Maybe I was Brainwashed

I’m pretty sure I grew up in a bubble.  Most of us probably grew up in a bubble.  Up until high school, I only knew Christian people.  I went to Christian camp.  I went to Christian school.  I had friends from church.  Even the after school program I went to was Lutheran.
I was told that “non believer” friends would cause me to “stumble.”  And then, when I got older, I was told to bring those same people to church, but they couldn’t be my friends unless they were Christian.  How was I supposed to bring someone to church without first befriending them.
The Seventh Day Adventist private school I attended for most of my life told me that eating things like pig, or catfish, or any other “bottom feeder” was basically sinful and that it would make me an unhealthy person.  To this day I can’t stomach some of these foods if I’m aware of what I’m eating, even if they taste good, are made right, raised right, and are something I want to eat.
In high school, where a lot of people are discovering who they are and they’re sexuality, I was told that gay was not okay and that abortion was murder.  And I had gay friends that would come to church with me.  I used to be so sad because I was told they weren’t going to go to heaven, all because of who they loved.  If someone felt that they were born the wrong gender, they had to be wrong, or sick, or have some sort of hidden sin in their life, because God doesn’t make mistakes.  Yes, we are God’s creation, but I think a lot of Christians forget that our world is broken, so someone being born the wrong gender isn’t necessarily a God thing or a sin thing, its more of a fallen world thing.  God is in control, but he gave over the reigns a long time ago.

In Acts, God spoke to Peter and told him to not call anything unclean or impure what he has made clean.  Didn’t Christ abolish the law?  So why are we still so legalistic?  We don’t “get to heaven” by following a bunch of rules.  It’s not even really about being  a good person.  But I think if we started seeing everyone as created, seeing everyone as having a purpose, seeing everyone as worthy, maybe some of the hurt in this world would end.

By the way, bacon is awesome, gay is okay, I won’t invite you to church because I don’t have one locally, and I will listen with an open mind and open heart if you need to talk about abortion.

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Truth and Lies

When I was fourteen I got a phone call from my mother after school asking why I was telling rumors about Jessicah.  For most of my freshman year of high school, Jessicah had been my best friend.  I don’t remember exactly why Jessicah had turned on me, but I do remember she and a few other girls who rode my bus had started to make my life very difficult in certain spaces.  Anyway, Jessicah had told a close friend of my mother’s that I was spreading a rumor around that Jessicah had put razor blades in my backpack.  When my mother called me to ask me about it, I had no idea what she was talking about.  I didn’t even yet know about this rumor that I was apparently spreading.  Also, why in the world would it even occur to me to make up a lie like that.  I hadn’t even found any razor blades in my backpack.  That wasn’t even a thought that had come into my head.

The next morning before school, I was digging through my backpack looking for a book or something, and at the bottom I found a plastic container with razor blades in it.  I think they were replacements for exacto knives or something.  How did they get there?  Oh right, obviously Jessicah had put them there, expecting me to find them sooner.  So she started a rumor that was actually true.  But I never told anyone that Jessicah put razor blades in my backpack.  Not until after I found them.  And I got the school involved.  I got the “authorities” involved.

She was putting razor blades in my backpack because I was and “emo” girl.  We all had our “emo” fazes.  And everything else that comes with that doesn’t even matter anymore, because that was more than 10 years ago.  We are grown up now.  Adults don’t make up stupid rumors about each other out of malice or embarrassment.  We put the past behind us a long time ago.

Last year I worked for a local food delivery company called Shoals Takeout to bring in some extra money.  For the most part the job was really fun.  I got to drive my own car and listen to podcasts.  We worked for tips.  But none of or mileage was reimbursed, and since I don’t know the laws, I wasn’t aware that that’s technically illegal.

I left that job in December.  There was too much going on in my life.  Trying to work a second job when your main job is Starbucks during the holidays is almost suicide.  I was constantly stressed out.  I was tired.  I was depressed.  I was scheduled more than I had originally agreed.  And there was very little help when customers refused to tip or were unreachable.  But none of that matters now, because the past is in the past.

Right before I went to Europe with my dad last year, I went to do my cash drop in the Shoals Takeout office before I went to work at Starbucks.  We had to do our cash drops on our own time, but the office was only open certain hours.  I worked two jobs, so I didn’t often have free time to do my cash drop during those open hours.  I was leaving for Europe the next day and I had 45 minutes until I had to be at Starbucks, and I knew the office was open.  I walked in the owner yelled at me, because the time I chose during their open hours, the only time I had to do my cash drop and give them their money, because I was leaving for Europe, just happened to inconvenience her.  Even though I didn’t even say anything or need anything from her.  I should have just quit then and kept the money, but I would have felt too guilty.  Because I’m a nice person.  Fairly.

So, like I said, I finally turned in my 2 weeks notice in December.  Every time I went into the office they weren’t in the office, so I had to send my notice via Groupme, which wouldn’t have been my first choice.  However, since that was the way I was forced to do it, I have proof that I left that job by my own accord, in a peaceful manor.

Last week Bobby and I went to trivia and saw one of our former coworkers.  We discussed a lot of things and generally had a good time.  But we also talked about frustrations with our former workplace, and questioned whether we would be reimbursed for all our mileage, since we had heard that another employee was getting his backlogged mileage reimbursed.  However, he was still with the company, while we were gone by that time.  I’m not fighting for it, but it’s still a conversation we’re bound to have when we’re together.  But I also found out something else.  Apparently, even though I gave my notice when I left, Shoals Takeout has been telling people that they fired me.  I guess they were embarrassed to have lost too many good employees.  It is pretty embarrassing, when you think about it.  You have a great company idea but no people skills, so everyone quits because you’re rude to them.  Maybe I’d make up lies too.  Except I like to think that I’d be a better person.

I thought we had left childish rumors behind in high school.  I thought southern people were supposed to be raised with better morals.  I thought parents were supposed to be more mature.  I thought a lot of things.  But I’m not always right.  I can be mean too.  I’ve never been fired from a job.  But I can fire some shots.  I can rant on twitter.  I can be a child too.

Grad School, Mother’s Day, and Road Trips

I’ve been on a hiatus for longer than I ever have been.  I haven’t written.  I haven’t posted.  I feel like I haven’t existed much at all.

I got into grad school.  I’m supposed to start in the fall.  But I have to register.  And in order to register I have to figure out my financial aid stuff.  I feel like I’ve gone back in time.  I should know how to do all of this, but I don’t even remember how I did it the first time around.  I’m pretty sure my mom did it all for me.  But I don’t have her to help me this time around.  And I know I can do it.  That doesn’t make me any less afraid.

Last month was Mother’s Day.  It was my second Mother’s Day without a mother.  I wanted to not focus on it being a holiday at all.  So Bobby and I went to visit someone who I had been wanting to visit for quite some time.  We went up to Nashville and had lunch and exploring with JJ Peterson, who was the Dean of Students for three years of my college career.  JJ is one of the funniest, freest people that I have ever known.  He’s deep and real and inspiring.  We had hot chicken.  Bobby got to see a different side of my life.

A week and a half ago Bobby and I returned from a nine day road trip.  We went to Mule Days in my home town in California.  We visited my dad and my home and I wish we never had to leave.  I miss living out west.  I miss the dry air.
We stopped in Flagstaff, Arizona, and we’re pretty sure we found where we want to end up some day.  I dove into a big blue hole in Santa Rosa, New Mexico.  We found the infamous Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas.
I’ve always loved road trips.  But I love them even more with Bobby.  I love having a forever person like him.
We don’t have it all figured out.  But I’m thankful that we get to figure it out together.

When I was home a lot of people asked if I’m still writing.  I felt like I’d let everyone down when I said no.  And I don’t even have an answer for why I stopped.  Have I forgotten who I am?  Have I forgotten everything?  Or have I just disappeared a little bit.  I can’t make myself be more inspired.  But I can learned to be disciplined again.  I can learn who I am again.

I’m not making any promises though.  I’ll try to ramble less.  Or maybe I’ll just try.

Use Your Words… Or Don’t

I don’t really care what you believe about anything, words have power.

I was just listening to a Lore podcast about Romani curses.  The Romani people would hold trials when something was stolen or some other crime had been committed.  In these trials they would will their community to confess to the crime, and if no one confessed, they would curse the perpetrator to an agonizing death as a group.  Then the trial would be over and things would go back to normal.  But Romani curses aren’t real because of any kind of black magic.  They’re not real in a physical sense at all.  Rather, they’re real because thinking makes it so.  It’s the power of the mind.  A Romani person could curse you by telling you your life will be hard and your death will be painful.  And it would probably come true, not because the Romani were prophetic, but because you’d probably spend the rest of your life worrying about the curse, thus your life would probably be hard.  And your death would probably be painful because you had spent your whole life worrying about your death.  Your mind gave these words power.  Thinking made it so.

I work with someone who doesn’t believe in encouragement, and only believes in belittlement.  No one could ever measure up or be good at their job.  So it’s best to make sure they know that you believe that.  Call them stupid and slow.  Because that’s sure to make them work better and faster.  “Don’t applaud a fish for swimming.”
I had to take a class on leadership for my degree.  We learned about so many leadership styles.  But as an exhorter, I believe the best way to lead is to come alongside and grow with someone.  Lead by being a part, rather than sitting above.  Encourage and help, instead of getting upset because a mistake was made.  Build up, rather than diminish.
I’ve felt very discouraged lately.  Because although those under my leadership believe that I’m doing a good job; although I know that I am doing a good job, my equals still don’t see me as equal.  It makes me want to move on.  It makes me want to give up.  It makes me want to quit.  It can always be better.  And I’ve believed for a long time now that if you don’t like something, change it.

Have you ever heard a lot about someone before you’ve ever met them?  So you go into the relationship with preconceived notions of what everyone has already told you?  I went to college with a girl that I had heard about for most of the summer before.  So I met her believing several negative things about her.  I knew her to be annoying before we ever spoke.  I believed she was something that she isn’t because of the words others had spoken.  But that girl became one of my best friends.  Words have power.  Until they don’t.

We should talk about each other less.  We should build each other up more.  We should be more careful.  We shouldn’t believe that we have to be careful.
I spend so much time afraid that I’ve messed up, that I’ve ruined everything, that I forget how to love myself.  I forget how to love others.  I forget how to be happy.  I don’t want to forget anymore.

I Thought We Were Done

I’ve disappeared a little.  At least I feel that I have.  Sinking into the floor.  Sinking into my work.  Sinking into a life that I’m barely living.  So I think I’m ready to be done with this.

Next month I have an interview to get into grad school.  I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts lately and I realized that I really love stories.  Maybe that’s why I thought I would be a writer.  I’m not a writer.  Not anymore.  But I’m going to get my masters in counseling.  I can hear stories.  I can walk through stories with someone else, because I’ve learned that it’s really hard to walk through a hard story by yourself.

I’m looking for a house to move into next month.  My lease is up and I’m so ready to be done with the roommate life.  My things keep breaking or going missing.  Kind of like my heart.

My car is in the shop again.  For the same problem as before.  Because the mechanics missed something.  I’m learning that it’s better to go for quality over price, and even though I’m poor, I’m going back to taking my car to the dealer, just like I used to.

I don’t want life to be hard anymore.  I don’t want simple things to seem impossible.  I’m completely over this pointless depression.  I thought we were done with this a long time ago.

Because We Have to Prove We’re Right

Social media causes almost as much division as it does connectedness.  Maybe it causes more the more you’re on it.  Because I have a lot of “friends” on facebook who I really get along with in person, or I did at the time in my life when I knew them, but whenever they post their views online, they do it in a manner to tear one another down.  Today I saw a post by a “friend” that pointed out a bunch of “failures” that he is blaming solely on the democratic party, and basically said that you’re stupid if you’re a democrat because of this.  With that logic we could say the same about republicans, since our republican president seems to have just as many failures and scandals as the democratic party, uses twitter as his main source of communication, and had a “whose button is bigger” contest with the leader of North Korea.  So maybe you’re stupid if you’re a republican?

Or maybe not.  I’m neither a republican nor a democrat, my opinions live somewhere in between.  Both parties have serious downfalls, and both have good parts as well.  But calling someone out because of their political affiliation is about as annoying as not liking someone because they’re gay, or making comments about women belonging on the kitchen.

I’m just wondering why people feel the need to post about their opinions in a corrosive manner.  You can have whatever opinions you want.  You can even share these opinions, because that seems to be what social media has become about.  But putting down someone else whilst sharing this opinion just because you can?  What’s the point?  Oh right, it’s to be mean.  I think people are just too mean.  And I think I’m noticing it too much.

What really gets me is that that majority of these people, at least on my feed, are outspoken Christians.  And I thought Christ told his people to go out and make disciples. I thought we were supposed to multiply, not divide.

It’s probably because we all like to believe that we’re right.  And some of us have to prove that we’re right.   Even though not everyone cares.  And the thing that we think we’re “right” about the most is an opinion, and usually, opinions aren’t inherently right or wrong.  They’re not facts.  They have sides.

And I’m probably perpetuating the crises by writing this anyway.

Rant.  Over.

About Church

One thing that I realized last week is that I’ve always gone to church because I’ve always had connection there.

I grew up going to church because my parents took me to church every Sunday.  And I went to youth group because my friends went and I liked it and I felt like I was learning things.  I felt a connection to the living God.

When I was in college I went to church because I had to be serving in church at least two times a month for my degree.  You didn’t have a choice to opt out if you were in Bible college.  But I got to know my pastors.  And I enjoyed being a volunteer, even if it wasn’t the fun jobs that I was doing.  I liked the connection.  I liked the family that I had there.

After college, I moved to Mammoth and I started re-attending the Lighthouse, and I found real family.  But I first knew about the Lighthouse because I would visit with my brother all the time growing up and when I visited during college.  I had friends there.  I felt community there.  And I connected with God there.

I’m just wondering how to get that community and connection back.  I’m wondering where it is here.  When I first moved to Florence I immediately started attending a church, but my only friends in Florence were a part of this church.   After being there for more than a year, I felt less connected than when I first moved.  My newness wore off and it kinda seemed like I wasn’t good enough to be connected.  I wasn’t good enough to be involved.  None of the original connections I had there include me anymore.  Unless they see me in public.  Then they complain that we never hang out, but I can’t remember the last time I actually got an invitation to do anything.
I got a text from the pastor saying he missed hanging out with Bobby and I.  I said he could ask us to hang out any time, but I never got a response.

I feel like church is something that I’ve had forced into my life for so long that I’m not sure what is real and what is fake.  I miss community and I miss connection, but it has to be genuine.  It cannot be forced.  I’ve visited other churches, churches with small groups, but I don’t necessarily agree with their theology.

I’ve felt a little lost lately.  I don’t like feeling lost.  So I might be breaking up with church for a while.  I can pursue my relationship with God and learn what I need, because I’m obviously not going to find what I’m craving.

Sorry I complain so much.  Sorry I’m not elite.