Friday, March 28, 2014

Where Has Faith Gone?

I was alarmed to read two news stories this week that were eerily similar. Both of which hit me hard.

You see, they were both about little girls who were in trouble with their schools for just being themselves. They were not malicious, disrepectful, dangerous creatures. In fact one of these girls should be (and has been) applauded for her great bravery and compassion.

But I guess I should begin by telling you a little bit about both of these girls.

The first one is an 8 year old girl from Virginia who was told by her Christian school that unless she accepted a more biblical appearance (aka grew out her hair and stopped dressing like a boy) that she would not be allowed re-enrollment the next school year. The article mentions that the school's problems with the young lady went beyond her hair length, but the school would not comment, other than to mention that they felt the girl was confused about her gender and thus no longer welcome at their school.

I am a Christian. I have read the Bible, read countless books in discussion of the Bible, grew up in church and am a faithful believer. (On a sidenote I even read A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans, after which she concluded the same things I note).

I have never forced my religion on anybody because I do not believe in forcing beliefs upon others.

But the God I know is one of Love. He does not care what our hair looks like or how we dress.

Only he is allowed to pass judgement and find us wanting.

What values are we teaching our children when we tell a child that our school is not the right place for them because they do not fit the standard mold correctly?

My God is a God of Love.

I was ashamed that this story came out of Virginia. How could I help but be ashamed of a story like this from my home state? And from supposed Christians no less.

My youngest sister :)
Why am I so concerned about this? Until high school I had short hair. And I was a typical tomboy. Still am except with longer hair. My mom has short hair and has always worked like a man. My youngest sister has extremely short hair and wears camo pants and army boots. But just because we do not conform to the feminine ideal does not make us less feminine, nor does it make us less Godly. We are made in God's image...we are perfect however we choose to portray ourselves.

When I read this I could only think about all the times that we, but especially my Mother and Sister, have been stared at coming in and out of bathrooms and the whispers that eat at you until you learn to ignore them. I could only imagine somebody telling me that because my sister was not feminine enough, she did not belong in a Christian school. Which is ironic because she is home-schooled through a Christian school.

The second story was about a 9 year old girl in Colorado who was suspended from her charter school for violating the dress code after shaving her head in support of her best friend who is fighting cancer. The school claimed her bald head was too distracting in the classroom.

Don't worry, after a large uproar, the board decided to let the little girl return to class.

What kind of world do we live in that a little girl who shaves her head in support of a friend is punished? She has already learned a lesson that many people forget, that of compassion and true love.

When did hair become such an important part of the dress code? Who decided what the "mold" should look like? And why should we be punished when we do not fit the mold?

These issues extend far beyond the platform I have used here. And truthfully, it was not about the corruption of many so-called Christians or an attempt to force my beliefs on anyone, but about the fact that we judge others so easily and so quickly when they do not fit our image of what "should be".

Truthfully, the grandparents of the girl from Virginia said it best: "How do you tell a child when she wants to wear pants a shirt, and go out and play in the mud and so forth, how do you tell her, 'No you can't, you've got to wear a pink bow in your hair, and you've got to let your hair grow out long.' How do you do that?"

Truly loving another means letting go of all expectations. It means full acceptance, even celebration of another's personhood. -Karen Casey

Now if only we could all manage to love like this, and to lead our lives in such a way. I will never give up hope though...especially because my family is strong in its uniqueness. As are the families of the little girls above :)


  1. I’m glad you took the time to share your heart. I haven’t been able to shake the feeling that we (as a society) are teaching our children the wrong things. I had seen one of the stories on the news and couldn’t understand why when a child was showing compassion for another human being, the adults in the situation had to act like idiots.

    But, that was nothing compared to the consternation I felt about the other story you shared.

    Stories like that always make me cringe a little. I went to Christian school and saw similar things happen. When I went to Bible college, the man-made rules were totally oppressive. (I could tell you stories) However, I chose to conform, hoping to assure my share of the love of God. It seemed that more rules were better, and eventually we even started dressing “plain”. (and that definitely garnered some odd looks---lots of comments, too---and not positive ones) It is easy to be judgmental (particularly when you want to look BETTER than someone else) and sometimes hard to be loving and accepting.

    It wasn’t until much, much later when our youngest daughter asked us to show her (in the Bible) the reason for our practice that I came up empty. Realizing that we were simply following the teachings of men and seeking their approval hit home and we finally changed our ways. That was a long time ago, and I’m fairly certain there are those who think we turned our back on our faith, when in fact I think it’s stronger now than it was before.

    I’ve learned so much about the power of love and acceptance in the past five years. I cannot recall any instance where Jesus called anyone out for their appearance, yet He did reprimand the “church” folks of the day for their bad attitudes.

    Sorry, this ended up being long and rambly when all I really meant to say was THANK YOU for sharing! I appreciate the reminder to be loving, too.

    1. I didn't think your comment was long and rambly at all! Especially since you hit it right on the head and managed to say exactly what I had been thinking while I was writing this post. While I've been in college I haven't found a church I felt I fit in quite like the one I grew up in so of course while I was home I went every Sunday. The last couple of months sermons were all about the difference between what God intended and wanted us to follow and what man decided was important (which as we have noticed is VERY different). We had time and time again been shown where the leaders in the Old Testament went wrong (making all the oppressive, crazy, worldly rules) and then the difference in what Jesus had shown when he walked among the people (helping the poor, "dirty", diseased, etc). We had been talking about how many of the people that became disciples and preachers of the teachings were people that we would have avoided befriending but given a chance they proved able to turn their lives around.

      What has really stuck with me is that if we treat people how we think they COULD be, rather than how they ARE, we will be so much closer to showing the Love that the world needs rather than all the petty human emotions that tear us apart.

      I see a great resemblance between the attitudes of many of today's "churches" and that of the ones of old who were being reprimanded for their small-minded, exclusive ways. It's definitely alarming and I worry about our society's teachings as well!

      Thank you for sharing your personal experiences, I know that can be hard. Maybe someday I can hear some of the stories from college? Life experiences teach us so much.

      As always, thank you for reading and commenting and being so supportive :)

  2. smh. I think some people have entirely too much time on their hands to worry about such petty things, especially the charter school incident. I don't condone the Christian school actions, but they are a little more defensible.

    1. I definitely agree that some people have waaaaay too much time on their hands. If only they would put their energy into more important things-like helping fight childhood hunger, childhood abuse, etc. But oh well I guess!