I’m a plagiarist.
And the copy and paste shortcuts on my keyboard weren’t even utilized.
It started out innocently enough. I’m at work receiving praise from a colleague, and we’re not talking the throwing-flowers-at-my-feet-let’s-erect-a-statue-in-your-honor praise, we’re talking the one-pat-on-the- back-and-a-teeth-showing-smile praise.
And I received it without any hesitation.
No online websites or articles were copied and pasted (including Wikipedia), no one received $20 dollars from me in exchange for a B paper on sustainability in Eastern Europe, and no books from the library were harmed in the making of this act of plagiarism.
All I did was forget to cite my source. (Even after years of constant threats of expulsion from institutions of higher education and multiple copies of the MLA handbook.)
When someone comments on my seemingly chronic state of smiling, I receive it without any hesitation. When someone compliments me on a wise word I said, I receive it without any hesitation. When someone notices my personal contentment and joy, I receive it without any hesitation.
I receive it as if I am the one responsible. As if I, through personal hard work and perseverance, created within myself a content, joyful, and wise spirit. As if I manifested these characteristics of my own accord.
But I know full well that every good and perfect gift comes from You.
The hope I have in your grace and Christ’s sacrifice, gives me a joy that radiates. Your love keeps me in a seemingly chronic state of smiling. Your Holy Spirit grants me wise words in difficult conversations. The promise of Christ’s power to give me strength in all situations cultivates contentment within my soul.
This is all a sign of Your hands at work—not mine.
I’m guilty of taking Your work and passing it off as my own.
I’m a plagiarist that needs to start citing her Source.
(THE UNREALISTIC DEMANDS OF A MODERN SINGLE CHRISTIAN YOUNG ADULT WOMAN)
It’s late on a Saturday night, and I’m sporting an outfit inspired from someone’s Pinterest board entitled “threads and treads” when I see him in my peripheral vision and my insides suddenly begin practicing for the floor routine in the next summer Olympics in Brazil.
He approaches me, smiles, and I get a waft of scents I’m only used to smelling after walking by the Abercrombie and Fitch store at the mall. I flip my hair over my shoulder, blink my eyes in a fashion that hopefully isn’t confused as battling a rogue eyelash, and smile just enough to show interest and not desperation. He leans in and rather seductively whispers “excuse me, can I buy you a gallon of milk?”
He grabs my gallon of 1% cow juice out of my shopping cart and proceeds to scan it at the self-check out line in the grocery store. Surprisingly, he has a coupon. He looks at me, winks, and my stomach sticks the landing and I hear distant cheers in Portuguese. “So what do you say? Can I get your number?”
I never get a chance to give him my number because this never happened. Ever. To any girl who ever lived.
As the name aptly implies, the bar principle is only applicable in bars. A locale not unlike the African safari, where a guy makes his way across the smoky and loud room like a lion spotting a gazelle after three days without food. After a time of admiring his prey from afar and surveying the competition, he swoops in unexpectedly and asks to buy her a drink. Then he takes her home.
As a general rule of thumb, the lion doesn’t stalk the same prey twice.
The bar principle is also clearly a cost effective one: instead of buying her a cheesesteak with a side of French fries, he buys her something cheap. After all, a lion isn’t successful on each and every hunt.
But for the herd of Christian girls who aren’t found roaming in bars, we’re looking for more than one cheap drink and a one night stand. We’re looking for a commitment. We’re looking for a lifetime.
We’re looking for a good Christian gentleman to pay for 1/3 of the groceries in our shopping cart.
A serious pursuit of a serious relationship should begin in a bookstore when both our hands happen to reach for Crazy Love on the top shelf (he will be tall like me, obviously) and we commence witty banter about Christian literature and Twilight. He’ll ask to buy the book in my hand. I’ll say yes. We’ll get married and have 2 kids (a girl and a boy) and live in a 4 bedroom 2.5 bathroom house on a corner lot with enough of a yard for a hypoallergenic crossbreed canine.
A serious pursuit of a serious relationship should begin at a gas station that is not in New Jersey where they pump the gas for you and he comes to my rescue because the gas tank cap is stuck. He’ll tell me that my rear left tire looks like it needs more air in it. I’ll tell him he’s probably right. He’ll ask if he can pay for my tank of gas. I’ll say yes. We’ll get married and travel the world for three years developing a slight obsession with cruise lines until we decide to settle down and have 2 kids (a girl and a boy) and live in a 4 bedroom 2.5 bathroom house on a corner lot with enough of a yard for a hypoallergenic crossbreed canine.
A serious pursuit of a serious relationship should begin at a coffeeshop where I’m writing a post for my blog that nobody reads except my parents and some random person I’ve never met in Hong Kong, and it’s raining and he comes in and he’s wet because guys in America never carry umbrellas with them. He sits down at the table next to me and I offer him a napkin because that’s the best I can do and he asks if he can buy me a tall double chocolate chip frappuccino and one of those really expensive cake pops. I’ll say yes. We’ll get married and he’ll guest blog on my blog and we’ll have five total readers, his parents, my parents, and that random person I’ve never met in Hong Kong until we settle down and have 2 kids (a girl and a boy) and live in a 4 bedroom 2.5 bathroom house on a corner lot with enough of a yard for a hypoallergenic crossbreed canine.
All this gazelle is looking for is a good Christian gentleman to make his pursuit serious. Don’t give me cheap. Don’t give me once and done. Don’t ask for the bare minimum. Ask with the ultimate goal of everything—Christ centered, two-becoming-one-til-death-do-us-part everything.
But if the bar principle never has any hope of transferring to other venues where the exchange of goods for money occurs, I’ll settle for a good, Christian man making his way through a crowded grocery store to find me and he’ll lean in and rather seriously ask “excuse me, can I spend time getting to know you?” I’d be out whatever the current state minimum is for a gallon of milk, but there would still be the sound of distant cheers in Portuguese.
Remember that time the 7:45 PM train to Paoli/Thorndale was running late and I was running early? Cold, tired, my backpack sat heavy on my shoulders.
He approached me like he had approached the other ten people waiting on the elevated outdoor platform. He apologized for the interruption, curious to know if maybe, just maybe, I could spare a few dollars.
“How much do you need?”
My soul stirred with some sort of Christian obligation, the paraphrased verse “whatever you do for the least of these you do for Me,” flashing through my mind. He didn’t look dangerous or homeless—he just looked like he wanted to go home.
“Just four dollars.”
You remember what I did next. I sneakily fumbled through my wallet using the wall of my purse as camouflage. My fingers flipped through a five, a couple twenties, and two one dollar bills.
I paused as my thumb and index finger tugged the five dollar bill, hesitated, then pulled out the two one dollar bills.
He thanked me, hoped that You may bless me, and walked further down the platform.
I figured he could easily get the last two dollars he needed for the $6 train ticket. After all, you know I had my own uses for that five-dollar bill. I saw him get at least one more dollar from a young girl with a ponytail and a duffle bag.
As the awaiting mass gravitated towards the doors of the approaching train, I saw him out of the corner of my eye asking for one more dollar. I grabbed my purse ready to unzip to get my wallet, but the elbows of impatient passengers propelled me through the open door like cattle into a pen.
You remember what happened next.
The western suburbs of Philadelphia blurred outside the moving car as I took the longest twenty-five minute train ride of my life. Cold, tired, my wallet sat heavy in my lap, the vision of the man standing on the platform as the train pulled away heavy on my mind.
He made me think of you.
You’d think I would have learned by now. You’d think I would remember that everything I have is because of You. But no, I’m holding onto my wallet, attempting to hide what you know too well I have in there saying, “How about two dollars?” Nodding to the girl with the ponytail and the duffel bag “I bet you she has a great job. Go bug her for more.”
It’s silly, really. I trust you in every other area of my life: career, potential marriage, you name it, but when my direct deposit comes in with my paycheck suddenly that’s off limits. Please step away. Please do not touch. You see that there aren’t any extra zeros added onto my available balance so why would you ask me to give you 10 dollars let alone 10%? Let’s be realistic here, let’s be wise. You know that if I give you 10% I won’t have enough money to pay for my food, gas, my Chickfila 8 count nuggets. Heck, don’t even mention my savings account with 4 cents in it. You want me to wise, right? But you also want me to trust. Why can’t I seem to trust you with my money?
I keep thinking about Jacob after his dream in Bethel when on his journey to meet his future wives Leah and Rachel. You spoke to him and told him you were going to be with him wherever he went to fulfill the promise you gave to Abraham—that his descendants would be blessed and would be more numerous than the stars. When he woke up, he took the rock he used as a pillow and propped it up as a pillar vowing that if you took care of him, gave him food, gave him shelter, and brought him back to his dad’s house, that he would give you a tenth of all that you gave him (Genesis 28:10-22). Fast forward to Malachi, and you ask me to test you in this by bringing my whole tithe into your storehouse. “Test me in this… and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it” (Malachi 3:10). Have you not provided me with a place to sleep, food to eat, a job that pays the bills? Why then do I continue to hoard what I have instead of bringing it into your storehouse?
I know you promise that I am more special than the birds of the air and the flowers of the field (Matthew 6:25-34). Like birds, like flowers, like Jacob, you promise to take care of me.
Me of little faith.
Forgive me for not being faithful with the little you have given me. For how can I be trusted with more if I haven’t been faithful with little? Forgive me for not having faith that you will take care of me financially. Forgive me for giving you two dollars when I should be giving you my wallet.
Everything I am, everything I have, is from you, and is Yours.
Here’s to bringing my 10% into your storehouse.
(Stay tuned for the opening of the floodgates.)