I Want To Smack Ken And Barbie

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest. (Psalm 22: 1-2)

Real life Ken and Barbie make me sick.


I am not a violent person. Really I am not.

But truthfully, I’d like to yank Barbie’s hair and punch Ken right smack in the nose.
Very hard.

I bet you know a few Ken and Barbie’s too.
Surely you know the type.

They have perfect lives.
They always have it together.
They are always well turned out.
Never a single hair out of place.
Not even an ounce of excess weight.
They have the the perfect job.
The perfect house.
The perfect children.
The perfect spouse.
And to top it off~the perfect pedigreed dog!

Am I making you gag yet?

Me? I am retching…

That’s why no matter what other name they go by, their true identity is Ken and Barbie.

Color me jealous.
Or envious.
Or maybe just disgusted.

If you are like me, you get a not-so-secret glee when Ken or Barbie finally get splattered when life sends something nasty their way.

If you are like me, you get a certain satisfaction out of knowing their antiperspirant sometimes fails and something or other in their life stinks!

As much as I dislike the Ken and Barbie’s of the world, I think a greater frustration is with the Ken and Barbie’s of the religious world.

I bet you know that type too.

Their faith is perfect.
Nothing in their lives ever causes them to doubt or question or wonder.
Never mind the completely foreign idea of being angry or furious with God.

Job they are not.

For whatever reason, God seems to smile on everything they do.
There is always a smile on their face. He or she is the golden child.

When life shatters around others, they blithely say things like “don’t worry, everything is going to work out fine” because it always does in their little world.

News flash: I don’t live in the same universe much less the same world. Things do not always work out no matter how many times Ken and Barbie say it will.

My life is messy.
Often I create the mess myself.
But sometimes the mess comes to me no matter how hard I seek to avoid it.

And that makes me wonder…. Can there be real and abiding faith without the heartache and pain to test it?

I am beginning to see faith not as a place one has arrived at, but a journey of give and take–a struggle to understand–even an outright fight with God.

If you don’t have faith in there being a God, how can you scream out in pain and frustration without the expectation that He is listening?

Me? I wish for a Genie-in-the-Bottle-God. But since it doesn’t work that way, my faith has to be different. There is no perfect little Ken and Barbie here. Not by a long shot.

Instead, my faith is a constant battle–not to believe, but to trust and be at peace with a God I don’t always if at all understand.

Historically, I am not alone.

In spite of all the outright crazy messiness in the life of King David, God called him a man after his own heart.

Could it be God saw him that way because David was always real and authentic about where he was–especially with God? Could it be that the many psalms of anger, hurt, and frustration were simply expressions of a wrestling, seeking faith?

Like David, I can say, why, Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? (Psalm 10:1)

I believe those are ultimately words of faith.

I am no Ken or Barbie. My faith is imperfect. My struggle with God is real.

I hope that makes me, like David, a man after God’s own heart.

Hey God? Thanks for allowing me to fight with you. I know I am not going to win in the traditional sense of winning.

But I have to hope faith in you will somehow win in the end…

How’s your faith?

39 thoughts on “I Want To Smack Ken And Barbie

  1. Good one Les i had a lady to tell me once she had the perfect life. Perfect everything, and low and behold we were standing in the church when she said it.I think Ken and Barby lie !

  2. Once on a Sunday morning I heard these words and related to them so deeply that I wrote them in the front of my Bible, in large letters, right beside Layla’s scribbles.
    “Faith, alive in our weakness, looks like a war.”
    I didn’t have a clue.
    I do now.
    Thank you for these words so many years ago. I had no idea how tightly I would cling to them.
    Keep fighting, my brother. I’m told we win.
    Love you.

    • I didn’t have a clue either, Shayna. None at all. Thanks for reading, commenting, loving, and reminding me of those words. I suspect as I continue to write and develop whatever the future brings I will both remember and use those words–soon.

  3. Les,

    I think this is also the reason why the Jacob story is so central to the identity of God’s people. Everything we grow to understand about God, we learn through this wrestling and stubborn relentless hanging-on-for-blessing that leads to renaming.

    • Yeah… But that’s not the idea of faith I have always been given or even came close to understanding… But that’s where I am going. I hope to be writing about that even more in another format!

  4. Very nice post Les! Reminds me of something a friend told me in the 90s when my son was addicted to drugs and folks in the church were no help to me at all. He told me that most Evangelical American churches worship at the altar of the perfect Christian family. Consequentially people who are hurting are falsely ashamed to come to other Christians with their problems.

    • Not just in American churches, I’m afraid. My husband has been struggling with depression for years, and we had the exact same problem: that our church was full of judgment and despair. We felt like no-one could help us or was even bothered about understanding. The impression given was that if we were suffering in any way it was our own fault because we weren’t doing enough for Jesus.

  5. Hi, Les. I found your blog through a link from a friend’s site and I’ve been reading it. I’m so sorry for all you have been through. I decided to comment on this post – I love your reference to David – a man after God’s own heart, yet so far from “perfect.” I’ve always found David so comforting b/c he teaches we don’t have to be perfect and life isn’t always neat – we just have to hang on to God. His psalms teach me it’s okay to have questions, to be confused, and even to be mad – but again, just hold on to Him, even in all those emotions. (I also love the father who tells Jesus _ “I do believe. Help me overcome my unbelief.” Such hope for me, as I often feel both of those at the same time. I don’t like when others say “If we believe enough, good things (i.e., the answers we want to prayer) will happen.” I think that is a misunderstanding of scripture. Someone who was well intentioned once told me that if we just did x, y, and z a certain situation we were going through would be all better. I respectfully asked this person if she read Job (or the story of Joseph or…). I pray you will continue your struggle IN faith. I pray your heart-felt, honest writing will help many people to be honest in their own faith, with God, and with each other. Thanks for sharing!

  6. May God bless your renewed efforts. May you reach that perfect relationship with God through Jesus Christ. However, I suggest you focus upon Jesus instead of the believers you call Ken and Barbie Christians. Those who have God’s favor also have their struggles. They just don’t make them a public issue. Instead, they go to Him in prayer. They seek understanding through His word. They have joy amid their struggles. They are not immune to sorrow, persecution, hate and all the problems that the world offers. They just walk with God through them, in faith, praising Him through their struggles as well as through their good times. They focus upon God’s blessings and let Him handle their struggles. Isn’t that what David did, also?

    “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, That is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” Matthew 22:37-39

    Love, not jealousy or envy. Not judging their relationship with God.

    I’m not arguing with you or trying to chastise. Just giving you another point of view in the love of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

    • Sometimes that kind of behavior is known as denial John. Sometimes the pain doesn’t go away until it is acknowledged, shared and compassionately understood by friends in Christ. This is especially true of those with chronic illnesses and disabling diseases. Sometimes the pain is so bad that there are really no answers or understanding. In those times friends listen more and quote the bible less.

    • John, thanks for writing and reading. I am sure that many handle their struggles with dignity and grace. But I have been preaching for many, many years… Or rather did, and just as many like to pretend their lives are something to totally different. And with all the evil my family has been through, hopefully you’ll forgive the fact that I am jealous of those who get to live their lives without this kind of horror Being visited upon them.

  7. I know Ken and Barbie – they attend regularly :). But guess what? If you look closely even a little bit, they are humble enough to show you their cracks. They are a ‘perfect’ couple and a ‘perfect’ family. But their humility and willingness to allow the cracks to show make the rest of us go home of a Sunday saying – ‘we can do it’. We are blessed to have them!

    • Christy, thanks for reading and commenting. I really appreciate it. And I am glad that is your experience! Please keep coming back!

  8. Thanks for this, Les. I was fired (“asked to resign”) from my preaching job last year — as my son was starting his senior year of high school (yes, the elders really did that!) — and I have not yet found a new job (other than a part time job in retail). I’ve decided not to go back into ministry, and changing careers when you’re 48 and have been a minister for 19 years is tough!

    I relate to so much of what you say in this post, even though what happened to me is minor league compared to what you have suffered. It’s tough to see people around me land good jobs and say things like, “God DOES answer prayer!” I think, “Really? Either my prayers aren’t getting through, or God doesn’t really care about me and my situation.” And when people post things on Facebook like, “Life is good!” I sometimes find myself thinking, “Yeah… not so much for me.” Just last week we had to put our house up for sale because we will not be able to make the payments if my underemployment continues. That was just another punch in the gut. I am thankful when people say they are praying for me, but I secretly wonder if it’s really doing any good.

    Am I being whiny? Am I complaining too much? Probably. But I know that I’m in good company.

    “How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?” — King David (Psalms 13:1-2)

    I’m still hanging on to God, even though I have no idea what He’s up to and why this is happening. While I sometimes find it hard to pray, my prayers have become a lot more honest. And I think God can handle my doubts, impatience, anger… and even my whining.

    May God richly bless you as you continue on this journey, Les.

    • Jeff, I get it. I too could tell some horror stories about promises made and not completed. I will be blogging about the very thing you wrote about. Why their prayers are answered and not mine?
      Blessings on your journey as well… How did you find my blog?

    • Hi Jeff! I join Les in blessing your journey of re-employment. I also groan when people speak of God answering their prayers like some sort of genie in a bottle. So interesting how some see God and His sovereignty in such a narcissistic way. Hang in there and please keep us posted about your travels. -Many blessings, Bob

      • Thanks Bob. It’s interesting that I still find myself praying that way at times (treating God like a genie in a bottle). Some habits are hard to break.

        I will try to keep you posted.

  9. My faith, such as it may be, is far different from that of the people who can recite a religious platitude to cover every possible circumstance in life.
    Excellent thoughts on reality versus fantasy faith. Can’t say that I “enjoy” your blogs as they are gut wrenching reality, but I check your site a couple of times a day to see your latest.
    Again, thanks for sharing the most difficult pain I could imagine.

  10. Les,
    Geraldine introduced me to your blog.. I get it totally, though I have not researched your background thoroughly. I lost my only sister when she was 37 yrs old, leaving 2 kids (6&7 yo at the time). Same age as my two children. My parents are 67 & 68 raising them.. I understand anger.. I am glad to know that I am not the only one that has been angry, TRULY angry at God. I’ve said this, fearing as to what the response would be once I voiced this. People understood, and I realized I was not alone. I allowed myself to voice this, and feel this. I have a child with Aspergers, and live 850 miles from my parents. Anger over not being there now is probably the worst. But it’s been 4 1/2 years, and I am finally healing. I think from the outside, people THINK I have the perfect life. I am blessed to have a wonderful husband, and 2 great kids. I am guilty of being one of those REJOICING over the “small” things.. WHY? because those are my “wins”.. every little “win” counts in a life that can be very difficult, and stressful at times. I don’t think there are truly any Ken and Barbies.. we just “think” that.. I think heartache is a way of life here on earth.. If there are.. then they need our prayers, because when it hits the fan, they won’t know how to take it. All I can say, like the other posters, is “Can’t I just get a BREAK?” Well, life has been on a even keel for a while.. so I’ll take it.. no major catastrophes lately, and I’ll take it, but I am ALWAYS waiting on the other shoe to drop. Just glad to know that I am not the only one who struggles with answers!

  11. You know some of my story Les. Bits and pieces I was convinced that my sin had completely cut me off from God that I had fallen from grace never to return (Heb 6) but now I am learning that to have that faith like David, which I so diligently prayed for, I must learn to trust Gods love and faithfulness and providence even amidst my darkest most sinful days. Perhaps he is answering my pleading prayer, please never let me go even when I turn away. Never let me go.

  12. WOW! Thanks for the insight, Les! You hit the nail on the head! Am going to have to print this off and share w/ my BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) group and keep it close in hand for future reference. Just looked–regretfully, there are no BSF classes in proximity to the Vicksburg area. GREAT pity as you’d LOVE it–no Barbies and Kens allowed; it’s a raw and real introspective and life-application study! We DIG apart the Scriptures and we see (in a VERY real way) the constant [normal] struggles of those living out their faith. We studied Acts last year and Paul’s other epistles. Genesis is proving to be AWESOME this year!

  13. I read a quote the other day from a woman who encourages Christian wives and mothers that really made an impact: “Your children don’t need to see you perfect, they need to see you surrendered.” I work SO hard to be perfect for a husband who will not love me if I’m any less, that I am losing sight of the fact that God loves me in spite of all my failures! Thank you so much for this reminder!

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