Category Archives: Faith

Guilt-Free V-Days

Two days before Valentine’s Day, I find myself sitting at a kitchen table while my student reinvents herself through a group science project. A project that is designed for a group, yet doled out for an individual student while she’s on medical leave….

THIS is what I’m facilitating as a blog from one of my favorite bloggers catches the corner of my eye.

Beauty Beyond Bones is one of the few blogs I read–mostly because I get an email every time the author publishes. But it’s easy to proclaim a favorite when there aren’t many others for which I will sacrifice my time. For as long as I’ve been on this reflective journey as a blogger, her blog has caught my attention. I suppose it’s because her persona reminds me of someone who I once loved. I say this with no guilt, however. And that’s because I gave up guilt for lent nearly four years ago.

That’s right! I gave up guilt for Lent. Here’s why:

This person I once loved, she has a name. But for simplicity, let’s just call her Love. She had convinced me that she was the one the Lord held aside just for me. She’d been praying her whole life for what she called “my sweet king-to-be” (MSKTB) for which became the moniker for this blog thread. She waited her whole life–and I mean she WAITED.

Her unrelenting chastity was something I honored. I’d figured that she was worth the sacrifice especially since she’d already sacrificed so much. But as the years passed I began to question the validly of a “sacrifice” of something that was never experienced. I longed for the integrity of a pure relationship. After all, no relationship prior had yielding a godly outcome.

This particular relationship did not come without its conflict and confusion. This was uncharted territory for me. I’d been divorced for nearly five years. My beautiful children and much-needed experience where the fruits of that union. Alas I’d experienced a sex-free marriage. How hard could an abstinent courtship be?

And believe it or not, it wasn’t difficult at all. The challenge was understanding the “rules” of an abstinent relationship. Love, well she didn’t make it easy. This courtship, as she called it, forced me to recall medieval times when marriages were arranged and fathers held the key to the mystical chastity belt. Weird!

It made me wonder if there were occasions where restricted access was circumvented somehow. Or if the whole concept was more-or-less a myth. I suppose I had a front row seat to my own private show. It was an interactive one-act play where I was both the star AND the antagonist. It hinged on torture, but Love led me to believe that it was necessary to truly appreciate the sanctity of marriage.

She had a hold of me. To my circle of friends, it looked like a circus. I thought I was the lion-tamer. Nah, I was merely one of the clowns (the one without the makeup).

As our relationship entered its first Lenten season, I asked her if she’d given any thought to what sacrifice she’d make for 40 Days. I figured it would be akin to my own fast of soda or chocolate. No! Hers was much deeper!!

Intimacy!

Huh? What?

I was confused. How much more un-intimate could we be??? I pressed her for an explanation. She obliged.

She said she’d spoken to God about it, and he told her to take her sacrifice deeper.

I thought this was a joke. But Love doesn’t joke about God. I began to plead with her. And then I realized that there was no integrity to in that at all. So I encouraged her to explain further. She said “no touching!”

Yeah ok.

“No kissing…”

Huh?

“No lustful gazing…”

To which I replied, “where will you be staying?”

This is where she became confused. I continued.

“When you spoke to God, did he tell you where you’d be staying when you come to visit me?”

I realized at that moment that I was venturing into a very ugly territory from which there’d be no return. But there was no turning back.

I gestured gingerly, “Hun, I know that you come a long way to see me. I know the sacrifice that you make to be with me. You are tired when you arrive, and most weekends you want to lay down; which results in you spending the night.”

“But you’ve also got to realize the challenge that comes from you spending the nights here when my children are home–the challenge created from trying to model this righteous behavior in the face of being “chased”.

My daughter had begun to emulate pristine behavior. She asked for a purity ring of her own. She spoke of the importance of waiting…

What father wouldn’t want that? Now I was offered an opportunity to step up. I’m not taking one for the team. I’m embracing a responsibility far greater than a “man-in-waiting” (is there such a thing?); or was my search for masculinity manifesting into a fatherly responsibility?

It didn’t matter. For a moment–perhaps minutes at best, Love melted. Her eyes gazed upon me and I felt appreciated.

But that too was confusing for me. And so I did what I do best. I stuck out my chest and…

Ruined it!

She asked me lovingly, “what will you give up for Lent?”

“Guilt! I’m giving up guilt!”

Love was lost.

I defended that if God was going to have a private conversation with my love, I was going to assert my role in my relationship with God. I looked up to the ceiling and continued, “you can’t stay here, wear sexy pajamas in my kitchen, tell me I can’t look at, touch, or kiss you and stay here. It’s teasing and it’s mean.”

Well maybe I didn’t say it was mean. It was a bad memory. What do you want from me?

“I Am giving up guilt for lent!” The Lord died for my sins. The fornication, the lust, the adultery, and all the other illicit stuff that I reluctantly confess to. I don’t need to harbor any guilt.

I sorta thought that I should have consulted a priest on this one, but…

I’m not catholic.

Love left that night. She went home to her father’s house where he and her mother later praised me for raising my own daughter to be a queen. I’m not sure how I felt about that, but…

Now THAT Ash Wednesday did not fall on Valentine’s Day (like it does this year), but the sheets have been cold ever since. Well, cold on Valentine’s Day at least.

As a middle-aged man who is on the cusp of denial, I will love myself this Valentine’s Day. And once you get your mind out of the gutter, you’ll probably do the same.

In case you didn’t know, the boxes of chocolate go on sale after 6pm at most pharmacies. And the Ex-lax is a few isles over.

Happy Ash Wednesday!

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Catylist 

He was the catylist. He brought about an inadvertant change.  And her life would not be the same.  First in his mother, and then in the life of every woman whose life he touched thereafter.  

After every guilt-ridden argument he had with his mother (especially in his teenage years), he was left reminded that he was a complicated birth. “The doctor told me that I shouldn’t have you.”

“But you are our love child…”

“We wanted you!”

“And this is how you behave?!?”

And in true Oedipus psychology, he fell in love with a woman who is very much like his mother. He overlooked mental health and insecurity when he proposed. And their love-child was not only conceived in love, but raised with praise. He loved his daughter with his whole heart.  And that level of insecurity was too much for his wife.

He discarded the insecurity as jealousy. And he excused the jealousy to keep his own sanity; and by ignoring what he thought might be wrong, he enabled a woman who otherwise would not be able to get out of her own way.

He watched her destroy a relationship after relationship. She eventually partnered with his mother to collaborate and destroy his inner being. They wanted him to believe that he was crazy. Their private meetings were filled with how to manipulate him.

When he realized what was happening he confronted them both.  He refused to deal with the recent loss of both his brother and his father. He mustered what strength he had to assert his authority in his own life.

The fallout was immeasurable. This was his first lesson (of many to come) that he can no longer be too nice to the wrong people. He internalized that he created this problem.  He believed that the turmoil in his life was a direct result of him being kind for too long.

Every relationship thereafter came with caution-and a fear of betrayal. He would trust strangers more than his loved ones. It did not take long for new relationships to deteriorate as a result of his mistrust.

He began to realize that building walls was not only good for keeping others out, but keeping the wrong element in.  He wondered if he was keeping the wrong people too close. So he removed his walls and let everybody in.  He had to be on guard more than ever.  He began to question everything.  

Questioning everything evolved into challenging authority or anyone who tried to have dominion over him.  He believed that only if he understood the world around him, he could be a part of positive change. All he wanted was to leave the world a little bit better and he had found it.

He knew that if he modeled strong manhood and effective leadership, his daughter and son would come to have the moral fortitude that others lacked.

He wasn’t wrong.  

He grew stronger.  His eyes opened.  He awakened to a world that loved…

He became excited and built new relationships.  These relationships were stronger and healthier.  He became discerning.  He began to choose his own destiny.  His energy inspired others. But he didn’t want to inspire as much as he wanted to help.  Instead of allowing his passions to keep him from the people he loved, he encouraged them to love life with him.  

He loved. He loved life.  He loved people.  He loved the creations that God formed.  He acknowledged bad things as necessary evils to evoke change.  

He became aware of his passion.  He prayed more.  He took better care of his body.  He considered the alternatives.  He explored his options.  He moved away from what he knew.   He became uncomfortable.  His discomfort became tradition until he learned to be more mobile.  Now he can’t stop.  He was once lured drama.  But he learned  that drama can inhibit. He wanted to focus more on growth.

He became a catylist for change by rejecting the norm.  He won’t look back.  Never look back…

Where Have All The Angels Gone…

When I was a kid, my grandmother used to tell me angels were all around us. When my grandmother died, my mother told me that my grandmother was my guardian angel. I haven’t thought about my grandmother in years.  But I’ve been blessed nonetheless.

For years, I’ve angli-fied humans in my life.   Every time I met someone who helped me see the good in the world, I’d dehumanize her in my own belief.  She must be heaven sent.

Angels appear and disappear.  Never really able to make a distinction, I felt a spiritual hug.  Preparing for the worst, and hoping for the best seems gloom (at least to predict unpleasantness).  But there’s always a calm voice whispering, “it’s going to be ok…”.  

Maturity and growth have offered me a new perspective.  I’m no longer used to that comforting voice.  And it’s ok.  Have the angels gone away?  Why is it that they’re never here to stay.  Angel, who are you comforting today?

Better Days

(Not) Making Love To The False Prophet

I shall use this as an opportunity to reference a lesson that I’ve spent the past three years learning.  When I thought that I was in the presence of God, I was instead being protected by him (which is far more personal). I endured a storm so harsh, others could not have survived it.  But I came through unscathed.

I’d been fooled and conditioned into thinking that I was on the path to blessings.  All along, however, I was being led by a temptress who called herself the dream maker. My naivety cloaked her harmful ways.  And although she could spew scripture and scoot in and out of sanctuaries unaffected, she was no angel.  To the contrary, she may have been a minion–a false prophet indeed.

I’m safe now, but she’s only begun to call upon the next like a siren.  The next guy is the son of a preacher man. That guy may not stand as a good a chance than I because, as a descendant of a holy messenger, the bounty is far greater.

I pray for his soul; that the Lord create a hedge of protection around him; and I pray that he is more discerning than I was.

Much has been written about false prophets, but as I searched for images, this is what I discovered instead.

False Prophets Mimic the Spirit of God!

The Story will be told by many men.  It will be a story of a woman who claims to be the heir to the throne.  She will argue that if she has to prove her legacy, her challengers simply lack faith.

She demanded that each man she tempted believe in her. In doing so, those “kings-to-be” will have a Devine connection to the Almighty.  It was believable.  I admit that I too conceded. I tasted the forbidden fruit, and it came easily. Am I condemned as well (for trusting this wolf)??

Do we chastise the ones who believe the lies?  Do we judge the fools?

God protects the children and the fools.  The children do not know better, but the fools are in peril because of their simple ignorance.

“Tomfoolery is alive and well,” she used to say!

In short, she was a liar!  Or was she??  She choose a narrative that was not genuine. And she sold it.  A sucker is born every minute…every minute that he spends with her.

Her entire story was a cover up of a life she choose to live–a life of ill-repute and a life of regret; a life that could have been forgiven by her Savior. She may never gain forgiveness because she choose to lie about it instead of testifying.

After searching many scriptures, this one gave me every certainty that I was in the midst of a raven:

“If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder spoken of takes place, and the prophet says, “Let us follow other gods” (gods you have not known) “and let us worship them,” you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him. That prophet or dreamer must be put to death for inciting rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. That prophet or dreamer tried to turn you from the way the Lord your God commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil from among you.”‭‭(Deuteronomy‬ ‭13:1-5‬ ‭NIV‬)‬

She inspired a higher belief in God (accidentally).  Having survived her clutches, I am affirmed that He protected me. I was bathed in the blood of Christ.  Her plan was foiled. She did not mean for me to get closer to Him.  She wanted my essence for herself.

While in the midst of a spiritual attack, during a fast or consecration, I would to say to her, “are you ReAlly surprised that these attacks would come now?” I’d say this to her each time we witnessed God’s glorious works; each time he protected us from certain destruction. Any time we weathered a spiritual attack, we knew He’d protect us.

She must have secretly been crossing her fingers.

My prayer today is simply that the Enemy release His hold on her life so that she not be destroyed nor damn her victims.

Peace be unto her, for I refused to sleep with the enemy nor make love to the false prophet.

A Storm Deferred

Lingering rain droplets replaced the morning dew. The summer breeze enticed Angels’ tear drops to roll off the maple trees leaves. An acorn falls onto his shoulder, and he quickly turns about to see who threw it. There was no one there. He was alone again. 

He’d seen many storms and had come through several of his own. He was no longer afraid.  He knew that his walk was a lonely one.  His path was his own.  His perils were only temporary.  The storm had passed. All that was left were the drying leaves and the moist grass between his toes. 

He was refreshed…

Suspend the Rules

We deal in the “what if’s”

when recognizing how fortunate we are

We convince ourselves that there’s a single point

in our own personal history that our life changed

(for the better or for the worst)

 

But let’s suspend the rules

Let’s release…

Let’s offer the responsibility up to a force greater than our own.

Things happen!

 

We convince ourselves that things happen for a reason.

As intellectuals, we accept the premise of cause and effect.

Things happen…

 

…and we convince ourselves that we can take measures to prevent

…things from happening.

 

Be humbled.  Accept that we don’t know!

 

Not knowing IS ignorance,

But ignorance doesn’t need to be blissful.

 

The bliss comes from not caring.

But the bliss can come from gaining knowledge.

The bliss can come from the release.

 

The release of defeat.

The release of deceit.

The release of something sweet.

The receipt of…

Knowledge

 

…the knowledge that comes from wisdom

…the wisdom that comes from an awareness

…and the awareness that what we know to

be true…

 

…is WRONG.

 

Suspend your beliefs.

Slowly close your eyes.