Where are we going in such a hurry?

I thought of this on my drive home Friday.  Those of you who ever tried to find a new place while driving, without the aid of GPS, or even in the BC years (before cellphones), can relate to this.  Actually, maybe it holds true even with GPS, or anytime you’re passing through an intersection with multiple turn lanes, or other tricky situations.

When you’re nearing a destination, you slow down, right? At least most of us do.

You may also turn the radio down. I remember a comedy routine about that, as though the sound affects your vision.  It may have been George Carlin. I’m not sure.

The point is, when we’re not sure where we are or where we’re going, we tend to slow down and try to focus more. It just makes sense.

Now, let’s look at humanity as a whole. Everyone says that it seems like time flies by faster and faster. The pace of everyday life has picked up considerably. Like Brooks in the movie Shawshank Redemption observed, “.. I can’t believe how fast things move on the outside….. The world went and got itself in a big damn hurry.” Having been in prison most of his life, he didn’t get acclimated gradually like everyone else.

Yet, no one is putting the world’s brake on, even though we have no idea where we’re going or what’s going to happen tomorrow, let alone 50 or 500 years from now.

I know my Christian friends’ immediate thought: God is in control. Yes, he is. I firmly believe that.

The follow-up thought to that is that the second coming of Christ will bring a new beginning, a new Heaven and Earth.  One thing about that is that we don’t know when that will be. A day is but a thousand years to God.

I’m going to go way out on a limb here with my next thought. What if the second coming is an individual, spiritual event when we die?  “Every eye shall see…” Jesus’ return. Well, we all die. I’m no theologian or Biblical scholar. I have read the Bible in its entirety, but that was years ago, so maybe I’m forgetting something that would blow my theory. In any case, we don’t know how long we must maintain God’s creation to sustain us.

I guess as we collectively face long term challenges, we can only individually act to contribute what we have the ability to do. And we can pray, meditate, study, and reflect. We can invent, adapt and expand.

Finally, we need a safety line for this bumpy, chaotic, joyful ride through the torrent of time and space.  I hope you have found yours. Could be religion, a relationship, a strategy or belief system.

In the meantime, turn off the technology every so often and see where the spirit takes you. It’s okay. Take your time.

 

A Closer Walk, Part III

A brief intro for those who didn’t see Part I and II, in case you don’t have time to go back and catch up on them. As a gay Christian, I’ve had a hard time reconciling what I was taught with the reality of who I am and knowing that this is the way God created me. After a long gap from church attendance, I started going to a gay friendly church a year and a few months ago. I never got around to telling my parents that it was a “gay church”. Couldn’t seem to find the right time, or didn’t feel like “getting into it”.

Back in November, the pastor of my church had an article published in the local paper, which she does from time to time.  The article mentions her female spouse. My mom saw this article, so the cat was out of the bag. She wrote me a note, speaking for herself and my dad. She also included some scripture references which I’ll include at the end of this post.

First, I’d like to point out the irony that the article is entitled “Desperately seeking unconditional love”. My pastor cites a line from the writings of Parker Palmer in “A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward the Undivided Life”. The excerpt in part: “the people who help us grow toward true self offer unconditional love, neither judging us to be deficient nor trying to force us to change but accepting us exactly as we are.” You see the irony, right? Funny thing is, I missed it at first because I was so focused on the scripture references from Mom and eager to find my own to refute them.

Perhaps I am desperately seeking the unconditional love of my mother. She says in her note that “nothing could ever dampen our love for you, nor could we remove ourselves from your life” but that they were responsible as parents to “speak the truth” to me.

I mentioned in Part II that I wanted to write a letter in response. A friend of mine commented that we should just agree to disagree. That is likely to be the outcome, but I think I need to have the conversation.

One reaction to the note from Mom was, unexpectedly, anger. I feel insulted that she (they) think I’m somehow being sinful or disobedient, or that my soul is in danger. I am saved. I don’t need to be “snatched from the fire”. Jesus already did that. How dare she condemn me? I needed to get that out.

Now to the details. As I expected, the first scripture cited was Leviticus 18:22: “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman. That is detestable.” Leviticus also forbids tattoos among many other things and says women should separate themselves from the community when they have their period. Those are the old laws of the Old Covenant (another word for Old Testament). Jesus died and rose again to set us free from all that. He is the New Covenant.

I’m not a Biblical scholar, but I’m pretty sure Jesus never mentioned homosexuality or being gay. The scriptures Mom cited from the New Testament are all about general morality. Some kind of disprove her own point, like Romans 8:38-39. ” For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 

Being gay, then, does not separate one from God.

The good thing in all this is that I still see my parents often. They and my sister visit at my brother’s and my house often. We’ve always been a close family, and a matriarchal family. I still enjoy talking on the phone with my mom and I know if I write her a response, she will read it. I just hope she reads it to absorb what I’m saying and not just to find points to contradict. We’ll see.

I’ve already received suggested readings from friends. Your comments are welcome as I ready my response to “the note”.

Below are the scripture references:

Ephesians 5: 3-7 3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.[a] 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7 Therefore do not be partners with them.

Colossians 3: 5-6 5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature:sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.

I Timothy 2:19   Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.”

II Timothy 3: 16-17   16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God[a]may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

John 17:12   While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by[c] that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.

Romans 8:31b, 37   31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us,who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns?No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

II Timothy 2:25-26   25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

Jude 20, 22:   20 But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. 22 Be merciful to those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.

 

International Women’s Day: Honoring Mom

I didn’t even know it was International Women’s Day until I sat down with the laptop after work.  It was the perfect subject for a post. The thought quickly followed as to a more specific focus. Since I mentioned my mother in yesterday’s post and her concerns about her gay son’s salvation, it seems only fair to extol her virtues today. Well, maybe it won’t be all glowing praise, but I love her and respect her immensely. I’ve always had a close relationship with my mom and the differences of late have not changed that.

In case you missed it, I reported previously that my mom saw an article in a local paper written by my pastor and it mentioned that she has a same-sex spouse. I neglected to mention that, or even that it’s a gay-friendly church, when I told my family that I had started attending.  Not sure why, but we’ll get back to that. Mom gave me some scripture references on the topic. No, I’m afraid I still didn’t get time to read them. But that’s coming soon.

Mom once wrote me a nice letter of encouragement telling me that I was a happy, content, and well-behaved baby and had grown to be a great young man.  I saved the letter.  It was written when I was not working for a while due to physical and emotional health issues and had tried to start a t-shirt business that wasn’t going well. (It never did take off.) But she cited my determination and talents, as only a mother can do. I was reminded of a picture my aunt showed me once of me as a baby being held by my mom. I was wearing a bright yellow “onesie”. I had never seen the picture before, but it explained why my favorite color was always, passionately, yellow.  You’ll have to excuse all the cuteness.

Briefly, another time she wrote me a note with a passage from a poem she found called Wit’s End Corner, by Antoinette Wilson. I had described how I felt shortly before that as being at my wit’s end. How perfect. There have been other notes and words of encouragement.

She was also very stern when I, or my two siblings, got out of line. In my twenties, that period when you begin to see your parents as just people, and before you turn into them, I sometimes thought the sternness was too much. Some might call it conditional love, but I know that isn’t so. Maybe the strict discipline and disapproval made me inhibited, or maybe that’s just an inborn trait. In any case, I found the bold spirit God gave me when I needed to. I’m thankful that both my parents cared enough to bring me up right. Being told no, and facing consequences, and even feeling guilt are good lessons to prepare one for adulthood. God knows, you can’t always get what you want. (Sorry if I put that song in your head.) You win some, you lose some. When you’re made to apologize to a sibling right then and there, while you’re still hopping mad, it helps with conflict resolution later in life.

I get my strong sense of justice and fairness from my mom, along with empathy and sticking up for the underdog, whether it’s someone else or myself. I once showed her my favorite Christmas video clip, from South Park, where Kyle gets to poke Cartman with an electric cattle prod every time he screws up the words to O Holy Night. I always thought it was hilarious and thought she’d love it, but she wanted to throttle Kyle.  I explained that Cartman is the obnoxious one and was getting his comeuppance. She responded, “Well, that makes it a little better.” That’s a strong sense of justice. I still think it’s hilarious, but really, it’s not right, is it?

During the aforementioned twenty-something years, I resented both parents for a time, feeling that they gave no support or guidance. I realized that they had an awful lot to deal with and did the best they could. We struggled mightily in the financial area when I was in grade school. I found out years later that we were in danger of losing the house because they couldn’t pay the taxes. God saw us through it, though. Then there’s my sister who had her first hospitalization when she was in ninth grade, for mental health issues. She had shown signs of it much earlier and demanded a lot of attention. My brother struggled in school. (Not because he couldn’t handle it. His IQ is in the gifted range.) We’ve all had problems with depression and anxiety. We were definitely a matriarchal family, my dad being more passive, so Mom had to be strong, and she was. She is. (Don’t get me wrong. I love my Dad too, and I get my tenacity and quiet resolve from him.)

I enjoyed hearing my Mom teach Sunday School, and her reading touching novels to us in the living room. She’s artistic and I gett my writing ability from her. I sometimes wish she would have had more opportunity to fulfill her potential, but I’m determined to do just that with my life. Her strength has helped me so far. It’s a generational effort.

I could go on and on, but I’m sure your time is as limited as mine, so I’ll wrap up.

Bottom line is that we’re all just people. We muddle through as best we can. It’s a lot easier when you have God or at least some kind of support system, if you’re not religious, to help you . So, don’t resent or condemn others for their shortcomings and wrongs against you. After all, we’re all in this together.