Marriage Doesn’t Require Amnesia. Try Humility.

I read an article this week in the New York Times that you won’t believe unless you see it. The female author (Heather Havrilesky) wrote that marriage requires amnesia in order to forget how much you hate your husband…

Yeah–I’m not kidding.

Here’s an excerpt of her exact words, to give you a more complete understanding of her points.

After 15 years of marriage, you start to see your mate clearly, free of your own projections and misperceptions. This is not necessarily a good thing. When encountering my husband, Bill, in our shared habitat, I sometimes experience him as a tangled hill of dirty laundry. “Who left this here?” I ask myself, and then the laundry gets up to fetch itself a cup of coffee. This is not an illusion; it’s clarity. Until Bill has enough coffee, he lies in a jumble on the couch, listening to the coffee maker, waiting for it to usher him from the land of the undead. He is exactly the same as a heap of laundry: smelly, inert, almost sentient but not quite.

Why Marriage Requires Amnesia, New York Times

That smelly, inert pile of laundry is a lucky guy, isn’t he? He gets to spend the rest of his life with a woman who insults him publicly and justifies her rude musings as simply “clarity” of thought.

And, if you read the whole article, you’ll see it doesn’t get any nicer… Miss Havrilesky doesn’t come around and realize she’s being unfair at best and emotionally abusive at worst. She actually doubles down on the belief that her husband is insufferable, and she proposes that only a certain Marital Memory Loss can make a relationship with him possible.

I see Bill with a scorching clarity that pains me. This is why surviving a marriage requires turning down the volume on your spouse so you can barely hear what they’re saying. You must do this not only so you don’t overdose on the same stultifying words and phrases within the first year, but also so your spouse’s various grunts and sneezes and snorts and throat clearings don’t serve as a magic flute that causes you to wander out the front door and into the wilderness, never to return.

The author repeats the same Theory of Amnesia here:

Bill also clears his throat constantly. He’s just a phlegmy guy in general. I can almost get away with being this mean about him because he has remained the same amount of smart and kind and extremely attractive that he was when I met him 17 years ago. This is just how it feels to be doomed to live and eat and sleep next to the same person until you’re dead. Because the resolution on your spouse becomes clearer and clearer by the year, you must find compensatory ways to blur and pixelate them back into a soft, muted, faintly fantastical fog.

You’re welcome to finish reading the article, if you can stomach it, by clicking this link.

But, for our purposes here, you only need to know that Ms. Havrilesky reveals she does hate her husband. And this leads to the enlightening rhetorical question, “How is hatred not the natural outcome of sleeping so close to another human for years?”

That gives you the gist.


Two things occur to me as I read the unrelenting criticism of Bill, and the suggestion that hatred for your spouse is inevitable:

#1. The author only gets away with publishing this belittling tirade because she’s a woman who’s denigrating a white male.

In the Matriarchy that is modern America, we don’t tolerate disrespect when it’s directed at wives/mothers. Our senses are sharply tuned to recognize signs of abuse/neglect that may disadvantage a poor woman. In fact, we insist upon all things Empowerment and Positivity for her. (“You are kind and smart and important, Mama!”)

But the “Bills” of the world don’t get the same treatment.

If the 1950s were known for anti-female sexism, I would say the pendulum in 2021 has swung about as far in the other direction as possible. We can only hope this NYT article will age as poorly as the old advertisements featuring husbands giving their wives a good spanking. (You know the ones I mean?)

Yet, even if we never wake up and realize how sexist we’ve become toward men/husbands, I can say with confidence the New York Times would not publish this same Amnesia Article, if the gender roles were reversed. Nobody in this decade will tolerate a male author, complaining about how loud and dumb and slovenly his bride is–especially if he declares the solution is memory loss to forget the reality of her awfulness.

The author’s female privilege is showing.

#2. Godless people often confuse “being real” with saying the first mean thing that pops into their heads. They don’t know how to confess their disappointments or unmet expectations…without resorting to selfishness, ugliness, and destruction.

It’s only through a redeeming relationship with our Creator that we come face-to-face with our own flaws first and foremost. Only after we’re sufficiently humbled by the truth of our own unworthiness can we be patient and kind to the other flawed humans in our lives.

We don’t need less truth.

Not less honesty.

Not less clarity.

We don’t need amnesia.

We need a godly clarity that encourages us to see the truth about our own sinfulness, rather than dwelling on petty grievances with others.

If your advice to married couples is to seek ways to dull reality and obscure the truth in order to carry on together, may I suggest a more honest worldview?

Jesus Doesn’t Always Cure Depression

The title of this blog post comes from a popular meme/quote comparing Jesus with other solutions for mental health issues.

The full context is here:

I’d like the opportunity to unpack this quote by asking a series of questions.

#1. Has anyone ever claimed that loving Jesus always cures mood disorders?
When someone makes a statement or sets up a premise, it’s wise to watch out for arguments no one is actually making. If I’m spending time telling you something completely uncontroversial–it may be that I’m busily building a straw man…

Unless Real Life humans are suggesting that Loving Jesus always cures mental health issues, why even bring it up?

I would submit to you, the first four lines of this quote are there merely to set up a soft target and encourage agreement with the rest of it.

Yes–Loving Jesus won’t necessarily fix everything.

Yes–Loving Jesus doesn’t cure all my ailments.

“YEEEEEES! I need to share this with all my Jesus-Loving friends…even though everyone on the planet already agrees.”

#2. Will I Cure my Mental Illnes by Seeing a Therapist or Taking Medicine?
The obvious answer is “NO.”

Seeking therapy and taking drugs won’t cure your depression, anxiety, or PTSD any better than “loving Jesus” does.

So…

#4. Why Didn’t the Author Mention that Therapy/Medication Aren’t “Cures,” Either?

Hmm. Good question.

#4. Does This Quote Hold Jesus to a Different Standard than Psychiatrists?

YEP, absolutely. By starting out talking about “cures,” the meme sets up a challenge–but it never criticizes the pharmaceutical companies for having the exact same problem.

This quote is meant to be pro-Medicine and to show support for those who seek help from mental health experts. But, it’s not being CONSISTENT when it brings up Jesus’ results and fails to compare them with the results of the Mental Health Machine…

A fair/consistent/balanced quote would admit:

TAKING MEDICINE DOESN’T CURE MY SUICIDAL THOUGHTS.
SEEING A THERAPIST DOESN’T CURE MY PTSD.
SHARING MEMES THAT TELL PEOPLE THEY’RE LOVED DOESN’T CURE THEIR ANXIETY.

Can we be honest about that?


It’s disheartening to me when statements go viral because they SOUND encouraging rather than because they offer good, balanced, helpful advice.

We love being told to “do whatever we need to do” because it’s non-confrontational and positive. On the other hand, we hate the uncomfortable process of asking questions and unpacking ideas, as I’ve done in this blog.

When I share a quote telling friends “do whatever you need,” it’s (sadly) more about getting points for sounding supportive than actually helping a suffering person handle a serious issue.

Furthermore (and even more sadly), it will always be easier to talk about the shortcomings or failures of the Christian Religion than to be equally honest about the shortcomings of the Mental Health religion.

Here’s a quote that is just as true, but not as shareable, as the meme at the top of this post:


You can believe in science and still recognize when the mental health machine is broken.
You can be pro-medicine and still admit you need Jesus more than ANYTHING else.
You are more than a body full of unbalanced chemicals.
Your soul matters to Jesus.


It’s true that Jesus doesn’t always cure depression…

But supportive-sounding quotes on social media don’t cure anything, ever.

Vigilante Violence Being Praised… By Conservatives

If you haven’t heard, a father was convicted of murder in Spokane Washington.

John Eisenman dropped a cinder block on his daughter’s boyfriend’s head, and then stabbed him several times and left his body to rot in a car for over a year. Eisenman says he did it because the boyfriend sex-trafficked his daughter… But we won’t know whether there’s evidence to corroborate that, because he took the law into his own hands rather than allowing for a trial.

“Police said Eisenman learned in October 2020 that his juvenile daughter had been sex trafficked in the Seattle area and ‘obtained information’ that her boyfriend was responsible, according to the press release. Eisenman was able to rescue his daughter and get her back to Spokane that same month, police said. When the father learned that his daughter’s boyfriend was going to be at a location in Airway Heights, Eisenman drove there and waited for the 19-year-old to arrive. During that encounter Eisenman abducted the victim, tying him up and placing him in the trunk of a vehicle. Eisenman subsequently assaulted the victim by hitting him in the head with a cinder block and then stabbed him repeatedly, causing his death.” 

What’s most frustrating about this story is the way typically law-abiding Conservatives are suddenly praising a vigilante as a hero.

I guess they see the word “father” and immediately identify with THE MURDERER rather than identifying with the father of the boy who was killed without due process? I don’t know. But I’m getting pretty wary of one-sided perspectives like these:

So, after reading literally HUNDREDS OF COMMENTS defending this behavior, and zero comments pointing out that laws exist for a reason, I decided I need to help my Conservative friends think through this issue a little more.

First of all, I can see why the daughter hooked up with her low-life boyfriend in the first place.

Clearly, she has been taught that violence is what men do when they’re “protecting” her. She probably felt right at home with a boy who proved his love by behaving lawlessly. That’s exactly what her daddy does!

This mindless, vengeance-seeking is exactly what’s wrong with places like Chicago, where everyone with a weapon views himself as an Independent Law-Giver. Every night, the bodies pile up because someone “defended” his honor with a murderous impulsivity.

I thought we were better, Conservatives. 🙄

Just watch a prison documentary for five minutes.

Every, single Impulsive Male behind bars will tell you he was just being a Protector.

Please tell me the difference between a man defending his bio-family’s honor and a man defending his street-family’s honor?… In both cases, they think they’re being loyal, self-sacrificial, and courageous.

Seriously, how is it different?

Yes, I am absolutely saying fathers who kill and gang members who kill are the SAME THING.

In fact, if my dad had been an impulsive, violent meathead who solved his problems with knives and guns, I probably would have run off with a violent boyfriend, too.

Thankfully, rather than being an unrestrained thug who killed first and asked questions later, my father was a wise and temperate man who held himself to the same moral standards as everyone else. Oh sure, sometimes he was righteously angry. Sometimes he disciplined his children.

But, rather than modeling hot-headedness (which the Bible calls “foolish”), my dad was able to show us how to take a breath and tackle problems in a reasonable manner.

My dad knew, logically, that going to prison for a rash decision wasn’t going to help any of us.


If men want to protect their families, they need to understand something about feminine emotionalism and masculine strength. That is: it’s a chick thing to freak out and kill someone in a fit of passion.

*shrug * I’m probably upsetting both men and women with that statement, but I don’t really care. The fact is, women are more likely to make big decisions based on emotional impulses. It’s a masculine trait to pause and consider before acting. (That’s when their angry wives scream at the husbands for “being passive.”)

What women and children actually need from a father figures is cool, unshakeable leadership. We need someone to be reasonable when our emotions are threatening to make us act stupid. We need someone to apply the brakes and say, “Hang on–let’s be smart about this.”

A man who sees red and explodes is nothing more than a muscular child. There’s nothing comforting about being “protected” by a dude who is a enslaved to his own feelings.

Murderers are not heroes, even when they identify as Family Men. This guy is just a desperate dude with Big Feelings and a cinder block.


Conservatives: we HAVE TO stop with the eye-for-eye prison mentality and break the cycle of glorifying revenge.

Do you think we should apply the death penalty for rapists? Fine! But there has to be a process for dealing with the accused in court. Surgeons aren’t even allowed to operate on their own children because their emotions can’t be trusted. Yet we think we’re going to let parents be the judge and jury in a case like this?

That’s absurd.

I don’t trust emotional fathers to make sound decisions with deadly weapons. But, if I ever get the urge to live in a neighborhood where “real men” take the law into their own hands, I’ll go ahead and move to Chicago… I hear there are LOTS of “good fathers” up there, who are simply the victims of an unfair justice system.

Modern Self-Talk

I want to do this Thing for MYSELF… Not for anybody else.

I know I’m on the right track when I’m having fun.

It’s time to make a change, because I’ve lost touch with ME. It’s important that I put myself first.

Oh, I support hard work and discipline! Sure! I know life is full of challenges, and I don’t expect to get anything for free.

I’m willing to push myself and work for my reward… Sure!… Sure, hard work.

Sure, sure, sure.

But…

This Thing is TOO MUCH work.

It was never supposed to hurt THIS much.

It’s not worth sacrificing my physical and mental health.

I’m not going sacrifice mySELF any more.

I want to do this Thing for myself.

I’ll know I’m on the right track when I’m having fun.

Yes, I’m willing to work hard, but not THAT hard.

I’m doing the hardest thing of all: putting Me First, above everything else.

I’m fighting even harder than people who lose themselves for the sake of others.

I’m fighting for me.

Me.

Me.

Me.

Me.

Me.

Me.

Luca: Activists Disappointed Little Boys Aren’t Queer Enough

Here’s a movie review of Disney Pixar’s film Luca, which you need to know about. The reviewer reflects a dangerous belief system increasingly open about their sexualization of children and apparently unashamed of it.

Writing for Insider, Jacob Sarkisian says:

While the implications of queerness are there, particularly in the friendship between [main characters] Luca and Alberto, it’s disappointing that Disney’s Pixar wasn’t brave enough to fully commit to its first queer animated tale.”

And later:

“[The boys] are casually physical with each other, sleeping side by side under a star-filled sky, wrapping their arms around each other’s waists, and watching the sunset together. In fact, they spend a lot of the film embracing each other…”

It’s important to pause here and explain:

Luca is supposed to be 13-years-old.

And Alberto is 14-years-old.

They are young boys, with childish voices and smooth chins and chests. Have I been clear enough yet?

They’re babies. Small pups. Young’uns. Little ones.

I’m guessing this is why Enrico Casarosa, director of Luca, explicitly said: “…it truly goes without saying that we willfully went for a pre-pubescent story. This is all about platonic friendships.”

With emphasis on the word “pre-pubescent,” Casarosa isn’t stupid! Clearly, he doesn’t want his screenplay about middle-school boys to become a gay fantasy flick. So he tried to nip speculation in the bud.

They’re little kids, everyone! Can we just let them put their arms around each other and go camping, without looking for signs of sexual desire?

But, no, the Queer Activists can’t let it go.

Again, in the Insider review, Sarkisian writes:

“Alberto chases after Luca’s train, and it becomes clear, to this writer at least, that the movie is about that dreamy, youthful first love. The comparisons to “Call Me By Your Name,” a film in which two young men fall in love, are well earned…”

If you’re not already familiar with the 2017 Italian film “Call Me By Your Name,” you need to understand something right up front: it’s not about “young men” falling in love. It’s about a 24-year-old man preying on a naive 17-year-old adolescent, including getting him drunk and taking advantage of his inexperience.

While many people have tried to downplay the exploitative and dangerous nature of the movie, by throwing around the word “love,” it’s absolutely an example of grooming behavior common when a more powerful man wants to have sex with an immature boy.

…and many movie reviewers, like Sarkisian, are telling you point-blank they are “disappointed” when there isn’t MORE of this.

Making Luca and Alberto explicitly gay or queer wouldn’t have felt contrived. It would have been a meaningful confirmation of what is already a story rich in gay subtext.”

Adolescent boys. We’re talking about adolescent boys.

Queer kids will still feel comforted by this story because the scene plays out like an allegory for coming out and being gay, even if Casarosa said it isn’t.

Adolescent boys, remember???

What would have made it even more powerful, though, is if the movie explicitly embraced the undeniable queer subtext through dialogue.”

They want the adolecent boys to be explicitly say queer things, because that’s how to “represent the LGBT Community.”

You can read the rest of the review HERE if you want to see for yourself.

But, believe me, they’re literally complaining that “queer audiences have been robbed of a golden opportunity for tangible representation,” because finding and obsessing about romantic “love” between 13-year-olds is an immutable part of Queer Culture.

There can be no confusion.

The activists want little boys to cuddle and kiss and call themselves “queer.” They want to see more stories like “Call Me By Your Name.”

I predict the only possible criticism I will get from Gay Allies will be that I’m a prude who won’t accept that middle-schoolers are already having sex. What else could they possibly say?

When LGBT activists openly ask for more stories depicting pre-pubescent boys in light of sexual themes, they either need to admit they have an unhealthy fetish…or they have to frame people like ME as the sticks in the mud whose archaic beliefs are raining on their Pride Parade…

Well, so be it. Bring on the criticism.

I will not participate in the Grooming Machine.

Jesus Gets A Letter From Judas’ Mother

If Judas Iscariot was a troubled youth today, his mother would blame Jesus for letting him “fall through the cracks.”

People like Judas need special emotional support, which Jesus would have been unable to provide without being educated (by Judas’ mother) about how to love him properly.

I’ve worked in special education, and I have been a member of Mommy Support Groups since I had my first child a decade ago. So, I feel pretty certain about how the “educational” letter to Jesus would be written…

Allow me to demonstrate:

Dear Rabbi,

Ever since he was a very small boy, Judas has been difficult. I readily admit he’s not easy to love. Judas is very self-focused and obsessed with material gain. He has struggled with the impulse to steal money for as long as I can remember. I’m writing because I want you to know I SEE THE PROBLEMS, just as you do. But I want to help you understand the CAUSE of Judas’ acting out, so that you can be a more effective Support Person in his life.

Judas’ mind works differently from your other disciples. And his heart/conscience is muuuuuch more sensitive than the tax collectors or fishermen you’re used to teaching. If you’re not careful with Judas, you can break his spirit easily.

Deep down, he isn’t a bad kid. He just wants love and acceptance more than anything else.

I’ve heard through the grape vine that you’ve used some triggering language when Judas is within ear shot. You’ve said to the group of disciples “there’s a devil among you,” and “not ALL of you are clean like Peter,” which make Judas feel singled out and Broken.

I want to be clear that I’m not angry, I think you’re a great teacher, and it’s likely you didn’t know your words were harmful! But I’m explaining some of Judas’ specific trauma with you so you can be more empathetic. I know you don’t want to damage one of your beloved students by Other-ing them.

Judas’ father (Simon) is a very hard man, and he doesn’t show much affection. All his life, Judas has been trying to gain approval from his father–but there’s a void there. I have always prayed that God would send a male role model who will nurture my son in a way that I approve… And that’s why I believe you’re a blessing straight from Heaven, Rabbi!

Judas truly loves walking with you! And I’m confident that we can come up with a teaching plan moving forward so that he always feels safe and loved among his peers.

I’ve seen other troubled youth end up in prison….or–God forbid–taking their own life. And I KNOW that’s not what either of us wants for my little Judas. I’m sure we both see the gaps in the system, and we don’t want Judas to fall through them. I thank you in advance for working with me to speak Judas’ language and constantly grow in our understanding of Trauma Informed Care.

Sincerely,

Karen Iscariot


If you know the end of the story, you will already be aware that Judas DID end up “falling through the cracks” and taking his own life.

Jesus never told Judas how much he loved and wanted him around. He never used “we” language or reminded Judas how important he was for the whole team. In fact, he referred to Judas as a “Devil” and told him to “go” when it was time for the betrayal.

Thankfully, in modern society, we have psychologists, counselors, and bottles of medication to save the troubled youth with behavior disorders. We understand the way trauma impacts a person’s free will and culpability. So, we plan our parenting and educational strategies accordingly.

It may have been too late for Judas; but, today, no person ever has to endure hearing a teacher call them a “devil” ever, ever again!

Second-Wave Anti-Amandism

I’m always happy to raise awareness on important cultural issues. TODAY’S cultural issue is: the problem of systemic Amandism.

—–
Racism is bad. Sexism is bad. Ethnocentrism is bad. And Amandism is bad.

That’s pretty straight-forward, right?

Our goal as a society is to stop hating people just for their race or gender–and, most near to our hearts on this blog, we fight to stop the hate based solely on Amanda-status.

I’m proud to say, we’ve come a long way in the fight against Amandism. Nobody has said anything to make me feel agitated or uncomfortable for several weeks, and I must attribute that to the footwork being done by loyal Amanda-Activists from all corners of my living room.

Girl power! etc. etc.

But, as society shifts and meets my demands, it’s necessary to shift my ideology along with it.

It occurs to me that people named Scott or Jessica or Logan may need somebody in their corner as well… And, though the first crusaders who spoke out against Amandism were primarily concerned with–uh–ME, there’s room in our group for anybody who feels oppressed!

We are the Activists! We fight for equality!

Whether you’ve been victimized as an “Amanda” or a “George” or a “Humphrey.”

Second-Wave Anti-Amandism isn’t just for Amanda. We want equality for EVERYBODY–not just those people with my DNA.

(Who can possibly be against that?)

Do you believe all humans should be treated with dignity and kindness? Congratulations, you’re an Anti-Amandist.

Do you believe__________? See? You’re an Anti-Amandist, too!

Do you believe icecream is delicious and puppies are cute? Well, that makes you an Amanda-Activist like me.

In fact, if you think you’re NOT an Amanda Activist, you really just don’t understand what the definition of Anti-Amandism is. (Maybe you’ve been exposed to bad stereotypes?…)

But TRUST ME. You’re one of us.

EVERY decent human being is one of us!!!

The only reason you could possibly NOT be one of us is if you’re a hateful jerk, which means you are proving how much more work we have to do before we achieve Equality, you bigot.

—-

Welcome to the movement!

-Amanda

Why We Love Daddy

Hey, Guys!  This is “The Peaches” speaking.  And I want to tell you a story that comes from an era almost 30 years ago–when the only person in the whole world who called me “The Peaches” was John Branyan, my dad…

I was probably in First Grade.  Maybe Second?  And that would mean my little brother, Tim, was in Kindergarten.  (The other two Branyan siblings hadn’t made their debuts yet.) 

At that time, there was nothing we liked more than our special juice boxes (especially frozen, so we could eat them with a spoon!)…and playing with the Forbidden White Board tucked in a corner of the office.

You see, our parents joined a certain Multi-Level Marketing company during the rise of the MLMs in the early 90s.  It wasn’t Pampered Chef or Longaberger… But you might be able to guess the name as I continue telling this tale.

My little brother and I were not allowed to touch the white board and dry erase markers, because “daddy needs them for work.”  Whenever we’d ask for specifics about exactly what type of work Daddy was doing to be afforded such enviable tools of the trade, we were told, “he teaches people” or “he shows people how things work.”     

But these explanations never really satisfied our curiosity.

Finally, perhaps in exasperation, my mom told Tim and I: “Your dad is the Marker Man!” 

And, suddenly, it was perfectly clear why HE was allowed to use The Markers, while the two of us were not.  We finally accepted we needed to stay away from the sacred white board, until such time as we could become Marker People, like him…

Now, I’ve since learned the term “Marker Man” was not unique with my parents.

In fact, the title is the intellectual property of the marketing strategy organization hired by the MLM my parents joined, to teach their independent consultants how to run a business.   I’m throwing that in here because I’m not trying to get slapped with a lawsuit for copyright infringement.  I only want to describe an actual memory I have from my actual childhood.

Continuing on…

One day, my mom told us she had a project to surprise Dad on Father’s Day. We were going to make a special book for him—filled with all the reasons we loved him.    

In a stroke of poetic genius, we decided to title it, “The Why We Love Daddy Book.”

I don’t remember each reason word-for-word.  But I think one of them said “because he plays catch with us,” with a rudimentary illustration of a ball and bat.   One page said, “…because he wears a tie.”  (I mean, what’s not to love about a guy like that?) 

Near the end of our brainstorming session, Tim shouted out: “We love him because he’s THE MARKER MAN!”   (He was pleased with himself, knowing this would make Dad laugh—which was always a main goal of ours.)

—–

Why am I telling you this today?  Why was I even THINKING about this random piece of my past?

Well, because…

I’ve been working as the Event Coordinator for my dad’s comedy career more than 7 years–and I’ve suddenly realized:

I still love that he’s the Marker Man.

He still goes to work and helps people understand things more clearly.

Slowly, slowly, we’ve been scheduling fewer stand-up gigs, and replacing them with consulting opportunities.  My dad literally wrote a book about how to be funny.  He can take any speech, sermon, or blog post and find the humor buried in them. 

People who make their living in performance arts are calling him WEEKLY to pick his brain and regain their sense of purpose. And, though Dad doesn’t use literal markers much anymore, he has a way of drawing pictures with his words to bring clarity to a situation.

Daddy teaches people. 

He shows people how things work.

And—guys—he even pays me to be a fellow Marker Person on his behalf!    (No kidding. I have a complete set of assorted colors.)

Years ago, my brother and I didn’t know what it meant to “go to work” and “help people learn stuff.” But I understand much better now.    As an adult, I can see my dad is thoughtful and creative and a gifted communicator.  It’s a joy to glean wisdom from him, when he shares pointers about things he has spent decades studying himself.

Dad doesn’t sell JUICE BOXES anymore. But he understands the philosophy of Funny Stuff better than he ever understood food service.  

And, when you contact John Branyan Comedy, I can go on and on about all there is to love about him.

Do you want to consult with John about how to use humor to make your life better? Give me a call:  888-203-0372 or email amanda@johnbranyan.com .  

If you book him as a speaker (whether it’s a workshop or fundraiser or Date Night Event, etc.) I know you’re going to love my dad, too…  

…And, if you ask, he might even wear one of his ties.

Motherhood is NOT Humbling

I had an epiphany at 3:30am, after changing my toddler’s wet sheets and tucking him back in bed. I was thinking about how deeply grouchy I get toward the middle of January every year…

During those barren, icy weeks, when the Christmas stuff has been returned to the boxes and it seems our motivation to tackle schoolwork was packed up with it–that’s when everything feels like such A JOYLESS CHORE.

I do a lot of yelling and feeling sorry for myself during this S.A.D. season.

“Why can’t you guys __________?”

“Ugh, of COURSE something like this would happen today!”

“You know, I have better things to do than _________.”

The dishes never stay washed. The toys never stay picked up. The homework never gets finished. And the Mother never has anything nice to say.

And it finally occurred to me in the wee hours of this morning:

Doing a bunch of humble tasks every day does NOT necessarily lead to humility; it can also lead to bitterness.

Is that shocking to think about, considering how often women are praised for their “humble role” and their seeming ability to “do it all?” Is it weird to call the problem “bitterness” when the world usually calls it “overworked” and “underappreciated” and “deserving a break?”

I think we talk about the “humble” role of motherhood all the time, without stopping to wonder whether we’re actually mothering humbly.

And, the truth is, I have found myself caught in a Pride Cycle, which many other mothers may recognize, if they stop to think about it with me:

#1. The kids do or say something legitimately ridiculous, rude, or self-serving, which we must correct. They make messes–we correct it. They fight–we correct them. And the repetition begins to establish itself. (So far, so good.)

#2. Then we start to keep a running tally of how much work we’re doing, and it occurs to us that not many people could handle the same stuff we’re juggling 24/7…

#3. Eventually, everything we do seems like an ‘A’ effort, while everything the rest of the family does is an ‘F.’ Our standards become the All-Encompassing Standard of Righteousness for everyone else, and no one measures up…

#4. Everyone, especially Mom, gets grumpier and grumpier, because it’s exhausting being a perfect Paragon of Servant Leadership, surrounded by failures.

What was especially jarring to me was how quickly I was tempted to DEFEND my pride–almost immediately after I noticed it. I jumped right back up to step #1 and clung to the fact that my kids genuinely make bad choices constantly, and somebody has to lay down the law.

It’s actually hard NOT to feeling a bit superior, when the people closest to you are regularly using their beds as toilets. It would be false humility to pretend I’m not better than that, I reasoned.

So maybe it bears repeating that–yes–our children do things all the time that are objectively, honestly NOT GOOD, and part of our role is to set standards with consistent enforcement. (Sometimes our husbands and parents and siblings and friends at church do things that are objectively, honestly NOT GOOD, too.)

But, there’s a difference between having godly expectations for our whole family and having an ugly, Prideful attitude accompanying it.

How can we know when that line has been crossed?

Well, for me, it’s when I start spiraling in misery and barking at everyone nearby, as if my emotional and spiritual well-being depends on their cooperation.

Yes, it’s hard not to become wise in our own eyes, when little people are coming to us constantly for the solution to problems. (And, I mean, they are really eeeeeasy problems to solve.) But if we’re falling apart over something as easy as putting sheets in the washer, are we really that much more mature?

Who’s acting childish here?

—–

The point is, I have been feeling very discontented lately. And I want to confess that publicly, because I finally realize the ugly sin which is hiding at the root of my bad attitude.

It’s pride.
No excuses.

Our culture’s response when a mom starts confessing like this is to pile on encouragement to reassure the mom that she meant well.

“Yes, you DO work hard.”

“Yes, it IS frustrating when no one obeys your good laws.”

“Yes, your kids and husband SHOULD appreciate you more.”

But, this only serves to feed the sense of Superiority, so it ultimately leaves us feeling worse…

Our discontentment grows as we feel trapped in an unfair situation where everyone knows we deserve better, but they just can’t give it to us because they’re SINNERS. So the best we can do is try to forgive them for failing to make Motherhood as fun as it could feel, if everyone worked harder.

The only way to stop the pride cycle is to call it what it is and ask God for help keeping it in check.

Again, completing a long list of humble jobs every day won’t automatically lead to godly humility. Sometimes it leads to bitterness and self-righteousness, when we spend all our time meditating on how much better our lives would be, if we didn’t have to deal with OTHER PEOPLE’S sins.

Lord, help me let go of my Superiority and be lowly in spirit.

Help me recognize all the ways I’ve let pride take over my subconscious, especially when the culture likes to insist there’s such a thing as good/healthy/necessary pride. Weed out my self-righteousness and replace it with godly humility, to set my household free of this monster.

Set us free from the Tyranny of my Flesh.

Lord, you are infinitely more deserving of the recognition than I am. (Look at what an angry, graceless god I become, over the smallest stuff!) Please forgive my arrogance and give me another chance to be HUMBLED by my role, rather than continuing to spin in the cycle of pride and bitterness.

On Repenting for Careless Words

How many MILLIONS of careless words are spoken every, single day? And when was the last time you bothered to think about all the toxic goop flowing out of your friends’ mouths, rather than absentmindedly joining the Vomit Fest?

I first started thinking about this when I was only a kid, meditating on cliched phrases like “God bless you” and “In Jesus’ Name, Amen.” I wondered if God ever got tired of looking up from his book, saying, “Yes? You called?” only to discover his children weren’t actually calling Him at all. They were brainlessly going through the motions again.

In fourth grade, I had a sunday school teacher who explained to my class that the Third Commandment regarding taking the Lord’s Name in vain referred to basically ANY word uttered in frustration, without thought.

He told us not to say “darn” or “heck” or “shoot,” because those are just substitute words designed to help us get as close to swearing as possible without getting in trouble. And he said not to say “Oh my,” because that’s just one breath away from “Oh my God.” (Texting didn’t exist at the time, but I’m absolutely certain he wouldn’t approve of the abbreviated “OMG,” even if you changed it to “OMGosh.” …because ‘gosh’ was another Substitute Word.)

Say what you will about that level of Legalism…

…at least it taught his students to CONSIDER their speech before letting it fly, even if they eventually determined (as I did) that ‘shoot’ isn’t a bad word… and, honestly, ‘shit’ isn’t automatically bad, either. (Fastforward about ten years to the first time I read “pisseth against the wall,” in the King James Bible and felt cheated out of important information!)

(I digress.)

Now that my fellow sunday school attendees are all grown up, I think we are faaaaaaar more concerned with calling out old-fashioned, pharisaical, Fundies like our old teachers than with asking ourselves whether God is pleased by our word choices.

It’s as if we’d rather swing to the OTHER extreme of slandering ourselves constantly–rather than risk being as conscientious and principled as our grandparents were. (Ugh, moral standards. How terrible.)

What do I mean?

Am I talking about the word “shit?”

No, I mean the fact that it has been less than a year since thousands of Christians were declaring a 2-year-old WOULD RISE FROM THE DEAD, because God was GOING TO WORK A MIRACLE and the grave was GOING TO RELEASE HER BACK TO HER PARENTS.

For four days, Christians sang songs and wrote social media comments and prophesied with enthusiastic heresies–and how many of them repented for taking the Lord’s name in vain, when their prophecies didn’t come true?

Did any of them?

Those warnings about keeping a tight rein on our tongues don’t apply in the New Covenant, I guess?

I’m talking about the fact that Paula White and other members of President Trump’s team declared that Trump WOULD WIN A VICTORY and that it WOULD BE A LANDSLIDE and that he’s NOT GOING ANYWHERE because he HIS GOD’S CHOSEN INSTRUMENT. Even after President Trump exhausted his legal efforts and announced there would be a change of administration (“peacefully”), some of his fans continued to exclaim that it’s NOT OVER, and Trump is STILL GOING TO PULL OUT A VICTORY…

Has anyone asked them how they’re going to react if all of that is just wishful thinking?

I’m talking about the fact that you will hear endless, unholy words just walking down the street if you start paying attention.

“I hate all this traffic.”

“I’ve never been so hungry.”

“If I have to wait in that line, I’ll scream.”

“I can’t take any more of this.”

“God bless you!”

Even in my house, you will regularly hear me say things like YOU KIDS ARE DRIVING ME CRAZY and I NEVER GET ANYTHING ACCOMPLISHED and I NEED A VACATION and dozens of other favorite swear words, which I don’t really mean and hardly hear myself say.

When I say things out of sadness or fear or frustration, I’m usually just emoting, selfishly and without thinking about what’s true.

That is to say: when I don’t care enough to watch my words, everything coming out of my mouth is saying “Truth be damned.”

No, I’m not talking about banishing the word “gosh” from your vocabulary.

But maybe we can make an effort to stop perjuring ourselves so often?

Maybe we can try saying what we really mean:

“If the Lord wills it, He will work a miracle.”

“I really, really want Trump to win the election because I think Joe Biden will make a bad President.

“I feel like saying angry words right now.”

(Or, more specifically in my case: “I’m so frustrated right now that I want to blame everyone else in the house for this mess, even though I know deep down it won’t make me feel much better.”)

True, it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue as quickly and smoothly as, “Y’all are driving me crazy!” But maybe that’s the point.

Maybe that’s why James told his readers to be “slow to speak” and the writer of Proverbs said “Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life.”

I know how tempting it is to unload the first thing that pops into our head when we feel Big Feelings. But, for the love of God, can we try to get a grip on our careless declarations? (See what I did there? I intentionally chose a forceful phrase that included God’s name. Isn’t that clever?)

THINK about what you’re typing and talking about today.


“I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak …” Matthew 12:3