Category Archives: Daily Paradigm Shift

Are You Missing Community?

I lived in China as a TEFOL instructor at a Chinese boarding school for a year when I was still in college. Among all the cultural differences I observed, I couldn’t help but notice how different the Chinese students who lived on the campus related to each other compared to American students I had observed before.

In the class, no one was ever left out of activities. Even if it was obvious certain students didn’t get along, it was never an option to not include everyone in activities. Being part of the group was a given for them.

In our Western culture, this is not so.

Everyone has to earn their place in the group, which can be exhausting. There is always the chance that you will mess up badly enough that you will be kicked out and rejected. This undercurrent of fear keeps people from being completely authentic with each other also.

Part of this is due to our modern society with its continuous motion. In the past, most people lived their entire lives in the same community. They often had to rely upon one another just to survive. This forced people to learn to get along with each other, even those they really didn’t like. Everyone knew the group was too important to sacrifice to petty differences. They truly saw that they needed each other.

Read the rest here.

Not So Toxic Masculinity–Men, We Need Your Strength

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I explained it to my husband like this: when I am walking down a narrow street and a man calls out to me, I am instantly afraid. He may have no ulterior motives except to compliment me, but I don’t know him. I only know that we are alone, and he is stronger than me, making me vulnerable. I don’t intend to judge every man I meet as a possible attacker, but I am foolish not to think there is a possibility. Every woman can attest to that undercurrent of fear.

That being said, I also believe that most men coming upon a woman being attacked would use that same strength to protect her from harm. I have seen it happen many times. My own husband has stepped up many times to protect those who are weaker and, for that, I am very grateful.

Using Strength to Help

I remember one strange scenario where he was driving down the road and a woman fell out of a car as it turned the corner. My husband got out of the car to see what was happening. The woman lay unconscious on the ground. The male driver got out and started dragging her back to the vehicle. Many times he dropped her, so that her head hit the ground. My husband was furious and got between the man and the woman, keeping the man from reaching her again. He warned the man that he would hurt him if he tried to touch her again. He then waited until the police showed up.

I am proud of him for doing that. I am proud of every man who uses his strength to protect another from harm. This is the kind of masculinity that we appreciate. While we might want our men to curb any acts of aggression believing it leads to toxic masculinity, I disagree. I want my husband to aggressively defend me and my three children.  I need him too.

Faith Moore in an interesting article called “The Prince Is a Letdown: Why Women Love Monsters (And What that Says About Masculinity)” explains that women are drawn to the monsters in stories–the beast in Beauty and the Beast, Edward Cullen in Twilight, and the Phantom in Phantom of the Opera.

But, of course, men who behaved in real life like the way these monsters do in their stories would not be the kind of men we’d want to associate with…But the stories deal with that too. The moment that Belle begins to fall in love with the Beast is the moment in which he uses that brute force and rage to protect her. Edward’s appeal lies largely in his struggle to keep his monstrous urges at bay for the sake of his love for Bella. When the Phantom murders Piangi we know, in our hearts, that Christine can never be with him because he’s shown he can’t channel his urges for good….It’s the way the monsters channel and control their overwhelming urges in response to the love they feel for their partners that really seals the deal for us.

Whether most women would admit it or not, there is an attraction to strength. However, it isn’t the presence of it that is so appealing–it’s the control of it. Why is the image of a strong, muscled man holding a baby so beautiful? It is the perfect image of strength under control–for the sake of love.

Read the rest here.

Photo by Victor Freitas on Unsplash

Grieving On the Wrong Side of the Grave

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There are many movies of ghosts who haunt the living.  Sometimes the ghosts are stuck, sometimes they are seeking justice, and sometimes they just look with longing on those who are alive.  In fact, in one YA novel, the ghosts can even “possess” the bodies of those who have given up in life, giving the ghosts another chance of living in a physical body.  The idea that runs through these stories is clear, life is precious and those that lose it grieve its loss.

Of course, we would all agree with this.  It is clear that life, given to us by God, is something we should value and protect at any cost.  But, I sometimes wonder, if perhaps we don’t have the whole picture. I wonder if, in fact, we are grieving on the wrong side of the grave.

I like to imagine a different story.

One where a person dies, but then this person then has a whole new perspective.  They see that they spent their whole life fearing death, but it was actually a doorway to something greater and more than beautiful than what they could have ever imagined.  This person’s response to the grieving of loved ones left behind might be different from what we’d expect. Maybe, instead, this person’s grief for those left behind is actually greater than their grief for the one who died.

Let’s think of it this way–what if we could crawl back inside the minds we had inside the wombs of our mothers.  To us, the life we lived inside would be the only life we knew. We would have grown up here, learned things, figured out how things worked.  Then one day, things change. It gets uncomfortable, and then,  we are squeezed out. This would be terrifying, something to mourn, but, as we now know, this is absolutely necessary in order for real life to begin.

Read the rest here on Daily PS.

Being Made Needy by Wealth

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Wealth can be a blessing, but it can also be a cross to bear.  This is because wealth makes us needy.

For example, as I walk around my house, I am quick to observe any items out of place.  The picture on the wall in the bathroom is off kilter. I notice my hands as I adjust it and my fingernails need to be clipped.  I sit in my ergonomic chair with my screen eye level and a footrest for my feet. I open my fridge packed with healthy, and not so healthy, food for me to eat.  But it’s not enough…I still need more.

It’s Not Enough

I need my house to be the perfect temperature, a package to be on route (and on time), my clothes to fit in just the right way, and for there to be no miscommunications or difficulties in my day. When these don’t occur in just the right way, I am perturbed, unsettled, and irritable.  I caught myself today wondering why these small things can so easily disrupt my happiness. I have realized that wealth has made me needy.

Having comfort and ease at my fingertips has not really made me enjoy my life more–instead, it has set the bar of happiness so high that it seems even more impossible to reach than it did before.  I didn’t do this on purpose, and I certainly didn’t see it coming, though I should have seen the signs.

Read the rest here on Daily PS.

Learning to Feast

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I am a person who knows how to survive but not a person who always knows how to feast. My family, like many others,  often went through the motions of family celebrations like Thanksgiving but without the heart behind it. Years of hurt would fill the room like a noxious gas, stifling and heavy.  Though I did not perceive it clearly as a child, this has affected my ability to truly feast as God intended.

As I grew older, this expressed itself in my pragmatic nature that sought to do the bare minimum when it came to celebrations, not because I did not care, but because I did not have an example to follow. I worried about cost and time and whether the energy was worth my investment. Weighing and balancing every ounce, I brought my own noxious fumes into every celebration–fumes of deprivation and want.

I have prided myself on my efficiency, but I am starting to see that the driving force behind this meticulous calculation is fear.

God Loves to Feast

It is not so with God. The most glaring evidence of God’s lavishness is creation itself. Without any apparent reason, He has sprinkled, no poured, beauty out upon us—many times in places that no human eyes can even feast upon it. We are surrounded by a spectrum of colors and smells and tastes that are downright dizzying in their diversity. These things have no real purpose in creation either–we don’t need to taste food in order to eat it. Yet, we do taste–flavorful dishes that not only meet our physical needs, but also overwhelm us with texture and nuances of flavor.

Read more here.