*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.