Three months passes faster than I realize. Yes, it’s been three months since I wrote. Life picked up with lightening speed. There was the spring musical that Jake was in. I lost a dear friend to cancer. The school year ended. I traveled to see my dad. Cross country practice started and fresh fruits and veggies started coming in season. (canning time of year) The new chickens arrived, were eaten by a fox, and so the new chickens arrived again. Jake turned 15. We have VBS and bible study. Mother’s day and then Father’s day came and went. Our Intex pool filter died during the hottest weekend in June (until this weekend) and the frogs took over. It was loud and really gross. In the midst of all of this we are still trying to maintain some semblance of a routine, but mostly we fail at that. So, time it seems, is not on my side lately. I’d like to freeze it just for a little while. I’d like to snuggle Max just a little bit longer. I’d like to hear Libby’s little voice sing just a little longer. But, time waits for no man. In a nut shell, that is where I’ve been since my last post.
With that being said, the other reason I haven’t sat down to write lately is I’ve been angry. It’s not good to write when you are angry. Writing helps me put into words what is bouncing around in my head. Once I’ve written, it’s much easier to let it go. Until then, it just swims, or mires, or stews, or whatever name you want to put on it. So I’ve been quiet. The anger is gone so I think that I can finally put into words what I was angry about without typing as if the keyboard were the whack a mole game.
Faith is a tricky subject for me. I didn’t come to Christ in some bottomless pit moment. There weren’t angels singing. I didn’t know God from the time I was five years old. Nothing that spectacular happened. I’m pretty logical. (hard to believe with some of my posts) I read The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel, and realized he was right. That was it. I was pregnant with Libby and knew I should not have been pregnant, (God thing there) so I began looking for the reason. I accepted that Christ was my savior and fell asleep without any trouble for the first time in my anxiety ridden life. That was it, I was a Christian. Nothing spectacular, just a very quiet conversion. The biggest change for me, was that my deep anxiety was gone. My mind racing stopped, and I could sleep. My behavior didn’t change overnight, but that came too. With my new found faith, I started to realize I didn’t know enough, our pastor wasn’t teaching enough, and we found another church. That only lasted 2 years. I learned a lot, but mostly I learned that I’m NOT a fundamentalist. There were many aspects to the fundamentalist church that were cult like. I’m not alone in my thoughts and experiences on that. I left there shaken, and beat down. I continued to look for a church for my family, but wanted nothing to do with a Bible. That was almost two years ago now. When that experience was over, my faith was shaken. I was still new at this and it really bothered me that people could use the Bible in such a controlling manner. But people always manage to disappoint one another.
Fast forward two years and we may have found a church. There is never a perfect church, but there just aren’t any perfect people. We have found a place that works for us. We go to an early service with mostly retired people. My children love it, as do I. However, three weeks ago, my faith was shaken again. A group of local people have joined an anti abortion movement. I’m not going to name them or their group because I just don’t want to give them any more advertising. They have been making their way around the community “exhorting” churches to good works. What “exhorting” looks like is holding large signs with photos of aborted, dismembered babies in front of church entrances when people come for service on Sunday. They do this same thing in front of the abortion clinic during the week. They shout scripture at people and just generally stir things up. This alone is problematic when you live in a small town, but then the leader of this group videos himself interacting with pastors, and posts them to his Facebook page. He videos himself before and after these incidents and posts them as well. This has been going on for almost a year. I know these people personally, and knew that they were going to churches. I had a hard time getting my brain around it.
Three weeks ago, I was out of town. This group was coming to my church this time. I knew them and what kind of signs they like to bring, so I asked that my in-laws not bring my children to service. My 3 year old doesn’t need to see dismembered babies, and neither does my 9 year old that gets night terrors. There is so much more to this story, but I’m not going to play the game of explaining how they got there or what happened to get to that moment. That’s not what this blog is about today. What I want to tell you is how this shook my faith. The aftermath of their “good works,” was not good. Children were crying in service and Sunday school after seeing the signs at the entrances. Children were afraid. People were angry. A war broke out on the church’s Facebook page. (very stupid, but it happened) People left the church. Everyone was angry and hurt. There was a misunderstanding that caused an angry outburst. It was just a nightmare.
Here is where I struggle…..My husband is not a believer. We watched this go down and have been watching it for a while since these families are also part of our homeschool community. Jeff and I watched the videos that this group posts and read the written posts. They are filled with self righteousness, pride, and arrogance. Many of the posts and memes are filled with hate and disdain. Their group has a tract they pass out that reminds me of when I was waiting tables. On Sundays I would wait on a large table of people who just came from church. They would be rude, run me around, not tip well, and then leave their “gospel” tract very similar to the one I saw online from this group. I would read it, share it with the other staff, we would laugh about going to hell, and then toss it. Why on earth would I want to be part of something that treats people so poorly? They didn’t live their faith, they just beat people with it. Yelling scripture at me or my husband would not have converted us to Christianity. Watching this group and what they are doing reminded me of the Westboro Baptists. Both Jeff and I see no difference in these two groups. They are no different than the pastors that came out after the Orlando shooting and said gays deserved it. I went for several weeks questioning why I’m a Christian. If the Bible is such a hateful book, why would I want to be a part of it? My atheist husband is more loving, kind, and helpful than all of these “Christians” put together. I continued to pray, even though I wanted to stop. I just didn’t want anything to do with the same God that these hateful people worship.
Then I reminded myself that Jesus would not have been shouting old testament at the women as they went into or came out of the clinic. He would have held them after they made that horrible choice, let them cry, forgive them and tell them to sin no more. He would have met them quietly and reminded them they are just as important as the sparrows and will be provided for along with their child. He would have comforted the broken and wounded in Orlando and told them to go and sin no more. That is the Jesus I serve, that is the God I serve.
The God I follow is the same as the Chik-fil-a in Orlando that fed the people on cleanup and in line to give blood after the horrific terrorist attack. The God I follow is the same as Mercury One that shows up in disasters and cleans and distributes food. The God I follow is the same as the Open Door Pregnancy Center that guides women through unplanned pregnancies and welcomes their new babies with joy. The God I serve is the same as the millions of Christians getting up everyday and living their lives in a way that makes their neighbor think, “What does he have that I don’t? I want that joy.” Last week in Sunday school a man said, “If more Christians lived their lives Christlike, the hateful Christians would be dismissed. Because people would say I know Christians, and they aren’t like that.” Isn’t that the truth?
My crisis of faith is over. My faith isn’t strong yet, I won’t lie about that. I still question and wonder. Where I have been strengthened is in my resolve to distance myself from those that bring discord, those that bring self righteousness bathed in scripture. My world has no room for that. I’m not able to battle them scripture for scripture, and I won’t. What I can do, and will do, is live my life to bring Glory to God. Each day is a struggle to do the right thing. I want to complain, to be lazy, to hate stupid people, to yell at my kids, to argue on Facebook, to make snarky comments, to stay home Sunday morning, to sleep in, to put all my kids on a bus in the fall and go to the spa….(ok, maybe not that one). You get the point. I’m not perfect, I don’t claim to be. I’m not saying that each person doesn’t have the right to live their faith the way they see fit, as of today, you do. (see Westboro Baptists) I will fight until I can’t for you to keep that right, however, I choose to live my faith personally. I choose to grow my relationship with God and my family and my church. In that growth, in my walk, my hope is that my children will follow. My hope is that they will turn around and live a life bringing quiet Glory to God. If every family was involved in that, think about what a beautiful place this would be.