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"If I Told You...": A Poem about Holiness Versus Religion
Come Swim With Me?
Thoughts on Theological Fellowship With Another Christian
If I told you I once carried thoughts of suicide,
You'd gasp and call it sin.
If you saw my delight, sure grip on my .22 rifle,
As a prairie dog somersaults into pieces,
You'd think I was a mad woman.
If I told you I had found a friend in a ghost,
That his name is Eric...that he used to walk the hall
Of my childhood home,
Trying to get right with his Maker...
You'd call me to judgment for witchcraft.
So how can I "fellowship" with you,
You who like to talk about the pain of your divorce,
The consequences heaped on your finances and your head?
How can I talk of dreams of a home in Norway,
Or of some equally exotic wonderland -
Of how I would miss the fast-disappearing
Freedoms of America,
But would be glad to try something new?
Your first question:
"Do you think that is where God has called you!"
You are good at crushing conversation.
You cut off thoughts
Faster than a gardener
A diseased branch.
Well, I'll keep my beliefs...
And you can keep your box.
You seem comfortable in its snugness -
Its foursquare completeness,
Even if it is made of glass.
You're a fish in a tank,
Judged on how fast you swim, flick your fins,
Eat the food sprinkled to you by your overseers.
I feel like something from the depths of the sea,
More shadowed, down where myths of mermaids spawn.
You and I can't swim on the same plane.
We are separated by perspective,
By layer after layer of watery misunderstanding.
It may be different down here,
But what would you say if I told you that
My God created it, too, and that
He works and breathes and moves
As well as up there?
I'll Keep My Depths, Even if it Means Loneliness
Church Conflict - Story Behind This Poem About Religious Legalism
I wrote this poem directly after having a conflict with a very controlling pastor, and a Protestant church counsel who were largely from a Catholic background, and were OK with being told what to think. (Some of them admitted this verbally.)
I was so astonished at the problem-solving abilities of this pastor ("my way or the highway") that I needed to vent and heal by writing about the mindsets shown to me. I wouldn't have believed that such ignorance and confusion could so dominate a person, without seeing it for myself.
Through this conflict, I lost the opportunity to work with a group of children and young adults whom I had worked with, in varying conditions, for six years. These children hung out at my house, received help with their homework, and fed my pet goat potato chips on the sly. I was more sorry for them than I was for me, and I still pray for them. But life goes on.
I am better and wiser for the experience. I'll bet you probably have a similar story to tell, even if it is not church-related.
Since then, I have made up my mind never to judge someone based on the way they wear their hair, whether they have body piercings, what music they listen to, or whether they show up to Sunday school drunk or high. God is bigger than any hairstyle, cuss word, or addiction. He's bigger than any pain, confusion, holiness issue, or family chaos.
I was not a ragged-looking druggy just in off the street. Nor was I a rebellious, control-freak bent on having things my way. I was only an average-looking young woman who wanted to give the kids in my care the best understanding of a loving, but holy, God that I could. Alas, my ideas were bigger than the boxes of the church leadership.
Since then, I have gotten to use my ideas while raising two kids. I have been able to prove to myself that they were not off-base, just misunderstood. They have worked. They have helped to build a mindset in my children that means they are neither afraid of ideas, nor too easily drawn in by unhealthy suggestions. They are not afraid of people who are different than they are, either - and this is a definite triumph. They have learned to forgive, and are learning what it takes to build lasting, healthy relationships.
Since most of the kids I had the privilege to teach were from shattered homes, I wish I had been able to help them understand the concepts that God put in my heart - the same ones that have helped to make my family fairly stable. (I married young, have been married to the same man for 14 years, and have learned to work through struggles with him and others.) I have prayed that these suffering children have gotten to learn these concepts elsewhere...and that the little Protestant church body outlives its stubborn leadership to become a light that cannot be hidden.
I like my big God. I'm ashamed that small Christians give Him a bad name. Burst the gloom, Living Light!
God's Opinion is the Only One That Matters
© 2011 Joy At Home