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Now & Then

This journey truly began in August of 1969.  I became aware of my journey about age 4.. the exact time evades me.  I was baptized Catholic at birth and later converted to Assemblies of God (Pentecostal) somewhere around Jr. High.  Some of you remember that conversion, some don’t.  Nonetheless, my journey continued.

At a very young age, I knew that my attraction to men/boys/males was was legitimate. However, as I grew up in the deep south of Louisiana, I quickly became cognizant of the unacceptability of my inherent, genetic make up.  This began the hiding, shame and all the ugliness that goes with being gay in a straight world.  At least the world as I knew it.  Growing up in a very, very, very small town with only one stop light only added to my confusion, but I didn’t even know at the time that my geographical location could effect my upbringing and cause life-long consequences.  I didn’t know what I didn’t know.  But I knew that something wasn’t “A-Ok.” I was a stranger in my own mind and body. 

As a Catholic, I prayed the rosary, took the sacrament of communion and went to confession. I attended mass, catechism and bingo.  Ah yes… Bingo.  It’s a Catholic thing for all of you unfamiliar with it.  I was an altar boy and spent a lot of time at the church.  I was always infatuated with the “secrecy” of the church. What was behind that altar?  What was under the robe?  How did the water turn holy?  Was that real wine?  What was the wafer made from? Where did the priest live? What was in the priest side of the confessional booth? Could he really NOT see you?  Call me inquisitive.  Inquisitive I still am.  I love to seek and find the “why’s” of life.  Sometimes I never found the “WHY.” Why?  Why would god make me Gay and forbid me to live true to myself.  Why would god give me desire for men yet force me to deny it?  Sometimes the “Why” never comes.

I always wondered if god was real, how could it be?  Was I too inquisitive for my own good. But as a good Catholic and later a devout Pentecostal, I chose to just accept things as they were.  Just believe and embrace with a blind faith. Sit down, shut up and enjoy the ride.  I embraced it, loved it and lived it.  I even went to Bible College and became a minister with the Assemblies of God.  I was “sold out for JESUS!”  I gave him my all.  Honest, I really did.  I was a bona fide legalist, fundamental, evangelical christian. I was “all in.”

But I never really felt that god gave ME his all.  He was withholding something. Something very necessary to my life and faith. I felt broken, defective and sinful.  I sang amazing grace… that saved a wretch like me….  always with the emphasis on “wretch” and never the “saved” part of the lyrics.  No matter how much I prayed, preached, fasted, tithed, worshipped, spoke in tongues or repeated the “sinners prayer,” I never felt “saved.” I never felt whole like he promised. I somehow got skipped over when it came to completeness.  Why. Why. Why did he make me gay?  What a cruel thing to do to such a good kid like me. 

I believe religion that teaches that one is wretched and that we can do nothing and be NOTHING without god is dangerous at best. It’s a control tactic. In fact, it was the church that taught me to dislike myself.  Heck… what did I do?  I was born.  That’s all.  I was born.  Nothing else.  I did nothing to become so “wretched.”  It was the evangelical church that taught me to dislike myself so much that I MUST be “born again.”  Born Again???  Why do I need to be born again?

I love the Catholic approach to being born again.  A good catholic said to me once, “why do you evangelicals need to be born again? Don’t you believe that god got it right the first time?”  It still makes me giggle, but now,  yes… yes I believe that I was born right the first time. No born again needed here.  Thank you very much.

In my evangelical teachings, I was taught and I preached that god didn’t make mistakes. That god was good and fair and just.  He was perfect and he created us perfect. How then would he create a wretch, a loser, a broken, confused, hurting man?  I believed that I was a big fat nothing, I had nothing to live for. I felt that it would be better for everyone if I were dead and gone. Yet I couldn’t bring myself to carry out my planned suicide…out of fear of going to hell.  I felt powerless and useless without god, but yet it was god who made me this way. Oh the misery.  How could a loving god allow someone that loved him and dedicated his life to him be so broken, so defunct, so lost and so down-trodden even after being born again?  It just stopped making sense to me.

That was then.

Today is a different story.  I’ve realized that the authentic me is a happier me.  A braver me.  A more peaceful me.  A more loving me.  A more humanitarian me.  A more “godly” me.  I’ve realized that I don’t have to be religious to be a good and moral person.  Some of the most moral people that I know have no form of “religion” in their lives. They just treat others they way that they wish to be treated. Just plain and simple human kindness and character. 

I’ve come to understand and accept that I no longer have to be christian to be kind and have good things happen to and for me.  Heck, I now realize that I don’t have to give 10% of my income to a church or ministry to be “blessed.”  I don’t have to comply with the rules and regulations of church and christianity to live a happy and successful life.

When I made the choice to live authentic as a gay man, I was promised by god’s people… the very people that I ministered to… that I was no longer living in god’s will.  I would go to hell, be stricken with cancer or other diseases that would take my life, be financially destitute and likely homeless and begging for food.  Yes, all this from those that would fight till the death telling you what a loving and caring being that their god is… as long as you play by their rules…the bible.  This caused me great confusion.  How can he be so hateful and angry and so loving and kind at the same time???  It doesn’t compute for me any longer.

So when I say that I’ve chosen to be agnostic, I’m not saying that I’m atheist, although I see nothing inherently wrong with atheism.  I’m saying that I can no longer accept, subscribe to or identify with the god of modern evangelical, legalistic, fundamental christianity.  It no longer serves my highest and best needs as a human being.

So this is my now.  I don’t subscribe to a punitive hell.  I don’t describe to a literal interpretation of the bible. I don’t subscribe to religious rules and regulations.  I have made my choice. My choice to live a meaningful life.  Because humans have a 100% mortality rate.  We will all be gone one day. We will all soon die.

Where will we all be when we die? I dunno.  Life is a mystery, and so is the afterlife.  I’ve got one shot at this. One shot at living a happy, healthy and whole as my authentic self. I won’t live another day for anyone other than me.  By me, I mean everything that is a part of me.  My children, my friends, my family and animals…don’t forget the animals.  I refuse and reject living to please and fancy others and their religious rules and regulations that are not a part of who I wish to be. I won’t live my life for anyone who rejects my inherent being as a good, moral, kind gay man.  I was born right the first time.  I don’t need to be born again.  Requiring one to be born again assumes that someone or something wasn’t right the first time around.  I’m no mistake!  God got it right the first time.

So if you’ve read this blog from the beginning, you’ll see that I was a right-wing, republican, evangelical christian and living my life in a way that was pleasing to others.  I am no longer any of that.  This is my now. I do not blame or deny my “then.”  In fact, my then has guided me to my NOW.  I did the best with what I had.  When I knew better, I did better.  In fact, once I knew better, I was self-obligated to do better.

Life is a about choices.  I am free to choose which door I will enter into today.  When that choice no longer fits my highest and best need, then I am free to choose again.

Don’t let your then rule your now.

 

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Posted by on April 5, 2016 in Journey to Authenticity

 

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I Don’t Belong

From time to time I will blog when I am in a current state of “funk & blah.”  Yes… I just created that lil diddy. You may use it. You’re welcome.

I do this to capture the sincere and brutal reality of coming out after being closeted for 42 years due to evangelical religious oppression and societal bias.

I did my best to retain my faith after coming out.  Unfortunately evangelical religion has taken up arms against the gay community with guns blazing to force us to believe as they believe or go back into the closet. As if torturing us with threats of burning in a punitive hell our whole lives wasn’t hateful enough. That story has already been told, so this brief sound bite is for those readers that have not read my blog from the beginning.

So back to my “funk & blah.”   I was recently meeting a man for an impromptu coffee date. A resident physician man at that.  It was my lucky day… He was smart and cute. With the potential to be moderately rich. I digress.

We agreed to meet at Starbucks.  I arrived before he did. He overslept due to a late shift the night before in the Emergency Department.

As I placed my order and waited for him, I unintentionally began to notice all the men wearing wedding rings. Go figure. I kinda got gut-sick. Sadness slapped me and within no time I realized why taking off my wedding ring 4 years ago was like ripping off an unhealed scab. I weep as I write this.

I gave it to my former wife at one point so that she could sell it. But at some point I took it back. The memory and representation was much too much to process. That ring currently is in the console of my car where I will take it out from time to time and reminisce. I will likely never part from it. It will always be a tribute to the blood sweat and tears that I put into my marriage and family.  I cannot erase my history. I won’t even try. There is way too much value there.

I remember being in high school, college and the time between college and when I got married. I always wanted a wedding ring. I used to get fake rings and pretend that I was married. The ring part was super important to me.

The ring represented love, commitment and most of all it meant that I belonged to someone.  It meant that it wasn’t all about me.  It meant that someone counted on me and needed me. It meant that no matter what happened, that I wasn’t alone and I was important to someone. Again, I weep writing this.  Sometimes life just sucks damnit.

So as I sat there waiting for Dr. Coffee Date to arrive, a sudden awful feeling of “I don’t belong to anyone anymore” rushed over me in a not so welcomed way. I literally wanted to run to my car to get my ring and put it on so that I could belong to someone. It was a sick sick feeling.

And out of courtesy, please don’t be tempted to send me notes or quips about how I belong to God/Jesus. I cannot do enough brain aerobics to believe in a god that would allow such anguish, confusion and pain to someone like me that committed his life and career to serve others. It just doesn’t line up any longer. I’m happily agnostic. Namaste.

So I journey this journey.  I adjust as adjustment presents itself.  I cry as needed and I hurt as hurt is inevitable.  But this is just one stop along the way. Survivors don’t survive by happenstance. They intentionally survive. I shall live with brazen intention. I will return to a place of joy.

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2016 in Journey to Authenticity

 

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The Reply That Never Came

This is gonna be a tough one to write, but you’ve heard me say that before right?

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The past few days have found me lying on the couch lethargic and sad.  This usually happens to me when my depression kicks in.  I have a buddy in Kansas that has the same issue with depression as me so we often lean on each other when this happens.  Thanks buddy for being there for me with past week. Sometimes I feel it coming on and other times I don’t until a few days later when I realize that I’ve spent more time sleeping than awake. It kinda just sneaks up on me like a snake or cat, both of which I just can’t stand  I don’t understand it, it’s just a side-effect of depression.  For those of us who deal with “regular” depression, it is common.  I regress…

When I knew that the time had come for me to be honest with those around me about my “gayness” I wondered how to do it.  Ya know… how do I deliver this “news” to friends and family. What would be the most diplomatic, self-preserving way to deliver a difficult message to those that I knew would be hurt, ashamed, scared, freaked-out and some down-right angry.  I had already covered the most difficult ground by coming out to my now former wife.  I have said it before and I will say it again.  That woman is the epitome of GRACE and MERCY.  So I decided that instead of having multiple “meetings” with literally hundreds of people who would have allowed the news to travel to people before I could personally tell them, I would write a letter.

When I write, I am free to express my conscience and clear thoughts without being questioned and without snotty-crying all over the place.  I’m a REAL ugly crier in my ever so humble opinion.  I knew that I would take my licks for this.  I knew some would be undone that I chose that format and I knew that they would feel that it was impersonal and yet public.  I stuck with my choice.  I will not apologize for it.  I apologize if it made some of you feel uncomfortable and sad or whatever other emotion you can come up with, but I will not apologize for the delivery.  I don’t care how the truth is delivered…  it must be delivered nonetheless.  I am still a fan of proper, time, place, context and the actual need to know.  I knew that it would be impossible to please everyone at the same time, so I began writing.

My first letter was to my parents.  While I copied my siblings on that letter, it was not directed or addressed to them intentionally.  For almost two years, I have not been in relationship with some of them and I felt that they would only twist it into something that it wasn’t.  I did however intentionally put it in writing format so that my words could not be twisted and so that there was a “permanent” record of what was “said.”  I wanted to eliminate the he-said, she-said crap that had likely caused the damaged relationship in the first place.

I began writing the letter on the back patio of my home at 4 AM.  I simply could no longer sleep that day.  I was anxious and my heart was racing.  For anyone who knows me, I have NEVER seen 4 AM in my life willingly…  8 AM is considered the crack of dawn for me…  Now that is funny stuff.  So anyway, I began writing the letter to my parents.  My parents have not been the perfect parents ever.  I have not been the perfect child ever.  I do believe that they did the BEST with that they had been given, and when they knew better, they did BETTER.  I realized that writing a letter would make it difficult to establish tone.  Tone is SUPER important when you speak and most especially when you write.  Remember the old saying… It’s not what you say, It’s how you say it.  Well I tried to keep that in tact, but unfortunately the reader has a right to interpret your tone.  Yeah… that bit me in the butt just like I figured it would.  But I still stand by my decision to deliver my news in writing.  It’s easier to remember what you said when you write it and much more difficult to deny it too.  I made my choice consciously and with no regret.

So after several hours of writing, crying, writing, crying, editing, crying, crying, crying, (snot and all), writing, crying and writing some more, It was complete.  I said what I had to say and there was no turning back.  I was scared but I felt relief.  Even if I NEVER sent the letter, I felt like a load was off of my chest for the first time in 42 years.  Now the hard part.  To hit the send button.  HOLY COW!  I almost threw up. The sun was up now and I knew that the kids and My soon to be former wife would be stirring and I need to get cleaned up from all the snot and I was in my underoos as well.  Yep… sitting on the back patio by the pool in my underoos.  Don’t worry…  I’ve been in that back yard in less clothing before. We have a pool and I enjoy a good skinny dip..  oops…did I just say that out loud…???  So  I mustered up enough courage and hit the send button…  oh my… nooooooo….   I couldn’t take it back.  I wanted to so bad, but I couldn’t .

Couldn’t I just go back in the closest, manage the depression, anxiety and constant suicidal thoughts and plans to execute it so no one would know it was a suicide?  Why did I have to tell?  OOPS and that night was the night of a family event that I would not be attending.  I didn’t check my calendar to make sure there were no life-events happening.  Oh no…now I’d have to take the blame for that too…and I did too.  SHOOT… I just couldn’t win if I wanted to.  Oh crap, there was no un-ringing that bell.

So with every bit of confidence that I had, I prepared myself for the phone to ring or an email to be returned.  Even if it was a mean and nasty email or phone call… at least it would be something right?  I already have this weird kink in my psyche that I’m literally afraid to answer my phone at times and without conscious alertness of this kink, I will go weeks without answering my phone or listening to voice messages.  I don’t even know why I do that.  I’m anxious to get into that one with my therapist…  that should be fun.

So I convinced myself that if my phone rang, that I needed to answer it.  I got myself all pumped up.  I would answer kindly and be ready for anything that came my way.  Good or bad I wanted to hear from my family.  I wanted to know that they would be there for me and my girls and of course my soon to be former wife that has been nothing but good, decent, kind and loving to them for over 15 years.

Well… that was months ago and while we have had several fruitless conversations regarding “other” topics, the topic of me being gay was diminished, dismissed, down-played and pushed to the side so that we could “talk about” how I’ve been the “cause of division” in the family over the past couple of years…  Are you kidding me?  When I was hospitalized last year and was given the notice that I may die, we were willing to forget the past and move forward with healing and family?  But now that I’m better and not at risk of imminent death, that offer is off the table mister!  “You will answer for your behavior!,”  I was told.  Yep… I single-handedly broke up a family.  No one else accepted any responsibility whatsoever.  It was solely my issue.  Not being gay, but “breaking up the family.”

So now I’m forced to deal with being rejected as the “great-divisioner”…If that’s even a word and to now process being gay, divorced and scared.  No concern about my well-being, no concern about the well-being of my children or former wife.  Just contempt, shame and embarrassment about the “things that you have said and done in the past.”  But to be honest, I just didn’t see that coming at all.  It was like a bat-to-the-face.  I have since made a conscious choice to sever ties completely until the day when my family is willing to attend a support group, watch a DVD, read a book, or anything about suppressing lifelong secrets and the obvious…being gay.  A good start is a documentary on Netflix entitled “For The Bible Tells Me So.”  I recently watched it and pretty much sobbed through the entire thing.  It’s a good start for anyone who has or suspect your loved one of being gay. I just can subject to the pain of having salt poured into my wounds any longer.  I need a time-out.  I need a break from the rejection and blame. There is no point going to a place or being somewhere where you bring no value.

The Facebook posts directed at me, the order of protection filed against me and served to me publicly, the visits by the police department to my home (to check on my welfare, of course) has been embarrassing, hurtful and shameless. Yet I am scolded for not wanting to be a part of this any longer.  Geez… I can’t imagine who chooses or signs up for this.

So now I come to the part where I have decided to share parts of my letter to my parents, family and friends with you.  I have edited and eliminated some parts for the privacy of my family and friends, though some of you will argue that this blog is a very public forum.  You are right, but this is my journey and if you care not to read then you have that choice.  You are not being forced to participate.

May 30, 2012

Dear Friends,

I want to take some time to share with you something that you may not know.  I want to pre-emptively squash rumors and gossip that is usually normal with this type of life event.

I will share some of the contents of a letter that I shared with my parents after much counsel, guidance and of course, prayer.

I don’t ask that you accept, condone or attempt to change your belief system; I just ask that you refrain from disseminating any information that is here-say, hurtful and unkind.  This type of display can cause irreparable damage to my sweet children.

I am keenly aware that some will wish to terminate friendship out of fear and confusion and that is understandable.  Please consider that outward appearances are just that… outward.  You may never know what is going on inside of someone’s heart, faith and home.

Here is some of the letter:

Dear Dad and Mom.

I Love you both Tons!  You are the best parents that a boy and man could ask for.  I have never been more proud to be your son than I am today.  You have loved me, nurtured me, supported me, and taught me how to have faith in God and to be understanding of others.

 

Today I find myself in a very tough place.  A place I have arrived at after 42 years of struggle with anxiety, frustration, physical and mental anguish, judgment, fear, anger, rage, lying, deception, denial, severe depression, and constant suicidal thoughts and multiple attempts at suicide.  I even asked the doctor to just let me die when I was in the hospital in September.  I changed my mind and continued treatment when I realized how loved I was by my family and friends.

 

I am happy to tell you that today that I AM NO LONGER THAT PERSON.  I am happy and healthy and I Love God with all of my heart.  I am a dedicated father, husband, son, brother and Christian.  My life is blessed beyond measure.

 

I am a gay man.  I am NOT a FAG, QUEER, SICKO, FAGGOT, SINNER, DISGUSTING, or any of the other hateful names that have been used to identify men who are gay.

 

I know you will have feelings of shame, sadness, anger, frustration and many other NORMAL feelings that you will feel as you read this today and as time goes on.  I will not judge you or love you any less as you go through this normal process of grieving and acceptance.  You did not “make” me gay.  You have done nothing to “cause” me to be gay.   This is not your “fault” or anyone else’s fault.  No one is at fault, no one is to blame.  I only ask that you love me and support me no matter what your feelings tell you.  You don’t have to accept me being gay, but I ask that you love me.

 

I have been counseling with my pastor and two other counselors for some time now.  We will continue this counseling as long as needed.   I announced to wife on January 1st of this year that I am gay.  I am at peace in my heart.  Of course I only confirmed what she has suspected for years.  I am not currently in a relationship with anyone other than my Sweet, Supportive, Kind, Gentle and Godly wife.  She is my BEST FRIEND and my ROCK of support through all of this.  She is truly the most understanding, non-judgmental and honest person that I know.

 Any other person would have thrown me out on the street and taken my girls from me.  I have neglected her sexually and emotionally for years now, I had crushed her spirit, self-worth and confidence.  She was beginning to blame herself.  She has done NOTHING wrong.  In fact, she has done everything right.  She has held my hand and stood by me for almost 15 years.  We have laughed, cried and loved each other and that will not stop today.  She does however have my FULL blessing and support to move forward in search of a relationship that will fulfill ALL of her god-given needs.  As a matter of fact I have encouraged it.  I cannot provide for her what she needs in a marriage relationship.  She is finally happier and healthier that she has ever been as well.

 

My Wife and I are both on the same exact page and place in this journey.  There are personal details that I do not believe are necessary to share. We have been working on this for YEARS.  Our relationship is stronger than it has ever been. We are NOT “going separate ways.”  We are committed to each other and committed to the parenting of our children TOGETHER.  We are committed to being a family, but we have not shared this with our girls as of yet.  I will eventually move into the guest room where I will live and be the best parent to my girls and best friend to my sweet Wife.  I have committed to never abandon or leave them EVER.  They are my heart and soul next to Jesus.

 

Other than you and my counselors, we have shared this with very few people.  We have been getting professional and personal guidance on how to navigate this.  We have come to a very solid place in our family and relationship as parents.  I understand and fully support you speaking to someone personally or professionally to help you both process this and work through your emotions, feelings and questions.  I do ask however that you do not have corporate discussions in public settings.  I have two very small, sweet girls to protect.  We have shared this with her parents, and they have committed to support our decision to be unmarried.

 

I am still your loving, kind and creative son.  I will not be dressing up as a woman, marching in parades, making announcements on Facebook or any other crazy stuff that would bring attention to me or embarrassment to my three girls, family and Christ.  This is a personal journey, not a public one.

 

Please understand that I am not sick, nor do I have a disease, I cannot be “healed.”  I cannot be “fixed” because I am NOT broken.  I have FOUGHT this for as long as I can remember… since before kindergarten… no one CHOOSES this pain, confusion and sadness. This fight is over.  I have won the battle and the war on this pain.  This is who I am as a person, son, father, husband, brother and son of God.  I did not choose to be gay any more than you chose to be straight.  I cannot convert to being straight any more than you can convert to being gay.  I have tried everything to be straight for 42 years.

 

I wanted to write this in a letter because I have clarity when I write.  I also didn’t want to put you in a difficult place to not be able to express emotion or to force a response from you.  I want you to have time to read this as many times as you like so that you can come to a place of understanding.  I understand that it may take some time to digest this.  Everyone processes this in different ways and at a different pace.  Hey…  It took me 42 years.”

 

Whew… that was tough to write and even harder to send to my parents, her parents and ultimately our friends.  Before I go, I would ask that you not disseminate this email in any form or fashion in an effort to bring shame to our family.

I would further ask that you not speak to anyone in a “guess who?” fashion.  I would ask that if you must share that you would simply say: “I would like to share something with you that may not know.”  In addition please, however you may bend on this issue, do not sprinkle us with solutions, class suggestions, websites, quips, quotes or any other unintentional condescending “words.”  While this may be new to you, this has been on-going with us for years and we are at a comfortable peace in our soul. We know what our resources are and could likely write a best seller book at this point.

Finally I ask that you not “feel sorry” for Me, My Wife or My Children.  We have closed ranks and we stand together as a family.  We are strong and committed to each other.  I made a commitment on July 18, 1998 to honor, love, and respect, cherish and provide for My Wife and my family till death shall part us.  I have not changed my position.  I simply cannot provide My Wife with the passion that a woman deserves from a husband because I am gay.

I will not abandon my three girls.

I would ask that if you must pray, please pray for the hundreds of other Christian, Jesus-loving, God-fearing families who are in the same situation as our family is.  On this journey I have met many and will continue to meet many more of them.  Unfortunately we are given but two options; leave our faith or leave our family.  I will do neither.  There must be something in the middle.  I aim to find that middle someday.  Until then I will press on loving Jesus, my three girls and people as I always have.

Much Love,

-Chet

So I shared.  Not to bring shame, Not to bring judgement, but to bring awareness.  Awareness that there are thousands of gay people of Christian faith that would rather die and take their risk of going to hell than to continue living in hell.

So in the kindest tone that I can muster up…  I will not stop blogging, I will not stop bringing awareness of ADULT, CHRISTIAN people who are gay and love GOD.  I will continue to return email messages and blog posts to people who are just like me and begging for my help.  If I can give them a reason to live just one more day, then I will sleep in peace and with a smile on my face.  I will choose to love, forgive, show mercy, grace and kindness.  I will not though, be silenced, shamed and berated another day, another minute, another second.  And…  I will continue to share events that cause others to think twice before they deem themselves perfect and without blemish to realize that for without the grace and mercy of the GOD you profess to love and honor, you would be in my exact same position.

I am sick of believing that God MADE me gay to torment me.  I choose to believe that God ALLOWED me to be gay so that I can become a better me and to help others to become a better them in spite of our “gayness.”

In my next post, I will post what response that I HOPED to receive from my family and friends but never got.  Thanks for reading and sharing.

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2012 in Journey to Authenticity

 

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the NAKED truth

My blog post today is an actual comment that was made on my blog by my friend Stanna.  I am reprinting this with permission as It kinda rocked my world and made me think and consider differently than I ever have as a Christian. My friend is a beautiful example of Christ and a pretty dang good attorney if I might say so myself.  Stanna is VERY analytic and practical and is trained to read between the lines and analyze words or statements for unidentifiable truth or untruths that are not usually seen by the naked eye or understand by the black and white mind.

Thank you Stanna for encouraging me to be my authentic self and I too respect and love you for being your authentic self as well.  Bless you my friend.  Bless you!

Here is the comment to one of my posts:

You’re a courageous, Christian man, Chet.

Don’t let the modern-day pharisees “take your crown”.

Your authenticity and unwavering pursuit of God does far more to further the “Kingdom of God” and the “good news of the Gospel” than anything offered by hateful hypocrites. The most they can offer the world is a false notion that it’s better to hide our humanness than it is to be genuine and dependent upon God’s grace.

If God needs or wants you to change in any way, He’ll be the first to let you know! Like He told the anguished and conflicted Apostle Paul, however, He may simply tell you to rest knowing that His grace is sufficient for you.

In the interim, keep evolving into the liberated man whom God created you to be while simultaneously serving as the “light” (example of hope) for a hurting world that’s lost, in large part, due to false and hopeless teachings offered by pharisaic proponents of the Old Testament.

Whenever you can, try to remind the modern-day pharisees that Jesus put the OT in its proper place when he disparaged its core as being merely the man-made “law of Moses” – never once calling it “the Word of God”.

While Jesus said “I come not to destroy the law and the prophets but to fulfill them”, He was merely referring to the fact that there would be no need to literally eliminate the OT (nor any need to talk much about it anymore) once He could fulfill His goal of superseding the old law through His crucifixion and through His provision of the greatest commandment: simply to love God while loving people.

Also, don’t be deterred by certain hopeless and legalistic writings authored by the Apostle Paul. He wrote his Biblical letters from the standpoint of being a newly-converted, yet often-conflicted, longtime former pharisee. Paul even admitted in his writings that he struggled to reconcile his old pharisaic inclinations with the otherwise simple task of just accepting God’s grace.

All of the confusion, of course, began when Adam & Eve ate the fruit of the tree of “Knowledge of Good & Evil”. They gained “knowledge” in the form of an awareness of their flaws, but gained nothing with respect to intelligence or logical reasoning. Their first inclination was to look at themselves as being naked in a way that now warranted feelings of shame. Immediately, they thought “we’d better run and hide so God doesn’t see us like this”. Thus, they (and not God) created for themselves the first rule, law or “sin”: thou shalt not be naked in the presence of God. They reached this conclusion despite their long prior history of walking naked with God in the Garden everyday without it ever being a problem (either in God’s eyes or theirs). Have you ever wondered what might have happened that day if Adam had said to Eve, “Let’s act like nothing has changed and let’s walk naked with God like we always have”?! Unfortunately, their newly-gained “knowledge” caused them to assume false and judgmental things about what God is willing to accept.

Since Adam & Eve, there have been many (like Moses) who have fallen into this same trap of falsely assuming what God likes and rejects (and in turn what constitutes “sin”). Moses wrote a bunch of it down and even said it was “God’s laws/statutes”. We know that to be inaccurate because Jesus later told the pharisees that the law on divorce (purported by Moses to have been given by God) instead had come merely from Moses (a man). It’s no wonder that the pharisees were enraged when Jesus referred to the core of what they considered their holy scriptures as being merely “the law of Moses”!

This doesn’t mean that any of us should live recklessly. As we saw in the parable of “the Prodigal Son”, bad choices can lead to a lost inheritance and anguish (among other unpleasant outcomes). Despite the bad consequences that our misbehavior may yield, however, our loving Father endlessly accepts us if we simply “come home to His love” as the prodigal son learned.

So with all the foregoing having been said, I encourage you Chet (and everyone else who may read this) to enjoy being a “new creature in Christ” with all of the weight of sin having been lifted.

Blessings,
Stanna Michelle

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2012 in Journey to Authenticity

 

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