Rock Wall Christians

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Last week I took my children to a VBS Family Night at our church. It was a way to have some family fun as well as for the VBS leaders to build relationships with the families of some of our VBS team members who do not attend our church. We had pizza, inflatables and a 16ish feet tall rock wall.
My son had conquered the rock wall before we even ate dinner. My daughters, however, seemed content to run through the inflatable obstacle course. But then their friends started talking about reaching the top and they wanted in on the action.
My daughters are 5 years old, 43 inches tall and 45 pounds. In other words, tall and thin. They often try to climb the rock wall at the gym where I am a member, but they have never made it to the top. They like to climb about 4 feet up and then ride the cable back down. And then do it again! However, time was not a luxury they had this time. There was a line of about fifteen children behind us waiting for their turn. I was nervous I was about to have some upset little girls on my hands.
My first daughter started up the wall with no problems, until she got about 6 feet high. Then she froze. I could just reach her foot, but could not get her to follow my advice on how to move up. That is when it happened. A gentleman from our church with two daughters himself came by to cheer them on. He saw that she was stuck and coached her the rest of the way up until she pushed the buzzer and shouted “Look Mommy!”
Now it was my second daughter’s turn. She got about 3 feet up – and came back down. I gave her some encouragement and she was up again. But, again at about 3 feet, she stopped. The same gentleman came over to her and coached her up. She pushed the button with her hands shaking, but she did it!
As I thought back over the night, I realized that this was a beautiful illustration of how Christianity is supposed to be. Hebrews 12: 1-2 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Not only did my daughters have the gentleman coaching them up the wall, but they also had a crowd of about 50 people cheering them on. A few were even using their names specifically. (That’s tricky with identical twins!) It was so beautiful to see my daughters being encouraged by such a group of people who love them. I know that my children have an even larger audience of Christians who love them and will continue to encourage them throughout their entire life. They also have a “cloud of witnesses” in Heaven cheering them on through their Christian walk.
This is what Christianity should be. Our entire country has mourned with the church shootings in Charleston last week. However, as the Christian community, we should feel it even deeper. These are our brothers and sisters, whether we have ever actually met them or not. My church honored them this past Sunday with a bouquet, a moment of silence and a prayer time for the physical families and the church family of the victims. Bouquets were also sent to our local AME churches, signifying our unity with them. We are one family.
Wednesday at about lunch time I was in the gym. I typically exercise with music in my earbuds or while talking to my sweet friend, not paying attention to the bank of TVs. However, on Wednesday, I had neither one. I was captured by the images of the funeral procession for the pastor of the church in Charleston. His casket was on a horse drawn carriage being pulled by white horses. The image stopped me in my tracks. I was mesmerized. Maybe this image made it a reality for me.
I wept. Right there in the middle of the gym, I wept. Thinking about this pastor reminded me again of the Hebrews passage earlier. I am sure this pastor was a Rock Wall Christian. The reports about him I have read describe him as a coach. An encourager. A Rock Wall Christian. A huge loss to the Christian community. However, he is now a part of the Heavenly cheering section, that great cloud of witnesses. I can almost hear him. He is asking us to unify, not separate over this. He is calling all of us to also be Rock Wall Christians.

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Body shaming vs. Modesty

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I have seen several articles lately talking about body shaming of girls. The latest story I have seen was arguing that a school’s dress code was teaching body shaming. When did teaching modesty become shameful?
I currently teach in a public elementary school, but have also spent time teaching in a public middle school as well as a public college. Each institution applied a dress code to both male and female students, as well as faculty members. Students (or faculty) who violate the dress code receive a warning. Further violations result in further consequences. This is regardless of gender. Period. The end.
However, let’s be honest, do guys need as many guidelines as girls? Sure, there are those who need reminders to pull up their pants. Their waistbands are called WAIST bands for a reason. They are not thighbands or kneebands. You look silly showing your underwear (also called UNDERwear for a reason) and you walk a lot faster when you are not having to hold your pants up.
But, in general, it’s the girls who need the reminders. Some of these are for safety purposes, but others teach MODESTY. We need reminders about what shoes to wear. This is a huge one in my two story school building. We also need reminders to cover up the areas that don’t need to be public and that when we don’t, we are a distraction to others and, let’s be honest again, some of those skimpy clothes are JUST NOT COMFORTABLE. Most are also not cute. On. Anyone. The reality is that when you are showing too much skin you distract the boys, the other girls, the teacher, and even yourself.
On the contrary, dressing modestly keeps the focus where it should be – on learning. Modesty does not mean boring or not cute. More modest clothing is actually very attractive – for the right reasons. It draws emphasis on what we should use to attract people to ourselves: our minds and hearts.
Nowhere does modesty work to shame women’s bodies. Instead, it works to teach us to value ourselves physically, mentally and emotionally. It also teaches others to value us. If you show others that you deserve to be held in high esteem and that you won’t tolerate anyone treating you any differently it sets the standard for everyone else to follow. Men who do not want to value you will run. This might mean that the man you think you want will run. But that means he isn’t worth your time – at least not yet. Don’t lower your standards – make him raise his. If he doesn’t … his loss. That means that God has someone way better waiting for you.
Is there body shaming out there? Sure. But dress codes and teaching modesty are not the same thing as body shaming. Body shaming works to make us embarrassed of our body and to feel ashamed of the beautiful creation of God that we are. That is wrong. Modesty works to make us feel proud of ourselves in every way and reminds us that we are precious and deserving of value.
Let’s be honest. As women, we know what our clothes can do to others, especially males. We know how to attract attention, and not always the kind of attention we want. Am I saying that a woman who dresses provocatively deserves to be mistreated? ABSOLUTELY NOT! However, as women we should be responsible enough to choose our clothing wisely.
I can hear you now. “But it is so hot! I need to wear less clothing.” Really? I live near Atlanta, GA. We know some hot weather. Add in humidity and … well, just suffice to say there is a reason that it is nicknamed HOTlanta. When you sweat looking out the window, you know it is bad. But really, does a few extra inches of clothing make that big of a difference? I am not out wearing jeans in Atlanta July weather, but neither am I wearing shorts that show off private body parts. My four inch above the knee shorts keep me plenty cool. Well, as cool as you can get in Atlanta in July.
Come on, ladies. Cover up what needs to be covered up. Certain things are simply intended for your husband and no one else. Show some modesty and self-confidence.

One of my favorite Christian authors, Beth Moore, has said it better than anyone else I have heard.  Here are her thoughts:

Well said, Beth!!!