To the Black Sheep

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” -Robert Frost

These immortal words written by one of my favorite poets, Robert Frost, have been a source of strength and inspiration since the time I first read them. Time and time again, I have taken the road less traveled and it has made all the difference. The path has been vast, interesting, awe-inspiring, and I do not regret following a weeded path with an unclear destination. However, Robert Frost doesn’t warn us that this is the path of most resistance, or so it may seem.

The path of least resistance is comfortable. Easy. It is the path water chooses to flow if faced with any obstruction. Often I wish I was a person that could just go with the flow. Maybe it would be nice. Perhaps I could enjoy the confines of society where I just fit into a world already created for me. A world unchallenged. A world where I am not a square peg trying to jam my way into a round hole. I tried that world, and I found myself alone, and being someone I am not. It turned out, this path of least resistance wasn’t easy at all. I didn’t flow with it, it didn’t feel right.

The other path called to me and so I shook the dust off my feet and began an unknown walk. At first my steps were filled with overwhelming fear and trepidation. Each step into the fog was another cloud I had to confront, another doctrine, another belief, another societal construct, and another realness I was faking. As scary as it was, I didn’t find myself struggling to fit. I found myself struggling to not fit. Unlearning the ways of the path most traveled wasn’t difficult after the fog began lifting. I began to see sunlight poking through the trees, and I began to feel the warmth take over the chill in my soul. This path provided peace, freedom, and  ultimately, strength. The only resistance I feel here are from those unwilling to meet me or understand my travels.

But I belong here.

Throughout history, there have always been the wayward ones. The challengers. The fighters. The ones who go against the grain. Historically, they were threats to the tightly knit fabric of the society they were confronting. Jesus. John Lennon. Nelson Mandela. Martin Luther King Jr. Malcom X. Rosa Parks. Ghandi. Steve Jobs…all of them I have met on the path of the black sheep. All of them fought for ideals that were different from the status quo. Here, on this road less traveled, I have found those fighting for justice, equality, freedom for prisoners, liberation of the poor, and world unity. I have found unconditional love here, those that see a different way, one of grace, forgiveness, and humanity.

So often I have resented being a black sheep. It can be isolating. The daily battle just to simply be the most authentic version of ourselves is often fought with anger and lashing out. Also, we know that leaving behind the other path has hurt those that are still there. However, we must remember that above all else, above our individual emotional struggles, there is a grand plan that we are part of.

We must trust that our calling is correct. I cannot disregard the plight of the underdog. They call to me. I cannot ignore the cries of the sick. I cannot forget the racism I see. I cannot look the other way when I know that others are hurting because of elitist or xenophobic ideologies. I cannot walk away from the pain and struggle of my LGBTQ friends. I cannot walk this winding path under canopies of branches, watching the birds perched above, hear the trickle of a stream nearby, or smell the fragrance of the plumeria and not fight to ensure their survival.

I belong here.

On the road less traveled.

More will be called here, I’m certain. All things will be renewed. I believe the following scripture in Matthew 19:28-30, Jesus is speaking to the last, to the black sheep:

Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man is seated on the throne of his glory, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold,[a] and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.

Both paths will become one. No longer will there be two roads diverged in a wood, but one path rather. One of unity, love, grace, and we will all see the lion laying down with the lamb.

Keep following the voice you know you are supposed to follow.

Advertisements

Why My Children Will Not Be Attending Vacation Bible School at Your Trump/Liberty University Supporting Fundamental Church.

Dear Friend,

I know you think you’re doing the right thing. I know you’re guilt ridden if you don’t at least try and influence my children into attending your church’s vacation bible school. You may feel like it is your responsibility to ensure their salvation. I am sorry that your religion has placed that upon your shoulders. It isn’t fair to you. However, it isn’t fair to me to disregard the ways I am raising my children. 

One of the very first verses my three year old memorized at church was “Fear the Lord.” I shouldn’t have to explain why this is psychologically damaging to a little impressionable child, but it is. When I heard those words come from my child’s mouth, I immediately wanted to throw up, and my blood boiled. I spent the next hour deprogramming him from those words. How dare anyone, any institution instill existential fear into the psyche of my child. The same thing was done to you. The same thing was done to our ancestors, the same thing was done to me. 

Before I ever even had the choice I was taught there was a loving God that I should be afraid of. I was taught this loving God would send me to hell for eternity if I wasn’t saved. I learned I was broken, headed to hell because of original sin, and I needed saving. I cannot tell you how this led to addiction and co-dependency, although I will, in a future post. 

You were taught this too. So I understand your concern, because you still believe in this God that would do this. So I don’t begrudge you for trying. But understand this:

My children will not learn of such existential theological beliefs until they are old enough to critically think about such beliefs. It would break my heart if my children were infected with fear, guilt, shame, or this idea that they are broken and need fixing. It would break my heart if they learned of Hell, Satan, or the rapture. Those concepts are completely inappropriate for little children. They are scared enough of the dark and spiders.

Also, it appears that there is a disconnect of your church to humanity. It is your way or it’s the wrong way. I see absolutely no love or compassion for others that are different from you. LGBTQ, Muslims, feminists, atheists, agnostics…etc. I have heard the rhetoric, these people are your enemies. 

My children will not learn this type of division or elitism. 

It also concerns me that your religion is in alliance to Trump and Liberty University. My children will not grow up equating Jesus to the immorality displayed in Donald Trump and his policies. I am teaching them to love all people, to fight for the poor, to raise the oppressed, to demand justice where it isn’t found, and to protect this environment from destruction. I am raising them to approach conflict with non-violence. I am raising them to treat women equally and to build bridges not walls. I am raising them with the ideals that we should continue to fight to ensure health care for all Americans, and to live our lives working to reduce suffering for all of God’s children. 

I just don’t see any of those values present in Christianity anymore. I have watched the gradual decline of this religion my entire life morph into a version of Christ much different than my inherent compassion allows me to reconcile with. Recently, this different Jesus has been rising on your scene, and I cannot allow my children to be part of it. 

I will not apologize for raising my children away from this religion. They will learn about Jesus. They will learn what he stood for, with the Sermon on the Mount and Matthew 25 being our main tenet. You have nothing to worry about, friend. My children will be raised with values and roots that will someday flourish and bring forth fruit. 

I do not see the fruit right now in your church. I do not see the fruit in supporting Trump, GOP policies, or praising someone like Donald Trump speaking at Liberty University about God, nonetheless. I am struggling to understand which God this is. 

This isn’t my God. This isn’t my children’s God. So, thank you for the invitation, however, I respectfully but unapologetically decline.

Jerry Falwell Jr. says ‘evangelicals have found their dream president.’ It is Time for Evangelicals to Denounce these Pharisees and Speak Out for Jesus.

Saturday, April 29, 2017, Jerry Falwell Jr., an influential evangelical leader and president of Liberty University, spoke with Fox News celebrating Donald Trump’s first 100 days of being president of the United States of America. In the interview Falwell said:

“I think evangelicals have found their dream president.”

Watch the interview here.
This almost leaves me speechless. Who are these so-called evangelicals? Donald Trump is the embodiment of total immorality. His words, actions, policies, and lifestyle are completely unlike Jesus Christ, whom they adamantly claim to follow and worship. 

I’m tired. I am so exhausted from trying to make sense of this rabbit hole we have been in now for over a year watching the religious right continue day after day support and praise this president. I am tired of their silence. It is time they open their eyes and see how they are being manipulated. It is time they rise up and speak out. I have to believe that there are people all over this nation that are sitting in their churches afraid to stand up and say “enough is enough.” I have to believe that they aren’t all blindly drinking the Kool-aid of these so-called Christian leaders and so -called Christian politicians. I have to believe that they’re out there, but too scared to “come out of the Trump closet” in fear that they’ll be estranged from their church, family, and friends. 

I know that fear. I have lived it. Luckily, through life experience I lost all ability to care about what other people think. However, that religion can lock you in a cage of silence and throw away the key. They do it by manipulation. They do it by reinforcing week after week the rhetoric of guilt and shame. 

I have to believe that they are having a crisis with this election, even if they aren’t courageous enough to admit it. I have to believe that there are those in regret, and those in confusion, wondering what has become of their faith. Those of us on the outside are watching the church fall apart. We are watching the message of Jesus become so unrecognizable that I am struggling to understand why anyone in their right mind would ever be enticed to become a Christian. It is completely unfortunate because I know how badly Jesus’ message of unconditional love is needed. 

I would like to tell these scared evangelicals:

It is time for you to rise. Make a statement. Walk out if you have to. Your religion is falling away and the whole world is watching. Most importantly, you aren’t alone. There are so many of us out there who have been through this process. It is scary. It is lonely. But luckily, the numbers of people that aren’t standing for this are growing, and we will be there for you. Your friends, family, and congregation need you. They need to be pulled out of this fog and perhaps you are the one to lead them out.

Jesus tells us to love others. Does Donald Trump love others? Do his policies show love? Does his budget show love? Do his daily egotistical tweets show love? Do his daily lies show love? 

If you aren’t going to speak out and stand up for the things Jesus was about, then please I beg you stop equating Jesus to the GOP. Stop equating Jesus to Trump. There is a hurting, dying world out there that needs the message of unconditional love, grace, acceptance, forgiveness, and freedom to begin again at any time. 

Maybe even you need that message.