Rat god

I spend a lot of time alone in a basement, surrounded by rats. Because of my sacharin nature, I have not been able to keep my foolish heart from becoming attached to my furry little experimental subjects. Some experiments that I conduct require me to sit in silence for long periods of time as I watch my rats explore, freeze, groom, poop, or otherwise ruin my experiment. Naturally, my brilliant mind wanders. Often, it wanders straight into crazy town (see below).

I hate how afraid my rats are of me. Every time I open up their cages to deftly pick them up at the base of their tails and gently place them in whatever experimental apparatus I pre-ordained for them that day, they flail their little feet as if I was doing something horribly torturous. Usually the task my rats are being drama queens about is something fairly benign from my point of view, like placing them into a large round container for 5 minutes while absolutely nothing bad happens to them – I’m just there to observe how much time they spend hugging the edges of the circle versus strutting confidently in the middle (this is a measure of anxiety). Then right back they go to the comfort of their own little homes.

I wish I could explain to them that I come in peace, that I mean them no harm. I wish I could explain to them that the bizarre little rituals I’m putting them through are for a reason. A grand reason that no street rat – whose miserable little existence comprises of  slinking around city dumpsters to forage for food before it gets eaten by a hawk or poisoned by pest control – would ever dream of. These lab rats of mine will never have such a gritty existence because these are no ordinary rats. They have special genetic mutations that cause them to over produce the “bad” form of a protein so that they begin to resemble humans with Alzheimer’s disease as they age. Almost everything about them – how anxious they are, how long it takes them to fall asleep, how well they learn a new task, how quickly they will give up in a challenging task, where and how much pathology is in their brains – could be an important key to helping millions of humans with Alzheimer’s disease. Think about how many humans aren’t even blessed with that sort of distinct purpose.

Another scientist in another lab created this rat strain for such a time as this. We didn’t kidnap their ancestors off the streets to fulfill our evil scientific schemes – these rats would not even exist if not for scientists. And then they came to me. I decide what happens in their lives. Some I randomly assign to be breeders. As such they get to have lots of great sex and raise little families. #toblessedtobestressed But most rats I assign for my experiments. They could be designated to a very short experiment, and the last thing they ever experience will be mild confusion in a weird new box before they join the Big Rat in the Sky. Or, they could be involved in a very long, complicated experiment in which they will be subject to all sort of weird environments, some even mildly aversive or painful, and have a lot of interaction with a large scary mammal who smells like coffee and tacos. Sometimes this large scary mammal seems sinister – most of them remember her taking them into a new, stinky room, losing consciousness, and then waking up with their head screaming in pain. But sometimes this large scary mammal seems compassionate – they also remember her visiting them at home when they had headaches, and giving them yummy food that eased the ache in their heads. This large scary mammal also frequently put them in stressful situations, but never seemed to let anything actually bad happen to them. Until, well… They don’t like to think about why all those cousins never came back that one time.

I am, essentially, Rat god.

I’m much more advanced, capable, powerful than these critters -why do I want to explain myself to them? Why do I care what they think about me? Why do I want to make myself known to them?

Because they’re cute.

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And this has led me to have a thought that’s probably wildly irreverent. One part of the Christian story that never made tons of sense to me was why God would ever choose to reveal himself to us. Why not just let us go about our dumb petty lives and then die, never the wiser? But my stint as Rat god has made me wonder.. What if God decided to work humankind into his plan and reveal himself to us because, well… he thinks we’re cute?

ratgod

 

Just think it over before you immediately dismiss it, that’s all I ask!

 

— Editorial Notes —

Obviously the God-as-kind-scientist metaphor can only go so far, but that’s ok. I’m not trying to design a new religion, so everyone spit out that grapefruit-flavored Topo Chico you just drank!

Are you unequally faceboked?

It is with great heaviness of heart I report a recent phenomenon scouring the Christian community: couples who are unequally faceboked.  You know who I’m referring to – she publicly proclaims her love for her boo every Birthday, anniversary, and father’s day, but he hasn’t logged onto facebook for 17 months. Or his profile picture features their wedding photo, but hers still features her face and the shoulder of a high school boyfriend.

Many couples struggle with mismatched facebook activity. It can create a discordance that ripples into their actual lives. Many men report feeling “extreme sorrow” that their girlfriends or wives cannot appreciate a witty meme they have shared because they’re so disconnected from the online community. One man complained, “I put my heart and soul into a meme, and she just asked ‘who’s that blonde woman yelling at that cat? Is she an ex-girlfriend you’re still pining for?!'”

Women have also expressed frustration when they continually post pictures of their boo with hearts and kiss-face emojis, and their husbands or boyfriends do not even bother to like their post. “I just feel so humiliated. My friends have noticed he never likes our couple pictures. Many have asked if he’s a hired model, or if our relationship is on the rocks,” confided one woman.

If you’re already married and unequally faceboked, the Galloblog staff recommend seeking emergency counseling. If you are in a dating relationship,  we strongly encourage you to sit down with your significant other and cast a vision for facebook compatibility. “Communicating concrete expectations is key,” says Dr. C Gallo. It’s not insurmountable if you’re unequally faceboked, but it is a sign of a major problem in your relationship. Dr. Gallo added, “There’s no shame in getting help- sync your activity now for a brighter future.”

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^an evenly faceboked couple beams as they peruse their home page. ❤

WWJD: Who Would Jesus Diss

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So apparently two full grown adults, who happen to be famous Christians, have some beef with each other. As far as I am aware, neither has spoken to the other personally, but rather they have referenced the other’s comments or platforms via public forums such as social media, interviews, and large conferences. And now the Christian community at large is all aflutter. I honestly would never have known who said what and when if not for individuals feeling the need to leap into the fray and declare their support for one and/or disdain for the other. Who is right? Who is wrong? Who is scripturally sound? Who is more Christ-like? Who sits on a throne of lies? Who smells like beef and cheese? Personally, my question is, “Who cares?” 

Tommy Lee Jones I Dont Care GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Why are we speculating over which of the two is most likely to host Pancakes with Beelzebub? What exactly do we have riding on this?

What would be laughable if it weren’t so sad is how predictably the lines fall for the debate. On one side:

  • Posts IG pictures of a steaming mug next to a highlighted devotional
  • Cried watching The Blind Side
  • Almost certainly has a Live Laugh Love sign somewhere in their home

On the other side:

  • Likely have no idea what IG stands for
  • Typed up their treatise on why they support Person A on Microsoft Word, pausing periodically to consult their 36 volume, leather bound set of Greek-Hebrew concordances of the New and Old Testaments
  • Would never get a tattoo… but if they did, it would be a toss up on an upper arm portrait either of John Piper or St Augustine

I almost get the feeling that these two factions have been simmering in resentment towards each other and leapt on this opportunity to condemn those filthy sinners on “the other side”. In all likelihood, they could really complement each others’ strengths and weaknesses if they so chose. But where is our love for one another? Why do we feel the need to join into these camps?

None of this is to say that Christians can’t discuss and debate points of theology. It would be disastrous if we never questioned one another or dug into what scripture tells us. In my mind, there is a difference between discussing the merits of an idea, the scriptural accuracy of a specific teaching, etc., and gleefully condemning an individual, name calling, and self-righteous posturing. A prime example for the most current debate: “I can’t believe this scum sucking pig would dare to insult a fellow Christian! That son of a motherless goat!”

The individuals in this public conflict are just two humans. Our faith isn’t dictated by what they say or believe. Neither one of them is without sin, and none of us are, either. Why don’t we focus on the only one who is? Maybe we could spend more time reading what he said instead of someone else’s book or commentary. This petty squabbling makes a mockery of the church. Let’s stop rushing to divide ourselves by allegiance to a mortal teacher. Let’s look at the unifying factor among us and celebrate Him.

Parks And Recreation Mic Drop GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Nothing in Christianity makes sense except in the light of relationship

Let me begin this post with a profound quote-*

Nothing in Christianity makes sense except in the light of relationship.

-C Gallo, 2019

The relational aspect of Christianity is the overarching story that ties all the aspects of the Christian faith together. If you try to understand any piece of Christianity without it, you will have misguided ideas of how Christian theology should be applied to your own life. Your faith will be stunted.

Maybe this was obvious to every other Christian, but for me it was a game-changer. I don’t want to overstate my own knowledge, but I have a good grasp of Christian theology. I understand the big stuff – the trinity, the fall of mankind, redemption, etc. I even enjoy getting into the weeds of more nuanced theology like eschatology** and predestination. But often, the more I pander to my brain the more my heart checks out. My faith shrivels.

How or why does the relationship aspect of Christianity matter to me?

Relationship gives life to my faith

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Christianity as a religion is boring, oppressive, and constraining. It is often harmful and can be used to exploit people. Christianity as a religion will not help you better yourself (for long). It will not give you warm fuzzies (for long). Christianity in terms of relationship, though…! The wildest but perhaps most important claim of Christianity that we claim to actually know – have a relationship with a spiritual being. THE spiritual being. It isn’t a neat and tidy abstract idea, and it’s not a flawless system of logic. It is [or should be] crazy and scary and exciting.

Relationship affects how I think about oppositions to my faith

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I sometimes encounter people who insist on badgering me about my faith. All of them look triumphant if I don’t have an instant answer to any of their misgivings about Christianity. They express dismay at my lack of open-mindedness and refusal to be in a perpetual mode of discovery. I will tell them something like “I’m not sure how to answer that, but this doesn’t necessitate me abandoning my faith ,” or “I’m really not in a place to effectively research every opposition or issue you’ve brought to my attention.” Some have implicated that they pity me a weak-minded, brain-washed child who won’t (or can’t) contemplate all the mysteries of my faith on a flip of a dime.

If they were challenging the conclusions of my last published research article, they would be perfectly justified in this attitude. Scientists should always be open to new discoveries and be the harshest, most vigilant critics of their own theories and data. But Christianity is more than a theory or data points. It’s a relationship. It grows. It involves experiences that build on each other. At some point, a trust is formed. Those experiences and that trust transforms the way you think about all new data.

For example, I have been dating someone for about a year.*** When we first started dating, if someone had come up and told me “I have good evidence that your new guy is a major flake and you really can’t trust him to do what he says,” I would have taken their words seriously. I would have launched an investigation into whether or not that was true. I would have considered halting all romantic activities until I settled whether or not I could trust him.

Now that we’ve been together for a while, however, it would be crazy for me to take them seriously. I wouldn’t waste time reevaluating every interaction my boyfriend and I had in the past year. I wouldn’t ask for us to take a break while I investigated. I wouldn’t even ask him about it. I simply know that they are wrong. Even if the person who told me that believed strongly in their statement, I would conclude that they misinterpreted his actions in the past. It’s not that I’m brainwashed or in denial of any potential flaws, but we have experiences together. At some point, a trust was formed.  I have seen him in bad moods and good moods, around his parents and around his friends, extremely sleep-deprived and well-rested, very relaxed and under an enormous amount of pressure. During all of this, everything he’s told me he would do- he’s done. Every event he’s told me he would come to- he’s been there. So it’s not that I’m stupid or blind, it’s that we are in a relationship. And the relationship itself has changed how I view any new information or perceptions any one else might have about him.

Just the same, I’m not going to approach all objections to God in a purely objective or abstract way. I can’t. That does not – I repeat, does NOT – make me a brainwashed buffoon.

Relationship affects how you think about being good

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This is probably one of the most misunderstood features of Christianity – the “good deeds” issue. It’s widely recognized that Christians should, in theory at least, be good people. Yet a major tenant of Christianity is that humans are already so deep in the pit of imperfection that no amount of good deeds could ever pull us out of it. So if we can’t earn good standing and we’re putting every single egg we have in the grace basket, what’s the point – why do anything good at all?

Strangely enough, I have found great insight into this issue from the movie The Breakup. In one scene, they’re having a huge fight about how the boyfriend Gary is never doing the good deeds that Brooke asks him to do.

Gary: “Fine, I’ll help you do the damn dishes.”
Brooke: “That’s not what I want. I want you to want to do the dishes.”
Gary: “Why would I want to do dishes?”

Gary would want to do the dishes if he cared more about making Brooke happy than he cared about making himself happy. He should do the good deed because he knows it’s something she cares about and would bring her joy – no more, no less. It’s the exact same thing with good deeds in Christianity. We don’t do good deeds to prove we’re better than other people, or because it comes easily to us, or because we think we’re earning some sort of spiritual brownie points. We do good deeds because we have reason to believe they are important to God and bring him joy – no more, no less.

I don’t think God wants us approach good deeds like, “Fine, I’ll help you do the damn dishes.” I believe he wants us to want to do the dishes.

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— EDITORIAL —

*Phraseology stolen from Theodosius Dozhansky, who thought evolution was the overarching story that tied all of biology together. ( “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light if evolution”). If anyone tried to understand any piece of biology without it, Dozhanksy claimed, they would have misguided hypotheses. Their scientific discovery would be stunted. This post isn’t about evolution, but I have a compulsion to provide the source of my thoughts. My deepest fear is getting caught in a scandal that involves accidental plagiarism. BUT I will say that if you are curious about how the Genesis creation story relates to current scientific thought on human origins, I highly recommend reading The Lost World of Adam and Eve by John H. Walton (amazon link here). It greatly influenced my thoughts on the subject.

**the ONLY reason I dropped the esch bomb was to be a Pretentious Pretentierson.

***No one knows for sure. It is currently a hot topic of debate by many scholars.

30 nuggets of wisdom for 30 years

My 30th birthday is just around the riverbend*, so this Gallowolf would like to cry the wisdom she’s learned to the blue corn moon. Please commit all of these to memory and send me a $30 cashier’s check every time my lil nuggets of wisdom save you from a pickle.** Thank you in advance.

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A-ooooooooooo

Drums, please!

  1.  You don’t have to date everyone who’s a good person
  2.  Be okay with uncertainty in relationships
  3.  Don’t try to engineer and control any relationship, especially romantic
  4. People don’t owe you affection or attention when you do something nice for them
  5.  Talk to your Grandma like a peer and be ridiculous with your nieces and nephews
  6.  Allow yourself to feel your feels
    feelings
    All legit, y’all.
  7. Don’t let your feels control you
  8.  You’re responsible for your own feelings, but be aware of how you are prone to feel after spending time with any person
  9. Spend time with people who make you feel good
  10. You can forgive people but still protect yourself from bad characters
  11. Most people are schmucky schmuckersons
  12. Celebrate and hold onto the people that aren’t schmucky schmuckersons
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    Me holding onto someone great
  13. People who bring exciting drama into your life are also likely to bring a bunch of hurt into your life.
  14. Go to the arts for your dramatic fix
  15. Finding things to laugh at is serious business
  16. The expensive car is *not* worth it
  17. Eating more expensive healthy food *is* worth it
  18. Neglecting your health is not financial prudence– it’s a great strategy to make all your borderline acute health issues full blown chronic health issues
  19. Try to find joy in challenges instead of focusing on the stress
  20. Stop feeling sorry for yourself
  21.  You can be mature and intelligent and still wildly silly
  22. It’s not necessary or wise to trust everyone in a Christian community
  23. Allow yourself to dwell on and obsess about how beautiful something is
  24.  Weighted blankets are heavenly

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    Actual image of my mind when under a weighted blanket
  25.  It’s worth the AC cost to turn down the temp enough to not sweat at night
  26.  Allow yourself to consider you are wrong about everything
  27. Don’t let uncertainty paralyze you
  28.  You don’t have to listen to everyone’s advice, even if they’re great people
  29. Try
  30.  God is bigger and more confusing than you ever imagined

cosmic

 

— EDITORIAL NOTES —

*By “just around” I mean in like 2 months. But that’s none of your business!

**Although if a Trader Joe’s kosher dill pickle was after me, I would say “take me now” and swoon at its delicious foot.

Love or treat (yoself)?

There are several Oprah-esque sayings that are floating around — 


“You have to take care of number one before you can take care of anyone else!”

“Treat yoself!”

“If you don’t love yourself you can’t love anyone else.”

Treat Yo Self GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
We all know this gif was 100% obligatory

–For the sake of conciseness, I’m going to use Treat Yoself to encapsulate all of these self-affirming ideologies–

Part of me thinks this inspirational folk wisdomry in Treat Yoself is a bucket of rat poo. My main problem with the self-love bonanza is related to the context in which these statements are uttered, more than the actual statements themselves. Usually they are said to encourage people to be selfish or indulgent. I can only speak for myself, but I do not know anyone who is so caught up in being selfless and sacrificial that they somehow neglect themselves.* I would argue that most people need to hear “Sure take care of yourself, but why doncha try caring for others,” or “Treat (people less fortunate than) yoself!” or “Try to love… or at least consider the feelings and wants of… someone besides yourself.”

My second sub-issue with the Treat Yoself mentality is that treating yourself in terms of indulgence isn’t really a treat for you in the long run. Most people want to have nice bodies that function well, but if they continuously “treat themselves” with McDonald’s fries and Starbucks frapaccinos and refuse to move their body in any way that gives it strength, speed, or flexibility, their bodies will soon become… something that doesn’t spark joy. Most people want to have the treat of traveling the world, but if they continuously live above their means and treat themselves with expensive food, entertainment, cars, etc. in the domestic realm, poofity goes the treat of travel.

My third and final irritation with Treat Yoself is a little more specific to Christians, although I don’t think you necessarily have to ascribe to the apostle’s creed to get something out of this. Jesus did not prance about ancient Israel proclaiming a new covenant of self-love. If anything, the level of self-sacrifice he and many of his disciples demonstrated is plum terrifying. Remember Luke 9- “foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man [Jesus] has nowhere to lay His head.” Or Luke 17 “Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.” Or how about the sobering Mathew 10 warning “Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them…” And these are only what Jesus said, but when you consider what he did…! I have serious doubts that Jesus was contemplating a bubble bath and wine in the Garden of Gethsemane, and there is nothing less Treat Yoself in all of history than a man dying for people who hated and misunderstood him.  

So, my beef with Treat Yoself is that 1) it doesn’t seem necessary, given the deep self-indulgence and entitlement that most of us already have and 2) temporary treats often undermine long-term treats (which may or may not be more wholesome in nature because involve dreaming, scheming, and the real longings of your heart–not simply the capricious whims of your body and immediate longings) and 3) it doesn’t seem particularly “on message” with people who are presumably interested in modeling the radically sacrificial nature of Jesus.  

Yet! Part of me sees some truth glimmering through all that rat poo.

The major reason I haven’t completely dismissed Treat Yoself is largely related to mental health and margin**. Let’s take even a light example – being stressed out. When I am stressed, I don’t “see” other people or take particular interest in their needs. I am thinking of whatever is stressing me out, and how to make myself feel better during the stressful time. That means I refuse to think about hard or important questions, and dissipation becomes my goal. I avoid people who are also stressed out because their stresses suck my mind further into a cesspool of anxiety. How can I be a rock for someone when I’m crumbling? Instead of having interesting and joyful conversations with my friends and family, I hijack quality time by dumping my stress on whichever poor soul was unfortunate enough to spend time with me.

Thus, if spending time in nature, enjoying beautiful and lovely things, getting my toes painted happy colors, and reading lighthearted fiction can help reduce my stress to the point I can stop my navel-gazing long enough to look at other people… is that an indirect way to love others? I think it could be.

Where does that leave us, then? I think the key might be to Love Yoself, not Treat Yoself. Treating indicates indulgence. Love indicates more wholistic well-being. Think about a parent loving their child. Spoiling the child isn’t really love – spoiling a child is more indicative that the parent is too lazy to properly discipline, or too insecure to handle their child getting angry at them for rules that are meant to protect them. I think being an adult is learning how to parent yourself properly – love yourself, not spoil yourself. Be willing to deny your childish impulses so that you can be the person you actually want to be — and who the people around you need you to be.   

The world needs adults, not petulant children. So Love Yoself 😊

— EDITORIAL NOTES —

*I do know some martyrs who make a big to-do of how they are ruining their lives for the sake of others… I do not consider that actual selflessness. It’s a twisted form of pride.

 **Double points for sneaking in a Christian buzz word! BAM!  

 **Double points for sneaking in a Christian buzz word! BAM!

A song for the barely-sinner

I grew up in church. My family wasn’t just half-bootied Sunday morning service people, either. We did Sunday school AND Sunday night AND Wednesday night church, too ! #holy I’m glad we did, for many reasons. Most of my best friends growing up were from church. We knew everyone. People actually noticed when we went on vacation. There were several members – especially some older couples – who I know genuinely loved me and my family. Why else would Mr. Moreland always offer me a piece of red hot gum with a twinkle in his eye, or Mrs. Daugherty give me the bestest warm squishy hugs?

There were a few downsides to being raised in a fairly idyllic environment surrounded by amazing people. One of them was having a really hard time recognizing the weight of God’s grace. I remember having a true crisis when I was about 8, confessing to my mom with sincere guilt, “But I really can’t think of anyway that I’ve sinned!”*

Even now, having been through some shtuffs that definitelyyyy involved some less-than-spiritual-perfection, I have a really hard time not falling into a weird sort of good-girl legalism. This shows up the most when something I want is delayed or denied, while someone I have unconcsciously deigned more sinful than me** does get that thing. Absolutely infuriates me. I have to read Prodigal God by Tim Keller to get me to wind down. #thankyoutim 

This entire ramble was inspired by this song I heard today, which is so entirely perfect for my type of barely-sinner*** heart that I must share.. I MUST !! Sometimes a gallo needs art – in this specific case, musicals – to express for her what she didn’t even know she wanted to express.

(Strongly recommend just listening)

Not in me by Eric Schumacher and David L. Ward

No list of sins I have not done,
No list of virtues I pursue,
No list of those I am not like
Can earn myself a place with You.
O God, be merciful to me–
I am a sinner through and through!
My only hope of righteousness
Is not in me, but only You.
 
No humble dress, no fervent prayer,
No lifted hands, no tearful song,
No recitation of the truth
Can justify a single wrong.
My righteousness is Jesus’ life,
My debt was paid by Jesus’ death,
My weary load was borne by Him
And He alone can give me rest.
 
No separation from the world,
No work I do, no gift I give
Can cleanse my conscience, cleanse my hands;
I cannot cause my soul to live.
But Jesus died and rose again–
The power of death is overthrown!
My God is merciful to me
And merciful in Christ alone.
 
My righteousness is Jesus’ life,
My debt was paid by Jesus’ death,
My weary load was borne by Him
And He alone can give me rest.

— EDITORIAL NOTES —

* THAT is no longer a problem…

**it’s okay if you lowkey or highkey hate me for this post. Keeping it real y’all

*** I say this tongue and cheekily!

For the love of Chick Fil A, please no more Christian dating books

I   C A N N O T   T A K E   A N Y M O R E  C H R I S T I A N   B O O K S   A B O U T   D A T I N G.

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It’s too much y’all. (pixabay image, edited by moi) Also note that I didn’t include the Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller because that book is FIRE

Is it because my heart is hardened?

 

Is it because I’m living in sin and want to avoid conviction?

 

Is it because I am resistant to wisdom? 

 

No. It is for this simple reason — in no other area of Christian life have I seen Christian wisdom take such a phariseeical turn so quickly.

The authors are not necessarily to blame for this, but I think this is what happens — a Christian man/woman/couple figures out a way to date that seems in-line with the Christian faith. They then share their insights and wisdom from their own personal experiences. Christians read these books, and instead of seeing them for what they are –  musings by good but still-being-sanctified people – they see them as RULES that we all must follow, lest we be pegged as pagos. #pagopegged #ouch

But let’s all take a step back and get a little perspective — in biblio times, dating didn’t exist. You were a child, then boom you go through puberty, then boom you are married. This doesn’t mean that the Christian faith is irrelevant to how we date, but it does mean that pretty much any *specific* dating advice is just that – advice from humans – not the Word of God.

So let’s not perpetuate self-righteousness and phariseeism by acting as if the compilation of some Christian dude’s musings on dating is The Way the Truth and the Life. There is probably wisdom in many Christian books on dating, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that if you don’t follow that author’s recommendations you are rebelling against the God of the universe. For example – In Single, Dating, Engaged, Married,* Ben Stuart talks about how he would always tell his now-wife Donna the next time he was going to contact her. He saw this as a sweet way to reduce her stress – she didn’t have to worry about if / when he was going to contact her, she already knew – “I’ll call you tomorrow.” I agree, that is sweet. Does that mean that if a guy doesn’t communicate like that to you, you should kick him to the curb? No! It’s a nice specific example of how Christian faith can play out IRL, but it is by no means a rule.

Side note 1 – many dating books are probably somewhat useful for high-schoolers who are still living with their parents, and truly have zero life experience to help them navigate dating with wisdom. But there are some dating practices that are absurd if not impossible when you are living on your own (e.g. the dude asking the Dad’s permission to date). So let’s recognize that not ALL Christians get married when they are 19, and what worked for a man dating his wife in undergrad may not be useful for a 29 year old woman.

Side note 2 – I’m also getting cranky with Christian women who assume they are entitled to impart their sage dating advice. I don’t owe it to you to spill all the beans of my romantic life just because we are both Christians, and frankly many of you haven’t earned the right to tell me what to do or hear the intimate details of my life and heart. If you are concerned about my dating choices, how ’bout you pray for the Spirit to convict me directly instead of appointing yourself as my accountability supervisor. I suggest with all the gentle love I can muster that you are just as likely to turn me into an anxious self-righteous snoot pants than to protect me from harm. Just sayin’. As the modern sage John Crist would say, “check your heart.”

I plan to approach dating with the freedom Christ gained for me, as captured by the idea “Everything is permissible, not everything is beneficial.”** Earlier this year I demoralized a dating decision and thought “I can date this person if I want. We could have wild sex every night and guess what.. I would still be a Christian. Jesus might be grieved, but he would still love me. Now, knowing this, do I want to? What would be the consequences?” And that actually led me to a healthy decision that was MY decision, not a half-hearted, dutiful response to the pressures of others.

Okay.. that’s all! Be free!

— EDITORIAL NOTES —

*At least he talked about this in his Single | Dating | Engaged | Married sermons when he was preaching at Breakaway. I actually never read his book because I heard it was basically the written version of his sermons. 😀

**1 Corinthians 10:23

 

Go ahead, waste your life (a little)

Not Wasting Your Life is a popular theme among contemporary pastors these days. John Piper wrote a book about it, which inspired Louie Giglio to preach an entire sermon series about not wasting your life, which inspired Ben Stuart to join the party, talking about family specifically. And of course John Piper’s sassy protégé Matt Chandler has also chimed in about not wasting your cancer.

Lemme just say, I adore all of these pastors for various reasons, and it’s not like I want to wake up some day and realize my entire life has been spent building a career I don’t find fulfilling, or that I have no friends IRL because I spent all my time online getting into arguments with social media randos.

Many times these sermons begin with sobering stats on how much time we spend on doing “insignificant” activities — e.g. “Did you know that over the average human lifespan, you will spend x days watching tv (gasp!), x years commuting to work (groan!), x days removing unwanted body hair (giggles), x hours reading nonsensical Galloblog posts (#worthit) ?” These stats are meant to strike fear into hearts as we realize how little time we actually spend doing important things like rescuing puppies from burning buildings and sharing the gospel to all nations.

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Don’t get me wrong – I do think that our life has definite highs and lows, and the highs should be celebrated. There is also nothing wrong with being somewhat conscious of how we delegate our time, and to consider cutting out nonsense that seems to suck us in for hours and hours and serve as escapism (video games, I’m glaring at you!).

BUT I would also like to suggest that freaking out and trying to minimize all the time we spend doing “insignificant” things, and trying to cram in oodles of significance into every moment isn’t only unrealistic… and likely to give us an ulcer trying… it’s also not particularly biblical.

Think about, oh I don’t know…. Jesus! Do we sit around and bemoan his 30 “wasted” years? I mean what was Jesus doing pre-ministry anyway? He was a carpenter, right? What else? I imagine he probably… ate. Did rando chores for his household, whatever that looked like b.c.. Kicked around town with his bros…? Who knows? What we do know, or at least claim as Christians, is that he lived the perfect life, correct? Then I think it’s safe to say that would include his entire life, not just the last 3 years of life.

And not just Jesus — almost every major biblical character had long periods in which they just “did life.” Worked. Survived.

Even if you’re not a Christian, I think there’s something to be said for CHILLING THE POO OUT! I’m going to boldly assert that the meaningfulness of life is less about doing something super impressive and record breaking at every single moment of your life, and more about developing good character and enjoying all the rando gifts of life as you go about the ordinary. Go ahead – belt some 90s pop while you fold your laundry. Watch a little tv and cuddle with yer boo. Pet a dog. Shop for groceries. Drive to work. Take a nap … as *part* of your life. Obvs, you don’t want these things to be the entirety. But they’re not just permissible, I’d say they’re advisable.

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Just part of life, chicaboo. Get over it *smooch*

I’m not saying to abandon your dreams and goals,  or not to work hard, or stop trying to pursue a life of meaning and significance … but I urge you to do all these things as a human being, not a streamlined robot. Trust someone who has tried that and failed miserably – you will fail. Or worse, succeed, and fail at other things that matter more.

Okey dokes, go out and putter around town! ❤

 

Stuffz Gallo Likes: How Tim Keller encouraged me to be a Christian with wild abandon

Let’s take a journey back a few years ago. I was neck-deep in my dissertation data collection, and the only people I interacted with on the reg were soccer moms at my church (who I liked, but had a hard time connecting with) or highly-educated, young, single agnostic/athetists/spiritual-but-not-religious peers at my university.

I still went to church, and I remember for a while every Sunday I would tear up during worship because it felt so amazing to actually be with other believers. But still, there was a large disconnect between my daily academic grind and and my faith, my brains and my heart. The two worlds felt so completely different that it was hard to reconcile “Christian Gallo” with “PhD student Gallo.” I started to wonder if I went to church for the sake of nostalgia, and/or to maintain a connection with my pre-PhD student, super-Crish, conservative, southern culture life. I also had a lot of doubts.

Some were intellectual – neuroscience is very material, in the sense that all the complexity of human thought, emotion, and even spirituality is reduced down to electrical and chemical communication between cells. Did I really believe that a supernatural world existed? It was easy to believe when I was with other Christians, but when I looked at it through the lens of science it seemed pretty ridiculous.

Some were emotional – even though I had planned to get my PhD ever since I was 16 years old, my early 20s were *not* what I had imagined them to be. I think in my heart I actually believed I would take my University by storm and ride the wave of success all the way to the cure for Alzheimer’s disease. I also always envisioned myself as being very suave and sophisticated as I got older (lolz). Needless to say… that is not what happened. I failed.. a lot. Both in research, but also in matters of character. I kind of lost respect for myself, and I was mad that God wasn’t letting me hit scientific home runs and point to the sky in acknowledgement of Him as I accepted all my awards, Tim Tebow style.

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I thought this would be me *eye roll*

Then one summer, the Christian fellowship I was a part of started a book discussion on Tim Keller’s The Reason for God. The book blew me away because it was so clear and straightforward. TK didn’t act like it was evil or preposterous to question Christianity , but he also “pushed back,” so to speak, on some of the common assumptions that non-believers take as “givens.” The Reason for God opened my eyes to the possibility of being a Christian, who – although still needing faith for some particular issues – wasn’t judged for having doubts, and wasn’t asked to forsake their intelligence as a prerequisite for faith.

Then I started reading his other books.. and trust me there are a lot of them. Not all are so “apologetical” as The Reason for God.. nor are his sermons. More than any pastor I have ever read / listened to, Tim Keller shines a huge spotlight on Jesus – pointing out how Jesus is threaded through the entire bible – not just the New Testament. He tackles weird, slightly off-putting Old Testament stories and points out how those stories are purposefully driving us toward an understand of the absolute necessity of Jesus. Adam, Moses, Noah, Jacob, David, Hosea — all of them! They were all used by God, but not enough. Their failures used to frustrate and confuse me, now they encourage me to rejoice that where these biblical figures failed, Jesus succeeded.
He also talks about how Jesus fits into work, marriage, money, sex, rest … every single aspect of life now.

Timmy K doesn’t need a grammy-award winning worship team to whip his congregation into an emotional frenzy before he preaches. He doesn’t need to soften the crowd with his hilarious hijinks. He doesn’t need to put visitors at ease with his trendy ripped up jeans. TK is not particularly attractive or charismatic, and that is why I love him all the more. Because to me it shows that his appeal is not really in him – (he’s like a slightly stuffy Dad)it’s the freedom and joy he points to, in Jesus!

Thank you, Tim! YOU ARE AMAZING I LOVE YOU FOREVER!!!!!!!!!!

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These are for you, Tim!!!!!!

 

— EDITORIAL NOTES —

Tim Keller resources – http://www.timothykeller.com/ , https://gospelinlife.com/

My favorite books, in no particular order: The Meaning of Marriage, Encounters with Jesus, Jesus the King, The Reason for God

Some lit sermons of his: God’s Plans, Your Plans , How Sin Makes Us Addicts