Tag Archives: belief

I’m a Vigilante. And Here’s Why.

“Sometimes justice is better served by those who have experienced the pain.”
― Mark W. Boyer

October 1. We all remember it, and will for years to come. The day that a lone madman decided to rain down bullets on an unsuspecting crowd of country music fans at a concert in Las Vegas, killing 58 people and injuring hundreds more. Our hearts broke for our brothers and sisters as we could only imagine what they must have been going through.

And then, as some idiots among us never fail to do these days, some decided to turn this horrid, random incident into a political one. No, not just to discuss gun rights (which is a worthy discussion that needs to be had) – but to place the blame on one “side” or the other.

Cue a local preacher rant.

I live in a small, highly conservative town in North Carolina and one man – a man of “God” – decided to post on Facebook about what happened. He posted a news link to the shooting and used the following words as his caption:

“Welcome to multiculturalism. Thank you Democrats, the media, and liberal education.”

Okay, let me give you a minute to let that sink in.

Take all the time you need.

Yes, my friends, you read that right. This PREACHER – a man of “God,” – decided to place the blame for this lone, white, unaffiliated, non-religious madman’s actions on multiculturalism (different races and religions living amongst one another), democrats (you know – most of whom want to tighten gun safety laws), the media (because um…yeah…I got nothing), and liberal education (whatever the hell he wants to claim that is – acceptance of LGBTQ? Beats me.)

So, needless to say…this pissed me right the hell off.

I screenshotted this atrocity and shared it on social media. I posted it to the church’s website (to no avail because it didn’t seem to bother them).  I contacted the preacher directly who told me, and I quote, that this was “none of my business” and that he would not “stand by and watch liberals destroy his county.”


And then, as some would enjoy telling me over the next few weeks, I became a “vigilante.” I continued to post about it – to remind people of who this man was and what he was teaching his congregation. I continued to post on the church’s website, even though they continued to delete my posts. I even thought about posting a sign on their church to show them who their preacher was. (I decided against that one because it was blatantly obvious that the powers that be didn’t care who he was – they apparently agree with him. Or at least they don’t disagree with him enough to do anything about it.)

Eventually, I was told even by people who agree with my stance on this that “vigilante justice” was not the way to go.

Now, before we go any further, I have to just go ahead and admit that I’ve never been one to listen to anyone else when they try to tell me what to do. Whether they’re on my “side” or not, and whether they’re even “right” or not. Is it healthy for me to continue to feel this anger towards this preacher? Maybe not. Is it productive? Maybe not.

But am I going to stop? Nope. And here’s why.

You know what “vigilante justice” is? I looked it up. While it’s often accompanied by ‘destruction’ (I haven’t torn anything up…yet…) it’s basically just simply taking “justice” into your own hands….whatever that justice may be. It’s also defined as being rationalized by: “the concept that proper legal forms of criminal punishment are either nonexistent, insufficient, or inefficient.”

Okay. I can dig it.

So, basically, what everyone is saying is that since there is no “law” against what this man has done – then I’m taking the nonexistent law into my own hands and seeking some other form of “punishment.” Some other rectification.

Well, hell yeah!

That’s exactly what I’m doing.

This man is leading a congregation. He is shaping minds. Some minds are already formed and agree with what he has to say, but the ones I’m concerned with are the ones that aren’t shaped yet. The young minds. The children.

Let me tell you my story.

I have two children. I have a 19-year-old son and a 17-year-old daughter. For a large part of their childhood, I was a single mom. I was tough and I did what had to be done, but I’ll admit it: I was lonely. I was lost. I had a very religious grandmother who had a large hand in my raising who had instilled in me that it would be wrong of me not to raise my children up in a church. So, for the most part, I did just that. Now, granted, I skipped around to different churches and never really found one that suited me or my beliefs so I didn’t stay in any for very long. But I did go. And I drug my kids along with me.

My daughter? Let’s just say the church thing never really stuck with her. She has always been wise beyond her years and was always a ‘questioner.’ She was a bit like her mom – just didn’t quite “fit it” anywhere. I’m not saying she doesn’t believe in a higher power – that’s between her and her god if she chooses to believe in one. I’m just saying that she was always a questioner of the “rules,” – especially the ones that didn’t make any sense.

But my son? Now that was another story. I honestly thought (and still do sometimes) that he’d end up becoming a preacher. He has such a deep sense of belief and a black and white sense of “right” and “wrong” that leaves no room whatsoever for questioning. He knows what “is” and “isn’t” and that’s just all there is to it. Period.

So here I have two very different children, now almost grown adults.  One who’d end up leaning towards the conservative, Christian way of life, and the other who’d lean toward the progressive, open-minded way of life. One strict rule follower and one champion of the underdog. Very different people, to put it mildly.

And then…bam. A few years ago, my daughter announces that she’s gay.

Suddenly, momma has to put her money where her mouth is. I’d spent my life running from this religious teaching that being gay was a “sin” because I just didn’t believe it. And now, I had the chance to look all that indoctrination right in the face and decide, once and for all, what I was going to do with those heaps of spoon-fed “knowledge” I’d been given all my life.  What did I choose?

To hell with it.

This was a turning point for me. No longer would I drag my children into a place that was going to tell one of them that she was “dirty.” No longer was I going to open up a dusty old book written by men a couple thousand years ago and that told me that my child was going to burn in hell. Screw that noise.

I’m out.

But that posed a problem. I still had a son.

As of this writing, I have not seen my son in a month. We have not spoken – in person or by text – in over two weeks. He has decided (after a multitude of disagreements – not just his sister’s sexuality) to “cut ties with his liberal family.”

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I don’t care. Because I do. When I allow myself to think about it, I can’t stop the tears. But here’s the thing. I’ve spent my entire life overcoming men who have told me who and what to be and think. It has taken me years to discover who I really am and to teach my children to be who they really are. Am I going to undo all of that so my son will love me?

I can’t.

I just can’t.

So, why am I so angry at this preacher?  Why can I not leave well enough alone and let it go?

Because I’m angry at myself. I want to prevent other mothers from making the same mistake I did. I want the scared, lonely single mothers of the world who are looking for a place of refuge to know that places like the one where that man spouts off his vile hatred have the capacity to turn your children against you. I want to give them the knowledge that I didn’t have. I want to stop them from leading their child by the hand into a place that tells them that their cult-like beliefs are worth more than their own family.

I want to stop them from doing what I did.

Vigilante justice, huh? When you have a personal connection to something, you are more passionate about it. I am a Hodgkin’s lymphoma survivor. When I hear of a fundraiser to raise money to help fight this disease, I’m more apt to donate to it because of my personal history with the disease. Am a “vigilante” against lymphoma? Sure. There’s no “law” against lymphoma, but you can bet your tushy that I’m going to fight it when and how I can, even if it’s just with a small donation when I can afford it.

The same goes for bigotry.

If you’re an individual who believes in everything the Bible says – if you believe that homosexuals are going to hell and “liberals” are evil – then here’s the thing: I’m just not going to like you. That’s all there is to it.  I don’t think you’re a good person and I don’t want to be your friend. Sure, you’re allowed to be who you are. Go ahead. But I don’t want to be around you and I don’t want you to be around my children. However, my children aren’t children anymore.  They are grown and they can make their own choices. My son can make his own choices and he might very well chose to have people like you as his best friend. And he can choose to shut out the people like myself and his sister.

But would he have made these choices if I hadn’t exposed him to this line of thinking?

I don’t owe anyone an explanation. But here it is nonetheless. I just can’t stand down. I can’t watch this man slowly inch his way in between more mothers and sons of the world. I can’t watch him welcome more innocent minds into his cult and not at least warn them about it before they step into his fold.

I just can’t.

Call me a vigilante if you must. But I want to stop this from happening anymore than it has to.  If I prevent just one child from being indoctrinated into that madness, then I will have done what I set out to do.

I miss my son.  And this is all I know to do.





“Like most girls, Emily can’t take a compliment.  Around here, if you don’t show outward signs of hating yourself by the 5th grade, everyone calls you conceited.”
– Brian Strause, from the novel Maybe a Miracle

Ok, so am I the only chick on the planet that absolutely can NOT take a compliment?

I saw the above quote in a novel I was reading a while back and it was like a spotlight shown around the sentence with big flashing neon arrows pointing to it saying, “This! This! This!”  One little seemingly innocent sentence tucked away in the middle of a paragraph hidden deep inside a novel seemed to be the answer to this conundrum that had plagued me all my life.  Maybe that’s why I can’t take a compliment?  Maybe it’s just that it has been ingrained in me from an early age not to because I might appear conceited?

Hmmm.  Something to think about.

Are you like me?  Do you get all weird when someone says you look nice?  Do you “pssssssh” it away like I do?  I’d be willing to bet you do.  Well, let me tell ya a story.

This past weekend, I ran a 10K race early Saturday morning.  And, if you don’t mind my saying so, I did pretty darn awesome. mebrrr (Heh…no worries about sounding conceited about that one, huh?)  I didn’t get any medals or place in the coveted top 3 of any of the categories, mind you (in fact, I was dead last in my age group if I’m going to be honest), but ask me if I care?  Go on, ask me.  What’s that?  Do I care?  NOPE!  Because you know why?  The only person I was there to beat was myself.  And not only did I beat myself (not now, secret 12-year-old-boy alter-ego-self, this is not the time to make your childish jokes…let me finish my story…), but I blew my old record away.  I generally run at an 11-12 minute pace (yes, I know, I’m slow), but my average pace for this race was 10:10, with the first 3 miles all being in the 9 minute range.  Dude, I was booking it!  And you know what?  I was pretty darn proud of myself.

So, fast forward a little later in the day.

My boyfriend’s kids were in a play at the local theatre, so I had rushed home after the race, showered, straightened my hair (that’s what I consider “getting dressed up”), and hit the road again to go watch the two back-to-back performances.  Now, as most of you know from my previous blogs, the theatre is my home away from home.  I know so many people there, and most of their kids were going to be in this production.  So, walking into this little mini-reunion, I started running into people I hadn’t seen in a while – at least not since our last production a few months ago. And, in those past few months, I have been training my hind end off this upcoming half marathon next weekend.

I was immediately greeted with compliments.

“Wow, that running is look great on you!”  “You look fantastic!”  “Oh, Melissa, you’re just glowing!”  “Look how toned you’ve gotten.”

It was like a compliment smorgasbord.

And, oddly enough, instead of blushing in embarrassment like I normally would, I just graciously accepted their compliments.  I genuinely thanked them (no ‘psssssssh’es allowed) and let the compliments do their intended job – make me feel good.  Later, I thought about that, and wondered why I didn’t have my normal response.  Why was I able to accept compliments this time with such ease and gratitude?  Before long, it finally dawned on me.

I accepted their compliments….because I believed them.

That was the difference.  running2I have been working hard for the past few months.  I have felt my pants getting a little loose and saw the number on the scale dropping slightly.  Although those things are not at all the purpose for my running, they have been a nice bonus.  And, this particular day, I had put forth a little effort on my hair and makeup, and was probably still riding on the high from my race accomplishment earlier in the day, which probably showed on my face.  I was feeling pretty darn good about myself that day and accepted those compliments with open arms.

Boy, wouldn’t it be nice if every day was like that?

Hey, I have an idea.

Let’s make sure they are.

Let’s all make a silent little promise to ourselves to try to make every single day a day in which you are proud of yourself.  Let’s make every day a day that you believe the compliments that are tossed your way.  Seriously.  Let’s do it, people.  It may not be all that easy at first, but with practice, it may start eventually coming natural to you.  Just like my running.  I didn’t start out with the ability to crank out a 10-minute pace 10K.  It took lots of time and effort and, most importantly, belief in myself.  That’s all we need, right?

Easy peasy.

So, get out there in this big ol’ world and strut your stuff today, why don’t ya?  I mean, you’re looking all good and whatnot, so you might as well, right?  Come on, beautiful people.  We’ve got some work to do!


“For once, you believed in yourself. you believed you were beautiful and so did the rest of the world.”  
– Sarah Dessen, Keeping the Moon