My church experiences haven’t been the greatest and have almost pushed me to become an atheist. Situations such as my Aunt blaming me for things I didn’t do and making me feel inadequate about my self, my Grandmother berating me for no apparent reason because of her own personal insecurities, my dad never taking the time to focus on me instead the women he was finessing, and being forced to do things in the church I didn’t want to do without a logical explanation as to why. But whenever I spoke out many times I’d hear the same ol’ same ol’:
- You shouldn’t take it so personal because that’s not everybody
- Fix your face before I fix it for you because boys don’t cry
- You know you did it so just own up to it. I know it was you!
In this crazy journey of finding myself by giving up things such as drinking, smoking, sex, and even my own bed I’ve realized that when I was younger I didn’t know God. My belief in God (or lack thereof) stemmed from my mom, uncle, grandma, and my father which is all over the place due to their own personal interpretations of God. Let me try to explain:
My Grandma: Well, she was a great woman but the truth is she was really religious and I felt like an inadequate christian in her presence. For instance, One day after Sunday service she told me, “Caleb, I didn’t hear you singing baby! You need to sing louder!” Back then I was so bitter and resented her for saying that. Today I know she didn’t mean any harm in what she said because that’s just how she was. She didn’t play any games when it came to God and wanted to hear my voice. She lived a true life of gratitude and kindness. She wasn’t a fake chrisitan and always inspired me, my uncle, and mother to strive to be better people in the eyes of the lord.
My Mother: My mother saw this and realized that even though my grandmother meant well, she could be seen as, “too religious”. You don’t have to go to church every single Sunday because sometimes you’re just too tired or mentally ill to even go. Instead, just talk to God yourself. Therefore, she never forced God upon me but always wanted me to keep my faith. Which I appreciated it a lot but it our old church we attended just led me to do my own thing because I felt betrayed by them.
My Uncle: My Uncle is a pastor and the real deal as well. He reminds of the masculine voice that is missing in a lot of churches these days. A sermon that came with conviction and the will to pray and preserve. Not these soft feel good sermons that don’t have any conviction. Instead, they just make you feel better about yourself. Sorry not sorry but the pastor isn’t some motivational guru or fake spiritual teacher. A pastor is here to tell the truth and get his people to weather the storm, not preach feel good, boring, and redundant sermons. I’d rather hear a sermon that says, “Sometimes you hate your boss because he or she is a control freak but you have to suck it up and go to work because you have bills to pay. Instead of being so bitter towards everyone just do your best and pray for these wicked souls because they need it the most. Quit trying to control what you can’t control and let God handle it. You keep trying to control everything around you and you won’t just trust God. Which is why you keep getting hurt in the first place.” That’s a church I’ll go to any day of the week because I need someone that’s going to push me to tough it out. I don’t need a sermon that preaches the opposite where an emasculated preacher keeps hooting and hollering, “Praise him! Even when you don’t have it in you. Praise him!” The sermon is about 10-15 minutes in either a loud and overexaggerated voice to make people feel good about themselves but afterward, they didn’t have a call to action. From the pues as a kid all I could do was laugh and think that this was some kind of Tyler Perry drama. Why? Because the sermon didn’t convince any of us to better our lives or weather the storm in our way that’s why!
My Dad: Well my dad is interesting. I know he means well but his interpretation of God is sadly bipolar. He’s a great man who loves me but I’ve noticed that his demons get the best of him. In the bible there is a phrase titled, “The sins of the father.” That sin being anger. I’ve witnessed both my mother and father’s anger which both stems from speaking their mind no matter what. Which at times has gotten all three of us in some peculiar situations. My father’s anger has been so bad in the past he tried to kill my mother, his girlfriend, berate his other girlfriends, and talk down to his own mother. When I was younger my grandmother and father had tension that I don’t believe the sharpest knife could cut. After a typical argument between the two on a Saturday, my dad didn’t have any issues not apologizing to his mother and went to church. Honestly, it made me sick to my stomach that he was hand picked to read the bible and sometimes preach in front of the church. Since I’ve always loved and respected my father I just kept quiet when he spoke in church but every fiber in my body wanted to yell, “This man is a fake!” because I knew he was wrong and needed to talk to God, not inspire others to. I’ve noticed that my mom, father and all have something in common. We can’t stand hypocrisy! It eats at our skin and we either say something or we just keep quiet. I’ve learned that is something I myself have to work on because I can’t stand the truth being twisted up for wrongdoing! Which is why I have made the conscious decision to distance myself from both my grandmother and my father. I’ve decided it’s best to pray that they see the error of their ways. I’m no longer going to judge them because neither one of them are aware of their own behavior. It’s simply in God’s hand now.
It’s crazy because everyone had a different interpretation of God and here I was trying to figure out which lead to follow. I didn’t want my anger to get the best of me but I didn’t want to come across as being soft and passive aggressive either. Therefore, I’d bottle everything up and never say anything which made everything worse. I got into more fights and verbal altercations which scared me because I didn’t want to live up to the, “Sins of my father”. However, I didn’t want to be a self-righteous christian who always threw scripture in any one’s face like I was holier than thou because I’m not. I’m just a regular person. On the other hand, I didn’t want to embrace that we should keep sinning just because we all make mistakes. So trying to find the counterbalance always messed with me and made me question if I was even a christian. So many views, so many expectations, so many lies and deception, and it just felt as if there was little time to heal.
Even though it’s been hard I just have to look to God for the answers. No longer do I shame others. Instead, I do my best to lead by example and inspire others to do the right thing.
Being a christian man doesn’t make me perfect. Every now and then I still get angry, cuss sometimes, and want to harbor resentment towards certain family and friends who stabbed me in the back. However, from personal experience it just left me feeling empty and hateful. Men and women are not perfect, however, we can’t excuse our sins, we have to ask for forgiveness, and try our best to better ourselves.
Nowadays I just ask God what is this teaching me? Instead of always saying, Why does this keep happening to me? Many people are wicked in this world because of their own personal demons, soul ties, and broken childhoods. It’s just like christian rapper Hulvey said, “How you gonna’ run through the city and pray for the homeless but not for the wicked.” Each needs prayer and I would even argue that the wicked need more prayer because they’re unaware of how they hurt others.
Do I believe in God? Well, the answer is yes. Even though I’ve been through so much in my life I truly believe that he has looked after me, even when I strayed away he still watched over me, even when I wanted to tell some people off I chose not to, or even at a job when my boss told me to do something and I didn’t want to because I felt, “It was unfair and someone else should do it.” I sucked it up and did it because it was in God’s will. He would not want me to be disobedient; he would want me to be obedient.
Let this be a lesson to those who are or aren’t religious. Doing the right isn’t easy and sometimes you don’t get your proper credit. However, being evil will never get you very far in this world. You may think that these people who have everything from the cars, girls, and anything money can buy are thriving but they are struggling internally. There is no need to hate or persecute them, simply pray or hope that they will do better or see the light. It’s not up to you to change everyone because when you do the right thing you’ll be able to sleep at night. Unfortunately, the wicked will not be able to enjoy their slumber because God hates evil.