Tag Archives: God

In Hate I Trust

 

On April 24, I participated in a peaceful, silent protest in Ashe County, North Carolina.

This is me:

kindness

Note that you don’t see my face in this picture.

I’ll come back to that. First, let me pause here and tell you about my life for the past few days.

Right now, it’s 1:30 a.m. My husband is trying to sleep beside me and I’m still lying awake after having cried my eyes out for the past few hours. Here’s why.

Hours ago, following two days full of verbal attacks and name-calling, I received a public notification on my facebook page that contained a hurtful, harmful comment about my child.

My child.

When I joined in this silent protest, I joined for two reasons. The first was that a staggering amount of money was used in taxpayer funds to place “In God We Trust” on a courthouse in one of, if not the, poorest counties in North Carolina. Regardless of my religious affiliation, I could not sit idly by and watch as funds went into a boastful display of Christianity on a public building while my neighbors in this county are going without food and a place to sleep. I wanted to do something about it. After a conversation with a Christian who didn’t mind the letters being on the courthouse, we realized that were more alike than we thought. While one of us was fine with it and the other was not, we could agree on the fact that the funds could have and should have been spent in more needed areas. Together, we developed a fundraiser called Agreeable Disagreers. Our goal was to collect the amount of money back that was used on this sign and put it back into the community where we felt it was needed most.

My second reason for joining the protest was that I believe in humanity. In diversity. In inclusion. Just the same as the speech I gave against HB2 last week in this small conservative community, I felt it was important to speak up for the minority. For the people who did not believe in the Christian God. Was I one of them? No. Just like I wasn’t a member of the LGBT community when I gave the speech, I was also not a “non-Christian.” I was just speaking on their behalf.

Now I wonder what I’ve done.

My life, and the life of the photographer who envisioned this protest, have been nothing but a living hell for the past few days. We have been called every name you can think of. We have been threatened. We have been told to get out of town. We have been called attention-seekers and cowards in the same breath.

All in the name of God.

But we kept going. We kept moving because we felt it was worth it. We felt the stares in public (real or imagined? we didn’t know) and feared the backlash. We were told by “well-meaning” friends (ha!) to worry about things such as our jobs and our standings with our hobbies and interests in the area. We were told both blatantly and subtly to shut up.

But we didn’t.

I was attacked by a “Christian” who was the recipient of my help a few Christmases ago. He and his girlfriend needed help providing presents for their children at Christmas because of their financial situation. Without knowing this man at all, I rallied the troops and my husband and I showed up at their home a few days before Christmas with a truck and carload full of presents for their four children. I’m not telling you this story to tell you what I did. I’m telling you this to tell you what he did. In the name of his God, he accused me of being someone who would go to hell because of participating in this protest. Me. The person who provided a Christmas for his family.

And he did this all in the name of God.

And then, to add to everything, tonight happened.

Tonight, someone brought my child into it. They told me that my child and I were going to hell. Yes, they told a mother than her child was going to hell. Along with also posting private information about her and her previous school.

And then you know what else? In my fury and rage while conveying the events to members of my family, they sided with this person. They said that I shouldn’t be doing all of this. That I started it.

I am beat up. I am tired. I am defeated.

Is it temporary? I don’t know.

I started this peaceful protest as a person who believed in love. Who believed that love would win in the end. A person who believed in tolerance. In compassion. I was a Christian who believed that everyone had the right and privilege to live in this beautiful America and be whomever they wanted to be.

This was me. Three days ago. A Christian who believed in kindness.

kindness

Not anymore.

I respectfully apologize for being in that picture holding that sign. I no longer believe in kindness. I no longer believe in anything.

And I will never call myself a Christian again. I wouldn’t stoop that low.

My face was hidden in that picture because I live in an area where I would be blasted and condemned for taking a stand like this. This photo and the others were symbolic of what it’s like to have to hide your voice in a land of bullies. But it doesn’t matter anymore. I’m turning around.

My name is Melissa. That was me in that picture.

But it’s not anymore.

 

 

 

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The Guise of Love

wolf

If you’re my Facebook friend, you knew this blog was coming.

If you’re not, let me catch you up.

Yesterday, a Christian lady in our small mountain community posted a status about a new Charlotte, North Carolina law that was passed Monday allowing transgender people to use the public bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity. This woman, who has repeatedly told the world in Facebook statuses, a self-published book, numerous selfies, and a multitude of scripture posts that she is a Christian and loves all, expressed her concern at this new ruling. She said she would no longer feel it would be safe to allow her children to use these bathrooms and that this new ruling “made her sick.” She said it “goes against all she believes is right and true.”

But oh, it didn’t end there. In fact, this was just the beginning.

Once the comments started rolling in from people, including me, who saw the hypocrisy and hurt in such a statement coming from someone who is supposed to be in support of love for all, this woman was quick to start deleting and blocking the naysayers and rewording and deleting some of her negative comments. She then went on to create a video selfie (which I want to post the link to soooo bad but those last few shreds of maturity are stopping me) showing her crying over the hurt and pain that standing for God was bringing about. To which, came numerous comments flooding in supporting her in her plight and remarking that they too were standing with her on God’s side.

*sigh*

*ahhem*

[Maturity, Melissa. Maturity.]

Alrighty then. Let’s discuss, shall we?

First and foremost, as someone I greatly admire was quick to point out, I’ve yet to see the parts in the Bible about public restrooms. I mean, seriously. I try and try to be just a smidge educated before I start mouthing off about something but, for the life of me, I’ve scoured that thing and I simply cannot find it. So, I’m just not quite sure how these people know how their God feels about men and women using each other’s bathrooms. This has become such a mystery to me. But, hey, surely such devoted Christ followers wouldn’t make up stuff from the Bible just to support their own ignorance-based fears, would they?

Surely not.

So, let’s assume it’s in there. (You know, somewhere around all that “judge not” silliness.) And let’s assume that this woman is truly standing up for her Lord and is bearing the brunt of such a burden. Okidoke, Got it.

So, video selfie and numerous photo selfies later, here we are. And the comments are still rolling in. Now, even though this woman managed to block every member of my family from her Facebook page (as Jesus would have her do), I still have my ways of seeing the things that are posted. (Just chalk it up to my evil ways…muhaha). And in the past 24 hours, here are the things I’ve seen.

“Keep standing for God, you have a heart of gold and He knows it!”

“Thank God there are people like you that will stand up for what you believe in!”

“I’m so sorry someone hurt you.”

“Exactly what I was thinking. This is a fruitcake nation.”

(My favorite up there was how sorry someone was that she was hurt. That SHE was hurt?? Seriously? She describes a fairly significant portion of our population as people who “make her sick” and whom she fears will harm her children because of a condition that they have no control over and yet she is the one that’s hurt? Give me a friggin break.)

But, fruitcake nation aside, another of the commenters really tickled me. Let me give you a little backstory.

About 5 minutes before this guy got married, he made out with me. Yup, that’s right. It was before I met Richard, of course, and I could make all kinds of excuses for the way things went down, but the facts are the facts. His Facebook and public persona showed the world how happy he was with the love of his life, while his private self was trying to get in my pants.

And now where is he?

Commenting on this status about how horrible this world is and how awful it is that this poor woman is being faced with such adversity in her plight for God.

Excuse me while I THROW UP ALL OVER MY KEYBOARD.

For the love of God, can we stop with the hypocrisy?  I mean, seriously, people. You’re not perfect. I’m not perfect. The city of Charlotte isn’t perfect. Transgender people aren’t perfect. We all make mistakes and we all SUCK. Can we please, please, stop judging people on things they have no control over?

Sure, I get it. I’m partly hypocritical because I’m ranting on this post about this Christian woman and her non-Christian ways, but do you see the difference here? Yes, I’m being judgmental and yes, I’m being snarky and bitchy. But it’s because of this woman’s personality. I don’t like her. I think she’s a fraud and I think she’s leading thousands of people down a path that is making this world an ugly place filled with ignorance and intolerance of things they don’t understand. But I can do that. I’m human. I don’t claim to be Christ-like because I’m not. Yes, I do judge. But my judgment is based on how you ACT, not who you are.

There’s a big fat huge hairy difference. Got it?

I do not think this woman is doing God’s work and I pray that each and every one of you out there think twice before you blindly follow someone just because they say that’s what they’re doing. No matter how many scriptures they post, God said you’re going to know them by their fruits.  What were the fruits of that post?

Hurt feelings. Exclusion. Rejection. Embarrassment.

Is that really what Jesus would do?

Hatred disguised as love is one of the most dangerous things there is in this world. It frightens the bejeebus out of me and makes me terrified for all the young people out there who are going through identity crises. The world is a scary place when you’re young, immature, and people who are supposed to be so “good” make you feel like a leper. Nothing but bad can come from that. Believe me when I tell you this.

Please.

Think for yourselves, people.  Come on, THINK. It’s not that hard. It’s really not. If you don’t like someone because of how they act, that’s cool. You’re human. Don’t like them. But if you don’t like someone because of who they are and if you think they don’t deserve the same rights as you because of things that are beyond their control, I think you might want to recheck that religion thing you’re basing your beliefs on.

I think you might have screwed up somewhere. And the God I know does not want you using his name to promote your selfish agenda.

Don’t preach about love. Love. It’s a verb. Do it.

And that’s all I have to say.

***

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
– Jesus Christ

Love Thy Neighbor. (Aw man, do I gotta?)

“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” – Matthew 5:44

Okay, honest show of hands. Who else has unfriended or un-followed people on Facebook over the past few weeks? Anyone?

Well, I sure have.  *both hands raised high*  And you know why?  Because people are ignorant and that pisses me off.

Okay, so that’s not very lady-like of me, I don’t suppose. Doesn’t exactly go with that whole “turn the other cheek” spirit we’re supposed to have. But dear Lord, I cannot shut up when people are spewing hate and ignorance towards recent current events.  Racism, gay rights…you name it, people are throwing around their opinions about it…swearing that they know all and that the confederate flag should fly high and gays should stay in the closets where they belong. It absolutely infuriates me. So, what do I do?  I jump right in there and tell them how wrong they are.  And do you know what that solves?

Nothing.

10410790_10153491412603707_6179317090721641426_nNot one flippin thing.  In fact, it probably hurts my cause more than helps it. I am doing exactly what they’re doing, just in reverse. I am infuriated at them for being so judgmental and so narrow-minded, and yet I’m being the same way in a sense. I’m exercising my own hatred, it’s just directed at a different group – the ignorant and the narrow-minded.

Now, I’d like to believe that I’m a Christian. I fully believe that Jesus was who he said he was.  I really do. But I don’t believe that we are supposed to adhere to everything the bible tells us to do. I don’t believe that a rape victim should have to marry her rapist (Deuteronomy 22:28-29).   I don’t believe it is shameful for me to cut my hair (1 Corinthians 11:6).  I don’t believe that eating or touching a pig is forbidden by my lord (Leviticus 11:7-8). And I sure as heck fire don’t believe that  a woman is supposed to remain in quiet submission while she is in church (1 Corinthians 14:34).  Heck, just ask my husband – I don’t believe that a women should be in quiet submission anywhere. Ever.

I could go on and on and on with the things in the bible that I don’t believe are still accurate today. I believe that times have changed and that much of what was put in there was just what the writers of the time believed to be the case based on how things were done at the time they were walking the earth. I’m a writer – just about everything I write is tinged with my opinion.  (Ha! “Tinged.” Okay, maybe I need a different word there.) But still – you get the point. I think God wanted some stuff done and we were sucking at it, so I think he sent his son to explain it to us. And I think his son did a fine job of doing that when he told us to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:31).  In fact, he made it pretty clear that no other commandment was greater than that one.

And what have I been doing?  Failing miserably. I don’t love my neighbors. I hear and see the hateful things that people are saying about people I love and I get mad. I get ANGRY. And do I feel love towards them?  No, I don’t. I think Jesus rocks – and I think he had some seriously good advice, but I’m not him. I just can’t do it. I can’t feel love towards these people who make others feel dirty and worthless, and then use the bible as their weapon in doing so. The God I believe in wouldn’t stand for that for a second, and neither do I.

A woman that I recently did a community theatre play with posted something as her Facebook status one day in the midst of the hatred, and I want to share it with you.  Take a few seconds to read this, won’t you?

I will not “UNFRIEND” those who lack empathy or those who refuse to understand. If I “UNFRIEND” them, then I allow them to retreat deeper into their closets of ignorance. If I “UNFRIEND” them, I offer them greater refuge from the reality of the world around and deprive them of the opportunity to develop sensitivity and demonstrate true love for humanity. No, I will not “UNFRIEND” them. Instead, tidbits and snippets of my life will continue to pop up in their news feeds. I will continue to allow myself to be available should curiosity get the best of them and one day, they decide to try to understand. SOMEDAY; that closet of ignorance might get lonely and they might start to crave the richness of life that comes from connecting across the differences. Don’t get me wrong- this is not a passive surrender because I REFUSE TO LIE DOWN AND ALLOW THEM TO TRAMPLE MY SPIRIT!! I WILL STAND UP AND RISE ABOVE!! I will keep living this GLORIOUS life and do it with BOLDNESS, JOY, and LOVE because that is the true children of God!!
Tiffany Christian

Oh wow. Tiffany, what I wouldn’t give to have your attitude. I try, I really do. But then I backslide all over again. Am I just made of a different caliber of material than others?  Oh, I don’t know. All I can figure is this: I’m human.

That’s it. I’m human. I’m not perfect. And neither is anyone else. None of us have all the answers. We really don’t. Are gay people going to hell?  Heck, I don’t know. Is there a hell? Is there a heaven? Did that first haircut I got back in 1983 seal my spot on the front pew in the pits of hell?  Don’t know that either. NONE OF US KNOW ANYTHING. We really truly don’t.  So why do we go around acting like we do?

Why do I go around acting like I do?

Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t know the answer. I really don’t. But I’m pretty sure love is the first place to start looking for it. I have to try to find a way to get this anger and hatred out of my heart because it’s not healthy. I wish we could all just love each other, but there’s nothing I can do to help anyone else with that if I don’t first start with myself.

Anyone care to join me?

It’s a work in progress, friends.  We have to start somewhere.

***

“For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.”

– Sun Tzu

God’s Will?

godbird3

Ok, so since my Jesus post from a few weeks ago didn’t get me stoned, I’m gonna try this one out and see what happens.

I have a friend on Facebook who recently posted about the fact that he has battled and defeated many addictions throughout the course of his life, ranging from alcohol to food.  He made a blanket statement about how he was surprised at the fact that he had gotten through those trials, because he doesn’t feel like he has very much willpower.  So, as is par for the course with Facebook, the comments started rolling in.  And amid many of the well-intentioned comments, there seemed to exist the same theme.

“That’s because it wasn’t you, it was God’s work.”

“It was God’s will that you made it through.”

“God did it.”

*sigh*

Ok.  Get your stones ready.

Every single time I see comments like this, I shudder a little.  I’ve never really understood why that is.  Like I’ve mentioned in the past, I’m not the most religious person on the planet.  But I do believe there’s a God.  I do.  So, why does it bother me when I hear stuff like that?  Shouldn’t it make me feel good?  Strengthen my belief in the God that I believe in?

Well, this particular instance got me to thinking about this very thing.  I dug a little deeper into why those statements bother me so much, and this blog is about what I came up with.  Will you agree with me?  I don’t know.  It doesn’t matter, really.  When it comes to religion, politics, and all that other good controversial stuff, it’s rare to find two people who truly see eye-to-eye on it all.  And that’s ok.  But I’m going to share my viewpoint with you anyway.

I started this blog with a picture/quote by J. G. Holland that says “God gives every bird its food, but he does not throw it into its nest.” (And I can’t even begin to tell you how long it took to find one with the correct usage of its/it’s.  Phew!  I finally gave up and made my own.  Sheesh!  But, hey, that’s a blog for another day.  Back to the story….)  To be quite honest with you, I think that quote stands alone and says about all that I need to say.  Thank you, Mr. Holland.  But let me elaborate a little more anyway, because that’s what I do.

To me, what this quote is saying is that yes, the answers to our problems are out there.  They’re available to us.  God’s not gonna leave us hanging.  Like He says in Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you…”  I firmly believe that the God I believe in is not one who is going to toss some bad things our way and watch us suffer with no way out.  In fact, I don’t believe He is the one who throws bad things our way at all.  Life does that.  But regardless, there is going to be a way out of them.

But, see, here’s the thing.  It’s not going to happen until we get off our butts and do something to make it happen.  It’s not going to magically appear.

So, when people make such comments as “It was God’s will,” or “God did it,” I just can’t bring myself to believe that.  God may be the one who provided the answer (i.e. the “food for the birds”), but I don’t believe He is the one who made it happen (i.e. “dropped it in its mouth”).  In the case of my Facebook friend here, God did not stick down his big hand and physically turn my friend away from those addictions.  My friend did that.  He made the choice to turn away from those addictions and do the legwork that it took to break those bad habits.  And does he deserve the credit?  You bet he does.

annie2I compare this to when my own child got the chance to play the lead role in our local production of Annie.  Was I proud of her?  Holy crap, you bet I was.  But did I take the credit for her performance?  Of course not.  I may have helped her along the way.  I may have advised her, encouraged her, and supported her.  But did I do it for her?  Of course, I didn’t.  And if someone claimed as much, I’d probably be offended that they were focused on me and not giving her the credit she deserved.

I don’t think God feels much differently about His children as I do about mine.  Do you?

Why are we so scared of being proud of ourselves?  Or of allowing someone else to feel the pride that they deserve to feel?

I know we’ve all heard the saying “Pride goeth before a fall.”  Maybe that’s where this unfounded fear comes from.  But what you probably didn’t know is that this term is actually a shortened version of the verse found in Proverbs 16:18 that says: “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”  When you look at that term in its entirety, as it is fully stated in the proverb, the “pride” it’s referring to is not the pride that comes from feeling as if you’ve done something good.  Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines “pride” in two ways:

  1. Pride:  a feeling that you are more important and better than other people; and
  2. Pride:  a feeling of happiness that you get when you or someone you know does something good, difficult, etc.

That first definition is what that verse is referring to.  Not the second.  Pride is a feeling of happiness.  Don’t you think God wants us to be happy?  There is nothing wrong with feeling proud of yourself.  Nothing.  And, on that same token, there’s nothing wrong with encouraging people to feel that pride in themselves.  They worked hard; they deserve it.  And the crazy thing is that the more pride you feel in yourself, the more likely you’ll be to keep going.  Whether it’s fighting an addiction, working to better yourself physically, or maybe even…oh, I don’t know…writing?  When someone recognizes your abilities and your talents, it really is ok to accept that recognition and bask in the glow of a job well done.  Besides, you never know who you might be inspiring in the process.

So, hey.  Maybe that might be something for you to think about the next time you innocently tell someone that it was God’s will when something good happens.  Don’t negate what they have done by telling them that they didn’t do it.  And don’t make the others out there who haven’t had such good fortune wonder why God isn’t on their side too.  It’s just silly.  Recognize them for the good that they have done, and congratulate them for it.  They worked hard for it, whether they realize it or not, and they deserve to feel pride in themselves for what they’ve accomplished.  And if you’re one of those people who deflect the compliments in that same manner?  Maybe you should work on not doing that anymore.  Yes, maybe God provided support and encouragement along the way, much like I did for my daughter as she found her way to playing the role of Annie, but I certainly didn’t pick her up and place her on that stage.  Recognize your own efforts and applaud them.

And you know what?  I’d be willing to bet that God is pretty darn proud of you, too.

***

“Calm self-confidence is as far from conceit as the desire to earn a decent living is remote from greed.”
– Channing Pollock

Christian Song from Way Back When

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I have a friend who is a new believer and is preparing to be baptized.   I was baptized myself about five years ago.  Since then, I’ve gotten a little off course.  I’m trying to find my way back, but it’s not easy.  Having friends like her helps.  Anyway, I decided to dig out this old song that I wrote back just before I was baptized.  Thought I’d share the lyrics.

I Hear You Now

I remember times before, when I’d hear people say
That they listened to what you told them, that you always led the way.
I never knew what that meant; how could they hear your voice?
I looked around my scattered life, and all I heard was noise.

But then came the time, I opened my heart
And the light finally shown through
I had heard you all the time, my Lord
And just never knew it was you.

Chorus:
The birds singing in the trees
A friend’s words to help me through
That little face looking up from bed
Saying, “Mommy, I love you.”
The voice inside that knows right from wrong
And always gets me through somehow
I guess I wasn’t listening back then
But God I hear you now.

It’s hard to remember life before I recognized your sound
Now I listen closely and your messages abound
The falling rain; a lullaby; every single breath I take
Every sound around me is the music that you make

So glad I opened up my heart
To let the words from you shine through
Those sounds I heard all those times before
Now I know they came from you.

Repeat Chorus:
The birds singing in the trees
A friend’s words to help me through
That little face looking up from bed
Saying, “Mommy, I love you.”
The voice inside that knows right from wrong
And always gets me through somehow
I guess I wasn’t listening back then
But God I hear you now.