours, and it’s beautiful. 

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Make time stop.

The growing sense of dread surrounding the start of a new day tomorrow is becoming overwhelming. I want to stop time, this screeching train on a track that leads off a cliff. But I can’t. I can’t get off the train. You know that feeling when you’re on a roller coaster, and as you’re about to reach the very top to race down, you realize you’ve made a horrible mistake, but at that point you can’t do anything? Yeah. That’s me right now. I can’t stop time. The closest I can come to stopping it is by reminiscing. So, here I go.

This past summer, I was so close to God. I read my Bible and prayed and felt His presence all around. I remember going to the farmer’s market to get those wonderfully tart currants, popping them in my mouth one by one. I miss waking up mid-morning to bird chirping and video game music. I miss t-shirts. Oh, how I miss t-shirts. You have no idea. I remember the itch of mosquito bites all over my legs. Heck, I even miss them, too. I miss canoeing by starlight and sitting on my swing in the evenings. I remember those bitter heartaches–how sweet they seem now. (That sounds weird. I really can’t explain it. Sorry.) Flip-flops, tank tops, air conditioning on long car trips. Sundresses. Oh, I miss sundresses–seersucker, too. I ache for the pool, tanning, and that overwhelming sense of freedom. I miss being able to kill time. Freedom. Freedom. Free. I came as close as anyone could to flying, no matter how broken I really was. I remember when I cared about picking clothes off my floor and organizing my shoes. I remember when I saw nature and immediately thought of something poetic–I oozed poetry. I miss the warm, sweet wind. I miss the days I spent writing in my green notebook. I even miss that time I stayed up the entire night crying. I even miss that.

But now it’s December. Summer is over. Even fall seems to be over, with the leaves all brown and the trees nearly bare. Oh, I want to stop time. Even better, rewind.

The Jesus Things

We all have different stories of how we came to know Christ. Some have the “I was a crack addict for four years and had a bright vision of Jesus dying for my sins while I was snorting it in a back alleyway, and Jesus and helped me through a difficult recovery and now I’ve been clean for twenty-seven years” story. Me? I became a Christian when I was three. I was snuggled up all ready to go to bed in my Pooh Bear toddler bed.

I’m not sure if I really knew what was going on, though. I don’t know. It’s been a long time since I was three. We’ll never know if I had a real knowledge of what I was saying.
But anyway, I’ve lived the church life. I’ve been going to church since I was in the womb. My parents sent me to Lutheran preschool. Bible story picture books were all over the house, along with Christian movies and Christian music. I was immersed in it.

Third grade, I think, is when it started becoming my own faith instead of just what I was taught to believe. For once, I had a longing for Jesus to hear me. I kept a thirty-day prayer journal (which I still have) and drew bracelets that I wanted Him to “wear.” I would plead that He would find a way to wear the bracelet, even if it was two-dimensional and drawn in black ink.

Then, the summer before fifth grade, I went to camp for the first time. I think camp changed my life, in some respects. Beforehand, I’d never known that Jesus could really do anything except sit in heaven and smile at us. I didn’t know that He could make us laugh and cry and feel so many wonderful things.

Jesus became just a camp phenomenon for me. I’d be so close to Him for five days, then it would be all over until the next August. I didn’t care much about my faith outside of the summer. It was this way for fifth, seventh, and eighth grades. Sixth grade was its own special thing. I blog a lot about fifth grade, seventh grade, and eighth grade, but I rarely talk about sixth. Remind me to do that sometime.

Only this past spring and summer have I really tried incorporating God into my daily life. It started in May and lasted through most of September. I was closer to Him during those months than I ever have been before.
I’ll admit, I’ve drifted from Him. I don’t think I’ve read my Bible on my own time for three months. I don’t feel Him so close anymore. It just feels like the time between camps. The time where I break all the promises I made to myself during those five days.

I have more to say on Jesus. Right now, though, I’m exhausted.

Winter Breathes…

I miss summertime.

I miss sipping powdered orange juice with my feet in glowing, tepid lake water. I miss the buzz of fireflies in my cupped hands. I miss when the days were long and the shorts were short. I miss looking up at a velvety night sky sprayed with starry sequins. I even miss the itch of grass and the burn of black pavement under my bare feet.

Why?

There was nothing to worry about. I had metaphorical wind at my back, days and days to waste like water, and sunshine melting on my skin. I had a sad, wistful air about me, but in a carefree way. I could wipe my tears away with flower petals, then toss them away into the forgiving July breezes. Birds would always serenade me in the morning, never waking me before I’d completely rested.

It is nearly November. I can feel the winter breathing in the morning, rustling the leaves off their branches. Winter is coming. It stomps and screams and threatens, a bed of razor-sharp knives below me as time lets go and watches me fall. I am bracing myself for gray skies, trees stripped of their colors, runny noses and too-thick parkas, flakes of snow drifting to the ground only to melt into wet drizzle on the sidewalks. 

I can feel winter breathe in the autumn air.

Shatter the Beginning

“Every new beginning is another new beginning’s end.” -Closing Time by Semisonic

My eighth grade year is coming to a close tomorrow. As the year finishes, I remember this line from one of my favorite songs. Once upon a time I was a seventh grader, eager to start afresh in a new year.

Sadly, I count this year as a failure. What did I accomplish? I slacked off; I engaged in dangerous activities; I wallowed in misery and self-hatred, and I betrayed myself. Yes, I’ve learned from those mistakes now. But that can’t make up for all the lost time. I was lazy, sad all the time, rebellious, and…numb. So, so numb. I forgot that I was the freaky writer girl and instead became the girl who fell apart all the time.

So I’m shattering this beginning. It was inevitable, anyway. I want to prove to people that I can be strong. I can keep my grades up because I am capable. I can live in the truth because I know it.

I’m ready, summer. I’m ready, high school. Watch out, world–there’s a shooting star flying your way.