All posts by Tania Alden

About Tania Alden

Tania is a wife, mother, artist, and South African American (in that order). Born in the USA she spent her formative years in Westville, South Africa, only returning to America to attend Bryn Athyn College. Tania and her husband Micah now live in Bryn Athyn with their small and delightful daughter. Tania loves to share memories and discussions, especially when they are centered on South Africa, parenting, art, the movie "Gladiator," and spiritual life.

Spiritual Muscles

Everyone should be able to do at least one pull up. Or so I’ve heard. This has never been a reality for me. It’s never bothered me that much either–physical strength and muscle tone just haven’t been a part of my life. I’ve always considered myself as very middling: not UNfit, but never truly fit, and never someone who could be.

Lacking physical strength is a relatively unimportant issue… sort of. Because along with this lack of physical strength came other handicaps that were so much a part of life I didn’t even consider them. My back got easily strained in everyday activities. My calves were always tight, sometimes painfully so. If I put my baby in a carrier for more than 20 minutes my shoulders hurt badly, meaning I seldom wore her. Spiritually speaking these are not important problems, but they were still inconveniences, and ones I never even sought to change because it didn’t occur to me that I could. They were just there, a side effect of being alive.
Continue reading Spiritual Muscles

Anchor To My Trust

Last month brought considerable attention to the prevalence of sexual harassment and abuse when actress Alyssa Milano’s call for victims to post “me too” took social media by storm.

Since this campaign my mind has been preoccupied with what it means to raise children in a world where harassment, and especially sexual abuse, is so common. It’s far too easy to get lost in the dark places in my mind when I think about sexual abuse at all, let alone when it involves children. Dwelling on that subject is something I need to actively work to shun. But there’s a balance too, right?

I also need to actively think about how I will protect my children, how I will help to make this world safer for them. These big, awful issues require a delicate balance between pragmatism and trust. How do we maintain trust and fight the demons of anxiety and fear in a world that is so patently unsafe for innocence? How do we have the trust that allows us to parent without consuming fear? Continue reading Anchor To My Trust

What Makes You Beautiful

I don’t remember the exact age at which I started to feel self conscious about my body, but I know I was twelve when I began to feel that how I was wasn’t just different, but not good enough. All through highschool I yearned to look different, to look and feel like the thinner, casually pretty with hair up in a messy bun and the ever present eyeliner girls in my school. And yeah, high school is an awkward time and who doesn’t feel self conscious and long to fit in better during that time–men and women? But for women, why does this doubt and inadequacy so often center on appearance?

I’ll say now that I have a heap of questions on this topic, and few answers. What I’m most interested in is hearing your thoughts and responses to these questions.

I feel that my story is like that of so many (all?) women. My teenage years held a lot of angst and deep feelings of unworthiness because of how I looked, but I grew past much of that. I accept and appreciate myself and my body far more than I did when I was 16. So why are these feelings of unworthiness and doubt so easy to dredge up? Why are my feelings about my body so deeply tied to my mood, and vice versa? Continue reading What Makes You Beautiful

The Shame Isn’t Helping: Women’s Struggles with Lust

Last February I wrote an article for New Christian Woman about pornography (read here). I shared my experience of supporting my husband through his struggle with porn and addressed what we as women can do to support men as they combat lust. One of the biggest responses I received for the article was that struggles with lust and pornography are not limited to men, and that these struggles are even less talked about for women. This is absolutely true. And so in this article I want to start talking about women and lust, focusing on the issue of shame.

I will start by saying that when I use the word “lust” I intend it to refer to unhealthy sexual desire, NOT everything to do with sex (because sex as the Lord intended it is a good thing). This is a sensitive topic though, and one that is difficult to discuss no matter how it is worded. I will not try to address every aspect of this complex topic in this article. My hope is that this article will serve to start more conversations about women and their sexual struggles and the shame around them. And while I am writing under the premise that the Lord tells us lust should be shunned (Matthew 5:27), I think that we as New Church people need to begin a more compassionate and productive conversation around sexual struggles, for men and women. Continue reading The Shame Isn’t Helping: Women’s Struggles with Lust