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Freedom vs. Condemnation

In all my constant thoughts about freedom recently, I’ve come to a great realization. In the past I have constantly dreaded what this earthly future holds for me. I can’t find a well-fitting job, be it paying enough nor enjoyable enough nor fulfilling enough. My head fills with sorrow at the failures of the past. Failing in school, in relationships, in determination, has made me look forward with dread. I consider what is going on with the world and am sure that Christ will come back in a blaze of glory and set all things right. That future is bright and has been my only hope. Yet when I don’t consider that He has me in His grip and I am His, and He has everything in the future just the way He plans it, and I only hope in His second coming, my attitude sells Him short. He is too small in my mind.

So then I see that, I mean really see, that nothing I do can gain the grace and mercy and salvation, that what I have is all because of Him, it humbles me, cheers me, gives me a sense of joy, of relief that I have never felt before. Here we are, the Church, focusing on all the wrong things. He has prepared me for this moment. It is not like I’ve never heard of these things before, for I have, but they have never truly resonated with me before. I have absorbed this teaching.

Galatians 5:1-2 says, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you.” For freedom has He set us free. As I see it as opposed to condemnation. I am constantly condemning myself; looking at my failures of the past, my sins of the present, and the weariness I’ve built for the future. It is done. As I said a couple of days ago, this is a new and special time for me, in seeing all this and knowing that there is now no condemnation for me. That is what Paul was saying. Of course we believe that God doesn’t condemn us, but do we ever consider that we no longer have need of condemning ourselves. Sure we sin, but get over it. Get the unlimited grace He gives and move my brother.

On a walk today I considered these things and saw in my mind that it is freedom that creates a sense of eagerness when considering the future, and condemnation that creates dread. I am praising Him in my freedom. Come my brothers and wash yourselves in the purity of His grace and walk away from all the self-condemnation that makes us dread the future. Be eager in seeing what He has planned for you knowing that it all has been won, because of Him, because of our freedom!

~Stranger

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Strange Confessions: In Which I Remember What a Jerk a Nice Little Boy Like Me Could Sometimes Be

Strange Confessions: I once sneered at a girl and said, “No!” in a disgusted way, when asked if we could roller skate together on a girl’s choice skate.

Our class at St. Vincent, (my elementary school), would have skate nights at “Wheels” once every month or so on Friday nights. (Bonus points for those who remember the splendiforous Wheels: local roller rink/eatery/arcade, it was an old supermarket, right next to the Villa Theater on Highland Drive. Wheels is long gone now, it’s some mini-strip mall thing, as all good things seem to go. Even the Villa is no more. Last I saw it was a middle-eastern rug gallery.) Our class at St. Vincent, at least how I saw, always got along with each other. Take me for instance: I was not a sports guy, a rich kid, a dungeons and dragons player, or a smart kid. Yet, I got along with all those types there. I absolutely loved going to St. Vincent’s, specifically for the memories of these friendships, now long gone as well. If I had a choice to go to a high school or elementary school reunion, I’d definitely want to see how all my elementary friends got on.

Yet, this memory has started to show cracks in my rose colored memory vision glasses, as I have researched this girl and had discussions about it with my wife. First of all, as this memory comes into my head once in a while, I cringe at my actions and lack of empathy. I wonder about how this affected this girl later on in life. I’m just sure she wakes up in the middle of the night from the nightmare she has all the time, about the cold-hearted boy that ruined her life from that point on. Or, maybe, I think too much of myself and the influence a moment I had with her that probably meant nothing. And yet, I still have these guilty feelings.

Anyway, this girl, let’s call her Tammy, she had tight, curly, short hair over a large forehead, buck teeth and was a slight bit overweight. She was quiet but smiled a lot. My memories of St. Vincent may have been great, being a boy and feeling included, but I never saw the girls side of things. I have seen how cruel girls can be to each other, especially in grade school. Maybe her smile was covering up the pain she felt because she was ill-treated or ignored by the other girls. It’s a terrible thing to think that she, just wanting to be accepted for once, asked the “nice” guy who was friends with everyone, only to be rejected once again. It seriously causes me pain to think about.

Then, I wonder about where she is now. If maybe this jerk (me) came out of the past and asked her to forgive him for that moment. Would she remember, appreciate the effort, or laugh at the idea that it meant anything to her now? So, I looked her up. Yes, I remember her name, how could I forget. I found out she was adopted. Her birth parents marriage was interracial and the mother’s parents never liked them being together, and after Tammy’s birth the parents got a divorce and gave her up for adoption. This was 1969 Utah after all. I found all this out on a site that links up adoptees to their birth parents. Isn’t technology… strange? I also saw she has a Facebook profile. So I went on and checked out her profile pics. I was a bit surprised: she is a heavy metal chick, who hadn’t really grown up. I also noticed that she went to Valley High, which was where the bad kids went. Most of her pics were taken in a night club/bar. All the girls wore immodest black, white, or jean material clothing, lipstick; bright, glossy red. The guys had long hair and ripped t-shirts. They all were having a good time, obviously. All her female friends comments were like “You look so good” or something to that extent, and the guys all saying how “hawt” she was. And then she’d be all like, “Awww, Thanks, and stuff”. Oops, sorry. I fell back into the 80s for a second there.

Now, I realize at this point, that nothing I say will make any difference in her life now. Not because she is happy or forgot, but that people’s lives go on. Here I am dwelling on my selfish actions in the past, well, not dwelling really, more like glimpsing occasionally, and their life goes on. Then I wonder; if that one guy came up to me, telling me how sorry he was for being a bully and thought it was funny to sick his little brother on me and I could do nothing about it because he would do… something to me, would I think he is ridiculous for thinking about me after all these years? I would be astounded! I would tell him no worries, that it was just part of the formation of who I was. Sure I was afraid for my mom to drop me off early to school and I’d have to deal with you, but it’s all cool now. It would be neat… in a weird sort of way. So anyway, I’ve seen lots of people my age who have never grown up and wonder if they had some sort of horrific life that made them that way. Hey! My life isn’t perfect, I know. Everyone’s life shouldn’t look like mine. But there is something about people who are in their 40s still partying like they were in their early 20s. I know, again, my life isn’t like everyone else’s, but… never mind. Lot’s of things to contemplate in this confession.

My point is: How far would you go to seek forgiveness from wrongs done by you in the past?

Do you have a story to tell?

This is a copy from my original Stranger in Rebellion Facebook site found here. If you liked it go like that page and thankee faithful reader.

~Stranger

Protected: Honest Relationships Part 2

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Honest pursuit

There is much to say about why I am starting this blog. I have a voice, opinions, and stories I need to share. So why not post on some social website where all your friends can see and comment and like and follow? Well, that leaves much to be desired for me. In short I would rather post to random strangers who may never see, never comment, than post to people who may or may not know me, who may take the time to read but never like, comment or follow. I need practice in writing more. I am a Christian who would like to encourage other believers by sharing my struggles, to exhort them to right choices. I may not always be right, but you never get anywhere by keeping your mouth shut, and I would hope to learn a thing or two as well.

My favorite type of post is something I started on a social site, is one that I call “Strange Confessions”. I make a short confession of something stupid I’ve done or thought and expound upon it, maybe.

Here is my very first one: “Strange Confessions: When I have embarked on an elevator all by myself, I do several roundhouse kicks to the corners to make sure no one invisible got on with me.”

Currently it has become more of a connection of the past toward my attitude now on my Christian walk. Like this one: “Strange Confessions: The reconciliation I had with my Dad started with misheard song lyrics.
I’ve recently rediscovered my enjoyment of listening to The Cranberries. My wife and I have both enjoyed the song styling of this slightly obscure Irish pop/rock band. I remember when I first heard the song “Zombie”. The rock guitar combined with the rich, obviously Irish voice of O’Riordan touched something in me, and I found that the slower, almost depressing songs awoke within me the passion of the dramatic, tearing soul, pulling itself up from within to draw tears that empathized with her view of a darker world full of people who could choose good but instead are facing the horrifying choice they’ve made and the consequences therein. Wow. My normal choices, as of late, has been music that makes me move, (I want to dance). I’ve rejected the stuff of previous times that have been too harsh or too depressing, wondering why we’re all so angry and sad, and yet listening to The Cranberries still evokes a joy at music so quietly powerful in its emotions.
You may know that my Dad left our family when I was a junior in High School, in truth he had left emotionally years before. I and my siblings had a hard time dealing with this and we all dealt with it in our own way. I was nonchalant. I mostly tried not to care, and if I did care and dwell on it too much it got just too damn depressing, so I didn’t think about it. I pretended it didn’t affect me, and eventually it didn’t. I had a history of depression and after Dad left I would get unexplainable bouts that I easily gave in to but never tried to face the issue that may have been causing it.
So, years later, after meeting my wife and her family and becoming a Christian and hearing the idea of forgiveness I started realizing that whatever my Dad did to us I needed to be different from what the world may have expected from me. I started to think about how I could connect with him. But all interactions were frustrating with him. He never called, was always the “Woe is me” type. He just still wasn’t there…. just wasn’t there. I decided not to push, not, in fact, to do anything. I’d wait for him. If he wanted anything, let him make the first move.
Then I listened to the song. The song was “Disappointment”, by, of course, The Cranberries.
Here are the first lyrics: “A disappointment. Oh, you shouldn’t have done, You couldn’t have done, You wouldn’t have done the things you did then. And we could’ve been happy. What a piteous thing, A hideous thing was tainted by the rest, But it won’t get any harder, And I hope you’ll find your way again. And it won’t get any higher, And it all boils down to what you did, Then… [X 8]”
When she says “Then” eight times, I hear her say “Dad”. I saw her as singing about her Dad and what a horrible thing he did when he left their family. How it should have been – happy. But, she hopes he finds his way. She says that deep down if he really would have thought long and hard about it, he never would have been so selfish. She said to me that even though all those things, piteous and hideous that tainted everything, didn’t matter after some time. If you don’t wish ill there can be forgiveness.
She goes on: “In the night we fight, I fled, you’re right. It was exactly then, it was exactly then, I decided, decided, decided, decided. Oh, that threw you out. In the night we fight, I fled, you’re right. It was exactly then, it was exactly then, I decided, decided, decided, decided. Mmm… Mmmm… But it won’t be any harder, And I hope you’ll find your way again. And it won’t get any higher, And it all boils down to what you did, Then… [X 8] / Disappointment… [X 6] / Then… [X 8]” (I still hear here the “Then” as “Dad”)
There was a time I fought with my Dad, and it was then that I decided that he was out. I knew I could never relate to someone so given in to their passion of anger and selfishness. But – again – she tells me it won’t get any harder, it’s alright and that we can hope well for them, and that is forgiveness. When she repeats “Disappointment” over and over until the end of the song, she still feels that pain, the hurt of what went on. But, there is hope.
It helps immensely when you know there are others who have experienced the same thing we have: the pain, the temptation, the regret are all easier to deal with. We really should share more of these experiences, if anything to spur others on to the courageous and/or difficult decisions and actions we all need to make. Even though the sentiment I was hearing wasn’t what she was communicating, it was what truly needed to be on my heart.
So, anyway, I was listening to this song, in this way, all by myself in the apartment my wife and I had the first year we were married, and I was shuddering with the tears pouring out of me, wailing over the broken relationship, all that could have been, and knowing that I can choose to forgive: not forget, but I could forgive. And I did. Many people don’t understand the idea of forgiving someone who has wronged you so horribly, but as Christians that is all we should see. That the horror we inflict on each other because it seems right or makes us happy or we feel justified in some way, or the way we disregard our Creator when we do these things or even when we do evil in His name, that He still forgives us when we come to Him in genuine repentance.
My Dad and my family had a good relationship after that. In fact, before he moved to California, he hugged me, and said “I love you” to me, which he never did before, which he claimed that his mother and father never did for him. Music can change people, even misheard lyrics have a way of getting inside us, turning us to the better. But ultimately it is God who can change us in ways we never would think possible. I am the man I am today because of God. I give Him the glory and hope that my life can reflect that.”

If you like that, perhaps you can search on Facebook for “Stranger in Rebellion” and like it. Maybe I’ll post the “Strange Confessions” congruently.

This will be perhaps my most favored type of posting. But, I also want to do book and movie reviews, thoughts on the culture and the bible. That sort of thing.

I am 43 years old, grew up Catholic in Salt Lake City, Utah. Became a Christian while dating, and marrying my wife. Moved to West Plains, Missouri after 40 years in the Utah desert. I am learning a lot about myself, people, the Church and the connections we all have in this world.

One thing I will be is honest. That is why I titled this first post Honest pursuit. Above all I want to be honest, and I can’t do that where I was, so here I go. Hope you’ll enjoy the ride and see you again soon.

Mitch Teemley

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