Tuesday, December 4, 2012

My Baggage Looks Better Than Your Baggage

One lovely summer evening I was chatting with someone about hurt feelings they were experiencing with a mutual friend. I was trying explain how each of them came to the table with their own set of baggage. If there is unknown, or worse yet, ignored emotional land mines in a relationship, it can prove to be explosive.

It got me thinking though... Everybody comes into a relationship with baggage. Whether it's romantic, friendship, work, religious groups. Heck, we're born into baggage. Our DNA is intertwined with both maternal and paternal flaws and hiccups. If we happen to pro-create, we just add to the mix... Discovering what your baggage is, can be both tricky and sometimes an extremely painful process. There's not a huge learning curve, and rocky relationships can only seem to minimize the arch. 

As I've gotten older, I've recognized (or been told :) some of the crap I carry around. Some months I gain baggage at an alarmingly high rate... I've also gotten pretty decent at 'announcing' it. This blog serves as a show and tell sometimes. Airing out insecurities can be both healing for myself, and sometimes for other readers. It's good to not feel so alone... However, here's the weird part- as good as I've gotten about telling other people about my flaws, I still go into relationships assuming they're not coming with any baggage of their own. And on my worst days, sorta just marching in with all of my luggage, dumping it on the ground and saying, "Here's all of my stuff. Take me or leave me, but you're gonna have to deal with it." Never really considering that their wounds and emotional scars might come along for the ride.

Over the last few months, it's become increasingly apparent to me that the closer I grow to people, the longer I'm in friendships, the deeper I dig into relationships, the more baggage I start bumping into. I can only be in a close-knit room or group for awhile until each piece of my baggage starts bumping into the other person's. So then I'm left with the choice - do I throw my belongings down and have a hissy fit or do I apologize and have grace and walk more carefully because I love (or am called to love) the other person?

Saturday, November 24, 2012


I tend to pen either ridiculous blog material or what could be considered somewhat intense, deeply personal musings.  I do that in ‘real life’ too… I think it’s how I keep my sanity…. Regardless, this is one of those deep crappy sappy ones, so if you’re not in the mood, now may be an excellent time to go toss the football with the kids in the backyard…

It’s no secret that I struggle with my faith, my weight and self-esteem.  I doubt that I’ll ever NOT struggle with it.  Most days I can deal with it. But sometimes, they combine their nasty forces for evil and release some super storm. Sorta like when Jean Grey Summers became the Phoenix in X-Men… sorta…   

And as a side note… most everything ‘serious’ that I ever blog about is extremely personal.  Not to say it shouldn’t be shared – it’s not called the World Wide Web for nothing – but as an exercise for me.  There’s a few things that I’ve learned over the years… A) Bottling it all up and keeping it to yourself is extremely unhealthy and can have terrible consequences.  B) Somebody, somewhere, is probably going through or will go through some variation of whatever it is that you’re feeling at this moment.  C) Blogging for me is a way to keep myself honest. It’s almost a religious or holy experience for me. Being able to emote through written words releases an endorphin of sorts. It’s that gasp of extremely valuable air that you need while you’re in the ocean, allowing you to be carried away by the waves for a few more moments.  

It’s also a wonderful way to procrastinate when you don’t really want to talk about what’s bothering you…

Okay, so here’s my baggage.  I’m still really upset over the whole Africa trip thing… I feel like I was going there with very pure intentions and it was mistaken as something otherwise.  I’m not exactly sure how it could have been, but I’m devastated by it. Isaac sometimes tries to explain the possible reasoning behind the other person’s response, but really, all I want to hear is, “They were completely wrong and you were completely right.”  That’s probably totally immature and I’m sure there’s a few of you who would say, “Just get over it”, but hey, that’s where I’m at. That wound is still very, very sore. And I’m having a lot of difficulty moving past it.

I hate how much weight I’ve gained. My breathing is labored, airplane seats are tighter, clothes don’t fit. I eat all the time. I eat everything. It’s my comfort and my thorn. I have no idea how that works, but I’m stuck in that hamster wheel again.  I joined Weight Watchers again in February. I’ve gone once since then. I haven’t been to the gym in months. I really don’t want to go back. What I really want to do is sleep. And eat. And then sleep more. I have headaches all the time. I don’t go certain places or see certain people because I’m so freaked out by how many pounds I’ve put on since I last saw them.  When I was thinner, I liked some of the attention I got and the clothes that I could wear… but I hated hearing people comment on in. It was like a little stab in my heart when people would say something about how “skinny” I was. (For the record – I’ve never been skinny.  Just less fat.) I wasn’t able to take the compliments well. That, and I still felt like a fat person stuck in a thinner person’s body.  Weird shit, I know.


Ah yes, and now on to the most painful one.  The one I don’t really want to talk about, but feel like I should… the stupid, God damn baby issue. Nothing in this world makes you feel like a bigger loser as a woman, than not being able to pro-create.  Zippo.  Nada.  Zilch.  There are so many emotions that come with it. Anger is really the one that I’m pretty stuck in lately.  Haven’t bothered with birth control in over 3 years. “Trying” for around a year or more. To some people that nothing. But to me, it feels like eternity.  Periods are never an enjoyable experience, but once a month, I am now reminded that I suck at making babies. It makes me hate myself and my body even more. Again, a million and one emotions all the time. Guilt, shame, anger, betrayal… all kinda wrapped up in there. Until 3 or 4 years ago, I didn’t actually want a baby.  At all. (side note: my incredibly good friend, Katie, is fond of reminding me that whatever I swear I don’t want to happen, eventually happens. So please, let me take this time to say, “I never want to be rich. I never want to be rich. I never want to be rich.”  Okay, back to seriousness…)  I had no desire to be a mom, mainly because I thought I would be so terrible at it. My child would hate me; I wouldn’t want it; I’d be a horrible parent; I wouldn’t want to be involved in its life; there would be something wrong; I would miscarry; I wouldn’t be able to afford it… Lots of deep seeded shit that I had to wade through.  With a lot of help from my shrink and friends, I was able to release some of that pain.  I think I believed that if I let go of the pain and the unsubstantiated thoughts, everything would work out. However, Life does not work that way.  So now I’m a bit tangled between being angry that I can’t seem to produce the one thing my body was made to create and all of those funky, ugly thoughts and emotions bubbling up again. The fact of the matter is, I could write this and next month, be pregnant and have this really great kid/life.  But I’ve also thought that for the last 3 years.

People try and say really nice, helpful, comforting things. While I appreciate the thought, they aren’t helpful.  Some people close to me have offered to pray. That’s fine if you want to, but please don’t tell me about it. I don’t pray anymore. I feel like God’s kinda just thrown me into a bunch of shit the last several years, and I’m worn out. I’m burned out. I no longer belong. I have lost my tribe and I feel homeless. I’m not going to go to church and beg God for something that he already knows I want. Something I’ve prayed for long ago. I will not use him as my magic genie any more.

I’m depressed again and that frustrates the life out of me. I feel l have nothing left to give most days. I am mentally and physically worn out. I don’t enjoy the same things that I used to. I want just a very few select group of people around me so I kinda of retreat otherwise. I would love to just sleep all day. But I can’t. I get really needy when I get like this. I feel deserted and alone and like a failure. I feel like I bog down my marriage and friendships and life. Blah.

I dunno. So maybe there’s someone out there who sometimes feels alone or sad or wants to have a kid and can’t seem to.  Or maybe you think I’m as big of a loser as I do. Who knows. Feel free to comment or post your struggles anonymously.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Everyone Can Be An Enrique Iglesias Song

Few weeks ago I heard about little kids who are sold into the sex slave trade. Children whose parents sell them to help put food on the table and/or little girls who are sold a bill of goods about the 'job' they've been hired for. I heard about how they're forced to perform sex acts on men 15-20x a day.

Then I heard that there's a group of people who actually go in and rescue the kids (the youngest they've rescued is 5 yrs old).After they're rescued, the group (Destiny Rescue) counsels them and teaches them a real occupation so they can earn a living. I also heard that it's only $1500 to fund a rescue. So, I contacted the group and the lovely people at Destiny Rescue set up a website for me.

So, if you think kids being funneled through the sex slave business is wrong, you can donate $15 to help fund the rescue here.

If you really want to know what to get me for Christmas, you can click here.

If you finally cleaned out all of the change in your couch, you can click here.

If you still have trouble sleeping over the guilt you feel after not picking me up when my car broke down, you can click here.

If you're my mom and you don't trust hyperlinks, you can click here http://www.razoo.com/story/Rescue-A-Child-Jen-Stambaugh

Sunday, October 21, 2012

something to believe in

I don't think it's any secret that I've been wrestling with my faith over the last couple of years. Maybe in ten years I'll look back and say, "remember when", but honestly, I hope not. I hope that I will never be continent to take everything at face value and yet, somehow embrace the idea that I believe in a living God who wants the best for us. Even if we think He's a joke, that he's still on our side. Looking out for our best interest and earnestly cares about 'the least of these', those who have been discarded by the church and society. No matter what I end up thinking about religion, I hope that I never ever loose site of loving the forgotten, misled, discarded and damned.

That being said, a few weeks ago I felt 'led' (whatever that means to you) to go to church. I rarely go anymore and I kinda prefer it that way. Anyway, got there and heard a moving, yet factual story of little girls, not that far away, who are forced to perform sex acts on men 15-20x a day. They're part of a very real, very rich, very public industry. From what I understand, the girls (and some little boys) end up there either because their parents sold them so they could have food or because the family was sold a bill of goods about where the girls were really going. Talk about the ultimate sacrifice...

Luckily, there's some decent people still left in the world who think that allowing children to be raped repeatedly isn't in their best interest. So they go out and rescue the little kids (the youngest was 5 yrs old) and then teach them how to actually sustain a real income at a real job and help them with counseling and shelter. And you know what the craziest part is? It's only $1500 to fund a rescue. That is mind blowing to me. It's only around $40 a month to help sustain the girls once they're rescued and like, $5-25 to buy jewelry that the girls make. How much more simple could they have made it?

As much of a distaste of religion that I have, helping fund the rescue of a kid seems like a true worship experience to me.

If you'd like to donate a couple of bucks to fund a rescue, click on this link.

If you'd like to find out more about the folks who do all of this, click here.

Monday, August 6, 2012

A New Perspective (cause all of that other stuff sure did suck)

I've been a little bummed lately. Feeling a little let down.

Last year was a year of discovery for me. Discovering who I was, what I believed, what I considered to be truth.

I began this year with a new sense of excitement. I certainly wasn't a renewed 'Jesus Freak' or something. I was just willing to take a gamble on a few things.

Turns out I suck at betting.

Through a series of very unfortunate incidents of miscommunication and one really crazy e-mail from a missionary in Africa, I ended up losing $1k on a plane ticket and had my heart (and mainly pride) shredded. Eventually we made amends, and I ended up on her "Dearest Girlfriends" monthly e-mail list. While I appreciated the gesture, I eventually ended up blocking her e-mail address a few months ago, as receiving monthly updates on a country and city that I was denied entrance to seemed to throw me into a tailspin. I don't hate anybody. I sincerely hope the ministry flourishes. I'll probably continue to still donate to it. I just found the whole thing to be more than disheartening and quite frankly, it just really pissed me off.

March/April I thought I was pregnant for a short stint. Lots of solid reasons why, but turns out I wasn't. Found out on April's Fool's Day. Actually, I thought I had a miscarriage. Turns out it was neither. SOB. All the research online seems to suggest that women can make up pregnancy symptoms when they just really want to have a kid. Some online comments are a little less kind. All my doctors assure me that I'm not crazy and it happens to a lot of people. I think that's when I began my month long binge eating phase...

Tried to put together a respite for kids with disabilities... Respite's something I gave up a couple of years ago and it was a major, major step for me to be willing to even be involved, let alone try and put one together. That never came to fruition. Felt humiliated. Probably no reason to, but I did.

I dunno know, some other personal and professional stuff happened and I just began to lose hope. I felt like I had 'put myself out there' so to say several times, trying to trust God again or just do something good for somebody and just got slapped in the face. I really kinda wanted to be like, "Hello God, throw me a bone here" (seriously, does anybody ACTUALLY say that phrase anymore?!)

I really don't even know how to pray anymore. I don't think I have the faith that anything good will come of it. I want the miracle for people, but for various reasons, I don't feel like it'll happen. Maybe God's depressed.

I read this on my friend Charlie Hines' facebook page this weekend and it got me thinking... Perhaps I just need a new perspective.

The day I prayed for salvation, I gave God permission to pursue me and intervene in my life as long as I live. I gave Him permission to assemble road blocks and guardrails to redirect my path. I gave Him permission to pursue me through the relationships He brought into my life and the pain and suffering that I'm exposed to on a daily basis. I love the fact that He never will quit on me and that ...
he believes in me even more than I do. So maybe you are out there wondering why all this is happening in your life. And maybe you prayed a prayer giving God permission to direct your path. Maybe you prayed it when you were a kid or maybe just a few weeks, months, or years ago. Maybe you have forgotten you ever prayed it. Well He did not. So God thanks for what I'm going through... It means you haven't quit on me.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Dear World,

I have gained back all of the weight I lost last year and then a few pounds.

It was delicious.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

so I made zuchini bread tonight...

In light of the recent Jerry Sandusky trial, it's caused me to reflect a few things.

1) By the grace of God, I was never sexually abused myself, but I have known many, many people who have been and a handful of others that I strongly suspect were. (as well as others who have done the abusing)

2) Abusers can be relatives, family friends or trusted aquaintainces. While stranger danger is a real threat, it seems a lot of times that it's the ones who are the closest, who learn to gain your trust (or have already have it, just by being born into the family) that seemingly hold the power.

3) It's not your fault. You didn't ask for it. You didn't deserve it. You're not dirty. Don't pretend you're over it or it didn't really affect you. Seek professional help and allow them to walk you through the raw emotions.

4) Your accuser doesn't have to be an evil person.  They may have done an evil thing, but that doesn't neccesarily make them evil. (But they probably do still feel evil to you) They can be someone who is considered to be a good person and who is looked up to by the community and family. It doesn't mean that what happened to you is okay.

5) I've known people who try and "wash off" the abuse by taking multiple showers, always insisting that they're clean and presentable looking. I think some run from religion, while others fully embrace it. Perhaps the latter resides more with the philosophy that if they're "good' enough or learn to love others or something that they can possibly get rid of the feeling that they're done something wrong or maybe just the constant shame. I dunno know - it's just a theory drummed up by somebody who has no medical or physologicalial knowledge.

6) I don't know. Maybe this means nothing. Perhaps this brought up terrible memories. If it did, I am sorry. This wasn't meant to cause you pain. Um, it's not neccesarily dinner conversation... but I think it's a life altering event that if not dealt with can have really serious consquences on relationships, marriages and just general trust issues. I'm afraid this is coming off as sloppy. I just... I just don't want the people who I care about to feel so alone or dirty or like no one could ever love them if they knew. Seek professional help. It's not your fault. Perhaps you could help end the cycle.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Party Hardy

This is a copy of a letter that I sent to some folks in response to the recent devastation in Henryville, IN. Check it out and see if this is something you'd be interested in.

 After hearing about the devastation that the tornados caused to towns not so far from us, I felt compelled to help. Especially my friends with special needs. Structure and repetition are kinda a big deal to lots of my friends with disabilities, and having your home, school and daily routine literally blown away has a way of impeding that.

So, my friends and I are throwing a PARTY for kids with special needs and their siblings in Henryville, IN. But we can't do it alone.

If loving on a kid (and parent) who's life has been turned upside down sounds of interest to you, click on this link Or, if the hyperlink's not working, type this in https://www.formstack.com/forms/?1211023-xE1k1gXqoC Personally, I would just click on the hyperlink.

Anyway, check it out. Sign up. Leave a comment here if you have any questions, etc.

Here's the DL/FAQ:
What: Breathe Respite (aka party for kids with special needs and their siblings)
When: Saturday, May 19th from 10am-1pm (volunteers MUST be there by 9:30am)
Where: Memphis Christian Church 13503 Memphis-Bluelick Rd Memphis, IN 47143
Say What: It's in Henryville, IN, about 20 mins away from Louisville and about 75 minutes away from Cincinnati
Is This A "Christian" Thing: We hold respites because most of us dig Jesus and think loving on people with special needs is something he'd be into. It's our way of loving others. It is held at a church, but that's partly because it's one of the more structurally sound locations there and partly because we roped the pastor into it. No one will be handing out tracks or splashing holy water on you. The families won't be required to go to church anywhere or pay anything for this. No one dresses up like Jesus.
I'm A Career Criminal, Am I Invited: This probably isn't your gig. Every volunteer must be complete a national background check through Protect My Ministry. Cost of the check is $9.
Can I Bring My Young Kids: As mature and fun-loving as I'm certain your offspring are, please leave them at Grandma's for the afternoon. We'd love it if all of the attention could be focused on just the one child you've been paired up with.
But My Kids Are Awesome. You've Met Them. Puh-Lease Can I Bring Them: No.
What's The Minimum Age Requirement To Serve: Junior High
What Link Am I Supposed To Click On Again To Sign Up To Serve Again?: This one

Also check out:

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

How Very 2003 Of Me...

I've waited a bit too long to  begin writing this... My eyes are becoming increasingly heavy... This will either prove to work towards your benefit, as it will be a shorter blog than usual or will do the opposite - just be too drawn out and miscomjobulated. You know, one of these things.

It's been a while since I've written anything. If you know me for any period of time, you'll begin to notice that this is usually a tell tale sign that something funky's going on in my life on some level, and I just don't feel comfortable sharing it.

The short and sweet of it is that over the past 4 months, I've been emotionally hurt, lost money, lost even more pride, experienced fantastic highs and pretty bad lows. (that last part just made me sound bi-polar - I'm not)

The following may be more for me, but I'm going to attempt to share via bullet points what I've gone through/learned/continuously learning.

* Due to a series of unfortunate incidents, my depression worsened. This makes me feel broken, miserable, discarded, worthless

* I also lost/spent a LOT of money in a very short amount of time. This makes me feel foolish (1 time I had to go to the doctor and the other time I thought I was doing something right), naive, stupid, juvenile, a terrible spouse

* Finally began recognizing that I do binge eat. I don't think I've actually been hungry since 2010. I've gained 24lbs since September. 5bs just in the last month. On some level I'm able to recognize that this is unhealthy. On a more emotional level, I'm so overwhelmed with everything else, that I just don't care. Realizing all of this makes me feel shameful, unworthy of friendship and love, a major, ginormous embarrassment to my friends/family.

* There's some really great things about being married. Being sad a lot and feeling like you (unintentionally) put an extreme amount of pressure on your spouse to make you "okay" is terrible. Whether real or not, I feel awful after sharing things with Isaac. I partially feel relieved to get it off of my chest, but the other part of me feels like a giant Eeyore that moozied on into the room. I've tried to express it before, but it's not my spouse's job to make me 'happy'.  It's just not.

* Periodically I get my panties into a wad about Christians who seem to present their version of the gospel as a spiritual 'wham, bam, thank you m'am'. I don't believe that's what Jesus taught. I typically refer back to the section in Luke 5 when Jesus tells his posse and some church folk that, as the New Living Translation puts it - “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do."
Somehow we've tricked ourselves and others into believing that 'Jesus Saves' means that we'll never have to deal with our drug or sex addictions. Our judgemental attitudes or loose tongues. Marriage problems will evade us and as long as we don't get a divorce, we've proven we really listened to God. I have done a fabulous job at convincing myself on many occasions that because I really searched out my faith, or that I did all of the right "steps" that I'll never have to deal with my own "afflictions". Because I love Jesus, I shouldn't ever have to really deal with recurrences of depression, doubt, self-loathing, anxiety, stress, obsessive tendencies or over eating. A) This is total BULL SHIT  B) No sane person ever expects to go to the pediatrician as a baby and never have to see a doctor again for the rest of their lives. C) Nor should any sane person rack their faith up to check marks.

As much as I talk about my friends and the need for community, I'm still pretty into me. I would like to believe that I should have mastered (insert something here) by now. I don't really need continual saving....

I'm sure there were other witty, intelligent thoughts that were dying to get out, but I've successfully stayed asleep on the couch with the computer in my lap for at least the last 45-60 minutes.... so I'm calling it a night.

Feel free to discuss/share (anonymous is always a swell safe way to share in my book) your thoughts, successes or struggles here. I can't promise that I'll always respond in the most loving way, but I promise that I'll fall asleep on the couch multiple times with the aim to...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Who Should Die From A Bug Bite?

This is my friend and one time mission-trip bunkmate, Angie Boehmer. She's all forms of awesome sauce. 

Angie happens to be moving to Nigeria this summer. She's a nurse, a Jesus lover and all around great gal. She'll live there for over a year, using her medical skills to help the good folks stay healthy and not die from diseases caused by mosquito bites, diarrhea, malnutrition and dirty water.  

I don't love asking for money (nor has she asked me to write this), but helping Angie get/live over there is super high on my importance list. Isaac and I donated a bit today. It's super easy, just follow this link. Angie's SIM # is 035768.

If you'd like more information on Angie's ministry partners, check out SIM, SSE (Self Sustaining Enterprises) and Vineyard Cincinnati.

You can also follow Angie's blog at www.hopeoverflows.wordpress.com

And please, feel free to share this with all of your friends : )

Friday, January 13, 2012

20 Things I've Learned Over The Past Year

1) My suspicions about having an anxiety disorder were true. When I joked that I was ocd, I unknowingly was correct. And depression is nothing to be messed with.
2) Telling somebody to "just get over it", "be happy", "I think you're pretty" (when it's not your spouse) or any form of Christianise saying, no matter how genuine it is, is not helpful to hear when you're at the bottom of the barrel.
3) When I go to the doctor now, they say things like, "You're a healthy, young adult" instead of telling me my cholesterol is high or how I should really try and lose some weight. (I'm not dissing them. It's their job. Except for my old gyno - he was just a jerkwad) It's just really interesting to hear.
4) Running a 5k is always better with family.
5) Because I finished the 5k without passing out, it motivated me to take greater risks.
6) It's incredibly humbling to take meds/therapy/excerise to even out the serotonin levels in my brain.
7) It's even more humbling to realize that after beginning the meds, it began to control the amount of anxiety attacks and all of the really weird quirks that I never realized were a) not normal and b) associated with ocd.
8) And if things couldn't get any more humbling... when I still have those hiccups. When I see glimpses of the woman I loathe emerging again. When I have an anxiety attack for "no reason", when I say something mean or stupid or thoughtless, when I can't stop obsessing for days over a dumb comment or look I think may have been projected at me... It's humbling and it makes me feel worthless and that I've let me friends down, as they can tell/feel 'I haven't really changed'.
9) That being said... Hiccups happen. Life happens. Don't panic too much.
10) I have rediscovered a deep and meaningful love for my husband, even more so than before.
11) That I am wildly blessed to being getting paid to do what I love. And even more blessed knowing Isaac gets paid to do what he loves as well. To have two people be able to share in that at the same time... there's probably a higher likelihood of winning the lottery.
12) Bridesmaids was so so funny. That an ensemble of woman could make a fantastic movie and be hilarious without being ditzy or leaning on their male counterparts. So proud.
13) I decided I wanted to go back to Jos and hang with some friends.
14) After a lot of soul-searching, I've sorta redefined my theology and faith and how Jesus intercedes in my life. None of it's bad. It was painful getting here... but I am so thankful for the journey. And I'm not stupid enough to think that it's over.
15) Friends who allow you the time to just "breathe" and rediscover your faith and yourself without shoving a bunch of crap down your throat... those are life-long friends. Those friends count.
16) Being a "leader" or being "involved" in whatever ministry is just something that I used to do, it's not who I am.
17) I've decided it's okay be a leader in your field and be a Christian, but that is completely different than being a leader at your church. And I am 100% down with that.
18) I think Jesus probably likes that I'm somewhat recklessly pursuing Him.
19) Sometimes I hurt people, even though I don't mean to.
20) It's okay to fail. Still hurts though : )

Sunday, January 8, 2012

manipulative beliefs

Several months ago, a group of friends and I were having a discussion about various things, when someone asked a question (I'm paraphrasing here) about how to be in leadership and convey personal ideas or beliefs that their company may not be totally down with. I'm afraid none of us were much help. (My brilliant answer was to wait a long time and then revisit the idea. Granted, I was pretty in the dark about what they were talking about at the time, but still. Dumb answer.) Other responses alluded something to the effect of essentially tricking the receipts into believing the ideas. Think, boiling a frog... Knowing the hearts of my friends, I know that they weren't intending to sound manipulative, but it took me aback. I realized A) I never wanted to work under someone who operated under that mindset B) If I'm choosing to be honest, I'm sure I've probably been a bit of a con in the past - with good intentions - but still... C) I don't want to operate like that in the future. I never want to feel like I'm con-ing or manipulating anyone into believing something. Beliefs can't be forced. Just like you can't make somebody love you. They have to come to that decision on their own. I'm reading several books right now that helped me reinterate this truth - unChristian by David Kinnaman (president of the Barna research group) & Gabe Lyons and Signs of Emergence by Kester Brewin. Similar concepts that end up taking different paths.

But one thing remains true - if you want somebody to respect you and your beliefs, you've got to just be yourself. ESPECIALLY when it comes to Jesus. I think almost everyone (Christians included) is on high alert when it comes to sincerity. 'Believers' are awesome when it comes to being angry, political, judgemental, loud, brash, ignorant and pushing our agendas. We are not so well known for just letting things "breathe". To allow people to come to their own conclusions as well as allowing them the space to question certain beliefs without practically excommunicating them. When will we learn that good leaders (no matter what the business) lead by example and not by shoving things down people's throats?