Super Models

Like lots of moms with [a few] kids, I avoid taking them to the grocery store all at one time.  They always want to ride in one of those big, obnoxious cars.  You know the ones…the huge cars that always run into about three other buggies when you try to make a turn into the next aisle.  Of course, Emmett, my two year old, wants the RED car…as in Lightening McQueen.  Where we shop there is only ONE red car buggie…usually stuck in the middle of about five other blue buggies.  So we spend the first ten minutes prying it out of its nesting spot and then disinfecting it with wipes that the store so graciously provides at the entrance…if the container is not empty.

My two oldest, Eloise and Lillian, prefer not to ride in the car anymore, so they walk next to me…one on each side…which creates another problem.  I am constantly directing them either to get in front of or behind me to stay out of everyone’s way.  Then, because they are not in the car (or perhaps Lillian starts in the car and then gets out), Emmett spends the entire shopping trip begging to walk like his sisters…if that doesn’t work: “I want you to hold me, mama!”

Right.

So, like I said…I avoid this.

And…sometimes it is unavoidable.  A couple of weeks ago Jon was working, all of the children were home on break, I had a dinner to make for someone, and there was no way to get around going to the store…with all three children.

So, off we go…lug red car out, disinfect, constantly move girls around to let people by, continuously tell Emmett that he cannot get out and no, I cannot hold him right now…all while consulting and checking off a list.

It is a relief to get to the checkout.  I know that it is almost over.

Really, though, all in all, it isn’t so bad.

I mean, it isn’t THAT treacherous of a journey.

Then I look over at my daughters, who are 6 and 8…who are just starting to enjoy their relatively new skill of reading.  Their eyes are stuck at eye level…right on the magazines.

“Lose 20 pounds in two weeks!”

“10 positions sure to make your man go crazy!”

“What a man REALLY wants.  We can tell you!”

“X and Y divorce after 3 months!”

“Eloise, Lillian!  Come here!  I, um, I need you to…put these things on the counter!  Can you help me?  Talk to Emmett.  Pull the cart over here.”

Lord, help me. That was close.  Note to self: another reason to avoid taking the kids to the grocery store…the magazine covers at the checkout!

Never had I even noticed the titles and now I cannot help but be agitated that they put those things at the eye level of children!

My daughters are getting closer and closer to pre-adolescence.  I remember those days.  From middle school to somewhere in my mid twenties, I would love to pour over magazines and read about all of the latest trends on losing weight, improving my shape, what guys wanted, etc. etc.

All of the things that we are supposed to look like.  All of the things we are supposed to be.  All of the things we are supposed to have.

Like super models.  All of us.  That is what those magazines tell us.

You’d better…or else.

Never mind that they spend hours fixing up those girls in the pictures and then doctoring the images to erase any left over blemishes.  The current of the media’s message is very strong.  And, many of us, especially at that impressionable age, tend to get swept along.

Be this.  Or…  you won’t have that.  That group of friends.  That job.  That boyfriend.  That life.

Thank God I am past that phase.  Phew.

I mean, I still subscribe to magazines, but they certainly do not have super models in them.  I read things like Southern Living, Real Simple, Coastal Living.

You know…the magazines that give me ideas for cooking, for my home.

They don’t tell me what to wear so much as they tell me what to cook, what my home should look like…

Wait a minute.

All of the things that we are supposed to look like.  All of the things we are supposed to have.  All of the things we are supposed to be.

You’d better…or else.

Like super models.  All of us.  That is what those magazines tell us.

Never mind that they spend hours fixing up those homes in the pictures and then doctoring images to erase any leftover blemishes.  The current of the media’s message is very strong.  And, many of us, especially at this impressionable age of being a mother, tend to get swept along.

Be this.  Or…  you won’t have that.  That group of friends.  That job.  That boyfriend or spouse.  That life.

Well, good grief.  Huh.

Well, I sure am glad men don’t seem to struggle with this thing of looking at magazines or the media for how we should be or act.

Wait.  That doesn’t sound right.  What was that statistic I heard the other day?  60% of men look at and use pornography?

You know…that industry that tell men (and women) what you should act like when having sex, what sex should look like in order to be exciting and “real”, that industry that tell us what our sex life should or could be if only we do what they do…

Like super models.  All of us.  That is what that industry tells us.

You’d better…or else.

Never mind that they spend hours fixing up those sex scenes in the pictures and then doctoring images to erase any leftover blemishes.  The current of the media’s message in this industry is very strong.  And, many of us, especially at this impressionable age of being sexual creatures tend to get swept along.

We get swept along and are told that we have to

Look like this.

Wear that.

Have this.

Buy that.

Do it this way.

Or…

You won’t have that.  That group of friends.  That job.  That boyfriend or mate.  That sex life.

If you don’t do all of these things and look like all of this then you will be…

Alone.

Get it right before you dare to get close to anyone…or you’ve lost before you even get started.  You’ll lose him, or her, or them.

When we lived in Prague we would frequent the market just down from our apartment…potraviny’s they are called and are found on many street corners.  One of our cheap indulgences that we could get at the potraviny was a frozen pizza.  When we were tired and needed an easy meal that all of us could enjoy we would run down the stairs to the street, into the potraviny, and then back up to pop in a frozen pizza.

European pizzas are different than most American versions.  They are very thin and crispy.

However, we found one pizza option that could help us connect to our roots.  It was ONE frozen pizza that was not thin and crispy.  It was HUGE in comparison to the others.

And…it was called…THE BIG AMERICAN.

We actually preferred the thin and crispy pizzas, but this name…all typed out in English…cracked us up.

We are known for liking things big…figuratively and literally.  We want the BIG fashion, the BIG look, the BIG house, the BIG sex life.

No moderation for us…no sir.  We want it BIG.  And, it has not gone unnoticed by our world neighbors.

But, it seems that for how BIG we demand it to be…for how much debt we go into trying to achieve it…debt monetarily, debt emotionally, debt relationally, debt physically…so often this pursuit of what is the latest, BIGGEST thing…

…leaves us empty…full of air…wanting more…still alone…

…and of little consequence in our personal worlds.

Jonathan Stone reminded me that media is just the plural form of medium.  Saul made a fatal mistake in his reign.  He trusted in the wisdom, advice, and direction of a medium (also known as a witch) over the wisdom, advice, and direction of the Lord.

What is a “medium”?  It is someone who is supposedly the medium between you and knowledge.  The “go-between”.

But, all knowledge comes from God and the fear of the Lord…and what is BIG to HIM…is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7).  We don’t need a “medium”.  We can go straight to Him.

Saul died as a crazy, lonely, ridiculed man.

I am afraid too often we spin our wheels listening and paying more attention to the mediums (media) in our lives rather than the wisdom, advice, and direction of God.

I am afraid too often we end up pretty crazy…pretty lonely…pretty ridiculous…

…just trying to keep up with what is BIG…

…from listening to our own mediums…the media.

I have to tell you.  This idea hit me like a sledgehammer the other day.  I am aware of the magazines telling us about what to wear and how to look.  I could get up on a soapbox and use a bullhorn on that issue.  I also know the dangers of pornography telling us how sex should look.  I know about how both of these industries “normalize” a standard that can never be lived up to….a standard that will always leave people feeling overwhelmed with inadequacy and hopelessness.

I know that these feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy so often lead people to consume these forms of media MORE.  It becomes a cycle where people never feel good enough…and so they isolate…because they think, like these forms of media tell them: “You just aren’t perfect enough to really be close to someone yet.  You just don’t have it altogether enough yet.  Keep trying.”

What hit me is that I have bought into it, too.

It may not be my clothes or my hair.  I may not watch pornography, but in a sense it is all the same.

Anytime I look to forms of media to tell me what or how I should be or act I have looked elsewhere for knowledge and guidance.

I have bought into the lie.

So, I say…when my house looks this way I can have more people over.

Anytime I look to another “model” from the media for ANY part of life I am risking feeling inadequate, hopeless…and, as a result, isolated.

I’m going to get even more personal here for a minute.

Facebook is another form of media.

And, too often women (and men) look to it for knowledge.

For all of the things that we are supposed to look like.  All of the things we are supposed to be.

Like super models.  All of us.  That is what Facebook tells us.

You’d better…or else.

Never mind that they spend hours fixing up those picture or statuses that get posted and then doctor the images and thoughts to erase any left over blemishes.  The current of this media’s message is very strong.  And, many of us tend to get swept along.

Be this.  Or…  you won’t have that.  That group of friends.  That job.  That boyfriend or spouse.  That life.

Any time we look to a “model” other than the one that God gives us we are like Saul, seeking the knowledge of a medium rather than the wisdom of the Lord.  We are continuing to act out the way of Adam and Eve…listening to the words of darkness rather than trusting in Light.

The only super “model” is His model…not the models lifted up for us in magazines on fashion, home living, or pornography…and certainly not the models lifted up on Facebook.

Fashion super models and tabloids tell girls and young women that if they don’t look a certain way, they aren’t real or beautiful girls and they will never be good enough for a relationship.

Too often home living magazines send the message that if your home does not look like “this” you are not good enough in all sorts of ways and should not even think about pursuing providing hospitality.

Pornography tells men (and women) that if you do not have sex this way, your relationship is not good enough and it isn’t real or exciting enough.  Sadly, it tells wives (and husbands about their wives)…if you don’t look like this, like sex this way, or do things like this…you aren’t a real woman…and we don’t have a real sex life.

For a country that values independence we sure are dependent.  We depend on what the media tells us we should be, have, and look like.

I’m ready for freedom (Galations 5:1).  I’m ready to really try out independence and to really start thinking for myself.

So, please be aware of the magazines your daughters and sons see at the checkout.

Be aware of the magazines you yourself are reading…the facebooking you are doing…the TV you are watching.  The media you consume that tells you what is “normal”.

Don’t be such a follower…of all these so-called “super” models.

Get rid of the “go-between”…the “medium”…the media.

Think for yourself.  And, go straight to Him.