Dear Mom, I Don’t Believe the Same Way You Do, and It’s Okay

Dear Mom,

I know lately you have been frustrated with me because I’m not going to church. I understand your frustration. I know you love me, and because of that, you worry for me. You worry for me because you have been taught all your life that going to church is just what we are supposed to do. You quote the verse that talks about assembling ourselves together with people that are like minded, and there is where the division lies.

I am not “like minded” with any organized religion, especially churches who preach God’s unconditional love, yet fail to show it. It is to my understanding, that we are all sinners. Why we think we have the right to pick and choose which sinners are worthy of love and which sinners aren’t is beyond me. Christians claim that they have to avoid some sinners because of a “lifestyle” sin… but isn’t hatred, slander, gossip, and rejection also lifestyle sins?

I don’t understand how people can look at the life of Christ and think that this is okay. Treating people the way the church has treated people is so far opposite of who Jesus was.

People tell me all the time that I need to focus on God and not people, because people will let me down, but God never will. So here I am. Focusing on God, and not people. Lately the Church has had a lot more people than God,  so I will remove myself from the people, and focus on God. Who is He? How does HE want me to treat people? How does He want His love to look like in my life?

I have decided that I need to seek and find God for myself. I want to know what I believe is what I believe instead of just what has been taught to me. I am studying the Bible in a whole new way, and finding that I don’t agree with everything that I’ve been taught. There are scriptures after scriptures that I’m finding have been sorely used out of context, and others that have been so horribly misunderstood. Even some that I believe are just wrong. So, I have to sort them out for myself.

And you know what?

It’s okay.

I don’t want to be a puppet. I don’t want to believe something just because someone told me. I want to find my own truth. In order to do that, I have to question, seek, and find my own answers.

I also don’t want to  live in a cookie cutter world. I believe that we are all different individuals on every level, and not everything that is true for one will be true for another.  That’s why I believe  it’s important that we remove ourselves out of the judge’s seat and let God take His place. He is the ONLY one who can see a heart, so He is the only one who can KNOW a heart. Many times we judge actions instead of the heart behind the actions. God doesn’t. He starts with the heart first.

Listen, I appreciate you. I really do. I know you raised me to believe like you because you felt it was best for me. Thank you for that. I know your heart is very good, and I know you love me. I love you, too. But things like religion and going to church are just things we are gonna have to agree to disagree on, and love each other through.

I will not shame you or make you feel guilty about how you believe. I will not try to change you; I know your heart is good. I know you are locked into the way you believe, and I will respect that. I just pray you offer me the same respect in return.

 

 

I Love you much…❤️

 

 

Sometimes, You Just Gotta Laugh…

 

Today, I was cleaning a friend’s apartment, and when I was finished, I grabbed the trash and headed out. When I got to the lobby, I was staring at the rain through the glass door, and an older gentleman said to me, “Is that just trash?” “Yes”, I replied. He said, “There’s a door all the way at the end of the building. It opens right next to the dumpster.”
What???? All this time…How did I NOT know this??? Lol… so I headed down the long hallway, kinda laughing to myself. This is sooooo much better!!!
I opened the door and he was right. The door is RIGHT ACROSS from the dumpster. YAY ME!!! It was pouring…and I mean POURING outside, so the plan was to run as fast as I can to the dumpster, toss in the trash, and come straight back. Easy peasy.
I ran hard, and unfortunately, the parking lot was flooded, so I was pretty much wadding as I ran. I reached the dumpster, threw in the trash, and headed back as quickly as I could. Mind you, I’m already soaked to the bone, I don’t really know WHAT running was going to do for me at that point!
I ran back to the door, and guess what the kind gentleman FORGOT to tell me??? 😳 Yep, you guessed it!!! It locks itself when you close it. So here I am, standing in the torrential downpour…with my wallet and my phone, and I have to go all the way back around the apartment complex. SERIOUSLY?!?!
I realize by this time that I can’t get any more wet, so I just walk back around and go to my car.
NOTE TO SELF:
When it’s raining, DON’T PARK NEXT TO THE DRAINAGE DITCH!!!!
Yeah. A River Runs Through It. Water up to my calves. Thankfully, I’m still laughing inside.  This is the sort of thing that makes me LOVE people!
I fight to get into my car. Once in, I laugh again. I am DRENCHED… head to toe.
I turn on my car, and a thought comes to my mind.
I left my umbrella upstairs….😳
Yeah. Enjoy it.
Love You Much…❤️

Giving Myself Permission

Sometimes, while digging through my mental mess, I have to dig through piles that were created by no one other than myself.  I can sit here and point fingers all day long and find other people to blame for MY lot in life; but the truth is, I am where I am because I have allowed things in my life that I shouldn’t have. For instance, I have a lot of anger and bitterness in my heart toward my family for the way they have treated me over the years. However, I have never allowed myself to not be around them. I have never given myself permission to remove “me” from that situation. After all, they are my family.  I’m supposed to love them no matter what, right? I mean, that’s what I want from them. I want them to love me no matter what.

It wasn’t until just recently I realized that it’s okay to love them from a distance. Sure, I would love to have the picture-perfect family. But that is not who we are. And you know what? That’s okay.

Family gatherings have always been very stressful for me. Who is going to say what about my hair? My clothes? Or, even better yet… What group of people are they going to bash this time? Will my brother be there? Will he speak to me? It has constantly kept my mind in a sort of fearful prison. But they aren’t the ones holding the key to my freedom. I am.

This Easter, I finally said no to the mind trap, and yes to me. For the first time in forty-one years, I spent a holiday away from my family.

And you know what?

Nobody died.

Sure, my mom was upset. There were a few words formed as darts, and there were a few times I started to reconsider. But I didn’t. I knew that I needed to do this for me. I knew, in my heart, that it wasn’t about not wanting to be with them. It wasn’t about THEM at all. It was about ME… giving myself permission to not be around the oppression. It was about ME, removing myself from situations that are continuously piling bricks upon the shoulders of my soul.  I just can’t do it anymore. It was about ME… loving myself enough to say, “ENOUGH is ENOUGH.

There’s so much stuff in my life I cannot control. I have to give myself permission to control the stuff I can. Fear? Oppression? I don’t need you. Bitterness? Anger? You’re not welcome in my home. The past is the past; what’s done, is done. I can’t change any of it.

But, I can change my tomorrow.

…I give myself permission.

 

 

Love you much…❤️

The Invitation

There’s nothing as inviting as a patio set. It’s drinking coffee on a cool spring morning as the birds welcome the day;  the earliest one, pulling up the fattest, juiciest worm. It’s memories made with my best friend; long talks, laughter, and tears dropped in silence as we both just sat there together. It’s the daily buzz, blocked by the barriers of a waist-high wall, but open to the breeze and scent of freshly cut grass. It’s the close-my-eyes-and-just-listen-for-a-moment favorite way to start my day.

And here I sit.

I have been in this duplex for going on six months now. This will be my first Spring; my first rebirth. During the past six months it has been all about setting up the inside of the house. Furniture, utensils, and, oh yeah, don’t forget to buy some milk. Up until yesterday, it had been all about the inside of four walls. Not just in my home, but in my heart.

Yesterday morning was different. I woke up as if Spring had awaken in my spirit. It was time for something new. I was tired of hiding behind the four walls; it was time to venture out.

I decided to take myself on a brunch date and try something new. And, Oh. My. Gosh!!!  My taste buds exploded with life with every bite!!! I was in heaven. I just smiled to myself, loved every moment, and savored every morsel. I was breathing deeper, and I was happy. I put down my fork. Time for the next adventure.

I found an outdoor garden show that was swarming with people. The sun was shinning, breeze was blowing, and the hum of laughter and bargaining filled the air. It was picture perfect. I stopped for a  minute, closed my eyes, inhaled deeply, and took it all in. I needed this. THIS is who I am. I felt the sunshine start to peek through the cracks in my heart. Something inside me was waking up.

I realized I needed this “waking up” every day. If I was gonna get out of the walls that separate me from the world, I was gonna have to make the effort. I knew what I had to do. I drove straight to the store and bought myself a patio set.

Today is my very first morning to enjoy the full benefits of it. I woke up early, fixed my coffee, and headed out here. It was so peaceful and relaxing. The birds were singing me a song, and even Mr. Bumble Bee stopped in and said hi. Seriously, ya’ll. He just flew up to me…about a foot in front of my face, hovered for a second, then flew off. He was just there to say hi. He made me smile inside and out.

Then the next wonderful thing happened. My neighbor came over and said hi, too. I have been here for nearly six months and have never spoken to him.  I mean, we have smiled at each other on several occasions, just in passing. But today, he actually came over and said hi. We talked about how beautiful today is, and then he went back to his gardening. Not ten minutes later, my other neighbor came out. She walked over and we talked for awhile. My heart smiled.

Yes, there’s nothing as inviting as a patio set. Something about it made me approachable. But you know what? Without me in it, it’s just a patio set. The invitation wasn’t the patio set. It was ME, just being there.

I’ve often wondered how I was gonna break free from lonely. Maybe it’s not the world that has been avoiding me. Maybe I’ve just been avoiding the world.

I guess it’s time to break out my spiritual patio set and make myself available.

 

 

 

Love you much—

Love the Pepsi Drinker, Hate the Pepsi: (A Parable of a Weak Diabetic)

Good morning all my little minions! I am so excited to be here writing to you! I struggled forever trying to figure out what the topic of my very first blog post would be, and trust me, I had several come to mind. However, I settled on this one because it is the closest to my heart, and I might as well open this thing with a big ol’ dose of Darla Renae (DR)! I would encourage you to read my “About” page before this post, as it will give you a little insight as to where I’m coming from. With that being said, and without further ado, lets begin this journey!

I have heard the phrase, “Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin” so many times in my life, especially pertaining to the LGBT, and I have to admit, that although it sounds pretty, I’m just not sure I agree with the way it is thrown around. I think many times people catch on to a phrase, and without really stopping to think about what it actually means, adopt it as their own. I truly believe people mean well when they say it, but do they actually live it?

In order to put this into a modern day scenario, I have chosen one of my own vices to help me explain what this means to me: Pepsi. So sit back, relax, and have an ice cold Pepsi as you read the story of Katie and Laura.

Katie is a diabetic. She knows that every ounce of sugar in her body counts, and that drinking a six pack of soda all in one day is very dangerous for her. In fact, it could potentially kill her. Soda is a substance that, if she consumes it, can do a significant amount of damage to her body. Drinking that much soda would, in a sense, be a sin against her body.

Laura is not a diabetic. She is in great health. If she drinks a six pack of soda in a day, it is not going to kill her. Laura loves soda, and has no issues drinking it on a daily basis.

One day, Katie sees Laura drinking a soda. Katie freaks out. She runs over to Laura, grabs the soda out of Laura’s hands, and starts yelling at her. “Don’t you know that this can KILL you? Shame on you for drinking this!!! I can NOT BELIEVE  you would drink such a thing!!! I cannot be around you OR be your friend if you’re going to drink soda!” and she storms off to go raise a campaign against soda, and starts a boycott of all the stores who sell it.

Meanwhile, Laura is standing there in shock, looking at her empty hand where her soda once stood, wondering what the hell just happened.

Katie blocks Laura’s phone number, and never speaks to her again. Laura misses her friend, but is too afraid to approach her because of the way Katie treated her. Katie begins telling people how much she loves Laura, but can’t be a part of her life because she drinks that awful soda stuff. People start to have negative feelings toward Laura because of Katie’s words. Laura feels bad, but not because she drinks soda. She feels bad because of the way people treat her.

At this point, Katie isn’t just rejecting soda. She’s also rejecting Laura. She has distanced herself from her, and blocked her out of her life. Laura doesn’t feel the love (even though Katie loves her and thinks she is trying to keep Laura from harm), she just feels the rejection. The love may be there, but if it’s not felt, it means nothing.

Okay, okay… I know what you’re thinking. In Katie’s defense, if she hangs out with Laura, she may be tempted to drink soda, right? I agree. There’s always that possibility.  HOWEVER…. wouldn’t that be Katie’s flaw and not Laura’s? Why does Laura have to be punished for Katie’s weakness? Just because it’s a sin for Katie to drink soda doesn’t mean it’s a sin for Laura.

(WHOA!!! HOLD ON!!! I know some of you are SCREAMING inside with that statement!!!! But I PROMISE you, I will address that whole topic on a later date!!! I just felt it “might” be a little heavy for a FIRST blog post! But I assure you, you may just be surprised with what I have to say about that!)

And now, back to our story…

What if….just WHAT IF… Katie had gone to Laura and said something like, “Laura, I noticed you were drinking a soda the other day. Did you know that when I drink soda, it has really negative consequences for me? Now, I know that you like soda, and that drinking soda is your choice. However, when I’m around you when you’re drinking soda, it’s hard for me to say no. It’s because of this reason I can’t hang around you when you’re drinking soda.”

Had Katie gone to Laura and put it that way, Laura would know that it wasn’t her that Katie was rejecting, but it was the soda. And, I can confidently say, that Laura would probably have sympathized with Katie, realized her dilemma, and, as a good friend, would not drink soda around Katie. Who knows…maybe Laura would even re-examine the possibility of soda being bad for her as well. However, Laura could still feel free to enjoy her soda at home, and it have no effect on Katie. But make it a law that Laura isn’t allowed to drink soda because it’s bad for Katie? Somebody is gonna be PISSED. And, whether Katie likes it or not, it wouldn’t be fair.

Katie can reject the soda without rejecting Laura. In the same manner, Katie can reject the soda in her own life, while not trying to control what Laura can and cannot drink.

This is where we are today. The phrase, “Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin” means absolutely nothing if the love is not felt. There is a difference in rejecting the sin and rejecting the sinner. (Please understand, I say “sinner” as a word that the Church will understand which person I am talking about here. I am, IN NO WAY, calling someone’s actions a “sin”, because that’s not my job, it’s Gods. Again, that’s a whole other topic that I will address at a later date. Besides, aren’t we ALL sinners?)

When we reject the SIN, it means we refuse to allow the SIN into our life. It doesn’t mean we don’t allow the PERSON into our life!!! Once we don’t allow the PERSON into our life, we are rejecting the PERSON and not the sin. The sin is what creates a distance between us and God, not the person. The sin defiles us, not the person.

Hear my heart here. The label “Christian” means to be “Christ-like”. If you really study the life of Christ, you would be able to tell that religion has greatly distorted the way Christians are suppose to treat people. Jesus went to the sinners. He did not run from them. He did not call them names; He did not bash them. He did not bully them or force His way on them. He loved them enough to give them the freedom to CHOOSE. Are we greater than Him? What gives us the right to take someone’s choice away? That doesn’t mean that you have to agree with their choice, it just means that you can’t try to control their choice. Jesus didn’t even do that.

People were drawn to Jesus. They were intrigued by Him. They wanted what He had. Is it so hard to believe that people would be drawn to the Church if the Church acted like Jesus? I have said it a thousand times, and I will continue to say it– If you are driving more people away than you are drawing people in, then you are doing something very WRONG. Perfect love drives out fear, right? If the Church actually LOVED the world, the world wouldn’t be afraid of the Church, but rather be drawn to it.

It’s time to start loving people. I mean, stepping out of your comfort zone, invite-the-unlovable-to-your-home-for-dinner kind of loving people. You don’t have to agree with everything they do. They don’t have to agree with what you believe, and you don’t have to believe with what they believe. That doesn’t mean you can’t be friends… even CLOSE friends. You shouldn’t be afraid to be seen with a “sinner”. If you have a strong enough character, people will know who you are. Reject what is sin in your own life. I’ll reject what is sin in mine. If we want peace and unity, there has to be a compromise somewhere. Not a compromise on what you believe, but a compromise in allowing someone else to believe differently.

Everything we’ve tried before isn’t working.

Time to try something new.

Love you much…