PART 1: I had a very interesting conversation with another young woman. Let’s call her Diane. We were part of a group that had supper together at a restaurant and we were sitting beside each other for a couple of hours. After she learned what I do, she must have felt free to open up and tell me her story. She said she was raised atheist. She recently moved to that city and was going through a difficult time. She’d met another girl and she’d invited her to her church. Pentecostal. I’m nodding my head. I know Pentecostal. Diane said she invited God into her heart. She said her life’s really changed. Now, instead of having this feeling of cosmic loneliness she feels wrapped in loving arms. She said the pastor told her that he sensed God wanted her to know that he has nothing but love and grace for her, that she was not to judge herself because God wasn’t, and that all is well with her soul and to be happy. She was smiling when she was telling me all this. She was obviously so happy, content, and positive. She wasn’t using Christianese either because she didn’t know it. Yet. But I knew what she was talking about. I smiled and said, “Isn’t it wonderful to feel this acceptance, this love, and to feel that you are somehow ultimately cared for just as you are? Not many people have that feeling. I’m really happy for you!” “YES!” she said, “That’s it! I feel that I’m really okay as I am!”
Now, someone could have responded, “You do realize, don’t you, that God doesn’t have arms?! That God isn’t separate from you somewhere in heaven reaching down to hug you. Or that maybe there isn’t even a God. I want to warn you that one day you may feel abandoned by this very same God and experience a loneliness like you’ve never experienced before and it could last for months or years or forever! I would also like to issue a warning about Pentecostals because I was one: they will smother you with love and affection for a while, so enjoy it while you can. Because… and I don’t know when it is… but at some point they are finally going to tell you you need to move out of your boyfriend’s apartment, drop your non-Christian friends, get baptized, stop drinking and smoking, speak in tongues and obey their particular rules.”
Someone could have told her that. But no one did.
And that’s a good thing. I decided a long time ago I’m a validator. I validate other people’s journeys. I’m an encourager. I encourage people to be spiritually independent. Diane’s journey is a fascinating one and this is one of her chapters. She is a smart woman. She is figuring this out. Right now she’s happy, content, loved, respected, and her life has purpose and meaning. Why rob her of that with depressing news from the future? Perhaps with her smarts, her atheist upbringing, and her open-mindedness she will avoid some of the traps we fell into. I hope so. Or maybe she’ll sometimes learn the hard way like we all have and do.
D: So I mentioned to a few people about the healing stones and how I seen a physic this weekend and people at my church think that people who use this “stuff” are like evil or this comes from demonic place. It’s almost like relying on someone else to heal you when really we are told to rely of god. Part of me thinks it’s ok because god must have made these stones. What do you think??
I’m unsure what what your opinion is on Christians as of now, but from your cartoons I feel like your a type of Christian who doesn’t follow the rules.. A non typical Christian of some sort? I’m curious what your belief is. I don’t feel like I completely agree with most Christians and have a hard time labelling myself as one lately.
ME: Yes I am a non-typical Christian. I identify as “christian” because that’s my roots and my home, so to speak. I tell people “My home’s in Christianity but I have cottages everywhere.” That means I appreciate truth no matter where it’s found or where it presents itself.
Most religions demand complete 100% devotion to their own body of doctrines and rules. This obviously isn’t surprising to you. You apparently have a mind of your own and want to use it. You are intellectually curious and that is a good thing. But many people find that threatening and dangerous. You must follow your own heart.
I believe we all experience the same things but perceive these through our own world-views and impute our own stories to these experiences and then use our particular language to articulate them. Once one realizes this then you can be comfortable and confident with where you’re at but respect others where they are at too. Plus you can take what’s true and reject what isn’t without fear.
Labels are dangerous because they attempt to describe the contents thoroughly and finally. But I believe we are fluid beings. You are. I am. The label today won’t be the label tomorrow. Sometimes I’m a believer, sometimes an atheist, sometimes confused! I don’t care. I love me and embrace all of what I am. I have a healthy inner believer and a just as healthy inner atheist. And I’m fine with that. Others might not be, but that’s their problem, not mine. It’s their fear that demands I label myself to make them feel more comfortable and know how to relate to me. But relate to ME, not what I believe.
That’s the way I look at it. Does that help?
D: Ok your making me feel better, thanks The people at my church make it sound like the physic wasn’t even a real person, like she was an evil spirit in a body, trying to trick me.. I don’t feel like healing stones do any harm to anyone. If I put good intensions towards these other forms of healing then why couldn’t it be a good thing?
Christians seem to have such closed minds. It seems they think they know all the rights and wrongs, but it’s just all opinions.. why are they all separated in baptist, pentecostal etc. and yet they all think their individual group is the right way.. I don’t think there’s a perfect way of living.
I just won’t tell my Christian friends what else I’m up to, I don’t feel like having debates with people, but I respect their belief but it’s becoming clearer that its not for me. It’s like a cookie cutter belief.. no room for me to even use my own brain, if that makes sense.
I appreciate your reply. I feel like we share an understanding of the subject, its nice to have someone like that. I’m still searching for questions and finding my own answers to things though, it’s a fun process!