The Truth About “Fifty Shades of Grey”

I never thought there would be a day when sado-masochism would be considered “romantic,” but it has happened with “Fifty Shades of Grey.” What makes this storyline so appealing to people? Is this really the type of relationship women secretly want? Would the lead female character endure these sexual games if the main character wasn’t a rich guy?

“Romance” has progressively been redefined over the last few decades. My idea of romance came from Disney movies like “Cinderella” or “Sleeping Beauty,” but when I was a teenager, the big “romance” movie was “Endless Love,” basically a warped Shakespearean love story about two teens who have sex and encounter tragedies in their lives. Then, when I was a young adult the romance movie was “Pretty Woman,” a story about a prostitute and her rich client falling in love with one another. Seeing this progression, it makes sense that society would consider “Fifty Shades of Grey” as “romantic.”

In a world where there is no real moral standard, “romance” or “love” can be anything. The truth is that the people who are enthralled by “Fifty Shades of Grey” have a miserable existence— they have no real purpose for living. They gravitate to a twisted “love” story because they desperately want to escape reality, and the storyline is so void of realism that it pacifies their need to forget about their own lives.

The real issue isn’t about sado-masochism disguised as “love,” but an internal emptiness that people generally feel. The popularity of “Fifty Shades of Grey” is a symptom of a greater issue— the need for God. Only God can fill human emptiness by giving people a true purpose for living and providing them with a new outlook on life. An invitation is given to all: “Come to me with your ears wide open. Listen, and you will find life… Oh, that you would choose life… You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life…” (Isa 55:3, Deu 30:19-20). Now, get a life!

Copyright © 2015 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Sad but thankful

I remember the very first time I met my father-in-law. It was early in the morning. My husband had picked me up from Miami airport at around midnight and we drove all night to his parents’ home in Ormond Beach. I was so nervous because I didn’t know how I would be received.

My husband’s father emerged from the hallway with a huge smile and his arms were out to hug me. He was so happy to see me and I felt so welcomed.

Even though God is my Heavenly Father, I think He knew that I needed to have a father who could show me what a real father ought to be. Over the years my father-in-law did many of the things I imagined a father would— he showed me how to make spaghetti sauce and to roast red peppers, he shared stories from his past, and we would go to the local Farmer’s market and thrift stores.

My father-in-law was the father figure I never had as a child— he gave me encouragement and accepted me. I think God blessed me with him because my other earthly fathers fell short—my biological father had basically abandoned me after my parents divorced, and my stepfather was a pedophile.

I felt more like my father-in-law’s adopted daughter than his daughter-in-law, and I called him, “Dad,” because in my heart that’s what he was to me. I wanted him to be proud of me— for being a good wife and mother, and for my personal accomplishments. He died before I received my doctorate degree, but I know he would have been proud.

Today is his birthday and I mourn his death, but I am thankful that he was in my life—“Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father…” (James 1:17, NLT), and I know one day I will see him again. God is good!

dadcake(Dad at my wedding on Nov. 24, 1984)

Copyright © 2015 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Get Up and Run!

My first half marathon was a little disappointing for me because my body crashed at mile 10 and I felt I could have made a much better time, but my time in subsequent runs kept getting worse. The one I ran last month was my worst, granted I wore shoes I usually don’t wear and it was cold and rainy and I had leg cramps during the run, but it discouraged me so much.

I didn’t want to run again because I had such a horrible experience, but about a couple of weeks afterwards, I realized that I couldn’t let that last run stop me from running—I had to keep going. Now I am learning how to run all over again, starting slowly and finding the joy in running.

I thought about how our Christian walk can falter— maybe we had a bad experience with someone at church and we stopped attending worship, maybe we had the intention of reading through the Bible in a year and after a few months we stopped— anything we wanted to do to grow but the opposite happened. Sure, we can “quit” but how is that beneficial?

There’s no coincidence that running and finishing the race is often mentioned in the Bible:

The fastest runner doesn’t always win the race… in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize… So run to win… run with purpose in every step… let us strip off every weight that slows us down… And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us… those who trust in the Lord will find new strength… They will run and not grow weary…

I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize… on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless… I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race…” (Ecc 9:11, 1 Cor 9:24, 26, Hebrews 12:1, Isa 40:31, Phil 3:14, Phil 2:16, 2 Tim 4:7).

The New Year is fastly approaching— get up and run!

Copyright © 2014 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Two deaths

I thought my mother would be grieving my stepfather’s death—she had been married to him for almost 40 years, but instead of grief, there was relief.

My mother had been through so much— for a year, my stepfather was bedridden and my mother had to feed and change him. She had no peace— even when she wanted to go downstairs for a break, he would call for her and she would stay with him in the room.

When my mother discovered he had died, she called my brother and he wired money for her to cremate him. About four hours later, she was presented with a ceramic vase with his ashes in it. There was no funeral and no one cried for him.

I then thought about my father-in-law’s funeral. All of us were mourning his death—all of us were deeply saddened because we would miss him. The church was filled with people and they talked about all the wonderful things my father-in-law did.

There’s a stark difference between the way my stepfather and my father-in-law were remembered in death, and I think these differences reflected who they were and how they lived their lives.

My stepfather was a pedophile and a gambling addict. He molested not only my sister and me, but also my cousins and my brother’s niece on his wife’s side (these were the ones that I know about). He had also been arrested for picking up prostitutes.

My father-in-law was a godly man. He was married to my mother-in-law for almost 50 years prior to his death. He was ill for 20 years yet he continued to do ministry. He was like a father to me and he loved my children very much.

My stepfather did not know the LORD, but my father-in-law did. My stepfather did not worship God, but my father-in-law worshiped Him constantly. My stepfather denied Christ, but my father-in-law embraced Christ and told others about Him.

Deuteronomy 30:19-20 says, “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make… You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life…” (NLT).

My stepfather did not choose life, but my father-in-law did, and now the memory of my father-in-law continues while my stepfather has been quickly forgotten.

Copyright © 2014 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Sanctuary

“The Walking Dead” is a show on AMC that has become very popular over the past few seasons. I’m not sure what the appeal of it is for everyone, but I think for some, it makes them think about how they would survive if “life as we know it” suddenly changed and people had to constantly look for shelter and food to stay alive.

The show has its share of excitement and plot twists. Throughout the series viewers are left with a feeling of uneasiness. The main characters often meet “bad people” who want to rob or kill them, or they have to fight off “walkers” that try to attack them. In this season the home they had was destroyed, and in their haste to leave, the group was scattered and separated.

In the latest episode (season 4, episode 14) the splinter group of two adults, two children, and a baby find a house in the “middle of nowhere.” There’s food, water, and gas for cooking. The group was contemplating living there, but then something tragic happens (the ending took viewers by surprise). The splinter group decides to leave in order to find a sanctuary known as “Terminus.”

It would be terrible to live in a world where there is no justice and people have no real peace. The truth is, our circumstances are very similar in “real life.” We live in a world where tragic things happen all the time. Sometimes people do cruel and terrible things to others and there seems to be no justice. Some people live in fear and have no peace. People want to find “sanctuary.”

In the midst of all these horrible things, God is the refuge for all. In Him people can find peace, justice, strength, and life. God is like that house in the middle of “nowhere” but His shelter is permanent—a fortified fortress, an everlasting sanctuary.

If you want to “survive” and truly live, then turn to God. “The name of the Lord is a strong fortress; the godly run to Him and are safe” (Proverbs 18:10, NLT).

Copyright © 2014 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Divorce

I remember watching a movie where a man continued to see his stepson even though he and his wife were divorced. The man’s daughter asked why, and he said, “You divorce wives not children.” What a great statement.

I lived with my mother and stepfather so I didn’t get to see my father much. Looking back, I wondered what my father could have done to make me feel like I was still a part of this life:

  • He could have called me every day. I didn’t hear from my father much. Since he was in the Navy, he was transferred to various ports— San Francisco, Florida, then Italy. Not only did he transfer to different places, he also remarried.  It would have been great for him to call me for a few minutes—ask how my day was, tell me that he loves me, say “good night” to me, etc. If we still lived under the same roof then he would talk to me.
  • He should visit me more often or allow me to visit him. When my father was stationed in San Francisco, we saw him at least once a month but when he moved farther away I never saw him. We could have visited him during the summers, but we didn’t. I realize that after he remarried, he couldn’t leave his wife to see us but he could have paid for plane tickets for us to see him.
  • Even if he couldn’t call me a few minutes every day then he could have set aside time to talk to me every week. Even if we had nothing in particular to talk about, it would have been good to hear his voice and to hear him say that he loved me.
  • He could have sent me letters or cards with meaningful words. I don’t remember receiving any mail from my father. He would send gifts every now and then but it would have been more special if he had included a handwritten note with it. 

I am thankful that my children were raised in a home with both their parents, but having a home with both parents under the same roof is becoming rare; even so, children still need to feel loved by both parents. Divorce or remarriage should not prevent parents from expressing love for their children. Parents should never divorce their children. 

Copyright © 2013 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

“Forks in the road”

I sat down today and thought about all the “forks in the road” that could have led to a much different life for me. 

Some of these “forks” were faced by my parents and others were the ones I faced, but each one resulted in where I am today. 

The major “fork” that my parents had was to stay married or get divorced. When I was a child, I imagined what it would have been like for them to stay together— my mother wouldn’t have married my step-father and my life might have been more stable. I used to spend a lot of time wondering what that might have looked like. Now I know that it was just a waste of time. 

One of the “forks” I faced was to get sterilized or not get sterilized. I chose to get sterilized after four children and two miscarriages. There are days when I regret that decision and I wonder what it would have been like to have more children. The days I spent mourning my decision was also a waste of time. 

Sometimes we make bad decisions and sometimes people make a choice that we just have to “live with.” Even though we replay these things in our heads and wish that we can go back in time and do things differently, we can’t do anything to change the past. 

I used to have a lot of guilt about the “forks” I had taken, but I realized that God had allowed me to take these various paths. If I wasn’t supposed to take them then He would have done something to prevent me from taking them. 

Sometimes the path is difficult and full of heartache, but even then I have to realize that it’s the path He wanted me to take. I can’t waste my time thinking about things that “could have been” because there’s a reason why I was on that path and not on the other. If my mind and heart are elsewhere then I won’t be alert to what I’m supposed to see and experience. 

I had a very difficult childhood because of the “fork” my parents took, but looking back I think that experience has made me more aware of the issues that some children and teenagers face when in a similar situation. I want to tell them to cling to God no matter how bleak their circumstances are at the moment; and I want to encourage them to never give up, to look up and to look ahead. 

Although I regret some of the “forks” I had taken, I need to stop feeling guilty and sad.  I think discouragement happens when we focus on our past and lose sight of everything else.  I need to “look up” and “look ahead”— to fix my attention on God and to concentrate on the future. 

“For the Lord gives wisdom;
    from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
He holds success in store for the upright,
    he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,
for he guards the course of the just
    and protects the way of his faithful ones.

Then you will understand what is right and just
    and fair—every good path.
For wisdom will enter your heart,
    and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
Discretion will protect you,
    and understanding will guard you….

Thus you will walk in the ways of the good
    and keep to the paths of the righteous.” 

(Proverbs 2:6-11, 20)

Copyright © 2013 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

I was an “out-of-control” glutton

My husband and I know of an older man who is in his 70’s who seemed so much younger because he has a lot of energy and is very active—he would go on mountain hikes that were several miles long, and he would go whitewater rafting and canoeing. His advice was to live life now while you still can and keep doing what you love.

I wanted to have that kind of energy and strength, but I had to make some changes in my life. I couldn’t keep eating like a “teenager”—I had to take care of my body.

I heard that as we get older it’s natural to gain weight, but how much is “natural”? When my children were younger I weighed 107 pounds—I remember this because when I tried to give blood the person said that I had to be at least 110 pounds. They gave my children cookies and sent me on my way.

My heaviest, non-pregnant weight was 148 pounds (it could have been higher than that, but that’s what I remember from the doctor’s office). The sad thing was that I didn’t even realize that I had gained this weight— in my mind, it just “seemed to happen.”

I remember eating quarter-pound hot dogs, quarter-pound burgers, milk shakes, and large cinnamon rolls (I was eating as much or even more than my husband) then telling myself that I’d work it off—who was I kidding? I hadn’t exercised in several years! That was my way of feeling less guilty for having no self-control.

One day I noticed that my clothes were starting to get tight. Then I noticed that I was slowly transitioning into larger blouses and pants. I would tell myself, “Clothing sometimes runs small.” Why would I fool myself like that? I didn’t like what I had become. I didn’t even like looking at myself in the mirror. I was an “out of control” glutton.

That’s when I “woke up.” I couldn’t keep going down this path—I had to do something. Not only did I not like how I looked, but I found out that it was affecting my health—my cholesterol and blood pressure were up.

So I started to “run” (it was more like light jogging and walking, but it was a start). Even though I wanted to exercise there were weeks when I did no activity. I felt pathetic—I felt like a “loser” and I wanted to “give up” and “give in”—just eat whatever and do nothing about it because it was just too hard to exercise.

It wasn’t until I started to Tweet about my progress that I was able to stick with exercising. It felt like there was some kind of accountability. After a “run,” I would Tweet my time, the distance, and some encouraging Scripture. I tried to do this at least twice a week.

I increased my time on the treadmill, and I added an extra day to my week—I was working out three times a week, 30 minutes each time. I went from light jogging/fast walking, to light jogging only, then to running. That was about 2 years ago.

The progress is slow—sometimes I only have one day a week to exercise and I find myself eating lots of cake during special occasions. Sometimes I would gain a pound or two, then there were weeks or months when I “plateaued”—no changes in weight, but I kept going. I try to think of certain foods as “poison” for my body and this has helped me to avoid some of them.

I long to be that “skinny” young mother that I was, but even if I never get there at least I am helping my body to recover from the damages I inflicted.

Change is possible— you just have to want it more than the other thing. I loved all the wrong foods, but I really want to be healthy so I can be around a little longer for my children and grandchildren.

I picture myself at my granddaughters’ wedding and seeing my great-grandchildren. I want this to happen in “real life.” I know there are no “guarantees” in life—God can take me anytime He wants and I can’t do anything to stop Him, but I shouldn’t shorten my life by being a glutton with no self-control.

I think this might be an issue for others too and that’s why the Bible has so many passages about “self-control.” One that seems applicable to my situation is Proverbs 25:27-28, “It’s not good to eat too much honey… A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls” (NLT). I don’t want to have “broken-down walls” anymore!

Copyright © 2013 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

The crack

A few months ago, we thought about moving to a different house—one with a flat backyard and a wider area on the main floor for entertaining. The realtor we met at one of the houses we viewed offered to look at our house to give us an estimate of its value (what we can expect to get for it) and to give us advice on how we could sell it.

When he came into our house, he looked at the living room and kitchen. He mentioned how people are looking for an open concept (which we have) and a large ranch (again, which we have). He felt that if we put our house on the market then it would be sold right away since it was a property that was very desirable and in a good neighborhood.

Then he told us some of the things we could do to make it more marketable. He mentioned little things like de-clutter, take pictures off the wall, etc.  He said one of the big things he noticed was the large crack in the ceiling of the den. I took a good look at it—the crack had become so much bigger than what it was originally. It used to be a thin line, hardly noticeable, but now it runs across the whole ceiling and is slowly coming down along the wall. When did that happen?

It made me think about how our spiritual life can be like that crack in the ceiling. For instance, we neglect to do little things such as read our Bible, and then we neglect to pray. After a while we start missing worship services—maybe just one every couple of months, but then it becomes more frequent. Or maybe there’s a temptation that we’ve been resisting, but one day we decide to try it “just this once.” The one time turns into a multitude of times.

James 1:14-15 says, “Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death” (NLT). We don’t always notice when we have “veered from the path” or when we have “fallen away.” We convince ourselves that it’s “not that bad,” then compare our situation to those that are far worse. As a result, our lives become less joyful and we start to experience problems that were not there before. 

Take a good look at your life— has the “crack” in your life become bigger?  Don’t ignore the issue anymore. Run to God!

Copyright © 2013 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

“Stuff”

A few days ago I had a mammogram. This morning I got a phone call from the imaging center telling me that they found some kind of mass and they need to do a different mammogram. She explained that if it still looked like there was something there then they would have to do an ultrasound.

I was calm when the person on the phone relayed all the information to me. I didn’t say much, just “Ok.” She paused then asked if I had any questions (maybe she was expecting a different kind of response from me?). I asked her when was the soonest day I could make an appointment, and after choosing the day she made the appointment and I ended the call.

A while ago I received a similar phone call. My reaction was not the same as today’s—I was upset, scared, and confused. Cancer runs in my family, so my immediate thought was—“it’s cancer.”

After seeing so many deaths since then, I have no real reaction. My thought is that God has control over life and death—I can’t make myself live longer than what God has authorized for me to live. All I can do is ask Him to give me a little more time on earth, but He’s the One who will decide if I leave or if I stay.

I’m not sure if my reaction has anything to do with my reading through Ecclesiastes. I started the first chapter a couple of days ago. What runs through my mind now is, “Everything is so meaningless.” I can understand that sentiment— many people work hard, sacrificing time with their spouse and/or children, just so they can accumulate “stuff.” Others think about the “stuff” they want and don’t have.

“Stuff” doesn’t matter— what matters is making an impact on your loved ones, like taking the time to hear what they are thinking, and just getting to know them again.

I remember going blueberry picking in Alaska when I was a child. After all the berries had been gathered, I stayed in the kitchen to watch my grandmother make pies. I also remember going on camping trips to the lake with my grandparents and my cousins.

I want to give the same kind of memories to my own children and grandchildren. Even though she is only 3-years-old, I have made cupcakes with my granddaughter a few times now because I want her to remember that special time she had with her grandmother.

Having “stuff” can’t replace “being there” with someone, and wasting time on wishing for “stuff” means that less time is spent with those you love.

I don’t know how long I will live— none of us really know. I just want to make the most of my life while I am still living and spend as much time with my loved ones as possible.

From Ecclesiastes 9:1-3, 5-7, 9-10, “Even though the actions of godly and wise people are in God’s hands, no one knows whether God will show them favor. The same destiny ultimately awaits everyone, whether righteous or wicked, good or bad… There is nothing ahead but death…

The living at least know they will die, but the dead know nothing. They have no further reward, nor are they remembered. Whatever they did in their lifetime—loving, hating, envying—is all long gone. They no longer play a part in anything here on earth. So go ahead. Eat your food with joy, and drink your wine with a happy heart, for God approves of this!

… Live happily with the woman you love through all the meaningless days of life that God has given you under the sun… Whatever you do, do well. For when you go to the grave,there will be no work or planning or knowledge or wisdom” (NLT).

So the bottom line is, know God, enjoy life with those you love, and stop worrying about “stuff.”

Copyright © 2013 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti