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.

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

World of Pain, World of Joy

I cannot believe that the inscrutable universe turns on an axis of suffering; surely the strange beauty of the world must somewhere rest on pure joy!

Louise Bogan

At times the Lord can seem pretty divorced from the very real suffering around me. Where is He in the indescribable emptiness after a miscarriage, the hopelessness of a failed relationship, or a broken home? Where is He in the shocking prevalence of abuse as you learn of yet another loved ones’ past experience? Where is He in the numbing reality of a severe illness in a family member? And that doesn’t even touch on the greater world suffering. I find it is especially hard to feel the Lord’s presence as an observer to these pains. I find I have an easier time accepting comfort from the Lord when it is my own suffering, but when it is the suffering of someone I love, I feel helpless. Helpless and guilty. Guilty for not sharing that pain, and guilty for the goodness in my life that seems unjustifiably kept from others. And so I find that a deep, seldom acknowledged part of me is quietly asking: Are You really here, Lord? Do You really care? And since You do care, which I know You do, why so much pain?
Continue reading World of Pain, World of Joy

Pornography: Loving a Fighter

Pornography is something that has affected me and many people I love. I guarantee it has or is currently affecting someone you love, and so even though this is a difficult topic, I encourage you to read on: this is relevant to you. I am writing to share my experience and thoughts with others who acknowledge that pornography is harmful. I want to share what I know, mostly through sharing my journey of supporting a man in his fight against porn. My hope is that through sharing, I can open a safe space for discussion about what women can do to better support their men in the fight against lust, be they brothers, husbands, sons or friends.

Pornography’s reach should not be underestimated. Wonderful as it is, the internet has done some bad things for the world, and making pornography painfully easy to find is one of them.(http://www.fightthenewdrug.org is a good, safe place to look for facts and information on porn’s spread and effects). Of the men I’ve talked to about this, maybe a few haven’t struggled with pornography at some point. For the majority, it has been an ongoing struggle since they were boys. The battle that has touched me the deepest is my husband’s.
Continue reading Pornography: Loving a Fighter