I Never Thought it Would Happen to Me – Part 1

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I never thought I’d end up as one of those women who have to anxiously wait and see if their children’s father has decided he will pay his child support this month, or whose kids have a different last name than her, or would be so needy. Quite frankly I’m tired of being needy and it tears down my self-worth as people, usually conservatives, continue to blame me for my current situation. But the biggest thing I find is that people who haven’t been through it truly don’t understand it. I don’t understand it and I’m going through it.

The reason that I don’t understand it is that I did everything “the right way”. I dated a good fundamentalist Christian man, didn’t kiss him before the wedding day despite the rumors to the contrary, and went on to be the perfect submissive Christian bitch wife. The Bible said I was to obey my husband, and in fact the pastor who did the ceremony for us proudly stated that he didn’t do wedding ceremonies for couples who refused to have the woman promise to obey in her vows (he also told my husband to enjoy ravaging me on my wedding night and that sounds awful rapey to me but that’s a topic I’ll discuss here at another time).

I got pregnant on my honeymoon, had a child and then was pregnant again eight weeks postpartum which proved I was a good Christian wife who had not denied my husband sex with the “excuse” that I was still tired and hurting. I wasn’t going to be the woman who caused my husband to cheat just because I’d just had a baby and didn’t feel like having sex thus “forcing” him to get his “needs” met elsewhere, I performed my duty like a good Christian wife. I did struggle with submission to him at times and even though I no longer believe a woman has to submit to any man whether she’s married to him or not, sometimes in the back of my mind I still wonder if I’m being punished by God for my lack of submission.

I birthed the next baby and got pregnant again just a few months after my second child was born. We were a good Christian family who was “trusting God with our family size” and therefore eschewed birth control. I was miserable and depressed, but obviously I needed to repent. There’s almost two years between my last two children, although I did have one ectopic pregnancy during that time which resulted in a miscarriage, but right before the last child was born I walked away from fundamentalism. Maybe that’s what I’m being punished for.

And yet, after doing everything “the right way” I’m a single mom to four small children, I’m looked on with disgust and hear passive aggressive comments about how I’m not married and how I should have learned not to spread my legs after the first one, that I need my vagina sewn shut because I’m evidently too stupid to figure out where babies come from, that I’m a slut with four kids to different fathers. These are things people automatically assume about me simply because I am a single mom. These things hurt. Even those who know my story have maintained that my husband cheated on me because I didn’t give him enough sex, that I had gotten a bit too fat, that I didn’t pay attention to him because I had kids now, or that I married him just so I could get US citizenship.

None of those things are true about me, but those are the ugly passive aggressive things that I hear people say about me because they “accidentally” said it louder than they thought they did. I’m not asking for sympathy, but there’s a reason they say you should walk a mile in another man’s shoes before judging. Even if my kids did all have different fathers, and I had kissed my husband and had sex with him before I was married, even if I was a slut, it doesn’t make the condemnation ok. We are all people created in the very image of God, and he loves us all.

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Maybe I Can be a Decent Mommy

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Some words, said angrily and hastily without any thought, and a sweet little boy is crushed. I wasn’t even speaking the words to him, but to his father.

“If you chase me for the back child support, I’ll go to jail” says his father.

“Well, if you aren’t going to pay I don’t care if you go to jail.” I say, and hang up.

“Mommy, why do you want daddy to go to jail?” Asks my oldest son.

Crap. How do I redeem this. I’m the worst mommy in the world. I just hurt my son. What do I say to my sweet, innocent little boy? This being divorced thing is still new to me and I want my kids to love their dad even though I think he’s a jerk. I don’t have very long to give an answer to my son, but I have to respond carefully.

“Sweetie, I don’t want your daddy in jail.”

“Well why did you say you did?” He asks.

“Do you remember how sometimes when people are upset, they say things they shouldn’t?”

“Yes” he says.

“Well, that doesn’t make it right, not at all. But mommy was upset and said something she shouldn’t have, and something I didn’t really mean. I’m sorry.”

My son nods, and I know he understands.

“Mommy?”

“Yes?”

“You’re the best mommy in the world. I love you.” He gives me a big hug.

I think I managed to restore his trust, and at the same time teach him that sometimes, even though they shouldn’t, when people are angry, they say things that they shouldn’t, even if they don’t mean them. I hope that makes me a somewhat decent mommy after all.

Emerging – Part 7

The existence of a burning pit of eternal damnation called hell is essential to fundamentalist doctrine, without hell there would not be a need for fundamentalism. I’ve been rethinking hell a lot lately, and to be honest I don’t believe in a literal fire and brimstone never ending torture pit where people pay for their sins for all of eternity, and I don’t really think it’s a Biblical idea. I do, however, believe in hell, because I see inequality and oppression all around me, and I’ve also experienced hell. I experience hell every time I am struggling with God. Rob Bell’s book “Love Wins” is a book I have read twice now and each time it challenges my ideas about heaven and hell and about my tendency to think that the only ones right with God are the people who think the same way that I do. He puts it much more eloquently than I could:

Hell is refusing to trust, and refusing to trust is often rooted in a distorted view of God. Sometimes the reason people have a problem accepting “the gospel” is that they sense that the God lurking behind Jesus isn’t safe, loving, or good. It doesn’t make sense, it can’t be reconciled, and so they say no. They don’t want anything to do with Jesus, because they don’t want anything to do with that God. (Bell, 2011, pp. 175-176).

I haven’t written lately because I’ve been going through hell. I’ve been struggling with God and my relationship with him and struggling through some things that I don’t like, and I don’t have the answers and I continue to struggle with them day after day. Sometimes it feels like he has abandoned me, and then I wonder if maybe I abandoned him, or whether we parted ways by mutual agreement, even though the truth is we haven’t parted ways at all, the relationship is struggling but we still have a relationship. I don’t want to divorce God, but I also want to get to know him separated from the ideas that I have always had about him.

I call God him but I know that he’s not fully male, it’s just easier to say it that way because it’s “accepted” but then am I adding to the problem by doing that? But calling God via female pronouns isn’t accurate either because God is a spirit and he’s male and female. But I’ve never really much considered the feminine aspects of God, although I wonder how we can be created in God’s image and then God impose a patriarchal society because to me that seems like God’s saying male and female were both created in his image but the male is still more important. It’s something I haven’t been able to reconcile and it bothers me.

Ignoring God and ignoring the issues doesn’t help at all, what it does is create hell to be honest. My life has been changed and there’s no going back but I don’t really know this being that changed me, I just know who others have told me he is and I’ve found out that’s not accurate. So I suppose for me this is just another period of figuring out what I believe, studying, asking the hard questions, and eventually…emerging.

Reference:

Bell, R 2011, Love wins: a book about heaven, hell and the fate of every person who ever lived, HarperOne, New York.

Doing No Harm vs. Love

When I first read the Wiccan Rede, when I was pursing Wicca and Paganism earlier this year in a quest I had wrongly thought might bring me closer to God, I thought it was beautiful and thought it said pretty much the same thing as the main commandment in Christianity. Therefore I thought that if it was saying pretty much the same thing, that the two religions were compatible and that I would be able to live both. I’m a word person and I love words and words mean things.

The Wiccan Rede sounds so beautiful, “an it harm none, do what ye will”. It sounds great and really, if a person were to follow this they might live a pretty decent life. The main commandment in Christianity is “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself”. It’s a little longer than the Wiccan Rede but still a very basic summary of the religion.

As lovely as the Wiccan Rede sounds, it does actually have a major difference that I didn’t really notice the first time I read it because I was hurting and Wicca was drawing me into its allure and it felt like it fit me so well and I wanted to be a Christian Wiccan. Wicca says that you can do whatever you like, as long as you don’t hurt anybody. That’s about the only thing that all Wiccans agree on as a basis for their religion. But there is a huge difference between not harming somebody and loving them. Not harming somebody doesn’t take a whole lot of effort, loving them does. 

The summation of all the commandments of Christianity is love, and it is easy to not harm somebody without actually loving them. The Bible says that God is love, it also says that we are created in the image of God, in other words we are created to love and that’s why it is so important, this commandment to love God and one another.

I don’t write this to criticize other religions, I write this because it was a huge epiphany for me personally, and this blog is about my own journey and my relationship with God.

Lectionary Reflections for September 7, 2014

Readings: Exodus 12:1-14, Psalm 149, Romans 13:8-14, Matthew 18:15-20.

I often tell people when they ask that yes, I am a Christian, I’m just not a very good one. I’ve had writers block these last few weeks and haven’t written much of anything that’s not school related, and part of the reason for that is that I’ve been struggling and feeling like a failure. I get discouraged because I try so hard to either do things I’m supposed to do or not do things I’m not supposed to do. I cursed a lady out last week for illegally parking and thus blocking me in my spot when I had to be home on time to get my kids off the bus. Sure I had plenty of excuses, like this was the third time in the last month that someone had parked me in, when each time I was legally parked in a marked spot, I was having a bad day and had had to be up earlier than I wanted to be, it seems that people have been rude and condescending to me a lot lately, I was feeling upset about other things. But none of that is an excuse for what I did.

I was really upset that I screwed up in such a way, and I’m really ashamed of it. I’d been struggling with the whole do this and not do this concept that I think I lost sight of God because I was just trying so hard. Romans 13 talks about all the commands, the do’s and the don’ts, being summed up by the concept of loving our neighbor as we love ourselves. If I had loved that lady in the parking lot I’d have had compassion on her instead of feeling the anger inside that I felt, I’d have let the incident go either without saying anything or just smiling and saying “thank-you” when she said she was coming to move her car, both of which would have been much more profitable responses for both of us.

Instead of trying hard to remember not to curse, to not get angry about little things, to not call people names, and to put so much effort into all of those things which I ultimately failed and did them anyway, I would have acted right if I’d have been focused on love, if I had loved that woman I wouldn’t have cursed at her, gotten angry, etc. In fact this passage of Scripture says that “love achieves everything the law requires”. Instead of worrying about being a good Christian by following a list of rules and regulations, I need to focus on love, and if I can do that, the things I should or shouldn’t do will probably tend to take care of themselves a little more. Maybe I can learn to be a better Christian by learning to love.

If God is a DJ…then life is a soundtrack…

Lately my life has had a soundtrack, mostly of Christian worship music but the occasional secular (uncensored) artist as well (umm, Pink…and to be honest Pink brought me to tears). The lyrics keep repeating themselves over and over in my head, totally capturing the essence of my struggle this past year.

This past Sunday I stood in church holding my disabled son in my arms while he made his happy movements during the music, and so I was distracted by him, but the lyrics soaked in anyway. The words seeped down into my very soul: “when darkness seems to hide his face, I rest in his unchanging grace”. This seems to be the culmination of this last year, the finale in the soundtrack, the most important message to take away from this for me…when it is so dark that I cannot see, I need to rest in his grace. Not just trust in it, but rest in it, when darkness surrounds and there’s absolutely nothing I can do to change the circumstances, I need to rest in his unchanging grace.

When the defecation first hit the oscillation, (yeah I’m in the mood for a fancy way to say when the crap hit the fan), the first song I remember hearing was “Oceans – Where Feet May Fail” by Hillsong (God and Hillsong, please forgive me for ever calling you “Hellsong” in my fundamentalist days because I thought I was clever, thinking that Hillsong’s wonderful worship music was wicked and of the devil). Oceans became a prayer for me and I have held onto that prayer for this past year. Life had thrown me into the deep end and so I had to survive this even though one of my biggest fears in life is that I will drown.

And then came Kutless with “Even If” and I had to mediate on that too. It starts out by saying “sometimes all we have to hold onto, is what we know is true, of who you are” and this past year I have learned just how true that is. Like God’s unchanging grace. Apart from that there’s nothing to hold onto. In this there is a promise, a declaration: “you are God and we will bless you as the good and faithful one”. In the middle of the storm, making such a declaration hurts, and it’s scary.

Ending with Pink…but not really…if God truly is a DJ then life is his soundtrack.