Tear down the damned high places

Whenever I read through the Kings and Chronicles of the old testament, I get frustrated at this statement that’s tacked onto the end of almost every single king’s reign- whether he was evil or righteous –  “… but he didn’t tear down the high places.”

I’m not theologically schooled enough to fully break down what “high places” meant for the ancient Israelites or the full spiritual symbolism, but to me it symbolized an evil stronghold that even the good leaders of that time didn’t have the will or guts to get rid of.

Seeing this phrase annoyed me so much that it stuck with me… and became irritatingly relevant.

Ya see, there was a habit in my life I was holding on to that was not good for me. Eventually, I half-heartedly built a barrier to keep it out of my life. But… my wall had cracks all in it. I kinda sorta maybe left ways for this habit to worm its way back into my thoughts. After a few times of thinking about the habit, it started to seem less harmful.. silly almost. Then I thought “I’m strong enough to handle this,” and started to dabble in it again. Then dabbling turned into regular use, regular use into bingeing… Which of course made me feel especially guilty and terrible, because I knew I was fully re-immersing myself in a behavior that — at my best — I didn’t want.

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Feeble wall building =  lamé

But later in my life, my amazing wise sister came to visit. My sister cannot stand this habit, and especially what this habit did to me. I was explaining to her how my most recent entanglement with this habit had upset me. Although she was sympathetic – dear soul that she is – I could also tell that she was frustrated. And in my heart of hearts I couldn’t blame her! I was choosing to let myself be hurt.

So I set my face like steel, and this time when I cut this habit it out, I pulverized it. 100%.

That same week, I met my next boyfriend.*  While we were dating and sharing about ourselves, this habit came up… as they always seem to do … and he asked me straight up if I was still a regular user, so to speak. I’m telling y’all… it felt amazing to look him in the eye and be able to honestly say “Nope. That is 100% donezos.”

Before, a part of me was unwilling to cut this habit off completely.  Because like almost all habits that enfold you and steal your heart away from wholeness, this habit could be, well, quite enjoyable. But eventually, I did tear down my “high places.” It wasn’t because the habit stopped being appealing, it was because the idea of freedom from this habit become even more appealing.

(Let’s make sure we’re all on the same page; the back channels of access to this habit were my “high places.” Despite all of my other “reforms,” these last strongholds were irksome markers of my own rebellion.)

Do I miss this habit sometimes? Yep. Maybe I always will, at least a little. But at the same time, I’ve never regretted cutting it out, and I have honestly never received so much positive feedback from all the people who *love* me after I built a real wall, with no cracks, no back-entryways into my life.

“For freedom Christ has set us free..” – Apostle Paul (Galations 5:1)

So… tear down the damned high places in your life. Be free 🙂

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Me rn

— EDITORIAL NOTES —

*Granted, that didn’t exactly end well. But THAT’S NOT THE POINT

 

 

The most annoying advice I’ve ever received

There was a long pause on the other line. Then my sister said, “Well Claire, if you don’t like something about your life… change it.”

If I didn’t love my sister so much, I would hate her. She had zero respect for my self-pity, and I was a bit put out at the time. But this advice drilled itself into my mind.

I get so upset and stressed about things in my life that I cannot control. I cannot fully control, for example, how much other people like me… or sometimes even when my own body turns against me and defiantly gains 8 lbs despite me working out more.*

So what can we actually change or control about our lives?

Well folks, I have found that I have a great degree of control over 1) who I hang out with 2) what environments I plant myself in and 3) how I act, talk, think (which ultimately, feeds back to influence how I feel!!!) about what happens in my life.

Some examples —

In the very recent past, I was getting frustrated that it seemed like the vast majority of my friends were not near as enthusiastic about hiking as I was. I wanted to go like, 1-2 times a weekend. After pouting for a while, I realized that instead of harassing my current circle of friends, I could take steps to expand my circle and actively seek out people who love to hike as much as I do. So I downloaded this app that let’s you join groups with people who have common interests in your area, and I’ve gone on several hikes with randos in the past few months. It has been super jolly meeting new people, and I no longer hate my hiking-unenthusiast friends!

I also recently had a falling out with someone. There were several contributing factors to our falling out, but one of them was that they didn’t seem to truly value me for who I was. I saw them the other day, and at first I felt almost sick with anger, bitterness, sadness — you know, the regular crew of bad feels. I thought of like 24 snarky comments, and I strategized different ways to artfully snub them with my body language. But then I was suddenly flooded with this thought — maybe from the Holy Spirit! — that was like “Is this really who you want to be?”** And I thought, Holy Toledo, no it is not. I saw them standing at a distance and I waved at them, and I could see their face flood with relief. Then we chatted for a while and it was fine. Are we going to be besties?  Probably not. Can I control how much they value me? Definitely not. But I can control whether or not I’m petty and hold on to every hurt and slight, or whether I keep the big pic in mind. This person is a Christian, and at the end of all days I truly believe we are going to be joined together with a huge group of diverse people celebrating God together. When I have that perspective, it is really difficult to hate them, or want to punish them for not valuing me as much as I think they should.

This is getting a little bogged down in my personal examples, but this is what I’m tryna say —

There’s a lot we can’t control — stop obsessing over that crap.

Recognize what you can control — and change that stuff when you can to make your life dramatically better.

When you’re struggling with how to act — think about the person you want to be. Our character is shaped by every little decision we make. So if being a petty, bitter, or frustrated person is in line with your life goals, by all means go for it. But if it’s not, then… don’t act in a way that is in line with being a petty, bitter, frustrated person!***

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Nerd confession: I kinda want to be Sydney Bristow 😬

That’s really it. I’m sorry that you all don’t have a sister as awesome as mine..  but that’s what this blog is for — so I can share my wise-sister privilege. 😀

 

— EDITORIAL NOTES —-

*All the explanations of I’ve read of age-related weight gain have to do with decreased muscle mass, which makes sense generally. It makes no sense specifically when you are in fact increasing your muscle mass yet still gaining weight. And I know what you’re thinking and no, not all of it is muscle. Do you know how much work it takes to even gain a few pounds of muscle? Like gallons of whey protein, working out 3 hours a day, and oh yeah, being a man. So  I reeaaallly doubt the 8ish pounds I’ve gained in the past 2 years are pure muscle. So take your positivity ELSEWHERE. 😉

**Honestly this question has been SO FRICKIN’ HELPFUL the past few months. If it doesn’t end up being too redundant, I will post an entire blog just about this.

***Not trying to be preachy, but I honestly don’t think this is possible without the help of the Holy Spirit. Seriously — it takes supernatural power for me to not be petty!!!

 

 

Wise is as wise does

I don’t like to brag, but my friends tell me* I’m wise.

Seriously. I remember always being the uber-responsible, already-thinking-seriously-about-the-future kind of person, even in frickin’ middle school. Adults marveled at my maturity.

 

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Actual picture of me in middle school, lolz (pixabay)

 

Now I think my age has caught up with – maybe surpassed, snarky peeps would argue – my maturity level. But if you told me about your probs, I could probably drop a few truth bombs on ya. If you listened to me process my life, I would probably land on the right decision eventually. If you handed me some wisdom nuggets, I would very likely recognize them as wise.

But lately I’ve wondering.. then why all the Gallofoolery?

For realz. Especially when I look back on the last few years, there were some things I said or did … Sometimes not just once, I’m talking chronically! … that are just.. foolish.

What’s most upsetting is that I *knew* better.

I mean seriously.. I’ve been reading over some of my blog posts (e.g. this one, and this one) that I wrote a while ago (I know, I know.. shut up), and there’s some really solid wisdom in some of them, impo. Did I listen to my own advice? Um no… in some instances I did exactly what I advised my readers to not do. *le sigh* Yep, in that sense, I’m an ultra hypocrite.

So why have I, your esteemed Gallosage clothed in linens of wisdom – surrounded by smart, kind, wise people – been acting the fool??

Wellll, it comes down to this: knowing what’s wise doesn’t automatically translate into 1) the ability or 2) the will to do so.

That’s right, y’all. I usually get amazing advice – agree with it wholeheartedly as the best path forward – and then promptly ignore it. Why? Cuz I don’t wanna, that’s why. Or, I try. I try SO hard.. for a day or two. And then usually, my feels start barking so loudly that I’ll do practically anything to appease them and quiet their yapping. And lo, I collapse in a heap of shattered self-idealizations.

What is the path forward? Eh, if I knew 100%, I probably wouldn’t be writing this. But some things I’ve been thinking about —-

  • Awareness that my wisdom lapses are hardly ever informational. I’m gonna name it so I can disclaim it: sometimes it’s totes rebellion, sometimes it’s totes lack of effort, sometimes a little of both. But I don’t want to fool myself into thinking I need to listen to another 5 sermons or read more theology books before I can move forward.
  • Praying that I would have a heart that craves what’s good. Not just for me, but for everyone who I come into contact with. I want my feels to align with my noggin’.
  • Keepin’ it real with select people who I trust and who strike that unicorn blend of never rejecting me for being a fool but also never enabling my foolery.

That’s all I have rn … if you have ever found yourself full of knowledge that doesn’t translate into your actions, let me know what’s helped you actually be your ideals!

Word to yer mamas!

– Gallo

— EDITORIAL NOTES —

* notet this quote is from the movie Emma. Also, who are we kidding.. I love to brag.

 

No one likes a petty-pooper

Before I get started, I must apologize for the title. I really struggled with this one, y’all. Sometimes the clever muse is not with me. 😥 

I have had a *most* difficult time lately not being petty. The word petty is derived from the French word, “petit,”* which simply means “small.” And that’s really what pettiness is – letting yourself get upset over small, unimportant things. Things like..

…when that girl suggested that my romantical woes might be linked to my minimal make-up, or in other words “maybe you ugly?” ** 

…or when that fb friend kept on passive-aggressively liking the comments of someone I was arguing with on the interwebs…

… or when that family member shares a million memes per day but never shares my blog posts…

You get the point. As embarrassing as it is to admit, all of these are examples of things that have legitimately bothered me IRL in the past year. Frankly, I’m beginning to think my tendency to be preoccupied with these small offenses isn’t just lamé, it’s evil.

I said it! EVIL.

 

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Pettiness probably peaks in high school, amiright? (stolen from a rando blog, who probably stole it from someone else — PLEASE  DON’T BE PETTY AND SUE ME!)

 

If that seems a little extreme, hear me out. In his book The Good Samaritan Strikes Again, Patrick McManus proposes a theory that, although it’s almost been 20 years since I read the book, permanently lodged itself into my brainz because it was so brilliant.

 I have this theory that people possess a certain capacity for worry, no more, no less. It’s as though a person has a little psychic box that he feels compelled to keep filled with worries. When one worry disappears from the box, he immediately replaces it with another worry, so the box is always full. He is never short of worries. If a new crop of worries comes in, the person sorts through the box for lesser worries and kicks them out, until he has enough room for the new worries. The lesser worries just lie around on the floor, until there’s room in the box for them again, and then they’re put back in. They’re welcomed by the worries that have been in the box all the time: “Hi, guys! Good to have you back. Boy, you should have seen the duds that just left. And they had the nerve to call themselves worries!”  – Patrick McManus 

 We can only concern ourselves with so much. There’s an opportunity cost to pettiness – every time I choose to latch onto small things that nick my pride and hurt my feels, I sacrifice an opportunity to latch onto big things. Big things.. like the feels of others.

Seriously – that is the golden rule, is it not? 

So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. – Jesus, in Matthew 7:12 

So there is a silver lining in all of this— I already have a breathtaking ability to latch onto small details, and an exquisite sensitivity to what might be offensive or rude! Imagine – just imagine! – if I channeled this for other people! What if I started noticing when other people were uncomfortable and did small things to help them relax? What if I realized when I was being a rude arse and apologized before it became a big deal? 

But my worry box is only so big. So if I’m all wrapped up in myself – completely tuned into how I feel, and whether or not I’m offended, and all other things me me me, I have zero capacity to focus on anyone besides myself.

So yas. It’s not a small thing to be petty. I have to choose, I s’pose. It’s me or all of you. 

— EDITORIAL NOTES —

*I just made this up, but it’s probably true. Ask the google machine, if you DARE! 

**I wish I made that up, but it’s true. Don’t.. be… petty…

 

 

Christian singles: It’s time to put your sins to good use!

This is a self-help post for Christians who may still not have a great grasp on how many church cultures operate (bless your hearts!).

Do you think that church small groups are for building community, keeping each other accountable, learning about the word of God, and spurring each other on to good works?

Think again!

Church small groups are for meeting your future spouse. 

 

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Eyes on the prize, y’all — eyes on the prize!!!! (pixabay free image)

 

Nothing more, nothing less. So let’s get the obvious out of the way so we can talk strategy. You need to appear deep (really, almost tortured is best if you’re a guy) and Godly (don’t forget to quote those Pauline scriptures!) at all times. But there’s a third, crucial element that will really kick your marriageability into high-gear: Tasteful vulnerability.

How do you get there? Well, the easiest way is through confessing your sins. What’s more vulnerable than admitting to a group of mixed-sex peers that you ride the struggle bus sometimes? **BUT** it’s important that you are vulnerable in a kinda sexy, mysterious way, not icky, pathetic way.

Share the right sort of sins for the right sort of vulnerability!

MEN: Never confess porn addiction or laziness. Sexual sins are too PG-13 for the ladies in this crowd, and revealing your lack of ambition will only reinforce their fears that they really will be stuck teaching the 3rd grade for the rest of their lives. No no no.

The tasteful vulnerable zone, for men: Confess your sin of pride. It will make you seem humble, yet also offer a tantalizing hint that you have many, many things to be prideful about.

WOMEN: Never confess doubt or gluttony. These dudes are looking for moms to rear their perfect  children, and they aren’t going to risk you turning pago after a bun has started cooking in the oven. The glutton thing will just give men visions of your inevitable middle-aged-onset obesity… Not exactly a picture that will make them rush to Jared.

The tasteful vulnerable zone, for women: Confess your sin of perfectionism. It will make you seem humble, yet also establish that you are, after all, kinda perfect.

Follow these guidelines and I guarantee that you will be in a state of matrimonial bliss within one year! Remember – save the weird stuff for marriage counseling, and let your selective vulnerability score you a mate NOW!

 

Modesty is more than covering your bosoms

“…the answer isn’t to try and outdo each other in modesty until we’re shuffling around in form-masking body suits made of brown paper bags”

I grew up in a southern Baptist church AND was homeschooled, so I have endured my share of lectures on dressing modestly. I even took some classes at a church that wouldn’t let women on their property if they were wearing pants. I have never experienced more wrath than when a homeschool mom yelled at me, her golden eyes sparking with hatred, because my shirt showed my tums when I raised my arms (Now, I find it hilarious and maybe a little ironic that I have been slut shamed). Granted, these examples stick out to me because they’re outliers.

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Stanley and I feel the same about immodesty being a female privilege.  (this was a still from a gif that wouldn’t show up on this page properly — please don’t sue me!)

But even so, we all know that a “modesty” talk will be directed exclusively toward women. And it will be about what they’re (ornot) wearing. Because you know, the thrill of being immodest is a female privilege.

Some of you may want to sit down for this one. Ready? Here it comes – Men can be immodest, too. Maybe they aren’t teasing with low cut v-necks, but they may hog the “air time” during a group discussion to showcase their exquisite insightfulness.

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This center giraffe is immodestly hogging the convo. Smh (pixabay really limits my options, y’all – worth with me!)

Or they may show breathtaking creativity in how many times they can oh-so-casually work their six-fig income into a conversation. Or they may plaster their social media with pics of them surrounded by village children in Haiti, to really drive home their compassion and sensitivity. All can be forms of immodesty, all achievable without ever showing the smallest amount of bosomery. Amazing!

 

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“To be holy, thou shalt look Amish.” said Jesus, NEVER (image from pixabay)

I’m not advocating for us to chuck propriety out the window. There IS a balance somewhere between looking Amish and frolicking around in nekidness. But rules like No Skirts Above Thigh Where Fingers Reach When Standing Straight With Arms Fully Extended don’t really get it… and the answer isn’t to try and outdo each other in modesty until we’re shuffling around in form-masking body suits made of brown paper bags.* Because really, immodesty is about drawing attention to yourself. Yes, showing some cleavage is a great way to get some attention** but

1) it’s just one of many ways to draw attention to yourself

2) men aren’t exempt from clamoring for attention

3) immodesty is a visible symptom to an insecurity that goes all the way to yer ticker.

This myopic focus on women’s bosoms and bootays when discussing modesty does a disservice to women AND men. Making up detailed rules to emphasize your rightness and expose the unrightness of others… 100% guaranteed to make all hearts involved worse off. Now, how to change the heart so that it doesn’t want or need validation from others? Hmm.. 😉 ***

— EDITORIAL NOTES —

*Consider Jesus’ sermon on the mount. One of the main themes was how the commandments all went way beyond a simple rule to the heart behind specific commandments… not a stricter rule. For example, Jesus didn’t say, “Hey – remember that rule about not murdering? I say, don’t even pinch a brother.” No, he said, “Remember that rule about not murdering? I say, don’t even be angry in the first place.” (paraphrase, Matt 5:21-22) This is frustrating, because it’s like.. “but, that’s internal! I can kinda control my actions, and barely control my thoughts on good days – but control my innermost desires?! Impossible!” And it’s like Jesus was like, “Bingo!” [cue Holy Spirit].

**So I’ve heard. *sniffs self-righteously*

***[cue Holy Spirit]

 

No, God did *not* tell that guy He wants y’all to be together

[NOTE: I don’t harbor any ill will or contempt for the persons mentioned in the story below. But if someone has to go through these insane-o experiences, others might as well learn from them!]

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^How Sydney felt (smoochies to Pixabay for the free image)

So my friend* Sydney found herself in a situation a few years back in which (I believe) a well-intentioned but misguided Christian man was convinced that he and Sydney were supposed to be together. And she just wasn’t feelin’ those kinda feels. But then he played the “but I think this is God’s will,” card and Sydney panicked. She tortured the interwebs with search phrases like “does God want you to date someone you’re not attracted to?” or “is it possible that God will tell one person but not the other that he wants you to be together,” etc. etc. (Google be like “showing results for psychiatrists near you “) She grew agitated with God. Praying didn’t seem safe because she was so afraid God would confirm this .. coming together .. that turned her stomach.** It took several of her Christian mentors looking at her incredulously and saying “No! This guy is trying to manipulate you. to keep Sydney from having a major crises of faith. And lo and behold, they were correct. She is single and sassy to this day, y’all! *praise hands*

This wasn’t an isolated event, either – another friend of mine, Kelly, had a similar experience. Another (I believe) well-intentioned but misguided Christian man told her he knew God wanted them to be together AND she should break things off with her fiancé (At least Sydney was single. Geez laweez, Papa Cheese!). Fortunately for everyone, Kelly wasn’t impressed with his claims of divine guidance and held her ground. And lo and behold, now she’s happily married AND the insta-prophet — who was so spiritually arrogant he was willing to basically steal another dude’s betrothed — is now happily engaged to another woman.

So why tell you this? Certainly not to make single Christian men – or Christians generally – look like complete crazies, but to 1) ease the tortured mind of any girls who might be legit confused because someone is using the Holy Spirit to MANIPULATE THEM and 2) to admonish men who have used this this form of spiritual abuse to CHECK THEMSELVES (or if you have brochachos who do, CHECK YOUR BROCHACHOS).

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^This guy totes looks the part of a Blasphemous Bobby. (ty for the free image, pixabay!)

 

Blasphemous Bobbies: if God wants y’all to be together, it will happen. Don’t mistake your shouting hormones with the still, quiet voice of God Almighty. If you think that a girl you’re interested in is not responding to the Cupid nudge of the Holy Spirit, then I would strongly suggest praying that she would hear his voice directly &/or through her spiritual mentors. If it’s divinely ordered, I’m sure He can get the job done without your interference. As Matt Chandler pointed out – taking the Lord’s name in vain is more than saying “Oh my G*d!” but the heart behind the commandment [you shall not take the Lord’s name in vain] is that God will not be co-opted, and you will not use the authority of the Lord to flex power and manipulate and coerce others (12:45 – 13:00). So don’t vainly use God’s name to manipulate some bewildered Christian woman.

Bewildered Betties: although I’m not aware of any biblical precedent for this sort of thing, God is very clear that “[love] does not insist on its own way” (1 Cor 13:4). And if you read the juicy and provocative Song of Songs, it’s pretty clear that the bible celebrates being wildly attracted to your man. So I really, really doubt God will torture you with someone you genuinely find creepy. God is not a bully, and I don’t think he wants you to be with one, either. But neither does the Galloswag want to use the Lord’s name in vain (I mean, God did tell Hosea to marry a whore) so by all means, if you’re in this situation please talk to a lot of mentors. There is wisdom in many counselors (Prov 11:14), but make sure those counselors are legit.

So praise Jesus for fulfilling the Priesthood, Law, AND Prophets so He can communicate it directly to you… and will very likely NOT speak “a word” through Blasphemous Bobby that so conveniently fits his relationship agenda and violates yours.

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Hallelujer!

— EDITORIAL NOTES —

* 😉

**Sydney finally said [through gritted teeth] “I’ll do it if you want me too! But Father if there’s ANY other way, take this cup from me.. !”  And maybe that surrender is why God allowed all of those shenanigans. But the main point is, no one should subject anyone to this sort of soul torture.

 

Chronic smoker grateful for support of Alternative Health Community

ATLANTA- Local resident Hank Womack has been smoking for the past 29 years. At first, he was suffocated by a judgmental community of “health experts” and anti-health family members who constantly tried to shove their own views on air quality and lung function down his throat. “They could see how much I got a kick out of smoking, but still they wanted to take it away from me. Probably because they are scared and don’t really understand cigarettes or lung function,” Hank confided in me. “I mean, at first I tried to quit. But it was mighty hard to impossible. If quitting is that hard, then continuing has to be good for me… This is who I am- Hank the Smoker.”
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Hank continued to explain that he grew up in a family that was brainwashed by Western medicine, and were completely closed minded to alternative views on smoking. His family, in the name of health, would subject him to odious lectures on cigarette toxicity, even going so far as to suggest he end friendships with other habitual smokers. So when Hank was about 32 years old, he cut family ties and found an alternative health community that recognized inhaling tar in your lungs as a legitimate form of breathing. “They welcomed me with open arms.. made me feel comfortable,” Hank wheezed.
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This small but dedicated alternative health community reanalyzed and reinterpreted decades of research on smoking, and a panel of chronic smokers concluded that the findings of these studies were being inappropriately applied to smokers. One of their major conclusions is that most studies were done on the harmful effects of smoking Salem cigarettes in night clubs, whereas most smokers now enjoy Marlboros in parks with their families. “This is a radically different context than the context of these landmark studies. Therefore, we reject the general consensus of the medical community that cigarettes are harmful for health,” they issued in an official statement.
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Hank added his own logic, “I feel so good when I smoke.. how can anything that makes me feel this good not be good for me?” He paused for a brief fit of coughing, which ended with him hacking blood into a napkin. “Nothing would be more anti-health than taking these away from me,” he finally rasped. This is in line with his alternative health community’s tag line “Healthy is What Makes You Happy.”
Hank plans to dedicate the rest of life freeing other smokers from the dogma of the mainstream medical community.