Tag Archives: God

Gathered

“You never realize how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.”
Part 2 of 3

I won’t say it was easy to just walk away, drop his stuff in a box, and act like the last two years of my life hadn’t happened. Every five minutes or so I was freaking out, thinking I had somehow lost my engagement ring. (I loved that ring. If it wasn’t completely improper, I admit I might have kept it.) I suppose I was even slightly vindictive spraying his shirt with the perfume he’d bought me before I packed it to be shipped. Everywhere I turned, I was somehow reminded of him: something he’d said, something we’d done together, even if it was just a TV show we’d liked to watch.

My family… God bless them. My mother, my grandmother, my bridal party – they made the hard calls for me, cancelling the church, the reception hall, the DJ, etc. I told my bridesmaids, of course, and they handled a great deal of the tiny details. Invitations hadn’t yet gone out, just Save-the-Dates, so we were saved the trouble of calling the whole guest list. Days passed by in a blur. I didn’t quite fall into a depression – I had this insane 3-month old kitten to care for, and she was (and is) quite the fuzzball of entertainment and hilarity.

Then… the distraction. The one thing that could have made the whole situation worse, did. A long-lasting, muscle-cramping, body-thrashing dystonic storm. I’ve talked briefly about dystonia in the past. If you haven’t read about it, I suggest going back and doing so here. I ended up out of work for six weeks, which may have been longer had summer vacation not rolled around. At any rate, it was two months before I could see the specialist, and a few more weeks until even more new meds started to allow for some physical, if not emotional relief.

I would have thought then that my heart could not be broken any further, but as usual, I was wrong. I re-shared an article on my Facebook about a woman who was raped and decided to keep the child. Even now, I don’t remember if she raised the baby or gave the child up for adoption, but right now, it doesn’t matter. Several of my friends, including one I thought was a sister to me, picked a fight over it and when I took it to private messages to tell them to knock it off and no fighting on my wall, I was called a “horrible” person, a “false friend”, a “fake Christian”, “judgmental” and so many more names. I can’t say I came out entirely clean from this episode – there were things I would have done differently, but she wouldn’t even talk to me. The entire argument was done over text messaging and Facebook.

Do yourselves a favor. If you ever wish to have a shred of integrity, no matter how angry you are, at least speak to the person and hear their voice. If it’s worth fighting over, it’s worth that much.

So in less than three months, not only had I lost my fiancée, I’d now lost my best friend, too. Cut off entirely.

I ran. Thank God for vacation, because I ran. I hitched a ride with a cousin and when she went to a concert, I visited a friend in the same area… 8 hours away from home. I turned 5 days of working at camp into 9. (Should have been 10, but a sinus infection got the better of me.) I followed that with a week at the beach, spending most of it in isolation, even though I shared a house with my family and was sleeping in the living room. Actually, I did a lot of that in the intervening months. Spent a lot of time alone. Writing. Thinking. How things used to be. How I could have changed them. What it would have been like if I had gone through with it. Am I truly better off now than I would have been. Lonely vs. angry – which is worse?

Camp was probably the best place that I could have been. For all that nature and I don’t get along… I first went to this Camp when I was a junior in high school, and went the following year as well. I returned five years ago to babysit the younger members of the families that founded it. It’s a God-camp, and it’s the only real judgement-free zone I’ve ever experienced. It’s a place of renewal, a place think, to pray, to let go. We always joke about the camp being within a bubble and how hard it is to leave, but it’s true. It wasn’t often that I had a few minutes to sit and talk without my charges (little boys are VERY active!) but during those two weeks, it seemed like the blinders I’d been wearing since February started to lift.

A few weeks later, in early September, I had the opportunity to sit down with one of the priests who had been at camp and who is also a dear friend. I explained what had happened – all the gory details about the broken engagement (he was supposed to marry us, so he was among the first to know the wedding was off, and he had even tried some premarital counseling when things started getting bad. Needless to say, Lenny wasn’t into it and just said what he knew I wanted to hear.) I told him what my friend had said and done.

And I told him that an old friend from long past had asked me to dinner.

“Blondie,” Father Joe said, “I have known you for how long now? Six years? Seven? I see you every summer with those kids – patient, loving; by the end of the week half of them are calling you “mom” too. Don’t ever accept being told that you are anything but gentle and kind. You have a heart of gold, and it’s to their detriment that they can’t see it. Pray for them. Now tell me about this man who asked you to dinner.”

gathered

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Yes, God is Love, and So Much More

I may be going out on a limb here, and maybe I’m in the minority, but I highly dislike when God is pulled into political arguments to make a “point” by people who really have, to be blunt, no clue what they are talking about. These people usually try to pigeonhole the Lord into two categories – love and vengeance. They focus on very narrow parts of the Bible, mostly “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you” and then will pick and choose various parts of Leviticus and Deuteronomy to show how most of the Old Testament isn’t relevant anymore and can be conveniently ignored since we are cool with divorce and eating shellfish.

Theologian, I am not, but I do pay attention to the world around me, have been blessed to have friends willing to engage in spiritual and religious discussions, and I know some truly wonderful people who have dedicated their lives to God, both lay and religious. I know people who consider themselves “spiritual but not religious” and others who have cast away whatever religious upbringing they might have had and consider themselves agnostic or atheistic. Others may have no spiritual or religious guidance and float from church to church still seeking something, and they themselves are not sure what it is. None of them deny that human beings are made not only of mind and body, but spirit as well. Perhaps this is why it irks me so much when people try to use God, and it is always the Judeo-Christian God, to serve their own political ends. We must accept gay “marriage”, because Jesus said we must love everyone. We must not judge the woman who has an abortion, because Jesus said, “Judge not, less ye be judged”. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone used the story of Jesus stopping the crowd from stoning the prostitute to defend the hook-up culture*.

The problem with only using these few verses or passages is that there are 73 books in the Catholic Bible. Protestant versions vary; the King James version, for example, has 80. Out of these books, there are countless verses, as each verse is only a sentence or two. So yes, Jesus did say, “Do unto others whatever you would have them do unto you. This is the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 7:12) but a few verses later He followed that with “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in Heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’ Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.'” (Matthew 7:21-23) In Matthew alone, Jesus speaks of punishment for wrongdoing at least as much as he preaches love and forgiveness. Indeed, he often speaks of ways to avoid sin, to give up material world goods in order to bring oneself closer to His Father. Does your hand or eye cause you to sin? Pluck it out or chop it off. Better to lose a hand or an eye than to suffer eternal damnation in the fires of Hell. Men, stop oogling women. He who hath looked at a woman with lust in his heart has committed adultery with her already. That’s a two-fer right there, with the 9th Commandment (adultery) and one of the Seven Deadly Sins (lust). Moses permitted divorce, but Jesus spoke against the practice, again saying that it forced women to commit adultery.

Here’s the long and short of it. People sin. We do bad things, we hurt others. We make mistakes, we falter. We tell little white lies, and we tell big whoppers. We mess up. Big time. God knew that 2000+ years ago, and Jesus came down to take the heat for us. Instead of us suffering eternal damnation with no hope of Heaven, He took the punishment. We’re not entirely off the hook though. Like a parent, God is looking out for our best interests. He will comfort us when we’re sad, rejoice with us when we’re happy, and when we screw up, as we will do inevitably, we will be punished in some way. A child who was allowed to run roughshod over his parents is a child who will grow up to be a spoilt pain in the butt. Any parent of a toddler knows the benefits of a time-out. Yes, God DOES love us, more than anything, because like we create our children, God created us in His image. Like we reprimand children when they misbehave, so must we be reprimanded. It’s the consequence of having free will. Catholics call that place of “eternal-yet-temporary” time-out Purgatory. It is, from accounts I’ve read, definitely a place of punishment, and not in the “sit here and think about what you did” type, but bearable because souls there know that it is temporary and one day we will be reunited with Christ.

Beyond that? God is God. The Alpha and the Omega. The beginning and the end. He cannot fit into any little political idea. He cannot be narrowed into one, concise statement like “God is love” fluff. That’s just the first sentence. God just IS. In fact, He summed it all up quite nicely Himself, without any help from us.

I am.

*For what it’s worth, His last words to the prostitute were, “Go forth, and sin no more.”

EDIT: I found this blog post over at the Matt Walsh Blog. It’s one of my favorite blogs, and Matt pretty much summed up what I said above, just better. 🙂 I hope he won’t mind that I’m linking to it from here. Please read it.
http://themattwalshblog.com/2014/04/07/jesus-didnt-care-about-being-nice-or-tolerant-and-neither-should-you/

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