Saturday, April 5, 2014

On Being "Weird and Strange"

When I first learned that a member of my family, whose acceptance and approval I had long sought, had called me weird and strange, I was completely crushed and deeply hurt. Of course, learning that I had been labeled as such explained a lot of the problems I had encountered in trying to maintain that relationship. For a long while, though, I let it consume me that I had been been labeled as such. I had all the normal questions of why and so forth.

But, the truth of the matter is, I AM weird and strange! Always have been, always will be. And much of that is due to the facts and the experiences of my entire life; most of which I had no control over. I had no input on being ripped from my Mother's breast at the age of four. I had no input on not seeing my Mother, my oldest brother and older sister for more than nine years. I had no input on my Dad's third wife raising me for exactly nine years (to the day) or of her leaving me to be shuffled from one relative to another during my teen years. And I most definitely had no input on my father using me as a punching bag whenever he got frustrated with his own life or his trying to kill me when I was 17 and just six weeks away from high school graduation.

I did, however, have complete input on my actions from the time I was 18. I made many, many mistakes in the last two years of my teens and in my 20's. Made quite a few in my 30's and 40's, as well, and I will make more in my 50's; but one of the best decisions I made in my late 20's was to enter therapy, because psychotherapy helped me go back through many of those experiences of my youth that I had no control over and deal with the pain they caused, which I had locked up and walked away from. I hadn't realized back then that I NEEDED to go through that pain in order to come out the other side of it whole and intact. I didn't realize how badly I needed to work through it in order to survive. And I most definitely did not understand that by locking the pain away and not dealing with it did not mean I wouldn't still experience the damage it had caused. The only way to undo the damage and successfully move forward was to deal with it, and that's what psychotherapy helped me do.

And I came to realize that I had allowed being called weird and strange to own me. I allowed it to bother me to the point of reliving the hurt and the pain all over again from the failures of that relationship, some of which were mine and some of which weren't. But today I own being weird and strange. I'm proud of my weirdness and strangeness! It's part of who I am. It's not ALL of who I am, but it is definitely a part of me. We are all the mere sum of all our past experiences, decisions and actions. To go back and change any one of those experiences, decisions or actions would completely change the person I am today, and I like who I am today. Am I perfect? Do I find nothing about myself that needs work or changing? No! Just like every other living person on this planet, there are things about myself I don't care for and that I need to work on and change, but overall, I'm happy with who I am, today. Especially looking back at all the things I've been through and survived. Most notably those things I put myself through.

I wish I could let the person who called me weird and strange know that I'm not the person I was when those labels were spoken aloud the first time. I wish I could let those who have chosen to not be a part of my life, or rather have decided I can't be a part of theirs, know that I'm not who I was. I am changed! Some of those changes were at my own hand, but most of the change came from truly, totally and completely giving my life over to God. You see, I couldn't have made some of those changes He made in me! And while I had surrendered my life to Him many years ago, I never truly, totally and completely gave myself over to Him until about 10 years ago. I tried to hold on to certain parts, as if somehow I was better able to deal with those parts. As if God wouldn't want those parts. It wasn't until I was told by my Grandmama that God had made me and God doesn't make mistakes and I needed to accept myself for whom He created that I was finally able to release all of myself into His hands. And when I did, I found complete and utter peace. I discovered, then, what peace that passes all understanding truly meant!

So yeah, I am strange. I am weird. And I'm okay with that!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

My Declaration

I am a Christian! I'm a Christian in my walk and behavior, not just a Christian in name only. I'm not a Christian because I say I'm a Christian, I'm a Christian because of the way I live my life. By my attitudes and behaviors toward others. I will state my beliefs and my faith, but I will never try to force anyone to believe the way I do. I will not try to make others have the faith that I have. I refuse to use the Bible to beat people over the head. No one has ever become a Christian because someone beat them up with the Word of God. None have ever truly given their heart to Christ because someone preached how much God hated them, or their sin. In fact, every Christian I've ever known to be recently saved talked about the LOVE they felt when they gave their life to Christ. The love in the church they were in, or the fellowship they were at when they made that decision. Never have I once heard someone talk about getting saved because the preacher, or the Christian who led them to Christ, were screaming at them about their sin or calling down death and destruction on them. To be quite blunt, you cannot scare the hell out of the lost; you have to LOVE the hell out of them.

I know many who disagree with me, and that's fine. They're entitled to their opinions and their beliefs. And it's not my place to say whether those opinions and beliefs are wrong or not, because I am not the Judge. I can only live my life according the way I understand the scripture. And, I can honestly say that over the past 29 years I have read the same scripture at different times and gotten something completely different from it when I was an older, more mature Christian than I did when I was a newborn Christian. Why is that? Because a baby doesn't understand the way an adult does. And, as our walk matures, Holy Spirit will reveal things to us that we couldn't accept or understand at an earlier time. But the one thing we must all understand is this: Jesus Christ is, was and always will be the ONLY JUDGE. I'm an imperfect creature, therefore I have no ability or right to try to judge another. Christ, being the perfection of man and the incarnate God is the only One who is worthy and justifiably able to judge, because only He can see the heart, and it's the heart that will be judged. Our motives and attitudes toward God, others and even ourselves are what we will be judged by.

So, I will live my life according the understanding I have of the Bible. I will make mistakes and I will miss the mark, but I will keep getting back up when I fall and keep pressing toward the mark. In the meantime, I will remember that it is my actions and my heart that are most important, because my words will never make much of a difference if they're not in line with what I'm living.