Hot or Not.

hot or not

This will make total sense later on…I refuse to believe I was the only one.

We constantly hear messages about protecting the planet and bettering the world we live in. We see campaigns started to improve the oceans or clean up waste. But what are we doing to stop social pollution? What are we doing to protect our minds from being drowned in seas of unrealistic body images, unhealthy relationship goals, and meaningless status symbols? How do we cleanup the mess created by the comparison game; played for years with just highlight reels flashing before us on social media? How do we break the cycle? How do we decide to start taking a stand for more than just our physical environment? Our planet has a problem with pollution, but in 2019 I think we need to focus on some of these issues while we are in the cleaning mood. Netflix devotes an entire series to de-cluttering our lives… perhaps we should Marie Kondo our social media lives! I’m not talking about those people who take fake breaks and make their dramatic debut back to Facebook publicly and hope all 347 of their friends like it. Their best friends will of course comment or at least comment with a funny gif. Come on we all have those on our feed;  if you don’t, it might be you. Hey, listen, it’s okay! This is why we are here…this is kind of like an intervention. Maybe this applies to you, maybe this applies to half of your Facebook friends…either way, let’s discuss this and see if we can find a way to get through it and move forward. Let’s do it for the children…don’t EVEN get me started on kids and social media! People we have to get ourselves straight on this issue so that we can be a better example for them. They are in serious trouble if we don’t. Anyway, back to us and our own sketchy online behavior…

Ladies, this one is for y’all. Please, and I say this with love but like a mama’s love that has some heat behind it, PLEASE for the love of everything holy and good, STOP taking and posting provocative selfies that sell yourselves short. Now listen to this carefully as I lay this out in black and white. Guys are visual creatures and not all of them are good and honest. In fact, some just plain weren’t raised right. Flat out. You can’t fix that no matter how pretty you are, and no matter how much you wish you could. I don’t mean little things like asking a normal guy to be more of a gentleman if he’s a little rusty on his manners…I’m saying some guys just have no clue how to be a man. However, ALL guys (even a gentleman in the right time and place) like boobs. (Sorry there’s no other nice way to say it) If you take pictures of yourself lying on your bed with a mass of cleavage hanging out of your shirt, guys will like it. That really shouldn’t come as any surprise to you. Guess what, if you took pictures of yourself washing a hot rod in a white t-shirt and booty shorts, those same guys would like those pics too. Ladies, this should not feel like some major accomplishment to you…or positive attention. Take a look at their Facebook pages, are they even guys you want attention from in the first place? I’d wager that their friends list is 99% female selfie profile pics.

Moment of hand to heart honest truth…embarrassing past disclaimer, but I hope it helps at least one of y’all stop doing this.

Do y’all remember back when Hot or Not .com came out? Perhaps y’all weren’t young, naïve, and downright stupid like me… For those of you that don’t know, Hot or Not was an online rating site where you uploaded your picture and stats and random users rated your attractiveness on a scale of 0-10. There was a meet up feature that allowed you to start online chatting with other profiles that rated your appearance. The ultimate nail in the coffin was the Hotlists…an added premium feature where they would send you a list of people who made your list. Y’all, this ruled my life for a solid year! For those that have read my other stuff, you know I have a history of unhealthy control behaviors like food relationships, cutting, extremism, etc.. At this point in my life I was a complete wreck…I was single, out of a very abusive relationship, and searching for something to make me feel whole again. I lived with my friend’s parents trying to get back on my feet after that debacle. I had nothing but debt to my name. I couldn’t afford to go out, and honestly I had spent the past two years hearing every single thing that was wrong with me. I had less than zero confidence. That computer and dial-up internet was my only lifeline. I found Hot or Not and I honestly don’t even remember what picture I put up there first, but I remember that my score was a 2.7! Y’all a 2.7. I was devastated. That moment confirmed everything I believed about myself. Everything he had said. I took down my profile and pretended like it never happened. I retreated into my shell. Then one day I got curious again because everyone was doing it…I found a more recent picture and tried again. I got immediate hits and scored in the 7 range…I was on a high. So many ratings and my score was moving up. That was it, I was obsessed. I lived and breathed for that number. I ran every day. I went to the gym every day. I skipped meals. I checked that number like my life depended on it. My mood went up and down with that number. The outcome of my day was determined by that number. My self-worth was definitely defined by that number. I went crazy posting more provocative pictures to get a higher rating. Nothing crazy (it was 2001 after all), I just realized that a little tummy skin and a shorter skirt gained extra points…so that’s what I would wear. I’m serious y’all, my entire thought process revolved around that number. If I was going out, I’d wear an outfit that got me the highest score online because that’s what was obviously the cutest. I no longer had my own thoughts or feelings about myself outside of that rating. Then I upgraded to premium and all hell broke loose. Now I had a bunch of random guys telling me what they thought about me based solely on my appearance, as if they knew me personally. Sound familiar to anyone? They didn’t know me, they knew what I looked like…they knew only what I wanted them to see to get the best possible rating. They also were playing the same game because they were hoping to meet up. Now what exactly do you suppose they were hoping to gain from a meet up? I was lonely, I was looking for someone to understand me and want to be with me. Does that sound like what they were doing on a site like Hot or Not? So I spent many a night feeling like I poured my heart out to guy after guy only to be disappointed when I found out that he thought he was wasting his time chatting if he wasn’t going to get anywhere with me. Heartbroken and lonely still, wondering what was so wrong with me that no one wanted to be with me. Ladies, it wasn’t me! I was looking for a man in a room full of guys! I was putting out stink bait and being surprised when I kept catching bottom feeders. Come on now! I was worth so much more than that and so are you. I was so addicted to this negative attention, that at one point my rating was up to a 9.8 and I had a boyfriend…his roommates found my profile while I was over there one night hanging out and I refused to delete it for him because I didn’t want to lose that high rating. I actually argued that he should be pleased that his girlfriend was a 9.8. Gross. Y’all, I cannot believe that at one point in my life I was this wrapped up in what total strangers thought about my appearance. I guess this is why I feel so strongly about it now. It almost destroyed me from the inside out. When I see y’all doing this on social media now it guts me because I know how you feel, but I also know that it doesn’t really feel good. You are giving away your power every time you let someone else tell you your worth.

I’m not going to pretend like the climb out of this pit isn’t dark and lonely…it is. You’ll have to decide for yourselves that being alone for a while is better than having the wrong kind of attention from the wrong kind of people. You’ll have to decide that you are better company than giving yourself away to people who don’t deserve or appreciate you. I started by making a list of all the things I wanted to look for in another person…the non-negotiables and the “wouldn’t it be nice ifs”. Whenever I would get lonely, or be tempted to get online and put myself out there, I’d go to my list instead. I’d think of all the times I had been let down by doing that before and why and then I would write. Y’all sometimes my list was pretty pathetic because I realized how low my standards had become recently. At one point in time I had on my list 1. Has a job 2. Has a valid driver’s license. Y’all I was in my 20’s!! That’s one step up from has a pulse! As my confidence grew, and as I spent more time working on my list and rereading how sad some of the things on my list actually were, I realized that I should be reaching a little higher. I started putting better things on my list, and reaching a little higher. I’ll tell you right now that once you write things down they become serious. I started moving things from the “wouldn’t it be nice if” column to the “non-negotiable” column and I started writing my list with a pen. Telling this now is so funny to me because this was such a dark time in my life. I literally thought no one could ever value me, or really want me again. I only saw myself as what I could give to try to make them see me. Years of self-doubt imploding and self destruction. Thankfully I had a couple of great friends…when I say couple, I mean that quite literally, as in 2. I had a few others that were still in the periphery, but at that stage in my life I had 2 by my side. That isn’t the important part, in the end they couldn’t do this for me. They couldn’t love me enough to make me see the truth. Only I could fix this and stop what I was doing to myself. I had to see the truth and accept it. You might be surrounded by love and support. You might feel utterly alone. Either way, you still have to love yourself enough to see the truth and accept yourself. This attention is fleeting and is never going to make you feel whole. You are never going to have a meaningful relationship until you get yourself right. Know your worth and your value. Know what you want and what you deserve. Expect nothing less.

Do all of this and when you least expect it, the rest will fall into place. Trust me, stop putting the wrong content out there and I’ll bet you’ll attract more of what you really want. It might not happen right away, or even on your timeline…but you’ll be ok with that because you’ll be busy working on your list anyway. Girls my epiphany finally came one night when I actually thought I was in a good healthy place. I was out on a date with a guy I had been seeing for a while. I really thought he was great, such a gentleman but still had some red flags. He just wasn’t really emotionally invested…so I was cautious but optimistic. He was a busy guy and I tried to respect that, but we had been dating for four months and he would disappear for days at a time. I thought that was odd behavior after four months. After one date, he disappeared for 4 days and I called to see if we had plans the following weekend…otherwise I was going to make plans without him. Do you know what he said to me?! He said, “I just think you like me more than I like you.” Epiphany! My response? “Uh, nope sorry that I gave you that impression.” Click. I never called him again. I never took a single one of his MANY phone calls after that again. And I never gave another guy the opportunity to think that he was being pursued. Ladies, you are worth pursuing! I was worth pursuing! When I wasn’t busy pursuing the wrong stupid boy, I was able to meet a man who valued me and saw me right away. In fact, he made a beeline for me at the door and hasn’t stopped pursuing me since. Trust that you are worth the effort. Not because you showed some cleavage. Not because you made some suggestive remark on Facebook. Not because you’re willing to jump into something physical right away. You, you are worth pursuing.

So, just so you all know I’ve heard it all in my illustrious Hot or Not days. I had promises from entertainment execs, modeling agents, Hollywood scouts, (personal favorite) the grieving widow, single dads who hadn’t dated in years, personal sob stories of every sort…Girl, they are ALL LIES!!! You are special, I know you are special. You just aren’t special to him, and he sure as hell isn’t anything special. So stop buying his lies. I know you want so badly for just once it to be easy and for it to be true…but trust me, the truth with someone real is so much better than the lie anyway.

I challenge you to go to your social media accounts and do some housecleaning. Delete the pictures that aren’t just you being you. Be honest ladies…none of us lie around in cleavage shirts taking pics of ourselves by accident. On the flip side, if this applies to your social media friends, let’s encourage them by loving them for all of the good things we see in them other than their appearance. Obviously they need to hear more of that from positive sources so they stop seeking it from the wrong places. Lastly, if you are a guy reading this…look up the true definition of a man and strive for that at all times. The world really needs more men. If you are a man reading this, then I know that you probably know exactly what I’m talking about because these are the exact guys that make your blood boil also. Just like every woman isn’t a lady…not every guy is a man.

I do think we all have a huge responsibility to clean up our acts as adults on social media because our kids are watching what we do. The second we make this behavior acceptable, we are telling them that this is how they should be determining their worth. With the alarming increase in cyber bullying and suicide rates, can we really be this careless? How you are received online absolutely, 1000% does NOT determine your worth! If you post a picture, and how it is received positively or negatively impacts your day, you need to stop posting pictures immediately. If looking at other people’s pictures elicits negative feelings in you, then you should stop looking at people’s pictures immediately. Stop playing the comparison game…stop comparing your failures against their highlight reel. Just stop! Take care of you however you need to take care of you. Clean house, or move out completely…but stop the cycle now.

I do share this with love because I’ve been on both sides. I know the pain and loneliness, which is why my heart breaks when I see it now in others; even before they might see it in themselves. Please accept this challenge without judgment. I’m trying to raise daughters who know their value, to become women who trust who they are and their worth expecting nothing less from a partner. I’m raising a son to be a man, not a guy who is easily distracted by selfies and empty promises. I want him to pursue a lady of value because she knows that she is worth his efforts…and even if she forgets, he will be man enough to remind her.  First we have to be willing to set the example that we expect them to follow. I love y’all and hope you know you are worth it.


My Testimony

Like most people, my testimony has changed over the years…many times.  Now at 40, I watch others sing praise songs with such fervor, and I often wonder if they have any way of really knowing what they are singing about.  I don’t mean that from a seat of judgment, more from a perspective of my own experience…how I thought, once upon a time, I knew that kind of faith.  That kind of faith, is not a gift that is just given to you, it is learned through tests and trials.

If you had asked the 15-year-old version of me for my testimony, you would have heard something like this…

I grew up in church, always knowing who God was and in church every time the doors were open.  My Mom was the church secretary and my Dad served as close to a Deacon as he could come (since my Mom was previously married).  We are Southern Baptists to the core…Ice Cream socials with homemade ice cream on the church grounds, no dancing, lunch after church on Sundays before choir practice but before Sunday night prayer meeting…Church on Wednesday night…you get the idea.  I could quote the Bible, I lead Bible studies, I went to church camps and I had been baptised when I was 6 years old after praying with the Pastor.  This was what I wanted everyone to see…while the real me was dying inside.  My home life was a wreck.  I had no control over that side of things, so I started locking myself in the bathroom at night with little things at first, like paperclips or sharp tweezers.  That first scratch was so freeing.  I could finally control something that was hurting me.  The more other things spiraled out of control, the deeper I scratched…until they really weren’t scratches anymore.  I started finding sharp metal nails, broken plastic, staples…I convinced myself that these were still “safe” everyday objects that didn’t seem “crazy”.  No one would find this weird.  I think I was 11 years old the first time I left a mark on my arm.  I was much younger when I started scratching at my legs.  At that age, I had no idea that this was an actual thing.  I had never heard of “cutting” or that there were other people out there dealing with these same feelings.  I honestly believed that I had invented this personal hell for myself.  I thought I was alone.  Once I had reached the point of drawing blood with the “safe” objects up and down both arms, and had not worn a short-sleeved shirt in months, I moved on to scissors and broken mirror pieces.  Part of me desperately wanted someone to catch a glimpse of the marks and at other times, having this secret with me was power when my world was chaos.  I could just touch my arms and the world somehow lost control over me because I knew what I was doing in that bathroom.  I wasn’t suicidal, I was self-destructive.  There is a difference.  I needed help, that is clear, but a different kind of help than someone who wants out.  I wanted back in.  I wanted to have my world put back together.  I needed the adults in my world to stop being in their world long enough to see my heartache.

But then, I went to one more camp and a new message spoke to me about faith.  The speaker asked us if we were living our own faith or simply repeating the religion we had been taught by our parents.  In that moment, I realized that I knew all of the right church answers, I had the attendance record, but I didn’t have the faith that He was with me and loved me through it all.  I needed Jesus!  I went up to the cross they had on stage and I put it all down…my home, my life, my cuts.  I learned to pray during those dark times instead of hurting myself.  Satan truly does come to steal, kill, and destroy and that was exactly what was happening in my life before Jesus.  So, at 15 years old, I thought this was an amazing testimony of strength and overcoming adversity.  I had moved beyond something in my past that traps so many without a voice.  Unfortunately, a lot of cutters become suicidal and will eventually take their own lives if they never receive help.  I never publicly gave my testimony, but I certainly learned to recognize some of the early warning signs and tried to be more sensitive to those in need of help.  I became more active in my youth group and became a leader of small groups and bible studies.

But God wasn’t finished with my story…

To Be Continued…

Are you serious???

Seriously???   I find myself asking this rhetorical question sometimes to myself, sometimes out loud in general and most commonly of those around me.  Like… Seriously?  You can’t spell school, yet are allowed to homeschool your child.  Seriously? You don’t want to work but want everything handed to you.  Seriously?  You think your child who bullies everyone at school has a heart for God and a future in missions.  Seriously?  Skinny jeans are an adjective not an adverb…you must be skinny BEFORE you put the jeans on; the jeans do NOT magically make you skinny by wearing them.  Seriously, whatever happened to manners?  Two things I see missing from these equations… Brains and manners. That is the conclusion I have come to in response to my own question. Although I might think these things all day every day, I would never dream of saying them out loud…unsolicited anyway.  Now that is not to say that my face does not betray me at times…but the point is that I try.  Here’s a good point…etiquette is knowing not to put your elbows on the dinner table while manners is not pointing it out in front of everyone when your neighbor is practically napping across the dinner table.  I am a southern girl who was raised to have good manners and as much etiquette as my mom could squeeze in in the brief 20 years I was blessed with her in my life…the rest I have had to pick up on my own.  Still, I find daily head shaking examples of mannerless people in the world.  Where did these folks come from?  They didn’t grow up around my Momma because I’m pretty sure she would’ve set them straight…manners only says that you don’t call people out in public, nothing says that you don’t “gently” inform them of the error of their ways.  My Momma liked to call it a “Comin’ to Jesus meetin'”.  You only had those for extreme offenses,but I think some of these school bullies I’ve had to deal with would’ve had an engraved invitation for sure!  Anyway, I hope that we can find a way to get back to some serious manners in our homes before it’s too late.  The rest of the battle involves common sense and integrity among other things…like modesty, can we talk about modesty for second??  My husband and I just got home from Las Vegas recently and since we don’t consider ourselves old, we were out hitting the local hot DJ scenes.  My eyes will never be the same as I am now scarred by the sites of total fashion massacre I was subjected to every night.  OK, seriously?!?  Let me just be the one to tell you (since your friends obviously don’t love you enough to) you probably don’t have the body for that dress, it’s ok; very few people actually do have a body worthy of spandex.  If you wear the spandex dress, you might want to consider full body spanx and for sure forego drinking so that you can concentrate on stomach control exercises and full dress control to avoid any embarrassing wardrobe malfunctions.  If you aren’t this committed to wearing the dress, please opt for a different outfit.  Girls please hear me when I say:  THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING SEXY ABOUT A TUMMY PONCH (food baby), in an ill fitting dress with parts of your body hanging out that shouldn’t be wearing it and you so uncomfortable that you can’t stop yanking on the dress.  Modest and classy is actually the most sexy of all.  A girl that gets along with his family and is confident is sexy.  A girl that he thinks about and has to wonder what she is like IS sexy.  I can tell you right now…the girls we saw out in those clubs in Vegas, no one had to wonder what they had, we ALL saw everything they had!  It wasn’t sexy, it was just gross and pathetic.  The guys weren’t flocking around them.  For the first time ever in Vegas, I couldn’t differentiate the clubbing girls from the “working” girls.  SAD!!!  Having a teenage son (and daughter for that matter) in this world is terrifying!  Seriously???   Pull it together people, have some self-respect and for crying out loud PLEASE teach your children what that even means anymore!!!  Thank you that is all. Seriously though, why should this even have to be a conversation?