You’re Not Enough and That’s Okay

“If your self is the problem, how can your self also be the solution?”

Allie Beth Stuckey is a podcaster who speaks mostly to Millennial and Gen-Z aged women from a reformed Baptist perspective. She wrote this book to counteract the essentially Gnostic messages that are constantly being sent from all quarters to this demographic.

When Allie became a mom, it became obvious to her that young moms struggle with feeling inadequate as mothers and as people. There are a lot of reasons for this. One is that in our culture, motherhood is denigrated as a calling. Simply being a mother is not considered enough to make you an interesting, capable, intelligent person. Mothers are criticized no matter what they do. Another reason is that they are, in fact, inadequate. No one is really adequate to care for small children well while also maintaining a good relationship with a husband, and this problem is made worse by the fact that young women rarely receive any training in the domestic arts. Finally, we tend to feel overwhelmed when we are hormonal and sleep-deprived.

In response to this, a cottage industry has arisen that exists to affirm moms as follows: You are already doing great! This message comes from both secular and Christian sources. (Nominally Christian, though of course their theology leaves something to be desired.) Obviously, it’s a good business model to tell people they are already doing great. People like to hear that, and when the dopamine hit from the message inevitably wears off in the face of reality, they will come back for more, sometimes several times a day.

Allie uses her own experiences (being a mom, before that struggling with bulemia, and talking with hundreds of women) to apply some good Reformed theology to the following five myths. (She calls them myths, which is sort of polite. I would call them lies.)

  • “You Are Enough”
  • “You Determine Your Truth”
  • “You’re Pefect the Way You Are”
  • “You’re Entitled to Your Dreams”
  • “You Can’t Love Others Until You Love Yourself”

Obviously, these lies are not directed only at young women in our culture, and it’s not only young women that they are damaging.

Allie systematically shows how each of these creedal statements promises comfort and power, but ultimately, if we buy into it and try to implement it, delivers despair. She does so in her signature kind, personable way that is perfectly suited to her target audience. She quotes pertinent passages of Scripture (of which there are many) and shows us how the belief that we are enough in ourselves will trap us in an endless cycle of self-improvement and prevent us from turning to the one who is enough and who has the power to save and transform us, namely Christ.

Quote about something scary: Adolescence

Adolescence is a time of expanding spirituality; parents must never underestimate its authenticity or its intensity. But adolescent spirituality is not wise, it is not well formed, it is not mature. We accept the witness of our adolescents to the emphatic presence and necessity of spirituality at the center of our lives, but we do not to look to adolescents to guide us in matters of spirituality. It is essential to distinguish between the two elements. We are completely attentive to the witness of their lives; but we are detached and discerning regarding whatever they have to say on the matter. Like the canary to the miners, they are a signal that we notice, not a model that we imitate.

Like Dew Your Youth: Growing Up with Your Teenager, by Eugene H. Peterson, p. 89

Quote: Overheard During Labor

As the next contraction starts building, I grip onto Kate again. I’m starting to feel overwhelmed by wave after wave of pain, each one getting bigger and longer and stronger.

An eternity passes, then [labor nurse] Ann comes in again, this time accompanied by a male student midwife.

“Hmm. Still only four centimeters dilated,” she says to the student after examining me. “Minimal progress. Of course, there’s a much greater risk of a long and difficult labor with older ladies. The muscles of the womb don’t work so well.”

“Is everyone deliberately trying to undermine me?” I shout. “Has anybody got any positive words of encouragement here?”

“You’re doing a great job,” Ann says, unsmilingly.

The Cactus, by Sarah Haywood, p. 361

No More Links on Wednesday

(most of the time)

Hi everyone! Welcome back to Out of Babel! My particular off-the-grid August brought a lot of changes: I’m starting a new job.

This new calling is one that should blend well with my other job of being a (still partly home schooling) mom and all-around housekeeper. I’m not sure what impact it’s going to have on blogging, since blogging is down on the priority list, below momming, Christianing, and supposedly below novel writing.

I’m well on my way to having posts scheduled for September and October, so that will be taken care of at least for a few months while I learn the ropes at New Job and how to integrate that with taking care of Old Jobs. There’s just one exception … I don’t have links lined up for Wednesdays.

Heretofore, I have posted a link on Wednesday. Usually they have to do with archaeology, but sometimes it’s psychology, theology, or humor. Well, no more. Something has to give, and this it. I might still throw you guys a bonus Wednesday link if I stumble upon one, but for the most part, all you’re going to get is regional or art pics on Monday, quotes on Thursday, and rants/writing updates/book reviews on Friday.

I’ll still check Out of Babel and respond to comments, and I still demand that you guys go out and buy my books. That’s it for now! Love you all … bye!

This Made Me Laugh

Babylon Bee: “Time-traveling Mayan priest horrified by American’s abortion numbers

I guess I have a dark sense of humor.

And an interest in the Mayans.

For one thing, I like the guy’s name: High Priest Ahua Ch’Aooah. You have to raise your eyebrows and increase your volume slightly on the Ch‘A-ooah part.

Secondly, I love it that he immediately understands the NARAL employees’ explanation that “baby killing helped them amass lots of gold and that fewer babies on the planet would help stop the weather from getting worse.” I guess the more that child-sacrificing pagan rites change, the more they stay the same.

Galaxy Rabbit

Hi all! Sorry, I do not have an essay, book review, or rant for you today, as I usually do on Fridays. The school year is ending, the plants are growing, and my book, The Great Snake, is launching on Monday (which is also Memorial Day … and no, I didn’t do that on purpose).

Tomorrow, my friend Teal Veyre will be hosting a launch party for The Great Snake at 3 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on her discord server, The Writer’s Block. If you wish to join The Writer’s Block (even just for the duration of the party), follow this link: https://discord.gg/Tq6Q2c8b

The “party” will be voice only, and you must bring your own snacks of course. You will have to endure ten minutes of me reading from The Great Snake, but if you can hang in there through that and the trivia game, there will be prizes.

In the meantime, please enjoy this painting by a talented young artist to whom I have given birth. It is called “Galaxy Rabbit,” and there is a whole series of galaxy rabbits planned. The rabbit is large enough to eat the planets that he is floating near.

My Boring Analysis of Encanto

I call this boring because I am one of those boring people who has to analyze every dam’ movie she watches. I mean it: I have to. My mind has not processed a movie until I’ve articulated to someone exactly what I think was going on in it. I don’t know why I am this way. I think it’s biological. I’m sorry if it drives you crazy. If it drives you crazy, don’t read this post.

But first, my new favorite YouTuber

Not too long ago, I discovered podcaster A.D. Robles. His videos are really enjoyable because they’re short and he has a masculine, streetwise, no-nonsense way of calling out what he calls “Big Eva” (short for evangelicalism) for compromise, heresy, firing on their own troops, etc.

A.D. is no-nonsense, that is, except when he puts on shades and tries to be “Smooth A.D.” He can never sustain it, though.

I happened to listen to A.D.’s reaction to Encanto before I saw the movie myself. It was fun to hear him notice how the movie handled Latin culture, as he is Puerto-Rican-American. Anyway, his video was primarily about how some Big Eva pastors or writers had, predictably, said that Bruno is a type of Christ. Consider: Bruno tells truths that people don’t want to hear, and he is ostracized for it. A.D.’s assessment of this theological point was summed up by the video’s title: “This Is So Stupid.” You cannot just call someone a Christ figure, he points out, just because they have one or two things in common with Christ. He’s not wrong. I’ve heard that people tried to draw parallels to Christ from Edward in Twilight, and if that’s not blasphemous I don’t know what is.

Anyway, go find A.D. on YouTube if you want to be entertained for a few minutes by his take on Encanto. But I finally watched it, and here is mine.

Family Relationships: A-

With A.D., I think Encanto was a pretty good movie. Where it really shone, of course, was the portrayal of the relationships in a family that is loving but also kind of dysfunctional (and aren’t they all?). It showed, for example, how people can get locked in to perceived roles in the family that aren’t 100% accurate. (Abuela blaming Mirabel for everything that goes wrong, and Mirabel even accepting this perception of herself for a while.) It showed how one sibling or cousin can think that the other has it all, but have no idea what they are secretly dealing with (as Mirabel finds out for both Isabel and Luisa). The symbolism of the house itself literally shaking and falling apart captured the emotional feel really well. I especially appreciated the scene at what was supposed to be Isabel’s engagement dinner. The tension, the anticipation that some family members were feeling, the desire of everyone to keep Abuela happy, and meanwhile a terrible secret was spreading like wildfire from one family member to another, and literally causing the floor to crack … if you have lived in a family, I guarantee you have sat through at least one dinner like that. I think this is what makes “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” such a perfect song. Just the phrase “we don’t talk about,” captures exactly what it’s like to be in a family.

Gospel Parallels: C

I am not quite as contemptuous as A.D. over the attempt to make a Christ figure out of Bruno. But actually, I think Bruno has more in common with John the Baptist. He speaks truths that people don’t like, yes, but he doesn’t see everything or have all the answers. He is in exile, just as John the Baptist lived out in the wilderness, and he even looks a little bit like him. But, most importantly, his role in the story is to point to the Chosen One, the one who is going to change everything.

And that one … is Mirabel. C’mon, guys, this is a Disney movie! If it has a Christ figure, odds are that person is going to be the teenaged female main character.

So, in this movie, Mirabel is Jesus. She is “despised and rejected.” Just as Jesus did, she seems ordinary … in fact, she is more ordinary than her family members. She takes the blame for the fact that the house is falling apart, when in fact it is falling apart because of the family’s collective sins and refusal to face the truth. She pursues the truth at all costs. She “ruins everything,” but ends up fixing it. In fact, you could even draw a parallel between the way Mirabel becomes the catalyst for the magical house being destroyed, only to be restored in a better form, and the way Jesus came to destroy the old Temple system and build a new and better “temple,” which was first His body, and then His church. “Destroy this temple, and I will build it again in three days. But the temple he had spoken of was His body.”

O.K., so Mirabel is a Christ figure. Why, then, the C minus? Because Mirabel is the Christ figure. In a Disney movie, the princess (or young female lead) is supposed to be the one the viewer identifies with. Therefore, in this movie, the message is “You are your own savior.” This is really brought out in the “moment of epiphany” scene, where Mirabel looks into the medallion inherited from her grandfather.

“What do you see?” they ask her.

And she answers, in a tone of wonder, “I see … me.

Voila! The answer is … herself! This is supposed to be a profound moment. Instead, it’s profoundly disappointing.

Mirabel, you see, is not divine. She does not see all, know all, or have the power to fix all. She spends the movie, in fact, looking for answers, for a solution. In so doing, she becomes the catalyst for the solution, and I would have been fine with that, but not with her being the solution herself.

If I had spent weeks looking for wisdom, for answers, for help, and all that my mystical search led me to was a mirror, I would be … well. Not filled with wonder. I’d be dismayed. Frightened, because I know that I’m not up to the task. I would realize that the mystical person who had “revealed” to me that I was the answer had led me astray. “Is that it?” I’d be angry.

Now, when you are young and don’t know yourself quite as well, you might not have this clear a reaction. You might feel flattered, but also have quiet, nagging doubts. Don’t listen to the flattery, please, and do listen to the quiet nagging doubts. Let them grow into a healthy realistic fear so that you can go on seeking Someone who is actually up to handling the situation, because believe me, you can’t. There really is a Savior, but don’t let Disney tell you that you’re it.

Ahem.

Pardon me, I didn’t mean to get so carried away. I guess it’s like I told you … it’s biological.