I’m Getting a Little Preachy

Listening to the news and scrolling through Facebook, I hear this name and see this face everywhere.  Kim Davis…  Lots being said about Kim Davis.

I feel wrong for being glad and for feeling a sense of vindication because she was jailed today for contempt of court.  Why wrong?  Taking pleasure in someone else’s misfortune is something that I strive to avoid.

But I have to own those emotions — there should be consequences for her actions, and I am pleased that she is facing some.  I have been disturbed by her refusal to issue marriage licenses to gay people, claiming that it goes against her Christian religion.

My reasons for feeling this way are manifold:

  1. A sense of unfairness — the rest of us have to follow the laws.  Why should she be exempted?
  2. Discrimination — homosexuals now have the legal right to get married in all 50 states.  Whether you agree or disagree with homosexuality, homosexuals have the same rights as non-homosexuals.  Discrimination against any group, especially in ensuring the same legal rights as the majority, is just plain prejudicial, unethical, and wrong.
  3. Use of religion — ARGH!  Herein lies my biggest frustration.

I have seen comments and articles that argue that since this is her job, she should just do her job.  I agree, up to a point.  Everyone should have the ability to question their own actions on a job, and to be able to refuse to do something if it is unethical or illegal.  Following orders blindly is questionable behavior, as well, but in this case, issuing marriage licenses IS legal.  She, however, is choosing to do what is illegal and unethical — discriminating.

But the use of religion as her validation for her actions irritates and scares me.  I am a Christian, but I don’t want this to be the example of my faith.  And it has nothing to do with my feelings about homosexuality.  It has everything to do with the judging and unloving attitude that she is exhibiting.

I believe that my God charged me with loving my neighbor.  He didn’t call me to His side by asking that I determine what is right or wrong.  He doesn’t ask me to judge those around me and determine their worthiness.  (And for not doing so, I am forever grateful.  What a huge burden and responsibility to judge others — I would not want to determine someone’s character based on the imperfect knowledge that I have about that person.  I have, at best, a 50/50 chance of getting it right, but in reality, very little hope of knowing that person’s heart and head.  Judging is best left to an all-knowing God.)

God doesn’t ask me to determine what sins are worse than others and rank people based on the “hierarchy” of their sins.  He doesn’t ask me to treat certain groups of people, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status or behavior and actions, with less dignity or respect or love.  He doesn’t ask me to treat anyone as less than any other person.

He asks me to LOVE.  Love my neighbor.  Love my enemy.  Between those two ends of the spectrum, I think the message is clear — love all.

I do not feel like Kim Davis is exhibiting a loving heart.  And there are PLENTY of other examples like this one that are of someone who calls themselves a Christian acting without a loving heart.  She is not alone in her behavior.

But I am scared that people view actions like these as “how a Christian acts.”  I am scared that people will view Christians who judge, persecute, and marginalize those who do not “act like we think they should” as reflections of Christianity and God.  I am scared that people will turn away from God if these are the examples of living in the faith.  And why wouldn’t they?

These are the reasons why I have a problem with Kim Davis’s actions (and yes, I know I am judging…ironic, huh?).  She is not a reflection of me just because we share the same God and Jesus.  This is why I was secretly excited to see her experience some punishment.  (Again, I wish that I didn’t feel that way — you know, All Judgy Judgerson.)

I need to remind myself and pray that her future actions aren’t based on avoiding punishment, but on loving those around her.  In a perfect world, she would go back to work and not discriminate when doing her job, not because she faces punishment, but because she found that love for all those around her.  Wouldn’t that be a great example of what God urges us to do?

Improving. Day 7

I just went with my friend, Kristin, to a speaker event hosted by our shared alma mater, Wake Forest University.  Carla Harris, a Vice Chairman at Morgan Stanley and Chair of the National Women’s Business Council, delivered a talk on her “Pearls of Wisdom”.  Her talk was excellent, and she was very motivating.  She had several career suggestions that I am going to try.  She seems like she has it all figured out.

Then there is me.  Who doesn’t have it all figured out.

Which leads me to tonight’s faux Rosh Hashanah question.

Question:  How would you like to improve yourself and your life next year? Is there a piece of advice or counsel you received in the past year that could guide you?


I would like to spend more time in prayer, studying the Bible and communicating with God. While I have conversations with God in my head all the time, I don’t put a lot of time aside for prayer — deliberate praising, deliberate worship and deliberate asking for specific help. I have been much more actively engaged in our relationship in the past, and I know that I felt myself to be more calm, more relaxed and even more confident when I did.

This year, I feel like I have been in survival mode most of the year. My prayers have all been about “help me”, “comfort me”, “relieve me”, and “guide me”. I would like to spend more time praying about other people, other problems, about learning, about growing, about next adventures, about how I can help others instead of others helping me.

I love this picture. It hung over the dining table in my grandparents’ house, where we ate every Sunday lunch. Seeing it will always make me think of being with them and my family.

The best advice that I received this year that will guide me in my journey is not new and is not complicated. It was simply, “Cristy, you don’t have to have everything figured out right now.” It took a little while for that to sink in.  My first instinct when faced with my crisis (getting separated) was triage:  Stop the immediate bleeding and then see how to return everything to as close to normal as possible.

For me, that meant moving out quickly, buying a house quickly, asking myself questions about where I thought I would be in 3 years, 5 years, and trying to get everything situated just so as fast as possible.  I was working myself into a tail spin.  And then a couple of people gave me this really good advice.  “Cristy, you don’t have to have everything figured out right now.”  And when it did sink in, I was so relieved.

The plan that I had for my life was gone.  It was going to be different by necessity.  But, it was ok if I didn’t have that plan sketched out now.  Now, when my knees are still a little wobbly.  Now, when I’m still learning my options.  Now, when I’ve got more options than I had before.

I can accept that having some questions left unanswered is ok, and it means that I spend less time calling on God to help me figure out my situation and more time enjoying what I have and those around me.

Friends Are Gifts: Day 5

Day five has rolled around.  Half way there during my 10 day, 10 questions as part of self-evaluation, reflection, faux Rosh Hashanah.  Answering this question was easy.

Question:  Have you had any particularly spiritual experiences this past year? How has this experience affected you? “Spiritual” can be broadly defined to include secular spiritual experiences: artistic, cultural, and so forth.

I have had such a tumultuous year. I have often felt like nothing is under my control. This has definitely been a year that has underscored the fact that as much as we plan, as much as we envision the way that our lives will work out, it only takes one trip to the doctor, one conversation in the kitchen, one meeting at work to change the path that we previously had been traveling.

It’s not like I have lived this long without facing disappointment or disruption to my life plan before. I have definitely faced many, many upheavals in my life. Deaths, breakups, major depressions, work failures…. But I have never had so many happen together in such a short period of time.

My spiritual experience out of all of this is the deepening belief that when I feel like I have no control (which in fact, I don’t), I have to rely on God. And so far, He hasn’t let me down. I have survived every twist that has come my way, despite any doubts that I might have had about my own strength.

Screen Shot 2014-09-28 at 6.46.49 PMAnd God has brought people into my life that have been critical to my healing and my ability to make it through difficult times, offering love and support. I am no one special, but I have special people for friends. They have special talents and gifts, and they have shared them with me. The fact that I keep expanding my circle of friends that help me grow and enrich me as a person, just at a time in my life when I need them the most, is a sign of God working in my life.

Lending a hand on Labor Day

I worked today on Labor Day.  It was a uncrowded commute, a park-anywhere, infrequent email-kind of day.  And at the end of the work day, I was reminded of why I am glad that I am a laborer and have a paycheck

I pulled into the gas station and put the nozzle into the fuel tank.  I was walking around to the other side of my car to gather my little car trash container to empty it when I heard someone ask me, “Ma’am, do you know where Camden Avenue is?”

I looked to the car parked beside me, and there was a man and a woman in the front seat and a small girl in the back seat.  The man was shirtless and the little girl was very quiet and seemed sad.

“No,” I said, “I don’t know where that is.”

The man continued to describe to me that they were out of gas and had spent the night in their car last night.  He had a job and was expecting to get a paycheck the next day, but didn’t have enough for a hotel room last night or today.  He said that there was a church on Camden Avenue and the people at that church had said that they could provide him with some money if he could get to the church.

I dug around in my purse and found $5 (I never carry cash — it’s a bad habit of mine to be cash-less) and gave it to him.  I mentioned another church just down the street that I felt would surely offer them some help.

He told me over and over again that he hated to ask for money, but he couldn’t bear to spend another night in his car, especially since his wife was also pregnant.  He said that his pride was out the window at the moment.

I found the directions to Camden Avenue on my phone and wrote them down for him.  The whole time that this is happening, I am looking at the sad little eyes of the small girl sitting in the back seat, thinking, “I am so blessed.  I have food.  I have shelter.  I have more than I need.  Thank You, God, for my blessings.”

He said that he was going to ask a few more people for money in order to put some gas in his car, because he was on empty and couldn’t drive any further.  But he thanked me for the $5 and the instructions and I drove away.

A few seconds out of the parking lot, I realized, “DUH!  I could use my debit card to put $10 or $15 of gas in his car!”  So, I turned around to do that.

And met him just pulling out of the gas station…right after he had said that he didn’t have enough gas to go anywhere.

I think, maybe, just maybe, I got scammed.

So, the question is:  Did they deserve my help?

No, probably not.  But if we only helped people who deserved our help, there wouldn’t be a whole lot of helping go on, would there?  I can think of numerous times in the past week alone where people helped me and I didn’t particularly deserve it, either because it was my job to do it in the first place or because I had a bad attitude about a specific issue.

And how do we measure someone’s “deserved-ness”?  Is it due to the Rule of Reciprocity? i.e. if they help me, then I can help them?  If that’s the case, then the first one that helps is taking a chance that the reciprocity is going to kick in at some unknown point in the future.  And if it doesn’t, are there take backs?

Is it based on the moral character of the persons involved?  “He is so nice that I should help him.”  Again, what happens when he isn’t so nice, because at some point, he is going to have a bad day and show his ass.  Or make a comment that I don’t like.  Or not laugh at one of my (hilarious) jokes.  No more help?

Do they have to earn it?  I think the guy from today really sold me a story.  He earned the $5 just with his story about sleeping in cars, a pregnant wife (she didn’t look pregnant, but she could have been), a paycheck to be delivered tomorrow, a car almost out of gas.  It was a really good story and very well delivered.

But these examples rely on the actions of others and I would rather base my willingness to help, my willingness to give, on me, on my decisions, on my character.

It makes me think of God.  He helps me, blesses me, saves me not because I deserve it or act in any way to earn it.  Because I don’t.  He does it because He is God and He chooses to.  (I am not claiming to be like God, but I am trying to be more Christ-like.)

So, I’m not mad at myself or at Mr. Slept-in-the-Car-All-Night.  He needed something and maybe the only way he could see to get it was to lie.  And while I may have unknowingly participated in his potential lie (do you like my disclaimers in case the guy ever reads this blog and wants to sue?), I helped my fellow-man.

Happy Labor Day, y’all.

Asking and receiving

I was raised in a Christian house. We went to church every Sunday. Whether my sister and I wanted to go or not (and there were lots of Sundays we didn’t want to go).

I grew up in a world of Sunday Schools, Vacation Bible Schools, Bible Stories and such.

I could quote lots of Bible verses and not just “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). That’s the shortest verse in the Bible, for any of you who maybe don’t know the Bible that well.

I knew as a little girl that God wants us to pray. I had heard many times through my young life “…ask, and ye shall receive…” (John 16:24) and “….but in every thing by prayer and supplication in thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” (Philippians 4:6). I had heard tales of people in dire situations who prayed to God for intervention and were rescued, people who had the faith that their prayers would bring about miracles and then the miracles happened. Asking in prayer and receiving was a common occurrence.

I was also a child of the 1970s. The era of either really good or really bad TV, depending on your point of view. I was a big fan of Wonder Woman, starring Lynda Carter. I watched her show every week and dreamed of being a super hero, fighting bad guys and keeping peace. I wanted a pair of gold cuffs like Wonder Woman in order to save people, too.

And with my unshakeable faith, I determined that I would ask God to give me some. I prayed, and I prayed, and I prayed for a pair of Wonder Woman’s cuffs.

In Action

Fabulous Cuffs

I remember spending at least one hour before bed time one night praying as hard as I could that God would send me a set of my very own gold cuffs. And I knew that when I woke up the next morning they would be waiting for me. I was asking, so I would be receiving.

The next morning, much like a Christmas morning, I ran downstairs into our den, quickly scanning the sofa, the floor, the chair, the side tables. No gold cuffs.

I ran through the house, searching other rooms. No gold cuffs.

And in retrospect, I have to admit, my faith in God’s willingness to answer prayers died a little that day.

Earlier this week, I told this story to two of my co-workers, really making fun of myself. As in, “Ha, ha, wasn’t I silly and naive, praying for a pair of Wonder Woman gold cuffs? And, of course, I never got them.”

And one of the women said to me, “You have cuffs somewhere. They just don’t look like Wonder Woman cuffs.”

I. Was. Floored.

Could that be it? Did I fall trap to the fallacy that God answers prayers exactly the way one asks Him to? Even my childhood prayer for gold cuffs that would save people? Have I allowed my faith to have this tiny crack in it for all these years because I expected cuffs with red stars when maybe my people-helping cuffs are really my sense of humor or my willingness to lend a hand? I think that I did.

I have many examples in my life, especially in my adult life, that it turned out to be a “blessing in disguise” when the goal or the “thing” that I thought that I most wanted in the whole wide world, I didn’t get. Everyone probably has a similar story. The promotion that they didn’t get, or job that they didn’t take. The person that they didn’t marry, or the house that they didn’t buy. You don’t get what you think you wanted, but instead end up with something better. Some people call those “unanswered prayers” because they prayed so hard for the thing that they didn’t get. “Oh,” they say, “I’m so glad that God didn’t answer my prayers and give me X, because I’m so much happier with Y.”

I don’t call those unanswered prayers. God answered the prayers, just not in the way that was expected. (He’s good like that.)

I’ve had so many answered-in-a-different-way prayers. And this week, I learned that my gold cuffs were answered in a different way, as well. I’m finally comfortable calling myself Wonder Woman.


Elder grateful month — day 4 — God’s Plan

Day 4 of Elder Grateful Month and I still have so much for which to be grateful.  Today, however, I’m all about God’s Plan for me.

I was raised in a Christian house and have always known that God loves me.  The significance of that message really sunk in during my 30s, when I was battling an episode of clinical depression.  At a time when I felt like no one in the world could possibly like me, much less love me, the message of God’s agape love penetrated my mind and heart.

Old Graveyard — Ireland — Matt Elder

I believe that God has a plan for me and I try not to worry about the future.  It is so much easier said than done.  I’m not a fatalist or someone who believes in predestination above free will.  I believe that I can (and do) make bad choices.  But I do believe that if I submit myself to His plan, then He will lead me to make the choices that He wants.

I’m not a Bible scholar nor a theologist, so my belief system may seem simple to some.  Yet, I know that when I have felt most at peace in my life is when I am talking and listening the most to God.  That’s when I feel like I am following His plan.  When I have felt the most frazzled, disconnected, overwhelmed and out-of-sorts is when I have tried to do things on my own.  When I’ve tried to convince God that I knew what I was doing and He should just stand back and watch me handle it.  It never worked out well when I was trying to control everything.

My Life and God’s Plan — A Visual

Letting go, trying not to control everything, is one of the hardest things to do.  I think we humans are wired to try to control the environment around us.  It must be a survival skill.  It’s the moments when I have said, “I can’t do this, Lord.  I’m in over my head.  You gotta take this.” — those are the moments that have made me the strongest.  Seems backwards, huh?  All a part of His plan.