faith

Other…

I was talking to a friend. She called herself “other”, meaning “different”…

It occurs to me that we are all other. I mean, even the people we think are “same” aren’t. How could we be? As far as I know, there are no cloned humans with exactly the same experiences. We might share a gender, political views, religious views, and sexual orientation but, even then, we came to those spots inside our own skins…

So, why did this idea of Other stick in my head?

It is because of this…We need to protect other. We need to appreciate the Otherness of those that are other. Gaaaaack, this seems so obvious to me. We will never be able to fully understand any human. Hell, we don’t even understand ourselves. Anyway, *sigh* to not protect Other, we fail to protect ourselves.

There’s nothing wrong with not being the same.

Current society thinks Other equals Dangerous. If your political views differ, that person must be a threat… I suppose I could go down the list but, y’all get the point…Jumpin’ Jimmeny Christmas and The Easter Bunny, being different doesn’t present an existential threat.

The next part of this thought is, how do we develop and mature our own views if we are so hidebound that we refuse to listen to difference? If am so unwilling to listen to dissent and become so defensive of my own views that I refuse to admit the possibility that I could be in error, odds are that MY views are less valid than I think. Perhaps it’s just me but, I do make mistakes and continually look for holes in what I think and my personal philosophies…and adapt when some Other shows me error or invalidity…

*****

Other is also a trap when you apply it to yourself…

“I am Other and they’re all the Same so, they couldn’t possibly understand me…” That’s what a kid says to their parents and a 20-something says to someone in their 50’s…Not realizing the oldsters survived what they are living. I know I used the section up there to point out how we’re all different but, which in this case doesn’t mean “please disregard”, in quite a few ways we are the same. We all started out pooping our pants. We all want whatever form of “success” we deem. We all want to love and be loved. We will all face the same end…

…and not to drop into “politics” because I have avoided making any indication of any “political” view I might have…

…Our parents survived the Cold War. *I was born in 1963*. Their childhood was filled with above ground Atom Bomb testing. Their parents were the generation of WWII. The parents of kids today, are children of the Viet Nam Era. The World has been filled with “threats” to us since before the Dawn of History…

We, humanity, will survive and adapt. It is our nature to do that…

*****

Other, hunh? Celebrate it.

Other, hunh? Protect it.

Other, hunh? Ignore it.

Other, hunh? Learn from it.

Other, hunh? Yeah, and Same…

Holy Smokes

It’s been almost a year since I last wrote…I left because I was fed up with “politics”. I felt that Reason had long since become disgusted and wandered away. I am not “political” in the sense that I identify with a party or specific ideology. I also believe that the topics that I’ve written about, meaning, Religious Freedom, the fact that Women have worth and should never be physically or emotionally abused and, LBGT Rights transcend politics…

I left because I was fed up with “politics”. I felt that Reason had long since become disgusted and wandered away. I am not “political” in the sense that I identify with a party or specific ideology. I also believe that the topics that I’ve written about, meaning, Religious Freedom, the fact that Women have worth and should never be physically or emotionally abused and, LBGT Rights transcend politics…

I also left because I was at a point where I felt like I had said all I could say and was reaching burnout. In addition, my own tiny family, meaning, my wife, needed every bit of my emotional energy…

I am writing this one because I want to reaffirm and restate what I always believed.

  • What your beliefs do not make you good or bad. There are bad Christians, good Pagans and, indifferent Atheists. The “content of your character” comes from within and not a system of belief.
  • Women have worth. Period. They are not chattel. They are not objects. They are not punching bags or targets for torment. They are our mothers, sisters, daughters, coworkers, fellow humans, wives, partners, and any other phrase or word you choose to describe them. They are the equals of men. They are the ONLY gender capable of giving birth to humans. We owe them our lives and they deserve to be treated with the respect that has well earned.
  • Your sexuality is your own. Yeah, I think the LBGT Community has gotten a rough deal from the majority of my Cis-het Christian Community but, the fact that you are ANY of the previous doesn’t make you “special”, it makes you human. There are over 7 billion people on the Earth. All of them have some form of sexuality … including a desire to have none. All it boils down to, in the end, is that you don’t deserve to be persecuted for who you f**k. That’s it.

I started to write this as a response to the Fear that seems to pervade today’s society. Thing is people have been saying for thousands of years “the end is near” and it hasn’t happened yet. The fears of today are nothing but the flavor of the month. We have survived both wise men and fools in high office. We have survived War and Famine. We have made it through everything Nature can throw at us. The troubles of today pale in comprison to those of the past. The only difference it that today’s are happening now…

Perhaps it’s merely my age that gives me some tiny bit, I hope, of wisdom and perspective but, I am less concerned about how the World treats me and more concerned about how I treat y’all. It isn’t the Alfred E. Neuman, “what, me worry?” as much as it is that I really don’t want to waste the energy concerning myself with things I can not change and may not even happen…

…I don’t really know if this post means I’m back or is just to say that my views haven’t changed…

Grouchy Rainy Morning Musings

  1. Yeah, it’s me again. Not sure why, just here. I was thinking, always dangerous, and found some stuff in my head. I’ll probably forget some of them so, I’ll try to get the things out that need to be and hope for the best…
  2. The line between doing the right thing and over the cliff is this thin *holds up two fingers pressed together*. Don’t cross that line when you see it.
  3. I hate WalMart. I mean, really despise going in there.
  4. Your past doesn’t define you. Only your actions going forward.
  5. People are important. Said it before. Will again. It’s worth repeating. That doesn’t mean everybody is important to everyone but, someone is to every person. Find them but, be careful.
  6. *gratuitous bedroom comment* If you judge people by what they do in THEIR bedroom, when you’re not there and it isn’t your’s, then you open yourself to have your most private space judged…and no one can survive that test. Bluntly, who or how someone f**ks is none of your damn business unless they make it yours and, if they give you that trust, by telling you, don’t be a mistake they made.
  7. If your partner doesn’t make you laugh, you made a mistake because, that means they are either too stupid to make a joke or are too concerned with themselves to spend time on you.
  8. Partner is the operative word in 5. A relationship is a team sport. Both have to have the same goal. If one does and the other doesn’t. the former is a parasite and the latter is a host.
  9. You are what you eat *grins* Do you want to be tasty bacon or compost?
  10. We all have insecurities, failings, and weaknesses. Every human does. Find someone that doesn’t feed your insecurities, point out your failings, and pull you down when you’re weak.
  11. When someone trusts you, you have two choices, return it or run. Don’t be their mistake.
  12. I believe in love at first sight. I also believe in friends at first sight, It doesn’t happen often but, when it does, when someone accidentally “fits” like an old comfortable pair of jeans, cherish them as if you had known them for years and don’t question that it happened.
  13. Don’t wish your life away. It’s gone in an eye blink.
  14. Politicians suck. Yours are no better than mine. They ALL suck.
  15. There are hard words loyalty, duty, honor. They are worth trying to live up to.
  16. Have faith in something greater than yourself that is not human. Yeah, some kind of Divine. Doesn’t have to be mine but, ignoring that there are things we don’t understand and believing that we know everything means we believe we are God. We aren’t. The Universe is big and full of unexplained Infinities…
  17. Help someone. Just that.
  18. It’s ok not to be happy all the time.
  19. There are three words I NEVER use casually “love”, “hate”, and “friend”. If I say one of those words to you or about you, it has depth and meaning far beyond just letters on a page.
  20. Even bad days have moments when you can laugh.
  21. If you tell someone you’re going to do something, do it. If you had no intention of doing it, you shouldn’t have said anything.
  22. Backspace is your friend online. Not everyone needs to know you disagree.
  23. “No” is also an acceptable answer.
  24. Having people for friends  that are different from you is better than having ones that are the same. Sure, there need to be common values but, if they are the same then they are clones. Clones are boring. Life’s too short for boring friends.
  25. It’s ok to make mistakes. Repeating them and expecting them to not be mistakes the third or fourth time around isn’t.
  26. It’s ok to be angry. Some things are worth being angry about. It’s not a bad thing to have a temper, it has uses. Just don’t live there. Sadness is the same way.
  27. Lists get old and I’m forgetting stuff, so this is probably all for now *grins* I’m an old grouch but, that’s fine because I’m also a nice guy that likes to laugh and be sarcastic. You have two options dealing with that, take me as I am or walk away. Either is fine.
  28. Oh yeah, forgot and remembered. Don’t expect people to change for you. If you found them that way, it means they wouldn’t change for someone else, what makes you think you’re going to be any different?
  29. Last, love someone…and yourself…both are needed and both are had.

That’s enough for now. I think this list is for me. It’s also for someone else. It’s also for anyone that happens to read it and finds some musing that fits their need. Steal it at will or ignore the arrogance that thinks there’s something of worth in here. Your call.

Feeding the Demons

Dear Trinity,

I have some bad news. The demons don’t ever go away. Just when you think you have them beat, they remind you that they never left, just went underground. They let you become complacent while they were retrenching for a counter strike…

It doesn’t seem fair to me, at least I earned my demons. I invited them in, gave them a snack, and let them call my head their home. You didn’t. Yours were uninvited guests. I think that’s why I’m letting mine out, maybe if I give mine some space outside, there’s some room for you to kick some of yours out and a place for them to go. You see, I do have a few more years practice dealing with them. I won’t use the word “gladly” but, “willingly” seems to fit…

First some bad news. You will be sitting in a room full of people and feel alone. There will be times that, for no reason you can identify, you will panic. There will be days that nothing seems to make things any better and you just don’t like being you very much. What a kick in the head way to start, hunh? I have those days. You know that because I’ve come to you with them…

Here’s the deal. demons don’t have to define you. The only people that know they’re there are the one you see in the mirror…and the people you share them with. Choose wisely who you do share them with. Find someone that is willing to love you. *I was looking a word from Greek, the word storge is the one I want. It means ” the love that friends feel for each other… Storge love is unconditional, accepts flaws or faults and ultimately drives you to forgive. It’s committed, sacrificial and makes you feel secure, comfortable and safe.* Let those people in and be loved for yourself. Demons hate that. They can not stand the light of the love that the people that surround you bring…

Remember, though, the demons have  big lies.

They will tell you that you’re supposed to be happy all the time and when you’re not, they’ll be waiting. They’ll tell you it’s your fault that you aren’t. That’s a lie because not every day is happy. Stuff happens. Life happens…

They will tell you that you aren’t worthy. Just take my word for it, you are.

They will tell you that love is false and trust is a fools game. In time, you will learn both. You won’t trust everyone all the time and that’s fine. Some don’t deserve it. Love, on the other hand, the deep abiding love that comes with time and shared life, is ALWAYS worth the risk. I don’t mean that foolish “crush” that school girls have on movie stars but, the kind that looks at you and see’s “forever”. In those eyes, when you are old and gray, you will be the most beautiful woman on the planet. That day will come, when you find that…and the third happiest person for you will be me, because you and they will be the first two.

In time, the demons will start to fade. They won’t ever go away but, they will be less powerful…if you don’t feed them. You WILL  learn to keep them on their leash and, when they slip off, you will be able to put them back…and if you can’t, find me. I’ll be around to listen.

You got this. I’m neither your only friend, nor your best but, I believe in you. You are stronger than the demons. I think you will be stronger than I am…I just have more practice. They live in the past and yesterday is well and truly gone. You got this.

Love,

Miller

P.S. You know all of this. I just said it to remind you when you forget *grins*

A Comment Needed a Response and I’m NOT a Troll…

Reading other blogs is a good thing…sometimes…Other times I read the comments under them.

A few days ago I read a blog by a Pagan Lady explaining her friendship with a “Jesus Freak”. It was a very well written post talking about her friendship and how the two of them could get along. How they could find common ground and peace between them That they could share the blessings of their separate faiths with each other and not be intimidated or feel fear of the other. She also commented that some Pagans would *paraphrase* say it wasn’t possible and she was a traitor to her faith. Then a commentator proved her to be correct. He said he would accept allies “but”…In my mind, the word “but” in a sentence means “please disregard previous”…

I’m not a violent person. I haven’t physically hit someone since I was a kid on the playground. I wanted to smack the guy. You want allies only on your terms? Ok, here are mine to that guy. A. I don’t want to change you. B. I am an ally based on MY views, not yours. C. I am an ally because I want to be. It is my choice to attempt to help, not you compelling me. Alliances are based on MUTUAL respect and common ground. D. I may be some people’s ally but, *Yeah, that word* if you disrespect my views, I am not YOUR ally. You may feel free to reject the idea of my help and slight my beliefs, by doing that, it’s your loss, not mine…

*sigh*

Here’s the deal. I don’t “troll” comments or posts. If I have something to say, I use my own space to comment. I don’t get the need to disagree or argue with someone on line. I am willing to discuss a differing view but, to completely disparage another’s view, on a post that they wrote particularly when they are talking about a rare supporter of their belief system and an outsider that wants to help them, makes no sense to me.

I’m not “special”. I don’t need my ego stroked. I am also not common. I don’t know the percentage but, experientially there are very few pro-Pagan Christians that I have met…and I’ve looked for more. I need allies of my own faith to help me spread the word. If someone that is Pagan doesn’t want my help, fine, don’t take it. You have that right. Having said that, we, Christians ARE the majority view in this country. No matter how far my heresy goes, I’m still in the “club”. To push back against ANY of us that are willing to reach out or to put down ANY friendship that reaches out is “cutting off your nose to spite your face”…

Ok, the rant and “harsh” is over…*edit, I fibbed. my bad. rant continues toned down a tiny bit*

To more directly answer something I posed up there, “I am an ally because I want to be.” Why do I “want to be”? The short answer is because Aj, my “best friend that is not my wife” is Pagan. The longer answer is more complicated…

I didn’t want to be but, *that word again* I had to be. It would be easier not to be. A different blogger used the  phrase “agnostic Pagan” to describe the possibility that she might be mistaken. I have that same view, only Christian, I’ve been wrong before. It WILL happen again. To believe that my limited perspective and words I’ve read give me a lock on the Divine and morality is foolhardy…

It would be MUCH easier to be simplistic in my beliefs. “Christians good and EVERYONE else bad” is a far less complex world view but, that’s not the way I’m made. I am a person that recognizes my limitations.

*sigh*

There’s an, to borrow something from myself, expression “some of my best friends are (fill in the blank)”. It’s usually used by a racist, homophobe, or some other person to justify why they aren’t prejudiced…and they really are. In my case, some of my best friends are Pagan. No justification, fact. I can be judgmental and not exactly “tolerant” but, that’s based on the individual and not some charistic like faith or being LBGT. There are humans that fit any demographic that are people I love and like…and some that I think are complete a$$es…

Yeah, that guy bugged me and I can’t seem to get it out of my head.

I’m used to being the only Christian in a conversation or the only straight male. It would seem that the people I hang out with don’t care about those things and put up with my silly questions. *editorial, I mean on line. I go to work and come home. My “hang out” is virtual. My job requires much interaction and I like home and quiet* I digress, those people don’t “tolerate” or “accept” me, they are people I like and love and KNOW that is returned by them. They tease me and I tease back. Friends…that happen to not fit my demographic.

*sigh…for the I don’t know how many time*

My path is mine. I was raised Christian. I became “fallen”, if, not quite, atheist. I became, a bunch of years later, Conservative Christian. Over time, I wandered into heresy. It is my path. I don’t evangelize. If you don’t want to use the same path, don’t. It is not an easy one, questioning and doubting. It is mine, though. If you want your trail to parallel mine with a different faith, that’s fine. Keep your beliefs and faith and just walk along side. If you want my help, ask. If I am able and inclined, I will but, if you reject my help or lay conditions on what I do, don’t cry when I don’t. Don’t say that you reject my beliefs as they are as much a part of me as yours are part of you and then complain that you’re not getting the help or respect you think you deserve. It’s a two way street. Period. You get what you give.

I’ll take what help I can find. No matter if it’s from a Crone or a Saint. I’ll listen to words and, if there’s wisdom, gladly absorb what I am able. I’ll wish “Merry Christmas” or “Blessed Yule” depending on the person and not think twice. My nose doesn’t get out of joint at the idea that different beliefs are merely different, not wrong. I’ll respond to kindness and love with the same…

I’ve said it before, “I’m not your ally”. I might be a voice, if you’ll let me. I may not understand or share your views but, I’ll respect and defend your right to them and the practice of them. All I ask in return is the same I’m offering you…*editorial, I reserve the right to have self-contradictory views. I’m human*

Oh yeah, “mutual benefit”. What do I gain from helping you? Nothing but…some of the people I love and want the best for fit “your demographic” and what helps the people I love, helps me. If my words and thoughts make your life better and, as a result, theirs I’ve gained. To change their world for the better, I have to change yours, too.

Who Put You In Charge?

You can’t be a (blank) because I decided you don’t fit MY standards of what that is…

So, just a question, who put you in charge?

*sigh*…

This one is just something that irks the crap out of me. The comment was on a pic that a friend posted on Facebook saying that the person in the pic wasn’t really Pagan. This is just an example. Apparently, though, I am not a “real Christian” because of my views toward the people I know that are Pagan or LBGT. Some of my friends aren’t “really gay” because they have children. Some of my Pagan friends aren’t Pagan enough to be “real” Pagans because they have “mixed” views on spirituality….and we can skip the entire set of political views that aren’t far enough to one end of the curve or the other to suit the ends…

Who decides? Do I get to claim a view or a path or do you get to tell me? Here’s a hint…while I value some humans views of what I am and what my friends are, those humans have earned the right to tell me, the rest might be better served contemplating why they would exclude someone that wants to be part of their group and give them support. If I call myself Heretic Christian, and I do, that means I am still Christian. If someone claims a faith, without sharing the inside of their Heart and Head, who are we to say they are not that? Every person is different. We all have our own ways of doing things.

Look, guys, from my end, I’d rather have someone that isn’t EXACTLY like me sharing my road and giving support than someone else blindly following my words without applying their own sense of reason. *editorial, I AM NOT giving approval of “participation trophies”. You have to reach the goal but, in the cases, I’m describing you get to set the target, not someone else*…

My other point, if you think someone isn’t (blank) enough to suit you, perhaps you are the person that needs the work and not them…

 

Welcome to It…or Two Years and Counting…

I wish…

*sigh*

I know I’ve written this thought before but, I still wish I didn’t have to write this blog. I realize that I am an idealistic naive soul. There is no part of comparing religious bullying to rape that is enjoyable. Not a bit of having to tell my Pagan friends to stay in the “broom closet” to protect themselves is a goal that I ever expected to have. Berating Christians for complaining about alleged victimization toward them while they are earning the rewards of their attacks on other faiths is un-fun…

So, why? Why do I keep at a “project” that I expect to last my lifetime with zero chance of success? Because, for all the first person writing, it isn’t about me. Sure, it’s my perspective but, that’s just the style and point of view. In the very beginning, it was for two very dear people…and the communities they are parts of the Pagan and LBGT communities…and, yeah, for me and my conscience.

WordPress gave me the notification that a couple of days ago was the second anniversary of this blog. In that time, not counting drafts, there have been close to four hundred posts…and I don’t have a clue if any Christian has changed their view as a result. I have gained quite a bit of support from the groups I write for and, in its own way, that is important. It means that at least they are seeing that some few of us do not see them as the “enemy”.

Life is a work in progress. This blog is a continuing extension of that…

To the Heretics that read this, welcome.

To the non-Heretics, I was one of you. I do understand your fears, I just no longer share them. I have learned to not fear. I found out that our faith isn’t what’s under attack, our attitudes are. We get treated like the way we act. If we show love, it’s returned. On the other hand, if our face is intolerant and spiteful, we should expect to get slapped…

To the Pagans, not all of us hate or fear you. It truly sucks that you have been forced into hiding by us. If it is safe, you can change our world…and yours by coming out. We will probably not “get” your views but, we will love you anyway…at least some of us will. Please, please DO NOT assume that we are safe, though. Be careful. I can not say that enough. Your safety is more important than anything else. I know you know that. Still *sigh* I would rather me be a target for my view than you for your faith.

*****

One last, I said up there I hate writing this. That is not entirely correct. I hate the need for it. I love being able to do something to attempt to help make a change that I wish there was no need to make. To that end, we have started a Facebook page for the blog. It uses the same name as the title “Stones in the Middle of the Jordan”. It is an attempt to form some community and a place to come together. It isn’t about me, even though it shares the title with the blog…the blog really isn’t “about” me either as much as it is for y’all. If you do FB and want a way to reach out and discuss, please find us there. It is a “safe” space. It is very pointedly protective of faith, lack of faith, and LBGT’s…in other words, humans. *editorial, it is a brand new page and a work in progress. Please bear with us…or help out by joining and starting conversation*

 

Unintended Results…

…The World is a big place…doh…and we each only really occupy a tiny bit of it. Yet, sometimes, we occupy more than we think. We, either by accident or intentionally, impact people in ways we never intended…

You see, there’s a Pagan that makes me a better Christian. To understand her place in my world and to try to understand her faith, not the rituals or beliefs but, the depth, I had to examine mine and my place in it. Look at it like this, we do not share the same group of beliefs but, we share Faith. We both believe in something greater than ourselves and find a sense of “place” within that commonality. *editorial, I had a pastor tell my Dad that they needed to get the humanism out of me. It didn’t work. I merely apply it within a context that include my spiritual beliefs*

Aj didn’t set out to help increase the depth of my faith. She really wasn’t trying to give me any reasons to look more deeply into what I believed. I think that she really wasn’t trying to do anything at all except correct a smart-aleck comment I made the day she told me she was Pagan. I KNOW it wasn’t her intent to “rock my world”. I suspect that if the issue hadn’t forced itself, she would have picked a different time or a different way to let me know. As it stands, what happened was I made a comment and she replied. Then there was the accidental *editorial, I do not believe in accidents. My belief is that there is a purpose for everything* part. I was left with a question, was I convinced beyond a doubt of the “rightness” of my position or was I human and possibly not completely correct? Do I believe every bit of the dogma or allow for the possibility that there are multiple “right” paths?

In the end, the only conclusion I could come to was that my path was correct…for me. That the Divine expresses itself to each in the fashion that is needed by that individual. That our spiritual beliefs are so deeply personal that we, even when we say we share beliefs, really only have our own personal construct.

At the same time, without knowing the details of her rituals, I see the depth of her faith and the way it impacts her life. That encourages me to explore my own. That puts mine at the front of my mind. That, by writing this blog, my beliefs and views are constantly on my mind. By looking for ways to express, to you, what I see, feel, and think I have to look inward. I have to find expressions of my God in my life and, even though she doesn’t see it the same, in her’s. *editorial, I AM NOT making her Christian. I am saying that having different beliefs does not negate that I believe that the God I have works in her life, just as she believes her gods work in mine. Fair enough?*

*editorial, I AM NOT making her Christian. I am saying that having different beliefs does not negate that I believe that the God I have works in her life, just as she believes her gods work in mine. Fair enough?*

We don’t always do what we set out to do. I didn’t seek out Pagan friends to become a nicer Christian. I didn’t really seek out Pagans for any reason. Wasn’t looking and, had I known before I got to know her, would have avoided them…as it is, though, I do know a few Pagans. I have learned to look outside myself. Because of that, when I look inward, I find depth in my faith and room in my heart that I never knew existed…all because  of a smart aleck comment and a response that was kindness and patience.

A soft answer turns away wrath,
    but a harsh word stirs up anger.
The tongue of the wise commends knowledge,
    but the mouths of fools pour out folly.” Prov 15: 1-2

Reflections on Ten Years

This’ll post the day after I made it to ten years clean. I think I’m going to wander through my head and just put down what seems like it matters…

Some days are very easy to stay clean and sober, other’s it’s all I can do to not have “just one” beer.

The nightmares are finally starting to fade.

I’m less worried about being liked by the world at large and far more concerned with the opinions of a few people I love. Related to that, I conserve emotional energy so that I have more for them.

Little things make my day like a tasty bite at work or an easy drive home.

My very favorite hobby is “Doing Nice Things for Sweety”. She is the reason I stay clean. The Bible says “count the cost”. If I relapse, she is the cost. I am unwilling to pay that price.

My second favorite hobby is this blog because it is a gift to myself and some friends that I think of as Treasures. Yeah, the best things in life are the people that allow you to share their lives.

I have different priorities now than I had ten years ago. When I first became sober, I was trying to figure out who I was and how to deal with being sober. Now, I LIKE being sober and *grins* mostly sane. I also don’t think I’ll ever figure it out so, I don’t worry about it.

Interestingly enough, when I got sober, it was in a place that is Conservative Christian. Now, I am much less open minded than I was then. Yeah, “oddly” because although this is a blog that has a lot of posts for LBGT Rights and freedom from persecution for some Pagan friends, there are a lot of things I disapprove of. It just happens that being gay or Pagan aren’t things on the Disapprove List *grins* To clarify, there are a lot of things that are out of bounds…for me…that I am willing to encourage others to do. I can not drink ever again. As an example, that doesn’t mean I don’t tell people to have a beer and have bought them a beer on occasion.

I think I’ve grown up a tiny bit but, some days I still wish I was 4…

On a serious note, I NEED a “support group”. It isn’t a traditional AA type support group but, there are some close friends and my wife that I am able to turn to on the bad days. Yeah, I still have days that are “touch and go”. I can not rely on my own strength to stay sober but, I can long enough to be able to get to someone that will loan me some of theirs. Then I have enough strength.

I’ve learned gratitude. I am entirely grateful for the “bonus years” I’ve been given. I didn’t expect to live this long. I am grateful, too, for the people that populate my life in these years Sweety, Aj, Z, Kelladillo, and the rest of them. I never expected to have people I trust since I didn’t trust myself or anyone else way back then.

Trust is another thing I’ve learned. I am able to trust me and other people. I wasn’t able before. Go figure.

I still have baggage. I keep little stashes of food because I used to not have enough for drugs and food so I chose drugs and stayed hungry. Now, having food is security.

I also keep finding out that I’m far from perfect. I try to be a good husband…and some days I am. Others I take her for granted. People, even the ones I put on the unfair to them pedestal aren’t. Humans have faults. I just have a tendency to ignore their’s.

I have a huge weakness with labels. I want people to fit in nice little boxes. I try to make them fit my construct and world view. *sigh* When I was an addict, I didn’t care as much. Now, I want things to be neat and tidy. It manifests itself when it comes to faith in particular. I do a disservice to a dear friend, Aj, because I try to “Christianize” her when she is not. I have a hard time with that because I have a hard time stepping outside myself. On the other hand, because of those same attempts to put people into boxes, it makes me predisposed to like someone because of one aspect of themselves. Examples being that if I find out someone is Pagan I want to like them or if they are Lesbian, because of Z, I want to like them. Because most of my close friends and all of my “support group” is female, I tend to want to like them and am much more wary of having male friends. *editorial, I do have a couple of male friends but, am not as close to them*

For what it’s worth, being an addict sucked. Hating yourself is not fun. Ever. Letting every hygiene standard and all of your values suffer rots the soul. I can not find any excuse for who I was. I listen to a radio commercial for a treatment center that says “it’s not your fault” and entirely disagree. If it wasn’t my fault, it for d**n sure wasn’t anyone else’s or God’s. If I didn’t do it, who did? I had to learn to own my actions and thoughts. I had to realize that every step I took belonged to me. Now, I realize that even being angry is a conscious process and I control it. I used to make excuses about my life, now I don’t. I either fix it or take the hit, either way, it’s mine.

*****

I thought this was going to be a list of milestones. That’s not how it turned out. Sorry. Fatigue set in. Still, I wanted some words down. I would like to thank my family, my wife, and The Collective Conscience. God gets a bunch of the credit, too. I get very little except for being smart enough to turn to good people.

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…