This morning I told someone I’d never had sex before I got married. He was shocked, obviously.

Then I told him that I thought it was wrong to have sex outside marriage. Of course, he was offended.

Who wouldn’t be? Why should someone take kindly to being told that their lifestyle is “wrong”? What right do I have to say that?

I asked him to be “tolerant” of my beliefs – including tolerating the fact that I believe that morality is more than the “don’t hurt others” style he has. But why should he tolerate that? Do I really expect him to think it’s ok that his friend is “judging” him?

I tried to appeal to his experience of knowing me – was I “judging” him? I am his friend and don’t ram this down his throat, so maybe he is wrong to say I am judging him just because I hold a view about his behaviour.

We argued quite a lot about whether only having one sexual partner was the best way to be happy. This was because I’d said that I believed God made us to be that way and he’d told us to do it because it would make us happy. Apart from offending him a bit more, this didn’t make much difference, since he disagrees with me – he thinks his various experiences make him a better judge of who he wants to end up with.

Of course the whole thing hinges on this one point: do you believe that God made us to be with one person? Since he doesn’t believe in God (the Christian one at least), the idea of this sounds ridiculous to him.

I did talk a bit about evidence in terms of divorce rates, but that’s very weak, and I tried to reason with him about how he’d feel if his girlfriend had had lots of sexual partners, but he wasn’t convinced by that – his girlfriend has had several partners and he’s not bothered by it.

I am convinced that my choice (plus lots of fortunate circumstances meaning God helped me stick to it even in moments of extreme weakness) has made me happier in my life, and allowed me to enjoy my marriage unrestricted by some hurtful experiences and unhindered by spiritual, emotional and physical ties to someone else. Meanwhile, he is completely unconvinced, thinks I’m pretty mad, and is more than a little offended by what I think of him.

We spent the rest of the day making sure we were alright with each other, trying to be friendly and show the other one we were still friends. He seems to have forgiven me or whatever.

It’s pretty rough being a moral absolutist in a culture where moral relativism is the only really accepted morality. No wonder Christians have a reputation for being judgemental.

By the way, yes, I did tell God that I was giving him the day this morning.

And yes, I do regret it.

Actually, no I don’t – I’m glad it’s out in the open. He should know that his friend is “judging” him if that’s how he thinks of it.

I told him I didn’t think my moral standards applied to him unless he was a Christian (i.e. I still think they’re true, but I agree he has no reason to follow them, and I don’t accuse/condemn him for not following them) and we got onto whether I wanted him to become a Christian.

He was offended that I wanted to convert him. And again, of course he was – who wouldn’t be? I tried to use an analogy about pulling your friend out of a well or whatever, but that is so offensive to someone who stepped into the “well” themselves, and likes it there, and thinks it’s morally right to be there.

So I think myself lucky he’s still talking to me and I guess I’ll have to pray that God will use my sorry words for his purposes. Thank goodness it’s God who converts people, not us.

Just thought I’d tell you about my day.

Addressing Eating Disorders

I want to start out by thanking you for providing an avenue to share openly about anything in our hearts. I am a 24-year-old female, married with no children (yet). I am writing on an issue that I feel is not getting the correct attention it needs and the problem is continuing to grow widely. This problem is eating disorders. I struggled with both Anorexia and Bulimia.

I am happy to say I am now a healthy recovering bulimic. I would like to give you a little of my background. I was treated for Anorexia when I was a young teen. I went through an extensive treatment center, which I feel did not address the real issues. My mother pulled me out eventually and brought me home. With the help of my pastors and mother I really feel that God healed me from anorexia. That was wonderful and I can always be thankful for that. The problem began after the healing. When the healing occurred everyone dropped the issue and it was NEVER addressed again. There is this thought that if you are healed you shouldn’t ever have to deal with it again. Or maybe, the issue is that if you are healed you shouldn’t have to think about that problem again. Well, I didn’t and a year or so down the road through emotional open doors, I began struggling with bulimia. I fell very fast into this disease. Not only did I then have to deal with the shame of being bulimic behind closed doors, but I also felt that maybe I was never really truly healed. I got to a point in my life where I just started praying that God would give me the desire to stop being bulimic. I can honestly say I was very scared not be bulimic and really didn’t desire it. God started to give me that desire through simple prayers. There is a lot that went on within a 6-month period within myself and with the help of the church. With a lot of humbleness and people who showed me love with no strings attached I am now enjoying a life without bulimia. It is so much better than I ever imagined!! It is so wonderful to just live life honestly and openly with no secrets.

I now live knowing that I will always be a recovering bulimic, and that IS OK. I will not hide from that ever again. By hiding from it I allowed a weakness to be attacked. There is nothing wrong with having weaknesses. God doesn’t want us to hide from our weakness. He wants them to be exposed to the light. When they are exposed to the light He is able to protect us from them and help us. I want others to know that it is not weak to admit you have a problem with an eating disorder. You are the strongest person if you are willing to admit it and let God in to help. Healing can be an immediate thing, but it doesn’t have to be immediate. God is in the process of using others to continually heal all of us everyday. He can only use us if we are willing to be used.

I feel in this society it is an issue that is pushed under the “shame” rug. It is an issue that is hidden to the world and people are taught to be shameful about it. There is not enough attention being brought to this issue, especially in the church. Whatever the reason is, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that this is the fastest growing mental illness in the United States.

People are afraid to talk about the disease and all the feelings and problems that go along with it. By being afraid of this disease we are only being defeated by it. The Lord has an answer just as he does for anyone dealing with any addiction. Eating disorders are a form of an addiction. If you avoid the addiction, you become the addiction. We can’t be afraid to talk about it in the church. The church has the opportunity to be the strongest support for this addiction, as it does for any other addiction in today’s society. The church can to be the place that people can come to open up and talk about their struggle with eating disorders. They need to know it is OK to struggle with an eating disorder.

They need to know they are no less of a person for having struggled with their addiction.

They need to know God loves them as much while they are struggling with the eating disorder as to when they are not.

There needs to be an understanding that they are loved unconditionally all the time no matter what.

The church is the perfect avenue to offer this kind of emotional support. The first step before even addressing the issue of the food or lack of food addiction is learning to believe in your heart that God loves you unconditionally. If it takes a year for someone to realize that, or if it takes only 6 weeks, it doesn’t matter. A person struggling with an addiction needs to know they are loved with or without the addiction. If you can help a person to see they are loved for who they are, then you have done what Jesus has asked all of us to help one another with.

I believe that I went through what I went through for a purpose. I am such a unique individual with unique experiences. Everyone has experiences in life; everyone has an opportunity to help others with the love of Jesus. If I choose to live ashamed of those experiences and not help or share them with someone who might need to hear it, I am only hurting others. I really believe God uses his children to help his children. He doesn’t want us to go through the hurt we go through. However, there is sin in our world and we will all go through our own hurt. He is such a wonderful Father that He puts us in the paths of others in order to share His love with one another. Sometimes just showing someone the pure love of Jesus can make the world of a difference. I pray that my willingness to be openly honest about my struggles will help others in love. If it helps one person to realize that they are loved individually and uniquely by God, then I have just begun to do my ministry here on this earth.

With love and honesty
Kari Jo

Spread the word – Fliers!

I’ve decided it’s time to get the word out. Other people need a place where they can say what they really think, and we shouldn’t keep it to ourselves.

I’ve designed some fliers that would be suitable for cutting up and giving out or leaving around at a freshers’ fair at uni or somewhere else like that. They’re here:

Why not print some off and give them out, or make your own? If you have any good ideas I’ll put them up on thesite for others to use.

If you’d like the original document I can send it to you so you can adapt it too.

What to do:

Why not spend one afternoon hanging around at freshers’ fair near the CU stall giving out fliers to people walking by? Someone might come past who’s going to have a terrible time at uni and would really benefit from the sympathetic ear they can get at GE.

If you’re not a student think of somewhere else you can give them out. Why not print off a few and have them hanging around until you think of a person or situation where people might be interested?

Let me know on about anywhere you do anything to spread the word.

Let’s get the message out that there are people who understand. It’s needed.

Jesus the milkman

A friend came for dinner the other night. Let’s call him Josh. He helps with the local Care Van for the homeless; last time he went out on the van, one of the other helpers said she was sick of giving coffee to people who weren’t particularly needy, and who were taking advantage of them.

Josh told me that he replied in this striking way: “You’ve forgotten the whole point of why we’re out here. We’re not here primarily to help the very neediest. We’re here to show some people that Jesus is in the world.”

I may agree or disagree with his take on Care Van policy, but his comment got me thinking again about us representing Jesus in this world. If Jesus worked at my workplace, what would that be like? How would he organise his time? How would he answer his emails? What would he chat about?

We’ve talked previously at this site about the “What would Jesus do?” (WWJD) products. One of the key problems for me with these products is that many Christians look at them and feel guilty or restrained from doing something, rather than feel inspired to imagine seriously what Jesus would do (which would usually be something unexpected, shocking, creative and positive). I’m asking you to think about the latter – what exactly would Jesus the milkman do? Or Jesus the accountant? Or Jesus the [fill in your job here]?

I want to represent Jesus in my workplace. I’m not sure how. This type of WWJD thinking may indeed lead me to feel some guilt, but there’s some guilt I need to feel. However, my intention is to move beyond that – how can we genuinely be actively Christlike in our practical, daily life? How can we show our colleagues that Jesus is in the world?

The workplace is just one aspect. Josh is facing a serious marriage breakdown – what does it mean to show his wife that Jesus is in the world? Or for us, the people we relate to?

Draw me out

Sometimes I feel stupid talking to you because it often crosses my mind that you might not exist. But I do talk to you, and maybe that means I believe in you enough for the moment.

I need to ask you something.

Someone at church the other day asked you to “draw our worship from us”. It really helped me think about it. I always just stand there in church trying to sing, trying to worship, to feel and I don’t get anywhere. I don’t know what worship is, and I can’t make myself feel it.

But God I know that our whole life is supposed to be worship, and I want that to be what my life is like, but I can’t do it.

Please would you draw my worship from me? Take my life – my stuff, my friendships, my work and make it yours. Draw out of all that a life of worship to you. I want to do it, but all I can do is get up, drink tea, drive somewhere, whatever. I can’t make it worship, but I want to live inside you, and I know you can help. Will you?