A Glimpse of REAL Love

Today marks two years since my grandmother passed. Seems like just yesterday. It’s amazing how fast time flies when life gets busy. I wish I could go back in time and just sit with her awhile. There’s so much I never got around to saying, and there’s so much she never got a chance to listen to.

Even as a little girl, my grandma was my hero.  She always had a smile on her face, whether times were good or, uhm, not so good. But it was her eyes… Her eyes were a clear window right down to the innermost parts of her soul. I could read her. Complete novels hid behind those eyes. Stories of struggle, fear, doubt, and worry; but I never heard her once complain. My Grandma was a WARRIOR. She was the super glue that held my crazy family together.

My grandma was the model Christian. Church on Sundays, worked at the ORU Prayer Tower during the weekdays, and CBN at night. But there was just something different about Grandma’s “Christian”.  I didn’t know what it was as a child, but I know now. My grandma knew how to LOVE. I mean, lay the judgement down, look at the heart, and put-yourself-in-their-place kind of love.

There’s so many wonderful memories I have of this woman. Christmas Eve parties complete with bar-b-que dinners, Dirty Santa games, and what felt like a hundred children running through the tiny, yet just big enough, house. Saturday morning trips to the Swap-N-Shop flea market, and her prayer meetings. You can’t forget her prayer meetings. But the one memory that I love her for most, comes in the form of a bicycle.

My mom always prided herself in making me the daintiest little thing around. Home sewn dresses and bows to match, I was her “Darling Daughter, Darla”. After all, she had three boys prior to me. She was ready for her girl, and she was going to do it right!

It wasn’t just my clothes, however. It was pretty much everything I owned. Dolls, barbies, you know…”girl toys”. My bikes would always be the pink and purple banana seat bikes with tassels in the handlebars and flowery butterfly stickers. Oh, and of course, a basket. Gotta have a basket!

I put on a smile and said thank you, and tried really hard to be the girl mom wanted me to be. But inside, what I REALLY  wanted was my brother’s black and gold BMX bike with the black grips that kinda wrapped around your hands, and the really awesome pads that wrapped around the bars. It was really cool!!! I rode it when nobody was looking…

One day, I was playing in the yard when my grandma’s cream colored Buick boat appeared in my driveway. I ran up to her for my usual greeting hug, and she told me she had something in her trunk for me.

“For ME? In the TRUNK???” I knew if it was in the trunk it had to be big. I ran to the back of the car and waited for what seemed like an eternity. She said she had found it at a garage sale for 20 bucks. I’m sure my eyes were as big as baseballs as the trunk opened.

And there it was. An all-chrome BMX bike. Knobby tires; black and white grips. Raised seat (Not a banana seat!!!). The pedals were black metal instead of white plastic. There were no pads. It was a little more than gently used, but it was MINE. And there was nothing more beautiful to me.

It wasn’t the bike that was the biggest gift, though. It was the fact that my grandma saw me for ME…for who I WAS instead of who everyone wanted me to be. That would be the gift that drew me closer to my grandma than any other gift she could have possibly given me that day.

Fast forward about 27 years. I had just left my husband for a woman. My family, who always preached God’s unconditional love, had shut me off. My brothers didn’t speak to me. My nieces weren’t allowed at my home. My business was broke into by a family member, and other family members talked about me behind my back. The church I went to told me to “grow up and stop being so selfish.” I was homeless. I was cold. That winter was emotionally and physically brutal.

Until one night, when my cell phone rang.

“Darla? This is Grandma”… I could hardly talk, so she did the talking. “I don’t really know what you’re going through, honey, but I want you to know that I love you. I’m here for you. I don’t understand those feelings you have, but if you ever want to talk, I bought a book on it.”

A huge smile crossed my face.

She bought a book on it. My grandma had bought a book on it. She did that for me. My heart smiled, and I was laughing so hard inside.  She bought a BOOK on it!!! She didn’t understand me, so she was looking for a way. That’s all I needed. Someone just willing to listen, and to love me, and to “buy a book on it.”

I never saw that book.

I didn’t need to.

 

 

I love you, Grandma. And I miss you so much….

Love you more…❤️

 

 

 

 

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…❤️

 

 

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…