How I Became A Preacher

I have been given a lot of reasons not to like Christians. I wish I could say I know in my heart God is real and Jesus loves me, but no one really knows that for sure, and I am a very logical, practical, girl. I always have been.

When I was a teenager, I went to youth camp every summer. The Pentecostal kind. At the end of the service each night, I would watch all of the other kids flock to the altars. They’d be there all night; slain in the spirit, speaking in tongues, crying, and holding hands, and I’d just be in my seat… watching.

I remember one year, I made sure I was “slain by the Holy Ghost.” I thought people would think something was wrong with me if I kept choosing to stay in my seat. Everyone else was hugging the concrete, so I faked it. It hurt like hell when my head hit the ground! (Note to self: Make sure you have somebody there to catch you.) I never tried a second time around.

My last church sealed the deal on my view of Christian organizations. Around age fifteen, I decided church wasn’t the place for me. I began to see through it.

I had just signed a ministry contract. I thought it over for a week before I finally committed. They included a whole clause about tobacco use, and I did not want to be dishonest by alleging that I wouldn’t use it. I was an underage smoker.

I told my youth pastor my dilemma and he encouraged me to step into leadership anyway. I poured myself into the youth group. I spent my weekends and summers at the church. I lead national See You At The Pole day at high school, helped organize the first statewide youth rally in our town and led praise and worship.

Yet, the very second that I was placed in an Oklahoma psychiatric children’s center, my family-owned church deemed me unworthy to serve. I wasn’t worthy enough to be a leader. I wasn’t even worthy enough to sing in the choir. People like me aren’t worthy of positions like that.

“Like me” meaning suicidal. People, like me, who struggle with the impacts of trauma, we’re tormented. In the eyes of the church, we’re sinners in need a deeper relationship with God and a closer walk with Jesus Christ. We’re not worthy of anointing, love, or light.

So, there I was — shunned at Christmas. I wasn’t even allowed to sing in the church cantata! I couldn’t possibly worship God with my voice. It was spotted. The choir director did her best to pretend she wasn’t judging me as she stopped me in the bathroom and told me,

It’s for the best.

That is the same thing the youth workers on the children’s behavioral unit said. And how many times did my church leaders or church family come to see me? Not once. Who came to visit outside of my parents? Nobody. Did any of them confirm or hear me say that I wanted to die or that I had made an attempt on my life? No. Nobody asked me.

After that, I was behind in school six months before graduation. I lost my only social outlet, and I worked until 2 o’clock in the morning nearly five days a week. I tried to hold onto the church and the fake smiles they all seemed to master. But every time I dared to attend, I was blinded by darkness.

It was full of judgment. We made the same judgments in our family. A lady in our church was dating an ex-convict and living with him out-of-wedlock and wanted to serve in the church. They wouldn’t allow her. They asked her not to return until she got her life right with the Lord. The sad thing is, the deacons and youth ministers were judged the same way. It was the same way the pastor treated his children.

When we’re younger, we’re not deaf and we’re not blind. I meticulously watched people my entire life. No one in the church or the family bothered to get to know me. They didn’t then. They don’t now. I was never accepted into their church… or family. Not since that new poor-little-adopted-girl smell wore off.

While the last three years have found me verbally open about it and in public confrontations on social media platforms, I find it all ironic. All this judgment as if they know who I am, all my sins, and my soul’s darkness. Yet, here I am shining the brightest light.

Not once did those who served in our church tell me I was anointed or called, but they had plenty to speak over my sisters. I must have been really terrible at faking it. The only part of the church I embraced was worship. My voice. I lived and breathed for the youth group and music.

Since my birth, people have prophesied over my sisters and me and stamped our lives with scripture. I remember each time. The last person to speak anointing over the three of us girls was Ms. Brown. She was a vibrant lady. She professed God would use each of us; one of us would write, one of us would sing, and one of us would preach His word. I always liked her.

While people routinely praised and ordained my sisters, purpose in my life was merely remnants written in cards from my foster parents, DHS workers, or people from the church, like Lydia. She prophesied Psalm 100 over my life. Years later, after dad gave me a box of our adoption records and collective other things, I found an old card addressed to a younger me. “Charity.” Mrs. Brawner, my foster mom, penned Psalm 101 inside. All those notes and cards stopped by the age of five.

What do I do today, even though I don’t get to feel the warmth of the sun on my face or know what it’s like to face the world every day, much less face myself in the mirror? Write, sing, and … preach.

I am a preacher. I send God’s love out into a dying world, and I don’t throw conviction or scripture, but I shout His word. When I speak, people listen, and I have a powerful voice! The world is my church.

Funny how home became my prison. Blame mental health (or religious culture?). Today, I have a full congregation. And we don’t worry about building funds, smokers, gay people, or offering plates. We don’t abandon suicidal children, addicts, or whores. We serve.

I guess that is the kind of sinner I am. I shine brightly from all the way inside of a dark, forgotten, apartment. And on the days I remember to pray, it’s usually to ask Jesus what happened to all of His lighthouses.

Dear Christian Blogger

Today I met a Christian blogger. “Culture of Violence?”  He wrote. Then, he proceeded with verbal assault.

Previously, I referenced his work, but I was respectful. I know how to hold my tongue when it comes to judging others. That’s not my place. I was called to love.

This is my personal response to the writer. 


Dear Christian Blogger,

Actually, the initial thoughts behind our culture of violence go much deeper than that.

Of course, you approached my blog with your glasses of judgement meticulously formulated and focused on your own way of thinking. After all, you’re a Christian. So, anything you do and say MUST be with good intentions, right?

You made sure to let me know it was “nothing personal.” It’s just your religion to point out people’s tragedies, shortcomings and faults, right? I understand.

You’re a Christian.

You have an important message to share with the world. Do you know what story I think of when I think of Christians much like yourself?

Mary Magdalene, one of Jesus’ greatest servants. Others fed Him, worshiped Him, followed Him and shouted His praises…

She washed His dirty feet with her hair and she was humbled!

I imagine she felt so honored because she was a whore. (As you’ve attempted and failed to make me to be in your introduction.)

Or maybe she wasn’t holy enough or clean enough, much like the diseased woman who strained and reached out to simply touch the hem of His garment.

I imagine I’m a lot like them.

After all, that was your intention, right? You’ve got to appeal to your readers who are similar to you; their Bibles turned to the page that gives permission for judgement.

It’s okay. I understand.

You’re Christians.

My previous relationship was with a female. The next time you want to attack me, read further! You would have had great ammunition to keep you focused.

I began that relationship the same month that I was violently sexually assaulted in someone’s front yard, while 5 other people watched.

But hey, make light of my pain and use it for your sermon. Amen? Thank God, Jesus never did that!

In all of my articles, at no point do I ever blame police. However, when you’re a writer and you cover stories that are in the media, the facts that you report have to be exact. Your kind of judgement wouldn’t make it to Elite Daily. But hey, you’re welcome to try.

If you had scanned less and read more, your information about my concept would be thorough and well-debated.

But it’s not.

See, this was my first article on our culture of violence. It was published in May 2014. You’d know, if you read it.

My second article covers who is to blame for the culture we’ve created. It very clearly points no fingers to anyone but us.

We the people!

My third article to address our culture of violence was this article. It’s about child abuse and domestic violence. But I’m sure in your eyes, the victim is to blame.

It’s okay. I understand.

You’re Christian, right?

That makes your prejudices acceptable and justifies judgement. At least, that’s the message you’re sending.

Then, I wrote about violence going viral. No, I didn’t blame police, at all! I called the people to action to stop the violence by exclaiming,

These are our children!

If you ask me, the fact that you’ve “read” so much of my work and given it so much thought (clearly), tells me a lot about your love, your thoughts and your heart.

Actions speak louder than words.

After reading a ridiculously loud message of love, you found the hate and judgement. The same way in your article about the death Leelah Alcorn.

You see, with every single article I have written, I’ve used “we, people, us” etc.

I’ve reminded people that we are all human and I’ve plead to the people,

Tell them that you love them and they matter!

God called us to do just that.

Sounds like He has called you to judge. And the message that you’re sending speaks loads.

Doors closed.

If God has called you to be a light in this world, why is it that none of your posts reflect it?

We do have a culture of violence.

Some of the most horrendous acts of violence we see today
flow from the very mouths of people.

Much like yourself.

Keep your religion. I’ll keep my faith and choose love.

Love changes people.

 

Let’s Talk About Religion

I have always appreciated a good debate; sometimes it gets me caught up! This is my morning discussion while juggling a sick baby and Sociology class. Facebook is becoming quite a distraction! After casually running across, and commenting on, the article “Oklahoma PTA Speaks Out Against Mustang High School Bible Class”, I found myself quickly bombarded with feedback!

This is how that conversation went.

ME:

Unbelievable; I love how Oklahoma and Louisiana seem to think they are above our constitutional rights!!! Even as an elective, it oversteps CLEAR boundaries. Will they also offer elective courses to include all other religions represented in the school!? Bible Belt or not, Oklahoma is NOT above the law. I hope the PTA brings this venture to a screeching halt.

Jeff Adams:

There is NO law against this, never has been, just like there is nothing in the constitution about separation of church and state- that was taken from a narrative written by Jefferson, the article is referring to the governmental overreach on establishment of religion, read your constitution…..if you can read at all.

ME:

I know exactly where separation of church and state originated; just as I’m 100% familiar with our constitution. Whereas, perhaps in your smugness, you forgot ALL citizens are entitled to freedom of religion. Or perhaps my reading abilities fail me, and 900,000+ other people in the United States! Go sound ignorant somewhere else; and it was not an article- it was a letter.

Nicole Poindexter:

The Supreme Court has made it clear through their rulings that schools should not promote only one religion. If another group is denied an elective course on the Koran, there is going to be a lawsuit filed. And there should be. Odds are though; once another group wants an elective, this one will be shut down to avoid teaching about other religions.  (I agreed with Nicole!)

Angie Noyb:

First… I don’t know why anyone would be so angry over this… your kid does not have to take it if they don’t want to! Good Lord. Secondly, they had over 200 kids sign up for this class already. So, there is an interest. If they have the same interest in another religion then I agree they should provide a class for that as well. But I don’t see 200+ kids in the Mustang high school wanting to take a class on the Koran. Just sayin’. My son’s high school offers classes that I think are absurd – but it doesn’t bug me. There are clubs for every ethnicity except the Caucasian persuasions, i.e. Scandinavian or Irish, etc. But we don’t throw a fit and ask that the others be shut down. My son IS however forced to take ‘fine arts’ which is a waste of time, imho, because it will not help him in any way in the career he is going into and just takes up a slot of time that he could be taking something more beneficial. But… we aren’t throwing a fit about it. This is what it is to be mature and live in the ‘melting pot’ that we live in. Get over it. I say ‘good job’ Mustang. Wish our schools in Moore would offer something like that as a ‘fine arts’ class. At least then they would be getting something out of that block of time.

ME:

Angie, I never said I was angry over it. I said it infringes on constitutional rights; clearly it does. Personal opinions, when it comes to the matter of beliefs, are considered biases. The Bible is not proven; it is a theology of faith. Furthermore, it is a book intended for personal interpretation & conviction via prayer/intercession with “God”, not a book meant to be even more destroyed by the narrow confines of one teacher’s perspective. It is great that children want to learn more about their faith. Know where a great place do that is; the church!

Veronica Macauley:

The government stomps on our constitutional rights everyday and kids wanting to learn about the bible are the most of your worries?

Becca Marable:

Grace, how come you aren’t this passionate about removing all traces of Greek mythology or literature from public schools also?

ME:

Veronica, did I say that? I’m not sure I said this is the biggest worry that I have. However, now that your banter has brought it up, I do believe our rights are important. I believe soldiers died, and still die, fighting to protect them! I believe that if Oklahoma can stand behind the idea of a man that “died for our sins” then they can (and should) most certainly stand behind the men that died for our right to freedom!!!

Angie Noyb:

What constitutional right does this infringe upon exactly? And if you want to remove things that aren’t ‘proven’ from schools then you have a bigger fight on your hands than religion. You can start with evolution, the big bang theory, and also should double check our history books since history books are generally written with a slant toward the country for which its intended readers reside. I agree that the Bible shouldn’t be ‘preached’ from one teacher’s perspective. But it can be taught from an impartial, open minded, non denominational stand point, just like any other ‘writing’.

ME:

Angie, perhaps you should reread this thread, or familiarize yourself with the constitution. That response surely does not reflect your intellect.. I hope. Furthermore, when you figure out what mysterious right it infringes upon, perhaps you will understand the points being established; which have nothing to do with removing things that aren’t proven from school. Keep up. In addition, if we are so adamant that this book be taught, perhaps we should start from the book of Romans which advises that refusing to follow the laws of the land is refusing to obey God; or is that verse not as important as the others? Your argument is invalid. Becca, if you feel so strongly about such topics, then you pursue it. This is not a matter of removing religion from school- it has already been removed. This is about our nation’s guaranteed freedoms and the state’s audacity to think it is above them.

Angie Noyb:

Ok.. so I am confused, Grace. And maybe you weren’t directing that comment on me, so that may be why. But if you were directing at me…. First… in your other comment you say “I never said I was angry over it”. Well, you are right you didn’t. But your post with Caps and exclamation points lends to the fact that this topic angers you. Secondly, your last comment…. Did you say what? I didn’t say that this was your biggest worry. One of your points to not having the class taught is that the Bible is not ‘proven’. So I simply said that if we applied that thought to all material in school, there would be much more than the Bible to get rid of. Then I pointedly asked you what rights are being infringed on and instead of answering that question, you twist the conversation to soldiers and standing behind them as though I can’t do both. And btw, most soldiers are Christian. So I think they will understand that a lot of us stand behind our Savior AND fully stand behind the men (our family members for some of us, so tread lightly my friend) who fight for us each day. Your patriotic stab at deflecting the question wasn’t lost on me. You still didn’t answer the question on how this is infringing on anyone’s rights at all. It isn’t being forced. If you don’t want to take it, then don’t. Why is it okay to add things and make things available to some, but when it isn’t something you like then you (you being a relative term) want it stopped?

Becca Marable:

Grace, I do not feel strongly about it or anything. Idgaf. If it ruffles your feathers to have a bible course offered then mythology courses should make you feel the same, right? Just pointing this out.

ME:

Becca, your need to make such a point is senseless; but thank you… I guess. Mythology is just that. It is not theology or organized religion. Religion is NOT what I’m advocating against; our rights are for what I advocate.

Becca Marable:

Clearly, you have no understanding of Greek mythology. You are taught all about the various gods and how and why they are worshiped. Sounds like a teaching about a god to me. I know, I’ve taken this class in a public school. No different.

ME:

Becca, quite frankly, I do not care, darling! Angie, actually the first comment was clearly in response to you. And the use of capitalization implies emphasis not anger. Exclamation points imply excitement. I did not, by any means, deflect your question- I was just hoping I would not have to answer such an ignorant question of sorts. Freedom of religion, darling; I figured that was an obvious answer; clearly I was mistaken. Most of our soldiers are Christian? Prove it. That, again, is opinion. The point is, their belief, my belief, your belief are all IRRELEVANT when it comes to a classroom. And do not make assumptions that you cannot support; you have no idea if I “like” Christianity or not. Why? Because I have not stated it. Why? Because it is irrelevant when it comes to supporting the right to “freedom of religion.” If you’d like to continue to debate with me, I suggest you dig a little deeper. Btw, it was not a ‘patriotic jab’, it was a patriotic reference!

Becca Marable:

Well then, if you don’t care, quit caps talking and let those people in that school offer whatever class they want to. They have a right to teach it. The only reason I’m here is to support that right and point out your hypocrisy of supporting one, but not the other.

ME:

Becca- 1) In that case, you’re arguing against the very same principles that would support your point; which is that mythology should also be excluded from the classroom! What is the point of speaking against a voice that is on your side?

2) “CAPS talking”? Good grief; 5 words in ALL that I have spoken have been capitalized to imply emphasis. But what I find ironic is that people generally start focusing on petty things like this when they begin to look foolish in the midst of an intellectual debate. It’s passive-aggressive frustration, and simply nothing more than confirmation that I have ruffled feathers. It’s okay, I don’t mind at all!

3) Since you so avidly, and then disrespectfully, wish to persist, I’ll address your concern directly!

“Mythology” is an element of religion. “Religion is the broader term. It includes aspects of ritual, morality, theology, and mystical experience. Disconnected from its religious system it becomes legend/folklore” (Religion & Mythology, 2014). That being said, in today’s society, it does not have a large community of followers that establish it as an ‘organized religion’. Teaching our children that other beliefs exist is much different than communicating to them that one religion is more important/relevant to their education than another. Today we see mythology reflected in literary references, Zodiac signs, planets and constellations. If, in the future, we build sanctuaries and gather the masses to worship mythological deities, then I assume that this discussion will then be applicable to the topic. Therefore, I would support it in the same way. (Reference: Religion and mythology. (2014, April 7). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.)

Becca Marable:

My original question to you was basically, in simpler words, do you support the public funding of Greek Mythology? You finally answered in a long breath, yes.. I think. Perhaps I’ve misunderstood your paragraphs. Greek mythology, being older than Christianity, is really no different. It is basically a course about gods, and though they are mostly gone, there used to exist massive buildings and statues just so people could worship such deities. You cannot support one and not the other; which is what you’ve just done. Although I despise mythology, I support both.

ME:

Becca, I understand. I am Christian by faith. I support Christianity. But I also understand that not everyone shares my belief, sometimes I question it myself. Therefore, I wholeheartedly support our individual right to freedom of religion. That is what provokes passion about this topic, for me. In Oklahoma, it is not the popular opinion. We believe, as Christians, that we are called to “spread the Gospel”, to be a “light unto the world”. Whereas, for those that strive to live by the Word, that stands as true- there is a way to do that without impeding on the rights of others to worship as they choose. If we cannot add classes about Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Confucianism, Mormonism, etc., then we should not offer a class on Christianity, either. It might not be what Oklahomans want to hear, but it is the very reason the PTA took a stance against it.

I said yesterday, when discussing Louisiana’s bill to make the Bible the official state book, that “We are supposed to a nation built on freedom of religion. Unfortunately, what we really are, and we have always been, is a walking contradiction. We penned the very right to that freedom with the same pen we wrote laws into effect that were backed by one religion’s moral compass.”

I believe our country should stand behind the laws set in place to protect us or change them.