12 Years of Learning

I can't believe it has been twelve years of marriage for me and my husband.  I am in disbelief because it has flown by so fast, but also because staying married didn't come easy for us at times, too.

No, marriage was never easy for us or maybe it just wasn't easy for me.   

Despite the hard times, misunderstandings or really serious problems we faced, we definitely have learned a lot.  And it's because of those rough times that I believe we are here for the better today.  We realize what it means to suffer together and I think he more than I.  He has definitely had to put up with this woman who was(and still struggles to be) such a control freak and bent on her hyper-religious ways.  Well, we were both struggling hard to keep our ever enlargening facade up in the religious world.  Our rigid minds made it hard to give each other any room to breath, emotionally, physically, spiritually. 

He thought he was marrying a sweetheart and I thought I was marrying Prince Charming, then reality set in that I was far from knowing how to be a good or even decent wife.  He was closer to the saint than I ever was.  And I look back on these twelve years in reflection and wonder how are we even here today, married still?

That is a good question.  I suppose the real God of heaven held us together, despite the world whispering in our ear for us to get a divorce or at least it felt that way.  But there is much to discover in understanding this married life together, purging the old ways in favor of new ways.  Finding that there is, indeed, a better way of living this life as married.     

I realize that I spent the better part of my life before I was married being controlled by others, some good, and some very bad.  No excuses, but I do believe this life of religious control over me set me up for failure in my own marriage.  I was so groomed for control and for a tainted view of who God was and what He expected from me.  The control was handed down through me on to those around me and I have learned that attempting to have control over others and especially my husband has no place in my life.  It hasn't brought me good things and for this I have denounced that way of life.  I denounce it daily and it does not always yield success, but I continue to try. 

The hyper-religious aspect of our marriage was definitely a huge problem.  Him telling me what to do, me telling him what to do and so on.  A clash of standards, a clash of many things, but we have learned.  Such high expectations we had of each other have crumbled.  We have learned to give each other room and not to try to control the other any longer.  It, the giant, ignored, sleeping elephant in the room, had become a bad habit.  All that sounds horrible, but I bring you here, to the present, were there has been an overwhelming flow of life going upstream toward peace and life in our home in the last four years with ebbs in our flow, of course, the tide has definitely change.  Sometimes we need renewal in seeing where we would have the direction of our marriage go.   

Why the change?  We have re-examined what it really means to be a Christian.  Love is our credo.  We have standards, but they no longer take over the love factor, or, at least, we try.  We have ideas and they differ, but I see that my husband is the one God gave to me to live with forever and I am clinging to that.  I am hanging my hat on my guy.  He is the mostly sainted one in our married life, but beyond any of that, I truly need him.  We truly need him.  I couldn't imagine life without him, really.  It would definitely be a life without the one who was closest to you and knew and understood you the best.  What a sad life that would be without him.  

And so this life of learning together continues even now.  I made a huge blunder today.  In honesty, I made many huge blunders today, or yesterday rather.  I was tested in a major way and I failed the test, I wounded my friend, my best friend and on the eve of our 12th anniversary.  How could I do it?  Well, it wasn't on purpose, but indeed, regretted.  It dawned on me, as I drove home from the store, that I don't have to keep doing this, making these choices.  I know profound, right?  I ran in the door, hugged my best friend and said I was so sorry.  I couldn't say it enough.  I said it over and over again and the tears fell down his cheek.  I need to see that there is always more to learn in the next 12, 20 or 40 years and that I need to get better at this wife thing and I only hope that he will give this undeserving woman the chance of a life time to grow old together with him.        

Go to Church or Be the Church?

"To be or not to be, that is the question." ~Shakespeare


And really that is the only question when you are considering an authentic Christian life.  Can you really go to what you are?  Or should you just be what you should be?  Those are the questions and I guess there are many questions that I have in this process of re-examining everything I have been taught or have believed in my entire life. 

I am on a journey of trying to understand why people go to church when they can't be kind to their neighbor or love their own families.  Why do people go to church and abuse their kids at home?  Is going to a church really where "it's at" when it comes to living a fruitful life in Christ Jesus?  Does going to church make or break a person's Christianity?  Is it really commanded in scripture to go to a physical place for "church"? 

Or did Christ emphasize in the New Testament the fellowship of the body of Christ, the people, the being with other Christians(any time, any place, any where) for edification, for learning from each other using our own gifts equally and not just one gift dominating the fellowship(i.e. one person talking while we all listen), the giving of encouragement, the sharing of love and commitment to Christ, provoking each other to good works and for accountability and an extension of Christ's life into the community?   

Lest you think that I believe all churches are bad or that going to a good, healthy, fruitful church is bad, I don't, but it ain't everything either, in fact, it may be just a side item compared with this extensive, wild and spontaneous life we have when walking with the real Christ in the community and at home.  I think some Christians know and believe this, but I truly believe most in ignorance have no understanding of this thought.  In some cases, "going to church" doesn't mean much at all in comparison with the life that is being lived, there is no affectation.  In other words, "going to church" ain't working, it ain't doing a thing for you and it won't when it comes to giving you a heart of flesh in replacement for the cold heart of ruthless sin you possess.  

Christ and His forgiveness will do something for you that a church will never do for you and this all prevailing sense of gratitude to Him for His gift of eternal life will overwhelm you into following Him and only Him.  Just like going to church won't guarantee you a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, going to church won't take the place of an active participation in the kingdom of God on a daily basis.  In fact, God may ask you to leave a church so that you can focus more on Him or to walk away from an unbalanced, extreme group of Christians.  Whatever He asks you to do, it would be well worth doing.  Seek first His kingdom because His kingdom is within you and the community in which you represent Him is all around you and His church is everywhere.  There is no limit to God.

This life in Christ is happening all around me.  My Sundays, my everydays are full of the out of the box thinking that God provides.  And so far my day, this day when the parking lots are filled to the brim, has been filled with His plans, which would include talking for hours in bed with my kids, philosophising and laughing, making sure the neighbor next door has a working air conditioner installed in their new trailor home so that they don't wilt in this stifling heat, cooking a roast dinner so we can all eat together because they are tired of being without electricity, not having a working kitchen and eating PB&J's.  I sit here and the kids are playing with the neighbor's child, arm wrestling and playing a game of marbles while the lovely smells fill the house.

And the kind invitations to come to church continue from all sorts of well-meaning people.  I appreciate the invites and the concerns for my spiritual welfare and in some cases, such genunine concern it is and not a need to fill a pew to build egos.  We are given pity and even rebuke and we take it and say we are fine.  Don't worry about us.  We are conscientious believers in the One who continually pours out His grace upon us and for now we are conscientious objectors. We are and I repeat and have repeated, freetothink and freetorealize that we don't need to go to church, we need to be the church. 

The Benefit

It was a gorgeous day today so I decided to take all five kids to the park to meet up with some friends.  The Florida sun was shining and the cool breeze was blowing.  Three hours at the park playing hard and the kids were tired and cranky.  All that and I still had to go to the store on the way home so we would have something to cook on the grill for dinner.  I carted the hungry, tired, cranky kids into the store and I was irked.  Complaints were flying left and right and I was getting done in my mind quick. 

Thankful the shopping trip was over, I threw the groceries on the front seat, the kids climbed in the car and three climbed into the back bench seat.  One was yelling that she couldn't get her seatbelt on over her booster seat.  Another was yelling that she felt squished between the two other kids.  Finally everyone was settled for the most part and as soon as I put my foot on the gas peddle I heard a scream, yeah, a shriek.  I hate when kids shriek when I'm about to drive off.  But ah, well, here we are.

"My feet, my feet!" the five-year-old screams from the back seat.  Immediately I wanted to blame the one in the middle, the middle on the bench seat and the middle child, the one that leans on the side of pesky, a pest.  I stopped the car, snap-twisted my neck and with eyes piercing I yelled, "What are you doing now?!" to the middle child.

It turns out that the five-year-old was screaming, "My peach, my peach!"  She had dropped her delicious peach and it rolled under the bucket seat in front of her and it was cause for a blood-curdling shriek of the acutest kind.  My.

This is life, my life.  And part of my not so nice life is this problem I have had and have been having.  I have a hard time giving my kids the benefit of the doubt.  I am quick to accuse them.  It's hard to see past what they have done in the past and I mean what they have done as an extensive, running, continuous, seemingly never ending pattern.  But I see that God has His own pattern and it is one of consistent grace for His children.  I got to thinking about that.  A perfect God has consistent mercy and grace for me and yet, I can't seem to overlook the past long enough to give my kids the benefit of the doubt.  That isn't love and yet I know that I am human and am prone to error and God understands that and He wants to help me, but still...

That's what love does.  It gives the benefit of the doubt to children, those who are weak, those who have failed, those who have sinned.  Love extends grace to others.  And I know what it is like not to be given the benefit of the doubt and in some cases, not even for a millisecond.  Not receiving that benefit can take you to a horrible place of self doubt when people think you are up to no good when they don't know all the facts or understand all that has taken place in your life and where you may be in the present.  I am sure that I have also not given others this benefit, this grace extension of love like I should have.  But still...

I should and I want to give this benefit I am definitely receiving myself.   

"Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads us with benefits, even the God of our salvation." ~Psalm 68:19

 

Fighting Insecurities from Within


Having been in a certain place in life for so many years, my thinking was formed by that place. My view of myself was formed in that religious, unloving place. This narrow-minded place of seeing things only one way. Seeing things one way and really not seeing at all. Blindness has set in and there is an all prevailing blundering around in the dark. And I realize that the years of being obligated to religion have definitely taken their toll on my mind and I have unearthed another layer of that someone I don’t want to be.

I am insecure.

I just fully figured that out today as I attended a homeschool graduation ceremony. The church was filled with lot’s of people, all different kinds of people from all different backgrounds, but I still couldn’t help but to feel irked, terribly irked by some of the religious people I used to see and be around and talk to. And now that I don’t attend a church “faithfully”, well, I suppose that I am just, well, not part of the inner circle anymore. I love God. I’m God’s child and I would just like to be the church faithfully instead of follow some man’s or some church’s plan for my life.

Needless to say, I felt out of place, even though there were so many other people in attendance, the few that I had seen in churches, the ones we used to visit often, looked at me as if I were invisible. It hurts to have people you know look past you as if you weren’t there. And why do I care so much? If I please God, why should I care what man can say? Why?

I have been groomed for insecurity and for the lust and hunger in me to beg for the approval of man is strong. It’s also a natural leaning in me to want to please other people, so much so that I get upset at thought of anyone not liking me. Silly, I know, but true. Insecurity, you have stolen my joy and I am so very tired of you.

This insecurity has taken its toll on me and I know it is something that I need to overcome. I suppose I also need to acknowledge that all Christians and that all churches do not do this to you. At least I know some Christians that don’t. Precious few, but I know some. Pharisees look at you as if you were nobody until you please their agendas for your life or until you agree with them on what they think you need to agree with them about. It’s unfortunate to admit, but I am terrified to enter into relationships with Christians. I am afraid if I don’t measure up they will withhold love and that somehow their friendship will be withdrawn over a spiritual disagreement or our ways of living will clash. And still, why do I care, why would I want to surround myself with people like that anyway?

That is a good question and one I must think about further. I want to please God. He is so gracious and kind and His love never wavers for me and He is and should be enough for me. Filling up on God may cure my insecurities. Wait, actually, I know it will.

So I think this dependency on others has become an addiction and more important than God and His plan for my life. It becomes so important that I feel sick at the sight of other snobby, religious people ignoring me. I see pictures of people from my past life on facebook and it makes me utterly sad. Wanting to be included in the lives of people who don’t want to include you or who you don’t want to include, I know, makes absolutely no sense and living this way makes utterly no sense, but here I am. I see people I used to know all the time and it does cause pain in my heart, but I need to be able to look at them without it affecting me, but how?

And tonight my family, all seven of us played in the yard. It was a cool, pleasant evening and the breeze was blowing slightly. So beautiful. And my children were smiling at me. And my husband was smiling at me. And God was smiling at me. And I felt loved. The kind of love I have received from only a very few people in my life, especially in the religious world and it felt unconditional. And thankfulness began to overwhelm my insecurities.

It does. Thankfulness does overwhelm our insecurities and so does prayer to a loving and real God, not the god fashioned by the minds of mortals. The real God wants me to rest in Him and trust that He will unchain me from an insecure life. I am trusting that He can and He will.

Creating Paranoia in Our Kids

I am all for protecting the hearts and minds of kids from bad junk that ain't good for them.  The main focus of my protection is definitely geared toward my own children.  I live with them and am faced with the consequences of letting them do things that would be detrimental to their thinking, character or overall health.  So, yeah, their protection is something I have to consider relentlessly.  I would say I am their number one protector as a parent, well, God's looking out for them, too, I believe and that puts my mind at ease quite a bit. 

I think when little kids watch movies that are too scary for them that it's no good.  I don't believe they'll die, but I don't think it's good.  Kids are required to do a myriad of things each day and need to get to bed by a certain time, but even then no one is going to be scarred for life if they don't get to bed on time each night.  It may make life rough for mom if there is not a schedule, but things can be adjusted as life comes and it'll be fine in the end.

Boundaries are the stuff that keeps things running smoothly with kids and it's a good thing, but some of us parents can be way overprotective and to the point of insanity.  I know because I was one of those parents.  I was definitely following the example of my predecessors and thinking I was doing something good by building the walls high and strong around my little children and to the point of exhaustion.  I don't intend to stop protecting my kids but only to examine this pattern of paranoia that has been created in my kids as the result of yours truly.

When your kid is in the bath tub with his bathing suit on because he thinks it is a sin to be naked in front of God, then you know you have got a problem.  And granted, this particular kid is extreme about everything, so that could be part of the problem, but, too, I could definitely see how he could misunderstand what me and my husband were teaching him and how we hyper-focused on this idea of "never being naked in front of anyone other than your spouse" way too much.  Now, we still don't advocate or allow our kids running through the house wild and naked(well, unless they are 2 and under, well, 3 and under) and especially since they are getting older, but we are much more lax about that and everything else in our effort to re-examine our over protection.

It took weeks of my reasoning with my son to get him to understand that he was absolutely not sinning against God if he took a bath naked.  He was so wrought over possibly offending God that he even cried about the idea of taking a bath like normal people do.  Total paranoia.  Eventually he did get over it after much encouragement from me on the subject.  He didn't always think that way, but somewhere, somehow he began to adopt this kind of thinking.  I can only think it was us, the parents, causing him to be this paranoid and possibly people from the Christian circles we used to be in.  So, wow, that hit me like a ton of bricks.  Am I creating paranoid kids as I flesh out my walk with Christ on this earth?

That is a question that takes some serious thought and consideration and right now it is an on going question for me in this journey as a parent and as a Christian.  I wish I could go back and have a re-do, but I can't.  I can only acknowledge now that I do not want to have kids that are in a panic over offending God, me or anyone else.  A healthy concern for what others may think only comes from a healthy relationship with those people first, doesn't it?  And even then, that concern comes from a heart that is willing and wanting to have such concern and that kind is truly genuine.  The concern shouldn't come from paranoia or panic or worry or fear or anxiety.  What kind of life would that be or more importantly, what kind of relationship would that be?

We recently went to church for Easter.  I figure, it's Easter, we should be in church on Easter, right?  So, I gave in and went, a little reluctantly, but we went.  The kids went to the Sunday school they had.  And just for the record, my kids tell me everything.  One thing my boys were telling me after it was all over was that the guy in charge of teaching them that day had told them if they didn't close their eyes during prayer that they would disrespect the fellow believers in the room and disrespect God and that if they were caught with their eyes open that they would be sent to the auditorium with their parents.  And to that I say, huh?

More paranoia.  I can understand the need for the teacher to keep the peace in class by telling them not to goof off in class or during prayer, but telling them this kind of stuff?  Is it really necessary and does God really see things this way, too, when it comes to prayer?  Do we have to close our eyes when we pray?  Where is that in the bible?  Do we need to use guilt or fear to get kids to understand something or see something?  Does God discount the hundreds of prayers that I have prayed over the years with my eyes open?  Does a child take this so literally that he will never pray with his eyes open ever again because he literally believes that God will literally be ready to punish him for keeping his eyes open during his prayers?  Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it, but really, kids take things literally and we need to be careful how we flesh out this Christian life in front of them and what we say and how we represent God and the bible matters big time.  We all need to be careful. 

I need to be careful.  I am with my kids the most and this point really hits home hard.  And with eyes wide open sitting here at my computer typing away I pray in my mind, God, help me to be careful with who you are, what you are, what your word really says and what it really does not say.  Help me to make it clear what is truly clear and only discuss the unclear in the light of what it really is, just unclear or imprecise.  May I not draw up absolutes where there are none.  And most importantly, in my goal of undoing paranoia in my kids is to build up, not high, over protective walls, but a healthy view of God, His love, and His real word and His ways so that one day my kids would be drawn into His forgiveness and into a reality of who He truly is.  His yoke is easy and His burden is light and His love constrains us, not paranoia.      

Happy Unmother's Day to You

I am a mother.  I have five that I am a mother to.  I always wanted to be a mother since I was very young and not because a certain ideology was pushed on me.  My mother had five of her own, but I think some of hers were more by accident and not because my dad wanted her to have a lot of kids.  When I was younger I had heard of women having a lot of kids in other families as a matter of belief.  My grandma had twelve and that always intrigued me, but I personally didn't grow up in a home that thought that way at all.  My parents weren't trying to keep up with the Jones' in that area so to speak.  I just loved babies...naturally.  I always did.  I loved being in the nursery at church.  I loved the smaller kids in my neighborhood growing up.  If I ever saw a baby, I would just die to hold him or her.  I couldn't wait to be a mother.  Being a mother is all I really ever wanted to be for the most part in life.  That might sound dumb to some, but it was just an honest girlhood ambition and not as a result of pressure from my parents or from the churches I attended.

So here I am a mother and so what?  Happy Mother's Day to me, aye?  I think I am a pretty okay mom, sometimes I love my job and sometimes I hate it.  Hoo, rah.  But as I sit here and hear, oh, tomorrow is Mother's Day on the radio.  On facebook everyone is wishing their mom a Happy Mother's Day and everyone else, too.  Yippee.  No, really, it's great, but I can't help but to think of all the wonderful women in the world right now who either can't be mothers or won't ever be mothers for one reason or another.  And to you, oh, childless woman, I say happy unmother's day to you.  You are seen by God on this earth and been given a place of great meaning to pursue your gifts and work your magic.  Being a mother isn't better than what you have been given to do and I see that today, this day where so many of you might hurt, a sting unsettled in your spirit when it feels like this thing called motherhood seems to get put on some higher plane and even if it's just for a day, you feel overlooked.

Motherhood isn't the best thing for you, what God gives you to do is the best thing and maybe you already know that.  I just wanted to encourage your unmothering soul with those words.  Happy Unmother's Day to you and know that you are cherished just as much as any mother by your God.  

    

Here is the Church and Here is the Steeple

Since having left the realm of the institutional setting of the church, I have come to know all sorts of Christians.  So many different types, in fact, that I feel as if I can't keep them all straight.  I so wondrously found friends who accepted me right where I was at, the good, the bad, the ugly.  In fact, my dearest and closest friend looked at me square in the face recently and told me that she finally realized that I was raised in a cult and lived most of my life in an extreme "Christian" environment.  She apologized to me for not realizing that before in it's fullest extent, an apology totally unnecessary, but it felt good for someone to acknowledge that.  I am so glad to know her on this journey that seems to hold me here on the outside looking in.

Yes, I have come to know so many different people now on this outside place looking in.  Some years ago I met a young lady who was going through quite a few difficulties and she confided in me all that was going on in her life.  Some of what she was enduring was very serious and definitely called for some intervention.  There were two particular things that were so serious that she really did need some outside help.  I happened to know someone "higher up" in the church that she attended.  Mind you, this lady with these serious issues was a Christian who simply needed help, but did not quite know how to go about asking for help.  I kept in contact with her, but I lived a very long distance away from her and could not be involved with helping in a hands on way.  This lady was desperate and I knew that if someone would branch out to help her, she would have gladly received it. 

I proceeded to get in contact with this person that I knew that also attended her church, someone in a "leadership" position so to speak.  I told him of this lady's issues and that she was having a hard time branching out for help in her own family and elsewhere.  This person in a leadership position at this church proceeded to tell me that her and her family did attend his church, but that they were not official members of that church and that he would not be intervening for that reason.  Oh, and the family was very weird, that was the other reason.

Needless to say, I was livid.  He refused to help in any way because she was not a member of what?  I quizzed him.  "So, you won't help this lady or see if anyone else in this church could help her because her and her family have not signed some piece of paper saying they 'belong' to this physical building?"  "That doesn't make any sense," I proceeded to tell him.  And then to throw in, yeah, they are such a weird family as part of his argument for not helping, well, that's asinine.

This idea that I or you have to become some official member of a physical church building in order to be a part of the body of Christ is false.  Each church writing up their own little agreements, or contracts, rather, to suit their own agendas that need to signed to be included in their exclusive club is just plain stupid.  And you know, I wrote something that I meant to write but I guess not fully meant a couple of posts ago.  I said I wanted to wage a "peaceful protest" against what seems so totally wrong or is extremely, blatantly wrong in "Christian" circles, and I do, but sometimes stupid things are just so totally stupid.

This stuff that has been pulled in as part of some person's tradition or method in many churches has become an idol and it is wrong.  I am a member of Christ's body of believers because I have placed my faith in a loving Jesus who gave His life for me and paid for my sin with His own blood.  He said I am His so many years ago and I have been His and I will be forever His.  No piece of paper, conjured up by some person with an obvious agenda will ever trump that fact nor will any building claiming to be a church ever precede that fact, even as I sit here with no physical church over my head.

So withholding dire help for lack of membership of your elite group?  If I was her I'd be running out the door of that building so fast and not looking back.  And they may ask also, "Why doesn't she just sign the piece of paper, stating she is a member?  What's the big deal?"  Well, because she doesn't have to and maybe doesn't want to agree to a lengthy discourse on how to live that is extra-biblical and controlling.  I don't know and it's none of my business and it shouldn't matter.  It shouldn't matter in a world, this so-called Christian world, where love should reside and kindness and care should be important for those who are definitely suffering and need some serious help. 

Thank goodness my friend is doing better, still struggling in these particular areas, but doing better and no thanks to her "church".  And I'll never forget a little rhyme my mom taught me when I was a kid along with some hand motions...

Here is the church
And here is the steeple
Open the doors
And see all the people


Christ's true people are loving, merciful and willing to help anyone they can help.  The kingdom of God is everywhere and so are His people and will never be confined by man's crazy ideas no matter how much they may try.    

        

What's Your Star?




The sneetches with their snoots in the air, they'd sniff and they'd snort, wanting nothing to do with the plain bellied sort.

"Ronald, remember when you are out walking, you walk past a sneetch of that type without talking.
Keep your snoot in the air and remember to snort, we will have nothing to do with the plain bellied sort!" said his mother.

Twink, twink, twinkle, lovely little stars.  Twink, twink, twinkle, stupid little stars.

"You can have a star, too, you just have to pay three bucks," exclaimed a peddler.

So all the sneetches who did not have stars ran into his star-making machine to get their false star.  A red truck built like a mini factory on wheels pressed out stars on the starless bellied sneetches.

Then the initial star bellied sneetches invited themselves into the lives of the newly starred bellied sneetches, why, they were the authority on starred bellies after all.

The latter sneetches looked on in amazement.  "We are the best sneetches because we had them first.
We are still the best and they are still the worst!"  But they had a dilemma because they couldn't tell each other apart from the other.

The guru came back with a guarantee to the original star bellied sneetches that would allow for a come back in their superiority.

"Belly stars are no longer in style.  Here is a stars off machine!" exclaimed the guru.

"Just pay your ten bucks."

A fight broke out for superiority among the sneetches until they ran out of money and energy.  The guru packed up and left town with his pockets filled with money.

Left with nothing but each other, the sneetches agreed that they had squabbled long enough about their differences and that any thing that made them superior was only their love and acceptance of each other where they were at in their own sneetch life.

( The Sneetches, by Dr. Suess quoted verbatim in some spots and paraphrased)

Sounds oddly familiar, doesn't it?  A silly story with moral truth that could be applied in all sorts of ways.  Something that comes to mind immediately when I read this story is the fact that there are so many different denominations and churches and people divided up into these neat, little, exclusive groups in Christianity.  Each one offering a clearer picture of truth than the other or a better atmosphere or a way of doing things in this Christian life that may be more superior than the other.  The fast track of having things all figured out in this world seems to go on and on, when truly there are some things we just don't fully know or understand and never will here on earth and the best thing to do is just admit that fact.

The attempt to bring clarity to things that still do not seem clear even after much prayer or scripture study can be never ending in these neatly divided circles.  And so much is missed when the wrong things are emphasized.  And worse, much spiritual abuse ensues as the unclear gets elevated above clear.  The basics of love, understanding, respect, kindness and real truth get lost under the guise of setting ourselves apart from our true brothers and sisters in the pursuit of the unclear.  Reworded and redundant, but worth repeating...

We hang onto what seems good to us no matter how much we must bypass the basics of true Christianity to observe our beliefs or standards in the world of the unclear.  Dr. Suess was a genius of silly, but such truth is found in this humorous story of the made up world of sneetches.

I think the sneetches finally decided to stick to the things they truly knew for sure or what they truly wanted to pursue together here on earth.  They were all sneetches.  They all came to an agreement that they would love and accept each other where each one was at in their journey, probably for better or for worse.  Or so I would like to believe.

So, what do we know?  There is much that is perfectly and absolutely clear in the the word of God.  All I say, is that we do not override what is clear to pursue what is not.  The Spirit of Christ guides each true and free believer in Jesus and each one uniquely and differently, on such a plane that cannot be compared with any other.  We know that the world will know that we are His disciples if we love one another.  And what does love do?  I Corianthians 13 will give you a run down of what love does.  It believes all things, suffers long and is kind, does not envy, boast, or puff itself up.

What's your star?  What unclear thing are you holding onto for answers, answers you will never find on the earth?  Held on to like a toddler will hold a dead cockroach in his hand like a prized jewel, ready to be eaten in ignorance.  What unclear standard do you hold high above loving or showing kindness and mercy?  Let Jesus purge you of these idols.  He can and He will, if you let Him.  Throw your hands in the air, give up and say, "I don't know, I just don't know!"  Then with reckless abandon observe all that is abundantly clear to you as you draw close to the Holy Spirit and read the word of God with fresh, untainted eyes.  Or maybe you have never known the real Jesus.  You are invited to enter the realm of His loving forgiveness and grace and mercy today.  It's never too late to realize that your religious deeds won't save you.

And let all those unclear, irrelevant, religious stars be shattered and purged from your soul forever and let there be love for your brother and sister and love for the God of your new life or your renewed life...so you can truly be free.  

Waging War

I feel sick to my stomach.  I am tired and I really don't want to write today, but I am certain that I need to.  I am discouraged and a little dazed and confused.  I simply don't understand quite a lot.  I don't understand.

All that I have known is really gone.  All that I believed is now being examined and evaluated for flaws by myself.  I have found many and continue to find many large and small cracks in my thinking concerning a great number of my beliefs.  I was in the process of becoming what I know now that I absolutely don't want to be.

And what is that, you say?  It's a myriad of things, or people, rather, persons, persona's, that I wish to rip, purge, cut off or cut out of myself.  A controlling, religious person bent on having things her own way or the way she believed her God wanted things to be in her life and in the lives of others.  A cult of personality that led me down various paths of spiritual abuse and manipulation.  The giver and receiver of such.  Subtle and also, extremely blatant. 

The giver.  Wow, I was the giver of spiritual abuse and manipulation, too.  That's tough to take.  It will take some doing just for me to fully process that revelation.   

I am in a strange place now, that seems devoid of real friends or real actual persons that understand me.  I know that is not totally true, but it feels true.  Yes, feelings are deceitful or so I have been told my whole life by various well-meaning, religious people.  I say, why did God give us feelings or emotions?  Will they always deceive us?  That is a question, isn't it?  I have so many questions. 

I do so digress, don't I?  I feel as if I have no place and no voice.  It's a lonely place.  I know God is here in this solitary place of waging war against all that seems twisted in the Christian world.  A world that I have lived in my whole life, a world that seems to have shut me out because I no longer fit.  And it is true, I no longer fit in this world where I knew so many people.  People I don't know any more and probably never will...misguided people, some very well-meaning people, and some down right manipulating and controlling.

This is a process of stepping back and looking at my life that is so difficult and extremely painful.  It is painful to see people in person and not have them speak to you anymore, when we have known each other for years and used to speak.  I know I have withdrawn from them, too, so the lack of communication swings both ways.  But just the realization of the fact that people you have known your whole life or a good part of your life are not good for you and your family to be around or become close to because of their toxic, extreme or unbalanced religious beliefs is still very difficult, but still, I know and understand, very necessary.

I do wish to wage war, but more of a peaceful, truthful and honest, but firm protest against hyper-fundamental, extreme, unbalanced, toxic, "Christian", religious beliefs.  There does need to be an examination and evaluation in the Christian community at large of those coming in as wolves in sheep's clothing leading many astray into fad beliefs, extreme patterns of Christianity, scripture verse cherry-picking, or a systematic pushing of unbalanced teaching of the scriptures.  I also realize that I am very responsible for my representation of the real Jesus, the real scriptures, the real Father God and the real Holy Spirit.

How sobering. 

How sobering to know that I am loved so much by God that He wanted me to represent Him on this earth.  I am amazed by such love and also, very humbled.  Humbled to know that I must represent His true love and forgiveness, mercy and grace here on the earth and how I have so failed to do just that.

He has forgiven me for being unloving, controlling and abusive to those around me.  He is restoring my soul and leading me beside still waters.  He is a loving Shepard, leading me into safe, green and lush pasture.  In His abundant forgiveness, He has also asked me to wage war against all that is not of Him, by Him and for Him.  He has asked me to take up my cross and follow Him and Him alone and no one else.  It's so lonely and so hard sometimes, but I know He will lead me on and give me strength to stand.