9862 Days

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9862 days ago, I managed to walk up the steps to a fellowship building at a large church in Severna Park, Md. I was looking for a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. My therapist Jan F. told me I had to go or I couldn’t see her any more. I had to hitchhike to get there, because I missed the only bus that would take me there. There were so many people that I thought the church was having some kind of special meeting. I saw a set of double doors and peered in the window. I could see lot of chairs and a set of tables in the front of the room. I had never been to a meeting, so I had no idea what to expect.

I walked in and saw two women at the front of the room. I looked around and noticed a rack with AA literature and pamphlets. I slowly and cautiously made my way to the front. One of the women, a tall, mean looking red head, looked up and said hello. I told her that I didn’t know if I was in the right place. It must have been obvious to her that I was a drunk, because she looked at me and asked how long it had been since I had a drink. I shrugged my shoulders and told her that it was sometime around midnight. She said that I was in the right place and told me to sit down on the front row. She left for a moment, came back with a cup of coffee with lots of sugar, and another woman she introduced as Pat. Pat said it looked like I needed the coffee. Honestly, my hands were shaky and I wasn’t sure I could even hold it.

I sat or I should say squirmed my way through the meeting. I heard some of what was said, but I kept looking on the wall at a banner where “the steps” were written. I couldn’t take my eyes off of the third step that said, “Made a decision to turn our will and lives over to the care of God, as we understood God.” I wasn’t ready to talk to or about God right that moment. At the end of the meeting, someone stood up and said, “If you are sick and tired of being sick and tired, and you want to try our way of life, come up here and get a white chip. All it takes is a desire to stay sober for 24 hours.” I watched as a couple of people walked up and got chip and a hug. Pat nudged my arm, and told me to go get one. I wasn’t sure about any of this, but I went up and got one.

Since that day, I have not had a drink or used any mind-altering drugs (unless you count sugar- only kidding). It has been 27 years of working the steps, praying, living one day at a time, praying, being in pain, experiencing joy and happiness, praying, starting over in new cities with new people, praying, losing people I love, praying, feeling as if my heart were breaking and my soul was wounded, praying, – you get the idea. There have been days that I wanted to drink more than I wanted to live or breath, but I made it through them.

In most meeting, we read something called the Promises. These promises have all materialized in my life. THE A.A. PROMISES found on page 83-84, of the Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous.
If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and selfpity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves. Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us—sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.

I am so grateful for my sobriety and all of the people who have helped me on this journey- some alcoholics/addicts and some “normal” people. I am grateful for a program of recovery that helped me find a relationship with God as I understand God. I am grateful for my family and special friends who have my heart.

I remember the day I celebrated my first AA birthday/anniversary. I received my first medallion surrounded by my first home group. I still have the banner from that night and the cards from friends. Two very special people were that night–my new friend Donna who is still my friend today, and my friend Jan F., who would be my friend, support, and mentor for the next 20 years.

I don’t know what tomorrow will bring; No one does, really. I do know there will be more heartache, pain, and loss in life. It is inevitable. Yet, I know that there will be happiness, joy, and serenity as well. All I can do is live this life one day at a time. Through the grace of God and the program/steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, I don’t have to drink today.

 

Grace Joined With Wrinkles

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“Happy old age” was always an enigma. I didn’t know any “old people” who seemed happy. Bitterness, anger, and loneliness seemed to be the destiny for anyone that lived past fifty. I will admit that perhaps my vision was a bit skewed.

 
From the time I was four, I lived with my grandparents and my great grandmother. Vacations each summer were spent with another set of grandparents. Each of them was miserable in their own way. None of them showed any signs of a happy old age.
When I think about each of them, I remember the frowns and downward pointed eyebrows. None of them had that sparkle of joy or peace in their eyes. Their voices were dull and mean. Yes, that is the word I needed to find-mean. Perhaps all of that anger, bitterness and loneliness had poisoned their spirit to the point that their words and actions spewed meanness.

 
This seemed to be such a contradiction since all of them (except my grandfather) talked about loving God and hoping for the glorious day when they would see Jesus in Heaven. My grandfather was a drunk, so his meanness came straight from a bottle. Grandmother took me to church every Sunday morning and then again on Sunday evening. When I was younger, she would take me with her to her church group “circle” meetings. The old women sat in a circle and talked about a Bible verse of two for a while, and then went directly into bashing anyone not there, as well as other church folks. Time for refreshments meant time to discuss the terrible state of the world, the disappointing youth of today, and to ask the host for the recipe of the treat of the day. Of course, they chatted amongst themselves as they left about “those treats she made” and the recipe was thrown out at home.

 
At church I heard sermons from an amazing pastor about God and his love for us, but at home Grandmother told the story of a different God. Her God was vindictive and just about as mean as she was. God was clearly judgmental, and perfection was required for His love. I never measured to the standard my Grandmother set for God to love me. He was just another grey haired, white bearded, crotchety, mean old man in my mind. When I was in my late 30’s I left the church, and after 25 years I felt drawn to return. I attended a variety of churches and denominations looking for a place to call a church home. One Sunday, I was looking for a church and “accidentally” found a different one. It was the farthest thing from anything I would ever have considered, yet it was where I was supposed to be-for many reasons.

 
The congregation is an older one with some of the most beautiful grey haired, faces with wrinkles, older women you will ever meet. I come complete with tattoos and ever-changing hair styles and colors, and they have accepted me without question. Many of them have been friends for years, and they truly love and cherish each other. The ages range from 70 to well over 90.  Every Sunday and often at Wednesday prayer lunch, I look forward to seeing these special women. Their faces show wrinkles and eyes are often clouded by cataracts. They may have to use a cane or walker. Yet, all I see are  sparkling eyes and beautiful smiles. I listen as they willingly share stories of the church, their childhood, marriages, families, and more. Laughter often accompanies their stories. When one is sick or has to be away, you can feel the sadness from the others. These women all love God and Jesus, but they don’t have to tell you that. You can see it in the love they have for each other, their church, their lives, and the way they welcome anyone who enters the doors of the church. I can clearly see the God of love that the pastor of my youth shared with us.

 
I used to be afraid of growing old. I worried that I would become a bitter, angry, lonely old woman just like my mother and grandmothers. I’m not afraid any more, in fact, I look forward to watching my children, my grandchildren, and yes, even my great-grandchildren as they grow and change. I have some very special friendships that I cherish and plan to take them with me as I journey towards old age. My prayer is that I may be just as precious and joyful as the women at my church.

Random Thoughts on A Winter Storm

bildeIce covers the trees in front of the Dorchester County Human Services Building Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014 in Summerville. Paul Zoeller/Staff

A second unusual winter storm named Pax (Yeah, I don’t know when they started naming winter storms) blanketed my southern hometown of Charleston, SC with ice. Unusual is a rather mild word for this historic weather event.  We typically deal with hurricanes and tropical storms, not ice storms. When we woke this morning, the ground was wet with rain, but everything above 2 feet was frozen.  Icicles filled the tree branches where leaves once flourished.   As time moved on so did the ice in the trees and bushes until everything was beautiful, yet frightening shade of white.   Loud cracks and booms filled the day as branched broke and fell to ground shattering ice like broken glass on the ground.  Reports of power outages began filling social media and the news.  By early afternoon, we lost power at our house along with most of our friends in the area.  Schools, business, and bridges closed for the second time in just a few weeks.

The magical wintery scene outside my window was stunning as well as alarming. As I sat and watched the trees and branches bending under the weight of ice and blowing wind, I thought about my mother.   She spent most of her adult life in California and Nevada.  She claimed and cherished our Native America heritage and loved to share her knowledge.  When I lived in Nevada, we experience snowstorms frequently and ice storms from time to time.  When ice would cover the landscape, my mother would remind me of the Native American story of “pogonip”.  Pogonip is a Shoshone word meaning cloud or ice fog.  They also refer to it as “white death”.  The Shoshone know the dangers of people who become disoriented, get lost in the ice fog, and die from exposure.  The early settlers believed they could inhale the small white crystals into their lungs causing death. The beauty of the high desert when it was covered in the white crystals and the stories, fascinated my mother.

In the next day or so, the white cover of ice will melt and the Winter Storm Pax will become a memory to share with family and friends.  Each winter when the weather calls for snow or ice, we will talk about the year we had not one, but two icy winter storms. We will share pictures and memories, talk about the hours we spent without power in our houses, and debris covering our neighborhoods. We will even recall the beauty of a winter wonderland in our bit of the South.

The same thing happens when I think about my mother.  I remember her life and share pictures and memories.   I have been thinking about her more than usual the past couple of weeks.  September of this year will mark six years since she passed away.  I have often heard that grief touches grief; one grief event will trigger others.  This week in the same year my mother passed away, my childhood friend’s husband died unexpectedly.  Just a couple of weeks later, my best friend passed away unexpectedly, and a few weeks after that my childhood friend’s mother (my “other” mother) died.

The first part of March, I will be participating in an audition for LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER: CHARLESTONThose chosen will bring their original, true accounts about motherhood to the stage.  I haven’t finished my piece for the audition, but in preparing, my thoughts have turned to my mother, and to others who became “mothers” to me during my life.  Just as I will with this year’s winter storms, I look back and remember those who touched my life,  sharing them others and telling the stories one more time.

Losing It Series – Thoughts on Biggest Loser Finale

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One of my morning classes was canceled so I headed to the library to read for this afternoon’s Sociology of Food class.  I found myself thinking about the finale of The Biggest Loser and the winner Rachel.  The internet, facebook, twitter, and all social media have been buzzing since the reveal on Tuesday night’s show.   Rachel, 24 year old swimmer, who started the show at 260 pounds, lost 155 lbs.  At 5’5”, she weighed 105 at the finale.  Most people who saw the show felt she was “too skinny.”

According to most weight to height charts, she is indeed underweight, but not as much as many are suggesting.   Weight charts I was able to find suggested weight from 111 to 130 for a small frame.   Her BMI was 17.5 and according to CDC site 18.5 is the lowest for a normal or healthy range.   According to her interview later, she said that she is eating 1600 calories a day and working out every day.  She also said she followed the advice and support of the medical team.

Do I believe she might have taken this too far?  Probably so.  We have seen this played out on the finale of the show many times.  Everyone puts on some weight after the show and GAME are over.  Yes, it is a game and a contest for $250,000.  Rachel is one of the most competitive players I have seen in the Biggest Loser and she said she wanted to win.   I certainly hope she did not trade one type of eating disorder for another, and I hope she is able to find a balance for the healthy lifestyle she wanted.

Why am I writing this?  I wonder why people were not shocked and angry and demanding action when Rachel appeared on the show weighing 260 pounds.  Why didn’t someone in Rachel’s life demand something be done before she appeared on national TV?  Where is public outrage that we have a nation of obese people and children?  Instead the public cries out for something to be done when a person who has lived with such pain and guilt over what they have done to their body tries to lose the weight and as Rachel said “to gain back my life.”

I guess the real question I am asking is why no one was outraged that at 5’1” (almost) I weighed in at almost 300 pounds.  I remember long before hitting that mark on the scale, I saw the doctor’s chart while the nurse took my blood pressure, and I saw the words “morbidly obese.”  I was shocked.  How could that be?   I had always been “chubby” or big boned”, and even the fat girl, but if my chart said morbidly, why didn’t the doctor say something about it?   My grandmother told me I was fat all the time. I was teased in school and church as a young girl, and I hated my body, yet the word shook me.  It was something more than how I looked and what size pants I wore.  This meant I was sick and could get sicker and perhaps even die from my weight. It would be a few years and many more pounds before I made realized what that meant.

Five years ago,  my doctor had a talk with me.  The lab results were back from my physical and I was now pre-diabetic and would need to be on medicine and stick my finger for a blood sugar count daily.   I now also needed too be treated for high blood pressure.  I knew something had to change, but how? I have tried dieting and only had success once in my life.

I was in recovery from alcohol and drugs, but this was different.  It was harder.  It continues to be hard today.   Along with making a lot poor choices when it comes to food and not getting enough exercise, I have an eating disorder.  I am a binge eater.   I don’t offer it as an excuse, but because most people know very little about eating disorders. Here is what it looks like:  Binge Eating Disorder

  • Frequent episodes of consuming very large amount of food but without behaviors to prevent weight gain, such as self-induced vomiting.
  • A feeling of being out of control during the binge eating episodes.
  • Feelings of strong shame or guilt regarding the binge eating.
  • Indications that the binge eating is out of control, such as eating when not hungry, eating to the point of discomfort, or eating alone because of shame about the behavior.

I have had to ask friends and family for help dealing with this.  I have had to tell those close to me about these behaviors when I see them start to resurface. I have lost almost 100 pounds and put back on a few. I am no longer on medication for diabetes and no longer have to monitor my blood sugar.  I am still on blood pressure medication but at a much low dosage. I still need to lose more weight, probably about 40 pounds,  but I can’t seem to get past the place I am at right now and it is discouraging. And, even if I lose all of the weight, the damage done to my body can’t be undone.

As I watched the show  I realized that I still see myself as the “before” contestants on the show.  Each season when I look at the women on the show, I know that I used to weigh more than most of them. This year only Holley and Tumi weighted more than I did at my highest weight.  By the end of the show almost all will weigh less than I do now.  I wonder if I will be ever be able to do what Rachel and the others accomplished.

I understand what it is to lose weight and see your body change.  In spite of successes, I still see the fat girl.  I want to work harder and eat less just to be normal.  I have put my health at risk at times by overdoing exercise and not eating properly.   If I had the chance, I would work with a trainer like Jillian, Bob, or Dolvet.  I would be happy to have someone push me to the point that the show contestants are pushed.  (Yes, there are trainers here, but I can’t afford the cost of private training.)  Announcement—- I don’t need advice on diet plans or groups.  Read my blog and you will see I have done them all!

I just want to be  healthy.  I want to buy clothes in regular stores or  not have to go the Plus Size department.  I don’t want to feel embarrassed to go to the beach or wear shorts.  I want to look at myself in mirror and not be saddened by what I see.  I don’t have a small frame  like Rachel,  so I will never be in a place to be judged and criticized for being “too thin”, but once in a while, I close my eyes and  wonder how it must feel.

Connections

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I was determined to take some time to catch up on reading for pleasure over the holidays.  I looked at the titles of books I want to read or reread trying to decide what to start today.   I was drawn to a book I “read” last year.  When I first downloaded the book to my Kindle, I didn’t take the time to really read and focus on the book.  I skimmed some and read some.  It wasn’t that the book wasn’t good; it was that the book hit too close to home.   I needed to really invest myself in reading this story.   I decided to start “Peace and Freedom are My Names” by Irene Frances.

I “met” Irene on the internet last year.  I read her blog and knew this was someone I wanted to get to know.  I connected with her in reading that first post and made contact through the blog and facebook.  I was excited to find that she, like I, at our delicate ages were both going to college.  I am doing undergraduate work, while she is attending the Brisbaine School of Theology in her home country of Australia.   I have loved watching her posts about studying Hebrew and taking tests.  She has encouraged me when I felt overwhelmed at times.  You can see her faith and genuineness in her smile.

I also connected with her in other ways.  She is a survivor of an abusive childhood and learned to live with mental health issues, all while maintaining a strong and steadfast faith in God.   We have both had our challenges with religion and church, but God has never given up on us.  Her faith and journey have been an inspiration to me.

As I began to read her book again,  I was reminded in the first paragraphs of the similarities in our stories.  Many facts are different, but the feelings and ways of surviving were much the same.  This passage pulled me in today:  I was a nothing and a nobody.  Nobody wanted me; I didn’t even have my own name. And I was worth nothing.  It was a pitiable start to life of hell and torment that would eventually send me into a pit of madness from which it would take a lifetime to claw my way out.

Nobody wanted me.  I felt that way much of my life.  I didn’t even have my own name.  I was reminded of that just this past week. A while back, I wrote a post about my name being changed a couple times in my childhood.  You can read it here.    My parents named me Carolyn Ann, but at the age of four my grandparents changed it to Cathy (Catherine Ann) when they adopted me.  Just a short time before my mother died, she told me that while my name was Carolyn Ann, but they called me Lynn.   I wasn’t sure if that was true or the imaging of an old woman.   In the blog post above, I shared about finding my old shot records listing my name as Carolyn Ann and (Lynn) listed on one page.   I also realized that I lived in Flat Top, W. Va. at my grandparents farm for a couple of years.

Last weekend, Jan and I were working on genealogy sites when I decided to try something to find an old newspaper article I remembered.  The article was in the newspaper in W. Va.  and featured a picture of my brother and I when I returned to W. Va. to visit when I was 8 years old.  Imagine my surprise, when the article appeared in a site with filmstrip from old newspapers.  I quickly signed up for the week long free trial and printed the article.

I decided to do a bit more searching when I discovered an article from 1952 about a meeting of the Flat Top Farm Women’s Club.  After a brief description of the meeting and food served, the meeting attendees were listed.   I froze when I read these names: Mrs. Grady Keaton (that’s my grandmother), Mrs. Joe Keaton (that’s my mother) and her daughter Lynn.  LYNN…there it was in black and white…proof that my mother’s memory was intact, and that I was indeed called Lynn for the first 3 to 4 years of my life.

This has been on my mind ever since I found the article.  I wasn’t sure why I couldn’t let it go.   And, then I starting reading Irene’s story again.  In her book, she explains changing her name after her marriage.  I am thinking about reclaiming my birth name of Keaton when I finalize my divorce, and  I am now thinking about adding Lynn to that name in  some way.

I know this will not make sense to many of you and that’s OK.   You see, somehow, just seeing that name makes a connection to the childhood that was taken from me.  I now know the truth about many things, in spite of all efforts by some to keep it from me.   JanF. told me that my life was life a huge mosaic puzzle.  I had the easy pieces in place; I had the outer edges.   I would continue to add pieces as they were revealed, and one day I would see one of God’s  most beautiful works of art.  I asked her what piece of art that would be, and she replied, “Why, your life of course. “

For more information  on Irene Frances and her book available on Amazon, please check out her page on Peace and Freedom are My Names.

Another Chapter

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Although I may be inconsistent in posting on my blog at times, I traditionally post on New Years, March 7th, my birthday (both belly button and recovery), Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Remembering the past year, I am reminded to “be careful what I ask for”, because 2013 brought many lessons about trust.  As I began this post, I read the post for New Year’s 2013. This is what I wrote:

A blog challenge for 2013 is to find one word to focus on through the coming year and incorporate that into your writing.  I have several words that seem appropriate, but the one word that keeps coming through is trust. It isn’t something that comes naturally for me.  I learned a tremendous amount about trust in 2012; some of it bad, yet much of it good.  I am going to embrace the challenge and put trust into my daily life- trust in God, my friends, my family and in myself.   I survived the end of the world in 2012, so welcome 2013. Let’s see what you have in store!

I began the year trying to recover from the flu, and in spite of getting the flu shot, it was my Christmas day gift.  For the next few months, I would battle one round of bronchitis after the other.  Breathing treatments, antibiotics, injected and oral steroids became constant companions.  I would battle each round coming ever so close to victory, only to find myself pushed back into a corner once again.  In May, only two days before I was to take my grandson to the live auditions for X-Factor  complete with  Simon Cowell and Demi Lovato, I was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia.

All of these battles with bronchitis occurred as I prepared to begin my lifelong dream of going to college.  I stepped onto the College of Charleston campus in early January not sure if I would be able to survive as a college student.  I can now tell you that I not only have survived, but I have done well.  I have enough credits to apply as a degree student instead of a “non-traditional” student and I am only a few credits away from being a sophomore.  Did I mention that I have a 3.82 GPA?

Being sick for so long took a financial toll since I wasn’t able to work during that time.  The cost of COBRA for me to keep my insurance was over $500 a month, and I still had deductibles and copays. In October, the biggest financial hit came when my car blew the transmission.   Being without a car for close to two months was devastating, but I managed to finish school for the semester and keep my part time job.

As summer approached,  I was healthy again and was able to start a new fitness program.  It was another step in learning some great ways to exercise without a gym, and it was a thought-provoking experience in learning balance.  I was reminded that fitness goals and healthy living are a work in progress, not something to achieve overnight.

I managed a couple of very short trips this year.  Jan, Anna, and I took a day trip to Savannah.  We laughed, talked, shopped, discovered “Your Pie Pizza”, and walked all around Savannah even though it was still a bit cool that day, and had a great day.   I had to take a trip, have an adventure, and see a play for my three of my classes, so a short weekend trip with Ginger, Sassy, and Jerome made getting an A on all three papers easy.  Jan and I continued to have Friday adventures including doing some genealogical research, climbing an old haunted staircase in a house that was built in early 1800, and visiting a couple of library archives.  We did manage to find some great food along the way, as well.

So, what does all this have to do with trust? If you look at most of last year, you may begin to see that I wasn’t able to do things for other people the way I usually do.  Money, health, and time took away my ability to take care of others and do things for the people in my life.  All that was left for me to give was myself.  I have always been sure that “I” was not enough.  Last year, I had to trust my friends and my family with my vulnerability.  Every time they stayed by my side, supported me, bought me lunch, visited me, called me to  make sure I was OK, took me where I needed to go, went beyond everything I expected, I thanked God for showing me what trust and love are really about.

I didn’t learn to trust anyone as a child.  I didn’t understand love until I had children of my own.  I did not trust God, and I was not convinced that God would or could love me.  I do not believe God sends catastrophes, broken cars, financial problems, etc. into my life, but  I do believe God has used all of these things to help me learn about love and trust.  God continues to be  patient and understanding with me.

I do not think I am going to choose a theme for 2014, but I will be writing to tell you about my year. I will give you one sneak peak at the upcoming year.  The “three stooges” (we must think of a better name) are going to see JILLIAN!

I hope you all have a blessed and wonderful New Year!

The Rest of the Story

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This blog post is NOT about Phil Robertson, A&E, Duck Dynasty, or the controversy surrounding them.  However,  it was prompted by comments made by Phil from Duck Dynasty that  is featured on A&E.

If you follow facebook, any news channel, or read the paper, you might have heard the huge debate going on about an interview Phil gave to GQ.  He has been banned from A&E for his comments.  I am not here to argue if he was right or wrong, talk about free speech, issues of race, homosexuality, or anything else.   I am writing today because of  what he didn’t say.

You see, I was raised by a grandmother who  lived most of her adult life as a drunk, along with a variety of other sinful ways of living.  When I was about 7 or so, she decided to start taking me to church.  She found “religion”, and her life did change in some ways, but she was still the same person inside.  She was mean-spirited and did hurtful things to those around her.  She wore her religion like a street person putting on a new suit without ever showering or cleaning up.  It was all for show.

She used the Bible as a weapon and as a crutch for her way of living and thinking.  She would quote Scripture to prove her point, to allow her to judge others,  and to control my behavior.   One that she loved to throw around was, “Vengence is mine, I will repay says the Lord.”   I am sure we could take time and have a long theological discussion about this verse, but I am going to bet that most of you would not interpret it the way my grandmother did.  Her use of the verse was to say that God was going to get me if I did bad stuff.  I was a  kid who had been neglected, abandoned, and abused the first few years of my life, so I was going to have a few issues,  and I (like all kids) was going to do things considered bad.  I was always waiting for the Lord to punish me and I assumed anything bad that happened to me from being sick to not getting all A’s in school was vengeance being  imparted to me.

You see, the thing that troubles me is when we don’t get the rest of the story. My grandmother stopped short of telling the whole story when she used scripture the way she did.   I remember when Mel Gibson’s  “Passion of the Christ” was released; people asked why I didn’t go see it.  I had a number of reasons, but one of them was that it didn’t tell the rest of the story.  The film only showed the last 12 hours of the life of Jesus.  It only showed the horror of the crucifixion, but didn’t show the resurrection or talk about the things Jesus came to teach us.  This is  what happened with Phil’s interview.  He didn’t tell the rest of the story.  He only quoted verse 9 and 10 from the Corinthians passage.  Verse 11 is so powerful in this passage.  Can you see the difference it makes?

1 Corinthians 6:9 “9 Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men,  10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

Look at that list of sins!   Can you see any there that you might have committed or even held in your heart?  I can tell you that in my life, I have committed most of them.  You see, I am a recovering alcoholic and addict.  I hit bottom hard, and  I don’t need to tell you the kind of life I lead for a while; you can figure it out.  So, according to those first two verses, I cannot inherit the kingdom of God.   That is devastating news, almost hopeless.

Yet, just look at verse 11.  That is the one that wasn’t quoted by Phil or the GQ article.  “And that is what some of you were.”  Yes,  that is what I was.  “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. ”   That was all done for me!

Phil also said, “But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”  I disagree.  Sin is the most logical thing I understand from the Bible.   There are many verses telling us that we are sinners by nature and that no one is without sin.  It is from the beginning to the end.  What isn’t logical is that this all powerful, omnipotent God would bother with any of us.  Why not just get rid of us all and start from scratch?  Instead, He did something absolutely illogical.  He sent His only son to be born as a human and live this earthly life, and die for our sins.

As we celebrate Christmas next week, we remember the birth of Jesus.  But, we need to remember the rest of the story.  Jesus showed those he encountered the purest love and gave hope to everyone, even the worst of the sinners. He opened his heart and his arms to tax collectors, adulterers, drunkards, thieves, and more.  And, that is what He asks us to do.

“I think joy and sweetness and affection are a spiritual path. We’re here to know God, to love and serve God, and to be blown away by the beauty and miracle of nature. You just have to get rid of so much baggage to be light enough to dance, to sing, to play. You don’t have time to carry grudges; you don’t have time to cling to the need to be right.”
Anne Lamott

I have several friends on my facebook list and blog followers who may wish to debate or help me with my theological understanding of scripture.  Instead, I hope they will simply read this and say a prayer for this justified, sanctified, and forgiven sinner.