Category Archives: Beliefs

I Lost the Battle, But Still Winning the War

There are certain words I never use in conversation because I’m not an ass, but this post requires it to make my point understood. If you know me at all, you know I mean no harm or insult by using this word here.

Anyone who spends more than 15 minutes with me quickly learns what my beliefs are and where I stand politically. I am passionate about the causes I support and have always been ready to argue my side, no matter how confrontational I think I’m not. But I’ve never really had the opportunity to do so, mostly because I surround myself with people who think like me. Okay, that sounds really weird, and while I’m a fan of being friends with people who have diverse thoughts so we’re not all bored out of our minds, I find that for me I enjoy life more when I am around like-minded folks. So when I had a chance last night to try to change someone’s mind about something, I hesitated. Could I really effectively point out to someone how they were wrong and could I bring them over to my side?

I wish I could say that I won my case, that this particular person saw the error of their ways and apologized, but I found myself up against a wall: a wall made out of a jerk who would do anything in his power to be the “bigger man.” There are some people you just can’t win over because they have to prove themselves right even if they might really agree with you.

Last night an acquaintance of only a couple weeks used the word “gay” as an insult. Actually, first he called someone a faggot, then he said the same someone was gay where civilized people would have used the word stupid or silly or dumb. He was joking around with his friend, meaning no true ill-will against him, but the fact that he chose to use those terms as derogatory angered me. Trying hard to be more “Randy Jackson” rather than “Simon Cowell,” I asked him to not use those words the way he did. He looked at me strangely, like he’d never even thought about it. Then for a split second I could see in his eyes that he understood how hurtful the words could be. And then he chose to argue with me – NOT in favor of using the words as insults, but to the fact that I couldn’t possibly know that he meant them as an insult in the first place. Which, of course, was a dumb argument because when someone tells a story about something they did and another person responds with “Don’t be such a faggot” or “That’s so gay,” there’s not much room for interpretation.

And I can kinda understand that if you grew up with using those words in that phrase and no one has told you that you shouldn’t and you’ve never really thought about it before, it might surprise you to learn that others, gay or straight, take offense. But unless you are anti-homosexuality, it shouldn’t insult you to have someone politely request that you not use those words in that manner. And this guy didn’t even argue THAT point – he never ONCE said that he hates homosexuals or that he thinks they are beneath him. He only argued how I shouldn’t have assumed he meant his words as an insult. Explaining to him how hurtful it is to me and to others to use someone’s identity as an insult or use a term no self-respecting 21st century ally would EVER utter made no impact.

I eventually just walked away from the conversation, not feeling defeated in the least, but disappointed in this man that I’d thought I might like as a friend.

But I did learn something about myself: when it really matters, I have no problem standing up for what I believe in, now that I’ve been put to the test.

Faithlow

I have always been proud to call myself a member of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), so much so that I branded myself with our chalice. I have always thought that it is most important for Christians to treat others the way Jesus did, to walk in His footsteps, to care for those around us, stand up for the right and call out the wrong. I’ve always described my faith as this: I believe that Jesus walked this earth, did amazing things and taught us the best way to live. I’ve had no problems in the past discussing biblical history or the meaning of certain scriptures with my pastors. But I’ve never been certain of Jesus’ divinity.

There’s a saying the goes around Facebook from time to time that says, “You don’t need religion to have morals. If you can’t determine right from wrong then you lack empathy, not religion.” A huge part of me agrees with this: anything I’ve ever done that others consider “good” or “a blessing” didn’t happen because of my faith, I did those things because I felt it was the right thing to do. If I hadn’t been a member of my church, I believe I would have eventually donated a kidney when I met someone in need. In the bigger issues of my life, I’ve never stopped to think WWJD? I may as well belong the church of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for all that I believe in. I believe in social justice over miracles and higher powers.

When confronted with scary or turbulent situations, occasionally I’ve stopped to pray about it, not because I expected an answer, but because so many people have told me how prayer helps them to calm down and focus. I get the same return from prayer as I do from meditation: a calmer breathing pattern and no clearer idea of how to proceed than when I started.

Though we live in a world that is so focused on instant gratification and immediate return, I grew up expecting things to take time to sort themselves out and I can’t remember a time I was ever told to “pray about it” until I was an adult. I’ve been told that prayer is a conversation with God, that we tell Him what we want, what we think we need, thank Him for what we have and then we wait… And we may never hear the answer. Some would say that if we don’t get what we asked for, that is our answer, because it wasn’t a part of God’s plan for us.

My cup of faith has been quite low lately. I get no clearer picture of what I am supposed to do or where I am supposed to be or who is supposed to be in my life whether I am purposeful in my faith practice or not. Attending church each week gives me no insight into whether or not I am on the right track. Taking communion each week doesn’t give me a feeling of forgiveness or oneness. And separating myself from the church has not changed my perceptions in any direction.

A part of me is concerned that I seem to have a less-than approach to my faith. I know that more-faithful people in my life would tell me I should dive deeper into my faith now more than ever. But another part of me just thinks “whatever.” I’ve never been good at evangelism and my explanation of my beliefs is not convincing enough to “bring someone to Christ.” My butt in a pew each Sunday isn’t changing anyone else’s life – or mine.

I’m just tired of being frustrated. If I’m not going to know anything about where my life is supposed to be, whether I identify as a Christian or not, whether I attend worship or not, whether I pray or not, what’s the point?

Picture 245

My Child, My Sister

Picture 245Something wonderful happened this past Sunday.

Em joined our church.

Em has been attending worship services and kids’ activities in our church her entire life. She’s been a member of the children’s choir and led worship services. She’s attended summer camps and bible studies. But she technically wasn’t a member.

Membership in the church is a personal choice. Em decided to answer the minister’s question that is asked of all people seeking to join our church: “Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and do you proclaim Him Lord of your life and Savior of the world?” Em chose to stand up in front of the entire congregation and proclaim, “YES!” Em decided that participation wasn’t enough for her, she wanted to make a statement that she is committed to our church and to following Christ’s example in her life. She wanted to be counted among the members of our congregation.

Em has also chosen to take another big step in her faith journey: baptism.

As an infant, Em was dedicated by a former associate minister, a small ceremony in which the whole congregation promises to help raise the child with love and knowledge of Christ. Baptism in our church is traditionally a choice made by a child, youth or adult when they feel they are ready to make that public proclamation of faith. Em has chosen to have our current interim pastor baptize her this coming Sunday. She and 5 other kids in our congregation (who also joined the church this past Sunday) will all be baptized in our sanctuary during our worship service.

There was never any doubt in my mind that Em would join the church and be baptized in her faith. Her thirst for knowledge and understanding of Christianity has always made me proud. I’m sure I’ll be crying when she comes out of the water and joins me in the church not only as my daughter, but also as my sister in Christ.