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Strange Confessions: Car Windows

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Strange Confessions: Spare the Car, Fine the Child

Strange Confessions: I was dreadfully afraid to get sick in the car while I was growing up, because I didn’t want to get fined for littering if I threw-up out the window.

I have a vague recollection of a conversation with one or more of my parents regarding those signs you see on the freeways warning of fines if you littered. All sorts of scenarios went through my mind regarding string, rice, ice, apple cores. But the most perplexing thing that was given birth in my brain was, “Is vomiting out the car window considered littering?”

I sincerely put forth my query and they told me that, yes indeed, throwing-up out the car window was littering. “Who has to pay?” I asked. I was informed that they would pay but they would expect remuneration for the foul fine. I doubt if my parents ever said remuneration to me, and I never considered an upset stomach coating the black asphalt speeding perilously by, to be a work that they had done for me. Who were these policemen who would hate a child enough to watch them speeding by as the green faced warrior of warning and chaos spewed forth its venom and then pursue them to the ends of the earth just to make sure fines were distributed to the innocent? It was just an undigested bit of beef or blot of mustard or an underdone potato that caused all the mess anyway… how could they consider fining the poor sick lad who didn’t want to be slapped for mussing the car all up?

My mind pondered this for some time, and then I ingested the information, took it for what it was worth and vowed never to get sick enough to vomit out a car window.

As some trigger in my brain released this long forgotten information, I wondered at its genesis. Did my dad, for as the more I write the more I recall, tell me this just to have a bit of fun? Or did he tell me this because his dad told him? My Grandfather died before I was born and the only thing my dad told us about him was that he owned a spaghetti factory by the union station tracks near downtown Salt Lake, and that he punished him once for messing with a dishwasher and broke his arm. I also recall a picture of him someone, somewhere had of him strolling down the streets of downtown Salt Lake City in finely pleated slacks, polished shoes, double-pocketed button up shirt and a straw hat perched nonchalantly on his noggin. Did he tell his son stories to mess with him? My dad was an only child. I am the middle.

Perhaps I recall this story to purge it from who I am. Many people find it a ridiculous notion that our relationship with our fathers drives our relationship with God. I many times feel as if I am God’s comedy release. Even now, with so many things frustrating and mocking me because of my own fate, makes me feel that God isn’t angry with me… He just likes having a good laugh at me once in a while. Purge it. Purge it. Purge it. Thank you for the recall of such innocence of youth, brain, for it is to purge bad theology that effects my heart. Nonchalant hat tips to my God.

Strange Confessions: The Spirit Arm

Back when I was in High School I would have to set my own alarm for the waking up in the morning on time bit. I didn’t have a parent who came in and pulled of the sheets or turned on the lights to make me get out of bed. Apparently they figured I was responsible enough to rouse myself, shower, break fast and make my own lunch. I became amazed at the amount of parents who still babied their babies well into their college years when I grew older and heard stories about all the coddling that goes on. I thought that I would have done well with some coddling every now and then, but then I think it was probably good for me.

One of the biggest fears I had was the alarm not going off in the morning. I try to remember a time of disaster that my have happened as a result of me not getting up, but as I rack my brain, it comes up empty. As usual. My concern became such a huge factor that I believed that I had some sort of trick or spirit arm that could maneuver in any way as long as it connected with my elbow. If I set the alarm and moved my hand away, the spirit arm could switch it off if I allowed it in the area for too long. It was quite the trickster of a spirit arm, was it not? If I didn’t move away fast enough the arm could ruin the entire day for me. I would lay there wondering if my arm got the alarm off. I would check if it was on. It was on. Then I would wonder again. Then check again. This would happen up to 8 times. It drove me crazy, my spirit arm. How did I have such responsibility, yet such a great ability to sabotage myself? Yet that is the question isn’t it? I am the greatest saboteur of myself.

I come back to wanting to publish more “Strange Confessions” but make it difficult to understand by my stream of thought speaking. Sorry about that. I will be doing this again, but maybe only occasionally as an audible. Some other new segments on Stranger In Rebellion will be introduced soon.

~Stranger

Strange Confessions: Dollhouse Derivative

Strange Confessions: Reboot

The End of Stranger in Rebellion

Strange Confessions: This opportunity in Denver and the subsequent reactions of my church family here in West Plains has affected me greater than I first thought.

I have been part of a discipleship group with three other men here for the past month, and have been discussing many things with them. The congregation that I am a part of now does not see discipleship as I always imagined it: sitting there with a book of doctrine in your lap or on the table and going over again what we have known but occasionally forget, forcefully trying to slam it into your brain for good. We take walks, and talk. We ask each other questions about what we would do in certain situations. There is discussion about how we are leading our family and ways we can do it better. We talk about long term relationships, careers, and ministries. We consider the immediate and grasp the consequences of the past. The Holy Spirit flows through our assembly as we do our best to honor Him in all our contemplations.

“Why do you call your blog ‘Stranger in Rebellion’?” I was asked the other night. I am quite proud that I came upon that name and all its connotations, stemming from the “Strange Confessions” and other strangeness that encompasses who I believe I am. Earlier that night I told them about my difficulty in writing over the past few weeks. I tried writing about the sermon regarding Friendship three different times. It seems as if I’m stuck in trying to convey the importance and value of what being a true friend in the full biblical sense really is. I get caught up in thinking about how I was so interested in getting out of West Plains, that I forgot about… relationship: family and friends that I’m not sure I’ve really had until these last couple of years. I don’t want to devalue our church family in Utah in any way, but this is so much different from what I knew back West. We also discussed the Youth Group that is starting up with me at the helm, and how I want to go beyond what is the other standard fare offered here in West Plains. I think about all the “wasted” time that has rushed by in the past and how now I see the world, God, and the gospel in such a brighter light, and I want to share that with these young adults so that they at least have the opportunity to understand all that before their life is in their sun’s declination phase. There is a passion inside me that wants to reveal the God that I now know, the gospel that is all about freedom, and glory that shines in us every day. I’ve missed the times when I taught Sunday School years ago, that is when I fully got into the Word. Yes, I struggle with giving my God the time He completely deserves, yet in teaching the desire comes fully alive.

The question posed to me lied more in the fact that I am no longer the “Stranger” I once was, and might be part of the reason I am struggling to write. They say people don’t change. We know, as Christians, that this is completely false. Others understand this in some superficial way. Sure we change our minds, our habits, our style, but fundamentally we are the same. I am new. In many ways I am the same. I stay quiet when I don’t feel what I say is important enough or smart enough or considered enough. I get very opinionated and loud when discussing our societal woes. I enjoy movies and pop-culture. I love my family and I miss the ones I am related by blood, who are far away. Yet, I am new. There has been a switch that went off inside me that I need to explore. This something is more… mature, you might say. It is more willing to Be where God has me. Resolve is changing to contentment.

I think my friend hears all this in me and, considers the Stranger to be no more. And to tell you the truth, I believe he is right. Change is inevitable. This considered move to Denver revealed how much I am attached here. Prior to these occurrences, I saw us moving and forgetting about all that we knew here, in West Plains, deleting contacts in our phone and on that one site. Now, as I ponder these possible actions, it almost brings me to tears. This place has become so much a part of what I am, who I am, that I can no longer consider forgetting it all once we are geographically gone, if that ever happens.

This change is not a new idea in my mind, for over the last few months I have thought things needed to change about the blog. Make it more about life and the gospel and our culture as it relates to us all and step a little bit away from it being about my experiences. Not stepping away entirely, because my experiences are about who I am, but in a more… generic(?) way. I don’t know, perhaps you’ll understand once I start going on the new name/site that I will develop… eventually, when I am ready. Writing is a desire in me that I can rarely contain when the spirit is upon me. So after 125 posts to this site, farewell. I will post a link here when all the newness comes about.

Thank you all for reading Stranger in Rebellion, I hope to see you all in my future endeavors.

~Friend

Frivolous Facebook Final Fundamentals

(Writers note: These are the final transfers of facebook posts that I’ve wanted to keep. I am speaking to you now within a parenthetical statement, because of some commentary I want to say, so as not to confuse the post from any comment regarding it therein.)

December 6, 2013 – So, I just got a call from a security company wanting to see if I was interested in free wireless security in exchange for putting up a sign in my yard. This thing I was talking to was totally a computer with computer responses to things I said. It said it’s greeting twice in the exact same inflection and wording when I pretended like I didn’t hear it. I told it, it was a computer, and it said, “I’m not a computer.” Later on, I said it was a computer again, and it said the same thing: same voice, same inflection. I told it to prove to me he (it) wasn’t a computer. It said it was calling to find people who are interested… I interrupted and told it to tell me a movie it has seen recently. It went back to telling me it was looking for people interested… I yelled, “You’re a computer,” into the phone and hung up. Ha! Take that computer pretending to be a person. The revolution will be on us soon people. You better learn to recognize what is a real person and what is a machine. Have a conversation with that too perfectly sounding voice, their programming can not handle your awesomely, organic questioning.

(Following is three statements that I was intending to turn into “I believe” commentary. It was going to be much like my “Strange Confessions” and I may continue it on my new page.)

February 20, 2014 – I have to realize that I’m am not working on the same plane of reality as most people. My reality borders on fantasy bordering on weirdness bordering on self deprecation bordering on the outer limits.

February 20, 2014 – I believe child prodigies are people who were able to access the part of their brain that can do time travel and they came back into their own baby bodies with full knowledge of the life they just lived, and are doing it all over again with obvious advantages.

February 21, 2014 – I believe some telemarketing companies make background noises that sound like hundreds of other telemarketers quietly mumbling their business to hundreds of other potential customers. Think about it: Why don’t you ever hear something like, “Jack, you want to got to Joinkies for lunch today?” or “Who drank all the coffee?” or “Susan, I want those human recipe reports on my desk in five.” or “I just got another human to sign up to join the collective, it’s going to be quite a day when we reveal our final plans.”

(Another commentary I found hilarious enough to keep. You gotta make yourself laugh, right?)

April 27, 2014 – Facebook: Bringing families together that you never knew existed to the ultimate family reunion. Then they sit around showing you all their photos of dogs, cats and other plethoratic materials with the quirky sayings and such that they’ve collected over the years, while there is a great softball game to participate in and the cold fried chicken your grandma makes only once a year sits there, unconsumed by you, but you can’t get away.

(This one is just comments from a link I shared about this article. It was regarding witnessing to Mormons, and a friend from Utah asked me something and I knew what she was thinking so I answered her. She is a conservative so I was trying to appeal to that, but she kept coming back to saying I sound like a Mormon, in thinking that I have truth and you don’t, which is true, but we don’t necessarily come out and say that. You discuss matters, and she wasn’t willing. It is a reminder to me how even those who are attacked for their beliefs are not disqualified from doing the attacking. So, you’ll see.)

Her: So, are you saying that everyone who is not an “evangelical Christian” is not a Christian at all?

Me: Since I know you are asking from a Catholic perspective, to me a Christian in this reference is of the Protestant tradition. I understand that many religions and/or denominations believe in a partial biblical understanding and sometimes mythical tradition of Christ and still call themselves Christian. I’m not sure your stance on Mormons calling themselves Christian, so as to be accepted more by the mainstream, but I would not call them Christian. In the same way and in my adherence to the bible alone I would not include Catholic in that reference, but that is not to say many Catholics aren’t Christian… Does that answer your question? Feel free to ask follow up, I’d love to discuss it.

Her: I see what you are saying but I disagree for the most part. No, I do not think Mormons are Christians… But THEY think they are. They also believe that they are doing the absolute best thing by Christ as possible. But to exclude and/or dismiss anyone that blatantly, well it makes you exactly like the Mormons. They too like to think they are the only “true”church, the only ones who got it right, and the rest of us are screwed. It is not your place to decide who will or will not make it to the top.

Me: I understand what you are saying and I want you to know that I am not the one who make the decisions. I don’t want to say anything that would divide any further so I have a question, you can answer here or pm, Do you know the difference between Catholics and Born Again/Evangelical Christians? If you do and think I’m an idiot for asking, just say, “Duh!” but I want to make sure of semantics before I go any further.

Her: To answer, not really. But I can also tell you, I don’t care either. If you want to attempt to convince me that salvation and Christ’s love is an exclusive club that only a few can have will be a waste of your time and mine. I am sorry you feel the Catholic church let you down. I am quite happy and I feel no need to judge anyone.

Me: Fair enough, and I’m sorry if any of my words have made you angry. You must sometimes know how it feels when you post something conservative and your liberal friends don’t understand. You’d like to convince them of your intent and how logical the conservative viewpoint is, but they won’t hear you. It has happened to me and I very rarely post anything political because I don’t want to hurt or alienate anyone. I realize that I won’t convince anyone of anything but I want to make sure at least that they understand my semantics. I appreciate my Catholic upbringing and never feel as if it let me down, but that it is fully realized through my understanding now. This format is not the best way to discuss things, I enjoy one-on-one relationships best, but I must be true to what I believe and write, and have an answer for those who disagree, just like we both do when our liberal friends say something,,, (for want of a better term) in ignorance. If we sat down on a park bench or for coffee, without the world watching, we could discuss freely and understand each other better.

Her: It’s funny, I know you mean well, but you have no idea how much like a mormon you sound. I think we understand each other perfectly. You really don’t need another format to explain better what you believe. I also don’t need A different format to have my relationship with Christ explained to me by anyone who thinks that by it’s difference, it is somehow wrong. Your “label” is no different than any other human created label. There are many paths to salvation, and much like the mormons, you think you are on the only one. I think your work would be best directed towards atheists and their venomous need to not just not believe, but to destroy the belief and freedom to believe in others. The need to rank and file your fellow Christians is misguided.

Me: Well, I guess you shut me down.

Her: I didn’t mean to shut you down. I was/am offended that you would dismiss so many really good people as not Christian simply because it doesn’t fit they way you believe. Our God is a tolerant, loving, God. He knows His children are screw ups. There are many paths, I am glad you found yours. If you save one you are doing good.

Me: Part of my blog name is “Rebellion” and one of the things I am rebelling against is that we no longer (if ever) really share with each other our lives, our ideas, our faith, ourselves. We assume things about each other in order not to overburden our minds with compassion or empathy. I don’t ever want to be that way. Since I’ve been in West Plains I’ve had lots of opportunity to find out about people by asking them about their motivations for what they do and what they believe. I assumed since I was from SLC that they would be interested in me. I became disillusioned about relationships, but through love and care of some great people, I have realized that it is part of my burden too, to know and love people no matter who they are. In writing, and seeing others write, political positions of the conservative side, those in opposition just want to silence you. “Don’t give them the opportunity to speak,” is the liberal mantra, so I rebel against that in really trying to find out why they believe. Most liberals believe that even questions are an attack on their ideology. It is a sad world we live in. So even though some of the things you say about me are correct, many of the reasons you may assume I got here are wrong. I understand you not wanting to have a conversation, that I’m just trying to convert you, but there is more to it than just what you have seen in the world, I’m deeper than most representatives of my faith that you see portrayed in the media. Either way, I am glad we are still conversing.

(For my last, I was saving this “Strange Confession” because I wanted to post the story I wrote, but haven’t gotten around to it. Perhaps when I find it, I’ll post.)

May 26, 2012 – Strange Confessions: I read a lot of Stephen King when I was younger, sometimes still do. Although now, I think he’s more deranged now then he was then, but that is another story. Anyway, I wanted to write like him and when I took took a creative writing course in high school I wrote a couple of short stories in honor of my creepy dark side influenced by King. The first one was called, and I still remember, “Killer Born from a Barbecue.” The narrator was a man who married an “ugly”, unsympathetic, rich woman who had a sister married to some other guy possibly for the same reasons. He was thinking how awful his life was and what he could do to get out of his situation. How his life led up to this point of thinking so much about money that he married for it and so disliked his wife, her sister and husband. The dialogue was him answering curtly to her vacuous questions as he barbecued and her sister and husband were out in the hedges playing croquet or something. Suddenly the husband of the sister emerged from the hedges with a bloody ax(mallet) screaming and coming towards the narrator and his wife intent on killing them. Whoa, dark stuff, yeah?
The other story was this same killer years later living in a culvert near a park and coming out to listen to some people playing classical music. A sweet old lady took hold of him and brought him to her house so she could feed, bathe, and give a homeless guy a second chance. I remember thinking would he kill her or would she be actually evil. But I actually ended it with him running out of the house screaming because she was killing him with kindness.
I liked both stories and remember them fondly because it reminds me of where I came from, who I am now, and how hard it is to reveal who you were to people who know you now and what will they think of you. But, we need to remember where we came from, because that is what formed and shaped us into who we are. I believe I still have those stories somewhere, and wish I would of kept all of who I was but, alas I’m really not that sentimental.

~Stranger

Strange Confessions: Follow the Leader

Strange Confessions: I have a story for every favorite genre of music or band that I like, of the origin for how I discovered them, except for one: rap.

I’m going to be one of those old men who drive their grandchildren crazy with stories of no great importance about the time I chose not to go waterskiing, or the dream I had in grade school about ruining my school uniform and the only back up clothes the nuns could provide was a washcloth, or how I loved playing with elaborate doll houses and that made me think for a time I could be an architect, or about the first time I ordered fajitas at Papacita’s in Houston, or how I had the longest birthday ever when our family flew to Hawaii.

Yup. I’ve led a pretty eventful life.

Then I’ll pull out my little, ancient ipod, plug it into the nursing home speaker system, and introduce them to all the songs from my yesteryear. All the other residents will either roll their eyes in exasperation or clap for the little bit of diversion in their day-to-day existence at the home, because Mr. Mayo has locked himself inside the control room with his grandchildren sharing with them what he thought was the best and most unappreciated music of his day. I’ll tell them about how I heard “The Statue Got Me High” on some radio station as I was driving myself to work one day, and that we didn’t have the internet back then to find out who it was, but I actually had to call the radio station to find out who it was. I’ll share with them my rebellious moments at Judge when we’d wander the halls blasting Judas Priest and Rainbow, and that “Long Live Rock ‘n Roll” was the first album I acquired through illegal means. I’ll speak of my old friend and how he owned a death metal record shop, and the day he suggested I might like some of this Apoptygma Berzerk.

“Hey Papa, tell us about how you discovered this band, Eric B & Rakim.” they’ll request of me.

“You know what kids,” I’ll say, “I have no dern-blasted idea how I got into Eric B & Rakim. There was a period of time from about 1988 to 1991 that I really got into rap. I had no friends who were into it, there was no rap stations in Utah at the time, I didn’t hang out in Hip-Hop clubs getting down to the rhythm. How in the world did I discover I liked rap? In fact, the only “rap” that was out at the time or was popular was those stupid Beastie Boys and that “Party” song made me gag.”

Hold up here for a second… I just got a flashback. College, Utah State, dorm room of… what’s his name… Mexican kid with thin mustache and dude who hung out at the fraternity who was from California, who told us about playing basketball and used the phrase, “Get that **** outa here nookie,” when blocking a poorly tossed shot. Also, that fat New York dude who told me to forget about finding a girl who was saving herself for marriage… Boy, that came flooding back in a hurry. I can still see him holding up that cassette of IceT’s “Rhyme Pays.” I went out and bought “Power” soon afterward. IceT was overtly violent, anti-authoritative and super-sexualized.

I wonder about my state of mind back then. I’ve written a couple of stories about being at Utah State and how depressed and needy and lazy I was. My life was ripe to be introduced to something that had so much definitive self-assurety overflowing, especially in terms of those guys I knew and the music they introduced me to. But it was later when I was gone away from all that, I bought Public Enemy’s “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back” and “Fear of a Black Planet.” Those albums were angry and loud and racist. I was a loser white kid, in Salt Lake City, Utah, who just lost his grant at college and started working retail. How could I relate to all this?

And then I found Eric B & Rakim, my favorite. These guys were it man. The rhymes, the beat, the tempo, the lyrical mastery, and most of all: the lack of racism, sex, violence, and drugs. I, somehow, found this album, “Paid in Full” and found it fascinating. I had to have more. Then I got “Follow the Leader”: a Hip-Hop album masterpiece. I listened to this tape over and over again. I couldn’t get enough of it. For those few years, I was a rap fanatic, but not of the stuff that was coming out in the pop-culture. Those albums that had females in bikinis on the covers were not for me. And there was a lot coming out back then. Those few years were the age of transition for most music. The glam-metal scene was turning to grunge. The New Wave genre was fading and combining into other aspects of dance and rock. The hard metal music, much appreciated by me, was shooting off into differing categories or just plain getting old. Rap was gaining mainstream popularity, because those albums appealed to the suburbanite teen who wanted to buck the system and find a new place, a new rebellion, a new message. With rap, especially, you see the fruits of today what was planted in the past. When I hear a rap song now, all I think of is that horrible transition it went through back then, and I want no part of it. Eric B & Rakim were of a different, emerging sort that rapped about murdering and drugs, but from the standpoint of all that referring to… rapping. It has rhythm, it has hook, it is fun to listen to and to try to rap along to. Even years later I find myself rapping a line or two or three from twenty plus years or so ago. I still listened to Public Enemy, but less so then EB&R, and IceT? He was gone, I couldn’t stomach much of that for long.

One day, my best friend and I were in Raunch Records scoping out music. He was of the death metal scene, and I just went along with him because we were probably going out to eat or to the comic shop. Somehow or another I found out about a band called 3rd Base and bought it at Raunch. It was more than likely my only purchase there. That album signified the end of my rap phase of life. I don’t remember the music at all, I just remembered, I, was, done. The End.

But I do recall Eric B & Rakim fondly. In fact, I just purchased Follow the Leader off of itunes. I’m trying to get my kids to like it, but they are all, “Ugh, Can you turn this off?” I explain to them that if they meet someone in the future that is a true rap connoisseur/historian and they tell them they know of Eric B & Rakim, the person’s sock will be blown clean off… Whatever that means.

~Stranger

Seeing Specks Through the Log

Strange Confessions: I grow weary of what others are critical of others for and thus grow weary of myself…

I know, I know. Sounds confusing, but I realize that I’m in a circular mess in which the thing that I’ve been bothered by lately is in turn something I should examine within myself. First, as always, a little bit of background and reasons why I come to where I am now.

I grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah, which as most of you know is a bastion of Mormonism. I, however, was a Catholic. Many of the things I saw my Catholic friends and family doing was done in direct opposition to what might be expected of a Mormon. For example, coffee, to a Mormon, is regularly regarded as a forbidden drink, so, perhaps, a Catholic, being a religious type person, and not wanting to be associated, thought of, or regarded as a Mormon, will regularly and in public consume mass quantities of the stuff just to show the world how un-Mormon they really are. (Wow that sentence has a lot of commas in it. I wonder if my English major friend will judge my work harshly by the mass quantities of commas used in that last sentence.) I assume that many a religion has an averse relationship to itself because of the culture that surrounds it, as it was in many ways that I witnessed in SLC.

When I became a Christian, I found out more about how Mormonism came about and their beliefs. As I talked more to Mormons I realized that many of them did not know what they really believed. A common remark that Mormons would utter when faced with a question they could not answer was, “You should talk to one of our elders.” Many Mormons understood life as presenting to the world a facade of goodness, pleasantness, rightness and a surety in all the those behaviors. Yet they couldn’t say why they did certain things, where those ideas came from, or whether or not those things were actually laws in their code or just things to try to do. They were in fact what I would call, a Cultural Mormon. I felt sad for them because they were as Reb Tevye, strolling down the ways, singing praises to Tradition, yet not nearly as flexible in their thinking as our sad hero of “Fiddler on the Roof”. They would not be moved. Which in some ways is a good thing, but when it comes to reasonable dialogue, there is a wall that is very difficult to breach.

As I moved to the “Bible Belt” I saw the same thing, yet from the Christian standpoint. We all hear about those who understand our faith to just be a Sunday-only, self-righteous and condemning belief system, but I saw a little more of it here than out in Mormon country. Mormons tended to judge each other by how much less their “brother” was doing the “right” thing. When you get into a culture that emphasizes a right way to live within yourself, you tend to get people who look at all others behaviors in minute detail. We as Christians should live in such a way that we know the right thing to do and understand the fact that we really can’t do any good in our own strength and so better the relationship with Him who works through us so that the natural behavior that comes out is improving every day because of how much we know our God and how thankful we are to Him. Many times though, unconsciously, we fail and fail, again and again in the same area that we forget our God and the power we can draw from Him. We begin judging ourselves against what others are doing or not doing, much as the Mormon is bound to do. They have a hopeless religion where more and more they have to compare and contrast themselves to others. We have a faith that says He is able to complete in us what He began; and that is our sanctification: the way we display the fruits of the spirit more and more the closer we get to Him.

And so comes to my point: One of the first examples, of what can come about in this culture, I witnessed, was a woman who left a church angry because someone wouldn’t give her the money she believed the person should have given her, because after all: he was a Christian. I see that a lot. People who are frustrated with another believer because they believe that those others are not fulfilling their Christian responsibility. “How should we deal with those who aren’t behaving like Christians?” I hear. Now, it is one thing to call someone out for committing adultery, it is quite another to call out someone for not giving money when they were called to. We do not know what other people are called to or not. It is not their story we are living out, but ours. We should look at our motivations, our attitudes. I see it on Facebook; how someone generally calls out people because they suck, or are evil, or are mean. Like we should be surprised. Posting a general statement about how evil people are does not help any situation, nor does it display any type of love, compassion or understanding that we should display as Christians. I say this not to hurt but just to remind you who you are, and that the world is watching.

There is one place in the Bible that it tells us about dealing with someone who may not see as clearly. It is when Jesus told us that before we deal with the speck in someone else’s eye, we should take care of the log in our own. It hit me today that it is not described as a log because our problems are bigger than others, but because dealing with our own issues if INFINITELY more important than dealing with others.

I see that I may be trying to deal with someone’s speck in their eye and not looking at my own log, but perhaps I need look at the situation in the same way I see my driving. I have come to view other drivers as an individual that is going through something I may not understand. Maybe they are slow because of a death in the family. Maybe they are rushing because this is the last opportunity to proclaim their love to someone before they fly off to Japan. I don’t know what is going on in people’s lives, and maybe they shouldn’t post generic angry stuff on that one site, but that doesn’t mean I should get upset with them. God deals with us all in a variety of ways. May I always be reminded to examine myself when I see the specks in others eyes.

~Stranger

Strange Confessions: The Lost Files, a Mother’s Day Confession

Strange Confessions: I once sacrificed a Fisher-Price music clock to my Mom, when she asked my little sister and me to give up something we cared about because we ruined a bunch of her expensive make up.

(Author’s note: This Strange Confession was originally written on that one site as part of the original Strange Confessions series. I posted the picture on the right and wrote the story as a link to it. Periodically I go through the pictures and delete old ones, in which I did for this particular one, not realizing I was deleting the story as well. I received some comments about what a tribute it was for my Mother, and I believe they thought she was… ahem… deceased. I had to go back and tell them it was just a story I remembered and that my Mom is alive and well, as she still is. She took good care of us kid’s during a hard time of a mostly absent Father that eventually ended in divorce. I love her so much and this story truly defined how much she really knew who I was and the fear of who I might become. Since this is a rewrite, I doubt it’ll be as good as the original, but want to make as fine a tribute my Mom deserves. I love you Mom!)

My little sister and I used to pretend to make magic potions in the sink. We’d find soaps and shampoos and toothpaste and mouthwash, and mix it all up in the bathroom sink, stirring it up until it dissolved into a greenish, brown goop. Then we’d always hit the drain lever and down it would go; mess all cleaned up in a hurry. One time we were in my parent’s bathroom and found all sorts of interesting bottles and baubles and tinctures to mix up into a new creation. Gleefully pouring all the stuff and stirring it up, my Mom caught us in the act. She was very angry with us and you could tell, but she didn’t yell at us. In fact, I never remember her yelling at me unless I was in danger or about to break something. This time though, you could tell how just below the surface her anger was. She sat us down on our bed and explained to us how expensive it all cost. I can’t really remember my reaction then, but I imagine it was a lot like one of my kids: you think you might be getting through to them, but when you pause to take a breath they ask to use the computer or for an ice cream or to go outside. You know they are getting it. Which is what I imagine my Mom was feeling at the moment. She told us that it was something valuable to us and it is hard to lose something valuable. Of course this make up wasn’t more important to her than us, but I believe she saw this as an important teaching moment. She explained that she wanted to go and get something of ours to give to her, something that meant a lot, something that was valuable, something that was hard for us to part with.

I would guess I was at least 12 years-old at the time, and supposed I had grown beyond any real connection to toys such as a wind up clock. I had a Bugs Bunny stuffed toy when I was much younger, but lost it somewhere along the way. If I had still had that Bugs toy, it would probably be sitting on my bed in a place of honor, owing to the innocence of youth. I had a friend in high school who had one of those Bugs’ he kept in his room… with a noose around its neck that I was horrified to find. How could he do that to something that meant so much to me… I mean to him. Now that Bugs Bunny toy was something I might have given up at that time. I’m not a very sentimental guy when it comes to that sort of stuff, but that is one thing I wish I still had. With the task of finding something that mattered to me, I looked around the room. I didn’t see anything off-hand, but at the same time I didn’t really understand the scope of teaching my Mom wanted us to understand. I went to my closet and dug to the very bottom and all the way back in the corner, and found good old Fisher-Price clock. I went in to my Mom and with eyes properly downcast and sorrowful, I presented my sacrifice to her.

She takes it away from me, limply clutching it in her hand and asks, “This is something that is really valuable to you?” I look up sadly and tell her that yes, it is valuable to me. She stops, looks at it, looks at me and slowly asks again, “This is something that really means a lot to you? Something that has worth or value?” “Yes,” I tell her, “It is valuable to me.” She looks deep into my eyes. This is the thing I can remember the most. I remember the place I found the clock, I remember sitting on my bed looking around for something, but I can still see her eyes boring into mine. It was like she caught a glimpse of the future in my eyes. A boy who could outright pretend sorrow and regret had some hard troubles in his future, and I honestly did. She might have seen the things in store for me and beat it out of me, perhaps she saw it as inevitable and thought it better for me to face it on my own. Maybe she was just too tired to deal with it that day… but what ever her idea in mind for that long look, it made a long-lasting impression on me.

I imagine that is the way God looked at Adam and Eve in the garden on that fateful day that changed history forever. This has been something that came back to me when I became a Christian. The idea that we can look one in the eye who raised us, provided for us, defended us, and just lie to their face, makes me a little sick to my stomach. She was and is a good Mother who had lots of difficult times and trials in her life, no fewer ones that came directly from me, and she handled it with grace and patience. I know in my heart that I can never match up to that character, Lord though do I try, but the anger just comes out in yelling, and that is where a lot of my grace is demonstrated: in having to ask for forgiveness. God looks on us when we fall short with sorrow, but also with patience and grace. He knows we have a choice to do the right thing and mostly rarely do. It is the grace and patience I remember when I think about God’s dealings with me, and especially when I think of Him in the Old Testament. People have told me how they appreciate the God of the New rather than the Old Testament. They say it is because of His love in the New, and the wrath in the Old. I see a God of infinite love demonstrated through patience in the Old, much like my Mom was. Holding our eyes, waiting for us to make the right choice, knowing that when we do not, the consequences we will face because of our actions, and it makes Him sorrowful. He gives us the choice and never forces us. Thank you Mom for demonstrating His grace, love and patience in the way you raised me, in the way you raised us. I made a lot of wrong decisions along the way, but you are utmost in my mind the way I want/need to be with my own kids. May I make the right decisions with them.

~Stranger

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