Sunday, September 30, 2007

Thoughts on Divorce (updated)

I do read quite a bit. As far as theology goes, I read the Bible, and mostly stuff by one of these three guys. The last guy linked is a theologian named N.T. Wright, and he's the one I've been reading most recently and am reading now. His stuff is the kind you don't zip through like a Rob Bell book. I take notes as I read his books.

This rambling I'm doing on my blog is just "armchair theology". The kinda stuff I used to hear my parents do after church on Sundays when my aunt and uncle would come over for Sunday lunch. They'd toss everything around out loud, agreeing or disagreeing with parts of what the preacher had said that morning. One big difference between me and my parents, as I recall it, is that they had way more stuff nailed down than I do. I tend to have way more questions than answers about pretty much everything I think about regarding theology.

I'd like to ramble on a bit about divorce. Since I've experienced two of them, I suppose I could call myself an expert. But, I won't.

The thing is, I can remember how it was, or at least my perception of it, 30 years ago for people who were divorced. I was 14 then. Keeping in mind that I grew up in a fundamentalist church in the South, my perception was that divorced people were tainted, or, in other words, sinful. They were certainly less valuable in the church back then and weren't allowed to teach or hold any positions of leadership whatsoever. A divorced church secretary, a volunteer position back then, would be OUT. I got the very clear idea that even though divorced people could receive forgiveness and make it to heaven, they'd rendered themselves pretty much useless for work in God's kingdom because of this great sin. Nowadays, there are some mainline churches that allow divorced folks to do all sorts of things within the body that would never have occurred 30 years ago. Most still draw the line and positions like elder or preacher, but the lines are WAY broader than they used to be within the church for those who are divorced. What changed? Did God change his mind or did we change ours? Could it be that Kurt is onto something in the comments of the last post. (i don't have time to copy and paste it so you'll have to look if you didn't read it).

The fact of the matter is that I'm living in a time when it's much easier to be a divorced person and operate fully within the realm of daily church life than would have been possible 30 years ago. Heck, I could probably go and sign up to teach in ANY one of the churches in this small town, TODAY, and I've been through two divorces! Wait. I take that back. The Church of Christ here still holds a moratorium on those divorced. But, the CoC doesn't really count because you can't tell what one congregation will do for sure on any given issue unless you go in, get comfortable, and find out. Which, I think is kind of a good thing and this is the reason the CoC can claim that they're not a demonimation....they have no governing body. I digress. get my point. And, the point of all my rambling is NOT to try and prove that divorce is not a sin. I honestly believe that the same things that are sin have always been sin. I don't think sin changes over the course of time just because our culture changes. I do think that WE change in the way that we relate to one another within our sinful state of being....and we, as his people, may change our minds about how we view sin, but God has never changed at all in the way that HE relates to US.

I'm short on time, so I'll finish this particular rambling after school today. Thanks for reading so far!

Updated portion begins here-------------------------------------- was I going with this?

Kurt mentioned in his comment that Jesus was talking about abandonement when he was being so strict on divorce, and that divorce in that day and time was very different in it's outcome for all involved than in today's culture. I agree, because, based on what I know about Kurt, I don't think he was necessarily saying that marriage vows aren't to be taken as seriously as they should be, but that divorce, when it does occur, takes place in a completely different context than it used to. I do believe that most divorce, at some point, probably involves some manner of sin. In the case of my first divorce (here goes the expert), there was emotional abandonement by both parties. We sinned against one another by abandoning one another in our hearts . More specifically, I'll let it be known, I abandoned him emotionally. I could sit here and make excuses for why I did that....pretty darn good ones, I might add....but....the plain fact of the matter is that I sinned against him by abandoning him emotionally. And this was MY sin that I had to come to grips with, hold myself accountable for, and reconcile with my ex-husband and with God. And those things have been done. Apologies have been made all around, and each of us has released the other from the burden of a whole boatload of sin that was spread around between the two of us where that marriage was concerned. There may be opinions (mostly by friends and family watching from the peanut gallery) as to who bore the biggest burden of sin, but none of that matters because love keeps no record of wrongs and LOVE is the order of the day.

And it works out similarly in the case of my most recent divorce from Tdub. It's public blog record that Tdub abandoned me emotionally. While I could make a slight case for physical abandonement, it would be slight. The end of that story is that Tdub sought forgiveness from me, and I granted it. He didn't offer reconciliation, but I had no intentions of accepting it even if it were offered. And so, we've made our peace. Whether or not Tdub has made peace with God concerning our divorce is between him and God, and his getting forgiveness from me can't stand in the way of him accepting it from God.

I guess the point of all this rambling is that so many of these things have to be worked out personally. I just don't think the Bible can be looked at like some giant rule book where every situation is laid out with instructions for when a person can consider themselves "in" or "out" where God is concerned. It even seems to me that once your ever really "in"....God's just so relentless in His pursuit....that even when you run you can't seem to hide. And for that....I am most eternally grateful!

love and grace,

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Monday, September 24, 2007

Being a Christian and Gay Stuff (post 1)

OK. So. Where do I begin?

I feel like I'm smack dab in the middle of a long conversation that God is having with me about Gay Stuff. I believe that God speaks to us through our experiences (see Play-doh analogy), and like it or not, he's been speaking to me about gay folks since I was just a little girl. I didn't know it at the time, mind you, but he was speaking. I won't detail the long list of circumstances that repeatedly (and continue) to wedge their way into the fabric of my life (I won't even mention the fact that a principal interested in hiring me before I accepted my current job was named Mr. Gay. Oh...wait...I just did. Oh well.) . I digress.

The first hurdle I'd like to jump, is the term gay Christian. Granted, I may knock the hurdle completely over for some of you just by spouting the term gay Christian. Nevertheless, here we are, and here is this definition. Can a gay person be a Christian? For me, the answer is a great big....DUH....well....YEAH. I put that out there right away so the gay readers could let out a big sigh and know that they don't need to get defensive over this post. Of course, at this point, all the strident evangelicals have veins popping out in their neck. Assuming any strident evangelicals still read my ramblings.

The difficulty for many folks, in my estimation, with using the term "gay Christian" seems to lie within that whole yucky area called SIN. Where does sin happen? What does sin look like? Can a person sin and not be aware of it? What happens at the point that a person DOES become aware of their sin? Is homosexual sex sin? Is divorce sin? Is eating too much ice cream sin? Is wanting a bigger house when there are children starving in Africa sin? Is sin all the same? Who gets to decide all this? How do we respond to sinners when we ourselves are horribly at fault? We know that no sins are bigger than others, and yet, is the human inclination to behave as if some sins ARE bigger, sin?

AGAIN....WHERE does sin happen and if we can't see some sins physically....can we really see ANY sins physically????

You all know this relates to Gay Stuff. Either comment away....(which i LOVE, BTW....if I could afford to I'd send you all M&M's for commenting).....or....wait for me to continue the rambling.....comments do affect the rambling since I really don't know much of anything.

love and grace,

p.s. unless your initials are j.b. or c.f. don't post huge long gobs of scripture and stuff or i might not read it.

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Play-Doh, God, and Gay Stuff

I haven't written anything really meaty about gay stuff in an age. It's not because I've stopped thinking about those issues, it's just that, because of the circumstances of the past year, and my bits of writing here and there at XGW, I've just not had the inclination to write about any of that stuff here.

For anyone stopping by randomly, or maybe a long lost friend or even possibly a parent who's decided to google me and ended up here, I started writing this blog a few years ago after discovering I was married to a guy who struggled with same sex attraction. At that time, I was anonymous. Last year, he decided to give up the struggle, accept himself as gay, and now has a partner.

I once (somewhere on this blog, or maybe it was in my classroom) described our lives as being sort of like a big lump of Play-Doh. We get squished and battered around by our experiences, and, like it or not, those experiences sort of "shape" us. Furthermore, the shaping that gets done from all current or future experiences is totally affected by what shape you were in at the end of the last "go-round". Keeping with this analogy, I like to think of God as the big zip bag I get put into between shapings. If it weren't for that bag, I'd get all hard and crusty and my shape would start to actually chip away over time as I continued to be battered. But, the zip bag protects me mostly by keeping me soft and pliable. In fact, it's that soft, pliable lump, the one sitting there waiting to be formed, that's most valuable to God.

All that said, I've got some thoughts I'm going to write in the next few weeks about Gay Stuff. I guess this is just a "teaser". Sorry. But, it's been so long since I've really spoken about those things here, I just felt like getting this sort of, I don't know, disclaimer out there first.

love and grace,
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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Happy Birthday Sparky

The Sparkster turned one year old today. *sigh* My baby is all grown up.

I hosted a party for him in my classroom. Now, lest you think I'm one of those teachers who allows her kids "party" all the time, I need to inform you that these kids did some great research about dachshunds today as well as some rather difficult computing about the amount of money I've spent in dog food for the year, etc. This was all done so that they could "earn" the privilege of hosting Sparky's party during the last 30 minutes of our school day. It was great fun.

Here is Sparky enjoying his
"cake" of wet cat food. Cat food is a treat he hasn't been able to enjoy since we left Texas, and our cat, behind there.

And, here's one of me, looking rather tired yet blissfully happy surrounded by students and holding Sparky at the end of another exciting school day.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Crazy Week

It's been a crazy/emotional week. I don't typically link to the stuff I write for XGW, but in this case I will. There are a few reasons why I chose, after praying about it, to volunteer as a writer over there and this sort of article is one of them. One of the other reasons is that writing for XGW challenges me. I have to write like a journalist there. It's unnatural for me; I much prefer the free and easy personal narrative style of blog writing, but it's great for my writing skills.

If you took the time to read the article I linked to above, you now know what I mean when I say this week has been emotionally hectic. It seems the former clients of our former therapist are coming out of the woodwork to the point that we (those of us at XGW) are considering starting an online support group to assist everyone in their "debriefing", so to speak. It's a very difficult thing, to come to grips with the fact that someone you've put such a high level of esteem and trust into has abused that responsibility.

In other news, it's almost time for Miss Emma to go under the "doggie knife" for her transition into the world of.....hmmm.....what would I call that? It's not the same as Sparky being "euniched". I guess she's entering a world of barrenness. The thing is, there's a cute little Jack Russell terrier who's been making the 3-block trek to our house every single morning for the past 2 weeks in search of pretty lil' Miss Em. I'm not sure what we'd call that mix ( jackshund terrier?, jackweenie?) and even though I'm sure they'd be adorable, I'm not a willing host to such a match. So, next Tuesday it is. Little Miss Emma's legacy will be no more. She and Sparky can live out their days sans the complication of an overactive doggy sex drive. After the week I've had....heck....after the decade I've had....I'm beginning to think that's the way to go!

love and grace,

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Sunday, September 02, 2007

Blog Slacker

Yes, that's me. Your resident blog slacker. I've had numerous brainstorms lately - things that I really ought to commit to writing as I ponder them through my head. And yet, you see the pitiful results here. Nothing for over a week. I need to do better. Not for you, mind you. For me. Writing this blog was something I started for myself. You guys, reading it and making comments, are just ICING on top. I do love me some icing! But still, the writing is healthy and good for me and I'm going to commit to doing it more. Promise. Keep in mind that I've been known to eat the icing off cupcakes and throw the rest away....comments make me happy inside!

Here's one of my latest inner brainstorm sessions....

I'm convinced that the world would be a better place if all the folks with children under the age of 18 broke up into towns between 5 and 10 thousand in population. It would also help if extended family groups, for the most part, ( lovers, haters, fighters, and all) stayed within that same town or general vicinity. This thinking, of course, is based on my recent move to this little town where I'm teaching. It's different here. The kids here have something kids in big places don't have. They are accountable and they matter. Everyone here belongs to everyone else and is connected through time, place, and experience. I'm not just Ms. Ferguson, Johnny's 4th grade teacher. I'm Ms. Ferguson, whose cousin's cousin married Johnny's aunt who lives on the place just across the fence from Ms. Ferguson's uncle on her daddy's side of the family. If this sounds confusing, it is. Confusing in a lovely, connected, sometimes twisted, and yet validating sort of way. I'm somebody. And so is Johnny. We belong to people and those people know us and expect certain things from us. And Johnny and I will go on living here and Johnny may end up being my principal or my superintendent one day. Or, Johnny may end up fixing the flat on my tire or changing my oil and I'll be no less appreciative of him or interested in him as a person because we're connected and we always have been. Johnny will go to my funeral and comfort my children and my grandchildren.

Sure, there are a few downsides this sort of near "incestuous" sort of living. Johnny's 2nd cousin who works at the bank could divulge exactly where and how Ms. Ferguson spends her monthly paycheck. What's more, alot of folks would be very interested to know. Thankfully, I'm not tempted by casinos or nightclubs because that sort of information could travel across the county quicker than I could make the short drive home.

All in all, though, I'm all for the small town connectedness that I've discovered here. It's exactly what I need at this point in my life and I consider it a blessing. And, I can't help but think of so many of my former students in Granbury who I believe would benefit greatly from being connected like this. I met so many 7th graders last year who seemed to just need a place to belong and to know that they mattered to someone.

*whew* That felt good. I think I'll write more often!

love and grace,
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