Saturday, May 26, 2012

On Being Weird and Strange

Not too long ago, I learned from a former in-law that a member of my immediate family had talked about me with this former in-law and had used the words "weird and strange" to describe me, explaining why my family member limited contact with me. Now, I know I'm unusual, but then again, every single person on this planet has some unusual qualities or traits. I, myself, have even used the terms "weird and strange" when describing myself. But, the way my family member used these descriptors was in a negative sense.

Learning this information some 15 years later was both revelatory and hurtful. It explained so much the erratic nature of my relationship with this family member, but it was quite painful to hear that she felt that way about me, and because of that she limited her involvement with me, and even tempered her love and affection.

I realize I can be abrasive, and even at times I can seem almost alien. I have my opinions and views, just like anyone else, and just because they don't mesh with those of another person, especially a loved one, that shouldn't preclude having a good relationship with them. Just like every other human being on the planet, I'm not perfect. I make mistakes, I inadvertently hurt those I love the most and I'm even callous and insensitive at times. Yet, I never intentionally set out to hurt or alienate anyone, especially my family. The one thing that is most important to me on this planet is family. Maybe because I've never felt truly a part of one.

Unfortunately, I'm not able to speak with this family member about her opinion of me, but if I could, I would tell her that I sometimes think of her as strange and weird, as well, though I never cut her out of my life, and heart, because of it. I simply counted it as part of who she was; part of what made her her.

I've changed quite a bit over the past 25 years. I am not the man I was when I began the journey to become a better man. Have I completely succeeded in being all that I can be? No. But I continue to strive for that goal even though I know I may never reach it. I will continue to be "strange and weird" in the eyes of many, but that's just part of being me, just as it is with everyone else.

Sudden Loss of Relationships

Like other people on the planet, I have a history. In my personal history I have come to realize that I have lost contact with others suddenly and inextricably. These people simply stopped speaking to me; they refuse to answer or return my phone calls, eMails or text messages. Recently a relative blocked me from her facebook page. In a few of those instances, I am aware that I said or did something that could explain the sudden cessation of conversation and interaction, but in others, I have no idea why the other person suddenly stopped speaking to me.

I have also cut off communication with other people during my lifetime. However, I've never just suddenly stopped speaking to those people, I've always let them know, in some form, why it was that I was severing contact with them. I find it to be better if I am courteous and responsible by letting them know what it is they've done or said that caused me to no longer want to have interaction with them, while I desire the same respect and consideration from others.

In almost every instance of someone suddenly ceasing to communicate with me, I have left voicemails, eMails or sent letters asking them to please let me know what it was that I did to cause them to suddenly cease communications, yet in nearly every instance, my request for information was ignored. I simply cannot understand why someone would cease communication without letting the other person know why. Especially when the offender asks to know so they can avoid that situation in the future.

I've also asked, no I've begged, forgiveness from those people even though I've no idea what it is I'm asking to be forgiven for. To say I feel extremely offended by their refusal to tell me what I did would be understatement, but the idea of forgiveness being sought and rejected is even further outside my realm of understanding.

Maybe one day I'll learn what it is about me that causes people to just walk out of my life with no explanation. After all, it's been happening to me since I was a mere four years old, so I really should be close to knowing what it is.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Let He Who Is Without Sin Cast The First Stone

"Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." Those were the words of Jesus recorded in John's gospel, 8th chapter. We all know the story, the scribes and pharisees brought a woman they had caught in the very act of adultery, they demanded Jesus answer to the command of the law which said she should be stoned to death. Ironically, even though they caught this woman in the very act of adultery, which means they found her and a man who was not her husband in the act of sex, they brought only the woman to be condemned to death when the scripture is plain and clear that BOTH the man and woman should be put to death. The scripture they cite to justify her death is Leviticus 20:10, and is repeated in Deuteronomy 22:22. Yet, the scribes and Pharisees, just like the people of today, were selective about the punishment and chose to only condemn the woman in this case. There are many instances in Leviticus (the Law of Moses) where death is proscribed for sin. Many actions which today we consider to be of no consequence were given the death penalty or being completely cut off from the people. Anyone who cursed his father or mother was to be put to death. If that sanction were applied today, more than ¾ of the population would have to be killed. If a couple engaged in intimacy during a woman's monthly flow, they were both to be cut off from the people, another way of saying put to death. It didn't matter if the couple were married or not, if they engaged in relations during her cycle, they were to be killed. The beauty of Christ's life, death and resurrection is that we are no longer under the law, but under grace. As the Bible states in New Testament scripture, the law did not pass away, it was merely fulfilled in the death and resurrection of the Messiah. Each and every person on this planet who is a Christian revels in that grace and the mercy that God has shown to them for their sin. Yet so many of us refuse to extend that grace and mercy to anyone else. Just as the scribes and Pharisees of John chapter 8, we want to impose the harshest penalty available against every other person for the most minor of infractions, while we want to be pardoned for the most major infractions that we commit. Each and every one of us have our own point of view, opinion and belief about everything. We all believe that our point of view/opinion/belief is the right one and every person who doesn't agree with us is wrong. Sadly, both sides of every issue can also use Scripture to justify their stand. How is this possible? I do not have all the answers. I don't even have a few of the answers. What I do have is the belief/opinion/point of view that the Bible tells me that A: my battle is not against flesh and blood but against principalities of the air and the powers of darkness. Some use that to justify their attacks against those who disagree with them politically or religiously, however. B: that my home is not this physical, earthly kingdom. My home is the eternal heaven in which God reigns. And C: that I am not the judge for anyone or anything that occurs in this life with or by other people. Jesus is the only One who can judge others. Jesus told us that we cannot see into the heart of another person therefore we cannot stand in judgment of them. Is what someone else does a sin? There are some cases where we can say that something is a sin. But, there are some things that may be a sin for me but not for you. It's a very complicated thing to be a human being born into the kingdom of Christ. We see through a veil, darkly, as Paul stated. In other words, we do not see everything, we don't have all the information needed to make judgments. Some people say the old adage, "live and let live" is heresy. Is it? Considering there are numerous instances in the Scripture that tell us to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, to stop trying to remove a speck from our brother's eye while we have a plank in our own and that we are admonished to not be "busybodies" (Paul's word, not mine), I think the adage is appropriate. Many of the ones who scream about this or that or the other issue, whichever side they're on, would do well to think about the things in their own life they wouldn't want anyone to judge them on. Just saying!