Tag Archive: image


The headline to this blog post might not make much of a statement to you, but to me it’s been something that has nagged at me for a while now. So what better way to process it than to pour it all into a blog and throw it into cyber space to see what the internet thinks.

IMG_7616A while ago I was given a beautiful cross pendant, one that sparkles when the sun hits it and looks far nicer and more feminine than my usual jewelry choices. I wore it for months with pride, not just because it was beautiful, and not just because it was a gift from a dear friend, but because it was also a symbol of a part of myself I didn’t tend to share very much. My faith. Of course I live my faith every day, and try to be a good person, and of course I have accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. And yes, I go to bible study, and all that. But for a while now I’ve really grimaced at the thought of admitting out loud that I am a Christian. Not because I’m ashamed of my faith, goodness no. Rather I’m reluctant to call myself a Christian because I see what some people who profess to be of the same faith as me do to those who disagree with them.IMG_7613

So a while ago I switched out this beautiful cross pendant for a different one, a heart with the American Flag engraved across it. It’s a symbol of something else I believe strongly in – this country – and it’s something I wear proudly every day, whether people know what it means or not.

And I’m not alone in my thinking. I’ve read many blog posts and opinion pieces from other Christians who go to great pains to point out they’re not like ‘those’ people, the angry Christians. The ones who want to pass legislation to say that being gay is a sin and that marriage equality is an abomination. The ones who think that discrimination isn’t discrimination if it’s wrapped up in some belief system that is protected by the constitution. Well, I hate to say it, but hate is hate. And from the Messiah himself who said:

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. (John 13:34, New American Standard Bible)

it makes me wonder what these angry Christians are thinking. Because the love and grace and kindness Jesus spoke of was not conditional to whether you are gay or not. His message was one of hope and salvation, not tearing down another person whether they are good or not just because you personally don’t believe in their ‘lifestyle choices’. Which, for the record, is no more a choice than me ‘choosing’ to have green eyes. But we can argue that until we are blue in the face and the angry Christians will still choose to tell me I’m wrong. Whatever. To them I say this: I would rather be wrong, and live my life treating other people with love and respect, seeing them as the beautiful people God made them to be, and be wrong, than seeing them the way you do and spending my life hating them, condemning them, judging them, or whatever else I am expected to do as a follower of Christ. My judgement will come, and you will not be there with me to hold my hand, or vouch for me. Only I will be standing before the Lord being accountable for my actions and my words.

A long time ago I was a part of a church that believed the only way to heaven was with hard work. And boy did I work hard. I bent over backwards to share my faith and its message, and I took part in every aspect of the church environment it was possible to, until my whole social calendar was chock full of everything church, and nothing of anything else. It was exhausting because I never felt as though I was accomplishing anything. The harder I struggled and worked towards all these goals, the more I fell short, and the more I believed my salvation was at stake. I asked questions, and wrestled with the answers because they were all based on this false doctrine that said the only way to get the rewards in heaven were through hard work and many layers of atonement to gain worthiness.

I left, but not before their twisted doctrine had chewed up my insides and distorted everything I thought I knew about God and Jesus and salvation. They also believed the cross pendants I owned were representative of the death, not the resurrection, so confiscated them. In essence, they took everything they could of the faith I brought in with me, and flipped it on its head till what I had left was barely recognizable. They would say “the bible is accurate only as far as it’s translated” but I chose to hang onto this one verse in spite of all that, the one about faith as small as a mustard seed being enough to move mountains. And truly I clung to it. When I left the church I had no friends (because I was now a ‘corruptive influence’), and no social calendar because my whole time with them was living and breathing everything to do with their church. I was adrift, so to speak, in an ocean that was as dark as it was foreign, with nothing on the horizon but more darkness. It was the hardest part of my faith walk because I was truly alone. There were no church friends to lean on because I was now isolated from them, and their doctrine was flawed anyway so what would it have gained me to reach out? Only this mustard seed faith, this tiny grain of hope that Jesus loved me, and that I was worth loving, pushed me on.

IMG_7615When I was in an antique shop in England one day, I saw a beautiful gold pendant. It was a cross, not very big, nor very expensive. But it was beautiful. And I could afford it. In spite of the confused state of my faith, this tiny morsel of a mustard seed gave me the confidence to buy it, and I had it inscribed with “no matter what”, to remind myself every day that, no matter what, Jesus loved me. I wore it for quite a few years, and every time I touched it, my mustard seed of faith was reminded that Jesus did indeed love me. It was a symbol of hope to me, something to draw courage from, and something that symbolized the promise Jesus made to me that – in spite of their best efforts – this church had failed to destroy. It is perhaps the only time as an adult I’ve worn something so symbolic because I’ve needed to, because my brokenness wasn’t brave enough on it’s own, and the gold shaped cross around my neck somehow made everything all right.

Of course, the journey to undoing indoctrination is a long and complicated one, and it is a journey that is still ongoing even today, oh so many years later. But I guess that’s what happens when you invest three years of yourself inside a lie. You’re vulnerable and at risk of falling far more times than you care to count as you work your way back to being strong. I joined another church eventually and enjoyed it for a while. But I’m an opinionated soul, for those who didn’t get the memo, and I never seemed to feel truly comfortable in this new Christian gathering. Perhaps because it’s hard to find people who believe 100% what you do (unless you’re all in a cult – not recommended). Perhaps it’s because hypocrisy drives me crazy and I have this compulsion to call it out when I see it. Or perhaps it’s simply that I don’t trust people who don’t seem to want to trust me.

I’ve grown a lot since those days. I’ve also moved countries and built a life here surrounded by people who want to build me up instead of tear me down. It took a lot to get there, but I made it. And my faith is stronger than it has been in a long time. It’s not where it should be, I know that. But it is bigger than a mustard seed, and for that I’m happy. Of course, that doesn’t mean I can quote bible verses at the drop of a hat because it requires me to know them, but I have no patience or inclination in putting in the effort to do so. Call it a residual of indoctrination. Call it laziness. I just consider it a flaw that google can fix at the drop of a phrase into a search engine. There is also the horror of praying out loud, something I have never liked doing but am more phobic of now because there are so many rules and I don’t remember which ones are the good rules and which ones are the ‘earn your way into heaven’ rules. I also get tongue tied when I’m put on the spot. And I tend to swear. Who am I kidding, I swear even when I’m not put on the spot. But if I’m saying something special to God and a room full of people are listening, it’s most definitely not acceptable to drop an f-bomb or a cuss word into the mix.

Which brings me right back around to my pendant debate.

I look at the entertainment industry I’ve chosen to build my career in, and I see a lot of roles that are not suitable for a Christian to accept. And not just the ones that post ‘contains nudity’ in the breakdown. Now I’m not a prude. Well, yes, I am. But other people are not prudish, and when things are tastefully done, it’s all good. I’m also more than happy if it’s not my character that has to be the nude one, because it’s not something I’m comfortable with. And not just because I don’t look like a Victoria Secret swimwear model. But if it’s important to the story – and I’ve gone on auditions where it is, and have been very excited by the projects – I am supportive. But if I wear a cross, am I already giving more information than I need to the casting directors? I know that you don’t have to be a bully to play one on tv, and I certainly believe that you don’t have to be gay to take on the role of a gay character. But if I wear a cross to an audition, or in my profile pictures online am I revealing more than is true of myself to each of the people making decisions about my career? It does come down to being ‘not like them’, in a sense (thinking of the angry Christians I spoke of earlier), but more than that it’s because I don’t really consider myself a regular Christian either. I support marriage equality. I am pro choice because I can never advocate for something that removes a woman’s autonomy over her own body, no matter how it makes me feel. I don’t quote the bible (I’m prone to paraphrasing with hilarious results), and while I do go to bible study, I don’t go to church. I loathe the church environment, and I am not a fan of the mentality that you are a better Christian than someone else because you DO go to church, especially when it’s only to tick the box marked ‘church’ off on your 101 Ways To Look Like A Good Christian list.

When it comes down to it, I’m the bare bones Christian. I’m the ‘Jesus Loves Me’ Christian, the one who might well still have just a mustard seed of faith when it comes down to it. I read the scripture about being a light unto the world, and loving your neighbor as yourself, but when it comes to most of the other stuff, it’s all about the interpretation. And the person doing the interpreting makes the rules. This is what I mean when I say the residuals of indoctrination linger long after the church has been purged from your system.

But then I look at the world we live in, and I start to question this choice. It may only be a symbol, and it was my anchor for a while when I needed it most, but is wearing a cross not something more important today? Now more than ever?

You don’t need to go too far into the news to read about Christians being kidnapped in the middle east, or the terrible things done to them. You don’t even need to leave the USA to see stories of religious persecution, be it a Jewish student being judged for her faith right here in Los Angeles, or the Anti-Israel sentiment sweeping our universities here and here for example. And that’s a drop in the bucket compared to what’s happening in Europe and the rest of the world.

So is wearing a cross pendant the way to go? Is it more fitting for me to declare my faith and stand up for what I believe in, in the face of opposition or persecution? I’m very lucky to live in a country where we have the freedom to practice (or to not practice) religion, and thus the judgements I am likely to face will be from other Christians. Being ‘not like them’ has served me well because it has opened me up to friendships and conversations I would have been too narrow to consider it I was made any other way. But will it burn more bridges to say I am a follower of Jesus, but not a ‘Christian’ like you read about in the news? Or is this all just a symbolic gesture that means nothing in the grand scheme of things, and rather it is the character of the person we should judge, not the piece of jewelry around their throat?

I await the comments with interest, for I genuinely want to know what people think.

Take care and much love,

AnnieB

My lovely friend Kirsten wrote this amazing and inspiring blog that I read recently, and have reread quite a few times since. It really struck me in so many ways, and I think its raw honesty is quite refreshing, even if the subject matter is a little stinging in its truth.
One of the fun things about the blog as a whole is that I persuaded her to write it, in part because I love her to death, but mostly because we have many wonderful and passionate conversations on the things that inspire us and the things that hold us back. She has an amazing insight, and a really hypnotic excellence in her words that she pours quite wonderfully into her songs. And among our heart-wrenching and awesome conversations we have, we find hope, and optimism, and sometimes even new ways to think on the things that might be holding us back.
I asked her one day if she would ever think about sharing her thoughts with the world, and eventually, I’m proud to say she did. And it is VERY much worth waiting for. 🙂
In the first entry, Kirsten talks about nicknames that plagued her childhood, and perceptions about herself that she learned growing up. The blog is a revelation of her journey into realization of who she really is, that lovely, amazing, inspiring woman we love to death. She’s not the nickname she was called as a child, she’s who she chooses to be.
It’s not easy being a female these days. Maybe it never has been, but I can only speak of my world and my experiences. With air-brushed 15- and 16- year-old girls gracing the cover of every top selling fashion magazine, it’s tough to be a female in society and have a healthy, happy inner- and outer- “sense of self”. That’s right – barely pubescent, fully air-brushed GIRLS are being touted as the image we are meant to aspire to. Furthermore, if guys are constantly seeing the air-brushed and borderline jail bait in the pages of Maxim, Sports Illustrated and GQ, is it a wonder any female feels any measure of confidence wearing a bathing suit at a public beach, a LBD, or, God forbid taking her clothes off in front of a guy she wants to be up close and personal with?? (Guys: re-read that last statement… Good. Now read it again… That’s a BIG CLUE for you as to why your woman takes issue with you having those mags around!)
Kirsten Davies, Musings behind the Music
For me, reading it was also a really powerful lesson about the things we hold dear, and how they may not necessarily be good for us. It inspired me to respond to her with my own observations on life’s harsh lessons, and I share them here for you also.
Its funny what we carry around with us, what insensitive comment that they didn’t really think about after its said that has etched itself into our minds and hearts and pushed us to be, or not to be, the people we are today.
I remember being at school and I was in math class. Now I hate math, can’t understand it for toffee, and can’t wrap my brain around why there is no “why” when they tell you this is how math is. There is no why, apparently, there’s just math. It is. Math.
Now for some reason, while understanding math was like trying to learn a foreign language without the translation, my brothers understood it. They are two and four years younger than me, and teachers often said to me, “why can’t you be more like your brothers”. It stung, it always did, but I sucked it up, said something rude inside, and smiled.
The worst day was when I was about 16 I think it was, trying to master a math module class so that I could take the higher math and go to college to be something brainy. My teacher pretty much had enough of us and she wasn’t the nicest person either. In a fit of fury she said to me, in front of the class “you’re too stupid to teach” and stormed out of the class in disgust.
The boys in the class thought it was hysterical because they had goaded her so much she broke. We all thought she deserved it.
Until I moved here I spent my life like this: whenever I looked in the mirror to try and see the 17 year old, almost anorexic me that I thought I was (per Kirsten’s psychology comment posted below), trying to be the me everyone else wanted, I always heard this hateful teacher’s cutting words “you’re too stupid to teach”.
Surveys taken reveal that the majority of females have either been on or currently are on a diet. Sixty-five percent of American women between the ages of 25 and 45 report having eating disorder behaviors (2008 study). Sad. Actually, pretty pathetic. Are women not THE most amazing creatures on this planet? Strong. Soft. Vision beyond what’s evident. Multi-taskers by design. Adaptable. Co-creators and incubators of life. Helpers and givers by nature. Compassionate. WHY ARE WE SO OBSESSED WITH TAKING UP LESS SPACE ON THIS PLANET?!
Kirsten Davies, Musings behind the Music
I move 5000 miles from everything I knew, and didn’t like, to a country and a place where they said I was and am smart and funny and creative and talented and quirky. Ok so being called quirky is sometimes a compliment, but sometimes I hear it as a character definition on par with “stupid”,” out of control” and “not normal”, or worse “different” in that not-a-compliment tone. Hey, I never said I was perfect.
It took me 3 years to work up the courage to fix the inside of my head, and 2 more to actually do it.
I still hear those words though. She wasn’t the only one to say them, she just did it in a way I never saw coming.
I fight to hold onto the truth. And the truth is I’m pretty nice. I’m also pretty smart, and if I don’t know something I always find a way, or a person, or a workaround (aka ‘cheat’) to get it done. I’m impulsive, intuitive, instinctive, creative, and a whole bunch of other “-ive” words I can’t think of right now.
My favorite part of this whole adventure is that I am now in a country where I can be who I want to be, have a family of friends who want me to be it too, and have the means and the support to seize each moment that comes along. Carpe Diem.
It’s easy to look in the mirror and list everything we don’t like. It’s easy to stand still in the familiar and not want to change. The hardest thing we can do is look in the mirror and choose to fight ourselves and our inner voices to be the person we deserve to be. We all deserve to be awesome, and we all deserve to surround ourselves with people who love us and want us to be the very best version of awesome that we can be.
I’ve often wondered why things happen the way they do, and why I can’t learn all these wonderful lessons when I’m young enough to grow from them; being the age I am today I see how much time I wasted being lost and being tied down and being so frozen in fear and uncertainty that I never got anywhere. God had to take me 5000 miles away from everything I knew to truly open my eyes.
And after all of that, here’s my thought. If you look at all the bumps, stumbles, and scrapes life gives us, it puts value on the things we really want. I know that I want to finish my book. I know that I want to be an actor. I know that I want to be a mom, however God has that happen. After all the rough and tumble and heartache and mean words I’ve been told and am now fighting to ignore, I now truly know what I’m fighting for.
Sometimes I think God tests us. Let me rephrase that… I know that God tests us. He never tests us more than we can handle, says the bible, though sometimes I think that because its a book and therefore doesn’t have feelings and emotions that it totally has no idea how much we can handle. We’re human, and we’re fragile, sensitive, delicate creatures who crave love and affection and comfort and peace. When life gets ugly and complicated it’s hard to remember that God’s right there, walking alongside us as we stumble blindly through our tears willing it to get better. It’s hard to know and hold onto the truth that everything happens for a reason, especially when that ‘everything’ includes cutting comments that write themselves deep into our memories and whisper their nastiness into our ears when we’re most vulnerable. It’s hard to remember that God’s there when the darkness holds us so tight that we can’t remember how to breathe.
When we find that inner strength it’s empowering. It’s as intoxicating as it is terrifying, but it drives us and pushes us forward even when the whispering doubts try and sneak in. I like to believe that those life experiences help us know what we are fighting for and help us stand strong and confident in each new moment. If we know where we’ve been, we know where we want to be, and we know how much we are fighting for.
Whatever happens, whatever life reveals, I know it will be great… even if it takes an unusual path to get you where you want to be. And it’s that path which will fuel your inspiration and which will remind and reinforce what you truly want to fight for.
Whoever you are, and wherever you are, sleep sweet and know that you are loved, for all the wonderfulness that you are, by people who choose not to see your flaws, lest you see theirs too.
love
Annie
%d bloggers like this: