Liberations of a Marionette

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I cut my hair today.

I watched my beloved long locks fall slowly to the ground.
With one snip of those sharp sheers, I cut away the last four painful years of my existence.

I cut away the lies I’ve been told.
I cut away the naivety that was exposed in myself, the memories we’ve made and the weaknesses he saw within me.
I cut away his manipulation and his deception, the future he promised, the sleepless nights I spent waiting for him when he’d stay out all night with other women, and the emotional turmoil I’d become accustomed to live with every day when he swore to me his infidelities were all in my head.

I cut away the only pieces of me I’d convinced myself were where my only beauty resided.
I cut away the misplaced respect, unconditional love and the last strands of faith in him that I’d clung to for dear life.
I cut away a false sense of security, self-hatred, and as each beautiful, silky strand was clipped away, I felt the shell of myself that had grown all around me and into me begin to flake away.

And with that, I cut him out of my life, and most importantly, out of my heart.

When a woman cuts her hair, it’s not always about a new style.
Sometimes, when a woman cuts her hair, she’s cutting the strings someone else had her dangling from. She’s liberating herself from a toxic, narcissistic puppet master who only saw her as a marionette to manipulate.
When a woman cuts her hair for this reason, she’s pruning away her dead limbs and breathing life back into her spirit. She’s done protecting him from the consequences of his own deceptions and he will never again run his fingers though her lovely long hair.

I Am A Sinner: The “ridiculousness” of the Phil Robertson uproar.

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I am a liar.
I am a cheater.
I’ve disrespected my parents.
I am a manipulator, an adulteress, a thief, an idolator and a blasphemer.

Probably the only sin I haven’t committed is murder. The sobering fact of the matter is that if I had, that sin would be no greater than any other I have ever committed.

I admit it.

I AM A SINNER

I live in a perpetual state of spiritual and moral imperfection. I live in this imperfect state on a DAILY basis.

I admit it. 

I AM A SINNER. 

I am the prostitute, the adulteress, the drunkard, the slanderer, the swindler and the idolator that Mr. Phil Robertson spoke of in his oh-so-infamous GQ interview.

You know the one.

That so-called “anti-gay” interview that every thin-skinned LGBT has had their knickers in a twist over for the past two weeks.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m as straight as an arrow and I have always been one of the few North Louisianians who have defended the LGBT community when the so-called “Christian” community decided to single out their moral crimes.

I have family members whom I adore who were and are homosexuals and lesbians. I’ve had slumber parties that included a very dear friend, an amazing young lady who just happens to prefer the ladies. I’ve sat in church next to an openly gay member and shared stories of past loves and present crushes. His just so happened to prefer the company of someone of his own sex.

I love each and every one of them no matter what. My opinion regarding their lifestyle was only given when asked. My opinion was always respected just as I respected theirs. They never pointed their finger at me in blatant hostility and disregard for my faith, my opinion or my freedom to voice that opinion.

This, however, was not the case recently regarding some in the LGBT community’s reaction to Mr. Robertson’s own convictions.

“It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”

“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” he says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.” –  Phil Robertson, GQ interview

First off, the gay statement wasn’t the only accusation made in this article. I don’t see any hateful rants promoting genocide of LGBT’s. I don’t see any angry statements at all to be quite honest. How do these statements make him “anti-gay”.

I suppose I’m just a little confused as to why the LGBT community has made this all about them? What about us liars, thieves, adulterers & etc.

Is it his opinion regarding his preference to a “vagigi” rather than “panini” or his declaration of certain spiritual immoralities that is offensive?

Seriously.

So what you’re saying is that since Mr. Robertson’s beliefs are different than theirs, he’s “anti-gay”? Wouldn’t that also make him anti-… well… everything else listed in the quote above?

I’d like to know which of these statements I should be most offended by considering I MYSELF meet most of the sinful criteria.

What I find most amusing when reading Facebook and blog posts from people who are just so utterly offended by a few words from a down home dude from West Monroe, is their inability to understand and admit one simple truth. This truth has taken root in my very soul and is screaming in side my chest, rattling my ribcage, dying to escape to the point where all I really just want to grab said poster by both arms, shake them like a salt shaker and scream it at the top of my lungs until it sinks in.

YOU ARE A SINNER! We are ALL SINNERS!

I should be burning up from the ground up with an unmitigated anger for being pointed out in such a terrible manner.

Shouldn’t I?

Shouldn’t I be completely offended by the opinion of Mr. Phil Robertson?

Why are you so offended by being told you’re a sinner if you don’t actually understand sin?

Shouldn’t I, a prostitute, (metaphorically speaking) be raising just as much hell along with the rest of my family of so-called spiritual offenders?

NO. I shouldn’t.

Why, you ask?

Because I am a liar. I am a cheater. I’ve disrespected my parents. I am a manipulator, an adulteress, a thief, an idolator and a blasphemer.

Because I KNOW that I AM a sinner. 

I don’t get offended by being called a sinner, because I am responsible for my own actions.
I make a choice to commit crimes against my God, my Creator on a daily basis therefore I and only I am responsible for my own sin. I own it. I know understand its meaning and I understand the consequences that result from my choice to sin.

I do not claim that my Creator made me this way and I do not claim my God made my sin as my right. Sin is not a God-Given right because it is that sin which separates us from the One Being who sacrificed His own son, Himself to erase that sin. This doesn’t mean we should continue to wallow in our sin every day. However, this does mean that we sincerely and apologetically recognize those sins because although we are all sinners, those of us who yearn for a deeper and more intimate relationship with said Creator, are saved by GRACE. 

And for those of you who feel the need to quote the Bible even though you’ve never actually read said Bible in your unenlightened and utterly narrow-minded lives, here’s a little something for you.

newsflash

For those of you who condemn anyone whose opinion differs from yours based on their faith, geographical location or political affiliation: Us small-town, backwoods, bible-thumpin’, deer-huntin’ rednecks, we know Phil Robertson is not Jesus. And before you start preaching, “Jesus is love,” in defense of your ability sin, you might want to do a little more biblical research.

Jesus IS Love. SIN is not Love. SIN is not of God. SIN separates you from God. God DOES love us. But God HATES SIN BECAUSE HE LOVES US.

The storal of this little morey is simply this: whatever twisted and unmerited sense of superior self-appointed egomaniacal entitlement this generation has created to satisfy its tragic Dawson Leery Complex is just simply misplaced and pathetic. Grow up and take responsibility for your own actions instead of blaming all of your inner self-loathing on a wooly-whiskered senior citizen who probably cares more about the opinion of a dead duck than whether or not he’s A&E’s cash cow,

I AM A SINNER and SO ARE YOU.

Either do something about it or just keep your opinions to yourself considering you can’t seem to respect the opinions of others.

I am NOT offended. Why are you?

*Gasp*

http://www.gq.com/entertainment/television/201401/duck-dynasty-phil-robertson

Ruffling Religion’s Feathers: Blue Like Jazz

Christian fundamentalists hate it.
Young evangelicals love it.

It  seems Steven Taylor’s adaptation of Donald Miller’s best-seller, Blue Like Jazz is doing much more than telling Don’s story. It seems it is also ruffling more than a few religious feathers in the process which, quite honestly, thrills me with a fierce and fiery passion of a thousand suns.

Eight Years ago, I was intrigued when the speaker for our campus-wide worship service pointed out a cute little illustration of a rabbit named Don wearing a space suit chasing a sexy carrot all the way to the moon.

I imagined myself, as Don Rabbit chasing my “Sexy Carrot ” down the street, to the moon & to Oregon. Only differences between my story and Don Rabbit’s is that Don finally caught Sexy Carrot, tried to eat it … and choked to death.  My “Sexy Carrot” is a better competitor who continues to elude capture to this day… and I have a pulse.

You can see the pursuit here. ( Don Rabbit’s, not mine.)

I was even more intrigued when I began reading this book, it’s tag-line reading: “Non-Religious Thoughts On Christian Spirituality.”

What many Christian organizations seem to view as unnecessarily crude, I see as a fresh and vividly truthful twist on faith based… anything.

Sure, most “Christian” films leave you feeling hopeful by the final scene. Maybe God puts a losing team in the state championship or the sterile coach and his wife are finally able to conceive. Maybe the emotionally and verbally abusive husband with a porn addiction gives his life to Christ and wins back the favor of his wife thereby converting her in the process. Now, there’s nothing wrong with these types of movies. I actually enjoy them on occasion. My point, and I believe the point of Blue Like Jazz, is that following Christ doesn’t mean that you’re going to get everything you want in life. Blue Like Jazz doesn’t fill you with false hope that your story is going to have a happy ending in this life. It’s not a one-way ticket to a painless existence and you don’t always fall asleep at the end of the day with a warm and fuzzy feeling of existential or spiritual resolve. If that’s the only reason we have for following Him, we may want to reevaluate our faith.

Personally, I loved the book as well as the film.

It’s unfortunate that the churches and believers in opposition can’t see that BLJ speaks to those of us who snuck away from a sheltered background of rigid religious doctrine, searched for purpose in all of the wrong places only surviving such Godlessness through His Grace and lived to praise God for His compassion. BLJ certainly ruffled religion’s feathers, but then again, didn’t Jesus Christ himself?

נמחל לי

Forgive to Love

Personally, I think I’m a pretty likable person. Then again, one could argue that I am a bit biased.

You see, I’m one of those who is either adored or despised. There is no middle ground, no gray area which is probably why I found myself on my knees for the past hour facing the full length mirror which hangs on my bedroom closet door. I suppose I was attempting to explain the person staring back at me why I don’t deal well with resentment.

The English language contains some pretty powerful phrases.

“I love you,” — “I hate you,” and so forth.

However, one of the most powerful and meaningful phrases I personally could hear is seemingly very simple.

“I forgive you.”

The human race seems to either underestimate the power of this seven letter alphabetical combination or understand it to such a degree they have discovered its lack of usage can actually be used as a weapon to commit emotional homicide.

It’s inevitable. At some point within the span or your life you will make an offense. You will either intentional or intentionally hurt feelings. You will make mistakes, step on toes and anger another person. The ideal process of absolution is to admit said offense and offer a sincere plea for the offended party’s forgiveness.

Why?

There is something deep-rooted within each of us that longs for this exoneration, for love.

God gave His people the Ten Commandments. Apparently, they felt the need to subdivide them into more legalistic forms of the Law. (For example: you cannot write or erase on the Sabbeth, nor should you shave your beard or the temples of your head, and so forth.)

Because of this, when Jesus came be-boppin’ along, he saw how humans tend to overcomplicate the simplistic so he gave us an even more simplified version:

Luke 10:27
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]

So what does this have to do with the price of tea in China, you ask?

Nothing. However, it has everything to do with our actions towards others.

If the greatest of God’s commandment’s is Love, our need to be forgiven makes perfect sense.

If you want to test your own dedication to the Love relentlessly, watch just how quickly and joyfully, (or how slowly and reluctantly) you forgive others.

That’s not a reflection many of us would like to acknowledge.

God isn’t complicated. Oh contraire.

We: the chronically imperfect, the perpetually impressionable, the persistently impervious are so hell bent and determined that we must work for our own salvation rather than accept His Grace freely given the moment Jesus drew His last breath on the cross.  We claim to follow Him yet our insistence to instead follow some stringent “holy” checklist that God never actually typed out proves otherwise.

Luke 10:27
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]

The rest falls into place for the good of God and His glory.

“All you need is love. Love is all you need.”

John Lennon got it. Why can’t we?

Christian Atheism


The Christian Atheist

The Christian Atheist

A few weeks ago, I received an unexpected email from one of my closest friends.

It was one of those rare moments in my life when I felt completely appreciated for the first time and respected by someone I’ve looked to for years as somewhat of a spiritual advisor. Even though he’s a whopping 11 months younger than me, I’d always seen him as the older one, the more mature one out of the two of us and most certainly the more emotionally stable. I always found myself seeking his approval. I wanted to make him proud of me. I wanted to give him a reason to feel proud to be my friend.

Unfortunately, too often have I fallen face first into the mud, failed miserably at being that person he could be proud to show off as one of his oldest and dearest friends. He’s watched me fail too many times so when I began to read the words he wrote in his email, I was completely blown away.

He told me nearly everything I’d ever wanted to hear him say. It was kind, compassionate, encouraging words of praise I never dreamed he’d utter. An uncontrollable flood of tears streamed down my face before I reached the second sentence of the first paragraph. I didn’t know what to say…

So I didn’t say anything.

It was four days before I finally responded, partially because I was somewhat in shock, but mostly because what I really wanted to say in response was far from thankful.

I realized that moment that this person whom I’ve loved so deeply for so many years has absolutely no clue who I am anymore.

Sure, what he sees is the woman of God I want to badly to become. What he doesn’t see is how difficult it is for me to attain this goal. I am not the person he described in that email… yet. I hope to find her again someday. I used to be her. She was stronger. She was hopeful. She was faithful.

Then there’s me: this faded and jaded excuse for the “her” I can’t seem to find. I know better and yet I find myself texting someone I honestly don’t want to see or hear from simply because I am so completely lonely. Surprisingly, I’m not even emotionally attached to this person, but I am lonely as hell so I send the text praying to God in the same moment that the person on the receiving end doesn’t answer. Every day I don’t hear from him makes me stronger, but just when I feel I’m about to find “her” again, he pops his head back in the door and ruins the progress I’ve made. It’s not his fault. I don’t blame him. This is my problem. I just hope he forgets I exist. I pray for him every day, but without a miracle, his presence in my life is toxic. He’s like a drug I’m not completely addicted to. I don’t have to have it all of the time, but when I get a little taste of it, my good sense and everything I am takes a back seat to my raging hormones which for some reason seem to be ridiculously similar to that of a teenage boy.

“My spirit is so willing, but my flesh is too frail. My lips, they loosen, this fortress fails.”

I don’t want this. I want it out of my life. I want the door closed and dead bolted. I’ve been trying to do it myself, but I’m not as strong as I used to be.

I wish I could believe you, Heath. You told me I was good enough, that God sees I’m good enough. I wish I could believe that.

I wish I didn’t know better. I wish you did.

“Just because you didn’t start well doesn’t mean you can’t finish well.”

Lent began 70 minutes ago. 2012’s Season of Bright Sadness proves to be much more of a challenge than 2011.

Then again, that is my flesh talking. You see, it’s not at all fond of the idea of no boys, no beer, and no social networking.

Why?

Because it’s been having far too much fun for the past four months punching holes in my faith that my spirit has been trying diligently to repair and this time, I have absolutely no excuse for my behavior. I dropped the ball. I messed up. I turned my back on Him after experiencing Him like I never had. I did this and I am miserable because of it.

Please note the excessive usage of the word, “I” in the previous paragraph.

The thing is, I know first hand that “my” life is not mine. “My” body is not for me to use as I see fit. “My” words are not mine to condemn, scorn, judge, seduce or instigate. I know exactly what to do and I have not been doing it.

No wonder I am where I am. I’ve made them idols before him. I’ve made the idea of a romantic relationship an idol before my God. It’s no wonder I am consistently disappointed by the opposite sex. It’s no wonder I am 29 and still single. Why would God allow me to have something if I desire it more than I desire him?

Do they make me happy? Well that’s a great big negative. Are they there for me when I need them? Do they stick around and do they desire God before me? Do they desire God at all? All signs point to, no.

The only being who has ever made me completely happy is the one being I constantly neglect. He is my too often neglected, under-appreciated best friend.

I’m sorry, God. I’m not the most consistent follower, but one thing’s for sure. At least I’ve learned not to whine and give up when I fall. I could say I’ve learned this with age. I could say that, but it wouldn’t be accurate. I haven’t learned not to fall. I haven’t learned how best to fall without hurting myself too badly. I haven’t learned how to avoid the pot holes, and I certainly haven’t learned how to run without getting tired.

What I have learned is no matter how often, hard, far I fall or how long it takes for me to make it to the end of the race, he’ll still be standing there, cheering me on when I cross the finish line.