Friday, June 17, 2011

David in our Midst-Happy Father's Day!!!!

My Sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; and a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.  Psalm 51:17

This weekend is Father’s day and for some reason Father’s day is not as celebrated as Mother’s day. Yes I know, I've heard it all. All of the reasons why mothers ought to be more celebrated than fathers. Women seem to carry the weight of the world on their shoulders; working full time while nurturing their family. The Haitian culture has this saying my mother would often repeats “a father can always deny his child but a mother will never.” Not to mention all of the “men are stupid, absent minded and oblivious commercials; all of which seems to make a compelling case for dishonoring men and fathers.

It breaks my heart to see how we dishonor our brothers with such demeaning rhetoric.  I think we can do better.

The bible has a narrative about a man very much like our modern day men; husbands and fathers. His name was David. Acts 13:22 refers to David as a man after God’s heart. If we look deeper into David's story, we will come out not fully understanding the characteristics that deem a man God saw after his heart. This man David was an adulterer, he committed adultery with Bathsheba (a married woman), she became pregnant and to cover his sin, he sends her husband, Uriah to battle so that he would be killed in order to have her as his wife. Many theologians theorize that the relationship David had with Bathsheba was not consensual since David was the King, his position of power alone would not allow Bathsheba the right to refuse the King's request.  To make matters worst David wasn't a very good father, his children were quite rebellious and he did not reprimand as they deserved.

Two of the sins society seems to abhor the most in a man, David had committed: infidelity and a negligent father. And this is the man God named a man after My heart.

I've always pondered about this narrative regarding men, their relationship to God and how we celebrate them in society. What was it that seemed to have made the difference in David’s relationship with God, where God would call him a man after my heart?

Three things seemed to have made a difference in David’s relationship with God in spite of his sins:

1) David seemed to have been open to correction-When David was confronted about his sins by Nathan, he repented. Psalms 51
2) God is intolerant of sin-David’s sin was not without consequences 2 Samuel 12-14
3) God is a forgiving God-God allowed David to enter back into community and a relationship with him. Psalm 103

I wonder if the reason we don’t celebrate fathers as much as mothers is because we as a society have Davids in our midst and we have become tolerant of their sins. We have made excuses for bad behavior with no consequences. We let them off the hook too easily. We allow them to simply “pay child support”. We allow them to get “out” of their relationships without any accountability. And the question I want to ask is where are the strong role models, like Nathan, to confront them about their sins? We have simply become tolerant of their sins and that tolerance has made us bitter.

And then we vacillate to the other extreme, we harden our hearts and refuse to forgive. Psalms 103 describe God as forgiving and does not stay angry forever. But we are unforgiving and we tend to stay bitter and angry for a very long time. How many of you still recount Bill Clinton’s sins? You still remember his infamous line in the press conference which starts with “I did not have…”. My point exactly! You just finished the line. We are unforgiving. I have to admit forgiveness is HARD work and apart from Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit, I don’t know how it’s possible.

So on this father’s day, I want to honor all of the Davids in our midst. I want to honor all of the fathers; those who have done a great job and those who have made a mess of their lives. I pray that you all may become men after God’s heart! I dedicate the book of Psalms to you all as an inspiration that your best is yet to come!

Now go and kill something, grill it, eat it and have a blast this weekend!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

My Dress Size is a Value

I’m going to start this blog by asking a rhetorical and perhaps embarrassing question to all of us women: When did we allow our dress size to become a priority in our value system? I know many of you are jumping to answer this question by blurting out: “but it’s not a value to me!” But oh contraire it is! And it’s a big one!

I was driving to work today expecting to enjoy an all staff event and in this particular event some kind of meal would be served. Let me back track for a minute, this morning I reluctantly woke up from bed and drugged myself to the gym. My body was already sore from yesterday’s workout. But this particular morning, I had to get out of bed and workout because in the past month I have gained 5 extra pounds, ok 7 lbs. So I had every reason to wake my sore body out of bed to the gym to shed those extra 5, I mean 7 lbs gained. I worked out for about an hour. Showered and started on my way to work. After such a big work out, I was hungry. But the first thought that came to mind was to devise a plan of what I would eat when the meal was served. I subconsciously started on the plan and I became frustrated with myself and sad at the same time. And then I asked myself that same rhetorical question: “when did my dress size become such an important value?”

Women in the west, if we’re going to tell the truth, our dress size is a part of our value system. The word value means something we use as a guide in order to help us make decisions. And the truth is our dress size, our weight, our BMI (Body Mass Index) are a part of our value system. They help us plan out our day, what activities to engage in, where or what to eat and how we feel about ourself.
The reality is we are spending over $60 Billion for the right dress size. And $3.5 Billion of that accounts for weight loss surgeries. While in 1992 we were “only” spending $30 Billion, yes only $30. In less than 20 years we are willing to pay double for the right dress size. Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about being healthy. Yes an overly heavy person should lose the weight because there are health risks involved. A person who enjoy a good workout and loves physical activity should continue. Counselors sometime prescribe for their clients to participate in some form of physical activity; believe it or not working out it can help with depression. We all should eat better and participate in some form of physical activity. But there is a majority of us that has taking it to the next level: it has become a guide that helps us make decisions. Yes I’m talking to you.

You statisticians out there please don’t manipulate the statistics by referring me to the “right” way to use statistics. I’m not a statistician, I know about variables and taking into account globalization, inflation and yaddi, yaddi, yadda but my point is: it seems that a shift has taken place in society and inadvertently our value system.

Here’s another shocking statistic, Americans are spending over 110 Billion dollars a year on fast food. If you love numbers like I do, you are already making several correlations.

But I want to ask some questions to help steer us in the direction of coming up with an explanation.

When did the shift in our value system occur?

Was it during the women’s liberation movement? Women were now free to enter the work force and fight back against the violence that has been done to them but not without a price. We were now working not one but two jobs; taking care of our family and bringing home a paycheck.

Was it because of industrialization? Maybe the progress in our nation occurred too quickly. The average income increased over 10 times; again not without a price.

Was it the media? Although the media allowed us to be exposed to more and be entertained but it was not without a price. Watch this woman’s story: Was the media’s plan for selling us the thin woman theory work?

Was it the increase on the divorce rate? The higher the divorced rate, the more depressed, the more we ate and the more weight we gained and the more we searched for significance by controlling our weight through several forms of dieting. And over time we are here wondering how our dress size became our value system.
And do we come up with our value systems based on our community’s value system? For example, if our community value a certain dress size, do we also value that same thing?

I don’t know the cause for where we are but one of the many lessons I learned in graduate school was that correlation does not define causation. Meaning because two things correlate does not mean one caused the other. I can’t answer why our dress size is a value. That seems to be an individual issue that you must grapple with. It is for you to look through your history, your situation and have some explanations and possibly some recommendations.

So…I am still here on the computer as I continue to ponder, how my dress size became a part of my value system?

Before I sign off, I want to leave you with these words of affirmation:
You are beautiful! Whether you’re a size 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18…You’re beautiful!
You are worth loving! Whether you’re a size 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18…You’re worth it!
You are precious! Whether you’re a size 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18…You’re precious!
You are gorgeous! Whether you’re a size 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18…Just gorgeous!
You are created by the One who knows exactly what He was doing when he chose to make you, value that more than anything else.