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My sister is autistic.  High functioning, but still autistic.  If you don’t know much about it, you’ll probably just think she has some “interesting” social habits.  The reason I bring this up is how very awful people are to her and have been her whole life.

I spent a lot of my childhood defending her.  I lost friends (that is, chose to not be their friend) because of how they would treat her.  But adults are no better than children.

Most recent example: My dad had joined an informal Christian bowling league.  He got my mom and sister to join, too.  They all really enjoyed it.  But after my sister’s first year, they told my dad that he was welcome to come back, but not my sister.  The complete assholes. Worst Christians ever.  (Note: Dad did not go back.  He didn’t berate them as I wish he had, but he did tell them he couldn’t return.  By the by, my sister knows NOTHING of this, nor should she.  She’s already aware of how people suck–she doesn’t need more examples.)

Yes, sometimes she does things that are annoying or cringe-worthy (only cringe-worthy because you know how other people will view it and that most of them are terrible).  But the things she does are never on purpose that way, and it’s not like she can  help it.  So if it’s a problem, it’s yours, not hers.

And if you’re a Christian, you have double the reason to be kind, caring, loving.  (Insert spiel about being like Jesus here.)

Garg!

It’s really hard for me to be a Christian and to want to go to church when things like this make me hate Christians so much.

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I finally realized what my litmus test is for churches: life groups/bible studies offered.

I truly believe that you can tell what a church considers important by what groups they define as important.

Pretty much every one ever offers a Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University course (he will teach you how to get out of debt for only $110–but I can tell you for free: learn how to budget and stop spending money).  Incidentally, I’m starting to think that FPU is a Christian cult.  Seriously.

They also seem to have some sort of Alpha/new believers/get to know our church class.  Which isn’t a bad thing, but I’m going to be straight with you: after both Bible College and Seminary, I do not need to attend this class.  I promise.

And then there’s the token women’s group, usually toted to be all about “what matters to women.”  Like getting married and having babies.  Maybe shopping if we’re having a relaxed moment.

And let’s not forget the sexual purity class for men.  Because only men need to work at sexual purity, and this is the only thing men care to learn about.

And there’s the marriage class or two.  And the parenting class.

But these are lacking.  And many of them demeaning.

I am more than my vagina.  Men are more than their penises.  I am not married nor do I have children nor do I particularly care that I have neither.  I could kick Dave Ramsey’s ass when it comes to budgets.

So what is there for me or for most normal folk?  Folk who don’t want to be defined by their gender or by their role as a spouse or parent, but by the fact that they are human beings, Christians?  What about the class that is devoted to helping each other grow to be more like Christ?  To learn his love and to learn to show his love?  Where are those classes?

This is why I can’t find a church.  They don’t want me.

I had one of those weeks… where you’re just angry… and it’s so frustrating.

I think a lot of it is that my folks have been gone on vacation, and I’ve had to do all those extra things that they normally do.  The biggest time sucker being that my sister doesn’t clean up after herself.  So I get home and there is a sink full of dishes.  And I wake up and there are more dishes.  And it’s not my mess.  She doesn’t contribute.  These are things that make me feel utter fear at the idea of ever being married.  Because thinking of the stereotypical guy, combined with societal gender expectations, who do you think the cleaning would fall to, regardless of work situations?  Me, the woman.  Screw that.

Anyway, it made me irrationally angry at times.  Or I’m just angry.  I’m not sure.  I think I broke one of our vacuums last night (unintentionally).  I’m not sure if it’s all the way broken or it just needs a little TLC.  But I was in no mood for it.

And the cats have ripped three holes in the bottom of my box springs and have enjoyed frolicking inside it.  Last night a friend suggested pinning a sheet on the bottom of it, so I am trying that, and I hope it is successful.  It’s so irritating that they’re ruining my stuff.  And in particular, I’m fairly certain it was my sister’s cat who created the holes, not that my cats aren’t above enjoying the destruction.  Damn cats.

And I’m lonely.  So entirely lonely.  I’m lucky if I manage to see or talk to one friend a week, and have often gone much longer than that without any significant interactions with friends.  And it is not for lack of trying on my part.  Although, I have recently decided that I’m done trying.  I’m not going to reach out to friends anymore–none of them–and maybe then I’ll feel better about being rejected.  Because I won’t be being actively rejected, just passively.  Which is always better, right?

God.  I just need to move and start over in a new area.  New friends.  New life.  New routines.  New, new, new!

I was thinking I’d try to go to church when I move.  Because I was feeling friendlier to communal faith again, but now I’m just not sure.  Maybe I should just give up and accept my fate as a lapsed Christian who lives a private faith.  I can get into heaven by the skin of my teeth, to quote whatever verse that is from whatever gospel it’s from.  If heaven even exists.  (That’s not anger speaking, that’s a true doubt.)

And my ex-work-crush (henceforth called “J”) is one of the kindest and caring guys I have met in a long time.  And I can’t help but think that if I had a good network of friends still, that I wouldn’t be so attracted to him.  Because I think one of the most attractive things about him is that he is kind and pays attention and enjoys my company.

So life is basically just discouraging at the moment, although I still have hope for the future.  if I can just find an apartment in a kind of bad part of town (i.e. where I can afford to live), then I’m set.  I just fear finding a place in my price range.

Damn you married folk who have two incomes. The only benefits I see to marriage are pragmatic.  Because I think I actually believe that the majority of people get married not because they don’t want to live without the specific person they married, but because they wanted to be married.  So they settled and compromised and got married to a person.  Not to any great love of their life, but to a warm body, essentially.

Perhaps I am just jaded.  J seems to think so.  But he has hope that eventually I’ll get better.

I think I’ve felt emotionally bruised lately.

I’m probably just lonely.

It’s hard when most (not all) of my close friends live far away.  We are simply not in each others’ lives like I wish we were.

The whole ex-work-crush thing was good in one respect over all: it really made me realize how much faith still matters to me.  To be honest, I was concerned that I didn’t care anymore, that there was nothing left in me to care.  I am gratified to know that it still is important and a vital part of my life.  That said, I’m still not ready to jump back in with both feet.  But I might be ready to stick a toe in.

The other main thing that made me realize I could never date a non-Christian was actually visioning the future with a Christian, seeing how different my life would be, and wanting it that way.  (Specifically, one person made me remember this inadvertently, but he does not know, nor should he, probably.)

Speaking so vaguely of the aforementioned person…  I can never tell if its him or the idea of him that I’m still attracted to.  And because of that, I can never tell if I should put myself out there in a real way or just let it be.  So I continue to do nothing.  But I miss having him in my life–we’re still friends, but never like we were.  He was comfortable.  He never took energy to be around (and for an introvert like me, that’s saying something).  He understood me in an inherent way.  And yet.

Well, damn.  I waited just long enough, and the work crush hesitates just enough, that my rational thinking actually caught up with me.

And I have good friends who tried, in the best ways, to talk sense into me.  Like the one who reminded me what happened when she tried to date a non-Christian.

The problem isn’t necessarily that I wouldn’t date a non-Christian.  The problem is that I know the relationship would have a definite expiration date.  And the problem then is that this would be a work relationship with an expiration date, and I intend to stay at my current workplace for quite some time.  Additionally, I am not willing to ruin my work experience for a guy.  If I could just convince myself that there was a real chance…

So I’m still not saying that nothing will happen with this guy, but I am saying that I’m finally thinking it through, weighing the options honestly.

And I reactivated my okcupid account again.  As long as I’m considering dating folk, I might as well at least leave the door open for guys that I don’t already know it would never work long-term.  Right?

Can’t I just be a Christian who doesn’t attend church?

I mean, what’s the big deal, anyway?  I have Christian friends.  I assemble with them… for coffee, shopping, talking, etc.  That ought to count.

Today I was sitting in a pew, and it filled up to my left, and I was on the very end on the right. And during singing, a woman came and wanted to talk to the person to my left, and pushed me right out of the pew.  So I gathered my things and left.  What was I supposed to do?  Stand in the aisle until she was done?  Was she going to finish?

It’s not like I enjoy going to church lately, anyway.  I’ve been going because I felt like I should, because everyone says it’s important.  But I don’t fit in.  And not just in general, apparently physically I don’t fit in, either. (ha)

I had tried a community group last week which was suggested by the pastor.  It was awful: a bunch of women, sitting around crying, using Scripture indiscriminately.  No way. Not going to work.

I just want a place to belong.

We need to step it up, folks.

Are we not called to more than we are settling for?  Where do these hateful attitudes come from?  Surely not from Jesus nor the witness of the Bible.  In the Bible, I see Jesus embracing the last, the least, and the lost.  Yet that same demographic, those in the margins, are the exact ones we are so hateful toward.

We are not hateful to the ones causing injustice, but to those who need our compassion and love.

If you read through the Old Testament, and in particular the prophets, what are the reasons that the prophets say God is upset with Israel?  Is it because they’re not following the law to the letter?  Nope.  There are a few main reasons that are repeated nearly every time: 1. Israel has followed after other gods; 2. Israel is not taking care of the widows, orphans, and the poor; and 3. Israel is taking advantage and profiting from the widows, orphans, and the poor.  (i.e. the marginalized of their society, those who needed help and protection the most.)  Then look at Jesus’ words when He says what the most important commandment is: To love the Lord your God, and to love your neighbor as yourself.  (Not forgetting who your neighbor is: remember the story of the good Samaritan.)

Let’s take a good look at ourselves.  What are Christians known for nowadays in the US?  It’s certainly not taking care of the poor, as was true in the first few hundred years of Christianity.  Rather, it is railing against those who are in need, upholding the few who take advantage of the system as a reason to help no one:  “Because if you can’t take care of yourself, you should starve.”  “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps.”  “Quit stealing our money and giving it to people who are too lazy to work.”

I am so sick of it.  Christians should be known for helping others.  And if we get taken in by a few, does it matter?  Is that for us to decide?  Did Jesus only say to help those we knew for certain needed help, or did He want us to help others, regardless?  I think it’s the latter.  We have become so selfish, so self-absorbed, so caught up in the anti-Christian idea of capitalism, that we are selling our souls to save a few dollars.  We should be known for a spirit of generosity and love.

And while I’m on my rant, can we please leave homosexuals alone?  What are we so afraid of?  It seems to me like homosexuals might be our modern day lepers (not a perfect comparison).  And Jesus would embrace them–He was not afraid of the lepers of society.  Regardless of your views of homosexuality, whether or not you think it is a sin, do you have any right to hate someone based on their sexual preference?  Would you deny someone basic human rights because of their orientation, anymore than their ethnicity, gender, age, religion, etc?  People are people.  And as Christians, we are called to show Jesus’ love to others, to people.  Get over yourself: there is nothing scary about homosexuality.

I am tired of being tolerant of an entire nation of Christians who are defined more by who they hate than being defined by Jesus’ love.  I am tired of seeing nothing but hate on my friends’ facebook pages or twitter feeds.  Let’s start reading our Bibles, not for proof-texts to prove we’re right, but for the message in the Bible, for what God is trying to tell us.  We’re going to realize that those small things we focus on have no point of focus in the Bible.

Let’s start loving the last, the least, and the lost.

I am angry.

I am angry at the ever present, ever influential, ever toxic he that infiltrates my life and thoughts despite a lack of permission.

This he is not just one, but all.  All who have ever taken advantage of me, who have abused me, who have betrayed, injured, not cared for me.

The he who molested me when I was 3.  Everyone who knew but did nothing.

The he‘s of high school and college who said/did/attempted unwanted things and got away with it.

The he who was a trusted mentor, who betrayed me from the first, yet tricked me into trust until years later when he (a married Bible teacher with a child, whom I viewed with complete naivety and completely platonic) propositioned me, and yet still got away with it even though I did everything right, through all the right channels.

Every he who has not protected me but has either hurt me himself or watched as others did.

I have physical memories that I do not consciously remember but which prevent me from physical intimacy.  Worse, I have spiritual betrayal that has destroyed my trust in men, in Christian men in particular.  Betrayal that has left me bereft and empty.  Betrayal that still makes it hard to pray, read my Bible, desire to grow in faith.  I feel distant from God, but it is not God who is distant.  It is my own inability to allow Him to be close.

And I am angry about it.

————

In many ways, I am better than I was.  I’ve found a new church and have gone three times.  And you know what made me go back after the first time?  The week before, one of their pastors was arrested in a police sting as he attempted to solicit an underage prostitute.  This is not good, obviously.  I did not know about it, but when I showed up, the service was the main pastor talking about it: how you had to be in the middle of truth (stone him, the heinous man) and grace (forgive it all).  How the Church is made up of sinners, each of us is capable of doing awful things, but none of us wake up one morning and decide to do those things out of the blue.  We take small steps of compromise, and instead need to ensure we are walking in the Light of Christ, in the fellowship of other Believers, being open and accountable to each other.

This pastor handled it exactly as it should be: honestly, openly, truthfully.  He did not hide it or minimize.

And so I went back.  I sit by myself (surrounded by strangers).  Sometimes I sing, but mostly I just listen.  I leave as soon as service is over.  But I’m there.  I view every man in the congregation as suspect.  But I am there.

It is a step, perhaps small to you, but huge to me.

I want to be well again.  I want to believe I might be able to trust again someday.  I want to know I can approach God with an open heart.

I don’t want to be angry.

But I am.

What is it with men only protecting what belongs to them?

I am talking about women, for whom I would usually use a pronoun indicating personhood; however, it seems to me that men still, purposely or inadvertently does not matter, view women as objects to be owned, to be conquered, to belong to them.

Think of how a man will fight for a woman he is in a committed relationship with or a female who is his daughter.  Those are the women that men do not hesitate to protect.  (Not every man does this, some don’t even care about the women closest to them.)  It is unimaginable to many men that their belongings should be defiled by anyone (excepting themselves).*

But what about the rest of us?

What about the single women?  The ones who don’t have a father to can or will protect them?  The ones who don’t believe they should have to need a husband to be taken seriously.  Should the single women be forced to get married for this protection?

Why can’t men stop seeing women as property and start seeing them as people?  Protect humankind.  Don’t just protect your belongings.

And go a step further. Stop seeing women as objects at all.  Protect your family, the one you married into, the one with whom you share DNA.  But protect also the ones who you call sisters and brothers and mothers and fathers in Christ.

If we cannot do this, what is the family of God, otherwise, but a sham?

——

*Consider the unfortunate reality of why men still want their wives to be virgins when they get married, but often have a double standard for themselves.  Or the fact that, most of the time, only a woman wears an engagement ring.  It’s all tied to the idea of women as property, and no one gets her but her husband.

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