#menaremorethan | STEVE

Whenever I think of men who make me feelScreen Shot 2016-07-26 at 11.46.36 AM safe, Steve is always the first to come to mind.  He runs a construction business and is massively tall, so by all rights he ought to be intimidating and hyper-masculine.  Instead, he absolutely radiates gentleness.

I had the pleasure of co-teaching junior high Sunday School with Steve, and I was constantly impressed by how respectful he was of me, a woman half his age.  He was always complimentary of my lessons, and he went out of his way to make sure I felt happy with the way we divided our work.

I also got to see his love for middle schoolers, arguably the most trying age group of any.  Steve chose to work with this group for years and years, not out of obligation but out of genuine love.  He brought tools and live-demonstations into class to illustrate a point, and he somehow managed to convey the fact that he would both teach you how to use a soldering gun AND listen to you complain about your math teacher at the same time.

Steve smiles often and laughs easily.  He is one of the nicest people to be around, and he is definitely a man who is #morethan a gender stereotype.

#menaremorethan | MIKE

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 5.15.09 PMMike is Libby‘s husband, and their early inclusion in this series showcases how much I love them as individuals and as a couple (and why I spent so many Sundays crashing their family time).  Mike was one of my favorite people in Dallas, since we shared a love of theological conversations, video games, and writing stories.  He is a pastor whose sermons are always my favorite, he is a small group leader who values group unity and loving debate over arguing someone into the ground, he is a talented fiction writer, and he is a devoted husband and father.

In a day and age where women want to “have it all” we forget that men might want that too!  In pursuit of career success, too many men fall into a trap of believing that work is their primary identity (just as women forget that they are more than a wife or mother).  I so admire Mike for creating intentional space to be with his children and for supporting his wife’s professional aspirations.  Both Mike and Libby have roles in the home and out of it, and their co-leadership of our small group demonstrated for me just how beautiful a marriage of partnership can be.

Although he is incredibly intelligent, Mike always made me feel like my opinions were worth considering.  We occasionally disagreed about things pretty significantly, but he always valued me enough to listen and to subtly alter his opinions, just as his thoughtful critiques altered mine.  And sometimes!  Sometimes he really latched onto something that I value highly, and I will forever scream about how he is the ONLY pastor I know to preach about singleness from the pulpit in a way that actually appreciated and uplifted singleness as its own thing, and not as a stepping stone to marriage.

Someday he’s going to be a husband/father/pastor/YA author, the combination of which definitely makes him a man who is #morethan.

#menaremorethan | DR.KREIDER

Screen Shot 2016-06-06 at 12.50.25 PMThe first man I want to celebrate in this #menaremorethan series is the guy I bring up in conversation at least twice a week as, “my favorite professor from seminary.”  He would probably be half horrified/half proud to know just how completely he shaped my theology and the way I interact with the world, but he will just have to deal with those conflicting emotions.

Dr. Kreider taught theology classes at DTS, and at a roommate’s strong suggestion (shout out to Jessica, who deserves to star in #womenaremorethan someday!), I took his introductory course, and then…every other class that he taught.  The first day he said something profound that I still repeat (literally just shared this with my roommate a week ago and some friends a few days ago):

“When I came to seminary, I had a list of 300 theological truths that I would fight and die for.  When I left, I had just three:  God is triune, the Bible is inerrent, and Jesus saves us through his life, death, and resurrection.  I have opinions about everything else, but I will no longer die for them, and more importantly, I will not break up the body of Christ for them.”

The man is clearly a good professor, but he’s also a good…friend?  I don’t know what term to use, but I do know that after a particularly personal topic, I went to his office and accidentally burst into tears.  Another time he asked about my love life, then sighed and admitted, “I don’t think you’re going to find someone at seminary.  There are too many strong, opinionated, smart women, and not enough men who deserve them.”  I cannot emphasize how encouraging it was to hear this seemingly discouraging opinion.  Yet another time, we talked passionately about our favorite characters on Scandal and why couldn’t Olivia, who is so strong in every other way, get over her unhealthy obsession with the emotional abusive president!?

Even though I can no longer drop by his office or ask if we can grab coffee, I still get to stalk Dr. Kreider on Facebook.  (Fun fact, the first time we interacted online was when I wrote a status that said: “After my sex therapy class, I cannot watch sex scenes in movies without pointing out how unrealistic they are,” and he responded, “You must be fun to watch movies with,” thus solidifying my intense admiration for the man.)  I so admire his ability to bring up controversial topics online, to state his opinions with logic and emotion, and to let people disagree with him.  I try to emulate both his grace and his resolve in my own online writings, though I have far to go when engaging in productive conversations with people who believe differently from me.

For being himself, for publicly admitting his doubts and insecurities, for welcoming me into his office, for getting to know me, and for teaching me to think deeply about truth, Dr. Kreider is definitely #morethan.

How to Avoid Fame-Seeking Behaviors While Running a Blog

At HD, we are starting our Formation of Servants meetings every Wednesday.  It’s pretty much exactly the 12 Steps used by Alcoholics Anonymous, but more explicitly Christian (aka we use more Bible verses).  I am SO EXCITED to be starting this, because I crave this kind of intimacy with co-workers.  There is nothing more comforting than knowing that the people you spend most of your time with know you deeply and still want to spend time with you.

The first step is all about admitting you are powerless, and part of the lesson was three pages of recovery topics we might want to focus on.  Here’s what stood out to me:

  • approval dependency
  • confrontation
  • criticism
  • family
  • fear
  • forgiveness
  • humility
  • jealousy
  • loneliness
  • looking good
  • perfectionism
  • reconciliation

I immediately noticed a running theme of “I want everyone to love me and I will do anything necessary to appear loveable!”

Since I spend so much of my time blogging, I wondered how much this blog contributes to my problem.  I definitely try to appear smart and funny and interesting here.  I want people to like my content.  I get upset when people don’t.  Sometimes I don’t post stories or thoughts because I think people might disagree with me or chastise me.

My first thought was: I will quit my blog!  That way I won’t be contributing to the messiness of fame and attention-seeking that it involves.

But this all-or-nothing reaction is unhealthy, I think.  I tend to think in dichotomy and All Right or All Wrong.  I like easy answers.  This is not the first time I have thought this, and a couple years ago, I actually DID quit blogging for several months.  It was awful.  I don’t think it helped me be any less self-centered, and it took away my biggest creative outlet.

It also ignores all the GREAT things about blogging.  Writing is truly one of the things I think I’m gifted at, and blogging is the easiest way to use that gift.  I almost never have a problem creating content every day, because my brain never shuts up, and I need an outlet. And in my most honest moments, I share things that are hard or ugly, and those are the posts that always connect me to people – usually through email or secret Facebook messages, but I LOVE those moments when people write to me and say, “You said what I’ve always felt unsafe to say – THANK YOU.”  I don’t want to lose the amazing role of being a truth-speaker (or at least honesty-speaker).

So I have both of these thoughts in my head:  Quit Everything! and also Maybe I Am Overreacting!  And since I’ve learned this in recent years, I tried to think of ways in which I could find a balance.  I don’t want my blog to be all about me, but I also don’t want to give it up.  What is my middle option?

Well, you may be surprised to find out that this has all been a lead up to….a new blog series!!  A couple months ago on Facebook I joined the #womenaremorethan movement, but then forgot about it.  I’m going to move that here (and add #menaremorethan, because I’m a feminist and that means valuing equality), and every week, I will put the focus on someone amazing from my life.

If you want to write about #womenaremorethan and #menaremorethan, PLEASE DO.  The world can always use more encouraging messages.  And hopefully, but using my creative outlet to bolster others instead of myself, I can find that balance between attention-seeking and humility.

Come back next week for my first #womenaremorethan post!