Thursday, March 3

The Other Jesus

I have taken to reading different articles from the Religion section of the Huffington Post lately. I am sure that most of my posts here will originate with something I read there and now need to work out on my own. I often post them to Facebook to try and get some commentary from the masses, but this is not one of those cases.

I just read a post by Greg Garrett called Seeking the Other Jesus. This article stood out to me for a number of reasons, but I think it reminded me most of a talk a I heard at the Vocare I just attended in Georgia. Vocare is a retreat weekend centered around God's call and it consists of a number of talks given by young adults in the community. The topics range from What is a Christian to Empowerment and are built on helping each person build on their own christian identity.

My favorite talk has always been the Spiritual Journey talk. From the first time I heard the talk and was told of the experience of stranger rape on a college campus and how that impacted a young woman's relationship with God, the talk has been a serious look at how to overcome the hardships that are sometimes set in the path of our spiritual journey's. The talk has always been the first time on the weekend where someone has really laid it all out there and opened up the weekend to some pretty difficult questions. The topics have ranged from rape to suicide, death of a loved one to mental illness. You never know where the talk giver will take you, but it is always somewhere dark and sinister. There is always a longing for the talk giver to get help from the community in understanding what you do when it seems as if "God" has put some major kink in the system. It never fails to open up a place for people in the community to share their kinks and it always ends with the sharing of the emotional burden that is our spiritual journey.

This year's talk was no different. I missed the beginning because of my weekend job, but was happy to get settled in time for the meat of the story. I had heard previously that the speaker had something to say on the pressures of fundamentalist Christianity and was anxious to see how finding an Episcopal home had helped (or hurt) that. It was cool to hear someone talk about the weight that we put on ourselves to be "good Christians." I had never thought of the debilitating nature of Christianity. I had always thought of Christianity as a freeing and liberating thing and it was the first time that someone had spoken of the depressive nature of being Christian. I think it was the first time that I ever noticed how much pressure we all carry when we label ourselves as Christian.

God created each of us, ON PURPOSE. There are people in this world that will never warm to the type of person that I am. They will never understand my vulgar language, perverted sense of humor, biting quick wit, or brick wall that keeps them from ever knowing me. They will always think I am someone that deep inside I am not. They will always try to shut me up or "calm" me down. They can never understand the effects of the things I have been through, and I am thankful for that. But the message of Jesus was of loving humanity. Not just humanity as a whole, but of the humanity in each of us.

You may never know the reasons behind my actions, but you don't need to. You need only to love me and understand that God does not make mistakes. And no amount of pressure you put on me will ever compare to the amount of pressure I put on myself to be more "normal."

Christianity is about love and acceptance, not pressure and depression. I encourage us all to think of that every time we look at one another and judge. Thank you Jason for opening my eyes to this idea.

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