Wednesday, August 14, 2019

A Thing to be Grasped

As an adult who grew up in a very Bible-y place, verses fly through my head in response to nearly every situation I come across. And, of course, these verses were originally taught along with their "accepted" interpretations, a la various, basically fundamental, Christian churches. I say this because although I grew up in the Church of Christ, as soon as I was old enough to dare I began studying in other variations of Christianity, such as Baptist, Catholic, and Assemblies of God. Most verses have the same "accepted" interpretations, except a few used to validate or denounce certain practices singular to one denomination versus others.

So the other day I was contemplating the outright GREED that has overcome our lives -- yes, the whole world, but especially here in the United States. As a City on a Hill that Cannot Be Hid, we are radiating GREED to the rest of the world. In the name, by and large, of Christianity. In contrast, we are lighting our lamps and then hiding them under bushels. Yes! We're the best place to live! We have more, promise more, ARE more! But...we don't want you. Especially if you are actually in need and might drain us of our resources. Please drain elsewhere. We don't have enough.

Well, we DO have enough for luxurious airplanes and expensive entourages for golf outings. Political campaigns. Huge parades and celebrations of ourselves. Yay! Aren't we amazing? Wouldn't you like to be us? Well you can't. You weren't born here. Or maybe your ancestors were but we drove them out and that's just too bad.

Then there's this little verse in Philippians. Always brought up to demonstrate just how much Jesus loved us. But it carries so much more weight when we look at ourselves, as Christ's representatives here on earth. Here in America.

Have this mind AMONG YOURSELVES, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who -- THOUGH HE WAS IN THE FORM OF GOD -- did not count EQUALITY WITH GOD a THING TO BE GRASPED, but emptied himself, taking the form of a SERVANT. ....Philippians 2:5-11, edited and emphasized by me.

What if this were applied to us? To each American? To our leaders? Who, though being in possession of wealth and power, did NOT count that as a thing to be GRASPED, but emptied ourselves, taking on the form of... Servants? Immigrants? Criminals? Hungry? Homeless?

While Christ was in the form of God and WAS God, we are NOT. We should count ourselves BLESSED, not ENTITLED. And figure out exactly what it is we are considering a thing to be grasped, so that we can empty ourselves of that and take on the form of servant. And serve those in NEED not those who can in return serve our needs. I'll scratch your back, you ... enjoy it. You feel appreciated. Your betterment is not only my reward, it is my JOB.

What is it YOU count as a thing to be grasped? What would it take to empty yourself of it? Are you brave enough?

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

It's been a year. The world has moved on but I am, in a lot of ways, still tied to the deaths of Adri and Brann. Adriana's family and friends hosted a 5k in her honor to bring awareness to domestic violence. One of the guest speakers was from a battered women's shelter here in San Antonio, and she said something that I felt like a punch in the chest. I don't remember it word for word, but it was something like, "when a person must live in fear of someone who claims to love them."

As I was there to honor Adriana, and show support to my orphaned cousin, I would never call any attention away from the purpose of the gathering. But it hurt so bad, knowing that Brann had grown up living in fear of someone who claimed to love him (his father, my grandfather). While Brann's extreme and final actions were.... extreme and final .... they did not come from nowhere. I remember hearing him scream as my grandfather beat him and his wife pleading with him to stop. His wife, my step-grandmother.

I've had to go back and censor [this very large part] of the story because saying the words out loud brought some hell down on my head. I can handle a LOT of hell, but I have literally exhausted my emotional strength with very little time for recouping. So to give myself a little of that, I redacted part of the story. Which in no way changes the truth under the black marker.

My aunt Murray shared with me a quote a long time ago. It was this:

What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life?
The world would split open.

So when the time came for me to honor my uncle Brann, I did so by telling a truth. And by God, the world indeed split open. Then, in the wake and fallout of the world-splitting, in this age of #metoo and telling our truths bravely, I actually acquiesced by removing the post, and then further by actually APOLOGIZING for saying out loud what was already visible through the rift. I had a very, very good reason for doing so. But at the same time I'm FUCKING PISSED at myself for letting ME down.


Thursday, August 30, 2018

Reblog: Guns Are the Problem

The article below is worth the read. Even if you are a gun owner. Especially if you are a gun owner. Not because you should be convinced to give up your guns. But because as a gun owner you should be open to promoting and demanding responsible gun ownership. My dad, a true gun enthusiast, throws this one out whenever the subject comes up, "There's a loaded shotgun on my front porch. It's been there all week. And it hasn't gotten up and killed a single person." I've been listening to that sort of rhetoric for years. But the truth is, it's dangerous rhetoric. It's flippant. It's not even true! My dad would never leave a gun out in the elements! But if it were true, some idiot who heard him say it could go swipe it and use it to commit a crime.

Attitudes about guns are changing. People are using them to win (get the last word in, so to speak) arguments. To "express themselves," as it were, in mass shootings in schools and places intended for recreation! And those who don't use them that way, those who own them and don't use them in bad ways, are starting to use these types of flippant responses that show just as much lack of respect for the guns they claim are so important in their lives. These attitudes are promoting and perpetuating the misconceptions about what guns should and should not represent, and how they should be used.

Here is the reblog I want to share: Guns Are the Problem, Guns Are the Problem, Guns Are the Problem … | Erin Wathen

Thursday, June 21, 2018

A Day on the Floor

This post was written two days ago...I just saw it when getting ready to upload a new post. But apparently I was feeling so bad that day that I didn't trust myself to be able to live with the shame of this honesty. Yesterday I started feeling my spirits lift slowly out of the pit, and today is a little better than that.  

If you suffer depression at any level, work (or wait) your way through to the next part of the cycle. Even if you don't believe it's coming, if you are considering suicide PLEASE CLICK HERE FOR HELP. If you are familiar with the feelings I describe below, realize that I don't feel the same way two days later. 

***

It could be anything. PMS. Peri-menopausal symptoms. The oppressively hot air outside. The amount of things to do just to be caught up, not to mention get ahead. Also, it's not like there's been a shortage of pain or trauma in my life over the last year. And it seems like when necessary I can muster up just enough energy and determination to do anything. And to be enthusiastic enough that I believe I'm becoming the person I want to be. The person who can answer yes to every, "Does anybody happen to have any _____?" Safety pins. Aspirin. Bandaids. Super powers.

It lasts enough to feel really good. And then inevitably I sink into a pit of stagnant self-loathing, self-pity, and insecurity. I spend a lot of time chastising myself. Like, it's because I drank too much last night (which always means 1 drink above my 2-drink limit) and alcohol is a depressant so I'm just living a well-deserved day of depression and misery. Trouble is, I find other reasons to explain it if I didn't drink last night.

I usually try to work my way back into my own good graces, then feel overwhelmed and go back to sleep for (hopefully) a good dream and a reboot.

There's also L-theanine, which if I don't feel TOO terrible might help a bit...giving me enough energy to lift my eyes above the quicksand of poo and see a butterfly off in the distance. But have you ever felt so bad you can't bring yourself to take the cure? Like -- it's right there on top of the fridge, and all you have to do is take it down and chew up two of the minty, TUMS-like tablets and most likely feel at least some relief from the oppressive weight. But you (I) walk right past. Because I can't believe I will ever feel better again and why take a stupid mint-flavored, chewable supplement?

So that's today. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Sermon Me Not

This past week I attended the funeral of my uncle, who could easily have vied for "most gentle man ever." I remember him from a very young age, when he was dating my aunt and then right after they married and lived in a house on the street behind ours. I never saw him express ugliness, never heard him bark at his kids, never felt afraid of him. Everything he was was right there, worn like his clothes, deep all the way to his heart. As a young mother and wife, my husband (now ex) and I spent a lot of time with my aunt and uncle, as she helped me navigate breastfeeding and he encouraged my kids' dad to get his HAM radio license and then we all played with then-burgeoning technology. He taught me to write batch files and to download games from bulletin boards, and we would play a particular game over our computers while he and my kids' dad talked over their radios. He was there when my kids were born. In one instance, he used his HAM radio to tell my kids' dad to hurry back to the hospital because I was about to deliver (I had sent him out on a fool's errand because he was driving me crazy).

My uncle was born in Nigeria to missionary parents, and he and my aunt met in Campus Crusade for Christ when both in college in Austin. He did many different jobs in his lifetime, and in each of these positions made friendships with people who were drawn to his gentleness, and in most of these cases people were led to believe in Christ, very much a case of "What you have I want!" That's who he was.

Last year he was diagnosed with, treated for, and conquered leukemia. Then a couple of weeks ago he collapsed, his system having been attacked by an unknown virus. By the time they identified it and began treating it, he was in near-total organ failure, and though every day there was some spark of hope, in the end he was removed from life support and slipped away; even after life support was removed he was alert and went on for many more hours than expected, surrounded by family and, I believe, being a comfort to them before he left. He was that kind of man, husband, father, grandfather...uncle.

Now, I'm not the right-wing conservative Christian I was raised to be, and my uncle and his family for the most part toe that line. Actually a little over half my family stays in that range. So it should have been no surprise that his funeral would be a somber Baptist-esque service with a sermon-come-alter-call, complete with fire and brimstone. Actually this one was about stillborn babies rubbed with bloody sheepskins, but it's all the same. It's the grace of Jesus with the threat of horror, trotted out before a room full of grieving grandchildren who should not be hearing this shit.

I know, if you're a Christian that's part and parcel. I won't get in to why I object and how I came to my belief against church services and sermons in general. I have come to feel confident as I study the Bible and other religious texts myself, and seek out conversations and traditions outside what I was taught as a child and through my young adulthood. There is absolutely no reason on earth that I should sit still for an hour and be threatened by an angry man from behind a pulpit.

FUCK THAT.

(See, the gentleness isn't as strong in me....my uncle married into our family and shared his with us, but it's all nurture, not nature!)

My uncle's life was a sermon, an offering of grace to everyone who was blessed enough to be in his sphere of contact. During his funeral, voice after voice told stories of how they met him, how his nature touched them, and how he eventually led them to Jesus. There was NO ONE in that room that needed to be exposed to the grotesque and gory pictures "just in case" they weren't saved yet.

I think I was a little mouthy afterward and although I believe I kept my voice silent to all except the person(s) I was talking to, I visibly objected, and I was angry! The truth is, the man who delivered the sermon has been on my poo poo list for many years because of his perspectives and the manner in which he delivers them. But that's another story altogether. I may tell it one day.

Don't get me wrong...there is a time and place for teaching about what life would be without grace. But when people come together to comfort, to be comforted, to say goodbye and be held in loving tenderness while they grieve...that's not right. I have instructed my children that in NO WAY should there ever be a sermon of any kind during my funeral or at my grave or wherever they decide to dump the body. If anyone scares or threatens my precious grandbabies or great-grands (yep...my non-gentleness will probably see me through another generation) I will come down and stomp their ass. I will be watching!!!!

Our lives should be the only sermon others ever need. Our funerals should not be a "captive audience" opportunity.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Witch Hunt

So even though after a year it should be less surprising at our president's hyperbolic egomaniacal statements, the most recent is cringe-worthy:

"The greatest witch hunt in American history."

So.... did he study history? Isn't there someone whose job it should be to just follow this moron around and fill him in on little bits of history so that eventually he quits claiming the largest and greatest and most phenomenal ----> whatever <-------- that's ever been seen. Because I've heard he's got a lot of money so he could definitely afford to hire that guy/gal. Probably a guy. Less pussy to grab.

Here is an example of witch hunts in American history:



All those steps in the top picture actually go 'round 3 sides of this small area, noting how many people -- truly innocent people -- were imprisoned and hanged. 

King Don, get over yourself! There are people in history that have actually suffered witch hunts....allow their stories the dignity of not being counted along with yours.

Nuff.

Tam