Mom-to-Mom Etiquette

Mom-to-Mom etiquette:  Based on 4.5 years now of the Mom World, in three cities on two coasts, in no particular order…

  • Offer to help clean up whatever mess your children have made. Offer to clean up messes your children didn’t make, and you get a gold star.
  • Thank you notes for meals/gifts are seriously lacking these days, in my old-fashioned opinion. I’m even old-fashioned enough to think they’re best in the form of ink-on-paper-in-an-envelope-with-a-stamp – because who among us gets nice handwritten notes in the mail anymore? Not nearly enough, I say.
  • I honestly don’t expect you to tidy up the house for me to come over. Don’t expect me to, either. Don’t we both have little people as our priority? The fellow mom who looks askance at my clutter is one I’m not likely to invite over very often. (I feel the same about wearing makeup. Gasp.)
  • Don’t ever imply that a C-section is a second-class way to have a baby, or that a natural birth at home earns a gold medal. Seems to me a healthy mom and baby are what really count. (See post from May 2012 for a longer rant on this topic.)
  • Give more than lip service to the oft-spouted lines, “Every child is different,” and “Every family has to do what works best for them.” Every child IS different, and every family IS unique. I can hear the silent judgment in a fellow mom’s head way too loudly in my own, can’t you? There’s enough second-guessing about motherhood without “friends” to add to the chorus. I don’t want to be one of those judges. (I’m not qualified. Nor are you.)
  • Is it possible we could just drop in on each other? That feels a lot like community to me. Having to schedule three weeks in advance feels more like I’m an imposition, who ought to be counting her blessings she was found worthy of being worked into the schedule. (Alas, I’ve been on the guilty end of this too!)
  • It’s nice to pray for a friend – even nicer to tell her so, and nicest of all to pray for her in person. I’d like to be more that kind of friend. I’d like more friends like that. We moms live alone far too much. (Not healthy even for us introverts.)
  • Hugs are rarely inappropriate between fellow moms. They’re nice as a greeting, as a farewell, and especially great as solidarity, comfort, and strength. They’re especially meaningful if you have to overcome a socially awkward moment to give them – it means you care more about the person you’re hugging than how awkward you feel/look.
  • Me, I like phone calls and visits more than texts, unless we’re just handling logistics. It’s hard to tell a person’s heart or emotional state on a text, emoticons or no. Here again, I know this makes me old-fashioned, that I prefer conversation to correspondence. Oh well.
  • I can’t seem to think of a tenth protocol right now – Fill in the blank with your own!
Published in: on August 30, 2012 at 1:11 am  Leave a Comment  

On Sexual Lust, or “The Problem Isn’t in Your Eyes – or My Body”

The Continuum:

Libertinism………………………………………..Asceticism

I’m not the problem.

Really, I’m not. Just because I’m female…not overweight…and wear a bikini on the beach – none of this makes me the problem for any male believer dealing with lust.

And because I’m not the problem, I’m not the answer either. The problem, my brothers, is in your heads and hearts, and therefore the solution also lies there (via the Holy Spirit). Sorry, I can only help you by praying for you to think like Jesus. ’Cuz I sure would love for you to look at me like Jesus does.

And I’ll tell you, Jesus doesn’t avoid looking at me any more than he looks at me “lustfully in his heart.”

That’s because Jesus never forgets what he’s looking at when he looks at a woman (beautiful by her culture’s standards or not): a beautiful and holistic creation of his Father – a body with a soul and spirit and intellect, all so intricately bound together they are inseparable.

Oh, my brothers in Jesus, that you would look at your sisters in Christ – indeed, at all women – through this lens!

You see, to indulge in the thinking at either end of this continuum (see above) is to think – and therefore behave – askew.

Believers generally agree on the base problem with the libertine approach. Full indulgence of  lust leads to all kinds of havoc, which hardly needs to be listed here. (And, I might add, even our licentious culture reluctantly concedes outright libertinism is a dangerous path.) What’s the bottom line sin with this thinking and behavior? Women become purely sexual objects – harmful to them, and a blatant disregard for the fact that their Creator made them complex creatures – body, soul, and spirit – in his very own image.

Bad, bad, we say. “Don’t go there!” churches and leaders scream, plead, exhort, and rebuke men. “Stay out of Hooters and strip clubs and get the protective software to keep you away from porn.”

And the solution that gets touted by Arterburn & Co.? “Stay away from women. Don’t look. Whatever you do, DON’T LOOK!!!” As if they’re seizing Lot by the hand as he runs wildly from the burning cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. As if women were the equivalent of those cesspools, and these brothers are in danger of turning into pillars of salt if they turn their eyes towards the wickedness of womankind.

There are two problems with this line of thinking. First of all, it simply doesn’t work. Our culture is awash, positively swimming in sexual temptation; a blind man can see it. So unless my brother retreats to a desert hermitage, he will be exposed to this temptation, “parental controls” on or no.

Another reason it doesn’t work is that even believers cannot sustain this kind of thinking forever. We men and women are frail in the sinful nature, however willing our spirits might be.

To put it more theologically, this type of discipline is based on the Law, not Grace. And we all know where the Law gets us: fallen and condemned, however hard we try.

The second problem with this line of thinking is that it does the same thing to women as the licentious approach: it objectifies us. The guy who ogles me objectifies me as a sexual object; the brother, however well-intentioned, who avoids me (including eye contact but especially any kind of touch) also objectifies me. Worse, he makes me the source of temptation.

I am not. Unless I’m genuinely being tempting (and it will be obvious), I am not the temptation. Please, don’t look at me as an evil to be avoided, and don’t quote the Psalmist in the process (“I will set before my eyes no vile thing,” Ps. 101:3a).

I am a complete person. I have a body, a soul, a spirit, a mind, a heart. No one part of me defines me. God made me complex in so many ways. And I invite you to appreciate all of me as a reflection of God’s beauty, God’s creativity, and God’s holiness.

Look at me, please, the way Jesus does: straight in the eye, with a smile of acceptance and hands outstretched in friendship and strength. Don’t turn the other way because I’m female.

Please – will a man in the church stand up and teach this? I will applaud, “amen,” and happily pitch in to see this message make its way into the hearts of my brothers who so want to walk in holiness. Many of these men work so doggedly to stay sexually pure, constructing all the defensive behavioral barriers Arterburn & Co. tell them to put around their eyes, minds, and marriages.

But my brothers in Christ cannot win this battle by taking only a defensive stance. The true freedom – with any issue – comes when our minds are transformed and our hearts renewed. I want to see you men set free from the long and futile slough of self-help, into the light of thinking and seeing like Jesus.

In that place, you will find a rich, beautiful world of rich, beautiful relationships with beautiful (because they were made by your Father) women.

I long to see us all free of the Law, and I long to see women free of objectification.

Because we sisters (we women) are weary of being seen as a problem to be avoided. We want to walk in dynamic and rich friendship and partnership with our brothers in Christ – to show the world how Jesus sees…and how he loves.

Published in: on August 2, 2012 at 1:20 am  Comments (24)