Faith

The Embarrasment of Being a Christian

Visiting my church in the past brought not only peace of heart, but also joy.  Sadly this has changed, and has made me doubt the fundamentals of my whole life.

I’ve been visiting the same church for about thirty-seven years.

My first visit was when I was barely eleven years old.  If you do the math you’ll know I’m forty-seven years old.

I’ve felt embarrassed for some time now. Not only for those who proclaim they are Christians, but also for myself.

It has been something gradual, probably that’s where I stopped calling myself a Christian, but a believer.  In what do I believe in???  In Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit,  in mankind’s good nature, and in the fact that anyone who is still alive has an opportunity for redemption.  God’s love is extended not only the kind and compassionate, but also to  the cruel and sinister as well.

Some may think, “Wait hold your horses, is this lady off beat or what?”  Isn’t she Presbyterian, isn’t she from the “frozen chosen clan”?  Somebody, please tell her to read the manual!

Whoever said that we needed to believe in all dogma and theology that was ever drilled in our heads? My denomination has or never will control what I chose to believe in or not.  The good thing is that I actually get to chose what I want  to believe in!

However, it doesn’t stop there in just believing, it’s about doing something with my calling.   Trying to be as good as I can, and even if I fail,  picking up the pieces and trying all over again.  Trying hard to never be the same as I was before.

It’s about trying to find compassion within me to reach out to those in dire need.  However, if I can’t be the one that’s doing the work in the field being our Lord’s hands and voice, then I’ll have the blessing of  supporting or praying for  someone who can be.  The magic is all about finding my place in the big picture.

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Never judging others, and certainly trying to live up to Jesus’s highest preach, love to God above all things, and to our brother and sister as if they  were are own selves.

It has been often where I’ve heard the words, “those people” voiced by some members of my own congregation and others.  Referring not only to the homeless, drug addicts but also to the homosexuals.

Didn’t Jesus preach love and acceptance?  Didn’t He say that he came to all?  Didn’t he question each and one of the people who followed him.

Whereas our preach, is exactly what?

The homosexual population are attacked so often people think that’s the norm.  We’ve made them feel like aliens among us.  Isn’t being a Christian about love, honesty, courage, and faith.  Whereas love is the jewel of the crown.

Probably the worst I’ve felt in a while was after reading a hateful comment some Christians left on a receipt for the waiter that tended their table.  Industry Life made an important point when he posted it on his blog.  I felt overwhelmed for a moment, and then I thought “What the f&%ck happened there!”

We congregate together, we are united, but at the same time divided at heart.  Many little things have undermined my faith in Christianity and my congregation.  I know as a fact that many with their mouths,  bless the Lord, but with that same mouth condemn their brothers or sisters in faith and life.

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Now a days just saying I’m Christian doesn’t bring joy to my life.

I’ve tried with all my heart to re-find the joy and happiness that just sitting in church used to give me.  Yet, it’s gone and I’m heartbroken just to think it never will come back.

How can we be detached about all the wrong that goes on thinking that never in a lifetime will it happen to us.

All what is left is to stop, and ask ourselves as Jesus himself did when two of John’s disciples followed him after listening to John when he proclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God.”  He turned around and asked them,  “What are you looking for?”

That same question is still as valid today as it was two thousand years ago,  “What are we looking for?”.

Is it bad to question yourself?

If so, why was Jesus so famous for always asking questions?  Challenging what the people in his historical realm believed in.

And this my dear friend can only lead us to the following questions, what do YOU believe in and what are YOU looking for?

Faith

Would you kiss the leper clean?

It’s been a while since any song has touched me, however I was profoundly moved by hearing John Bell’s The Summons.

My daughter sent it to me so I could understand why she wanted to become a minister.  This next fall she’ll be attending Seminary either in Princeton or Chicago.  She’s not going to be the ordinary minister, but the way out of the box one.  She’ll lead protests, rallies and will put herself on the line over and over again, and my heart bleeds just by the thought of it.  However, she is what she is and I’m nobody to put my voice in her head saying, “She can’t do it”.

Her turning point was becoming a volunteer in a church in Tucson, Arizona that became a sanctuary during the San Salvador Civil War.  She got out of her comfort zone and went for it, without full understanding what she was getting into.

She feels strongly about social injustice and is adamant in women’s rights.   As the song’s lyrics go by, there is a part that says, “Would you kiss the leper clean, if I would call your name?”

I’m more than sure she would.

Stephanie is the first from left to right.
Stephanie is the first from left to right.
Thank you Lamp Left Media (Alonso Parra) for such a beautiful picture.

However, this post isn’t about her or her calling.  It’s about the voices inside us, my friends know I’m a strong believer in signs and precisely yesterday as I attended service at my church, the person who was sharing a reflection in our Sunday Bible School (which I usually don’t attend), asked us why we had believed?

How did we become believers,  where and how our calling occurred?

Isn’t the purpose of soul-searching spiritual en-lightning, so we can make a difference in the world that surround us?  Part of the lyrics of The Summons said, “Will you use the faith you’ve found to reshape the world around?”.

Some shared stories that seemed to come out of a twilight dimension, others said it was logic, others said that they had heard voices, others said that they had feared to come to the front of the congregation, but had felt the need to move forward.

As I listened carefully to other people, I wondered myself, why was I there?

Does your calling come only once in life or does it come many times?

Yesterday as I thought about writing on my blog, my thoughts drifted and ended up not writing anything.

However, today when Steph sent me this song, it all came back to me.

I asked myself, why do I continue going back to that building that is as old as I am and continue to sit on the same pew, and listen to the same people?

Is that really what I’m suppose to do?

If I’m truly a believer and God knows I am, is it true that If He did call my name, why haven’t I followed him?

Corcovada

Why am I the same person???

I’m not even sure if I’ve really heard anyone, less God himself calling my name.

Or is it that He has called my name, but I haven’t turned and listened carefully enough?

It’s so easy to fall inside a fantasy world where being a believer is all about attending service every Sunday, saying God bless you, and hugging people just like us.  And so hard at the same time, to step outside this world and truly become believers and reshape all that surrounds us, making it a better place, while putting ourselves out there where we can be harmed in the process.

This is my dear friend, the question of all the questions, how far are we willing to go, if our names were called?

Cancer

Vulnerability

Have you ever felt that nothing protects you from the mishaps of life?

During my life time  I’ve felt vulnerable only in several occasions.

One that is embedded in my memories would be the day my best friend’s husband called me to tell me that she had been hit by a car and had died almost immediately after.   Words fail to describe how vulnerable I felt during those brief moments.  Pain ripped through my body and soul as I realized that things like this happen, and that they can happen to anyone. 

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Going down memory lane would have to  be,  the day I was rushed to a nearby hospital and was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit without even having a diagnose of what was happening to me.  I was terribly ill, but doctors couldn’t pinpoint what was wrong with me.

I could have been easily on a House episode during that time.  I was so afraid of dying, my life had been turned around and no longer was I healthy or would be in the near future.

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It seemed my life had fallen into a pit, that I no longer controlled the events that were taking place.

I felt the raw vulnerability of a newborn.

I felt naked in a world of dressed people with nothing to protect me from anything or anyone.

When we’re ill our world changes and our independence is lost with so many other things.  We feel that nothing stands between us and life.  All our barriers are gone, leaving nothing left except our bare essence.

It’s like taking a free fall into a bottomless pit.  You just fall suspended in time and space without a notion of what will happen next.

Today as I visited my father-in-law I looked at him and these thoughts crept inside me and left me cold with despair.  He clings on to my mother-in-law,  not wanting to let go because he’s afraid something will happen while she’s gone during every other night she travels home to catch some sleep and do some laundry.  She usually rushes back back with the break of dawn the next morning.

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I know exactly how he feels and I really can’t blame him.  He’s not acting up or being selfish for wanting her and her only.  She’s his life line,  the one that protects him from life itself,  she  has become the barrier between him and cancer.

How would you deal with this re-discovered vulnerability? Why do I say it’s re-discovered?  Basically because  we’re born vulnerable and stay this way until we are old enough to face life and begin constructing barriers to protect ourselves.

Do we need to go back to our childhood and just learn to toughen up?

I really don’t have the answers, because each one of us is different.  Each and every one of us deal in different ways with our issues and work around them.

However, who ever will try to cope with vulnerability needs to accept that life sometimes brings on terrible things upon us.

We just need to learn to work ourselves around them in a way that we can learn  to cope with life’s tragedies and pits.

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It’s like learning to walk again.

The best part of this all is that after facing our vulnerability we come out stronger.  We pull through without knowing we were strong enough to make it all way down.

Even if we thought that our free fall would last forever the sudden thump of the ground below us makes us realize that we’ve made it through.  The thump hurts like hell, but we’re still alive and struggling to leap on our feet.

I made it through and so many of you too, and I have faith that my beloved father-in-law is also going to make it all way to the bottom to just jump right up and stand once again.

It’s all about embracing our new circumstances and moving on.

Welcoming back our own vulnerabilities as if we were children learning to walk once more.  As a child taking his or her first steps towards a new stage in their lives.

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Vulnerability is painful, but at the same time beautiful because we can emerge from it as the phoenix with re-owned strength and courage to face whatever it is we need to.

And that my dear friends is what life is all about!

Life

Dealing With the Rapids of Life

Most of the time hearing things we don’t want to deal with is difficult and challenging.

People react in different ways and to tell you the truth in ways that sometimes leave us dumb folded because it’s not what we expected or simply want to hear.

Sometimes if what is being said is too hard to take in, we usually have to ask the person we are talking with to repeat it because for a split second we may not even be able to fully comprehend what is being said.

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Probably everyone passes through the same stages of denial, frustration and even anger for about everything related with something we just can’t control. Then, after all the fuss we turn towards what we can’t fully explain, but if you’re like me (a believer) is a part of us, FAITH.

Faith can be many things, for all us it may even have a different meaning.

Nevertheless, it’s something we bring out when everything else seems to have failed.

It definitely  can get us through the rapids of life.

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Faith is like our raft, it’s going to take us through the rushing waters to a place where the river becomes calm and peaceful.

Dealing with cancer in something like that.

When you receive good news its easy to hold on to your faith, however,  when you face terrible ones it becomes elusive as it plays hide and seek with us.

Our faith has many faces and becomes whatever we need in the moment of our need.  None the less, believing that things will get better is sometimes the only thing we have left.

Some would say that all of this is bolony, that life is what it is and that’s that. But, how do you deal with our emotional being that suffers and desperately cries for solutions that our logic tells us that they don’t exist.  You can go mad just by trying!

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However, using your faith to get through what ever it is you need to get through doesn’t mean you don’t have to accept the specific circumstances of your predicament, it only means that it’s going to help you get through them without destroying yourself through the process.

Life certainly is a mystery.

We can’t control most of the things that happen to us, but we surely can control our choices in what to believe in.

I’m not saying that you should find your closest church and visit it today, but to find the essence of your person and reach in to what you believe in. Then, if you want and if you need the comfort others can offer you that also believe in a greater God “go for it”.

This doesn’t work for everyone!

For some just reaching in and finding peace with yourself and with life is enough surrounded by those who love you unconditionally.

Whatever works for you is fine. It’s all about getting through the tough times and just waiting for the moment are waters are peaceful once again.  My grandmother would always say “no hay mal que dure cien a~os ni pellejo que lo resista.”  Which means tough times will never last a lifetime basically because we are not capable of enduring that amount of hardship.

Things eventually will get better. It’s just a matter of waiting for it to happen.