Tag Archives: deception

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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Passing

Sometimes is not a good thing to be passing.  Sometimes passing is a liability. Sometimes passing means that everyone is a skeptic.  Suspicious of what is different, what is misrepresented, and what can be trusted?

Once paranoid, now confirmed. It’s not a conspiracy theory if there are facts that support the theory.  It is then that the theory becomes belief.  When enough people embrace the belief, the belief becomes dogma.  What happens then?   There is a shifting social norms.

What are we referring to when we suggest that a person is “passing?”  This does not refer to doing well on a test (although I suppose it could).  In this case, we are not referring to the act of merely moving by something.  “Passing” means to move freely between cultures.  A chameleon passes as whatever can be easily overlooked in whichever environments it can adapt.  Being able to adapt is a valuable asset.  Adaptation lends itself to survival.  But passing can be even more valuable.  Passing enhances an individual’s ability to stealthily move with ease. It’s more than survival.  It enhances opportunity.  To do so is a skill.  To do it naturally is an advantage.  To do so artificially suggest privilege.  To do so artificially means that an authority permits the passage.  Of course, those who oppose the authority resent anyone who is granted privilege. In other words if you can pass, you will either be praised or resented.  If you’re going to pass, do it with style. Do it with effectiveness.  Do it in a way that others can benefit too.   


Having an understanding of what “passing” is helps us understand how it works.  Anytime you can identify a resource, you now can decide how you can use it.  This essay intends to make a few suggestions on how to benefit from someone else’s advantage or privilege.  Better yet, why not embrace this resource to improve our situation collectively.  But even that requires collaboration and cooperation.

Not everyone who passes is working for the common good. Passing embodies risks that not everyone is willing to share.  And sometimes the benefits are not worth it.

Let’s talk about race.  Typically someone who “passes” is an individual who assimilates with one ethnicity but looks like a member of another race.  As a black man who looks Latino, very few are certain of my ethnicity.  Blacks often ask me.  Whites usually wonder.  Hispanics usually wait for me to speak.  But to non-Americans it’s a non-issue.  My loftiness and genuine arrogance is a dead give-away.  I’m humble enough to be non-threatening, yet confident enough to be welcomed.  I don’t believe that I’m an asset to either race until someone else recognizes my ability to pass.  Instead,  I am a novelty; which is weird because folks like me are no longer an anomaly.  There are plenty of mixed-heritage or “biracial” folks within our culture. My white father left me no legacy.  My perception of “privilege” is antiquated.   My humility masks any prospect of advantage.  But my most important characteristic is the desire to be helpful.

I believe that if someone is blessed with a talent, they should use that talent to do something positive.  Although passing is neither a talent nor a privilege, politeness and good manners are cultivated.   I was blessed to have two parents who loved each other so much that they created a biracial son.  They raised me to be polite, courteous, and considerate.  I’m a helper.  I thrive on doing something positive.  My reward is when my efforts are appreciated.  But my actions are based on morals and ethics rather than correcting an injustice.  It saddens me that I can’t right the wrongs!

There is so much social unrest and civil injustice that individuals can not reverse the trend.   But someone who can pass in between ethnic groups can gain an understanding that can be shared and explained.  What we lack is empathy.  Passing may be a path to empathy.  Because we as a nation are looking more and more alike; because our circumstances are becoming more and more similar, passing is less and less relevant.   But as we search for common ground, there are forces dead-set on separating us.

It’s important to be transparent.  Passing suggests a hint of deception. There’s always the resentment for the “spy”. Therefore it’s also important to maintain a level of dignity.  There was a time when an outsider could be shunned, ostracized, or even lynched for associating with the wrong ethnic group.  In that era, passing was a great risk!   But in contemporary social climates, it’s never been more important to clarify one’s position.  Misconceptions have a uncanny way of ending professional relationships and even castrating an individual’s ability to maintain an ounce of credibility.  The distinction between a racist and a conservative is blurred from time to time;  as is the monachre  of a “freedom fighter” and a liberal.  Passing does not escape these insinuations.  Passing amplifies the distrust.

Everyone wants their fair share. Everyone wants to ensure that they are treated right (even if fair treatment comes at the risk of treating someone else unfairly).  Passing doesn’t come close to addressing this problem. For those who pass, it is a means of survival.  Those who can pass can glean from both bowls of fruit.  They can’t get a full serving from each, but might be able to pinch a scrap from either bowl.  This too is unfair in the eyes of those who can’t get any at all.   How long will it be before the “passers” are considered an ethnic group all their own?  If not for the ability for every one of us to learn this craft, the “haves” and the ” have nots” would be divided once again.