My True Valentine

It’s Valentines Day.

And while some of us are enjoying doting on our ‘others’, many are grieving or reliving heartbreak.

This day can be a reminder of loss and rejection. It’s a reminder of betrayal and failed relationships. For some it ignites feelings of deep loneliness and pain rather than passion and appreciation.

This day can create heart ache for those in lonely or broken marriages. Maybe you’re in a marriage/relationship with someone who hurts you or doesn’t value you. Maybe you’ve lost all hope to ever find love or ever be in love ever again. Maybe you can’t fathom the idea of anyone ever loving you just for who you are. Maybe you wish that today someone would simply notice you and single you out to tell you that you’re beautiful/handsome.

I’ve know heartbreak. Ive known what it is to put my hope and trust into another person only to be ripped apart from the inside. I know loss and grief. I have lived and breathed it all.

BUT. Did you know?

Did you know there is one who has utterly captured my heart? I’ve encountered a love so unparalleled to anything else in this world. I’m so utterly in love that I cannot keep it hidden because He has rescued me from the pit of hopelessness and despair. He has called me by name. He has never left me nor betrayed me. He has NEVER abused me, or used me. He has never been embarrassed of me or ashamed of me. HIS name is Jesus.

Are you burned out on religion? Good! So am I! But Jesus isn’t a religion. He is a man who gave up His life to have a relationship with you. One like you’ve never had before! Can you say that anyone has died for you, even at your worst? Jesus has. He suffered just to show you how madly in love with you He is. Jesus is real friends. Not just some mad, angry vengeful God hanging out in the clouds waiting to make you suffer. NO. He is calling your name in the sunset and stars. He has known you from the very beginning and he wants to give you a life no one else can ever provide.

This I promise you. Jesus loves you emphatically, no strings attached, but that you would simply open your heart.

This might sound like a bunch of crap to you but I’m saying this from knowing who I am in Him.

A few ago I was broken, hopeless and ready to give up on everything (including my marriage) but Jesus met me. Like really found me and I haven’t been the same since.

Friends, this world and your life is short. Know what and who you’re living it for.

He is ready, when you are.

Xx

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A letter to the Church

Dear Church,

How I love, adore and respect you. You have so much to offer the world, but, right now I fear we are pushing people further away… I fear we are being lured and distracted by the enemy from what’s really going on under our own roofs. I fear we are spending more of our time, our money and our voices trying to pull the speck out of other peoples eyes, rather than deal with the planks in our own.

My heart breaks, for while we spend our energy ticking boxes and “taking a stand” on issues like homosexuality, here are some things going on within our own church communities:

Affairs
Divorce
Premarital sex
Domestic violence
Pornography
Addiction
Sex trafficking
Physical, emotional and sexual Abuse
Stealing
Lying
Cheating
Engaging in dodgy business transactions
Manipulating and controlling

We, the Church, were always designed to be a place for the broken, the wayward to find Jesus, find hope, and live without shame or condemnation. A place to grow in their relationship with God and find community with others. A safe place to be open, messy, and transparent with our struggles. Yet, what I see is an environment that alludes to keeping our hearts closed and our struggles hidden, and yet from the pulpit we teach that our sin should be brought out into the light, not kept in the darkness. I fear we, the Church are being mislead. I fear we have missed the mark…

In recent times I have heard the issue of gay marriage being spoken from the pulpit on multiple occasions. Please hear me, I am not saying this is wrong, but never have I heard the church take a stand against domestic violence like they do on homosexuality. Domestic violence is occurring on a much larger scale in our communities, affecting more than a minority group, damaging and destroying families every single day. I believe there is an undercurrent of hypocrisy in our hearts. Why are people too scared and too afraid to bring their brokenness out into the open? I think it’s because though we “preach” one thing, our actions and church culture communicate a very different thing altogether.

Don’t you think Church, that its about time we got our own house in order before we try intervening in someone elses?

At the moment I am seeing the Church being slandered, ridiculed, and accused. The Church as an institution is SO misunderstood. But dear brothers and sister in Christ, what are we doing to contribute to how the church is represented to the world? Are we a light on a hill? Or are we underground and only willing to show our faces when we feel threatened?

Perhaps the voices that should be louder in the Church are our prayers? Yes, we have rights and freedom of speech like every other person, and yes we WILL be subject to persecution for our beliefs, but can you just take a moment and ask your self… Is our struggle not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms? There is darkness in this world Church. So much darkness. But, may I be as bold as to say that, I think the battles is bigger than the issue of those outside of the church asking for the ability to marry someone of the opposite sex? Perhaps I am wrong. I know many of you will think so.

But the reality is, the world is falling apart and as I have heard it said, as the world continues to deteriorate the only institution that will be left standing is the Church? I personally, do not believe that we can, as Christians, hold those outside of the faith accountable for our fundamental beliefs, and yes, I understand that we want to protect our children and our families from a corrupted world, but friends this world has long been corrupted since Eve bit into the apple it just carries a different name. I fear, Church, we have bought into fear. We have let the world scare us from being a light on a hill. We have gone into flight or fight mode instead of choosing grace, mercy, humility and wisdom.

Perhaps the biggest way our voices would be the most powerful if they were quieter in some areas and louder in others; Like in our own churches for example?

Please friends, do not take this as a hate letter, or that I am a cynical burned out Christian. I am the opposite of burned out, I am burning with desire to see the Church transform into a powerful platform for restoration and reconciliation. I am burning with passion to see people set free from their personal darkness and pain. But we cannot be all these things to a broken world if we cannot learn to work these things out within our own community. Friends, I believe the enemy has deceived the Church. I recognise there are wonderful, intelligent, wise, loving and caring people in the church, but where one brother is falling we are all accountable.

I am asking you to think bigger. Look at the bigger picture. Examine your hearts and attitudes. And pray. Do not take my word for it. Ask God. Seek his wisdom and counsel. Pray fervently not just for the unchurched but even more importantly for those within our own homes that are lost and wandering. Pray that the church would NOT be a vessel for the enemy to distract God’s people from their true callings, but pray it would be a place where God’s people are a united front engaging in authentic, even painfully honest conversations.

I believe this has to start from the pulpit. Our leaders must to be the example, and be willing to change the trajectory of church culture and how we speak about each other in and outside the church walls. Our leaders have to be willing to raise the uncomfortable issues and guide and teach our congregation how to navigate things like; healthy sexuality, to call out and raise up our men into spiritual leaders, to talk about addiction ect. We HAVE to use our voices to talk about these issues openly in the church otherwise where else can we go??

Life is complex and messy, and we the Church are not exempt from this. We are no different from anyone else. We are still sinners and the only difference is that we believe we have been saved by grace. So let’s live our salvation and freedom with conviction, truth and purpose, with humility, vulnerability and authenticity. I pray we won’t confuse purity and holiness for self-righteousness and hypocrisy. I pray we will, as a Church, be brave and lean into the mess. Lean into our pain so that we might see how others hurt. I pray we wont be so quick to throw our “opinions” (I’m guilty) around without understanding that each human being has an untold story that you know nothing about. I pray that when a gay couple walks through your church doors you welcome them with open arms and treat them like any other person in your congregation, because they are no different then us. There should never be an “us” and “them”. I pray most of all that through the love and grace given to you by God, you will strive each and every single day to see others through the eyes of Jesus.

Forever yours,
– Chloe

the dirty little secret about sex: Part 1

S.E.X!!! Sexual intercourse. Birds and the bees. Bumping uglies. Gettin jiggy with it. Making love. Horizontal line dancing. Knocking boots. Coitis. For all my Jesus-loving homies – being fruitful and multiplying.

Okay, before you start sweating bullets of nervous anticipation, RELAAAX, I’m not about to give you a play-by-play describing the ins-and-outs (ahaha! get it? In and out?? It’s an innuendo) of what sex is. I am going to trust that the demographic of people reading this are old enough to know the basic mechanics. If by some chance you’re older than 16 and don’t know what sexual intercourse is, you have some bigger issues my friend and probably need to book yourself a therapy sesh…

Sex is by far the most relatable and known experience to mankind. Literally, every single human was biologically formed to insert A into B. It’s science. The practicality of sex: populating the earth. BUT did you know that sex was designed for a whole lot more then simply putting more humans on the earth? I know, crazy right??! Look I’m not a sexologist, (though I wish I was – BEST PROFESSION EVER!), but I can tell you with 120% confidence that sex has more than one purpose.

For you horn-dogs out there you’re probably thinking – “duh Chloe, it’s for pleasure with a capital P.” HELLO! You ain’t wrong there kids! BUT… I’m going to take this up a notch and say,

Sex is ultimately the most fulfilling, most satisfying and most pleasurable within the context of marriage.

Now, before you roll your eyes and tune out I dare you to ride this to the end. Yes, I am a Christian, and I unequivocally accept that my religious beliefs influence my views on sex, however I believe that you could be an atheist, Hindu, monk,  Buddhist, LGBTQ-ist, firethrower-ist to adopt this belief. This isn’t just for the prude conservatives or bigots, it can be a belief for errrbody.

Here is one thing I bet we can all agree on: sex is important. The amount of importance we place on sex is another matter altogether. When we live in a culture and time in our society where the definition of what “good sex” looks like has many different faces, it’s a challenge narrowing it down and trying to convince you that the TRUE answer to hot, passionate, A-MAAAZING sex is within marriage.

Already, simply by using the word marriage, I’ve lost half of you because for a lot of you marriage is just a piece of paper, for some marriage is a confining box that limits and stifles great and thrilling sex. And for many, marriage leaves a bitter taste in your mouth filled with pain and disappointing memories.

But, I would argue that even more people equate sex with negative ramifications, memories and meaning, rather than positive ones. Here is why: sex is an act designed to be a mutual bonding experience between two people who love and respect each other in the context of a committed relationship sealed with the vows of marriage. This is more than just a moral argument by the way, it’s also using logic, reason and research.

I am going to reference Author Sheila Wray Gregoire who wrote, “The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex,” because she is LEGIT and you should definitely read her book! Firstly, what I looove about Gregoire’s main idea is focusing not on what sex isn’t, what you SHOULD’NT be doing, but allowing ourselves to broaden our hearts and minds to how we can reach the fullest potential sex has to offer! How awesome is that?! However, there are some elephants in the room we need to address in a judgement-free zone. (Note: In absolutely NO WAY do I judge you if you’re having sex outside of marriage, I would be a total hypocrite if I did).

Firstly, it seems the biggest argument to doing the “deed” whenever, however, to whoever comes from a place of believing that we can separate the physical from the emotional. The general message our culture sends is that sex can be a purely physical experience. However, the problem here is:

“If we see sex only in the physical realm, we miss out on the potential sex has. We degrade it to be far less than it was created to be (Gregoire 25).”

What I get from this is that sex is a holistic experience and was created to be both physical, emotional and spiritual. Again, the problem is that the overall message being promoted in our culture;

“Sounds quite progressive and woman-positive, which is why we believe it. It says we need to take control of our own sexual satisfaction. We need to be in touch with our own bodies, have fun with ourselves, know what we like, and celebrate our own sexuality before we can have any sort of sexual relationship. In fact, the relationship itself is only secondary to our own sexual selves. We need to know how to have an orgasm, know what feels good, and know what we like, all before sex can be good with someone else. To me this turns our husbands into sex toys rather than partners.”

We have ultimately turned what was meant to be the purest form of selflessness into the most selfish, self-serving thing on this earth. This isn’t just about morality, it’s about our mindsets and the notion of entitlement, control and a misguided sense of freedom. And just so you know, this is more than some kind of sermon I’m preaching from a self-righteous pedestal. I’m also speaking from my own experience…

I had sex before I was married. I wasn’t a committed Christian, but deep down I knew in my gut/conscience that what I was doing was a big deal and that I was losing out more than I was gaining. I knew even then that though I succumbed to the pressure to have sex it’s “no biggy,” it reaaally was the biggest BIGGY, and it would pave the way for what would cause the most pain and damage in my life. Sex outside of marriage has by far caused the most damage mentally and emotionally in my life.

In fact, the root of my diagnosis, Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, can be traced back to my sexual past. It is important to note that I have both experienced consensual sex, as in I made a mutual decision with the other person, however unfortunately I have also been among the many women (and men) who have been sexually assaulted. I, like many, know what it is to be at the hands of someone’s lack of self-control and selfishness. There is nothing in this world more shame inducing, violating and soul destroying then sexual assault. This in itself should be enough proof that sex is more than just a physical act, for if it were simply a physical act, then non-consensual sex, theoretically speaking, shouldn’t effect a persons psyche. No wonder we are all so confused about our sexuality, when what we are taught is so deeply contradictory.

We are told to have it all, yet hide it all. “While one message says we should glorify our bodies, the other says we should feel embarrassed by them, as if sex is somehow shameful (27).”

Sex was NEVER meant to incite shame or fear, but when I look at the sexual climate of our world, SHAME and FEAR are all I see.

To be continued….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Terrorism Feminism

There is a movement circulating the Western World that says gender equality means a woman should be free to do, say and think what she wants. It says, you can wear, or not wear for that matter, what you want because it’s your body and you’re not responsible for how that impacts the eyes it falls upon. That’s their problem. Umm… Isn’t this attitude what got men in trouble for being chauvinistic pricks in the first place? The toxic belief that they are “entitled” to say and do what they want to women without being held accountable because they have the upper hand, and women are created to serve their “needs.” This does not sound like equality to me…

I like to call this kind of thing terrorist feminism. It’s aggressively forcing a self-serving agenda onto others while masking it as a positive ideal. It is propaganda at it’s finest. It’s misleading. It’s a lie that says if a woman values and respects herself then she will celebrate her womanly “self” by parading her sexuality how she pleases. Terrorist feminism is using any means necessary to enforce ones belief and actions onto others with complete disregard for the health and wellbeing of others. It’s taking a pure belief system into extremist thinking. Let me get this straight, equality is NOT, “I am woman, hear me roar!” It is selfishness and ignorance disguised as feminism. It’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

For hundreds of years women have being fighting for equality and for good reason! But tragically I would say that true equality (true feminism) has been diluted and dissolved into a toxic and destructive belief system. So let’s take a step back and look at what equality really means? What is the definition of equality? According to Oxford Dictionary equality is: “the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, or opportunities.” Does this sound sufficient to you? I think equality is so much more and holds much more weight and meaning!

To me equality is when an individual values others, respects others and realizes that their actions affect the people, community and society around them. Equality is an individual attitude that recognizes their perspectives, beliefs and actions affects others, and are committed to being a person of integrity that treat people with dignity.

In fact, I think equality goes beyond simply believing you are on the same playing field as everyone else. I believe equality in it’s purest form is when the focus is NOT how it benefits ones self, but a mindset of humility and selflessness that says you value and respect human life so much that you would give up your “status” in order to raise others up. I’m tired of people demanding equality without truly understanding what equality really entails. Equality in itself is precious and so few in our world are treated with such. Equality demands accountability. If you think it is there to serve you then you have completely missed the mark.

First, let me acknowledge that I write this as a privileged western white woman who has been given many freedoms and basic human rights that many are not. There is much I cannot possibly begin to understand or comprehend about being in a minority position nor do I claim to. But God do I wish to do everything in my power to be sensitive, understanding and informed.

There are ideals and then there is reality. For example: The act of a woman walking around with her breasts fully exposed and vag on display being seen as a healthy social norm, a basic human right, sits in the ideal box. In reality, it’s NOT a reality. If you think that “free the nipple” and the “slut walk” is the next best thing since slice bread then you are wearing rose coloured glasses my friend, because if you were to take them off you would notice that we don’t live on an island by ourselves. We live in a society and culture that is HIGHLY sexualized, and I mean absolutely saturated!

We are drowning in an unbalanced unhealthy sexualized culture, yet we want our cake and eat it too. We want to tell our daughters that it is liberating to show their boobs and asses, and yet in the same sentence we have shit like the amber alert and an entire database dedicated to exposing our local sex offenders and pedophiles. Hmm… I wonder how hard those losers have to hunt in order to fulfill their sexual appetite? Not far. Just check your teenage daughters Instagram or Facebook. And lets not get started on the porn industry or sex trafficking of minors. We want to send the message to young women of our generation that to be equal means they can screw as many people as they want, and that it won’t have negative ramifications on their mental and emotional wellbeing. It’s highly irresponsible

If you live in a tribe in Africa where women’s breasts are purely a source of nutrition for their young, then by all means got nuts, whip the girls out, but don’t willingly put your head under water to drown out the obvious. Remember the context in which you live your life. Choosing to ignore this is immature negligence. If you think I sound judgmental or harsh fair enough, but I have both a son and daughter with whom I have to attempt to guide in the midst of this crap. It’s scary and I desperately want my children to know their identity in such a way that protects their innocence while enabling them navigate their world in a healthy way. It’s not easy.

When there are so many voices screaming their opinions without leaving room for the softer spoken, it’s no wonder we are dealing with so many confused and scared young women and men with no real healthy direction or hope for their future. All I can do is hold myself accountable for my own thoughts, feelings and actions and pray I can somehow hold my head above the noise and hold onto what I believe will enable myself and my children in becoming self-respecting yet considerate and mindful individuals.

Mr. Fifty Shades of Vague 


Since getting married to the most legit dude EVER I had every intention of never looking back on the train wreck that is my relationship history. I’m serious, its a reeeal doozey… For the most part I have left that disaster of my life behind, but I would be lying if I said it doesn’t come up now and then. I would like to say I have no regrets and that those experiences “make me who I am today,” but that’s a load of wally! I absolutely regret ever getting involved with any man that wasn’t my husband. I regret ever giving any part of myself (emotionally and physically) to another man who never deserved it in the first place, and I regret all the tears and heartache I wasted on dumb-dumb boys with dumb-dumb agendas (p.s. this totally applies for dudes too. Girls are just as dumb sometimes). Even though I have a wonderful marriage and I adore my husband, the ramifications of settling for losers in the past has had consequences on our relationship.

One of the most epic relationship fails I embarked on lasted over two very painful and frustrating years. This “relationship” is what like to call an UNRELATIONSHIP. An unrelationship is worse than worse! It’s every players dream and every good girl/good boys nightmare. It’s the cop-out for those too pansy to commit to the real deal but too selfish to value the others heart. It’s the biggest trap that so many fall into, and so easy to settle for because any kind of intimacy is better than being a lonely old hag right? Wrong! It’s waaay worse than being lonely. It is the biggest (excuse the french) mind-fu*k of all time.

The defining quality of the unrelationship is vagueness so vague you miss the red flags before its too late, and before you know it you’re deep in a love so emotionally and mentally taxing and toxic you evolve into a psychotic insecure pathetic excuse of a human being.

This journey for me started with a rebound. I had just broken up with the “good guy,” because even though we cared for each other we just weren’t compatible and there were many elements of our relationship that weren’t healthy. I really loved this guy, and I was utterly heartbroken. He was wonderful in so many ways, and parting from him was bittersweet because we both knew it was the right thing to do but I still couldn’t fathom my life without him (says every emotionally invested person ever) or cut out my heart to make it stop hurting. Separating from someone you’re in love with, to me, feels like someone just died. You feel like you’re grieving a loss, but the problem is you cant get closure because they are still alive, moving on in life without you, breathing the same air, walking the same earth. It’s torture. So what does an emotionally damaged, heartbroken gal do to cope??? Get sloshed and rebound… I wish I was joking, buuut I took the low road…

So in typical cliche dysfunctional fashion I chose to get involved with one of my exes best buds. Yup, classy Chloe over here! Plus he was the only other single guy in my group of friends annnd I was desperate! First rooky move. It started off with innocent flirting, HA! innocent my a**! Going for walks together, grabbing coffee together, hanging out alone.. together. The annoying thing was we were actually developing a pretty awesome friendship, and for what it’s worth he wasn’t a bad person. By the time summer was over I was completely head over heals for this guy, and was keen as beans to make it official.

Two and a half years later … it was never made official, and I was never officially his girl. This was one of the most painfully frustrating experiences of my life, BUT it was a loooong lesson in learning how to pick the non-committed sly foxes and stay the hell away from them!

I spent two and a half years with a guy who treated me like his girlfriend, you know, the hugging and kissing, holding hands, spending every waking second together. He would even invite me to stay with him at his parents place. Yup, he introduced me to his family, I would spend holiday breaks with them. All signs proved that this guy must be the real deal. WRONG! He was just super skilled in the art of the unrelationship.

This to me was the biggest insult and worst kind of rejection. A guy who is willing to string you along for years with “I love you, but I’m still not ready for a relationship,” and treat you like his woman, but behind the scenes is still involved with his ex and other ladies on the side is NOT a keeper. I repeat he is NOT a keeper. What he or she really is, is a selfish, insecure commitment-phobe who see’s you as a convenience for intimacy but doesn’t think you’re good enough to go all in. They know exactly what to say and how to say it to keep you hooked and it feeds their ego of knowing they have got your wrapped around their little finger. And what’s worse is the unrelationship means they aren’t held accountable for their actions, and you have no ground to stand on because your’e consenting to putting up with their shit, I mean, behaviour. My favourite bullcrap statement that he would use on me: “But I don’t want to loose you, your’e important to me, and we have something really special.” What. A. LOAD!!! Unfortunately I bought into this for way too long, and by the time I finally had enough balls to call it quits I was a broken, angry, insecure girl with nothing to show for it.

Moral of the story ladies and gentlemen: if you’re in a place in life where you are wanting to enter into a healthy stable relationship don’t get involved with Mr. 50 Shades of Vague. If that person is genuinely keen and has eyes only for you they will be man or woman enough to verbalise their interest from the get go and will have the stones to tell you their intentions from the beginning. They might make you feel like a million bucks when you’re around them and “in the moment”, but you know it ain’t legit if you still don’t have a sense of security deep down in that gut called your instinct. Honestly, if you know you can’t trust your own judgement when it comes to relationships please, for the love of God, let those around you who you trust be a voice of reason and LISTEN to them if they see the red flags!!! I can promise you they aren’t trying to ruin your love life, in fact they actually love you enough to want to protect your sorry behind.

I’m so stoked to be able to say that I finally met my “happily ever after” guy and he was totally worth the wait. I might have made a million mistakes getting to him and settled for some real buttheads but I finally made it to him and now I have the complete package: a strong, stable, adoring companion who loves me unconditionally, will do ANYTHING for me and his children. THAT my friends, is what we are all deserving of so be patient and in the meantime take up a hobby like model air planes or puzzles or something.

 

I’m a social media whore

Unless you live under a rock or in the tribal communities of the Amazon jungle you would be quite familiar with the online social networking platforms of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snap chat ect… In fact, even if you did live under a rock or in the jungle I bet you would still somehow manage to have a Facebook account because what is the meaning life without it right???!

Living in a world without social media is like living without electricity or fuel powered transportation or food and water! Its utterly barbaric!! Hah, just kidding, but seriously… It spins me out to think that social media has only been around for a short period of time and in that amount of time it has dramatically influenced the dynamic of interpersonal connectedness and how we do life. Except unlike electricity and gas powered transportation I have to wonder if our society’s dependence and usage of social media is erring on having more harmful side effects than positive, productive ones. I have to wonder if it’s moving our society backwards instead of forwards. I wonder if it’s developing positive value systems, and enabling a healthy culture of communication?

I am so tempted to geek out and analyse the crap out of the underlying theories of social media but that’s super BOOOORING so I’ll just stick with some thoughts that have been culminating in response to my interactions with it.

A little disclaimer: some of my thoughts aren’t necessarily aligned with how I am currently using it so I’m no social media purist, but I do hope that as I continue to unpack this stuff that I can come to a place where I am confident and fully aware of the role I play in the social media world, and how I allow it to shape me as a person.

One thing is for sure! Since the arrival of Facebook, Instagram, snap chat, twitter etc. the concept of maintaining and respecting personal privacy has pretty much gone out the window and been replaced with a desire to self-promote. What initially was meant for creating connection between people, seems to have evolved into a platform for anyone and everyone into becoming amateur agents of self-promotion. It taps directly into humanities narcissistic tendencies and enables a type of self-seeking behaviour, which has become widely accepted and even encouraged. I realise how harsh this might sound, and I certainly don’t assume that this applies to everyone however in general it appears that this is the underlying attitude hovering over even the most innocent of “grammers”(aka Instagrammers).

I’ll be the first to admit… I am the QUEEN of selfies!! A selfie: is a self portrait most commonly taken with a smart phone camera and then posted onto a social media site. I loooove a good selfie! Why do I like selfies? LETS GET REAL – Becauuuuuuse if I take a picture of myself and I think I look smokin not only do I feel the need to bless the world with an angelic image of my face, BUT more importantly I look forward to the validation I receive in return through “likes” and “comments.” Nothing gets the ego and false confidence flowing like 100 likes and 40 comments on my physical beauty!

I guess that is the million dollar question: WHY? What is my motive and agenda for sharing the information I choose to share on a public forum?

If you are posting selfies or any pictures of yourself for that matter I can guarantee its not because you are wanting to use your face to inspire the masses into doing good in the world… Mmm actually Ryan Gosling and Beyonce would be the exception to this rule. It cracks me up when I see people posting selfies accompanied with some kind of inspirational quote or comment that has nothing to do with the fact they are plastering their face for all to admire – as if they are doing the humble thing by quoting Gandhi or Jesus alongside a very obviously angled shot of their boobs/ass/legs/muscles/belly etc. COME ON! If you’re gonna go full vanity mode at least do us all a favour and call it like it is: ” Oh hey everyone, my boobies look especially delicious today, come and tell me how hot I am!”

Because if we are truly honest with ourselves we would all be willing to admit that this is the main reason we are so in love with social media. It’s because we are so in love with ourselves and want the world to know it! We all get to be mini celebrities and have our value and worth measured by numbers. It’s suuuuper genuine and not at all superficial right guys? Like, nothing makes me a more dedicated, loyal and loving “friend” than to spend hours stalking, I mean, scrolling through peoples photos to shoot them a “like” and never actually think to call them, or even more insane, meet up with them in person! Why bother when my love for them is so clearly communicated through online intimacy??

Sorry, I’m being a bit of a sarcastic Steven right now, but it’s hard not to when it all seems like someone out there is playing a huge joke on us “grammers” – theres a pretty massive elephant in the room that we are quite happy to ignore for the sake of saving face.

Here are some other fun things I’ve observed in my journey to becoming a social media guru:

1. Addiction and dependency on a false reality – When you walk into a restaurant I bet the first thing you notice is that if not everyone, most will have their phones sitting on the table or in their hands instead of actually talking to the person in front of them. I am 100% guilty. I myself will habitually check my phone every half hour or less! I have noticed how dependant I am on my phone, but more specifically on checking social media for any sign of new gossip or contact from others; never mind the fact my husband is trying to have a meaningful conversation with me or that my 12 month old son is downing a bottle dish washing liquid without my knowledge… oops. When your need and desire to engage with your Facebook world becomes more important than actively engaging in the world around you with real people it might be time to re-evaluate ones priorities… If you find yourself bored with the company you keep in real-time and your itching, nay, jonesing for your social media fix it might be time to ask yourself if you are placing more value in a reality that cannot nor will not fulfil your desire for genuine relationship and connectedness. Or maybe you simply have developed a bad habit (dependency) on your phone and need a good ol’ fashioned phone detox to remember that life was actually pretty damn good before and that you WILL survive with out your phone clutched to your body.

2. Lack of interpersonal communication skills – Not to place all the blame on the “younger generation” (it’s still very evident with the young and old alike) BUT, the impact that social media is having on the development of interpersonal communication skills in adolescents is quite alarming. I’ve worked with children and teens in multiple different contexts but the one common factor is that, they not only cannot live without social media, it seems they are struggling to know how to communicate and maintain healthy relationships with their peers. Let’s not even start on cyber bullying because that is a minefield in itself, but many teens I meet have no idea in how to resolve a conflict in a healthy way via face-to-face interaction, in fact, I would see a whole lot of kids just sitting by themselves at lunchtime on their phones rather than engaging with their peers. It’s not just the young ones though! I couldn’t count how many times I’ve been to a family event and the most common picture you see isn’t the family laughing gaily into each others eyes as they joke and play monopoly, it’s a bunch of people sitting on the couch heads down silently hanging out with their online buddies and checking dank memes. That’s definitely not what you imagine when you think of creating meaningful memories with people you care about right??

3. Value and worth is measured by numbers – I have already touched on this, but this one is kind of a big deal… Not only have I been guilty of pursuing validation through social media, but I have allowed it to affect my self-worth. I have let the ways in which I use social media to fuel my insecurities as well as subdue them. It is so easy to get caught finding your worth in who “likes” your photos, and how many “followers” you have. I decided recently that unless I knew the person personally, as in, have some level of outside real time contact with that person then I would delete them from my “friends” list. Unless you are genuinely hoping to become a social media celebrity, or profit from becoming an online public figure than maybe it might be worth asking your self why you need to have a 1000 followers of whom most you barely know… The number looks really good on your profile, but does that kind of popularity give you a false measure of self-worth?

4. Skewed lines of personal privacy boundaries – Facebook stalking is a real thing you guys! You can literally hide behind your screen while gaining full access peoples personal photos and information and they would have nooo idea you are doing it. Umm, if this happened in real-time ya’ll get yo asses arrested! But here we all are politely “stalking” each other because now we can without getting caught and risk looking like desperados! Again, I’m a massive culprit of the classic Facebook stalk – I mean how else did I scope out my future husband without appearing like a creeper? Seriously though, I totally stalked my husband on Facebook before he even knew I existed… Mwahahah! On a more serious note, I do believe privacy is important, and I do think there are just some things that should be valued enough not to publicise it to the world. Especially when it comes to our children…

5. Using our children as advertisement accessories – this one is a sensitive subject and I don’t want to appear as though I am accusing anyone of child abuse or anything of the sort, but since having my first child it has become so apparent how easy it is to use social media to advertise our children as a means to making our image as parents look good. Again, I’m so guilty of this. But it really scared me and hit me like a tonne of bricks when I realised that I placed more priority over how people viewed me as a parent rather than protecting my child’s safety and privacy. In a sense I was actually exploiting my child for my own gain (self-validation). Because when one becomes a parent one realises that their child is a direct reflection of who they are and if their child looks perfect by social media standards then it is safe to assume I’m the perfect parent… Wrong! So very wrong.

Now please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying that if you post photos of your child on social media that you are exploiting your child, but it might be worth checking yourself and in what manner you choose to post information about your child on a public sphere. Not to bring fear tactics into the picture, BUT there are alot of bad people out there who are able to gain access to photos of your children and use them in the most horrid ways… Also remember that right now your child doesn’t have the choice over how his or her life is portrayed on social media and remember that you are the protectors and gatekeepers of their personal lives. Imagine living in a world where complete randoms would approach you saying ” Ohhh Jonny, wow look how grown up you are! I’ve been following your life since you were a baby, I’m so glad that weird thing with your willy was sorted….” How invasive and awkward is that?!

6. Envying fake lives – Social media is the perfect setup for misunderstanding and breakdown in friendships. Ironic, since it’s supposed to make us feel more intimate and closer to people. It’s super misleading. It’s also a dangerous place for comparing yourself and your life to what others are portraying through social media. Especially for us ladies it’s like putting fuel to the competition flame. It’s also really good at either giving the illusion you are a part of a close knit group or the opposite, making you feel super excluded and left out. So many times I’ve been gutted because a friend of mine posted a picture of themselves out at dinner with mutual friends. Why didn’t I get the invite??! Does that sound familiar to you? I have thought and assumed people that I cared about were intentionally excluding me from their lives because of the things they posted on Facebook. I have often felt hurt and insignificant because of how I perceived what I saw posted by people on social media.

At the end of the day I don’t believe we can avoid social media completely nor do i think it necessary, and believe it or not, I think there are lots of positive things to have come from social media! Like meeting future husbands for example… But, I do see a pressing need to become a culture that is more aware, more thoughtful, more careful, more critical and more conscious of how they engage with social media and allow it to effect their lives and relationships. So if your an avid grammer like myself, and enjoy the occasional selfie, laughing at stupid memes, watching pointless insta-food videos or stalking people you have a friend crush on but are too afraid to take the plunge, then go nuts! The social media world is your cyber oyster! Just don’t forget that as good as a selfie feels I can guarantee that the people on your inner circle would much rather see your gorgeous face in person!

those damn pink lines

positive-pregnancy-test-665x385So there I was sitting on the toilet peeing on a pregnancy stick. It seemed like a fun idea at the time, I had a spare one lying around, I was bored and had felt oddly tired, so why not!? I DEFINITELY did not think for a second it would come back positive. I was mid-pee when to my horror two pink lines appeared. It didn’t even give me the courtesy of letting me finish weeing in peace! Nope, I was rudely interrupted by two very clear very obnoxious pink lines. How could this be?! How in hell could I possibly be pregnant?! I was on the pill AND breastfeeding! Those two things combined put me in the 0.5% risk rate of falling pregnant. It was literally supposed to be impossible and there I was staring at those damn pink lines knowing that I was the 0.5%. WTF?!

Before you think it or assume it I want you to know I am thankful that we are ridiculously fertile, and I do not take for granted how quickly and easy it has been for us to fall pregnant, and I DO believe that this unexpected life was no coincidence at all. I DO believe she is a blessing and miracle from God, and that her life has a purpose of its own and that she is destined for great and wonderful things. BUT, at the time it was literally my worst nightmare, and as a woman and struggling mother I couldn’t bare the thought of bringing another life into the world I felt so undeserving of and ill-equipped to raise. Call me selfish if you will, but I would like to think that it was a mixture of wisdom and godly fear realising how serious it is to be able to safely and lovingly bring children into the world. I barely thought I had the capacity of giving of myself into one let alone another dependant human, AND on top of all that having to endure nine months of torture, aka pregnancy…

What is safe to assume is that PTSD came at me with a vengeance. I know this phrase is thrown around a lot, but there really were no words to describe the depth of fear and despair that came over me. In fact, I am choosing not to go into detail regarding this because one: it is too painful to recount and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy, and two: because something that dark and horrible doesn’t deserve a play by play and I refuse to give it energy.

What I can tell you is that it lead me down a road so dark, so painful and so soul destroying it left me crying out for death. What I share next my be confronting for some so please feel free to skip this part, but it comes with the consequences of mental health gone unchecked. I was in such a desperate state that I seriously contemplated abortion. I know for some of you reading this you may be thinking, what’s the big deal? There is nothing wrong with wanting choice over your body, and some of you may be on the other side horrified that I would even think to go there … For me, deep down, I knew abortion wasn’t the answer and would only lead to a shame, regret and heartache worse than anything, but I was desperate, so desperate to escape the place I was in.

Within a few weeks of seeing those two pink lines I had completely shut down and gone into trauma mode: suicidal thoughts dominated my mind, I was unable to move or get out of bed (also because of extreme morning sickness), I couldn’t nor wanted to look after my son. I knew if I didn’t look for help it would be the end. So I asked my husband (the most amazing, strong, and unconditionally loving man in the universe) to take me to hospital. I was admitted to the phyc ward for a night to which they realised I needed more specific support related to postpartum depression, and being in a suitable place where I had full access to my son. I was referred to the mothers and babies unit in a Perth hospital.

Initially I was relieved. I began to feel a spark of hope and an expectation that I would finally be in an environment where I would be taken care of, given the chance to rest, recuperate and begin the journey to recovery. It didn’t take long to realise that for me personally, being in the MBU was far from a safe, nurturing, loving environment. I say this because I do not doubt there are women out there who have received exactly what they needed from the service, but for myself I was given a rude awakening into the world of the public metal health care system. Again, I don’t feel the need to go bashing a program that is offered free of charge aimed to support struggling mothers, so all I’ll say is that I left after three weeks worse off than I was when I was admitted. I will also say that in all my time and journey through mental health recovery I can confidently say that no amount of clinical expertise or statistically successful treatments will ever be the answer to full recovery. It might be helpful and get you some part of the way but it will never be enough.

Truth be told, the only aspect of being in the MBU that brought any relief at all was connecting with and being in community with the other mummas on the unit. Their genuine care, understanding, and compassion did wonders! It was deep connection and relationship to other broken people that brought any form of real hope. Go figure!

Thankfully after being discharged from the MBU I was able to spend the next few months under the care and love of my husbands family who not only gave me the opportunity to physically rest, they loved on me and my son. It’s amazing that something as simple as a bit of practical help and genuine desire to nurture me through my pain began to make a difference. Here is where I began to receive mental and emotional healing. It also included:

  1. Physical rest. SLEEP! Sleep can cure diseases and stop wars. But seriously, sleep actually acts as as a regenerative time for all the work your brain has done during the day. It is essential in literally restoring your brain. No wonder sleep deprivation was used as a form of torture!
  2. Unconditional support from SAFE people: being in an environment where you are surrounded by people you trust who can love you and take care of you and LISTEN when you need to talk.
  3. Healthy Distraction: Having people, places and things that can take your mind off the traumas is also like giving your heart and mind rest. For example, I was able to go on a holiday just with my husband for a week. It was bliss! Or it can be as simple as going to see a movie, getting your hair done, really whatever tickles your fancy.
  4. Professional Help: Seeing a good, and I stress the importance of GOOD phyc or counsellor! Don’t write off the people who spend their lives trying to figure out the best way to guide those into recovery. The tools and skills they can give you will stick with you for a lifetime in good and bad seasons.
  5. Drugs: Now I don’t mean illicit substances (though some of you would argue they have their perks), but I mean prescribed medication which is designed to realign the chemicals in your brain that are unbalanced. I know this is a controversial subject, and I’m not encouraging everyone to dose themselves up on happy pills, and I don’t think they are solely the answer, but I do believe they have a place in the healing process for many including myself.

Now the last one is a biggy… Its the thing I’ve wanted to deny, and fought against and even resented, but I would be leaving out the most crucial element in this story.

God.

I identify as a Christian, and believe in a God who is all about relationship and healing broken people. The problem is, I seem to be the exception to the rule. I guess what it all comes down to is what I have fundamentally believed about myself for as long as I’ve been alive: that I am not worthy. When you have believed for so long that you hold no value in the eyes of yourself, or of people let alone God – creator of the Universe, its no wonder I have spent more time running from Him instead of to Him. Honestly, I think I am still on the run. In many ways I’am still very confused and angry and frustrated with God, but it doesn’t change that He has loved me from the very beginning and will love me until the end, and even though my human understanding cannot comprehend all of Him, I believe that He alone is the answer to complete wholeness and restoration in my heart and mind. More importantly, I believe He WANTS to restore me.

I have no freekin clue how this looks for me on any given day let alone try and describe how it might look for you (and the last thing I would want you to think is that I’m preaching mumbo-jumbo self-righteous bullshit), but I would at least encourage you to search. Search for meaning beyond yourself and your circumstances, perhaps it does nothing for you, but if you so happen to arrive at God, I would bet that you wouldn’t leave empty handed.

Life is complex, complicated, unpredictable and incredibly painful at times, but in the midst of the unknown is an opening for something beautifully redemptive. Maybe those dreaded two pink lines I initially saw as the end of my life was really the beginning, and maybe those two pink lines were pointing me towards healing and a hope I never thought possible….