I Thought I’d Take A Day Off From This

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*Edited to add, here's the big controversial post [the controversial part is toward the end], which may not seem so controversial to y'all, but there you go.  I decided to leave it like it was, so it's all there, the good, bad, ugly, and possibly heretical[is that a word?]* 

But then I got to thinking about something that happened a couple of weeks ago, and it pissed me off, so here goes.

Steve and I met a dear lady a couple of years ago at our old [Nazarene] church in Sedalia. She had ended up there because she and her husband had been traveling in Kansas City, and while there, he had been mugged and beaten so badly that they didn't know if he would survive. If he did survive, they weren't sure whether he'd suffered a brain injury. When he came out of the coma, they realized that he would have some recovery to do, and somehow he ended up in a nursing home in Sedalia.

Well, this lady said that the people of Sedalia [meaning the pastor and his wife at the Nazarene church] had embraced her and helped her, so she was going to try to make a go of it there, even though she and her entire family were from Houston.

So anyway, this lady is a 'Doctor of Divinity,'and is without a doubt one of the most joyful people I've ever met. She exudes love and just being around her makes you want to praise God.

She nursed her husband back to health, and sold her house in Houston, basically severing all ties to her home, and at the same time began struggling to make a life for herself in Sedalia.

For some reason, she hasn't been able to find a full-time job. She teaches at the local college part-time and has applied for a full-time position several times. They've always told her that they don't have a full time position, but she sees ads in the paper looking for professors at that college all the time.

One has to wonder why she hasn't been hired on for full-time work.

This past summer, her son came to town to visit his mom, and while he was there, he went to some stores in Sedalia. Each time he went into a store, the sales people would follow him around, refusing to let him browse in peace.

Did I mention that he is over six feet tall and African American? Did I also mention that in all of the college, there is only one full-time African American professor [she teaches in the nursing program, and taught there when my mom went through the ADN program as well as when I went through two-thirds of the PN program.]

The lady said that people look at her applications and tell her she's 'overqualified' for some of the jobs she's applied for. I suppose that could be a legitimate reason not to hire some one, but it smacks of bullshit to me.

Is it possible that what she and her son experienced is racism? Yeah, I thought so. Un-fucking-believable.

And the thing is, this shit's so widespread. Not just white people getting all stupid about black people, either. People will get stupid about any race, religion, culture, or sexual preference different from their own if it makes them feel uncomfortable, or if it helps them justify treating another person as less than human. 

The thing is, all people were created to be good. Not all choose to do good, but that doesn't mean that God intended them to be bad. And the vast majority of people are good and do good.

Most people love their families, and would protect them with their lives, regardless of where they are from. And they were all created in the image of God. They all carry part of the divine within them, and I don't give a shit what religion they follow, every human has the capacity to know God intimately, and ultimately, to go into whatever afterlife there is with God's approval.

That probably makes me not a Christian in some people's eyes, and quite frankly, I don't care anymore. Call me a heretic, disown me, or excommunicate me, whatever.

I love my Jesus, and he loves me. He also loves every other person on the planet, and I really don't think he or the Father give a shit what you call them [him, her, whatever] as long as you call.

So seek God, people. Don't expect him to be a magic wand and rescue you from your problems, and then refuse to believe in him when he doesn't. Just look for him in the sunset, in nature, in whatever place you think you can find the true creator.

And when you find him, expect the strength and peace to get you through whatever shit comes your way, but understand that he may not make the pain stop. I wish I could explain why that's true, but I can't.

Shit happens, and there's no rhyme or reason, and sometimes I see the suffering in the world and I get pissed off at God. I mean WTF? you know? I don't have the answers, but when the shit comes down, I have a peace that I can't explain.

I scream and yell and rave at God, and when I'm done, he just comforts me. Nothing about my circumstances changes, but I can feel a Presence, and I know that I'm not alone, and somehow that strengthens me until the next time the shit falls and I repeat the process.

*here it is* 

And you know what? I still feel his presence even though my views on exactly who he is and what he's all about have changed. God's grace has grown beyond what I thought was possible, and that's scary for me, but exhilarating at the same time.

So to make this clear so there's no misunderstanding. I don't believe that "Accepting Jesus As Your Lord and Savior" is the only way to find God. I believe that people find God every day through most religions, and sometimes maybe through no religion at all. Can't say for sure on that, but who am I to say for sure on any of it?

To my Christian friends who read this blog, I have been praying about this for so long now. I've been trying to figure out if this is really true, or if it's some kind of horrible lie to mislead me and eventually send my soul to hell. I suppose it's possible that it is all a lie, that you really can't get to heaven without 'getting saved,' but the more I look into it, the more I feel like I'm still heading in the right direction.

Where does that put me in the church? In your lives?

So there it is, and still I'm confused, and nervous, and a big dumb wuss.

Matter of fact, my instinct is to nix the last few paragraphs. I'm gonna read it again, and if you read this, well, I guess you'll know I've decided to throw caution to the wind and invite whatever comments y'all may have.

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2 responses »

  1. Shelbi,

    I think you are making perfect sense. I don’t pretend to understand the will of God or the full meaning of Christ’s life. Maybe some things have to be understood only after we leave this life, I don’t know. But I do think you are on the right track.

    So many people who call themselves Christians turn people away from the compassion and love that Christ showed us with his life, by turning their faith into a rigid, life rejecting condemnation of everything that is different from what they believe.

    Let me share an example of that. I have a friend who is a Neocon. In 2004 my mother had a terrible stroke. My husband and I were caring for my mother in the last years of her life, because she could no longer walk or take care of herself. We were glad to do it. We were a family.

    On the day she had the stroke mom had been sleeping. That morning we had laughed and joked together. Then she took a nap after breakfast, as was her habit. My husband called me a couple of hours later and told me something was wrong with my mother. I went into her room and she couldn’t speak. She could hear me, but I don’t know if she could see me. I asked her to speak to me and she tried, but she couldn’t. I called 911 and we went to the emergency room with her.

    We sat with her all day helping the doctors and nurses do small medical procedures on her, because the hospital was a trauma center and there were several gunshot wounds who were there at the same time.

    By the end of the day mom was in a room, and I was holding her hand while she slept. Finally my husband took me home, because the pain from my MS was excrutiating. Even though I didn’t say anything, he knew.

    Our vigil went on for ten days. At first her prognosis was guarded, but then she gradually lost awareness and slipped into a light coma. She knew we were there for her, but she didn’t know us anymore. I could see the recognition go out of her eyes. They called them doll’s eyes. In the end, she developed a fast moving pneumonia, and had a second stroke which killed her.

    I go into so much detail because I was heartbroken. I called my Neocon friend for support, because she had recently lost her mother to cancer. She told me that unless I could get my mother to say that she accepted Jesus Christ as her personal savior, my mother would go to Hell. I just lost it. I told her I didn’t want to talk to her anymore, and for many months I didn’t. My mother was a good person full of love and compassion. She reached out to others and shared that love, and lived a good life by anyone’s standards.

    My agnostic friend on the other hand told me that my mom would be happy and at peace at last. I said to her, “You don’t believe in an afterlife.” She responded, “I know, but you’re crying and I love your mother, so I have to try.” I can’t say why but that was so comforting.

    I do speak to my Neocon friend again now. She says she needs me, and if I can I help her, I will. But there is a part of me that will not trust her with myself ever again. I think that is the price you pay for trying to make people who think differently into pariahs. You lose their trust and eventually their respect. You never gain their souls. Their souls belong to God, and God gives us peace, not agita.

    Hedgehog

  2. Hi Hedgehog,

    Thank you for sharing that story. Steve lost his dad to a stroke in 2004, too. It was week seven of the Academy, and he missed a whole week of school because of it.

    He and his dad loved each other very much. They had had problems when Steve was a kid, but after Steve and I were married, they went to Promise Keepers together, and his dad actually apologized to Steve for ‘being too hard on him.’

    That was something that was unheard of from John. They had grown closer since I joined the family, so it was hard to watch him lose his dad, who was only 58 years old. It was also an amazing time for us, though, because while we were grieving, Steve grew so much stronger during that week.

    His grandfather had died a year or two earlier, and Steve’s mom had said that she didn’t ask Steve to sing because she didn’t think he could do it without crying. So she asked Steve’s sister to do it. She did, and didn’t cry, but I always felt kinda weird about it.

    It’s like part of me knew that if it came down to it, he was strong enough to sing the damn song, and do anything else he put his mind to. [I’m a bit militant in my support of my hubby, but I think he’s wonderful ;-)]

    So anyway, when John died, there were two songs that Steve wanted to have sung at the funeral, “Untitled Hymn” [Come to Jesus] by Chris Rice, and “I Still Believe,” by Jeremy Camp. There really wasn’t anyone else who could do it, so Steve decided to do it himself.

    I can’t describe the strength it took for him to do that. He’d try to practice it before the funeral and lose it, but at the funeral, he sang both songs flawlessly, and it was a beautiful testament to the strength and love he had for his dad, you know?

    After that week, Steve excelled at the Academy. It’s like he had accomplished the impossible by keeping it together during those songs, and he knew he could do anything after that.

    That’s what I was talking about in my poem “Hero” when I said watching him succeed made me believe in myself for the first time.

    It’s amazing the good God brings from tragic events sometimes.

    You’re agnostic friend sounds like a truly special person, and I’m so glad she was able to offer you comfort when you needed it most. I seem to remember a story about when Jesus was on the cross and the thief asked Jesus to remember him when he was in his kingdom and JC promised he’d be in paradise that day.

    That man never said the words, “I accept you as my Lord and savior,” or “Forgive my sins,” did he? But his heart was right with God, so it didn’t matter. I sometimes think a lot of Christian rules and regs are man-made instead of God-made.

    For what it’s worth, your love and devotion to your mother shows me that she was truly a wonderful lady. Nothing this side of heaven will ever convince me that she isn’t in heaven right now, smiling down upon you, and looking out for you and Peacefrog. Steve’s dad is doing the same for us. I believe that with all my heart.

    Thanks for the comment, Hedgehog, it’s good to hear from you!

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