I need to apologize to anyone I might have offended by my last post. I fell once again into a mode of thinking—one that I thought I was done with—and I’ve felt awful about it all day.
It can be so easy to forget lessons we are shown throughout our Christian walk. When this happens to me, I often feel like a representation of that seed on stony ground—the bit of Christ’s nature I was taught springs up with gladness then withers away because I have no depth of earth. If that makes sense.
So, in this last post, I went on a quintessential Amanda-style tirade. If you’ve followed this blog for long, you know what I’m talking about. To a degree, it can be good when we begin to despise the things that God also despises, and I still feel these things, but there is something else too. Something that just cannot seem to get through my stony heart and take root as it should. It’s often not what you say, but how you say it.
When we say things in anger, this can become a problem fast. I should never write a post when I’m angry. The past couple months have been trying, and though it’s no excuse, my latest rant has been building up for some time.
The Neglected Widow and “Holy Spirit” Turkey Calls
My recent downward spiral started when I met a young mother who had suffered recent tragedy. She lost her baby and her mother within a month or so, her husband was ill and out of work, and her young son was in the hospital with a serious illness. I guess she had been holding things in for a while, because for some reason she decided to tell me (a complete stranger) about all of this. To make matters worse, it was almost Christmas and because of funeral bills, she had no money for food—much less Christmas gifts for her son.
I didn’t know what to do for her, so we exchanged phone numbers and started texting. Having counted every dollar to feed my own family that week, what could I do? I could pray, so I did that. After a few days, I learned more about her situation, and I did what I could to help. Fortunately, I got some extra work so I was able. Before getting that work, I reached out through social media to find out if there was any help for people in her situation.
Everyone reasoned that she should have applied for food stamps or toys for tots (hello, the application period is limited and not so simple for a lot of people). The churches would not help unless she attended, and after being shunned by her church for not attending after her baby died, she wasn’t into it. Who could blame her? A couple women reached out and asked for more information. We didn’t hear back. Not a single person helped her, and every time I saw someone brag about what they were getting or giving for Christmas (particularly Christians) I became irate. How can Christians do this? How can we ignore the needy on a day we celebrate Christ? Really?
This woman’s situation hit me hard. I saw in her someone who was like me not too long ago, though not in that level of tragedy, I saw desperation and despair that looked all too familiar. For all intents and purposes, this woman was a widow and an orphan, and she was shut out by those who should welcome her with open arms. Last I heard, her son was out of the hospital and doing much better, thank the Lord! I think things are looking up, but to no thanks to the church community.
To top this all off, my sister and I have been visiting local churches. The experience has not been great. Even in South Mississippi, prosperity preaching is everywhere. It’s not about growing rich in the things of God, but in this world. When righteousness is preached, it’s legalism. I could go way off on a rant about my recent church-going, but the icing on top was Christmas Eve.
We went to a charismatic church, and I am reminded of the stigma those who believe in the power of the Holy Spirit are up against today. Between a woman gobbling like a darn turkey (this is not what speaking in tongues is) and the preacher talking about how 2018 was going to be our most prosperous year yet, that we are so blessed that our salvation is renewed each day even though we will always sin, and then the weird cultish communion with the lights out and music – yeah. It was an experience. I actually started crying about 5 minutes in – and not for the same reason the others were. Here we are, on Christmas Eve no less, in what should be a Spirit led church, and the whole thing is garbage. I looked at my sister who also looked sad, “so, this is what church hopping is going to be like” she said. Yeah. I guess so.
It’s a mess out there. Around here, whether you go to cessationist or charismatic churches, it’s all about prosperity in this world and wallowing in sin. The Holy Spirit is made a spectacle and is blasphemed, and the pastors act like God’s gift to the world. I can’t stand it. We are still trying though. Jesus, please let there be one church in my area that hasn’t completely gone nuts. I’d love to walk away feeling hopeful, not like I want to scream to the top of my lungs for rage and sadness.
So, one rant leading to another. I suppose the problems are multi-faceted. On one hand, I need to remember that my limited life experiences and perspective are not all there is to the Christian world. Maybe I just have a knack for looking in all the wrong places. I also need to remember that the people I’m writing to are those who want to grow a relationship with Jesus, and having a harsh tone often does more harm than good.
I need to remember that we can all find wrong most everywhere, and we all have a limited ability to understand God. We will all miss the mark in one way or another. I need to remember to keep my focus on what is true instead of fighting every wrong. I need to remember that God is in control of all of this and one day, His kingdom will come and all of these things will come together for good.
Going to church again tomorrow. Hopefully this will be a better experience!