The Dog Bite and The Eating Disorder

My Firecracker (as my oldest daughter shall henceforth be known) was bitten by a dog when she was three.

Yes, this directly relates to the eating disorder, but in a roundabout, interesting way. Bear with me. 🙂

We were at a Bible study with The Firecracker and our newest baby, and she’d misbehaved in some three-year-old way.  We made her sit on the steps while I was changing a nasty, leaky, baby diaper. Suddenly, I heard a dog snarl, The Firecracker scream, and looked up to see my daughter franticly trying to get up the stairs while the Bible study leader’s 15-year-old Collie had clamped down on her calf.

collieandchild
They’d always said, “Oh, our dog loves kids! She’s so gentle!” (photo via google search)

I left the baby to pee on the carpet, ran to my daughter, while the Bible study leader smacked the dog on the face, and got her to let go.  There was a huge, bleeding bite mark on The Firecracker’s leg.

For years, she would not go near a dog.

She would shake, scream, and run away from the smallest little bleating yap-yap dog.  She would cry, she would have accidents, she would even have nightmares about dogs chasing her.

This is similar to the bite The Firecracker suffered.  (image via google search)
This is similar to the bite The Firecracker suffered.
(image via google search)

All of this, in my mind, was a completely normal response to a very scary event.  I never once told her, “It’s just a yap-yap dog! Get over it! It won’t hurt you!”  Instead, I would say, “I know you’re scared, but this dog is too small to bite you, and I asked the owner to keep it in the basement while we’re here.  Okay? Okay.”  I would explain to dog owners, “Hey, I understand your dog is important to you, but The Firecracker had a really bad dog bite as a preschooler, and is afraid of all dogs.”  Most owners understood, and some even helped allay her fears by holding a dog immobile while she pet it.  “See? She won’t bite you.  I won’t let her. You’re okay.”

One neighbor, however, had a dog nicknamed Juniper the Jumper.  It was a huge chocolate lab that left muddy paw prints on EVERYONE and EVERYTHING.  The kids, the postal carriers, the neighbors, and my new/used van all had the scratches and stains from Juniper’s “love”.  That neighbor invited The Firecracker for a playdate, so I explained The Firecracker’s experience, and asked if the Jumper could be corralled, just while we were over.

The neighbor looked at me, bent down and looked at my then-five-year-old daughter in the eyes, and said, “You’re just going to have to get over being scared of dogs.”

We did not have a play date that day.

However, my Firecracker did gradually get over her fear of dogs.  She understood that the dog who attacked her was likely sick, infirm, or otherwise crazy, and she has good relationships with her friends’ dogs.

childanddog

As I’ve been learning about eating disorders, I’ve been amazed at what we *don’t know*.  Until recently, standard wisdom was that anyone with an eating disorder had an inner need for control, and that they would not get better until they acknowledged that need, and asked for help.  However, a couple of researchers at an eating disorders clinic theorized that a malnourished brain cannot reliably determine that it needs help.  They decided to remain “agnostic about the cause” of eating disorders, and focus on re-feeding the patient.

This honestly gave me a lot of hope. Re-feeding is a horrible process, because as the body starts to get enough food, the patient’s behavior often gets much worse. There were tantrums, flailing episodes, a couple of “I hate you’s” and  I still had to overcome her daily, hourly food refusals that usually focused on some detail of the food that wasn’t “just right.” The food was too hot. No, now it’s too cold.  It’s too watery, no, now it’s too thick.  I don’t LIKE it!! It’s DISGUSTING!  HOW CAN YOU MAKE ME EAT THIS???

Janeway_crying

I would think, Dearest Firecracker, I can only make you because I love you, and I refuse to let you starve yourself.  I know it’s hard.  I know it hurts.  I know something is bothering you…

Wait. What has her history been with food?

Well, the day she was born, she refused to eat.  She didn’t eat for 36 hours, and it eventually took two lactation consultants and my Vulcan an hour and a half of holding her down and forcing her to latch on.  It was horrifying. We attempted breast feeding for six weeks, before an online friend suggested she might have acid reflux disease.  She was treated with Zantac, and immediately ate well.

(This is about to get gross, just FYI.  Stop reading if you don’t have a strong stomach!)

At ten months old, we found out she had chronic constipation, and was backed up all the way to her stomach.  She still has to take laxatives daily, to have any elimination at all.

At fourteen months old, she started developing a diaper rash that wouldn’t go away, which later developed into *blisters* on her rear end.  Imagine what a diaper change feels like if you have blisters on your rear end.  Then imagine repeating that process five or six times a day.

At eighteen months old, we found out she had an allergy to citrus, and the blisters went away.

By two years old, she became so picky with food that we could only reliably feed her Wendy’s Chicken Nuggets.  Her doctor said she “probably” had sensory processing disorder, but it wasn’t “disruptive” enough to do any treatments.

We were able to gradually introduce new foods, but The Firecracker’s pickiness persisted.  Oatmeal had to have *just* the right amount of water. Sandwiches had to have *this* brand of peanut butter, not that one.  She could tell the difference!

At some point during the re-feeding process, I asked myself, “Could her experience with food have caused her so much pain that she reacts to food the same way she once reacted to dogs?  Well, how did we overcome that?”

Let's figure this out!
Let’s figure this out!

I started explaining aspects of the eating disorder to her, casually, in words she could understand. “Food used to hurt you when you were little, so now your brain thinks all food is going to hurt.  Your brain is tricking you into not-eating.  You need to tell your brain that eating won’t hurt.  Eat all your cereal. Here, want another bowl?”

We need to buy stock in Cocoa Crispies right now.

I know a little bit about PTSD, and about strong-willed children.  I’m used to explaining why I want The Firecracker to do something, instead of just expecting her do do it “because I said so.” I also lost four years of my life to selling retail jewelry, so I’m used to overcoming objections. Every. Single. Day.  I’m also good with words. As I put all of this together, I thought, “God may have uniquely equipped me to help my own daughter through this.”  That thought sustained me through the crying fits I’d have in the shower.

As we sat down to each meal, I would explain again that her brain and body were reacting to food the way she’d once reacted to dogs.  “Remember how much you love Lucky now?” (Her best friend’s dog.) “You wouldn’t have touched Lucky two years ago, but now you love him! Don’t argue about the food. Eat it even if you think it won’t taste good.  Oh, it doesnt’ taste good? Fine, let’s eat this instead.  Firecracker, you love this.  Will this bite you? Will this hurt you? Your brain thinks it will. You need to eat this much of it to re-train your brain.”

Finally, the breakthrough came one night when she asked, “Do I have to eat the cinnamon roll?”

"Do I have to eat that?"
“Do I have to eat that?”

(I wish you could have seen the relationship between my daughter and cinnamon rolls two years ago.  Yes, they had to be cut up, just so.  Yes, they had to have just the right proportion of frosting-to-bread.  But oh my gosh, she ate them by the pound.) I was leaning against the dining room wall as she asked that, and said, “Firecracker, do you hear yourself?  You’re asking if you have to eat something that you used to sneak out of the kitchen!”

“Oh.” She said. “Oh wow.  I really do have a brain disease that keeps me from eating.  Will it hurt me?  Do I have to take medicine for it?”

I went into the kitchen and quietly cried my eyes out, while The Vulcan explained the nature of eating disorders in a more rational, unemotional way.

Since then, meals have been astoundingly different.  She cleans her plate, and announces, “Mom, I’m retraining my brain again!”  She asks me if she’s eating enough.  She points out how “people who are really stout” in the media are always portrayed as stupid, lazy, or undisciplined, and opines that it just isn’t right.

I’m so proud of her.  The Firecracker is not out of the woods yet, because I know that any compulsive disorder can pop up again.  I’m still having her evaluated on the last week of April.  However, the friends I’ve spoken with who have an eating disorder say that this kind of self-awareness is a HUGE step towards recovery.

Please understand, I’m really just making this treatment up as I go along.  I had no guidance from official sources, except for the eating disorder’s clinic nurse, who said, “Maudesly re-feeding is a good idea.”  I don’t know if there’s any research connecting traumatic experiences and eating disorders.  I also know that this doesn’t address her body image issues at all. There’s been no therapy or intentional discussions on body image recently, except for our typical family culture that refuses to disparage fat people, or praise thinness as a virtue.

After she started eating again, the Vulcan approached me quietly, and said, “I’ve been fasting one meal a day for her, since her first rejection episode.”

I admit, I was pretty….

vulcankiss

Please keep praying for her.  God is working and moving in her life.

An Anatomy of a Childhood Eating Disorder

I can’t bring myself to write about theology, women in the church, or spiritual abuse right now.  Compared to what I’m dealing with at home, when it comes to all these other issues,

BoromirDoesntCare

All of those other issues are important, but other bloggers, tweeters, and anons can deal with that, while I go on a different mission: to keep my daughter fed.

I recently spoke to the intake nurse at a trusted eating disorder’s clinic.  They’re seeing more and more kids at this age, and she was very concerned about my daughter.  She validated every perception I had, and gave me a broader context for why my daughter was acting in certain ways.  “We can get you in the 1st week of May, and you can still call us any time you need help with anything.” I’LL TAKE THAT!

Then, my daughter didn’t refuse food for a while! She didn’t eat as much as her sisters, but she never has.  I started to wonder, again, if I was overreacting.  I wondered if she just had different tastes than I do, and if I needed to keep different food around the house.

galaxyquestfood

However, after we had a wonderful family trip last weekend—just an overnight–my daughter didn’t eat at all on her first day back at school. She didn’t have breakfast or lunch, and only ate two tablespoons of cottage cheese for a snack. Dinner involved her picking over every little thing she said was “wrong” with the food, and saying that she wasn’t really hungry any way. The next day, she complained of dizziness, black spots in her vision, and said she was too sick to go to school. I got her to eat a piece of bacon….then said, “THE HECK WITH THIS.”

I got online and tried to figure out what I could do until we could get professional help. I’d heard about Maudesly re-feeding therapy, and I tried to figure out how it worked. From what I could gather, it basically revolves around higher calorie-density food, and parental involvement in *every* meal and snack.

To get an idea of what I have to do now, imagine every bit of diet advice you’ve ever heard, then do the opposite. “Cut juice, and replace it with fresh fruit. You’ll get more fiber, and fewer calories!” Well, that means I cut down the fresh fruit, reduce the fiber, and replace it with juice and apple pies. (Sometimes, the kids even load up on fiber and water so that they’ll feel full, and not have to eat.) The goal is to cram as many calories into every square inch of food possible, and for the parent to counteract *any* discomfort the child has while eating, with reasoning and adjustments.

The therapy also re-trains the parents to realize that they’re not dealing with typical child pickiness—that this is a mental disorder that will **kill them** if we can’t get food in their bodies. The goal is not “the healthiest diet possible.” The goal is to get enough calories in them to counteract their self-imposed starvation. Plus, since they’re used to eating so little, any amount of food can hurt their stomachs and cause them pain!!

How do I manage all these variables?

I knew where to start. “Hey, we’re going to KFC!”

Funny-KFC-k12

Now, we got in the van with her two younger sisters, we got her **favorite food** at KFC, and armed with my new information, I got a snapshot of what I’m dealing with.

Remember, this happens at every meal—I just saw it with new eyes:

“Oh, I didn’t want crispy, I wanted original.” (even though she said she wanted crispy.)
“No problem, I’ll get you original.”
“But I don’t want you to have to drive back and buy another meal!”
“I don’t mind, it’s no big deal!”
“How much did this cost?”
“Don’t worry about it—I’m paying for it, not you.” (I said it with a big smile. She remembers the time I drove away from KFC in disgust because they wanted $14.00 for six chicken legs.)
After I get original: “It’s too hot, I’ll eat it later.”
“Here, I’ll cool it off for you.”
“It’s too greasy. I don’t think I’m really hungry.”
“Oh, I’ll just wrap the leg in a napkin, so you don’t get grease on your hands.”
“Mom, the grease is coming through the napkin.”
“I have more napkins, no problem.”
“But the grease will get in my mouth!”
“Hey, I got you a DR PEPPER, which will cut through the grease. Did you know that’s why soda is so popular? Because it cuts through the greasy feeling of burgers, pizza, chicken, and stuff like that—and if you eat 5 bites, I’ll let you have it.”
“Oh….okay….”
She takes her first bite, then, like Jonathan with the honey that brightened his eyes, she seems to wake up, and takes several more.
“Mom, I actually ate seven bites, can I have the Dr. Pepper now?”
I hold back tears as she tears through two chicken legs, using the little spork once the grease soaks through the napkins.
“Now honey, I read that your tummy may hurt, so I’ll get you a heating pad when we get home, okay?”
“Ok, yeah, I really think I’ll be able to go to school tomorrow.”

I’m honestly in shock. Through the time we spent together yesterday, she told me that, EVERY TIME SHE EATS, she goes through the reasoning process I just described that tells her **why she shouldn’t eat it.** I honestly just thought she was being disobedient, controlling, and whiny. No, she has an eating disorder. **She** is no longer in control. The disorder is.

I’m still so proud of her.  I’m amazed that she’s been able to eat *at all* when she has this kind of aversion to food.  I’m amazed that she has still accomplished so much, and kept a measure of good reasoning skills, despite having so little nutrition.  She’s still on the honor roll, she still writes amazing stories, and she just started writing her own songs. I love her so much…and I don’t care what we have to do, I’m going to make sure she has everything she needs to get better.

Even though I can’t get her in the clinic, the nurse (that said I could call her any time!) said that this is the *right* thing to do until she can be seen.

I went to Kroger, put her and her sisters in the mega-family-sized cart, and bought every high-calorie food that I could think of that she would like.

Yet, even with things she picked out, like ice cream, when it came time to actually eat, she had a meltdown over the little chunks of chocolate, or the texture, or the temperature. It was a horrible ordeal—but she still ate more calories in one meal than she’d eaten the entire previous day.

This is going to be hard. Please pray for all of us. I had no idea what we were dealing with, but with God’s help, we can conquer this. I have the skill level when it comes to cooking, the patience when it comes to mental illness, and the determination to make sure she stays alive.

I’m just exhausted. And I have three other kids that still need their mom.

Obviously, Captain XianJaneway has a different mission right now.  I wanted to start a Bible study series w/ “Governor Pappy” to help people coming out of controlling churches.  I wanted to apply for a few writing jobs. I wanted to submit my screenplays to some competitions.  I wanted to have a demo of original songs ready by the time summer came around.  But I don’t want to do any of those things with a dead daughter. 😦

The statistics scare me. Kids with eating disorders have a 50% chance of dying. With good therapy, it goes to 20%. Regardless of how much work we do, my little girl has a mental disorder that could kill her. Please pray for her, and for our whole family.

An Update on My Daughter

I can’t thank you all enough for the amazing, outpouring of support and prayer you gave our family yesterday. I was shocked to receive over 100 tweets, private messages, emails, and texts from all of you. I hope to respond to everyone very soon. I thank God for giving us the kind of prayer and loving support through this crazy internet world that I would normally only expect from close friends or family.

I came home from worship practice and threw up last night.

JanewayintheMorning

The daughter that I was so worried about saw me start gagging while I was holding the baby, and brought me a bucket. I made it to the bathroom instead.

She asked, “Mom, are you sick?”

“No honey. I was just really worried about you earlier.”

“Oh.” She wrinkled her brow. “I’m fine, Mom.”

“Yeah, I know.” She went back to the living room and ate her pizza.

Her doctor told me that there was no reason to be concerned about eating disorders right now, even after three days with less than 500 calories, because there was no weight loss. However, when I described her obsession with thinness (“I’m really worried my thighs are fat. Do you think my thighs are fat? See this flabby part right here? I never want to get fat. Mom, why would anyone be fat? Aren’t you glad you’re not fat anymore? I love my skinny arms. I’m skinny enough to slide between the fridge and the counter at Janna’s house and hide! I’m sooooo skinny, and it’s sooooo beautiful!!”) the doctor did encourage me to get her some counseling, to keep it from progressing into an eating disorder.

She’s nine.

I’ve never had any relationships with people who had eating disorders. I knew that the ideas floating around in my daughter’s mind were unhealthy, but since she didn’t change her eating habits, I didn’t think it was severe enough yet to warrant some kind of intervention.

Every time she would say something about her weight, her dad and I would redirect the conversation to health, and to true beauty. We would point out that we don’t know why some people are overweight, and that we should never judge someone based on appearances. I lost a large amount of weight when I found out I had food allergies, so we’ve discussed that being fat or thin may have nothing to do with a person’s self-discipline or character.

This has gone on for more than a year. Yes, that means it started in earnest when she was eight.

She’s in the tenth percentile for weight, and has been since she was a baby. Her sisters, however, are in the 50th-75th percentile, and we were concerned that they would feel shamed by her constant focus on thinness. Sometimes, we got so frustrated that we would ban her from talking about weight at all for the rest of the day. “I’m glad you like being thin, but being thin is not a bad thing or a good thing, any more than having red hair is a good thing or a bad thing. Stop. Talking. About. It.”

The good news is that we don’t have an emergency. We don’t have to hospitalize her, make dramatic changes in all of our lives, or start some type of re-feeding therapy to make sure her heart or brain or kidneys keep working.

The bad news is that she lied to me about eating lunch yesterday. She ate one piece of toast with honey for breakfast, nibbled at a bun and a pretzel for lunch, licked the frosting off of a cupcake for a snack, and ate two pieces of pizza for dinner, with no sauce. (We get pizza once a week when the babysitters come over, so we can have worship practice.) That’s still under 700 calories.

We don’t have an emergency. We do have a situation. We have a wonderful, intelligent, talented, spirited, –and yes, beautiful—young daughter who needs help. Please continue to pray for her, that she will be healed and whole in Jesus.  Please also continue to pray for us, that we will make good decisions, not overreact, and be wise and loving in all of our dealings with her.

Thank you so much for being a part of our lives.

Christian Janeway’s Year of Hell

UPDATE AT THE END OF THE POST.

A lot of times, I don’t have a good perspective on the amount of suffering my family and I have endured. Today, as a brand new barrage of photon torpedoes have hit our ship, from a completely unexpected source, I think it’s time to write out a list of everything we’ve been through.

Why? Because I’m tired, and I need God’s strength.

Despite the Captain’s pips on my cosplay uniform, I’m just a tired mom with four kids and a husband who loves me. I happen to be a writer and a geek. I’m madly in love with Jesus. I’m trying to make better choices in my life. Tonight, I get to go teach a songwriting workshop for the eager young newbies at my church. These are all good things.

However, yesterday I found out that my elementary school age daughter likely has an eating disorder.

I found out that, during the entire day, she’d only eaten: (calories are beside the food item)

24 –1 slice of bread with no crusts

46- ½ apple

16-1 tbsp of mashed potatoes (this was at dinner)

220-1 snack-sized bag of doritos (after school.)

105- ½ a pop tart (breakfast)

This is disturbing, and worse than I’d initially thought. I looked up all the calorie counts to verify that I wasn’t overreacting.

That’s 411 calories. I’m shaking as I write this.

I’ve contacted the school counselor, and she agreed that it was likely an eating disorder. She referred me to an eating disorders clinic that’s only an hour away, and has very good results. I’m waiting for a call back.

This is on the heels of getting my preschool aged child treated for a sleep disorder.

My friends at the Wartburg Watch have been actively praying for her—and for me—so that we as a family could finally start sleeping. I’m happy to report that the treatment seems to be working, God is good, the child is happy, and I’ve slept more in the past week than I have in the past three years. However, we’re still going to do a sleep study for her, to rule out apnea and other physical problems.

That came on the heels of the baby teething. After a month, she has six shiny new teeth.

That is on the heels of several rounds of sickness going through my family: the flu, gastroenteritis, ear infections, and pneumonia. The baby will need tubes in her ears.

Before that, I had to have emergency surgery to have my gallbladder removed. This was right before Thanksgiving, which we were hosting. I have food allergies.

Before that, we’d found out my husband was getting laid off at the end of the school year.

Before that, well, we had a new baby.

Before that, I struggled w/ pre-term labor symptoms, and was on bedrest for four weeks.

Before that, I was actually okay for about two months. I played guitar with a big round beach ball belly on stage, and loved it. My husband brought me breakfast between services. 🙂

Before that, I threw up for twenty-eight weeks.

When I was six weeks pregnant, we moved to a new house, with three other kids and a puking wife and mom.

Before that, I did something crazy and unheard of in complementarian culture, and gave my husband an ultimatum: get a vasectomy, or be prepared to take care of me while I throw up for at least six months, because I will get pregnant again. He agreed. He thought being pregnant six times in nine years was enough.

I didn’t know it, but I was already two weeks pregnant at the time. Lucky seven! (I have four living children.)

Before all of this, we were dealing with a variety of other things, from getting our own mental health issues taken care of, to financial problems, to marital healing, to career choices, to health issues—and this whole time, my third child was not sleeping. Because she had a sleep disorder, but everyone around me was sure that the problem was just me not being firm enough at bed time.

This is only this year, plus an extra couple of months.

Looking back, this has been the Janeway family “Year of Hell,” to be sure. Yet, unlike in the Star Trek universe I can’t use a time machine to go back and fix everything, and turn all of this into a bad dream.

The funny thing about Star Trek is that it is built on the idea that everything will be okay in the end. The writer’s guidelines for the novels, and the show-runner’s bible for TOS and TNG, all mandate that everything be restored to equilibrium by the show’s end. Obviously, DS9 and Voyager had to throw this out the window a few times, but the general optimism that Trek is known for still pervaded the shows.

Now, I’m sitting here reading about eating disorders in children, and finding out that 20% of them die. Granted, that means 80% of them don’t die, but how will I know which way the dice will roll? God knows; I don’t. All I can do is pray, learn, support my daughter however I can, get her the best treatment possible, and try not to let discouragement seep into my soul.

Through all of this, let me assure you: I still believe that God is good. I still believe God can work all things together for good. Because even though I’ve listed so much suffering, I’ve not listed all of the things God has done to support us during this time. I’m honestly too tired to do that right now, and the two youngest children are tired of me writing right now. They want their Mommy’s attention.

Please pray for my oldest daughter. Please pray for my husband’s job search. Please pray that the Year of Hell will end soon, and that God will be glorified in it, regardless of the outcome.

UPDATE:

I just got off the phone with the intake counselor at the eating disorders clinic.  Based on my daughter’s medical history, she says there’s a 50/50 chance that it could be an eating disorder, OR it could be a physical medical problem. (GI blockage, new food allergy, illness, etc.)  She advised me to take her to the doctor, and call her back w/ my daughter’s weight.  If there’s no statistically significant drop in her weight, then I should keep the GI appt in two weeks, and call the clinic back if there’s a drop in her weight, or if the eating behavior doesn’t improve.

I was like, “OK, LET’S DO THAT!!”

FakeCaptain

I’d much rather it be something that *doesn’t* have a 20% mortality rate!!!!
I’m taking her to the pediatrician this afternoon. I’ll update as I can. Thank you so much for praying!

My First Encounter with the ESV

I was barely 20, single, and alone for Thanksgiving that year. My family lived several states away, and I couldn’t afford to travel. I also had a bad habit of going out with this one particular guy  (a seminary student at SBTS) when I didn’t have a date, or plans with anyone else.

I couldn’t figure out why we didn’t connect more often—we both had a strong heart for evangelism, we both had similar beliefs, and I wondered if I was just being too picky in my interactions with him.

JanewayBrushingOffAdvances

(Brothers and sisters, take my word for it: don’t do this. 😉 If you just can’t develop a connection with someone that goes beyond “I’m bored and there’s nothing better to do, and anyway, the guy’s just plain hott,” then don’t waste your time, or his. It doesn’t get better—you just have more opportunities for boredom later on!)

Anyway, I dressed up (modestly) and brought a couple of treats to his apartment on the SBTS campus the day after Thanksgiving. He had dinner mostly ready, but a couple of things still needed time on the stove. “Hey, while we’re waiting, check out this new Bible translation we’re using around here. Man, I really love this.” It was the ESV.

Now, let me confess, I was thrilled. I’m a word geek. I love language, I love storytelling, and I LOVE the privilege of having so many English translations available to us. Also, I’m a songwriter, and I’d just discovered the thrill of setting the Bible to music. In my mind, a new translation was also a Bible full of new song ideas waiting to happen.

janewayandchakotay3

I opened it up to the passage I’d read that morning, Psalm 57. The words flowed so nicely at first, and I was sure I would fall in love.

With the translation. I still wasn’t sure about the guy. 😉

Then I got to this section:

7My heart is steadfast, O God,
my heart is steadfast!
I will sing and make melody! ( I’m gonna love this!!)

8 Awake, my glory!b
Awake, O harp and lyre!
I will awake the dawn!

“Oh, hang on a second.” I said to my host. “This is a new translation, right?”

“Yeah, why?”

“They got an English phrase wrong here. You don’t ‘awake’ the dawn. You wake it up. It sounds pretty funny.”

I laughed.

Kirkandspocklaughing

I laughed at a Bible translation.  Maybe that wasn’t a good idea!

My sometime-date wasn’t happy about it. “It’s not wrong. That’s correct English.”

“No it isn’t. You don’t say, ‘I will awake my roommate.’ You say, ‘I will wake him up.’ Maybe ‘I will awaken him.’ But ‘I will awake the dawn!’ [insert grand hand gestures here] sounds like something from a badly dubbed Bruce Lee movie.”

My sort-of-friend insisted it was correct, for over twenty minutes.He had this look on his face that told me that he didn’t like to be challenged about it. I even got the impression that I was offending him. JanewaySexy

I was confused. How could I offend anyone by suggesting that this translation was anything other than perfect—including the translators? I mean, couldn’t they make mistakes? And if they found them, couldn’t they just make a second edition? God’s word still stands infallible, regardless of our little grammatical translation errors….right?

Now, keep in mind this was a long, long time ago. Maybe I’m getting some things wrong. Maybe I was rude in some way that I don’t remember. I certainly never thought I’d be writing about this little dinner over a dozen years later. If the guy comes by my blog somehow, and recognizes this story, I’d be happy to apologize for anything I was rude about. I was barely 20. (Which means I knew everything.)

Somehow we ended the discussion, with me feeling like a little English major was nothing in the sight of the Almighty ESV Translation Committee, and we got on with our dinner. He opened with the prayer, “Father, we thank You for Your word. We awake the dawn with Your praise…”

Goober.

janewayeyeroll

Even as a complementarian, the following rule of thumb was drilled into my head: never marry a man you wouldn’t want to submit to. I knew that this guy didn’t care enough about my opinion or my thoughts for submission to be the joyous, Godly exercise that it was supposed to be, so I never went out with him again.

QhardtoGet

However, this little story has been repeated over and over again in different contexts: I keep encountering people who insist that the ESV is the best, most excellent, most accurate, most dependable, most Godly translation of the Bible that ever existed. Any disagreement with that seems to equal blasphemy in their eyes, and they’re quick to insinuate that truly intellectual believers would use it.

I believe the ESV a translation of God’s word, and can therefore be used by God, just like the KJV, NIV, NLT, CEB, NET, and many others. Please don’t misunderstand this. I just think that it’s not infallible. I think it could use a second edition, and that the translation committee should hire an English style consultant.

As a writer and songwriter–who also has a degree in English–I think the ESV sounds like a jumble of English and Old English phrases strung together. I think it also sounds like the people on the translation committee don’t talk with non-academics very often. (Open to any passage, read it aloud, and ask yourself, “Does anyone I know actually talk like this?”) While they may understand Greek and Hebrew very well, they don’t seem to understand modern English, which is an important part of the process of communicating with the intended audience.

This is just my opinion.  If the ESV works for you, great!!!

However, I’m going to stick to the translations that are currently working for me.  While I would love a journaling Bible that has a grail-diary leather cover and super-wide margins, I think I’ll wait until either Zondervan or Tyndale comes out with one in the NIV or NLT.

PS:

If you’d like a great way to get Psalm 57:8 stuck in your head, I can’t recommend a better way than this song. 🙂 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C13m7BOcTmg

Dear “Dochas82”

Dear “Dochas82”, some guy I just met, who once went by the Twitter Handle “Glittery Mob Neelix,”

I liked that, by the way. 🙂

I saw your disappointment in the Tony Jones/Rachel Held Evans fiasco. I saw how you vowed to delete your blog, and vowed never again try to make money off of Christian publishing. I saw you follow through—your blog is, in fact, deleted. I saw your passion, and your desire to genuinely serve people.

Janewaysoft

Let me encourage you to stop and reconsider eschewing “writing for profit” for a moment.

You’re right that no one should try to fleece the sheep for money. You’re right that Rachel Held Evans showed serious hypocrisy in her dealings with the Jones/McMahon situation. You’re right that everyone who ever creates a product for Christians to consume should be held to a higher standard. The Bible guarantees that God himself will hold anyone who claims to teach others to a higher standard on judgment day.

However, if everyone with Biblical ethics leaves the publishing industry, and refuses to make money off of their writing, then the only people left will be those without Biblical ethics. That leaves both the influence and the money in the hands of people that you don’t trust.

Don’t do that.

compromisewithborg

You have a voice that God created to be heard. That has real monetary value, and people are willing to pay for it. It’s not sinful or shameful to be compensated for your work. If you help lift others out of darkness, and show them God’s marvelous light, people are happy to pay for an ebook! They’re happy to tell others about it too! “Hey, did you hear about that Glittery Mob Neelix guy? He wrote this book that really helped me see God’s face during a dark time in my life. You should read it.”

I know that many people have different convictions, and I want to honor that. You may have been called by God to offer your work for free. The Apostle Paul certainly was. However, there’s a big difference between acting on a conviction God placed on your heart, and reacting to the sin you see in big-named Christian celebrities. If you want to help the poor, make a lot of money, and give it all away! If you want to write, make sure as many people see your work as possible! But don’t let the failings of Rachel Held Evans and her ilk drive you away from your calling.

Now, “To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.” Jude 1:24 & 25, NIV