Month: January 2016

The Beauty of a Feelings Argument

“…one of man’s core passions.”

“These are [her] core desires….”

“…he feels a sense….”

“… the unique role God has given men to feel…”

“Part of [her] make-up is a desire….”

These are the common ways that true “biblical” manhood and womanhood are often explained: by describing feelings.

In a recent conversation with a Christian brother, he was discussing with me a book on biblical manhood. At one point in the conversation, he pointed to me and said, “It is your desire that he [my husband] initiate, that he lead.” I looked skeptical and so he said it a few more times, always saying it that way: “It is your desire….”

Speaking a while later with my husband about the topic, he asked me, “Is it your desire that I initiate things?”

First of all, I appreciated that he actually asked me, instead of telling me how I ought to feel. Second, I didn’t know how to answer.

See, the beauty of a feelings argument – looking at your own desires or telling someone else what their desires are – is that you can never be wrong. If you tell someone what they feel and need and you are right, you have the strongest evidence you need that your whole argument is right. If you tell someone what they feel and need and you are wrong, then you simply tell them that they have lost touch with their “true needs,” “womanly/manly soul,” etc. You can never be wrong.

The problem with the feelings argument, and the reason I was having so much trouble answering my husband, was that I can’t know if my feelings are trustworthy or not. If I agree and say I do like when he initiates things, I don’t know if that is because: a) it’s my biblical design as a woman to follow his leadership; b) I’ve been culturally conditioned to accept male leadership as the norm in our modern patriarchal society; or c) at my core, I am a broken, lazy, sinful human who is always looking for a way to pass responsibility on to someone else.

Feelings are created by God, and they are purposeful and complicated. I appreciate feelings, and I’m learning more and more that feelings need to be recognized and respected if you are going to respect the whole person (even “sadness” and “anger,” a la Inside Out). However, using feelings as the main thrust of your worldview is highly problematic. I can’t always trust my feelings, because Satan likes to get in there and mix things up; he likes to plant seeds of doubt where they don’t belong. My “core needs” may be coming from my core sinful nature, or my nature that is created in the image of God. Telling the difference is straight-up impossible sometimes.

Here’s what I do know: people are messy, and people are complicated. I believe in an infinitely creative God who can imagine and form billions and billions of beautiful humans and never run out of ideas. Each of us is inherently valuable, and put on this earth to bring glory to God. Learn about the people around you, and you will learn about God. I promise. God is a three-in-one eternally relating being who wants to relate to us, wants us to relate to Him, and wants us to relate to each other.

That’s where I’m at: trying to stop worrying about if my feelings are right or womanly or wrong or human and trying to humbly get back to why I was put on this planet in the first place.

-debarbibee

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4 New Year’s Resolutions You Can Actually Do

The New Year is a great time to incorporate healthier habits into your life, but what’s the point of a monumental change if it is only going to to discourage you from actually doing it?

These are four New Year’s Resolutions that you – yes YOU – can actually accomplish. And the payoff for some of these can be huge! Happy New Year all: let’s make 2016 the best ever! No more excuses – I know you can do this.

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1. Eat vegetables for breakfast.

According to the CDC, less than 9% of Americans actually have enough vegetables in their regular diet. Although we tend to think about eating healthy in terms of cutting out things like fats and carbs, we also need to focus on putting in the right foods – and vegetables are the best way to get essential vitamins and minerals, while most also tend to be low in calories.

After watching a few of my favorite bloggers do the Whole 30 challenge this past year I realized that one place we could -but usually don’t – eat veggies is breakfast! This year, try to incorporate veggies into your breakfast at least once a week – and then maybe more!

2. Save up for Christmas.

I know Christmas is just barely behind us, but it will be here again in just a year! Even though we always know it’s coming, most of us don’t think about saving money all year to buy presents for people we love.

This year, Massimo and I saved up all our cashback rewards from our credit cards, and all our Amazon credit from selling back law school books to use for Christmas presents. Although it didn’t cover all the gifts we bought, it took A LOT of the stress out of shopping. This year, I hope to do the same thing, and put aside a little each month so we can freely buy gifts next holiday season.

3. Use a personal budget app.

The beginning of the year is the PERFECT time to make better financial choices. Massimo and I made some big changes last January, and I’m so glad we did! Keeping track of our household income and expenses helped in a million ways – everything from taxes to buying health insurance to putting more in savings!

But if treating your household finances more like a business scares you, don’t bite off more than you can chew: start with a personal budget app to track and limit your regular spending. We use Goodbudget, which has a website and app. The app syncs across our phones, too – so when Massimo spends money on gas, groceries, or aluminum foil, it shows up in my app, and I know exactly how much we have left! How it works is that you set up virtual “envelopes,” with labeled categories, which you fill regularly or whenever you want. And don’t worry if you have no idea how much to put in – you can (and will) adjust them all the time. The point is just to start!

4. Speaking of money, what if you gave away more of it?

Nonprofits consider the holiday season as their most important – because many of them get up to half of their annual contributions between October and New Years! I’m not complaining that we give so much away during the season of joy and hope, but what if those charities could rely on your contributions all year long? How much more could they do?

What can you do? Think of giving away as a regular household expense – after all, it is better to give than to receive, right? Every week, every month, every quarter – give something away! And try to make it a regular thing, so you stay in the habit and so that the nonprofits can rely on your contribution.

What are your New Year’s Resolutions? Is it big or small? How did you do with last year’?

-debarbibee