For What It’s Worth

I’m going to take a jump off the deep end; a topic I rarely discuss…

My family has a love of politics. My dad was mayor for over a decade in our small, sleepy town. My mom was highly opinionated and vocal [on most everything]. My brother was well versed and I have cousins who are smart and articulate on the subject. It is likely however, they would not agree with each other, but would be respectful. And as for me, I couldn’t really give two shits about it. I know that is callous to say, but I can’t believe in something or someone, when I know it is all a carnival and the politicians are just puppets and clowns. 

That being said, this rambling isn’t really about politics, but humanity. I’ve written many pages about life in a small town. I don’t believe my small town was all that unique, for its time. Yes, I’m that curmudgeon that reminisces about the “good old days”, but small town living in the 70’s is a land far-far away from life today. Believe me, I’m no June Cleaver, but I guess I’m far more traditional than my radical exterior. Yes, I am the old broad that bitches about the music today. No one is going to be singing Justin Bieber tunes 44 years from now! <reference: Stevie Wonder, Superstition, 1972> Look to the current movie trends, remakes of comic book heroes and cheesy movies like Point Break. (for real). But then there is the really dark side… 

We have become a society that glamorizes excess, lack of morality and just plain old stupidity. How in the world did the Kardashians become a thing? WTF is their purpose in our life? They aren’t real, they are a manufactured commodity that intends to sell us a shit show. We covet their glamorous life, younger and younger girls are seeking out lip injections. They are spokespeople for hair tools, makeup and other things that are intended to make we, the paupers, be like them while we flat iron our hair. News flash, they don’t do their own hair!!!

We have become a nation that is debating, making laws and creating hate over where someone pees!!! Seriously?!? As if struggling to identify who they are at their core isn’t tough enough, lets search them upon entry to see what they’re packin’ so that WE may decide where they pee. It’s a bathroom!!! C’mon, stop the witch hunts. Predators come in every shape, size and gender. It may even be someone in your own family or your kids’ coach. Stop. Just stop. 

We have become a people that criticizes, judges and condemns things that go against our beliefs. We must label every thing we do not understand. That Muslim in line at Target, must be a radical terrorist. Sorry, she is actually Hindu. We condemn anyone that isn’t like us or our beliefs. Stop. Please. 

I recently visited a women’s  federal prison facility in West Virginia. Half dozen women spent a week building relationships, showing love and digging deep within ourselves to find a place of compassion and grace. We quickly connected, felt love, empathy and a sense of protection of our new spiritual daughters. Yet, I’m met with the attitude and judgement of “what’s the point, they’ll just end up there again”. If I have any say in the matter, I will stand in the gap for any one of those girls and cheer her on. Maybe with someone who actually cares and believes the best about her, she may find peace and a new way of doing things. 

We are all one bad decision away from devastating consequences. 

We all have a God-shaped hole in our heart. That place of purpose and longing. A place to feel safe and loved. Sadly, we stuff it full of garbage. Buying things we can’t afford. Living to impress others. Dumping our own identity so that we can be like someone else. Stuffing the hole with excess, drugs, bad relationships – all in the name of being connected or belonging to a community. 

So, my circle back to politics…

The current presidential candidates, I think we deserve them. They embody all that is wrong in our nation. We created them. Lying, bigotry, deals and bargains to stomp on people to get ahead, changing our views and vocabulary to make people think more highly of us. Name calling and finger pointing as an attack to create chaos and outrage. We believe that they are real, authentic and genuine; about as authentic as the Kardashians. 

I am heartsick over the condition of our nation; our greedy, phony, sad and desperate land. Search that God-shaped hole in your own heart, kick out the garbage. Seek out the things that speak life. Speak truth. Live love. 

Reasons Why I Am Not Blessed

Well, did that title make you sit up and take notice?
Did you think, she’s nuts!? (more nuts-er)
and… she’s off her meds, again!

Yes, I am nuts and medicated; but I am not blessed.  Well, not in this sense:

blessed

adjective bless·ed \ˈble-səd\

Simple Definition of blessed
: having a sacred nature : connected with God
: very welcome, pleasant, or appreciated
—used to make a statement more forceful

Watch out for your toes y’all… but this word has been so overused in Christianese. “How are you today?” “Oh I am just so blessed, thank you.”  I’m guilty, I’ll own it. But when I truly look at that phrase, while the intent is to give props to God, it has a certain arrogance about it. Forceful indeed!

Honestly, I don’t remember a time when God was not a part of me. As a kid, my parents would drop me at Sunday School and come back to retrieve me. I attended church and youth groups with friends, but I wasn’t raised in the church. My mom was a generational-cast-off-Catholic* and I think my dad and God had an agreement, “You don’t bother me, I won’t bother You.” I don’t really have a salvation story, it’s just always been. I have some great rescue stories and turn-around stories and Annisa-you’re-a-bonehead-stories to which God showed up in BIG ways. But to say I have a revelation, salvation story; no. I have a pretty shocking testimony, however… brace yourselves, it’s pretty deep… I AM STILL HERE!!!

I am still here, yep, sums it all up. Sexual assault survivor, teen mom, overachiever, striving spirit, depressed, anxious, medicated, suicidal, devastated, renewed – I am still here. Days I didn’t think I would be, days I didn’t want to be. Yet, here I am; but don’t call me blessed. The implications of being blessed points to God giving special favor. While I know that God has been my saving grace, I don’t consider myself in special, segregated favor.

People often tend to treat God as a Genie: 

One to bequeath gifts and health and finances and the perfect job, only in times of need on our part. We never speak to him, ONLY when we need him.

Some treat Him like the TV Infomercial Guy:

If I act in the next 15 minutes, You will get me out of this situation. But WAIT, there’s more! For just a nominal fee, (like going to church, once) You will restore ALL the dumb decisions I’ve made! Right? Act now, this offer expires soon!

And there’s my personal favorite, the Barterer:

Ok God, I’m going to give up chocolate IF you will just do this one thing for me! (anyone? anyone? thought so!)

[I personally believe] We don’t receive special blessings JUST because we believe. I know that will fly-in-the-face of some believers, but I’ve never been the docile type. Stay with me on the Crazy-Brain-Train…

There are believers all over the world; I have been to one of  the most underprivileged, desperate, no electricity, no running water, villages in Peru. I have hugged and kissed these little Grubkins, and found more joy and pure love in their hearts than any overindulged brat back home. So many of us would look at the two, side by side, and think, “oh, the American kid has so much more. So blessed.” and “Those poor unfortunate Grubkins, have nothing, how sad.” WRONG!!! Brown flag!!

 

To say that stuff makes you blessed is an insult to Grace

How can I say that God has ‘blessed’ me with things, and wealth and health, etc when children are living in poverty? Children are growing up in crack houses? Tsunamis and earthquakes happen to believers, too. I can’t view blessings as a reward for simply believing, not while so many suffer; cancer continues to ravage and kill,  a dumb-ass guy puts mouse poison on the salad bar at grocery stores, devastation all around. And Yet, I should have the arrogance to say, I am blessed.

I understand, know and believe that I am a Child of God, but I’m not the favorite kid. Yes, I also know that there is an opposing force to what God wills, and that we also have free-will. That still doesn’t make me blessed, special. I will admit, I used to correct people who would say that they’re ‘lucky’. Oh no, no, no….you are blessed! As I self analyze and [over]think my own words; this is what I actually said. “NO NO NO, you are wrong. Luck doesn’t exist. It’s because You are special. You got the goodies, oh favored kid!”

Yes, He is a good good father, and like any parent, God wants to see us succeed. He gives us free-will to choose a path, even if it’s the wrong one. He will wait on us, arms folded, to come back around. Inspire us to make better choices.  He is not the Genie, TV Infomercial Guy or Barterer, “Ok, Annisa, if you do this for Me, I will give you all your desires.” Nope, not how it works. God doesn’t discipline. He doesn’t punish, although many still live in that fear.  “Annisa, I saw that you partook of far too much wine yesternight, prepare ye for your smite.  {I know you read that in a Shakespeare-ish voice in your head}

Not even the pomp and self-glory of mission work, ‘ok Annisa, go to Peru or to a woman’s prison and reach out to those poor underprivileged, unfortunate souls. Show them how blessed you are” WRONG, again. “Annisa, go to these places. Have your heart broken, splintered into shards, and see that I love them too. Not more, not less. I love them, too. Humble yourself, you aren’t all that. What can you learn from them, Bonehead?” {yes, God calls me Bonehead}

God loves us, even when we are unlovable, even when we reject Him. Even, when we aren’t sure we believe IN Him, He believes in us. Picture in your mind, God gathering every believer in a row, linked arm in arm; He would look at each of us, and say the same thing, one by one;” I love YOU, I have such great plans for you, and you, and you…. ”

 

*MY definition of generational-cast-off-Catholic = Someone who’s parents divorced and could no longer attend Catholic Mass, only to marry a man who had been divorced, and not be able to attend Catholic Mass. {Thanks heavens, for the Catholics Come Home program}