Which One Is Pagan?

I want to try something. I want you to guess which one is Pagan. Is it the pharmacist that fills your prescription and is a single mom or is it the middle aged lady that works in the library? Could it be the quiet clerk in the deli and gives you a sandwich? Lastly, could it be the Goth girl that nannies the kid down the street and cooks for her boyfriend? Those are your choices…

Here’s a story about a “crisis of conscience”. A few years ago, I had, still have, a friend named Aj. Because I was sick. pneumonia, I was spending time sitting on the couch talking on Facebook. Aj and I had been friends and were becoming closer friends. I was learning that I had a “best friend”. Hadn’t had one in years. I think I realized that she was when she actually said it. We shared the same attitudes and values. One day, being my usual smarta$$ self, I made a status that was a Monty Python paraphrase about burning a witch. Her reply was that my closest friend was a witch, a real Pagan witch…

That caused a huge problem. I thought though we had not discussed it, that she was Christian. Her values were the parts of Christianity that I valued and still do. She lived the “love your neighbor” parts. Her walk was peace toward everyone. She took in a child that was not hers and later adopted the child because it was the right thing to do. She lived out being a good wife and mother. She forgave me for being a complete jerk when we met and looked past my faults to see the good in me. Like I said, all of the parts of Christianity I hold close…and my beliefs said she was going to Hell because she didn’t believe in Jesus…

That’s a bad place for me to be. I was given two choices. I could condemn to an eternity of suffering a person I had come to love or I could adapt. No middle ground there. Either I judge or not.

I adapted. I came to realize that, even though she had a strong sense of right and wrong, “sin” is applicable to my faith but, not hers. That I HAD to quit trying to make her a “Christian like Pagan” and accept her the way she is.

This is what I am trying to convey. My belief is that “judge not lest you be judged” is that it is not my place to judge someone’s soul. I go on with my belief that God created everyone the way He wants them to be. He puts people in our lives for His purposes. not ours. She, Aj, was the same person both before and after I knew. She had not changed. The only change was my perception of her. If I didn’t think she was going to Hell before, why would I have to think she was going after I found out. She stayed the same.

When you think about someone, what do you see? Do you see a person, or do you see your own concept of what they should be? If you meet someone, do you decide to impose your views and baggage and conditioning on them or do you take them at face value for who they are? The face value was and is that Aj is someone I love. Her being Pagan changed none of the things that are intrinsic to her, merely my perceptions of them…and not for long as I realized that my perceptions of worth were incorrect. I could not write off the human and friend because I couldn’t live with a difference in faith given that I was the one that had changed…

Aj is my “best friend that is not my wife”. She will be for as long as she will allow me. She answers all my silly questions about her beliefs. She corrects my mistakes and lives with some of my misgivings and uncomfortableness with some aspects of her’s. *editorial, tarot and divination make me uncomfortable* She puts up with a bunch from me because I overthink everything. She also teaches me to understand the parts of Paganism that I am comfortable with…and a whole bunch of other stuff like, how to be a good husband when I need advice. *grins* If she weren’t a Pagan, you’d think “what a nice Christian Lady”. *editorial, she’ll give me some static for “nice” because she wouldn’t use that word to describe herself* Anyway, unless she told you, you wouldn’t know she’s not Christian…

Remember the quiz? I’ve just been talking about the pharmacist. The second, I’ve known for some years and found out a week ago that she’s Pagan/Wiccan. I had no idea. We never talked about it. I thought that anyone that loves Christmas as much as she does must be Christian and gave it no more thought. The nanny is a “nice young lady” that was my first impression and I’ve found no reason to change it. Yeah, she’s also Pagan. The quiet girl that gives you the sandwich, I worked with. Cute as a bug when she wears a sundress *editorial, I think that’s what it’s called, she can correct me if she remembers the day we visited when I was cooking ribs* very smart and, again, Pagan. You’d never guess any of these if you looked at them. They might wear a necklace or something but, they don’t carry a banner that says “Hey, look at me, I’m Pagan”. They just go about their lives and leave it to you to like them as humans or not. None of them were what I expected them to be. I was surprised every time that they were not Christian.

In the end, I keep learning that there’s no stereotypical witch. People are people. They are the many varieties that, my belief, God made. They are unique and wonderful. They have an infinite ability to surprise me with the depths of their belief and convictions. To presuppose that if they do not conform to my faith and worldview denies me their insights. I have learned from Pagans. I have learned from Aj. I am a better Christian and husband for knowing some of the ones I do. I am far more accepting and far less prone to judge.

*exhale*

I realized it comes down to this, I choose to see people with faith. I learned that having  a different basis for that does not remove the basic idea of belief in something greater than yourself. I don’t like every Pagan I know but, I don’t like every Christian I know either. Paganism is “wrong”…for me but, not them…I should have realized that from the start. In the end, I did. I sleep better at night knowing that Aj cares and light candles for me. I’ll give it this, the soul searching was not wasted because I did grow. It wasn’t fun but, it was needed. Out of that pain came insight. I learned that my path is not the only path and the sole lock on morality or faith. Now, and you may ask anyone after Aj, when I find out that an unexpected person is Pagan, my first response is very probably, “cool”…and it is because of the people that God created to live that faith. Caring and compassion, kindness and love, independence and individuality are keystones to Paganism, as is a willingness to accept others the way they are without trying to change them. Proselytizing and evangelism are not, they will live their lives as they are called to and, if you join that path, it is because of their example, we Christians could learn from that, too. We could learn that, if we want someone to “convert”, the best way is by sharing our lives and not our dogmatic views of Sin and Hell.

*exhale again*

Please think on that. You may disagree with my conclusion about Aj…and the rest but, that’s yours to deal with. For me, I’ll gladly take the humans that have offered to let me know them and not judged me. I have gained and I have been blessed for knowing them. It hurt to change my views but, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Humans…that happen to be Pagan…

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