Individualism is something that people have fought for, and died for. Individualism is an aspect of freedom that I think we sometimes take for granted. That being said, why is it so hard for us to accept others for who they are? I've stumbled onto many blogs that have discussed some rather controversial issues, such as religion. While I may disagree with them in some areas, I can also empathize with their frustrations.
When I was in my early twenties, I attended a Bible College that was produced out of an Independent, Fundamental, King James Version, Baptist Church. That sentence is enough to make some of you reading this cringe. Others, who happen to be Baptist, may look on that with acceptance. Memories of those days come rushing back to me every so often and I'm reminded of not only who I was before that experience, but who I became during it. I'd love to say that God molded me into this fascinating no-pant wearing, submissive Christian that knocked on doors thrusting bible literature in people's faces. That did not happen. Instead, my husband and I left the church and college because we began to realize that we weren't helping anyone by being there, and we certainly weren't being used of God.
The Things I learned:
1. Women should not wear pants, if they do, they are out of the Will of God. This is a barometer for a woman's spiritual walk.
2. Women must be submissive to their husbands, they can not question any of the decisions that are made by a man, whether they be good or bad.
3. Women must keep their houses clean clean clean, that is their place.
4. If you weren't careful, God may just have to take you out of the picture.
5. If you are sick or suffer from misfortune, then you better clear the sin out of your life that is causing the turmoil.
6. You should have fear, not only for the Lord, but for the Man of God. After all, he has been chosen by God to lead the flock.
This list is small in comparison to the things that were drilled into my thought process. It's been 7 years since we left, and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't have to reprogram my thoughts concerning, not only this list, but hundreds of other things. Not everything I learned there was bad, even though the church was borderline fascist.
The fond memories I do have are of the kind hearted people. The people who cared for us. They were the ones that if I went to and asked for prayer, I knew that my prayer request would be on their hearts until it was answered. They didn't try to "read my barometer" to see if I was worthy of prayer, or if I needed another type of prayer. They loved us for who we were and for the people God was molding us to be.
The church is no longer there, imagine that, but I can still picture the faces of the congregation and where they sat every service. I can see their smiling faces as I pass to go to my seat. I can almost feel their warm embraces as they said hello with a hug. Those are the things that God wanted me to keep. He wanted me to hang on to the oh so very human like qualities of being flawed and loving others regardless of theirs.
If an atheist would have met me 7 years ago, I would have been living proof of why they stayed away from Christianity. There was no compassion, no understanding, no acceptance of anything or anyone that did not dress, talk, walk, and act the way that I did. Tears begin to swell up as I imagine how many people I pushed away because of my superior view of myself. All the while, I went about claiming it was God's love that made me into that person. He did change my life, but I decided to take over at some point in order to make myself into the cookie cut Christian a few others thought I should be. (i.e. the pastor and his family) Too often, people don't see God in Christian people because they are living their lives by others dictation, rather than seeking God. Yet, they firmly believe that the way they are is going to be blessed of God because Preacher so and so said it would be. Or simply because they believe they are right and everyone else needs saving.
I still go to church. I still attend a Baptist church. I still struggle daily with not only my walk with God, but how I should be towards others. I am very much disgusted with silly things like someone smoking or what they wear (mild examples) being the judge of whether or not I should reach out to them or befriend them. Those things shouldn't matter when people enter your life. What should matter is how you treat them and how you interact with them. Do they know you love God, even though you don't say it? Do they know you are different on the inside, even though you never utter the words? What do others see when they look at you? What do others see when they look at me?
Do they see the weight of the world, or do they get to witness through my eyes "the peace of God, which passeth all understanding?" (Philippians 4:7) Although you may feel I'm preaching, this post is meant for me. This blog is meant for me. I'm slowly realizing that in order to be honest with myself and honest on this blog, I have to talk about this part of my life. It's who I am, whether I like admitting it or not. Don't get me wrong, I'm extremely Thankful for the things that God has done in my life. I just don't particularly enjoy sharing it with people who are only going to hold me under a microscope and say "um yeah? where did you say God was exactly?" I'm not claiming to be perfect, merely a human that has been blessed with a warm hello hug of God's perfect mercy and grace.