Christian by default?

We have a new temp secretary where I work.  I’ve only known her for a few weeks now… and worked with her as her supervisor.  She’s nice enough… and trying to do a good job.  Like so many others where I work, she made it obvious she was a deeply religious Christian.  Which is fine with me… Whatever floats your boat… as long as you don’t try sinking mine if it is different than yours, I don’t care.

When we went to lunch, she made a big point of bowing her head and saying a prayer before eating.  I patiently waited with my eyes open… but, did not participate.  A few times, she started talking about spirits and demons… and faith and God.  I politely listened, and then politely kept changing the subject.  I saw no reason to delve into my complicated background and (probably offensive to her) beliefs.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Personalizing

One of the books I read a while back, that really hit home with me and I felt the need to recently re-visit was “My Parents’ Keeper: Adult Children of the Emotionally Disturbed (Paperback)”.  I bought it shortly before I started this blog back in 2006…   and before that point, I never heard of an ACMIP (Adult Child of a Mentally Ill Parent).

Up until that point, I hadn’t really taken the time to look Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

Is Disney evil??

A friend of mine emailed me today regarding being worried that her brother in law has gone over the deep end with religion.  This is interesting, since this friend is a fairly new convert to Christianity herself.  Yet, even she see’s there’s something not right here… She said that she came back from a visit with her family for the holidays.  And, that her brother in law is becoming more and more religious.  She said she couldn’t help to think about all the stories I had told her  Read the rest of this entry »

Forgive me Father, so I can forgive myself…

(Do we NEED to believe in God in order to forgive ourselves?  I hope not…  but, maybe we do? Or at least, maybe MANY of us do???)

Christ and the AdultressSo, I mentioned that I had been going back and forth with a friend about religion, etc… 

One of the many links/articles she sent me was a link to this article called “The Adulteress: A Stone’s Throw from Grace” (found here:              http://www.christianitytoday.com/tcw/2007/julaug/4.58.html?start=2)

Now, she sent this, because she was trying to explain how she is NOT judging gay people, or ANYONE… and, how GOD doesn’t want to condemn people to hell… how Jesus Saves, etc.   As in the story, Jesus didn’t condemn the adulteress but says the old “let he who has not sin cast the first stone”.  Now… of course I’ve heard this story, and this message a million times.  Well, I finally read the article she sent me anyway…  and, one part, towards the end, struck me.  I felt a light bulb “ah-HA moment”. 

It was this part:

“We hear you, Lord. What a relief to know that because of your grace, we can leave behind the past, as this woman did, and walk in a whole new direction.”

Now, like I said, this message is nothing new.  What clicked was how it pertained to judging, and guilt… and “forgiveness”. 

What suddenly became really clear to me, is that many people feel awful guilty about some past mistakes.  People beat themselves  up over things  – for years.  People want to change…   desperately sometimes.  They might not want to “be” that person that made those mistakes.   They try to say, “that wasn’t even really me”….  “I wasn’t myself then”.   They don’t want to accept it WAS themselves that did whatever it was they feel guilty about.  But,  no matter they try, they can’t shake it.  They can’t accept that the “good person” they want to be,  would make the “bad” mistakes they’ve made. 

I think, finding “God”, and believing that he could love them… in spite of their sins… allows people to love themselves again.  Forgiveness, gives back respect…. allows us to start over for real… and believe we can to do it… that we are worthy of it.  Just like the adulteress in that story.  After all, if GOD could forgive her and love her… of course we can forgive her, or ourselves too, right? 

I don’t know why this is all so interesting to me all of  a sudden.  I’ve heard countless stories from folks with very checkered pasts, who become born again… starting their lives over… the new and improved versions of themselves.  They can go from the biggest axe-murderer low-life – to being a preacher – just like that – because they found God, and he forgave them.  It actually was a pet peeve of mine when I was a teen.  Heck, my teen leader was one of them (and he was pretty creepy).  I didn’t think I should listen to him when a month ago he was a big drug addict and loser, just because now he’d “found God”. 

I’ve also realized for years that religion helped people cope… period.  With whatever.  And, maybe they needed it, for whatever reasons. In my mom’s case, because of her illness and to deal with how she grew up.  Or to deal with loss… grief.  I’ve even envied others at times because I couldn’t seem to get any comfort myself from religion with all my skeptical views.   So, the “needing” religion isn’t a new idea to me either.

But, I am getting a different side of this now…  I’m having trouble explaining what I mean, though.  I‘m not even sure it’s the forgiving ourselves aspect that I’m finding so interesting here.  Surely, this is not a new concept either?  But,  I’m seeing it with a new twist.  Maybe people need religion in order to live with themselves?   Maybe, it really does  “save”  us, but not from hell… but, from our own guilt?

Maybe sometimes, we just can’t accept mistakes we’ve made.   Maybe we can’t except the fact that we are HUMAN and WILL make mistakes?  We create our own prison…  Trapped in our own personal hell…  And, then, maybe we need God, or the idea of God, to be able to forgive ourselves and find the strength to free ourselves of guilt so we can move on.  ?

Is it so bad to admit that we are just human?  Can we not admit when we make a mistake… and say, “yeah, I fucked up. Bad!”, and just try to learn from it?  I don’t mean shrug it off, and not care.  I’m all for owning up and accepting responsibility.  But, can’t we do that and try to understand how it happened?  Try not to let it happen again? and, try to move on?  Of course we all make mistakes.  Do we need to have a God to forgive us and love us, in order to love ourselves??  Maybe some of us doMaybe all of us do

Which leads me to my bigger light-bulb feeling. 

Do I need this???
Is that part of my problem? 
That I can’t forgive myself for whatever terrible things I’ve done?  Including things that were not even my fault??  And, I don’t have enough faith to believe in a God that can forgive me either?  

 Would *I*, or any of us,  even have felt THAT kind of guilt if we didn’t have religion and God shoved down our throats in the first place???  

I don’t know… 

Talk about vicious circles…

This is not really coming out right and I’m having trouble explaining my “ah-HA moment”.  Sorry if I’m rambling incoherently.  😉  

I am going to have to mull this one over a bit…

~smj

I’ve been on a Mission (not from God)

I’ve been on a mission.

And, now, I have a reeeeeeally strong desire to now say, “We’re on a mission from God”, but I won’t because it is totally off base here… It’s just that I love that line from one of the all time best comedy movies – the Blues Brothers. (See bottom of my post for details =)

But, no… my mission was definitely not “from God”… and, it was also pretty futile anyway. I found myself in an all out email war with a good friend of mine. A friend I grew up with… and we are still friends… remarkably… because we have almost nothing in common. This has always been true, but has been amplified the last couple years. Read the rest of this entry »

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