I have been listening to a whole lot of Jesus TV lately. There are new, younger preachers that are making Jesus seem so much more approachable and real. I think this is a good thing as the catechism that I grew up with kept the Lord at a distance. I am not religious or pious. I am just your simple generic sinner type that is trying to live each day as if it were a new assignment by seeing everyone I meet as Jesus and having the opportunity to acknowledge the beauty of that to them.
It seems the more awake I re-become, the more I feel I am being drawn towards a life that is not so secular. I have an inner pull to become more outspoken and more bold in my faith walk. I want to share the Good News with others and am becoming discontent with “just” going to work and living to take care of self. I remember the days when I was a new Christian, full of Love, Energy, Music, and the Spirit. There was a fire burning inside that was all-consuming. There was a need to serve and there was always an outlet for that. I was surrounded by like-minded people and life blossomed with all sorts of possibilities.
And then what happened? I could say, God only knows. But, I think I do know. I was young and open to falling off the tracks. I started dating and “Poof!”, I could no longer sit in church with church people. I felt I would be judged by them. So, I stayed away. Far away. I missed ministry, but I did not dare walk among the righteous, or self-righteous. I found myself on the outside looking in. It sucked. I had no confidence that I was alright with God, so I just let the distance happen to me. I always knew God was with me despite the ignorance of His followers and that I have always been protected by His best angels. I just know this. I also know I am His child. I guess I just sort of went into this survival mode and have been in it for some 30 years.
Every so often I would knock on the doors of a church. I actually had some welcoming and affirmative conversations with the pastor of my “home” church in my mid 30’s. He was wonderful, accepting and kind. He was sort of fatherly in his own way. He and I had many conversations, some that he even thought pulpit-worthy enough to share with the general congregation at mass. I started to let myself feel at home with this Pastor in the church of my childhood. After semi-retiring a couple of years later, my Pastor, Father C. moved away to a smaller parish. I missed our talks and soon found the new pastor and the new “in” group was not a good fit for me because I could not BE me. So, off I went to try other churches, denominations, and locations. There was always a reason why each of these did not feel like home. And to this day, I have not found a church that I call home. Sometimes I am close, but in the end, until I can have a conversation with the one who is the leader of the congregation and feel a connection, I feel still very much like an orphan kid.
That is sad. I feel I have a lot to bring to brothers and sisters in the House. I just cannot do that without being able to be who I am. During my conversations with my old Pastor, he had asked me how I could reconcile my self to my faith/God. It was an interesting and perhaps simplistic approach I had taken to make this happen, although it took almost 15 years to articulate. When asked what sin is, the answer I understood was “anything that keeps me from FatherGod.” And what keeps me from FatherGod? His followers. And in making that my mantra, I was not admitting to any harm. And in this I firmly believed and in this he never questioned. Father C. was my friend and I loved him for letting me be me. He was never condescending or judgmental and never once made me feel like he was just tolerating me.
All these years later, I have started attending a new non-denominational church. Currently I feel tolerated and prayed over in hope that I can change and learn to leave who I am behind. The lead Pastor seems to want to reach out to everyone and has gone so far as to sing praises about one of his gay staff members, even going so far as to say that that person is one of the most passionate on his team towards our Lord in one of his recent podcasts online. This is not unfamiliar ground to this Pastor as he has a family member who is of the same fabric. I originally thought this was wonderful because Pastor is supposedly in tune with us folks who are on the fringes of church life but hunger for the word of God and the opportunity to share that word with others. But later in the same podcast Pastor advises he can only personally accept people who are not true to their nature and are basically willing to give up who they are after they meet and start their walk in faith. He offers that anyone can disagree with him and all he offers to you at that point is the right to disagree with his righteous posture. But I am a child of God, created by Him. No less than anyone else, I do believe that we are meant to be true to ourselves in praise of our Creator and to throw away who we are is to throw that in His face as if He made a mistake.
What I know now is that we are all put on the planet as different threads that make up the fabric of human kind. We are meant to be different. The bible has thumped many Peoples over the years and one by one the ones in charge finally get enlightened and make their adjustments in their interpretations and one by one they acknowledge their mistakes and send out word that there needs to be an amendment in how people are treated. I think that the last of the religiously thumped-on peoples will some day be realized as wrongly judged by man and will go on to be treated as God intended, just like anyone else. We all sin, we are all fallen, and we are all forgiven and asked to sin no more. And truly loving another and being committed to that other is not a sinful act. Judging others and keeping them on the fringes just might be.
And that brings me to my original thought: that I am watching a whole lot of Jesus TV lately. Something in me is rekindling. I am starting to feel a fire in my butt to get off of it and reach out to others. I think to myself, “who am I” and “what have I got to offer?
I have Jesus. He has washed me clean and sent His Spirit to dwell in me. I am His and to share is a gift from the One. Everything else about me is just about how I can relate to others and not be ashamed of any part of me. I am no better than anyone. I am also no worse than anyone. We are all one.
Nail art from when I was a kid.