Saved By The Rant

There's nothing like a good rant to calm the soul.

What does American Progress look like?

I haven’t posted in awhile, and it’s because I haven’t known what to say. I’ve struggled with so many thoughts clouding my mind because it doesn’t seem like we’ve been capable of addressing anything. Why voice my opinion, if it’s just going to be a drop in the sea of American arguments?

Americans seem to constantly be on the tight-rope line of Progress versus Conservation – Some of us push hard to progress medically, scientifically, technologically…but some of us may also not like what progress looks like. It can be hard to find the line between moving forward and holding onto the values that make us who we are, especially when so much of our identity is seemingly based off of those values. I think the biggest issue we run into is turning our values into situations, fighting for those situations instead of working to show our values.

Nobody is “pro-abortion”

The Anti-Abortion and Pro-Abortion argument is one that upsets me, mostly because there aren’t many people that are ‘pro’ abortion. There may be people that want abortion to be legal in a variety of ways, but there are very few non-psychopaths out there that actually want women getting abortions. Starting from the narrative that one side of the discussion is people that care about life and the other side is people that actively want murder to be legal is disingenuous and hurtful to the discussion. Let’s start from a baseline: Nobody wants abortions…so why do people get them?

There’s a huge list of reasons someone may get an abortion, but an overwhelming majority of the time, according to every interview and study ever done on the topic, the woman feels she doesn’t have another option, or at least not one that’s better. Maybe she got pregnant accidentally and doesn’t feel she can care for a baby, maybe she doesn’t have the money for all the healthcare required to have it, maybe rape was involved and it’s a constant reminder of a horrible experience…in almost every case, it’s more complicated than people seem to lay out. If the reason boils down to people feeling like they have no other option…shouldn’t that be something we should provide?

Why aren’t we giving women other options?

What is our goal: To stop abortions, or to prevent women from getting them legally? Those are 2 different goals, and they have to be approached in different ways. If we want to prevent women from getting legal and safe abortions I think legislation is the right path…but if we actually want to stop abortions from taking place we need to look elsewhere. Statistics and research all agree that legislating against abortion doesn’t prevent women from getting them…it just prevents them from doing it safely. When it’s something you can do at home using products you can buy at Target…you can’t legislate it away.

Adoption in this country is often prohibitively expensive for both parties. Most domestic newborn adoptions cost between $20,000 and $40,000. For the average family, that’s far more than they can afford to start a family with. Kids are expensive, but having to shell out that kind of money just to get your foot in the door is often something that families aren’t able to do. Some of those costs are an absolute necessity to make sure everyone is cared for (healthcare costs, legal fees to make sure the relationships all work the way they need to in the future)…but why aren’t they subsidized?

Adoption is also not always a great option for the pregnant woman in these situations, because they don’t tend to have affordable healthcare (having babies is expensive) and pregnancy can take a pretty heavy toll on a person that might not have a strong support group.

If we earnestly care about babies not being aborted and coming into this world to a loving family…shouldn’t we be putting our funding toward helpful adoption practices? Spending money to actively prosecute the people having or performing abortions costs vastly more money and doesn’t actually prevent them. Shouldn’t we be putting our time toward being with women in these situations to let them know we support them? If a big hurdle for a woman going full-term is that they don’t think they have people that can help out…doesn’t the answer seem simple?

Light the Fire

This is where the church should be involved. We’re meant to be the “light in the darkness”, but there’s nothing darker than a woman agonizing over the hardest decision and situation in her life, and we’re not there for her. We’re telling her “your decision matters more than you” and we’re not supporting her if she makes a decision we don’t agree with. Why don’t churches promote adoption programs? Why don’t we help women in need better? Why do we keep saying ‘Hate the sin, love the sinner’ until it’s something we don’t agree with?

I don’t have an answer here. I want to do more, and I want everyone to do more. It angers me to see how hurtful Christians can be toward other people just because we accepted grace just a bit earlier than them.

Have any ideas? Let me know.

I don’t know what to do yet. I want to help women in these situations and I want people to feel cared-for. I want to make it easier for people to adopt, and I want women to know they have options and that one decision isn’t enough to ruin their lives. I want people to stop looking down on the decisions of others without even knowing their circumstances, and I definitely want people to remember how lucky they are for grace anytime they do.

If you have any ideas for how those things can be done, hit me up. Lighting a fire isn’t something only pastors do.

If We’re Not Real, Who Are We?

I’ve decided to start being myself.

Every day that I’m not myself, I lose more of who I’m supposed to be.

I’ve spent a lot of my life thinking and deciding who I am without just letting myself be whoever I end up being. Why do I do it? I suppose the same reason everyone does: We want to be what people accept. We want to be accepted because that means we’ll get ahead, that we’ll get what we want, and that it just makes us feel good to be wanted.

I think I’ve spent enough time trying to be something I thought I should be. I’ve spent enough time getting lost into this persona that I’ve created and then wondering why I wasn’t happy being there. The weird part is I think everybody knows we’re not made to try to be something we’re not…but everybody still wants to be something else.

Have you noticed that people that are actually happy, without faking it, are the ones who are completely comfortable in who they are?

We all know people that just seem incredibly happy with their lives, no matter if they’re going well or not. People that are just happy to be in their lives, like they realize it’s a gift to be them. It’s hard to really understand why if you’ve never been there. We live in a time when being comfortable with who you are is the exception.

Every day I wake up, I walk the dog, I sit down and start working, and I become a person that I think will excel at my job. I’m myself, too, but I’m not always the person I know I am. Sometimes I don’t even know what’s different…I just know it’s not me.

So this is my goal: I’m going to be me. I’m going to try to be comfortable with who I am, even if I’m not sure that’s what people want. I’m going to try to be comfortable with who I am, even if I’m not sure if it’ll help me get ahead. I’m going to try to be comfortable with who I am because no matter what happens that’s the best way for me to be happy.

Maybe that’s something we can all try to be.

The New Year needs some New Love

2020 was objectively terrible. There’s no opinion there, even people who accomplished more than they imagined know the year was terrible. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Kobe Bryant, Alex Trebek, and the Black Panther himself, Chadwick Boseman, died during a year we also lost, at the time of this blog post, 350,000 other Americans due to COVID. This year, with all of its issues and with everyone stuck indoors for most of it, has made a lot of people cynical and upset. We’ve been hoping 2021 would come and fix it all…but unless it starts fixing us I’m pretty sure rolling over the calendar isn’t going to make things better.

The Issue

The issue is how we love. We, as Americans, have been told our entire lives that if we work hard that we’ll get everything we dream of, but this year has been a stark reminder that life doesn’t work that way. Life isn’t fair, it’s not kind, and it doesn’t respect people that respect it…it’s just life. Everything we do and everything we are comes from and is affected by the people we live our lives with. So what’s the answer? How do we live a good life?

I’m a Christian. I believe that everything I read in the Bible must be true, but I also try to know why. The Bible, like almost every holy book for every major faith, has a pretty clear-cut way of living a good life: Improve yourself by seeing the attributes listed within and adding them to your life, then improve others by loving them and building them up. Why is that so hard?

It’s hard because everyone sees life differently, sees love differently, and has expectations for others that might differ from our own. I think this is most exemplified by parenting – I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to suggest that a vast majority of parents love their kids, but there are a million different parenting styles that people use to do it. Some parents are extremely involved and attached to their kids, some prefer leaving distance and allowing personal growth. Parents try to find the way to love their kids that will help them grow best, but it looks different because people see love differently.

What do we do about it?

Love isn’t anything crazy – it means we care about someone or something enough that we’ll give the relationship time and affection that we ordinarily wouldn’t otherwise. Many people see love as an emotion, but love is a choice. Loving someone means you decide, relentlessly and repeatedly, to give them your time, affection, and care, even when you don’t feel like it. Love means sacrificing for that person even if you’re not sure they’d sacrifice for you or, worse, when you know they wouldn’t. Love means the things you’re doing for that person aren’t contingent on them doing something for you in return.

The problem is many people equate real love to weakness – Why would I do something for people that wouldn’t do things for me in return? How do you not get taken advantage of, then?

The truth is if I’m really loving someone I might get taken advantage of. I’m supposed to show love to people I don’t know. I’m supposed to show love to people that are hurting. I’m supposed to show love to people I don’t agree with. I’m supposed to show love to people that are hurting me. I’m supposed to be love to people because that’s the best way to show people how to love.

The Man in the Mirror

If I want things to change, if I want things to be better, I can’t always expect other people to make it better. You can’t legislate it, you can’t expect the church to create it, and you can’t hope others will do it. Love is something I have to decide to show, and then it’s something I have to work hard to come through on.

You want the New Year to be better than the last one? Practice showing love more than you did every day. If it feels sappy it’s probably making someone else feel pretty good. Tell people how much you enjoy them. Tell people how much you care about them. Tell people how much you want them to succeed and how much you want them to be happy. The alternative is we live the same lives we lived last year, and that’s just not an option worth fighting for. I want to love people like I haven’t before, and I want to be held accountable to it.

Expectations, Tendencies, and Who’s Most Important

Expectations can kill something before it’s ever born. A relationship, a career, or even what relief we can get out of something created to reduce our stress. Expectations are a natural part of planning the future, but I think we do it wrong. We create our expectations by thinking through how we see something and then telling ourselves how it’ll work out…but since we don’t know the future, why are we so arrogant to create expectations for how it will happen? The answer comes down to how we see ourselves.

Tendencies inform who we are. They inform how we live. They even inform how others will see us and prepare their own expectations for us. Tendencies are nothing more than what we will “tend” to do in a given situation, but human beings like things to fit into boxes which means we’ll attribute tendencies to areas that they might not fit. If you see someone cry after losing their phone you might think they have a tendency to be sad when they don’t have a way to communicate with friends…but what you might not know is that their phone contained the last messages from a friend who is now gone. Context is the most important thing in determining tendencies, but since we don’t tend to have the full context we form what we think people’s tendencies are without it. Why? The answer comes down to how we see others.

See, the most important thing in this world is how you choose to interact with the people around you, and it almost always comes down to one thing: Do you believe them to be less important than you, equal to you, or more important than you? If you believe yourself to be more important, even if you don’t admit it, you’ll more-quickly set expectations for how the relationships will work, and more-quickly determine tendencies that you think they’ll follow. It’s what our brains want to do, and it’s easy to do it quickly if you don’t find it important to treat them as individuals. If what happens to you is more important than what happens to others, even the most well-intentioned decisions will not improve the lives around you as much as they’ll improve your own.

If, however, you find the lives of others as important or more important than your own, you’ll more rarely set expectations for how those relationships will work because you understand that they’re individuals who have their own lives and struggles. You’ll take much longer to determine tendencies that you think they’ll follow because you understand that there’s context to every decision. If what happens to others is more important than what happens to you, even the most lazy and selfish decisions will improve the lives around you as much or more than they’ll improve your own.

People notice how much they’re cared for. People notice how much they’re loved by others. When they do, they will tend to believe that your decisions are for their good and, even when things go south, they’ll understand that there are reasons why things don’t always work out.

I want to be a person that loves others unconditionally, because I’m not that person and I’ve seen how it hurts others. I want to be an example of how to put others first, because I believe if everyone did our world would be a very different place. Let’s stop setting expectations for how we want relationships in our lives to go. Let’s stop putting people in boxes based on how we think they’ll act or react to things.

Let’s put the well-being of others first – the worst thing that can happen is it makes people feel better.

A Festivus for the Rest Of Us – Political edition

Years ago a prophet named Frank Costanza had a fight in a department store over a doll and it resulted in a new holiday being formed. That holiday has allowed us, for years, to air our grievances at the end of each year as a way of celebrating life. Gather ’round your aluminum poles and let’s celebrate together.

This year has been hard. Nothing has been normal, people have been distant, and Taco Bell did away with a majority of their menu at a time when Americans were already struggling. We’ve seen division like never before, and while many are thinking “2021 is coming!” I’m not sure I see that as the salvation of humanity.

America has an identity crisis. The streets are filled with people screaming conspiracy theories, complaining about communism, or telling perfect strangers they want nothing more than to kill off democracy…but for some reason we don’t seem capable of understand that those are only symptoms of the issue. The issue is that we’re divided over an ideology nobody is discussing: Social Responsibility vs Personal Liberty.

A long long time ago, in a place not so far away, a government system was created to protect and care for the American people. Over the next 100 years or so they introduced a massive number of alterations to their initial ruleset so that we’d be protected not only from foreign entities but also ourselves. Those amendments and what really govern much of what the federal government can do and how we interact with it…but that’s also where the arguments come from.

What it all boils down to is that we can choose to see those amendments as either Social Responsibility, where we’re responsible for making sure our country and its people are all cared for properly, or Personal Liberty, where we’re given the freedom to be the people we want to be without interference from others. We’re meant to see them as both. The Constitution is meant to give us the freedom to live our lives the way we see fit, if we’re not interfering with the lives of others (since doing so infringes on their freedom to live the way they see fit), while also demanding that we use the freedoms we have to care for each other. If we don’t, we’re not living as a society and the whole system breaks down.

We can’t focus on only one side of the argument or the other – neglecting half o the equation means our country is no-longer a society of people, but eventually just a place where people live. Patriotism means we have to care more about the health and wellbeing of our society than our own, at times. Not doing exactly that makes us unpatriotic, and unAmerican.

Think about what would change if we cared more about the well-being of people we don’t know than we do ourselves. Think about how different our country would be, how much better off life could be, and how much further we could go together.

Mental Health is important, which is why this exists

Life is tiring. People are tiring. Everything we experience in our daily lives seems to exist to tempt us to either lose control or give up. I’ve heard the best way to deal with these pressures is to let them out, and that’s what I’m going to do. I’m not sure who, if anyone, will read this…but if I’m going to journal my thoughts I’m going to do it right.

Buckle up. I don’t know where this journey’s going, but it’s probably going to be pretty bumpy.

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