Atheists in foxholes…

I’ve always heard that “there are no atheists in foxholes”…  According to Wikipedia this means:

“The statement “There are no atheists in foxholes” is used to imply that atheists really do believe in God deep down, and that in times of extreme stress or fear, such as when participating in warfare, the belief will surface, overwhelming the less substantial affectation of atheism.”

Is this true?  Do all atheists eventually call out to God – like when they are on their deathbeds?

I have to say no.  And, I say this because of the one atheist that I knew very well… and whom I watched die slowly… and all that went with that.  My father.  And, did I ever see him wobble on this?  Suddenly admit he was wrong and ask for God’s help?  No.  I didn’t.

Matter of fact, Read the rest of this entry »

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To me… when I was 13…

Whelp… I’ve been tagged… by Rebecca from her “Fictional Reality” blog.   The idea is to write a letter to yourself when you were 13.  This was her post – “Tag! You’re it!, and is a good read that leaves one wondering… “what exactly happened at her cousin’s wedding anyway??”.  =)

It is funny that not too long ago, I wound up writing a post called “If I could go back in time… “.  In that post, I wound up writing about what I would tell myself if I could go back 6 years ago… when I was pregnant with my 2nd son, had a 5 year old son, and was taking care of my dieing father.

I didn’t plan to write it… it just rolled off…  and the really weird thing is that only a couple days later, I wound up face to face with a pregnant woman – pregnant with her 2nd son, and she has a 4 year old son, and she had just lost her mother.  I wound up in a deep conversation with her, even though we hardly knew each other… and, saying many of the same things to her that I had just written about.

Anyway – now, I’m faced with writing to my 13 year old self… Read the rest of this entry »

The “True” Meaning of Christmas

The other day, I heard a Christian get very upset about people who say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”.  He actually went into a bit of a rant about it, and how he is sure to tell folks back, “No, Merry CHRISTmas!” (in a very sarcastic sneer of a voice), when this happens.  After all, that’s what Christmas is about, right?  Pissing people off and getting pissed off, that is, right?  ?!?   Come on!  Makes ya afraid to wish people well…  they might get themselves in a tizzy over it.  Sheesh… 

Ya know?  Like most kids I  loved Christmas as a child. I have fond memories of moments with both my mother and my father – both individually and as a family. We weren’t the model family by any means… but, I only have good memories of Christmas.

My mom, of course, was all about the “real” meaning of Christmas. To her, it was all about celebrating the birth of Jesus and the greatest gift of all that God gave to mankind – his son. We went to church a lot. I loved church at Christmas-time when I was a kid. The music… the plays… it was… beautiful. Moving. Magical. 

If it were up to my Mom, we would have probably went to church on Christmas day too… but, that was where my Dad would put his foot down and insist we spend the Christmas day as a family… not half of us at church… and half at home (since he and my oldest brother didn’t go to church). I don’t recall my mom ever arguing about that…  just wistfully wishing he would “see the light” and that we could all spend the day together as a family – at church.   She dreamed that dream for many years… and prayed and prayed for it.     Me?  I was happy to spend the whole Christmas day at home with whatever new presents we got that morning… and/or going to my aunts house later so see cousins, grandparents, etc. 

I remember my mom stressing to me over and over that Christmas was Jesus’ birthday. Not to lose sight of that.  Santa and presents – those were just thrown in there.  She warned that we shouldn’t get wrapped up with that part (as enticing as they were).   I completely was okay with this.   We would sing Jesus happy birthday along with all the other Christmas songs.

My mother, one brother, and I were often coming or going to church… and I remember we’d drive different routes (usually on the way home when we were no longer in a rush to get anywhere) just to see all the different decorations and lights people would put up. I think, my mom got us lost several times… but, we didn’t care.  She always got us home eventually.  LOL  We’d sing songs the whole way… and stop and look at some of the really cool houses.  We especially looked for religious type decorations… manger scenes… but, we loved them all.  My mom told me that each light, on each house, on each tree – was a birthday candle to Jesus. I thought that was so cool… (and that Jesus must be reeeeeally old! LOL). 

And, the music…   I always loved Christmas music.  I was always involved with the music. Always in the chorus at school, and choir at church.. in plays… and often signing a solo or duet or something too at church. 

I still love Christmas music… it is one of the few things I miss about church. I still sing the songs to my children… have CD’s.  Just because I don’t believe all the bible stories anymore or in a in a lot of religious things – doesn’t mean I don’t still like the Christmas story itself.  It’s a beautiful story, and beautiful music. It just is.

Last year my family (my husband and I, and our 2 sons) attended a church for the first time in ages to hear a couple of my friends sing in their church choir for their first time ever. I went to support them… and out of curiosity (because I know my one friend can’t sing! LOL), and I also thought it would be nice to show my kids what the inside of a church looked like for a change.  I thought I’d let them hear “the true meaning of Christmas” from the church perspective and see how they liked it. Both my boys love music and my 10 year old is in his school orchestra for the 3rd year.

My boys did like seeing the Church… and they liked the music… but, they acted like they were going to die when the preacher kept talking and talking. My 10 year old son looked up at me in desperation and whispered, “I THOUGHT you said there was going to be MUSIC?!?”. LOL.   I sssshhhed him, and told him there WAS music… and there’d be more at the end.  He rolled his eyes… fidgeted in his seat and acted as if he was going to die.  

I almost died laughing when, the offering plate was passed around, and he looked up at me in surprise and whispered, “You have to PAY to come here?!?!?”.  I shook my head “nooooo”… but thought to myself “Only if you want to go to heaven!”… LOL… Of course, I didn’t say it out loud.   Yeah.. so, anyway… I don’t think they are too eager to attend church again…. But, I may take them to hear the Christmas choir again this year anyway.

Anyway – back to my childhood…

My Dad, on the other hand, loved the pretending and make-believe stories of Santa. He had us all fooled alright. At least for a while. He was such the story teller and prankster anyway. It was often hard to tell when he was kidding or not. But, I could usually tell.. he’d get that gleam in his eye and often crack himself up (eventually) when he was joking. He really loved to play up the Santa stories. I was the youngest.. and I think, my brothers probably told me it was all pretend before my Dad wanted me to know. Still, I believed anyway… because, I wanted to. It was fun.

Yeah… my Dad liked to play a good joke. And, he liked to make us kids happy. To him, Christmas was all about the kids. All about family. However, he told us it was all about giving in general, and not about getting. He took us all shopping, and made us think long and hard about what to get our grandparents, etc. Dad was big into cards. He’d rather get a mushy card than a thoughtless gift. He’d spend long whiles in the card isle… picking out the right sentimental card for each person. Something I now do as well…

My Dad liked to sing too.  He knew tons of silly songs.  And, at Christmas time, he and I would sing Christmas songs together, one after another –  from “Here comes Santa Claus”, to “Away in a Manger”. One of his favorites was “The First Noel”.   Even he, an atheist, liked those songs.  I remember I liked to turn the lights out, except for the tree lights, and snuggle up with my Dad on the couch… singing songs while we gazed at our beautiful Christmas tree. I liked to look at all the ornaments… and talk about them. And, he use to always tell me to squint my eyes a little when we looked at the colored lights… to make them turn into big, fuzzy, colored stars.

I don’t ever recall the horror that some folks tell tale of when they first found out there was no Santa. I don’t really recall the moment I knew for sure. I remember wondering… doubting… for a long time… but, still wanting to believe. (sounds familiar?)  I wasn’t taking any chances. I figured, if believing got me presents? I was in! LOL Eventually, I just admitted I knew… but, my Dad still joked and would say, “I think I hear sleigh bells!”. That was enough to make my brothers and I run for bed. After all – Santa couldn’t come if we weren’t in bed, right?

I remember listening to my parents wrapping presents and setting things up. And thinking – “ah ha! They are putting the presents under the tree!”. I was always nosey. I liked to peek. I don’t remember being upset by it, though. I was just as anxious and excited as ever and couldn’t wait until Christmas morning.  We really didn’t have much money… or get tons of expensive presents… but, we did all right… more than all right.  We felt like the luckiest kids in the world on Christmas morning!  

It’s funny. My mom and dad reeeeeeally did NOT get along.  And, I know they didn’t see eye to eye on hardly ANYTHING. I know my mom didn’t like “Santa” stories… she didn’t encourage us to believe in Santa… Yet – she never tried to spoil it for us either.  She may have rolled her eyes a bit… and done her best to bring up what SHE thought was important – but, she never flat out told us that our Dad was “fooling” us.  She knew we enjoyed it. Even she couldn’t deny that.  And, so, she let us. Besides, she was under the impression that the father was the head of the household and what he sent went. So, maybe, she thought she was doing her wifely duties by letting my Dad do the Santa thing.  Deep down, I think she liked the fun of “Santa” too. 

And, my Dad… the atheist… obviously he didn’t buy into the whole birth of Christ story himself. But, I don’t ever remember him scoffing at the idea to us at Christmas-time or rolling his eyes.  He never told us is was BS.  Matter of fact, he LIKED all the Christmas songs too. He came to see my plays and specials at church. And, at home, he read me stories… Santa and baby Jesus ones alike.

And the moral of this long drawn out babbling post of a story?  Well… I guess it’s this: 

If MY mother and father could be as opposite as they were… and yet still succeed in making Christmas time a special, enjoyable, magical, and memorable time for my brothers and I ?? – then, why is it so hard for people to let Santa and Jesus (and Hanukkah and Ramadan or anything else for that matter) co-exist?

As a kid – I never cared who believed in Santa… or who told me “Merry Christmas” vs “Happy Holidays”.  I guess the “bah humbugs” must come with age… and bills… commercials, and political and religious opinions….  Not to mention five hundred thousand corny Christmas movie reruns (which, actually, I’m embarrassed to admit that I secretly enjoy watching LOL).  

I’m not sure how I managed to stay joyous myself all these years.  Maybe I wasn’t born with the “God gene”…..  but surely was blessed with a double dose of the “Peace, Joy, & Love” gene.  😉  Or maybe…  just maybe…  my “atheist father” and “religious nut of a mother” were better parents than many parents.  Between the two of them, maybe they did a few things REALLY right.  Like teaching their children to be loving… tolerant… considerate… happy… and about what IS really important.  

I don’t get it when people get upset about all kinds of irrelevant things around the holidays.   So,  I don’t care if people tell me “Merry Christmas”, “Happy Holidays”, Happy Hanukkah”, “Here comes Santa” or anything else! As long as they bring me presents, I’m happy. =) (That was a joke, yes!.)  Seriously, in any case – they are wishing you well, right?   Isn’t it all just “Good will towards men”, regardless of how you phrase it?

If people would channel their beliefs, likes, and dislikes into actually doing some good deeds, good works and helping charities  – maybe we could get someplace.  Actually, when people aren’t busy stressing about money and how to greet one another  – there is something about this time of year makes people want to help… and to give.  Regardless of their beliefs – if people want to give, and spread joy, help and love one another… that works for me.  And, yeah… if I get a cool present or two out of the deal, I won’t complain. 😉

 So, I’m gonna try real hard not to get stressed out… caught up in the hustle and bustle, and to remember the TRUE meaning of Christmas that I knew my whole childhood… even with an atheist for a Dad and a religious nut for a mom… and that is………  LOVE. 

Peace on earth… Good will towards men… and all that jazz…
=)
~smj

Response to “spare the rod” post at PBB….

What  sobering posts over on the “Parenting Beyond Belief” blog  – called spare the rod (and spare me the rest)“, and responses to “spare the rod”.  He talks about how many people, like James Dobson with Focus on the Family, use the bible to support spanking and different views on this.  As I recently mentioned, I can’t stand Dobson or FOF. I worry about messages being spread still today, and that good Christian people (like my friend who is a new mom) might buy into because they do like FOF and Dobson. 

My parents didn’t agree on much… but, they did both believe in spanking.  I have to say that my brothers got it worse than I did… but none of us ever got it that bad.  I wouldn’t say either my mother or father was “abusive” in their spanking methods, but I realize that’s a relative statement and matter of opinion. 

I do have vivid memories of my father threatening “the belt”, although, he never used it.  He DID spank with an open hand, though… not very often… but, enough that we believed we would “get it” if he threatened it. Usually, he only had to threaten it, and not do it, but we knew he WOULD if we didn’t listen.  My mother was more sporadic.  She’d whack ya with anything in her hand, usually a wooden spoon, if you weren’t listening. But, she must not have hit us very often or hard, because we were not as afraid of her.  She’d save the important spankings for my father to dish out.   They both believed that was part of his fatherly duties.  The old, “wait until your father gets home!” thing. 

One of the more common threats that my Dad use to say was “I’m going to rip your arm off and beat you over the head with the bloody end of it!”.  Ironically, this was NOT something scary, but rather something my brothers and I found humorous.  We knew he meant it sarcastically.  He had a bit of a warped sense of humor (as do I).  This saying did, however, use to scare our friends when they heard him say it.  But, my brothers and I would just laugh and say, “aww… he’s only kidding…. he always says that… and look – we still have 2 arms”.  No, we were more afraid of “the look”, or the threat of “you’re gonna get it!”. 

I do remember witnessing my brothers getting spanked… never with a belt… and never bare bottomed…  but always dramatic.  Often, if one of us got in trouble, we all did.  And, usually he started with my oldest brother.   I was usually hysterical just from watching my brothers get spanked while waiting for my turn…  and, probably because of that, and the facts that I was younger and a girl, my dad would barely swat me, if at all.  This is something my brothers still like to throw in my face about what a faker I was to get off of spankings LOL.  But, I really wasn’t faking.  It really was traumatic just to watch and wait.  

My oldest brother would always try to act tough, and to not cry…  and so, he’d get spanked the hardest I think…  until he DID cry.  Spanking is all about breaking that will and humiliation, isn’t it?  So, ironic… now that I think about it, being taught NOT to cry… and then punished harder for NOT crying.   ??  (I never really thought about that before now… but, wow… that’s pretty screwed up! ? ?)

My other brother, would go the dramatic route.  Running around screaming and yelling “no no no!”… until my father could wrestle him over or force him to come and get it.  Because he was already screaming and crying (moreso out of anger and frustration and for the pure drama effect, I think), he didn’t get spanked as hard.  Except for the time he put a book down his pants… and when my Dad hit that with his hand, he was really mad.

Then there was me.  Watching and waiting… trying not to cry, but failing miserably at times like this…  obediently going over when called without trying to run… and, I must have looked so pitiful, that my dad couldn’t/didn’t really spank me most of the time.  A couple times, he shut the door so my mom and brothers couldn’t see, and he whacked the bed or himself instead of me for sound effects… and told me to not tell (my mother) that he didn’t spank me. 

This leads me to believe that he didn’t always want to be “the enforcer”, but did feel like it was his job… and like he needed to do it to make my mom happy sometimes.  Which also leaves me feeling a bit bitter and resentful…

Looking back, I can not think of a time that I feel these spankings were really beneficial.  I have a hard time remembering what any of them were even for??  All of the memories that I DO have of important life lessons, or times I DO think I learned something good – had absolutely nothing to do with being spanked. 

I admit to having spanked my first child a couple times… which was more like a swat on a padded butt…  and nothing like the “proper spankings” described in the post at PBB. Each time I did, I immediately felt guilty and regretted it.  Each time I did, I was completely frustrated, upset, and/or scared when I did it.  Like, when my son was at the defiant 2 year old age and liked to  say “no” and run away as most 2 year olds do.  One day, though, he almost ran in to oncoming traffic as I called him and chased after him.  When I caught him, I was both relieved and upset, and it was almost a reflexive swat that I gave him. Part of me thought it was just the normal and right response.  Like it was something I ‘should’ do, or ‘had’ to do… “for his own good” (ugg… I am wincing at that saying as a I type it).  Once I calmed down, a bigger part of me just felt it was wrong. 

I am glad that I felt that way, and that I did not continue to use spanking as a form of punishment.  I realized there were other ways….  better communication, and if necessary threats and punishments (time outs, no more TV or Computer, no treats, etc.) that I could follow thru on more easily, that were also more effective and obviously the better choice.

It’s funny, we do not spank our boys now (ages 5 and 10) and we do not go to church.  My boys are also probably more concerned with doing the “right” thing , and “being nice” than most of our friends kids that go to church every Sunday.   I’m not just bragging here, and I know I’m bias – but, I can’t think of ANY kids we know that have better behavior or attitudes than our boys.  Sure, our boys and aren’t perfect angels – but, I tell you what… they are genuinely GOOD kids.  You might not believe me, but, this is not just my opinion.  We constantly have have friends and family tell us how they are impressed by how well behaved our boys are. 

~smj

To cry… or NOT to cry…

There’s another interesting read over on “The Naked Soul” blog, called “Pain and Suffering – Human VS Spiritual “.   Do we create our own pain?  Or chose to suffer? I started to reply to it…  but, felt my reply turning into a book – so, decided to make a post here instead.  I often think of my father when I think of people who overcame and dealt with pain.  (He almost died in a fire when he was 12 – more details on that posted here).  He was never one to complain, though.   

When we were kids, we never even realized how much he had gone through, or still dealt with.  Pain was a constant for him.  He flinched with every step he took… but, he was too tough, and proud, to admit his pain, or to complain about it.  Even when he got really sick his last days on this earth… and had even more trouble walking…  he refused to let me push him in a wheel chair through the hospital to his appointments.  He said he was never going back in another wheel chair…  he walked… stopping every so many feet until we got there.  This frustrated me as I knew he was in pain, and felt it was “needless”.  It also inspired the hell out of me, and made me admire his will power and strength. 

As I got older, and saw him more as a human, and not just my Dad – I realized that much of his “toughness” was a big act.  He was a big softie on the inside…. but, you wouldn’t have known it.  I still have to respect him and admire his strength….  he sure was a tough old goat :).  He had to be to make it through everythig he  did. 

However, I do think his “strength”, and prideful commitment to it, probably went a little overboard sometimes.   He was so strong… yet he was afraid to express his real emotions/feelings. He was so afraid to look “weak”, that he didn’t/wouldn’t seek help that was often readily available –  and suffered more in the process because of that.  He taught us to do the same.  Is that really a good quality?

My brothers and I were strongly encouraged to hide any pain and negative feelings. Crying or showing weakness was shameful and flat out ridiculed.  I remember my father telling my brothers that they were “sissies”… or “crying like a little girl” when/if they cried (the words “little girl” said with a sneer of disgust, as if something terrible to be).  So, I didn’t want to cry… OR act like a “little girl” either.  Even though I WAS one! LOL  Nope, I wanted to be tough… and one of the guys.  And, I was.  To this day, most of my friends and family all perceive me as being much stronger than I think I really am.  I talk about that a little in my other post about here.  

We were taught to hide or repress our tears…  That it was shameful to feel sorry for ourselves…  or to act weak.  We were told to not make excuses for ourselves…  To accept responsibility… to look on the bright side… to not complain – even if we had something legitimate to complain about…  And we were taught that most things were not worth complaining about.  I can still hear my father’s voice saying, “If that is all you have to complain about, than you shouldn’t be complaining!”.  Much of this logic… I still completely agree with.   However, I know it went too far.  I have to take a step back and watch how I treat my own boys…   I remember being afraid of the dark when I was very young… but also being petrified to seek comfort and admit I was afraid.  I was more afraid to go to my parents and say I was afraid, than I was afraid of the dark.   I don’t ever want my boys to fee like that.  I want them to run to my bed in the middle of the night and know they will find protection from whatever bad dreams or darkness they fear. 

I remember being teased by my brothers, and really being upset… and running to the bathroom and dabbing tears so as not to let them fall from my eyes…  making sure there were no signs of a tear before facing them again.  

I remember physically getting hurt, and being able to choke back the tears… and then be rewarded for doing that.  (what a brave girl!)   If I did cry… I felt like a big cry baby… and didn’t want anyone to see. 

I remember  a lot worse things that I care not to write about that I never told anyone.   Even things that I knew then were “wrong” or not fair to me, I still kept to myself because I somehow thought it was “my own fault”.  I blamed myself… and didn’t want to admit it to anything… even if it wasn’t really my fault.  .Better to suffer and hide it, then to have anyone else know how “weak” I was.    I know I applied this in many areas of my life…  blaming myself… and repressing negative feelings… putting on a good front.

I remember the first time I cried in front of a best friend… we were 18… and had been best friends since 3rd grade.   She had never once seen me cry and she was utterly shocked.  She didn’t know how to respond to me.  Matter of fact, she said “Oh my God!  I’ve never seen you cry.  Please don’t cry.  You can’t cry!  Don’t cry!”.  ??  As if I wasn’t allowed to.  ?! I  still hate to cry in front of anyone… but, I’m not as bad as I use to be.  On of the best friends I have now, is one who I can cry with occassionally.  (When we are not too busy laughing our asses off, that is 😉 )  I actually am a person who usually has fun no matter what… who always looks on the bright side…  makes others laugh… see’s humor in most things… and I am glad I am like that. 

So, anyway… I’m not trying to whine here…  (sorry! LOL) , but rather state that regarding the whole “people should be responsible for their own pain” issue… ??  Well, like many things, I have mixed feelings on this topic.  While I don’t want to dwell on the negatives… or let pain or suffering consume me… I also am fairly recently learning that it’s okay to acknowledge pain,  or mourn or grieve for oneself, and to cry.   Sometimes, pain (physical or spiritual) is very real… and very deserving of those tears. 

Matter of fact, I am reading a book that rather insists that one NEEDS  to do this (acknowledge your pain and suffering, and grieve) rather than live in denial of it, and rationalize things from your past (or present).  It claims that until you do so, you can never really understand yourself and grow…  That you need to do feel sorry for yourself.. grieve… mourn whatever it was you never had or lost, or what you are dealing with…  so that you can then move on.  I suppose that’s the trick, right?  Knowing when to “move on”… and then actually being able to do it, right? 

~smj

All is fair in love and conversion…

Another post at “de-conversion” got me thinking.  The post is called “My life of proselytization“, this time from HeisSailing…   

In his post, he said:

 “I witnessed the Gospel of Jesus Christ for most of my adult life”. 

Now, I was much younger  than he was when I was a full force believer.  But, I believe I felt just as strongly.  I believed it all.  I went around trying to “save” all the kids in my neighborhood… but, my main mission was to save my own father.   

HeisSailing made a comment about getting his mom to come to church:

“I would try to convince my mother, once a committed Christian and now a practical atheist, the error of her backsliding ways. I even got her to go to church with me a few times, but not before informing the pastor that I was bringing her and if he would not mind directing a word or two of his message her way.”

This really reminded me of how when I was a young girl, I would be pressured into singing or doing “specials” in front of the church.  Then, I would be asked to put the pressure on my father to come to church to see me.  After all, I was “Daddy’s little girl”, didn’t he want to see me perform?  So, he did come… for at least the first few years of “specials”. 

Each time he said “yes honey, I’ll come see you sing” –  I would report back to my mother.  Then my mother, her friends, the pastor, and my brother and I would rejoice.  He’ s coming!  Hallelujah!  And we’d all pray hard every day until the day of the “special”, that when he came… THIS would be the time the lord would come down and bonk him on the head and turn him into the perfect Christian father and husband.  When it didn’t happen… we’d go back to plan A.  Try, try again.  Repeatedly I was put in this position of trying to save my own father.  For years. 

Eventually, my father stopped coming to every “special” of mine.  He knew the deal… and he didn’t like being approached by the pastor and pressured each time he came either.  It was like the whole church was looking at him when he’d come.  “Here comes that atheist husband and father!”.  They could’ve sold tickets to see the freak atheist!  LOL  So, I can’t blame him for not wanting to come – even at the time.  He probably also sensed the pressure being put on me, and didn’t want to be a part of that either. 

I know it was very hard for him to eventually start telling me, “no honey, I won’t come see you sing”.  I would then have to report back to my mother that I had failed.. he won’t come… I’m sorry.  She would then freak out and get very upset.  She made me feel terrible when he didn’t come.  She’d make me ask him again and again.  And, then they’d argue and she’d try to make him feel guilty for not coming,  and make ME feel guilty and like he didn’t care about me in the process.

Eventually, I didn’t WANT to keep singing either.  (surprise surprise!).  Mostly because I didn’t want to keep pressuring my dad and going thru this.. and because I was starting to have my own doubts about all of it.  Not only about my beliefs, but I started wondering if I even had a good voice or not!  (loletinf!;)  When I finally stood up for myself and said that I didn’t want to do a “special”, I suddenly didn’t feel so special anymore.  Not just my mother, but the church leaders also made me feel really bad.  Like I was a quitter… giving up… back-sliding… and, they then put pressure and guilt trips on ME asking me over and over when I would sing again.  My mother even said something like, “how is your father ever going to be saved now??! “. 

Looking back, I can’t believe how much plotting and scheming it all was.  The pressure, fear, and guilt used! Unfortunately, since I was in it, I understand their thinking and putting the pressure on my Dad.  They really felt it was their duty and apparently rudeness, politeness, respect, and common courtesy fly out the window when you are trying to save someone’s soul (and do your Christian duty ).  This is bad enough. 

However, what really gets me (and I don’t want to sound whiney here, but) is how could they do that to me?  I was a little girl.  A little CHRISTIAN girl who wanted to believe all they were teaching.  They played me.  They used me.  How could they put that kind of pressure, guilt and fear on me?!?

 And, when I say “they”, it was NOT just by my mother.  It was also her friends, the pastor, the choir director, the church leaders.  What kind of people scare the crap out of a little girl telling her that her father, (who she loved wholeheartedly and was a GREAT Dad) was going to burn in hell?  Tell her that over and over?? Which is bad enough… but, then tack on the, “unless YOU can save him” part.  ??  And we prayed.. and prayed…  And I cried… and cried…

I just don’t get it. I don’t get how adults, in their right minds, could think this was an okay thing to do.  ??  The “RIGHT” thing to do??  It makes me mad still when I think about it, and leads me to the only logical conclusion I can think of, and that is that they ALL were not in their right minds! 

HeisSailing wrote:

” I then became exhausted from witnessing. I was exhausted and drained from believing that I and my small sect of Christian brethren have the exclusivity on truth and everyone else, no matter what their beliefs, are going to eternal torment. I was sick of believing that I was on the narrow path of righteousness, and my loved ones are on the wide path leading to destruction when in many cases, they are just simply much better people than I am.”

This is a huge part of why I eventually didn’t believe and don’t believe in any one religion, or in religion or God at all really.  Not only because I can’t fathom the idea of my own father going to hell (which is a biggie, I admit), but, also ALLLLLL the other people.  It can’t be.  It makes no sense. 

HeisSailing then wrapped up his post by saying:

“Then I became sick of that guilt, I became sick of that arrogance of exclusivity, I became sick of looking at our life as a trial from God to see if we believed the correct doctrines, and I refused to accept it anymore.”

Like him, I also “became sick” of these same things…  The eternal dangling carrot, and the constant fear of hell. I am glad to be rid of them.    

PS – If you haven’t already – I suggest you go read HeisSailing’s post in full, as he writes much better than me and makes his points with much better reasoning…

Take care,

~smj

God will provide…

My mom’s been saying “the Lord will provide” forever, but especially ever since she up and sold our house… and decided to become a missionary.  She had the house, all paid for, in the divorce settlement between her and Dad years ago.  The house we all grew up in… and, he gave her without a fight.  She promptly decided to sell it and everything in it…  because God told her to. 

My brother’s and I asked her several times, what would happen if the missionary thing didn’t work out?  Where will she stay when she comes home?  “The Lord will provide” she’d said. 

In a way, I give her credit.  Whether or not she heard the Lord’s advice – it took guts for her to do that.  And, I think it was a life long dream.  And, she did it.  She up and moved to China.  Who would have thunk it?? 

I know she was just running away from a bad situation.  She felt like her whole life here had crumbled apart.  Her marriage had finally fell apart, along with her belief that someday God would turn her atheist husband into a Christian husband for her.  In addition, she had finally crossed the line with her “stories”, and her own children and family (along with doctors and police) had all told her that basically, she was crazy, and needed to get “help”.    So, it was either admit she needed help… or turn into a missionary.  Hmmmmm…???  China, here she comes! 

Still, took guts… and a passport… and all kind so other stuff.  And, she did it.  Off she went.  She spent a few years in China… only returning for a week or two here and there.  She lost touch with all her grandchildren – but, became a little hero with her church friends.  I emailed her regularly and handled her finances here.  I think, we actually get along better via email. 

She made me upset when she insisted on flying home immediately when my father passed away.  She hated him all my life.  She accused him of terrible things.  She acted like he was the devil himself.  I did not want her at his funeral.  Nobody did.  I was shocked when she said she’d take the first flight home.  I tried to tell her nicely, and then not so nicely, that she shouldn’t come.  She didn’t listen.  She said, she wanted to be there “for me”.  But, I think she wanted to be there because she knew we didn’t want her there.  Whenever she feels “rejected”, she is even more pushy. 

In the year before my dad died, I had mentioned to her via email that he was dying.  I didn’t go  into it much, because they didn’t get along – but, thought she should at least know what was happening… what *I* was dealing with, if nothing else.  She told me in one email that she didn’t believe it… he was faking.  I told her that I was the one taking care of him, dealing with all the doctors and hospice care, that I KNEW he wasn’t “faking”.  She then responded that “if she was God, he would have been dead a long time ago”.  ??  LoLetinf!   Very Christian of her, don’t cha think?  But, then, when he actually passed away – she couldn’t understand why I didn’t want her to be there. 

Truth be told, I never really turned to my Mom for comfort much.  She always annoyed me.  I remember when I was a kid and sick with the flu or anything, and I’d be getting sick in the bathroom… she would come in… and put her hand on my back… and pray in tongues for me as I was getting sick.  It always made me feel sicker.  I was always trying to nicely shrug her off of me.  I didn’t want her there.  This was how I felt when Dad died…   ten fold…

But, she came.  And I did my best to be polite, but unavailable to her for the most part, as I had told her upfront I would be. 

A few weeks after that, she came home for a few months… stayed between my brother’s house, my house, and a friend of hers.   I felt like I had to let her stay with us too…. but, it wasn’t easy.  She takes over when she’s around.  Expects to be waited on… take over the TV and sofa… and, thinks someone should give her full access to their vehicle. 

Shortly after that she got out of the missionary group in China – and moved back to the area for good.  She hinted at staying with us.  Luckily, my oldest brother told her she could stay with him… but,he lives out about 1.5 hrs away, and she didn’t want to be that far from her church, etc.  So, she opted to get her own apartment.  Fine.  She got one RIGHT around the corner from where I grew up.. and where I live now.  Fine.  We helped her move in… helped her with everything.  She said, it was too expensive.. .she wouldn’t be able to stay there long… but, “God will provide”. 

Now, she has hit the point where her lease is up – she says she can’t afford it there anymore.. .and she needs to find a less expensive place.  Again, “God will provide”… but, every time she says it, I get the feeling she thinks God has the same last name as my husband and I!  She started off hinting around BIG time that she wants to live with me… and now is just basically asking by saying we could “go in on” a bigger house together.  ?!?!?  Is she nuts???  (duh! stupid question, I know.)

Doesn’t she remember how it was when she lived her briefly before??  Way back when, she lived with me for a few months BEFORE her and my Dad’s divorce went final  – and it was Hell! I can’t help it.  She drives me crazy.  Even DH, who normally would tell me, “now, honey… she is your mother… be nice”… even HE was hitting his boiling point when she stayed here.  He suddenly was following me out the door every time I had to leave saying, “wait!  I’m coming too!” – because he didn’t want to be left there.  I wound up having to write her a letter, telling her that she NEEDED to wrap things up with the divorce and leave because she was affecting every aspect of my life, my marriage, my job, in a negative way.  Can’t she re-read that note?? Maybe I can find a copy… LOL. 

I mean, she KNOWS I love her… she also KNOWS we do not have the closest relationship.  I don’t know why she thinks this would work.  No way.  I think that just because my Dad lived with me for 15 years, she things she should be able to.  It’s the old “rejection” thing again, and she wants her fair share” of my life.  It ain’t gonna happen.

If anything, the fact that my Dad lived with us is a deterrent.  It was hard enough living with him, and he and I actually were very close and got along great.  My marriage barely lived thru that – and he did his best to not overstep boundaries when he was here.  My marriage could not withstand my mother living with us.  Thank God I still have my brother offering up his home.  He has a big house… his kids are grown… and he can handle her better than I can anyway.  She will have to go there.. or find a cheaper apartment. 

God will provide.  Ha!  In other words, “I have no idea what I am going to do, and shouldn’t be responsible for myself.  Everyone else take care of me now”.  She should have never sold the damn house.

~smj