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“The New Christian”

Spoiler alert: I’m a Christian. I know. It’s not like my blog title gave that away or anything. I’m no saint, but I do take my faith pretty seriously.

I’ve noticed a shift in what people perceive it takes to be a Christian.

On one side, I’ve noticed that, although Christians are not a minority, we’re not really embraced by the world either. But on the other side, I’ve noticed that being a Christian is now a loose term. It’s like when you tell your mom you’re studying, but you’re just saying that to make her happy. Your textbook is open, but you couldn’t really tell her what was in it. You just want to look the part to seem like you’re doing the right thing. Similarly, we want to do the bare minimum to be a Christian and be as close to the world as we can without going “too far.” For some reason, it’s now okay to live in unrepentant sin as long as you’re still quoting scriptures on Instagram.

Identifying as a Christian can’t be summed into 140 characters. It will never be trendy. The Bible isn’t some bill passed by government that can be revised as the world evolves.

The Word says that we should be in the world, but not of it. However, I’ve noticed that many Christians are obsessed with the world. Even if we’ve been “delivered,” we still happily reminisce about the “good ol’ days” and shrug when we slip up again. It’s like we don’t get convicted anymore. We’ve set our own standards that can easily be broken and adjusted based on how we feel. We mold our beliefs around our imperfections instead of shifting our focus to Jesus because of our imperfections.

The truth is that we all have our shortcomings, including me. But we don’t have to accept our shortcomings as permanent or even innate, instead we should try to pull ourselves as far away from these things as possible and push ourselves closer to all things holy.The fact that we are imperfect creatures should compel us even more to make righteousness our standard.

Because as much as we try, we’ll never be the one’s fully in control. If our standards don’t align with God’s,  we’re not redefining our religion, but instead living a life that deems Him unnecessary.

In summary, there’s no old and new Christianity.You can’t finesse your lukewarm faith and rename it “your truth’ or the “new Christianity.” There’s one God who is the same yesterday, today and forever. In our attempt to be make our beliefs fit the world’s, we’ve lost sight of this never-changing truth. Life with God is so much better than anything else this world has to offer, but first, you have to fully surrender to Him.

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Embracing My Curves: Beyond the Cat Calls

I was objectified like crazy growing up.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was. Guys would undress me with their eyes, call me thunder thighs, whistle when I walked by, and even whisper when I simply got up to sharpen my pencil in class. I can distinctly remember seeing the smirks on their faces every single time I made a move.

I didn’t believe there was any guy my age who would be interested in the non-physical parts of me.

And the sad reality is, I was okay with it. It’s disgusting to think about now, but it’s true. I have an amazing father figure in my life and I have always known my identity and never compromised my standards, and yet no guy my age had ever treated me differently so I embraced it. I knew my curves were poppin’ and I knew that’s how I’d get attention so I wore form-fitting clothes. And I didn’t even want to wear long shirts that would disguise my figure. Yep, I dressed for the male gaze.

When I got to college – a much bigger and freer environment – I realized that people weren’t looking at me the same way. Well …maybe they were my first year when I was a cheerleader, but after that, it wasn’t something I noticed as much. I was no longer in the confines of small classrooms with people I’d known forever. Everyone was a stranger and expected nothing of me and it was so freeing. I dressed for me. No one talked about my body (at least not blatantly). I could wear long free-flowing shirts, be comfortable and STILL get complimented.

But despite this feeling of liberation, my lens in which I viewed myself still had not completely shifted. The battle of the sexes, now became the battle within my mind. I started doubting my beauty because I wasn’t getting the attention I was accustomed to. And that uncomfortable feeling, at times,  turned into low self-esteem. So I started to examine my body closer to see what was wrong. Sure, I gained a few pounds here and there, but the curves were still there. Maybe it was the stretch marks. I hated my stretch marks. Stretch marks for me were a sign that I was fat and forever single. I would do whatever I could to cover it up. But then, I was reminded by the poet Propaganda that stretch marks are a sign of growth, of hard work, of my womanhood. There is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.

I think at that point, there was nothing else on the exterior that I could point fingers at other than me. The real me. Deep within myself, I had let the objectification that I had experienced in the past determine how I defined myself. I had let what others thought of me become an idol – something that elevated above the important things. Once I realized that, I vowed to love myself first.

I’m not going to lie, I’m still getting over those years of objectification. I still find it difficult to imagine anyone being attracted to me without seeing my body first. I still question myself when I wear clothes that reveal my shape – I wonder whether I’m dressing this way for me or for someone guy’s attention. But it’s a process.

I’m learning that embracing my curves doesn’t necessarily mean showing them off all of the time, but it also doesn’t mean hiding them. I’m learning that there’s more to me than my body. And it’s been a fun journey discovering who that is. If you can relate to my story in any way, I hope you can join me on this journey too.