Kettle Bells, Books, and Cuddles (Or, How I’m Coping in Healthy-ish Ways)

I keep seeing wonderful posts about “How to Stay Sane and Healthy in the Midst of Intense Political Trials.”

When I read them, I think, “Oh, how helpful! Thank you for reminding me not to sprint this marathon! I will do the things you say to do to stay well.”

And then I read another political post, get upset, and fret over calling my representatives (and the representatives of other states).

I still have some work to do with this whole self-care thing.

Other days, I do alright, though.

Some things I do to lighten the mental, emotional, and physical stress include the following:

Kettle bell swings. These are excellent because I get to toss a large, metal bell (with either a chimp or orangutan face, because my husband-to-be loves Onnit and monkey faces), which requires a lot of force, which means I get to hurl out a lot of pent up anger, frustration, and stress.

orangutan-onnit

Tight Lightning

Watching political-but-funny TV. My favorites are Parks and Rec and The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. Parks and Rec is government so light and happy it might as well be run by golden retrievers (Knope for 2020!), and Trevor Noah rehashes current events with a sarcastic and prophetic edge (Noah for VP 2020!).

leslie-knopetrevor-noah

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TheWrap.com

Reading. Lots and lots of empowering reading, like Maya Angelou, Glennon Doyle Melton, and J.K. Rowling. Reading and re-reading their stories has been beyond healing and inspiring.

Huffington Post, Momastery, and Wikipedia

Letting my fiance hold me. A nice rush from pheromones and the knowledge that the love of my life is by my side, even as the world is going to hell, is quite helpful.

beeze

Yes, we often hold each other like this. And yes, it is comforting. We’re odd people like that.

Wedding planning. It’s oddly therapeutic, and especially exciting now that I have a wedding dress! Although I’m sad said dress is at my mom’s house because I can’t just sit in a closet and stare at it whenever I want.

Singing in the church choir. Focusing on a lot of ranges as a musically-inept person is in and of itself a welcome distraction, and, as my choir director says, “Those who sing pray twice.” (Pretty sure she stole that quote from someone, but that’s OK.)

Teaching youth Sunday School. My students are some of the most passionate and woke teenagers I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting, so getting some Lectio Divina in together after talking about national affairs is extra inspiring!

youth

Writing. Whether it’s political, spiritual, nerdy, entirely personal, or a mix of all, writing is fantastic therapy, and it’s free! I get my thoughts out, see through their jumble and tangles, and feel my burdens fall to the page and leave a bit lighter than before.

And therapy itself. This kind costs money, but it’s money VERY well spent, since I can bemoan my political situation to a like-minded spirit while also receiving self-help tips to manage my anxiety in the midst of crisis.

These are ways I’m coping with political and personal stress. What are some of your methods? Please share in the comments below! We’re all in this together, so let’s help each other through!

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So You Wanna Keep Christ in Christmas?

keepchristinchristmas

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In the past month, I’ve read countless signs in front of churches demanding, “Remember, Jesus is the reason for the season!”

This week, I even saw a sign on a grocery store declaring “Happy Birthday, Jesus!”

And just to keep kids from getting a little too excited, some signs went so far as to say, “Santa never died for anybody!”

Every Advent season, I see signs like these, and year after year, I grow more exhausted with them. I’m tired of the energy expended over the so-called “War on Christmas” when we are still reeling from the aftermath of a poisonous election season and actual wars are destroying the lives of thousands.

I see these signs, and I can’t help but wonder: Who has forgotten the meaning of Christmas, the “unchurched,” or the Christians?

I wonder if so many congregations put messages like this on their signs, because they don’t want to do the hard work of living out the Gospel. They want the words, doctrines, and signs to do all the talking, and more often than not, the message is loud, clear, and cruel: we don’t want you unless you’re ready to prescribe to our rules. They want to say “Happy Birthday, Jesus!” and “It’s Merry Christmas, not Happy Holidays!” because that’s a lot easier than saying “He has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.” It’s a lot easier to make Jesus seem as proud and fear-mongering as we are instead of proclaiming the true words of God incarnate: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.”

This is tough, counter-cultural stuff to swallow. Proclaiming a war to defend and maintain our already high privilege and supremacy is so much easier and, as such, more prevalent. From personal experience, it’s much easier to act with false pride than to live in true humility.

It’s easier to act like shoving the slogan of the culture wards down the throats of “non-believers” is more effective than doing justice for the oppressed, showing mercy towards those who have hurt us, and walking humbly with the God who guides us through times of joy and deep sorrow.

It’s so easy, for everyone, to put words on a church sign, believing in the false hope that this is what will save our dwindling numbers.

It’s not so easy to live in such a way that people already know the deep good news of the Gospel in real ways, ways that can’t be fit onto church signs.

Saying “Jesus is the reason for the season” isn’t a proclamation of the good news of Christmas. It’s an empty, guilt-invoking phrase which does nothing to invite people into living a life devoted to the God who sent him. It does nothing to point to the God of Jesus, who upset the natural order of things in Jesus’ very birth in order to live among us and bring the good news of the beautiful, upside-down kingdom to a dark, hopeless world. It’s a phrase evoked in the name of a baseless culture war that continues to remind those who aren’t already aware that the Church is more concerned with having power than it is with caring for actual people.

It does nothing to explain why Mary accepted such a dangerous, beautiful mission from God. It does nothing to explain why Joseph accepted his role as co-parent to God. It does nothing to explain how significant it is for the Creator of the world to be wrapped in rags and laid in a feeding trough, because no one would give up their rooms to make way for God in flesh.

Only teaching and living the whole story does that, and it involves more than church signs.

It involves being willing to accept God’s dangerous, beautiful call to live a life of love for the poor, oppressed, marginalized, doubting, and abused. It involves making space not just in your heart, but in your own home and life, for weary travelers like Mary and Joseph. It involves clearing out physical space in your life to welcome the infant Jesus in the form of actual people whom the rest of the world wants to cast aside.

So sure, you can keep doing the “easy” task of putting the same ol’ guilt-inducing messages on your boards each year.

Just remember that eventually, it becomes the hard work of explaining to a lot of those same people who didn’t want to come why you were so preoccupied with proclaiming Jesus’ birthday instead of actually throwing a party for the ones Jesus came to love.

Please, keep Christ in Christmas, but not by forcing people to tell you “Merry Christmas” and demanding the right to put a nativity in front of your store.

Do it by living like Jesus. Then you won’t have to say much of anything, even on a church sign.

If My Anxiety Made a To-Do List

ToDoList

jokideo.com

I like and despise To-Do lists. I like them, because I feel all accomplished and put together like a real adult should when I check lots of things off of them. I despise them, because I often forget most of the things on them or find new things to add, which makes me feel less accomplished, less put together, and less “adult.”

And then I wondered what my “anxious self’s” To-Do list would look like, because I wonder if part of the reason my own To-Do list seems so long and overwhelming is due to her inserting extra things in there for me to do. If the anxiety in me actually wrote out my To-Do list, I think it would look a little bit like this:

  • Wake up.
  • Think about whether or not you’re dreading anything.
    • If you find nothing to dread, start dreading something ASAP.
    • If you remember what you’re supposed to dread, begin dreading immediately. It will be the thought that constantly pops in and out of your head today.
  • Get out of bed.
  • Prepare breakfast.
    • If you’re having cereal, fret about all the sugar and carbs you’re consuming, which will one day inevitably manifest into diabetes.
    • If you’re having something more nutritious and full of protein, like eggs, mope about the fact that you’re being healthier when you could be having sugar.
  • Go on the internet while you eat. Why just fill up on calories when you could also fill up on comparisons with people on Facebook and news clips you missed last night?
    • Facebook comparisons: Immediately freak out over how put together the lives of all your friends from college are. How could it possibly be that you graduated with these people, and they are already so much better than you?
    • News clips: Begin bearing the weight of the world on your shoulders. Reflect on how you haven’t used your power and privilege to make things better for others. Think about how you haven’t written to your government representatives to remind them to look out for their people. This is obviously all on you, so why aren’t you doing anything?
  • Close the computer and put your dishes away.
  • Get dressed.
  • Triple check your backpack and lunch bag to make sure you’re not forgetting anything. Forgetting things makes you look like an idiot in front of everyone, and they don’t like you when that happens.
  • Get in the car and drive to school.
    • Ponder how harshly people would judge your music choices as you switch through the radio channels.
  • Arrive at seminary and pray you’ll either have no questions to ask, or at least pray that someone will listen to them.
  • Attend chapel.
    • Be inspired if no one uses any “churchy” language that triggers you.
    • Be pissed off and distant if someone does, because they meant it as an attack on you and your faith journey.
  • Eat lunch.
    • If there’s easy going conversation about common interests, relax and enjoy! I’ll cut you a break for that!
    • If the conversation veers into politics and theology, begin sweating and looking for possible escape routes. By no means should you share your opinion if it completely clashes with the group or the dominating voice.
  • Begin classes.
    • Wallow in your own sense of stupidity when you translate Hebrew as a class and you realize one or two words you swore you translated right are incorrect. Even though this has no effect on your grade whatsoever, freak out about how badly you’re going to fail this class as a result.
    • Mentally smack your head against the desk repeatedly when you discuss issues facing the church with others, because when they share their opinions, you are obviously being singled out and attacked for having a more postmodern point of view, and your questions, doubts, and struggles obviously mean nothing. Remember that no one is here for you and no one understands you.
  • Drive home pondering these thoughts and more. Your energy is OK, but it’s starting to fade, so be disappointed in yourself for not always being “high.”
  • Have a quick snuggle with the kitties. You’ve neglected them all day, you mean mama.
  • Take a quick nap, no more than 20 minutes.
    • Actually, you know what? Make it 45 minutes or even an hour. Then freak out about how much time you wasted.
  • Have dinner.
    • If you want to freak out extra, have another bowl of cereal and once again freak out over how unhealthy you’re being.
    • If you want to be good, actually cook something but spend an inordinate amount of time wondering what you should make.
  • Start your homework.
    • Get jittery from the pent up energy and take breaks to jam to your Spotify playlist every time you read a sentence in a book or translate a word for Hebrew.
    • Or have a complete energy crash and take the same amount of breaks but watching Daily Show clips instead, because you need more political stimulation (You only thought we were watching it for the giggles).
  • Chat with your beau Bryce.
    • Talk about his day when you really want to go on and on about every little freak out you had instead.
    • When you inevitably take over the conversation, start beating yourself up for not being a better listener. This will help you become a better listener and better girlfriend overall.
  • If you think about them before 9:00, do your kettle bell swings, or make excuses for why you don’t need to do them despite freaking out about health on a regular basis.
  • If you think about them after 9:00, think about how disappointed your PT boyfriend will be in you but continue to do nothing about it.
  • Take a shower and ponder all the things you’ve already pondered today.
  • Get dressed in comfy clothes and read for a bit before finally going to sleep.
  • Finally, if you’re calm, try to make yourself stay that way. If anything, you’ll still find something to dread in the morning.
    • If you’re not calm, just remember that you can try all you want to get the thoughts out of your head, but they will still be there in the morning.

See you tomorrow!

Sincerely,

Your Anxious-Self-Who-Finds-This-Signature-To-Be-So-Cheesy-That-You-Will-Inevitably-Be-Judged-By-All-Who-Read-This

Dear Bruno Mars…

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http://www.last.fm/music/Bruno+Mars/+images/87835849

Dear Bruno Mars,

I keep hearing your song “When I Was Your Man” on the radio in my car and when I’m at work folding towels or ringing up customers at Bed Bath and Beyond. And after hearing it twice in one day and looking up the rest of the lyrics online today, I have a few pointers for you.

Yes, buying your girl flowers, holding her hand, and taking her to parties to dance are all fun and good, and those are great ways to show a girl you appreciate her.

But in my humble opinion. instead of buying her flowers, you could have bought her favorite dinner home for her when she had a long day at work and didn’t feel like making anything else.

Or instead of taking her to all the dance parties, you could have sat with her on the couch when she just felt like being with you or wanted to watch movies all night, or some other low-key event like that.

Or honestly, maybe she just wanted a little bit of help with the housework. Or she wanted you to be cool visiting her family, and yours. That goes a VERY long way, my friend.

Granted, your song does say some pretty awesome things. You should give people time when you can, and hold her hand, and realize your own selfish ways and make amends (as we all should). And romance is great for relationships.

But maybe, just maybe, she needed you in the more mundane, everyday things. You know, the days when you’re ready to party and the days you wanna crash, the days you’re over the moon and the days you’re struggling to get out of bed, the days you’re crazy in love and the days you’re wondering how y’all even liked each other. On those days, it takes more than flowers. It takes real, deep, nitty-gritty, working-through-every-day love.

Just some food for thought.

Much love, and better luck next time,

Lindsay