God isn’t the problem, the church is

I think Christianity and God/Jesus gets a bad rap, a lot of people love to hate Christians, they paint them as overly pious, moralizing, judgmental of anyone who doesn’t fit their “version” of Christianity, they are intolerant of anyone who is different from them, they are hypocrites; preaching one thing and doing another; spouting love and compassion one minute and the next ignoring the new church member beside them looking for a friend in Christ, some Christians. I think these are the things that non-church goers feel and their observations aren’t far from the truth. I feel that way and I consider myself a Christian. Some of the most judgmental people I have met have claimed to Christians, it disheartening and very hurtful.

But here’s where I disagree with the kinds of people who make these statements; they equate God and Jesus with the actions of the church. God is love and accepting of all, God isn’t going to abandon or ignore you like some in the church. But because of the actions of those in the church, it turns many away from God. How can Jesus be love and compassion if these are his followers, that’s difficult for me and I struggle with it.

I have to separate God/Jesus from Church/Religion. You can have God in your life, be in prayer, read the bible, practice the principles of Christianity and never set foot in a church. They say community is vital, worship is necessary but what if you don’t feel accepted?. How can I reach God here when I all I feel is hurt and bitterness? I can forgive but it doesn’t negate the fact that I feel uncomfortable in church settings because I know I’m being judged. I attend church begrudgingly and it sucks up my energy. Instead of making me feel closer to God, I feel further away, as far as I’m concerned he’s somewhere outside in the parking lot.

I don’t think I’ve ever truly, felt welcome at church, well maybe as a kid but not as an adult. I feel coldness and indifference, I feel no one really takes the time to know because they’ve developed their “holy cliques”. It’s like George Carlin used to say “They’re in the club and you ain’t in it”. That’s how I feel, out of place, misunderstood, ignored and people don’t want to know you because they’ve already pegged you as someone they don’t want to talk to, so you stand in the corner as people pass you by like you don’t even exist. Sigh, I wonder how many people have left church or never found God because they felt so unwelcome among these so called accepting Christians. And it’s all because of how we treat each other.

I personally find God in nature by myself, through the conversations I have with others, through miraculous things that defy explanation, through writing/art/music, through prayer, reading the bible and the love of my family but never in the church. But don’t think I’m not a Christian or don’t have God is my life. I love God but I struggle with his children, they’re the problem.

 

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God loves us all

As a Christian; I love and accept everyone even those that don’t believe in God or who are from a different religion. I don’t care who you love, the color of your skin, the language you speak or your political views. I love and accept everyone because we are all children of God and that what he expects us to do; to love one another. It’s sad that Christians are painted with a broad brush and deemed hateful and intolerant. Some are ; for sure; but not all. Some of us accept everyone; we are not on a mission to moralize or point the finger. I am more on mission to let others know how much God loves them and that no matter what they have done in life; God forgives us and only asks that we trust him. May God bless you today. Amen 🙏🙏🙏

 

 

Sunday school

Earlier this week; I was helping with the disabled ministry and I was asked by one of the leaders if I could help assist with a special needs Sunday school class. I was honored that they thought I’d be a good fit; it was also exactly what I needed to get of my depressive funk; I was really excited about it.  Well. my first Sunday school assisting was this morning at 9:30.  It was pretty easy; the church had set up the lesson and all we had to was follow the guide.  The class only had one person attending and he was young man about 14 years old; he was great. He kind of shy and quiet; a lot like I was at that age but very bright. He has some special needs and I am so glad there is a Sunday school that serves him; there is a class for children, teens and adults ( the same adults that participate in the disabled ministry); I will be assisting in the teen class.  We wrote some things on the dry erase board; the theme being serving others ( which is what church is about, right?)  We watched a video about Jesus washed the feet of his disciples during Passover and how Jesus expects us the wash the feet of others. It’s a metaphor of course for serving the needs of others.  Jesus wants us to put others before ourselves and that will make us great in his eyes; an important message.  We did some arts and crafts; which he loved.   I just feel so great right now and blessed to be able to assist and be there for those at church with special needs. I believe this is God’s calling for me.  Happy Sunday to all my followers; may God bless you today.

 

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Jesus and the outcasts

I am really growing in my faith although I can’t make it Church service due to work and I should crack open my bible more; I try to live by the principles of Jesus’s teachings            ( which I have read several times)  and I often think about how God is working in my life.  I pray a lot when I feel other’s don’t accept me; they treat me as if I am unworthy and I’m sure mock me when I’m not around; I’m different.  I’m a pretty sensitive and gentle person and that is seen as a weakness; I have mental health issues; which I’m sure people pick up on; I have a lot of physical health issues and I am often uncomfortable which makes me anxious and people see anxious people as suspicious ( at least in my case) when they’re not. So I have felt and continue to feel like an outcast in many social situations.  The people who grew up with me accepted me but most outside of that circle have treated me poorly and that hurts.   So I was thinking about that the other day and if you read in the bible; Jesus didn’t seek out perfect people; the best looking guy in town; or the smartest guy; or the man in great health or someone that could communicate well; he chose those that were considered outcasts; tax collectors; those in bad health; those who stuttered ( Well that was in the old testament but you know what I mean) because Jesus knew that they could be the ones to effectively bring his message to ordinary people.  And Jesus didn’t go around helping only the rich or the highly educated; he helped sinners; prostitutes, the sick and the lame; people that society threw away              ( much like today)  But Jesus spread the word of God to them and healed them because the weakest members of society are the ones who need the most love and care.  It is so touching to read these stories of how Jesus cared for those who were outcasts. In a small way I saw myself in these passages and at times cried because I realized that I had pushed away God and yet he was also there to embrace me and accept me back; whereas people don’t always accept you back into their lives or have forgiveness in their hearts.  So when I feel mocked and pushed aside and made to feel like an outcast; I’m proud of that because I know Jesus is holding me up and giving me comfort; protecting me from the harsh world.  Not only do I love Jesus as the son of God but as a man; A selfless man who unlike the world preached that society should take care of it’s sick and disabled; it shouldn’t cast out anyone who is different; we should accept and love them; not in spite of their differences but because of their differences.  Having God in my life has given me hope in a world that sometimes feels hopeless; where people are so unkind to each other; where there’s no mercy or justice.  Times like that I close my eyes for a second; send a prayer to God; and while I may be anxious or hurting; I have peace knowing he is listening to this outcast and sending love down to him during those rough days.  Amen to that.  Remember that God is love and with him anything is possible

Dave

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God, are you listening?

Whenever I talk to you; I hope your listening; I hope you can hear me when i ask for help. Sometimes I don’t know if I’m talking to you or myself and if its just an echo ;i just don’t know. Some days I think you’re around ; other days you seem to be nowhere in sight and I feel alone in my thoughts and feelings. I tell myself you love me and will always protect me but sometimes life can be hard and I often blame you; when I know its not your fault. Be patient with me because I’m doing the best I can and please be there for me when I need you; even on days when i push you aside. 🙏

Dave

 

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The girl in the mugshot

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I met her for the first time in my communications class; interestingly enough.  I thought she was pretty cute but was too nervous to talk to her.  In this post I’ll call her Natalie       ( not her real name of course)   There was another girl named Jenny ( not her real name) I liked her more but looking back she seemed kind of boring and a snob; I only liked her because she was  attractive.  She seemed really smart; kind of a book worm; wore glasses.  I have a thing for intelligent women and I am not threatened by it as opposed to some men.

During the class we were assigned to do some report about a movie of our choice and we had write about the communication in the movie.  Both girls I liked were in my group and the only I really liked was Jenny. You know that point when she walks in the room and doesn’t even look at you and sits as far away from you as possible? Yeah; that was happening big time.  But with Natalie; we cracked jokes and get along and I was thinking this is great but I’m still focused on trying to get the attention of Jenny.

A week or so later Jenny made a flirty remark right before we were to go on to spring break and I assumed she really was interested. I thought about it non-stop for a week; planning to ask her out because I had no sense at the time. When we got back I saw her walk in and very nervously asked for her phone number; I didn’t even really asked her out. I’m sure she assumed it was because we were in the same group and that made perfect sense. I called her a few days later and basically asked her out; she rejected me; saying that we should focus more on passing this class ( which was sound advice) and after that I got more anxious and she got more annoyed at me.

Around this time I began talking to Natalie more.  I sort of bad mouthed Jenny to her; she agreed and thought it was funny. ( looking back never a good idea to bad mouth another girl to a girl you like).  We started chatting online and we really got along. One night we had a really long chat conversation and it was personal and not about school. We talked about partying and how her current boyfriend was abusive; he had thrown her phone across the room or something; this made me nervous; talking a girl who had an abusive boyfriend who might be trying to kick my ass if he knew I was talking to his girlfriend but I ignored all of that because hey it wasn’t everyday a pretty girl wants to talk to me. The next day something unexpected happened; in class Natalie sat right next to me.  You know they have those two desks together in row and every other seat was open; so it was strange. I sound like a little kid here but it was exciting because most of the time girls I liked avoided me like the plague ( which hurt by the way) but she wanted to get closer.  At some point she grabbed my hand and we walked  arm to arm around to the school book store; like we were going out or something. I was confused at this sudden change of behavior and thought maybe my luck had changed. I never had any luck with women.  The class eventually ended and we talked online from time to time but suddenly she unfriended me from Facebook and I figured I must have said something and was hurt.  A year or so later I was still in school and I saw her in the hall; she ran up to me to give me a big hug and was very friendly and I thought hmmm maybe I was wrong.  After that I didn’t see her for many years.

I was studying human services for disabilities at another campus about 5 years later; I was a in counseling class. It was one of the hardest classes I ever had to take; the teacher was really strict and some other girl gave me her notes just so I could pass.  So I was nervous; like everyone else.  All of a sudden this really cute girl walks in; which is a rarity in those classes.  And she looks like Natalie but I thought no way; that can’t be her but she kept looking back at me and not in a bad way. You know when someone is looking at you because you disgust them ( come on, we all have been there) but this wasn’t the case. At the end of class she came up to me excited and said “David?. it’s me Natalie!!”  She told me how good it was to see me.  She gave me this big hug and her phone number and said to call her to help with class; I was more than happy to oblige.

I have a past history of being too anxious and driving women away and I didn’t want to do this with her; I saw this as a second chance; so I waited. I didn’t call her but one day I get this call and she’s crying.  I couldn’t make out what she was saying but she was upset about class and being overwhelmed; I did the best I could but couldn’t really help her. Even after that I still liked her and I was curious to see if she was seeing anyone so I googled her name to see if she has a Facebook and a boyfriend and to my shock I found like 5 or 6 mugshots of her; drug arrests and dui’s; that explained the odd phone call and her overly friendly behavior.  I am not sure why but it made me angry; like I was judging her and thinking that she was a horrible person. After that I gave her the cold shoulder and when she asked me for help about something; I told her to go find someone else. I was really hurtful and I regret that because what she did had nothing to do with me.  Soon after that she dropped out of the class and I figured that would be the last I would ever see or hear about her. But of course the saga continues.

Last year I decided to get back on Facebook. I had this stupid notion that if I met a beautiful women I would have a social media account; that would make it easier for me to talk to her; stupid I know.  I had been to the bar once night and been rejected by every woman I approached; I went home feeling bad about myself.  I looked at Natalie’s Facebook ( I still thought about her from time to time) to see if she had been arrested again so I could revel in her misery ( I was different than I was now).  Low and behold she had a post about turning her life to Jesus; she had gone to a rehabilitation facility; found god and was turning her life around; I was floored.  It struck me like a thunder bolt; I wasn’t expecting it. Maybe she had gotten a new boyfriend or was dealing drugs     ( something crazy) but no, she was talking about God.  I saw it as a direct sign from God that I had meet this girl for a reason. I got on my knees and prayed and gave my life to God at that moment; started reconnecting from old friends from church and my life improved greatly. I messaged her a few times but she didn’t seem terribly interested in talking to me; I don’t blame her I wasn’t very nice.  After deleting some friends who I didn’t talk to on Facebook; I unfriended her as well; not out of anger but because I no longer needed to talk to her.

I realized God placed her in my life as a bridge to him; it sounds crazy; I know.  I am blessed to have met her and it took me awhile to understand the real reason we met; if I hadn’t of I wouldn’t  be where I am today.  She has no idea the impact she has had on me and I am forever grateful.  And to think if we had gone out and started a relationship; I would have lost my focus and never turned my life to God.   This is one those God things where I can’t deny he works in mysterious ways.

Have a blessed day

Dave

Walking his path

When I’m on the wrong path, I hear his voice from the heavens directing me where me to go. Without him I blindly search the forest running into pine bushes, tripping over rocks and falling into deep rivers; unable to get to shore. At times I hear a faint voice which I know is him and I willfully ignore it; thinking I’m smart enough to forge my own path. Annoyed; his voice grows louder until I can longer ignore his message; he turns me away from the path I was taking, and leads me to the path he set out for me. This time the ground is smooth without rocks or thorny bushes. The deep lake is far out of sight and I dont have a chance of drowning as long as I follow his directions. Lord please lead me out of the darkness and into the light of your love.

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The disability ministry at Church

Today was such a wonderful day; as most of you know I have been very passionate for a long time about helping those with developmental disabilities and am in school working on a degree in human service/developmental disabilities. A part of that passion comes from the fact that I got special needs services from the time I was a small child; I am so blessed that at that time ( over 30 years ago) there were people who were just as passionate about helping children like me as I am with the disabled adults I have had the pleasure to work with over the years; it’s amazing to give back.  I am also blessed to be part of a church that serves the developmentally disabled  in many ways; there is actually a ministry dedicated to helping the developmentally disabled in the community and when I heard about that I knew immediately that I wanted to be a part of that somehow.  I have made a lot of changes in my life. There was a time; not long ago; in which I said I would do this or volunteer or help with this and I never followed through; things are different today; when I say I am going to do something; I will try my best to make that happen.

So today was a lunch served by those helped through the ministry; it was wonderful to see them interacting with people; feeling a part of things; being productive; I just was smiling seeing this because some of the kindest most wonderful I have met have been disabled in one way or another. In fact if I had a choice between spending time with disabled people or non-disabled people I would choose disabled people;  they are a hell of a lot much nicer and much less judgemental overall than people that don’t have special needs ( some; not all. I don’t like making generalizations) I sat next to a lady who had been to the lunch before and she was explaining some of the things they do out in the community; the activities through the church; I was impressed. She was also very friendly and I was glad to be seated next to someone who cares about this community. Her daughter was also there and was also interested in helping those with special needs; I told her about my internship and that it serves the many needs of the disabled and I gave her the card I got from there. Even though my experience was bad there; I hope she finds it rewarding.  Actually my internship experience soured me a bit on getting into the disability field, but after talking with people today; I feel more positive about it. I think if I can just connect with the right people I can be successful; like anyone else I just need the right guidance It is refreshing to be around people who care so much about serving those in need; I am not around people like that on a regular basis. I went with my mom because she knew a lot of the people there and she introduced me to some of the leaders there. I talked to a young woman who’s mom founded the organization; she was very friendly and I enjoyed talking with her. I told her about how i was in school to get a degree in human services and she seemed very enthusiastic. She told me to email her and the other leaders about what times I can volunteer. Sadly I work retail and my schedule is erratic to say the least but I will talk to my boss about making time for this ministry because it is important.  I am just so excited to be a part of this; I feel this is God’s calling for me.  And I love to be around people who as passionate as me and who want to help others. I am just at a loss of words at how happy I am right now. Truly a God moment.

 

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Life update August 2018

I first want to say thank you to everyone who follows and interacts with me on this blog.  I still can’t believe how positive the comments have been regarding my posts; I have received a ton of support and I really appreciate that. Lately I have been I have been making less posts than I did in the past; I guess I have been busy and haven’t had the energy to write as much or respond in a prompt manner.  But this blog has been therapy for me; a way to get out my feelings in a safe place with people who understand and it’s an amazing thing. I plan on blogging for many years to come.

In the past year and especially since I have started blogging my life has changed in many positive ways.  I am slowly adding enriching things in my life; things I was too scared to do in the past; if something suggested this or that; I’d say I’d think about it; knowing I would never taking them on the suggestion; a lot of had to do with fear; more than anything else. I am a fearful person and I think like most people I don’t want to get out of my comfort zone. But know I am doing things that I wasn’t doing a year ago; for example this blog itself.  For many years I had many thoughts and ideas, feelings that I never shared with anyone. I thought if I shared these things people would laugh or reject what I had to say; I was wrong. Writing and the feedback I got from it gave me a boost of confidence that I have learn to use in other areas of my life; I feel like I am actually good at something and have something to offer others; a conversation starter. Through the blog and sharing and reading poetry online; I recently decided to attend a poetry reading; I had never heard poetry read out loud; I was amazed at how encouraging people were of each other and at that moment realized that I could face my fears and share my poetry at the next meetup. This is all new to me and I am the first to admit that I am terrified of public speaking especially when sharing personal writings with strangers I do not know; but my friends have encouraged me and that has given me the confidence to get up to the mic. Next week is the meetup and I will muster up the courage to share one of my writings ( no more than 1!) with an audience; we’ll see how that goes and I am sure that I will make a post about it.

I have also ventured into other areas; I am partially bilingual but sadly have no place to practice my Spanish outside of the home. A very long time ago a counselor suggested that I join this Spanish conversation group where you sit around a circle and speak Spanish; I dismissed it that the time because of fear ( of course)  A few years later I decided to just go one day and was pleasantly surprised; I took my dad for support and I came to realize a lot of the speakers were at the same level as me; no one laughed at my Spanish; I met some nice people and I could finally have a conversation in Spanish without someone rolling their eyes; I loved it. I love to speak Spanish and to learn new things; I always say you should never stop learning.  I regret not going to this conversation hour in the past; I suffer from anxiety and depression and at the time I was scared of meeting new people.  The idea of a large group of strangers scared me; so I was more content just to stay at home and hide. I no longer think that way; I am not content sitting at home when I could out meeting new and interesting people.  I figure you will never meet people if you stay home feeling sorry for yourself; I never had that kind of positive thinking before; it’s amazing

As many of my followers always ready know I am in school trying to a degree to help adults with special needs; it is something I am passionate about and I think it is a great field; I want to make a difference.  I work retail and I never get a Sunday off ;so I miss church, which has been something I would like to participate in.  In the past; I stayed away from church; I didn’t like being up early on a Sunday morning; being with large crowds and sounds of people coughing or crying babies. Anyways I finally got a Sunday off and just happened to be at the service where they were talking about a ministry for adults with special needs; it made my ears perk up.  I told the minister I was really impressed with this ministry and he said he wanted me to be a part of it; I was really excited at the prospect at working with the disabled; and without being graded or judged; I can really enjoy this experience and be there for the pure enjoyment and not a part of school. I had an internship where I was at agency for those with developmental disabilities and I loved the clients but  I struggled with the staff; I felt judged; I felt my compassion wasn’t enough and that I wasn’t guided into making the internship successful; I was really disappointed. But I am one that believes God leads to where you need to be and I just happened to be at that service on that one Sunday so I could hear that message of the ministry; I feel it could be my calling. I have contacted the ministry and I hope that my schedule will allow me to participate somehow. I just can’t believe this is happening because 5 years; I was unemployed; dealing with health problems; emotional difficulties; disabled and feeling sorry for myself. I turned that around and now I am able to be in service of others; I can take those dark moments and use it to help others who are struggle; life is a funny thing to me.

I just feel like a different person these days; a year ago I felt I had no friends; no one who cared about me and I just couldn’t relate to other people; I couldn’t make people understand how I felt or what was in my head. Through my writing people have insight into everything I have been feeling over the years and it brought me closer to others. I’ve learned how to reach out to others ( mostly online since I have moved away and don’t know a lot of people where I am). I have learned to be a good friend who encourages others and I try to be kinder more gentler person than I was in the past. I have always been a sensitive person but I saw it as a weakness; I didn’t want to express my feelings because as a man it made me seem vulnerable but now I embrace it. In the past I kept everything bottled up and it really affected me emotionally; I became a wreck and I all I felt was anger all the time. Now I see sensitivity as a gift and I no longer fear being labeled as weak because I see myself as a strong person; it takes strength to express your feelings openly and without regret; so I’m proud of that.  So this is where I am at now in my life. I am adding things to my life; I am reaching out to people and facing my fears. I hope one day to use my story to help others who have struggled just like me.   And for those who took the time to read the whole thing; I know it was a long post but remember I write as much as I talk; a lot.  It’s a work in progress.

Take care,

Dave