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“To free us from the expectations of others, to give us back to ourselves – there lies the great, singular power of self-respect.”

Joan Didion

Four Letter Words

Clover

My husband doesn’t believe in luck.  He believes in fate.

Luck is chance considered as a force that causes good or bad things to happen.

Fate is the development of events beyond a person’s control.  An inevitable and often adverse end.

Destiny, Providence.  Serendipity.  Kismet.  Fortuity.

The dictionary says these terms are synonymous.  My husband says they’re not.

When luck is involved, chance is a considered as a force….

Fate is a development of events – beyond control.

Chance as a force with a cause.

An inevitable end.

I believe I’m lucky.  I find four leaf clovers all the time.  I won a Golden Horseshoe in the 8th grade.  I have a backbone and a wishbone.

But my belief in luck, possibly like my husband’s belief in fate, is neither here nor there.

Life is hard.  Life is really hard – for everybody.  No one is exempt from struggle, pain, catastrophe.

What about happiness?

Does everyone have happiness, joy to go along with the hardships?  Maybe not.

Perhaps bad luck or bad fate may be inevitable but happiness is a choice.

I do actually believe that many people live without joy – but that living, that existence is, in my opinion, more about choice than chance.

Ultimately, we all benefit or suffer from certain serendipitous events that we may perceive as a boon or a curse.  Sometimes in retrospect the boons are revealed as curses and the curses as blessings.

Maybe life happens to all of us in an infinite series of moments and events that we choose to define as good or as bad.  As luck or as fate.  As true or false.  As joy or as misery.

Maybe we’re lucky because we think we think we are.  Maybe considering yourself ill fated isn’t fair or even honest.  Like I said, bad things happen to us all.  If you live through it, you can choose how you let it define you.

I find four leaf clovers all the time because I look for them.   I won a Golden Horseshoe because I studied for the test.  I have a wishbone but I know that my backbone is the maker of my luck.   I know that I’m lucky because I decided to be.

xo

Tonya

 

 

 

 

Yes, Weekend!

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What are y’all doing this weekend?

Making:  Cuban bread french toast.  Most of the fun is fighting the crowd at Suarez Bakery when the Cuban bread comes out of the oven around 2 on Saturday afternoon.

Cooking:  A big pot of veggie soup to eat for lunch next week.

Drinking:  Coffee and red wine.

Reading:  Petty:  The Biography by Warren Zanes

Trawling:  Sleepy Poet for a little wooden table for the living room and some vintage picture frames for a couple of prints I just ordered.

Nesting:  I’m clearing up the patio (my hillbilly backyard disaster area).  I’m envisioning some new potted shrubs and maybe some pansies to get ready for the winter.  Its not a great space to work with and I’ve just been stumped for so long.  But I’m going to spend some quality time on Pinterest to try to really come up with some ideas to make it a more usable space.

Deciding:  Whether or not to start painting my master bedroom and what color to paint it.  This is an ambitious undertaking that I am all but certain will collapse under the unbearable weight of my paint indecision.

WatchingThe Center Will Not Hold on Netflix.  Joan Didion’s nephew, Griffin Dunne, directed this documentary, which debuts on October 27.  I read about it in Vogue on my way to France and have been eagerly anticipating it ever since.  It’s probably no secret to y’all that Didion has been a great influence on me in terms of my thinking and, really, how I think about writing.  Not only that, but she is just bad assed.

Liking:  The amazing, cooler and crisp fall weather and the leaves that are beginning to change in Charlotte.

Happy Happy Weekend, everyone!

This Charming House

IMG_2435Earlier this spring I launched into a major spate of redecoration here at Chateau Bee Charmer.  The marriage and the kids and the job change and the new puppies took their toll on the enthusiasm I’ve always had for decorating my home.  But around April I started to make some changes and we’re going to be talking about them in the coming weeks and months – maybe forever.

In addition to replacing some old furniture and moving a lot of things around, I also took on quite a few little do it myself projects.  I really do think that the only way to find truly unique pieces for your house is to open yourself up to the possibilities of vintage pieces.  To that end, I picked up this little vintage chair on the cheap and it was one of my first projects.

Here are the before shots:

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As you can see, this is a very sculptural little mid-century chair and when I first brought it home I really had no idea what to do with it or where to put it.  But we brought it home anyway and I pondered it for a while.

Anyway – this sat around for a long time until I found some Pinterest inspiration in the form of this gorgeous chair:

Plaid Chair

 

So after a little trip to Calico Corners and some blood, sweat and choice four letter words this is how it came out:

Plaid Chair 4

Plaid Chair 2Plaid chair 3

I really love the contrast of this fairly preppy and traditional buffalo check plaid on this little mid-century chair and I love placing it on the bias.  I have some fabric left and I’m currently scouting a little ottoman that I can recover and use as a side table over in the living room in order to pull this fabric in a bit more.  While this is certainly a spare seat when we need one, we basically use this as move of a table and it is usually where my husband dumps off his briefcase and his jacket at the end of the day.  I especially love where this chair ended up because we usually view it from the side, which really sets off its sculptural qualities.  It’s also another good lesson in how to turn a “dead space” into a usable and functional part of your house.  We’d always kept this area open for easy puppy access to the back door.  But placement of the chair here really helped define our sunroom as a separate space without putting a wall in – and the puppies just walk right under it so – you know – as long as they’re not inconvenienced…..

So there it is – a little chair makeover.  Hopefully you’ll be inspired to take on your own projects.  If you are, please comment below – I’d love to hear from you!!

xo

The Neo-Feminist

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Ok, darlings…  Buckle up this one’s going to be bumpy.

I’m going to talk about rape, harassment, feminism and grown assed women.  That’s enough to make grown men cry….

In the past several weeks, you may have seen the media feeding frenzy surrounding Harvey Weinstein, his money and his stunning willingness to abuse his position and threaten everything he holds dear in order to get just one. more. orgasm. from. a. strange. pussy.  He’s this month’s version of Anthony Wiener, Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Eliot Spitzer….. The parade of diddlers and gropers and rapists and abusers goes on.

I am always amazed by what men will risk for an orgasm.

But I’m not really here to talk about Harvey.  Or men like him.  As you know, I am here to talk about grown assed women.

Specifically, I’m here to talk about all the women who are now, many years after the fact, popping up to say that they, too, suffered from being hit on (or worse) by Harvey.  And I’m here to talk about all the other women who are popping up to talk about the other men who have hit on them (or worse) at some point in the past and to explain why they waited until now to say something about it.  I’m talking about the women who now say, sometimes after 30 years, that Bill Cosby raped them.  Or some other powerful guy propositioned them or hit on them at some point in either the near or distant past.   You can find them on Twitter and Facebook at #metoo.

And that, my dears, is my problem.  And I am going to suggest to you that putting up with abuse, no matter how we define it, is every woman’s problem. #metoo was started to raise awareness of men’s poor behavior but what it shouted out to me was an awareness of how many women have put up with this crap to a greater or lesser extent and the willingness of those women to now discuss their experiences.

But let me back up.

Before we talk about sexual abuse, how do we define it – or re-define it – as the case may be?

The definition that seems to be the going fad is the one that defines the “rape culture” that we all live in.  Under this definition, sexual abuse is defined so broadly that you’d be hard pressed to find ANY woman in America who cannot say, on some level, that she has been victimized by sexual predation.    Under this definition, I am a victim.  I’ve been hit on, touched, followed.  Disgusting, dirty, entitled and drunk men have all hit on me at some point or another.  One guy in college walked past me on a dark street and jumped at me just to scare me and then snickered as he walked off.  Once while I was jogging in law school a guy stripped naked and flashed me.  Hell, I’ve got a stalker from way back.  This, I think, makes me a victim by some definitions.  But I don’t feel like a victim and I refuse to identify myself as such.

On the other hand, there are those who define rape and sexual abuse in more narrow terms.  We all know that too many women (one is too many) have been raped and brutalized by men.  Many women’s lives have been smashed by sexual violence or sexually predatory behavior, including sexual harassment and retaliation in the work place.   Some women recover.  Some don’t.  Some let the violence define them and some don’t.

While I might live in a “rape” culture – I am not a victim of violence under the second definition and to claim that what I have experienced rises to the same level is, I think, disrespectful to the suffering of women who have suffered from a nightmare that I can’t speak to.

The difference is that in every instance of my own experience, I have had the power to do something about that guy.  Women who have been raped don’t have the power .  But if a guy like Harvey says “do ya wanna?” and you say “no and I’ll be leaving now”  – unless he tanks your movie or somehow retaliates for the “no” then are you really a victim?  He tried.  You said no.  Its over.  It was 20 years ago….  Why are you suddenly a victim?  Is he gross?  Is he a letch?  Should he know how to act better?  Yes to all three.  But ARE YOU A VICTIM?

I’m just not willing to accept a definition of rape or sexual abuse that assumes as its premise that so many grown assed women don’t have a voice or a brain or a backbone to say no.  This applies to those who allege coercion, confusion, duress, little girl fears of being called not nice and those who get so voluntarily drunk that they can’t remember what happened to them or even remember if they consented.  If you’re wasted and he’s wasted, why is he supposed to bear the burden or punishment for the drunk decisions that you both make?   In these instances, the women on the receiving end have power that they either don’t or won’t use and responsibility that they don’t want or won’t admit.

Yeah – I told you – bumpy.

So here’s the thing that almost nobody wants to say out loud:  In so many, if not most circumstances, we put up with this crap no matter how broadly or how narrowly its defined.  We put up with the leering.  We put up with the unwanted touches.  We put up with the whistles, the catcalls and the guys who hit on us one minute and then call us a fucking bitch when we say “Get lost.”   We put up with it every time a woman who is raped takes a shower and doesn’t report it.  We put up with it every time we don’t call a rapist for what he is.  We put up with stuff that we have the power (yes, power) to stop.

In order to explain this overwhelming female response to overwhelming bad (if not criminal) male behavior, women’s groups talk about fear.  They talk about shame.  They talk about feelings of worthlessness.  They talk about women’s voicelessness and the abuse of the powerless.  They talk about how society teaches us not to speak up.  And to drive the point home, they offer to prove the pervasiveness of the problem while continuing to support the conspiracy of silence.  How?  By hand holding and hugs and tearful speeches every time one of us decides, years after the act, to pipe up and say #metoo.

But are we powerless?  Are we voiceless?  Is this really a “them v. us” thing?   I’m not fucking powerless.  I refuse to identify myself as a person who is powerless.

I’m not a little girl who needs to be protected by men.  By the law?  Yes.

Men and the law are not the same thing, are they?

Make no mistake, when women’s groups and cultural protestors talk about rape and abuse and rape culture and how “we” have to end it, the underlying demand is not for “us” to end it, its for “them” –  the “men” who are not apparently “powerless” and who ought to be taking care of us from their exalted and unshakable positions of privilege, strength and power.  The “somebody” who ought to put a stop to it, they say, is men.  And I think that’s bullshit.  The somebody is us, the time is now and the opportunity arises every single time some sleezeball touches you when he doesn’t have permission.

Joan Didion – intellectual and feminist dilettante though some claim she is – argued that the great success of the women’s movement was to classify women as a “minority”.  And she pointed out then (rightly, I think) that we’re not.  Women are not a minority and we are not powerless.  We’re half of the population and we have as much potential economic, political and intellectual power as the other half of the population (i.e. men).  I, for one, am sick of asking men to look out for our needs or to “give” us what they take for themselves without thought.  Women deserve equality and parity because we’re human beings, not because some guy or group of guys should be more benevolent and we’re too weak or too powerless to get it ourselves.  We not only deserve – but HAVE -equal protection under the law and we need to point that out at every opportunity.

In short, we need to start acting like grown assed women.

Now – some of my feminist leanings (maybe most of them) come from how I was raised.  Maybe some come from my intrinsic nature.  Maybe it’s just that I am so steeped in hillbilly culture – a culture where women have been known to get even – that I have never consented to see my life as a woman as less.  I have never thought that being a woman made me a minority.  My voice isn’t less.  My intellect isn’t less.  My gender isn’t less.  My intrinsic nature as a woman – whatever it may be – is not less than a man’s.

So how does this work?  An example:

When I was a very young lawyer I attended a dinner thrown by the local Bar, of which I am required to be a member.  It is a professional requirement.

Anyway, I was at this dinner of colleagues.  I was 26.  Also attending this dinner was a judge before whom I had to appear regularly.  Judge was drunk.  Really drunk.  I was not.  Judge was inappropriate.  Really inappropriate.  As in touching me, following me around – a full on rush job.  Over and over I deflected him, ignored him, and moved away from him – only to be followed.  Did I mention that I was the only female lawyer there?  No other men intervened to say anything to him.  They pretended it wasn’t going on.

Ladies…. nobody was coming to save me.

Nobody (as in no men) was willing to call this guy out at the risk of getting on his bad side.  He was a powerful man surrounded by sycophants and I was a 26 year old woman – alone.

When we sat down to eat, Judge took the chair opposite of me at a table that seated 4.  He continued to pester me during salad and the speech and after dinner was served he said “Hey, Tonya”.  I looked across the table at this sloppy drunk middle aged man (with a wife and three children at home) and was greeted with the sight of him simulating oral sex on his dinner roll.  Did I mention that at the time he was spending all his sober time trying to get appointed to the federal bench?  That he was a Republican?  Those conservative saviors of America who are all about straight sex, God and family values?

So anyway, when confronted with his tongue and this spectacle – in that split second – I stopped cutting my steak and put my right elbow on the table, leaned toward him to look him dead in the face and pointed my steak knife right at him.  And then I told him – in no uncertain terms – that I had had ALL that I was going to put up with from him that night and forevermore.  He jumped up and ran away at that point, while the other two male lawyers at my table just seemed embarrassed – for him and themselves, not for me – and continued to eat and pretend none of it had happened.

(Kinda like George Clooney and Matt Damon and all the rest of the “good guys” who are now crawling out to express their horror at Harvey – but I digress).

Anyway, I finished my dinner and left as soon as possible.  I cried all the way home and all weekend because I *knew* that this judge would ruin or try to ruin my career.  Despite this fear, I did not regret what I’d done.  As far as I was concerned, come what may,  I had handled the situation the only way I knew how.  And if he made more trouble, I resolved to fight him.  It was all I knew to do because I knew that my parents (including my darling Daddy) didn’t raise me to be treated that way – they didn’t raise me to put up with mistreatment, with disrespect.  They didn’t raise me so I could let some man I didn’t really know abuse and hurt me.  And because of this,  I decided in that split second, that I was not going to be this man’s victim.

On Monday morning, the senior partner at my firm called me into his office, grinning like a Cheshire cat.  He wanted to know how the dinner was (he did not attend) and when I demurred (because I had sworn to myself that it was handled and over with and I would not discuss it) he kept pressing.  Finally, I said “Well….”

After I said “Well,” he interrupted me and said, “Sit down in that chair and let me tell you about my Saturday morning.”

Apparently Judge had called Partner’s house and after discovering Partner wasn’t home, went out looking for him throughout the town in order to confess his sins. Partner said to me, while laughing, “Honey, I don’t know what you said to him but I ain’t ever seen that man with his tail tucked so far between his legs.”  Later that day, Judge came to my office and sincerely apologized for his behavior and I accepted his apology.  After that, we had a very collegial relationship.  I never won a case or lost a case as the result of any of this.  I dealt with it – directly.  He apologized.  My career did not suffer.  I would not feel any compulsion to now arise against him and point out something that happened more than 20 years ago.

So my point is,  if women want “rape culture” to change, then women have to start putting a stop to it – in its tracks.  Women have to stop waiting until years later, protected by the passage of time and the sorority of the #metoo chorus and call these men out now.  On the spot.   Slap them, report them, have them arrested, deal with them.

Deal. With. Them.

Did you ever wonder how the guy who is hitting on you in line at the grocery store would behave if you ever-so-sweetly took out your cell phone, dialed 911 and said “Yes.  I’d like to report that I am being assaulted and harassed at Harris Teeter.  Please send help and notify the store to have their security officer detain this man until you arrive.  I am ready to press charges.”  Did you ever wonder what would happen to the rape rate if women took control of legislatures and the punishment for being convicted of rape was to have the offending penis just chopped the fuck off?  Oh, there would be a great, pouting and scandalized uprising by men who were being called on the carpet….

And one more thing.  And this is where Myaim Bialik got sideways… and I may, too.

Because I refuse to see myself and other women as powerless victims, I’m going to say out loud what I intimated earlier and that is this:  Ladies, we’ve got some responsibility here.

Yes.  We are also responsible for letting these men get away with this crap.  And you cannot be a grown assed woman unless or until you start taking responsibility and that means responsibility for not using the power that you have.

When you scroll down your Twitter feed or your Facebook feed or your Instagram feed and see all the #metoos, you can see the magnitude of the problem.  You can see how many women have had the experience of unwanted sexual advances.  You can see how many women have let it slide.

And I’m going to suggest, dear ladies, in the name of all that is good and holy and feminist and by swearing on Gloria Steinem’s hallowed bunny outfit that those tweets need to stop saying #metoo and start saying #notme.

xo

 

 

The Bee Charmer’s Guide to Making a Home

Our homes should always touch the five senses:  They should look good, smell good, sound good, taste good and feel good.  Our homes are not just our shelters, they are our harbors and our havens and making a home is a noble endeavor.

Here’s what’s new around this little charming home:

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Enough Les Jemelles to last a few days.  It tastes good!

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The results of an improptu trip to North State Books – the used bookstore in Heaven (actually it’s in Lincolnton, but it is my idea of heavenly).  What could be more wonderful than a home filled with good books?

Edna 1Edna 2

I can’t believe I scored this beautiful book of Edna St. Vincent Millay’s poetry with gorgeous abstract photographs by Ivan Massar.  To me, the thrill of vintage shopping is that you just never know what you’ll find.  This book is going to be one of those finds for me.

C Monogram Cards_Fotor 1_Fotor 2

I fell in love with the lovely, marbleized monogram notecards that I picked up at B.D. Jeffries.  I suspect one of them will end up in a frame and the rest will be so nice to send to others.

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And these sweet pens from Target – basically, I’m a pen and paper freak.  I think everything in your home should be both beautiful and functional.  These little gems are already such a joy to look at in my little pencil cup.

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What’s sounding good here these days?  Vintage Vinyl!  Did I mention that my darling husband and I have decided to invest in a turntable and a few very select vintage albums?  Well we have.  Here are our two latest finds – Steely Dan’s Gaucho and Sweet Baby James.  The static is so comforting….

McKenzie Dove

And finally, and saving the best for last, in honor of my upcoming birthday I decided to buy a little piece of art to add to our small collection.  It’s called Au Cheval by Birmingham artist, McKenzie Dove.  I am in love with it and this picture does not do it justice.  I paired it with a Lynne Riding piece I picked up about 6 years ago in Charleston, South Carolina.  They are so beautiful together and I’m excited that the Riding piece now has such a great companion.  She’s really been an orphan until now!

What are you doing to make your house a home?  I’d love to hear from you so comment below and let me know.

xo

Tonya

 

Heading out this morning into the sun
Riding on the diamond waves, little darlin’ one

Warm wind caress her
Her lover it seems
Oh, Annie
Dreamboat Annie my little ship of dreams

Ann Wilson – Heart

True

Good Four Letter WordsLast fall I went to see Nadia Bolz Weber when she spoke at Davidson College – just up the road.

During her talk she said that Jesus never made a distinction between good and bad.  She said that he made a distinction between that which was true and that which was untrue.

And it blew me away.  What if God wasn’t about good and bad?  What if he was here to show us what is true?

Philosophically, I will argue that we must somehow define absolute truth before we can define what is not.  As Edgar Lee Masters wrote in Spoon River Anthology …”no one knows what is true, who knows not what is false…”

My own ideas about truth are rooted in my faith – so that’s what I have to talk about when I want to talk about truth.

In support of truth, Christians will often argue that God is true and that God’s truth does not change.  He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.  (Hebrews 13:8).   The Christians who are most apt to point this out, in my experience, often do it in defense of some word or deed or political position that may be unpopular in modern society but which they insist is Biblically and immutably true.

For example, some Christians firmly believe that homosexuality is a sin.  It is a sin, they say.  The Bible says so, they say.   I can’t help it, they say.   I have no choice but to condemn it – God makes the rules.  Like gayness is the only unforgivable sin…..  Did you ever notice the Biblical loophole that most of these same people have created in order to get around the Bible’s clear condemnation of their own divorces?  It’s pretty stunning when you look at it.  That lady in Kentucky who’s deeply held religious beliefs about a Biblical definition of marriage prevented her from issuing gay marriage licenses in her capacity as an official employed by an earthly government – she’s been divorced three times.  Moreover, her “deeply held religious beliefs” didn’t prevent her from issuing marriage licenses to straight non-believers, fellow divorcees,  or to straight people who were only getting married for reasons that didn’t include love or commitment.  Nope, the only applicants subject to her “sin test” were gay applicants.  The same test has also been applied by the notorious wedding cake bakers out there who cannot find it within themselves to bake a cake for a gay marriage.  Are they also turning away divorcees?  Jews, Muslims, Druids, Wiccans, Atheists?  Now, I’m not saying that the Kentucky clerk (and the cake bakers) don’t deserve forgiveness or aren’t entitled to their beliefs.  I am saying that maybe they should be willing to offer up the same kind of tolerance, understanding, forgiveness and non-judgment to homosexuals that they offer to others and that they seem to have sought and accepted from God and others in their own lives.  And I think that because that’s what the Bible tells us.

But, they tell us, it is God’s truth….

Personally, I am always a bit skeptical of those who use the Word to justify what I know in my own heart is a human prejudice.  As some now use the Bible to justify being ugly and uncharitable to gay people, others formerly and perversely used the Bible to justify the morality of slavery, of sexism, of religious wars and killing those who believed differently in the name of God.    Until 1967, the Bible was used as a justification to prohibit interracial marriage.  (Loving vVirginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967)).   For most of recorded Western history, white men who treated women and people of color like chattel did so on what they argued was God’s authority and God’s truth.  They created an earthly lie and sanctified it as God’s holy truth.  They created earthly governments and earthly laws to justify, reinforce and make holy their own positions of political, economic and sexual power on earth.  And they did so in the name of “truth”.  Hate and mistreatment and idolatry and lies wrapped in scripture and defined as truth.

But then we get back to it…. was any of that true?  Or was it untrue?  And if it was never true to begin with – isn’t it just as untrue now?  When we use “truth” to hurt others is it really truth?  And if hurting others isn’t the intent, then how to we remain faithful to truth and love at the same time.  How do we express and embrace uncomfortable Biblical truth with love?  How do we love each other as He has loved us – with truth and endless forgiveness?

God is immutable and God is true, we know that because the Bible tell us it is so and the Bible is the gateway to knowing God.  That’s what we have.  That’s what He gave us.  You might think that you can find God in nature or music or art but, as C.S. Lewis told us, while you may be able to find expressions of God and His majesty in those places, you can’t find God there unless you already know Him to begin with.  And the only way to know Him is to read the Bible.

So what does the Bible tell us about truth?

Jesus said “I am the way and the truth and the life.” (John 14:6).   …Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world–to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.  (John 18:37)  John also teaches us that God is Love ( 1 John 4:8).  God is truth and God is love.  Not loving.  Not of Love.  Not the source of truth.  Not of truth.  God is Love.  God is truth.  He is Love and He is truth.

Jesus “is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.  For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through Him and for Him.  And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together And He is the head of the body, the church.  He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything He might be preeminent.  For in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,  and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of His cross.”  (Colossians 1:15-20).  

To me, this is the closest definition of God’s truth that I can find.  “All things” were created by Him and For Him and through Him.  In Him “all things” hold together.  Through Him God reconciled Himself to “all things”.  All things.  All things are reconciled.  All things hold together.  Not just the convenient or the strong or the powerful or the easy things.  Not just the pretty things, or the easy things, or the things that aren’t messy.  Not just the things that we can understand.  All things.  On earth and in heaven.  Visible and invisible.  Thrones, dominions, rulers, authorities.  All of it.  All of it is and must be reconciled to God – who is truth and love.  “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change”  (James 1:17).  God’s truth is good and perfect.  It is our gift.  It is the thing that reconciles us to God.  And his truth does not change like the shadows….

We (human beings) are the purveyors of untruth.  Since God is incapable of untruth, then lies (no matter how pervasive or long-standing or accepted or axiomatic or even well intentioned) are not of God.  And they can never turn out well.  They aren’t holy, they aren’t loving, and they are, by definition, not Godly.

Not true.  Not love.  Not God.

Misery grows from lying about who you are, about what you want.  Misery grows when we accept lies and turn our faces from the truth.  Misery grows when we try to see the truth through our own, earthly lies.  Misery grows when we accept the easy lie, the lie that does not require us to change or to struggle or to accept what we cannot understand.

When God gave us our Law, the Big Ten, we were told that we shall not bear false witness (Exodus 20:16).  This means that we are not to lie – whether that means lying to your neighbor, spreading rumors on Facebook about elected officials or, as I am arguing here, lying about the truth of God.  And yes, I think we lie about truth in order to maintain our own sense of righteousness, of order.  We lie to justify our own uncharitable beliefs.  We lie so that we can continue to rely on our view through the mirror that we can only see through darkly.  We lie when we ignore our inability to see all now.    (2 Corinthians: 12-13.) God’s truth doesn’t change but I think our understanding of that truth has to.

If we are living in a fallen world where the struggle is not first and foremost between good and bad, right and wrong, righteous and sinful – but instead where our earthly struggle lies first between truth and untruth – what does that mean to the way we follow God?

Now before you get all “She’s a heretic” or “She’s a Saint” (depending on your bent) remember that absolute truth cuts both ways.   Nothing here should be interpreted to find that I am some liberal who is looking for an easy way out – as I have often faced this criticism.  I am NOT arguing that God’s Word is “wrong”.  I am saying that our understanding of it has been and may still be.  No one can argue that God’s truth can or should be read in a way that makes it easier to sin.  Sin separates us from God because it hurts us, it hurts others and it hurts Him.  Truth exists to hold us firm – so I can’t argue for wiggle room here.

True discipleship is not easy.     You can lie to yourself, you can lie to your Mama, and you can get a whole bunch of people who believe similarly to you and lie to each other but you can’t lie to God.  He knows what’s in our hearts and you can’t dodge His truth.  So if you examine your heart and find it easy or justifiable be uncharitable  to someone because of their race or orientation or to argue that someone should be killed or mistreated (maybe because they happen to be Muslim) in the name of God and truth – I’ll argue to you that you missed something.

If I acknowledge God’s truth then I have to do what Jesus said and follow God’s commandments and love my neighbor and all that jazz – and loving your neighbor might seem like a pretty innocuous little commandment – but it’s not.  God really knew what he was doing when he handed that one down.   My earthly self is fine with the death penalty and frankly, that is just opposite of everything God teaches us about murder, about judgment, about forgiveness and about Love.  So I struggle with it.   Support of the death penalty is not a position that is consistent with Christianity or that I can justify on any other means than my own heart of stone and feelings that death is a fitting punishment for some.

Truth is not and cannot be easy and will not be without significant pain.  Truth requires us to examine our own hearts and minds to find and accept our own deepest sins.  Our own judgmental natures, our self-righteousness, our human prejudices.  Our failure to love others, to forgive, to love without understanding.  When seeking truth and God, we learn really quickly how easy it is to believe the lies because, let’s face it – when we confront immutable truth, lies are just easier.

Committing yourself to God’s will and dying to it – dying to truth and love – will not and cannot ever be without struggle.  Love is not without struggle.  Truth is not without struggle.  We cannot ever truly love or truly understand without dying to our own selfishness.  Dying to it.  Christ laid down his life for truth.  For love.  And even He struggled to do this – He struggled and was afraid.  “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me”  (Luke 22:42.)

So we are left with Love and Truth and the narrow path and the Word – which is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path.  (Psalm 119: 105).  Is it worth it?  If it is so hard, why oh why do we still seek truth – whether to know God or to try to know anything else?  What makes the truth so worth it, even when it is so hard?    Why do we care about what’s true?

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free – (John 8:32).

We might also say that “And ye shall know the love, and the love shall make you free.” or “And ye shall know God and the knowing shall make you free.”

Love and Truth and ultimately, Freedom. Perhaps salvation.

Have you ever noticed that when people come to the end – the end of a phone call, the end of a letter, when the heat of the burning World Trade Center was too much to bear any longer – the last words they had – the last thoughts – the last earthly message they had to convey was of their love.  A phone call to a wife or a child – a hastily written message – the thing they had to express was that they loved.  Loved.

God is Love and God is Truth and his Truth and Love are His perfect gifts to us.  They set us free and they lead us to salvation.  So fight for truth and fight for love – the things that can never be explained on this earth.  They are the only things.

Think about it.

xo