Tag Archives: Jesus

My Thoughts On Life and a Plug For a Friend

I was reading a devotional book this morning from a pastor friend of mine who has bipolar disorder when something really caught my eye.

The book was Delight In Disorder-Ministry, Madness, Mission by Tony Roberts. Here’s a really cool website about the book and its author: http://awaywithwordsforyou.com/#

Here are some other quotes from his book: http://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/40808173-delight-in-disorder-ministry-madness-mission.

Anyway, I was reading one of the devotionals where he talks about his experiences with suicide attempts. In one of them, he says that he felt a strange blend of “both shame and gratitude”-gratitude that his attempt to kill himself didn’t work, but shame that he’d tried it to begin with.

Although I am doing well now, I can relate to him. I myself have never actually tried to commit suicide, but there were times in my life-both as a teenager and as an adult-where I wondered if my life was really worth living. At one point I thought that it would be easier on everyone else if I had died in the accident I got into in 2005-my husband wouldn’t had to go through all of our savings to pay for my medical bills and equipment; we wouldn’t have had to struggle so much financially because of the loss of my (meager) income; I had a lot of other medical bills later on down the line because of some health conditions the doctors couldn’t figure out…do you see a theme here? Yes, I know it’s not about the money, but as someone who’s struggled to the point of having to file bankruptcy because of credit card debt, I know how stressful money problems can be and how it can infect every other area of your life.

I remember saying something about these feelings in 2007 and got a very bad reaction-I was accused of being an attention whore because I was mad that someone else was the center of attention in the group instead of me. Let me pause by telling you one thing: Probably the worst thing you can do to a suicidal friend is accuse them of something like this. They already feel worthless and unwanted; screaming at them and calling them names will only confirm this. It’s one thing if it’s a boyfriend threatening to hurt himself if you break up with him, but another thing altogether when your friend has a known problem that has a tendency to flare up. The people who said this knew I was having problems and, while something much more serious than this had just happened to one of our friends, anyone who knows me at all knows that I would never threaten suicide to get attention. Never. Plus, if I really wanted attention, I’m sure I could find a much more interesting way to get it. Damn, at least give me some credit.

Anyway, about the feelings…a lot of them probably came because my bipolar medication wasn’t working along with/because of the other health problems I’d been having, but a lot of it was feeling worthless because I couldn’t *be* anything-I couldn’t be a mom because of some, um, physical problems the accident caused, nor could I be a career woman like I wanted to be. I’d tried to be several times, but the mental stuff always got in the way. I did not always have these problems; bipolar often sets on in early adulthood, so it’s possible to go through school and set all these goals early on and then not be able to reach them. Ditto my ADHD. I know I talk about this a lot-probably too much. It’s not who I am. It may not run my life, but it definitely has had effects other bloggers can relate to. That’s how I found most of my follow list; they wrote a post I came across on another site and vice versa. They have it much rougher than I do, so my stuff is small potatoes.

A lot of the time you don’t feel depressed so much as numb. You want to reach out to others, but you just can’t find the energy. That’s how it’s been with me for a while now.  Like a friend once said, you’re not depressed so much as bored. That’s one reason you stay in your hidey-hole and don’t talk to people-nothing interesting is going on and you don’t want to drag your friends down. You don’t speak because you don’t have anything to say. It’s not hard to get confused.

You know what’s interesting? I think I always knew I wouldn’t do it…that I always knew that there was always life, that there was a light at the end of the tunnel-I just hadn’t seen it yet. I think I knew that Jesus was still there, I just couldn’t feel Him. It’s weird how I have to remind myself that His existence and care for us is not contingent on our ability to feel Him. I’m happy for people who feel His presence a lot and I certainly have too, but I don’t want to base my entire belief or spiritual “system” on this kind of emotion the way I did before. Sometimes it feels as though I don’t seek Him because I don’t think to the way other people do, but it doesn’t matter because I know He’s always there.

My brain and I are both doing very well now, so there’s no need to be alarmed. All of this happened a long time ago, but reading the devotional made me think about it. Thanks for listening to me ramble on like a freak. Have a good day!

Why I’m *Really* Going to Hell (Or So I’m Told)

(I’m re-publishing this because I added an item. Hope you like it.)

Last year, I wrote a post joking about going to Hell based on a discussion thread I posted on Beliefnet.com. It was meant to lighten the mood on a normally-heavy debate board. It was mostly successful, but there were several people who didn’t appreciate my sense of humor and implied that God wouldn’t either; I *am* in the Bible Belt, after all. After reading a few responses, I figured I’d better write a something a bit more serious. According to some people, here are the reasons I’m going to Hell.

Having the wrong political views.

But Here’s 5 Reasons Why American Evangelicalism Completely Lost Me

I’m citing this post by Benjamin Corey because item #1 speaks directly to what I’ve experienced. The person I dated before my husband was a deeply conservative Christian. It ended for a lot of reasons, but I’m mentioning this because being with him got me sucked into the Evangelical culture and politics Corey mentions. It’s very disturbing how some people would judge your faith by whether or not you supported the Bush administration and/or the Republican party. It wasn’t as creepy as the movie Jesus Camp, but it still felt weird. As a then-Democrat, I learned very quickly to keep my mouth shut lest I be accused of “helping the Devil” or something like that. I can’t explain it any better than Corey does, but what got to me the most was that there really was a time when I thought God had abandoned me because of my beliefs. Before you scoff, consider that few things make you feel farther from God than the depression that comes along with untreated bipolar disorder. Why was it untreated, you ask? Well….

Seeing secular medical treatment. It wasn’t getting medical treatment that was the problem so much as the “lack of faith” that prompted me to seek said treatment instead of relying on God to heal me. In “Prosperity Gospel” circles (more on why it’s BS in another post), that can mean anything from having somehow lost my way to (gasp!) not being a Real Christian at all. The fact that I had gone back on medication after having tried the “supernatural healing” approach made it even worse because it was thought that I got sick again because I lost faith and God had taken away the healing. How this made sense to anyone I’ll never know, but it’s thoughts like this that can make someone already suffering from depression or something like it feel even worse. If even God doesn’t love you, you must be a piece of crap, right? I actually began to wonder if the “diagnoses” of me having an unclean spirit that needed to be cast out were true after all. Again, scoff all you want; When you feel like something else is inside of you controlling your thoughts and actions the way you would in “mixed state”, you’d believe it too.

Strangely enough, I never *did* lose faith. I still believed and sought God throughout all of this. Take that!

Blaspheming the Holy Spirit. Despite the fact that it comes right from the source , I haven’t heard this one as often as the others. The only reason I’m mentioning it is because no one can tell me what this actually *means*. Was it laughing when I saw, “I found Jesus-He was behind the couch” on a T-shirt? Was it playing Cards Against Humanity and giggling at some of the less-disrespectful cards? Some of them *do* mention God or Jesus. When I see a really rude one I’ll say “that’s just wrong” or “that’s sacrilegious”, but I don’t bow out of the game. Was it when I used to play with Ouija boards as a teenager? I won’t touch the damned things now; they creep me out. Was it when a boyfriend started exploring Paganism in college? When a Catholic one stopped going to confession? He said he’d been made to do the “church thing” growing up and was enjoying the freedom. Was it when my friend told God to “shove it” when her husband died shortly after their son was born?

The definition that makes the most sense to me is, strangely again, not the one I hear most often. The way my former Southern Baptist church explained it to me was that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is an ongoing, willful rejection of God. It’s not something you do out of anger or youthful ignorance, nor is it related to your choice of entertainment; that’s another matter altogether. It was also said that it’s not something a Christian can do because, if someone is willing to completely deny Jesus, they probably weren’t saved to begin with. If you’re asking this question, you probably haven’t committed this sin because if you had, you wouldn’t care.

As for the aforementioned Catholic, he never left the church; as much as he liked sleeping in on Sunday, he realized pretty quickly that nothing can take the place of Jesus. I wonder if this minor “straying” was a way of showing him that.

I’m happy for my brother. Before you say “huh?”, let me explain. My brother and his now-husband live in a state (Hawaii) that, after years of debate, finally allows same-sex marriage. They have been together for nearly 35 years but, because of their genders, somehow their relationship is less “real” and worthy of celebration than celebrities who ask for divorce via text message or leave after six months because the “honeymoon phase” is over and it’s not fun anymore.

Some in the more conservative circles would say that homosexuality is an “abomination” and that, by being happy for my brother, I’m somehow “condoning sin” or, worse, participating in it. I think this is ridiculous because even if I did believe homosexuality was a “choice”-and the hell my gay friends went through in trying to “make themselves straight” tells me it’s not-, I’m happy that someone I care about is happy. Period. It would be one thing if this happiness hurt someone else, but it doesn’t. It’s just there for him, his husband and everyone they love to share in. I don’t see anything wrong with that.

I’m a feminist of sorts. I think women are equal to men and should be treated as such. I don’t see why this is a big deal.

Not trying to convert everyone I meet. I’ve had friends of other faiths (or none at all) for a long time. This isn’t a problem for most Evangelicals, but I heard some pretty nasty comments about how I needed to “convert” certain people so they won’t go to Hell. I see two things wrong with this view: 1) I was under the impression that it was the Holy Spirit who converted people, I was just the messenger, and b) I know from experience that the harder you push something on someone, the more likely they are to push back. Harder. That doesn’t mean you can’t talk about your faith; in fact, I do it all the time. I’m not aggressive about it or bring it up in every conversation, but I love learning and talking about Jesus and religion in general. I wasn’t raised a Christian, so this is a big change. I just don’t know why I would need to be aggressive about it when the people who showed me to Jesus were anything but. They didn’t just talk about the Gospel-they lived it. Even if they didn’t say word one about God, you could see Him written all over their faces and in their lives. That is how I want to be. I want to bring people to God the way they did for me. Like I said, though, He’s the one who does the “saving”. I just want to lead people to the door. I suck at that, but that’s another post.

These are just a few of the reasons I’ve been told I’m going to Hell. I’m not saying that doing the right things isn’t important because it is, but I’m not sure if that’s really the “point” of Christianity. I don’t know; I just want to be like Jesus. Perhaps I need to be thinking more about *that* than what other people say. One day at a time.

Happy Birthday…

It’s 12:19 am on Christmas, so I think it’s only fitting to say-


As bad as I might be sometimes, Jesus Christ is my Savior. Yes, I’ve heard the stories about how He was probably actually born in March and we only celebrate it now because Constantine moved the date to coincide with Solstice, blah blah…that’s interesting but it doesn’t really matter because *when* He was born isn’t nearly as important as *that* He was born.

Plus we celebrate our friends’ birthdays at other dates all the time-the weekend before, the weekend after, etc. Why would it be a stretch to think someone might want to do this for Jesus? I’m probably wrong, but it makes sense to me.

I’m confused now

As you probably know, I moderate religion forums. I’ve been working with a large spirituality site called Beliefnet for going on seven years now. Most of the forums I work with are Christian, although I have moderated forums debating Judaism. To me, it’s a very interesting way to learn about people-not only to learn about their faiths, although that is a very large interest. One of the most fascinating things is watching how people interact with each other and behave when talking about things that are as highly-charged as religion is. I’ve seen and participated in some rather interesting meltdowns and support sessions. In fact, I came about this job because I was seriously struggling with my faith and I found a lot of help and friendship from many people there. If anyone tells you you can’t find real friends on the internet, they don’t know what they’re talking about. I’ve also met a lot of people who aren’t so friendly and learned some things that caused me a great deal of pain, but I guess that’s to be expected.

I joined Beliefnet in part to try to answer some of the doubts I was having after coming out of a relationship with a man who had some beliefs I simply couldn’t accept. Some of those beliefs were completely foreign to me, but some of them are beliefs I used to share to some extent but later found not to be true. I’ve shed some light on those beliefs and explored new ones, hopefully somewhat growing along the way.

Unfortunately, doubts are still my constant companions. It doesn’t seem to matter how much I learn or who I meet, there are always the lingering questions. What does God think about ‘topic X’? What should I believe about ‘topic Y’? Do I even have to have a belief about Y at all? How should I see or read the Bible? What if I don’t understand what I’m reading? What do I make of all of the conflicting things I hear, from outside the faith as well as within? What’s really important? How much of the Bible is true?

Apparently I’m not the only one dealing with these doubts. Here is a post from a friend of mine from the Christian-to-Christian Debate forum on Beliefnet:

I am not sure that Jesus said everything he has been credited with. I have been reading Genesis, Exodus and Numbers again and most of it still makes no sense to me. And please don’t tell me that if I had the Spirit in me, I would understand it! Whoever wrote this, I believe, put God’s name in places it should not be. Or else it is all made up. I have tried over the years to believe in the OT because I thought it necessary to be Christian. I just cannot believe this is the God I feel in my heart. If anyone can make it all fit together, I am happy for them, but I don’t believe God expects anyone to believe all this. There are some very good stories but all the killing ordered by God is nothing but rubbish.

Here’s my reply on the forum thread:

I’m so glad to read that I am not the only one who feels this way. My church has an OT passage as part of the order of service, but lately I have had a hard time understanding what is being said. I thought it was just me, since a lot of the time I can’t focus long enough to understand even the simplest things. There are not words enough to express how distressing and frustrating this is for me! However, I just don’t know what to make of so many things in the OT…ceremonial laws, why God hardened Pharoah’s heart, the destruction and death, etc. I just *don’t get it*. I keep hearing in my head the ‘if you had the spirit, you’d get it’ that you mention above, a throwback from before…but then I wonder why it is important for me to know this stuff?

Sorry to babble, but I’m glad to know I am not the only one who just says, ‘WTH???’ with some parts of the Bible.

I don’t really know a good ‘tie-in’ for this. Sometimes it’s just so frustrating to talk to other people about what you believe when you don’t know what it is! I’ve heard so many statements and cracks from atheists and agnostics about how all religion is evil because the God we believe in did some really awful things. I would normally have a good comeback for them, but I don’t really know what to say when even I can’t make sense of some of the ‘darker parts’. Most of the time I can tell myself that the stories could just be a statement of fact rather than a recommendation for the future-for instance, I don’t hear very many pastors singing the praises of slavery (anymore) or Levirate marriage. That would be quite an interesting sermon, wouldn’t it? I could also say that some things are instructions to the Jews about things that Jesus later spoke against-kosher laws, for example. He said that “What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him ‘unclean’, but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him ‘unclean'” (Matthew 15:10-12). That is all well and good for parts of the Old Testament, but that still does not explain why a God who claims to love us would do things like strike someone dead just for trying to keep the Ark of the Covenant from falling?

Also confusing is how there are so many conflicting teachings and doctrines…Calvinism, Pelagianism, etc. Some parts just feel wrong to me, like predestination-the idea that God chooses certain people to go to Heaven, as I understand it. But wouldn’t that also mean that God chooses certain people to go to Hell? That would be the other destination from Heaven, right? I don’t know. Then there’s the teaching that someone has to be a Christian in order to go to Heaven and avoid Hell, but then the fact that not everyone has even heard of Jesus; at least, not by that name. There’s the way that most of the world’s religions have similar teachings about how to treat people. There’s the fact that there are so many Christians who are nasty and judgmental and so many non-Christians or non-theists who live out everything Jesus taught, even if they don’t know or acknowledge it. The friends I mentioned above from Beliefnet who helped me through really rough times with my faith were mostly non-Christian and sometimes even anti-Christian, with a Luciferian or two thrown in there. Some Christians were great too, but others were kind of snotty. You’re not supposed to make the simplest and respectful joke about Jesus around some people, although I’m sure He has a sense of humor. Wouldn’t He have to, to deal with us? Look at the platypus. 🙂 There’s the way that so many Christians make such a huge deal about the gender of who a person sleeps with but doesn’t think twice about kicking someone when they’re already down. Most confusing of all, however, is the idea that the Bible is completely inerrant as written but also the idea that mostly the parts about faith and life are inerrant but the science stuff isn’t.

There are just so many things that don’t sit well, but how do I know that I’m not ‘making God in my own image’? I’ve been accused of that, along with ‘picking and choosing’, quite a bit. I’ve been so tempted to just toss it all out the window. I think the only thing that has kept me from doing that was Jesus Himself…I’ve seen Him working through people and things no one would think of, and it was unmistakable who was behind it. I can’t help but wonder if the same being or spirit that I call Jesus is present in other faiths or ideas, but called something else. Not much else about Him makes sense, but this seems to. However, I’ve heard numerous times that this is the wrong doctrine. Maybe the doctrines, which were written by people, are what’s wrong. Maybe it’s more about being in imitation of Christ than about what you know. Not that knowledge is bad; in fact, it is a very good thing. But I wonder if it’s really the only thing, or even a very important one.

I’ve been told that if a teaching or doctrine portrays God as anything other than a loving Father-type is false. This doesn’t mean that you’re going to get whatever you want, whenever you want it. This is another teaching I’ve heard that bothers me. My earthly father didn’t give me everything I wanted, and there was a good reason for it. Not everything I wanted was something I needed or was good for me. That has been my experience of Jesus too. I’ve had rough times and trials but they weren’t anything I didn’t eventually get through. That gives me hope, a lot more hope than knowing all the ‘right’ doctrines ever did.

If anyone has any ideas as to how to get through some of this confusion, they are more than welcome. However, I’ve found a tremendous amount of comfort in knowing that I’m not the only one who sometimes feels like their head is a bowl of alphabet soup.

Speaking of soup…time for lunch!

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