Take chances. Abandon all the rules. Ditch the recipe. Color outside the lines.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Religion Junkies

     Tonight’s topic is a difficult one for me.  I feel like I start every post with those words probably because there are a lot of things that I have to work at on a daily basis!  However, this topic is especially hard for me to talk about.  The topic is addiction.  

Those who have followed my writing in the past know a little about me past struggles with addiction.  I have a very addictive personality and it is easy for me to latch onto something that makes me feel good and want to have it all the time.  

Addiction by definition is:
“the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.” 

That is some heavy stuff!  Throughout my life I have struggled with several addictions, the most serious of which was an addiction to alcohol.  Drinking, for me, started out as a way to just have fun, you know, fit in and party.  The first time I got drunk I realized that I could, for a brief period, stop feeling.  It then because an escape from all the junk in my life, all the pain I was feeling, all the aloneness that plagued me.  At that point I was no longer abusing alcohol… I was addicted to it.  

I can proudly say now that I have fought that addiction and am approaching my 4 year sobriety birthday at the end of this month.  As great a feeling as it was to be free from that I began to realize that I had some other addiction in my life that I never really noticed before.  I had an addiction to anger, to power, to causing pain to those who hurt others, and most of all… to religion.  Uh oh, did I step on some toes with those last two words?  Well it’s true! I had a definite addiction to religion.  

I was enslaved to a habit to an extent that I was afraid if I stopped living up to these rules and expectations I wouldn’t be good enough for God.  That fits that definition of addiction pretty well, huh?  It amazes me really how many Christians are religion addicts.  So many lecture about how other addiction are evil and people who live such lifestyles cannot be one of God’s children.  

I have to argue that any addiction is destructive whether it be an addiction to rules or to booze.  Jesus’ message was all about freedom not slavery.  He came to give us a religion detox and free us from its enslavement.  My all-time favorite verse of the Bible is from 2 Corinthians and it says, 

“Whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is FREEDOM.”  

The veil talked about there is actually a reference to the Old Testament and how in the temple there was this huge thick veil between where the Ark of the Covenant, which was considered the presence of God, and where the people were allowed to go into.  Under the law of the OT you had to have the High Priest go as sort of a mediator between you and God and they were the only ones allowed behind that veil.  

What this verse is saying is that Jesus took that veil away.  He took away that law and list of rules you had to abide by to get to God and now it’s just you and him personal, face to face, one on one, you before God.  Oh and that’s not all… in that up close and personal relationship with God there is FREEDOM!  How awesome is that?!  

I mean God could easily have said, “Well, ok, we can have a relationship with me but don’t expect me to just give you all my love, you have to earn it!”  But… He didn’t say that!  He said not only am I going to grant you a relationship with me but I’m also going to give you all my love and forgiveness without you doing anything to deserve it, you have freedom.  


That is just mind blowing to me that a being so powerful and awe inspiring would give all that to me without me having to do anything to deserve it.  I will say that I now live life free from religious addiction. Every moment in life is a gift, every breath I take is given to me, how can I choose to reject what I never deserved to be given in the first place? Forget the fix, give me freedom.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Just Us Is Served

The majority of my life has been made up with me living with a desperate desire for justice.  When I was little it was showed itself when I felt like my little brother wasn’t being punished the way I thought he should.  It was so unfair! He could like barely even tear up and they’d let him off the hook! That never worked for me… possibly because fake tears don’t have the same emotional affect?  I’d get all fired up and angry at the fact that I thought I was being treated unfairly.  As I got older it reared its ugly head in other very different ways.  I am a protector by nature, I think that’s just one those special things that God created me with.   It can be good or bad! When I was younger and less mature it usually came out with me getting in fights trying to protect the people that couldn’t protect themselves.  So my need for justice then became about making sure that the weak and abused were taken care of by those hurting them being punished.  I have grown a lot over the past year or so and have come to see that justice only has its place when it is balanced with grace.  God is sometimes very confusing to me… OK more like the majority of the time he is confusing to me! He is a God of absolute justice and absolute grace… say what?! How is that even possible?! Well, here’s what I think… maybe what we think is justice isn’t really justice at all.  God is completely satisfied.  Jesus paid our debts so justice has been served in God’s eyes.  I got into this argument with a guy on Facebook today well not really an argument more like a tough discussion that, honestly, saddened me.  My boyfriend’s status update read: “Just heard a teacher ripping a kid in the elementary school here..... She tells the boy where do you go when you lie?!!! First to jail then down to the devil!!!!! WOW!!!” First of all, that sickens me! I’d like to go grab that kid and hug him and then punch that teacher in the face… yeah I know, not very grace filled, my protective side coming out one again and that need for justice that I have to fight.  Anyway, the conversation  followed like so:

He Who Shall Not Be Named: Well good for her, tht is wht these kids need these days r the truth. Wether it hurts their feelings or not. Tht is why we have such trouble with these kids today no disciple
 Random Other Guy:  Good Ol Bible Belt lol
 He Who Shall Not Be Named:  Yes sir tht is so true and totally agree with the ol bible belt!!!!
Me:  There's nothing in my bible that says to treat kids like garbage... Maybe I have the wrong translation...
He Who Shall Not Be Named:   No it doesn't but it does say tht we should disciple our children and raise them in the way of the lord. The way parents let there children talk to them and teachers and law enforcement is nuts. O and yes it does say in revelations tht the lord doesn't like liars, the teacher probably could have handled it better but at least she didn't let him disrepect his elders!!!!!!

Anyone see the problem in this last comment?  Well if you don’t… listen up! First off, I hate… absolutely DESPISE when people try to use the Bible to justify their actions and ignorantly don’t use the entire verse.  So let me clear this up for everyone! The verse he is using here actually a bastardization of a few verses which appears many times in the Old and New Testament.  I’m going to stick to the New Testament because we no longer live under the law of Old Testament times.  The one I will use comes from Ephesians which, in its entirety reads, “Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do.  ‘Honor your father and mother.’ This is the first commandment with a promise:  If you honor your father and mother, ‘things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.’  Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.”  You catch that last part?!  Here let me say it again for you “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord”  The actual Greek word being used here for discipline actually translates and “correction out of love” and that means disciplining your kids not to hurt them but to make them better.  Yeah… little mister smarty pants didn’t get that last part, huh?  The other verse he referred to in Revelation reads, “He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”  This verse is actually referring to the New Heaven and New Earth after the second coming of Christ.  It’s talking about the kind of people that will be in glory and the kind that will be banished to eternal damnation.  This isn’t saying that literally every liar or sexually immoral or idolaters or those practicing magic will automatically go to hell.  If that were the case then what did Jesus even die for?  You can take the verse out of context and make it say what you want, but then they’re not God’s words anymore… they’re yours.  You may be striving for justice, for those kids to “get what they deserve” but the way that you are doing it is wrong.  Responding to wrong actions out of anger with aggression and yields more aggression.  There are consequences for actions. We, however, are the adults and we should act like we are and punishment with aggression is just a fancy way of saying abuse. We must control our emotions and handle things in such a way that there is punishment out of love and wanting to make that kid grow into a better person.  When all we have is justice without grace then the only one being served is us, and that’s not what real justice nor life itself is about.  Next time, try mixing a little grace in with your justice; I promise you’ll like the recipe better when the finish product comes out of the oven.