Love trumps hate…

I’ve been in my head a lot lately. I see so many things on the news and in my day to day life that make me cringe. I often wonder where the world went wrong…why is there so much hate? Lately, I’ve seen so many debates again on the place of LGBT people in our society and arguments about how Christianity is so against us. I see hateful things slung around like “God didn’t make them that way” and “God can forgive their sins if they just ask for it” and things that suggest we are a lesser breed, a sinful calloused organization with an agenda. I can’t for the life of me understand how people can not see that they may be wrong in this area. These are the people who say they’ve studied the Bible and the Bible proves this “lifestyle” is wrong and sinful. But what they don’t seem to understand and will never hear is that the Bible never mentions homosexuality as we know it today. The word, when used in the Bible is translated from a root word that is talking about older men using younger men sexually for power. The word does not mean the homosexual monogamous relationships we know today. But, these people won’t seem to hear it. They say we’re sinning and being deceived. If that’s the case, didn’t Christ come to fulfill the law that was previously set forth in the old testament? Did He not die on the cross to save us from our sins, past, present, and future? If that’s the case, does sin even exist? I mean, if he took all of our sins and forgave them then sin would no longer exist. Unless maybe His sacrifice wasn’t big enough or strong enough. But, this is the God they serve. They seem to think that, if it’s a sin, God wasn’t and isn’t big enough to forgive it and surely he didn’t already forgive it at the cross. They seem to think that it’s a greater sin because we are living in it daily. But, I can’t seem to understand the concept of sin and how it is still even an issue when he said it was finished on the cross. If my God isn’t big enough to forgive sin when he said he did then I don’t want to serve him. If homosexuality is a sin, then it was forgiven and his grace covers everything. However, I do not believe it is a sin (if sin even exists). I believe that God is a god of love according to his life and teachings in the Bible. If that is the case, then how can love, the very thing he stood for, be wrong? And if it’s wrong, how come there are so many people who are still gay despite prayer and repentance and trying to change who they are…? Maybe it’s because they’re not supposed to change and deny a very real part of themselves. Maybe it’s because being LGBT is not a sin, an illness, an abomination. Maybe, just maybe, hatred is the bigger issue here…or maybe ignorance…or maybe the fact that people take what they’re taught at face value without doing the research because they don’t feel they have to since it doesn’t affect them.

I’m tired of this. I’m tired of it all. The abuse, the hatred, the word slinging and Bible quoting (and those who worship the Bible more than learning from the life Christ embodied). Why can’t we all just get along? Why can’t we live in peace and harmony and love others despite our differences.

And then you have those LGBT folks who lash out at Christians saying they’re all horrible and judging and biggots. That is not true either. There are plenty of folks out there who are Christians and truly love others whether they agree or not, whether they are not sure about us or not, they choose love over all else. We as LGBT people can’t lash out at them and call them names because then we’re doing exactly what we’re asking them not to do.

Be careful how you approach these people because so many of you are stooping to their level and showing the same hate you say you hate…and you’re showing them the same lack of acceptance you’re shown.

I hate it. I hate all of it. The pure hate and intolerance from both sides of the coin. It’s wrong and has to  stop.

I often feel things very deeply and get so emotionally invested. I wish I didn’t, but I do and it’s painful to see what’s happening in our country. Put an end to the hatred and violence…it starts with you and me. We can’t fix it all, but we don’t have to perpetuate it. If we lash out like they do then we’ll always be the bad guy and then they can say the category they place us in is true and valid and I don’t want to be a part of that.

Be safe out there. The world is a fucking shit show.

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Your Hand.

I’ve often believed I was meant to give more than receive.

That I’m cursed to feel so deeply.

That my life is meant for pain

and then you came.

You drew a circle around my heart,

your hand in my palm, and took me away.

You’re a part of me now,

my soul, my sweet.

I’m a part of you too

Here I stand

still in disbelief.


re-blog Why I Can’t Say….

This is beautiful. Thank you author. Thank you those of you who realize the depth of the shame and pain and the deep desire to be allowed to love Jesus.

http://redemptionpictures.com/2013/06/20/i-cant-say-love-the-sinner-hate-the-sin-anymore/

Why I Can’t Say Love the Sinner / Hate the Sin Anymore

Date: 20 Jun 2013By: Micah J. MurrayComments: 232 Comments

I thought we just needed to try harder. Maybe we needed to focus more on loving the sinner, and less on protesting his sin.

But I’m done. I can’t look my gay brother in the eye anymore and say “I love the sinner but hate the sin.”

I can’t keep drawing circles in the sand.

Even if I was able to fully live up to that ideal, I’d still be wrong. I’d still be assigning him an identity, viewing him as something other, something different.

Not human. Not friend. Not Christian. Not brother.

Sinner.

And despite all my theological disclaimers about how I’m just as much a sinner too, it’s not the same. We don’t use that phrase for everybody else. Only them. Only “the gays”. That’s the only place where we make “sinner” the all-encompassing identity.

Then we try to reach them, to evangelize them. We speak of “the gays” in words reminiscent of the “uncivilized headhunters” from those epic missionary stories – foreign and different and far away, the ultimate conquest for the church to tame and colonize and save. Maybe we accept them in our midst. But even then, it’s sinners in our midst – branded with a rainbow-colored scarlet letter. They aren’t truly part of us.

Even that word “them” makes me cringe as I speak it, as if my brothers and sisters are somehow other, different from me.

It’s a special sort of condescending love we’ve reserved for the gay community. We’ll agree to love them, accept them, welcome them – but we reserve the right to see them as different. We reserve the right to say “them” instead of “us”. We embrace them with arms full of disclaimers about how all the sinners are welcome here. And yet, they’re the only ones we constantly remind of their status as sinners, welcome sinners.

In all this, we turn our backs on all the gay brothers and sisters already in our church, already saved, already following Jesus. Our us vs. them narrative leaves little space for those who didn’t choose to be gay but did choose to follow Jesus. Using “gay” and “sinner” interchangeably, we force them away from the Table and into the shadows.

__________________________

They say Jesus was a friend of sinners, but he didn’t describe himself that way. His motto wasn’t “eating and drinking with prostitutes and tax collectors.” Those were the labels used by the religious community, by the disapproving onlookers. What’s amazing about Jesus is that when he hung out with sinners, he didn’t act like they were sinners. They were just his friends. People with names. Defined as beloved children of the Creator, not defined by their sins. Icons of God’s image. His brothers and sisters.

It was the Pharisees who looked at them and scrawled “sinner” on their foreheads. It was the accusers who drew circles in the sand with themselves on the inside and “those sinners” on the outside.

Those words, “a friend of sinners”, were spoken with an upturned nose and a self-righteous sneer. And that’s the same phrase the church has adopted to speak of our own brothers and sisters – “Love the sinner, hate the sin.”

It’s the same self-righteous sneer heard in the words of those who dragged the woman caught in adultery to Jesus: “What should we do with such a woman?” They defined her by a moment. She was “one of those”. Not a sister. Not a human. Just a pawn in a political debate. A sinner.

But Jesus knelt with her in the sand. Unafraid to get dirty. Unafraid to affirm her humanity. “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.”

He could have said “You’re a sinner, but I love you anyways.” But she knew she was a sinner. Those voices were loud and near and they held rocks above her head.

Jesus refused to let his voice join theirs. By telling her “go and sin no more”, he affirmed that sin is not her deepest identity. It’s not how he saw her. It’s not who she was at the core of the being.

__________________________

I am a sinner.

But before I was a sinner, I was created in the image of God. While sin has twisted and smudged that image, it can’t erase it. Sin, my sin, is so terrible that it killed Jesus. But it doesn’t define me any longer. I am a new creation.

Because of Jesus, “sinner” is not how God sees me. It’s not how I see myself. And it shouldn’t be how I see my brothers and sisters in the church.

There is no condemnation for those who are in Jesus. To look at my gay Christian brother and say “God loves the sinner” is to set myself against Jesus and bring condemnation again to those he’s already redeemed.

So I’m done.

I’m done with “Love the sinner, but hate the sin.”

I won’t say it anymore.

I’m done with speaking as if I’m different, better than you.

I’m not going to define anyone by their sin. That’s not my identity. It’s not yours.

We are icons. We are children of the Creator, redeemed by Jesus. We are brothers and sisters. And today, that’s enough.

Read the story behind this blog post here: “All I Have to Offer”

I’m indebted to Pastor Jonathan at Renovatus for his teachings on Jesus and the women of the Bible. See “Everything I’ve Ever Done.”

[ Image Credit: Sarah Moody


Fear of life…

Why is it that numbness is so inviting? We have addictions that are obvious and not so obvious.We have people buying things, wanting more, and feeling less. Why is feeling so difficult and scary and fucking obnoxious…and why do we run?

Why do we run from anything? Fear? Why does fear drive us to run so desperately from something that we’ll do whatever it takes to not feel it, experience it, be it?

I don’t have an answer do you?

Fear drives so much of what I do and though I try to fight it, fear often wins. Fear. Fear of not having enough, not being enough, fear that drives my choice in career, education, my life. I’m afraid of everything when I look at it. I’m afraid to love and be loved. I’m afraid to be too good and afraid to fail. Buy why? Where does this fear come from? Are we taught it from a young age or does it sneak up on us following an event or circumstance?

I mean I know a lot of my fear comes from my upbringing as does my distrust of myself. But I’m not sure why I still hold onto the fear, nor do I know how to get rid of it.

What are you afraid of and why?

Fear doesn’t serve us well. It doesn’t look good on you. How can we dismiss it from our lives while maintaining our sanity?


Empty living…

I see many people who look so empty living day to day missing out on life because they’re afraid. They’re afraid to feel, afraid to pursue their dreams. I wonder, what situation made you like this my friend? What was it that told you to give up, or who? Who told you that you weren’t enough? What would it take to make you feel alive again? Who were you before they said you couldn’t? Before they took your zeal?

Who was I? Who am I now?

I was going to become a therapist and change the world. I was going to take the hurting and teach them to love and live again. I was going to be somebody who people looked up to, who aided in healing, who lived only to give love to others.

Then life hit me like a semi truck. I became stuck and lonely and sad. I still am. I feel myself slowly rising from the ashes like the phoenix I know I am. I can take rock bottom and make it my foundation again…but I’m so scared to fail. I’m scared to make the wrong choices. I swear fear hinders me more than a person or people ever could.

Who are you I ask? Who do you want to be and what will it take to get you there? For me, I’m trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. Do I still have the dream of being a therapist? Can I help in other ways? What am I called to do?

This blog has very few answers and many many questions, but these fears and questions are real. I’ve spent the last 8  years being angry and sad and confused and now it’s time to change, to grow, to flourish even. I’m writing again and can only hope I can keep it up. It allows me get out of my head and focus on what’s important. I can only hope that others read my writing and feel less alone…and maybe there’s someone out there who can help me unscramble my mind and find my way again.

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I hope I have nine lives…

I’m trying my best to figure out my life. Some days I feel like I’m getting it together and other days I feel like an utter failure. When I look back through my blogs I can see my ups and downs. Right now I feel so restless…I feel like running away from everything. I go between being hopeful and despair on a daily basis it seems. Some of the fluctuations may be due to the Bipolar disorder I have, but some of it I know is because of my need to always do better and be better. Where is the girl who wanted to change the world? She left many years ago when those closest to her turned their backs. I used to be so glued to my faith and I lost that too. This past year has been incredibly painful. I got married and that was the highlight…I am so thankful for my wife. However, I am still not happy within myself…I’m not happy with going to work and going home…I’m not happy with the mundane. How can anyone be? I thought I had my future figured out…I was going to be a psychologist/therapist and help people on a daily basis and change lives…then I graduated from my undergrad as the economy went under (and in the real world…so did I). I have been grasping at the air for years with no real foundation. Turns out, I was lacking skills to live in the real world due to my rocky foundation growing up. There is so much I wasn’t taught that I had to learn on my own through many mistakes. But, as I would tell others – it’s okay right? We all have our own journey. We all have our own way of figuring things out. Well, my way has sucked – how about yours?

I sit here right now in my living room surrounded by my wife, niece, mother in law…I see things that should fulfill me. But, they don’t. I feel I’m missing something. So now what? I don’t know the simplest things — who am I? What do I believe about God? What do I want to be when I grow up? So, I’m trying to write again…to put my confusing feelings back out into the world because I know I’m not alone – and if you’re reading this, you’re not alone either. I’m 31 years old…I thought I’d have my life figured out by now, but I don’t, I’ve only become more lost. But maybe, just maybe that’s okay. Maybe this is exactly where I’m supposed to be and everything I’ve been through led me to this very moment of transparency…this very moment of disillusionment with the world. Maybe this is what will force me to live out my calling (whatever that may be).

I’m rehashing every foundational belief I thought I had. My writing tonight isn’t flowery or even eloquent, but it is my truth. If you don’t know who you are or where you stand…if you don’t know where you’re going but somehow have grand plans…if you don’t know what you think or feel about faith, sexuality, life, and how they all coincide…I’m your friend. Let’s meddle through this mess together,


To place blame…

Everyone deserves love. Everyone deserves forgiveness from someone. And everyone at one time or another places blame on a person or situation. One thing I recently realized is that it is okay to place that blame. I’ve been told so many times not to blame this or that and that when I blame them then I’m not taking control of my negative thoughts. You know what I realized though? It’s okay to place blame. It doesn’t make you a bad person. If a person or situation harmed you then blame the shit out of it. If it was not your fault then place that blame, release yourself, be angry or sad or numb and then get back up. What was done to you deserves the blame, not you. What they did is theirs to hold, and maybe they’ll never own up to it, but you holding yourself down in anger toward yourself at what was done only gives you more pain. Don’t take ownership of what isn’t yours. We’re told to be the bigger person and forgive and forget, but you know what? Placing blame on something that you did not do frees you from that guilt and shame and allows you to truly forgive and heal.

What was done to me is NOT mine to own. I was beaten and abandoned. I hold pain and anger and doubt that doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to them. I am in the process of giving them back what is theirs so I can have what is mine. I am learning to let go and stop blaming myself…or in my case, I thought by forgiving and humbling myself I was doing the right thing, the noble thing. Then I realized, I was allowing them to keep control and keep my head low. Now, I’m untangling that mess so I can be free.

You are allowed to place rightful blame. You are allowed to feel your anger. If you want to be the bigger person then tell your story, allow yourself to feel, work on forgiving day by day, but free yourself from their control. Feel the anger and then move on. Place the blame and then let it go. Don’t let lies to slowly break you to pieces…and remember, if you are broken, you are still beautiful.


To tame a wild heart…

I seem to go through phases of writing, painting, sleeping, and wanting the world to end. I find in my darkest times I can read my own blog and be empowered again or at least remember who I am. I have made so many poor decisions and often regret these decisions. I can think of many right now that I regret and the guilt I feel can be so overwhelming. I found out recently that my mental illness caused many of my seemingly rash decisions and I wasn’t ready to admit it until I fell so low that I had no other choice. They say rock bottom may have a basement…I think I found it. Last year was a whirlwind. This year has been filled with anxiety. But one thing I’ve found; I have found love. Before my wife, I had come to believe that I was only a stepping stone. download.jpgI believed that I was the step that helped “them” realize their worth and heal from past wounds until it was time for them to move on…and that I was meant to give more love than I’d ever receive. Each relationship ended with me losing something and them gaining something. Not that I’m upset that I could help another person, but I was so lonely feeling like I could never have what I gave. Like, I was meant to be drained and fill another and find a way to fill myself again just to give it away. Then, someone came into my life and turned it upside down (or maybe right side up). My wife, (oh how I love saying wife), she loved me from the moment she met me. She looked at me with words that could never be spoken and still not completely understood. I still feel I love to intensely but she reminds me that intensity is not a bad thing and that I could never be too intense for her. She tells me she has never been loved so hard. She is probably right…and after everything, I realize that I’ve never loved anyone as hard as I love her. She is worth everything. She has tamimagesed my heart without putting me in a cage. She keeps me grounded while letting me fly free. My heart swells and breaks daily…and that’s okay because she allows me to have a voice. She is my rock through my ups and downs and my various squiggles and falls.

Can I say I’m healed because of her love? Not yet, but I am healing. I am finding purpose again. I am secure enough to want a family with this beautiful soul and that in itself scares the living shit out of me.

Please don’t ever let your voice be tamed. Don’t feel ashamed because of choices or your past. Don’t let that harsh voice overtake your beauty and uniqueness. And by all means please never ever settle for less than you are worth. I was once told that the value of someone depends upon what another is willing to pay for it. Well, my Jesus gave his life for us…so doesn’t that prove worth? I know others who would give their lives for me…doesn’t that also prove my worth? Even if you don’t believe it, there’s someone out there who believes it for you so find your person, your tribe, your reason to keep going.

I almost let my mental illness stop me and at times it’s still a struggle. I almost let my past define me and I fight it daily. Ifacebook_1471386109566.jpg did let myself stop me until someone else reached into the darkness, grabbed my hand, and said there’s no fucking way I’m letting you drown. That, my friends, is something to hold onto. Believe you can…and if you can’t…believe when they say you can and let them believe for you until you can again. Find your “they.” Find you. Love that beautiful, crinkly, chaotic heart…never cage yourself like I did. Learn from my mistakes…or learn from yours…but learn and push and never ever stop. Your story is not over. My story has just begun.


I’ve been down this road before…

I’ve often wondered if I’m worthy of love…if I can truly love another. Maybe I’m the epitome of INFJ. I worry, I’m idealistic, high expectations, down on myself, perfectionist, passionate to an extreme. But, I like me like this. I know I’m sensitive and a mess…I’ve been damaged by life but I’m a pretty neat person. The reason I begin like this is because Denise and I have parted ways. Yes, we just got engaged and maybe that made things more real? Maybe not. But, this was a hell of a decision. There were many factors involved, but I think more than anything I just realized that we weren’t edifying each other any longer. We tried to work on things over and over and it kept coming back to the same thing….we love each other so very much but I’m unhappy. She seemed happy so why couldn’t I be happy? After all, this beautiful woman picked up the pieces of my broken soul and placed them neatly back into me so I could function once more. This woman allowed me to be vulnerable and loved me where I was…however, life broke us and circumstances broke us. But maybe, maybe it was supposed to be this way. It bothers me to think that, but I think I’m right. I think we had a purpose — she healed me and I taught her how to be loved, but then when we should have let go we pushed forward causing damage to ourselves and relationship. I realize now that if she and I believed this could happen then we wouldn’t have had the impact on each other that we did, so of course we saw it lasting…for healing to happen we had to see it that way.I know though, that this was the right decision although I felt like my heart would fall out of my chest. This experience was beauty in my life. I know many people don’t understand, but haha, normally they don’t understand me and that’s fine. I’m uniquely broken and glued back together. I am who I am.

Isn’t life interesting? Do you ever wonder what the hell is going on? I’ve got to learn to trust myself more. I want to be absolutely sure of my thoughts and actions but have no idea how to do so. We are our own worst enemies. For a person who has been beaten and abused it’s even more of a fact…they were never taught to trust themselves or anyone else. I find that to be true for me and it’s hard to break out of even at 30 years old. Speaking of, man I feel old these days. However, I recently began a new job — it pays half of what I was making in Colorado (I’m in Washington now), but it’s less stress. I get to sleep in and be on my normal schedule which means I’m more artistic now and can focus better. I get to wear jeans so I’m in less pain and more confident. I have met some amazing people so I now have more friends finally and I’m becoming more outgoing again.

Anyway, tell me what you think about God. Random transition right? I’m on my verge again of trying to believe because something deep down tells me Jesus is real and that all religions lead to him somehow. I recently learned that the Koran mentions Jesus more than anyone else which I find incredibly interesting. I’d like to read it to see what that’s all about. I want to feel him again and believe I have a purpose. When I stopped believing in him my life went to hell…I no longer felt protected…I lost my identity. I’m just now beginning to find it again and I’d like to have Christ be a part of my life. It sure is hard when I’ve been hurt the most by Christians, but I suppose it’s not about them right?

Wish me luck friends. Wish me luck in my journey to contentment, love, enlightenment, peace. Wish me luck in life. I need that. Oh and p.s. send art supplies.

Love!

 


A reminder to the broken heart

Last night I was asked to post the story behind my arm tattoo on the Walk a Mile website. 1382949_942910867566_1340345421_n

I was quickly reminded of who I am and why I am. I seem to often forget this. My tattoo has served as a reminder so many times. You see, my tattoo has a quote from Maya Angelou that says “I can be changed by what happens to me, but I refuse to be reduced by it.” It was done by the amazing Sal Tino when he was still at Sol Tribe in Denver. The lotus flower reminds me that something beautiful can arise from dirt and mud with a little bit of push and determination (or maybe a lot). Lotus flowers come out of the swamp incredibly strong and beautiful and without the mud they could never survive. For as long as I remember, I’ve felt broken, like I was missing a piece of me (which is part of the story behind my puzzle piece tattoo). I went through years of physical abuse starting at age 2 when I visited my stepmom and Dad on the weekends and then full time from age 6-11 when I lived with them. I was sexually abused the first time at age 5 and again by my stepbrother around age 7 or 8. The latter was fairly frequent for more than a year, though I can’t really piece together the timeline. Of course, there was obvious emotional abuse as well. I’m deaf in one ear from the physical abuse and have many aches and pains because of the trauma to my body and head. But, I’m different.

FB_IMG_1436555303316I’ve known since a young age that I was different. I would sit on my bed at night telling myself I’d make it, that I wasn’t alone…but I knew that if I stayed in that house I’d die. At age 11 I ran away to my Aunt’s house. There were enough bruises on me that we could finally get me out of Hell for good. I was free…or so I thought. My Aunt became my foster parent for a year or so and I love her for that. But, I was so angry and confused that I just wanted to be back with my Mom…I thought she would be my comfort. Little did I know how lacking she was in parenting skills. I mean, when I lived with her I was so young and she was my hero and my everything. So, I was neglected and often left alone…and she was with many guys. Two of these guys sexually abused me; one when I was 5 and the other when I was 11. Honestly though, I’d take all of that again if it meant the emotional scars would leave. I wanted love and those who were supposed to love me the most are the ones who ignored me or hurt me the most. Still to this day, I have more issues with women than men…and why? Because the emotional pain and neglect hurt way more than anything anyone could do to me physically.

So, why did I decide to post this here on my blog? I mean, I’ve written about things before who knows how many times…but maybe, this one time, another person will stumble across this specific post because it has one word that they googled…and maybe, this is the time that my post will save a life or make an impact. We all have pains and struggles…and I struggle daily. But, I got this tattoo as a reminder of my strength and how I made it out alive and will continue living. There are many times I wished I could stop living, but I didn’t have it in me to stop…I have to keep going because somewhere out there, someone needs to hear my story. This is a reminder that those things affected me and will forever have an impact, but I will not be reduced by them. I will not be reduced to the things that happened to me. I will be changed, but the scars are scars now, not open wounds. The tattoo reminds me of my truth. We may be bruised and broken, but we are beautiful and in that brokenness we allow our light to shine through the cracks.

I needed to write this. I needed to read this even more. Sometimes I write in a way that I can barely believe it’s coming from me…this positive light on my pain. It seems almost eloquent at times, but believe me when I say I hurt…I hurt so deeply at times I feel I may never recover. Sometimes I feel I’d rather rip out my heart than ever feel this kind of pain and loneliness again, but then…then I’m reminded of my strength. When I get the courage to write again and empty my sordid thoughts I understand again who I am and who I can be. I’m reminded again that I’m not ONLY what happened to me – I am so much more. You are so much more than your past…you’re more than your present…you are simply more than you believe you are. You may not see it now, but one day when you are in the floor surrounded by your tears, you’ll realize that you have the strength to face these tears which makes you incredible.


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