The Ugly… (Continued from Part 2: The Bad - Click to read)
Mom: I am able to take my religious experiences with a grain of salt. It was what it was. I am who I am in part to its influence, good or bad. But I can not forgive religion for destroying my relationship with my mother beyond repair. You’ll hear a lot more about Mom as you turn the pages of this book (or scroll down the screen - whatever the kids are doing these days). But I feel it’s worthwhile to give you the starter package before we upgrade to the pro version:
With the best intentions, my mom set out to build a wall-o-Christianity around her children. She had been through enough shit in her life to know the world was a cruel, mean place and the only place she felt safe was inside this wall. This was a place where disappointment and unhappiness could be justified with patience and sacrifice. This was a place where questions would be quieted with scripture and fear would be rewarded with love. This place was as good as any when I was little. I was fed, clothed, and sheltered. I felt safe, I felt loved, I behaved. But there came a time when I realized I belonged to myself, not my mother. And I wanted the FUCK.OUT. I was a born creator and performer; my mind asked question after question, my eyes looked for new colors, my ears ached for more notes. There was no way I could stay in that cocoon and be happy with my life. As I got older, I had to make a decision: sneak back and forth over the God wall when and only when Mom wasn’t looking, or tell her I didn’t want to be there in the first place. I eventually chose the latter (ladder) and climbed over that wall for good. This was viewed by Mom as an ultimate act of betrayal. She took it personally. She demanded explanations and when those explanations weren’t good enough she demanded more explanations. It came to a point where we couldn’t, and didn’t, communicate at all. How can you communicate with someone who refuses to acknowledge that a different belief system is just as valid as their own? You can’t. So you don’t. And the tragedy of it all is this: if I had “turned out” the way my mom wanted - she would have been the best mother. So proud of me. So warm. So loving. We would have sent each other letters in the mail, full of scriptures and interesting tidbits from that month’s Focus on the Family newsletter. But I didn’t turn out. I entered adulthood feeling like a burnt batch of cookies. Damaged goods. As a result, “unconditional love” was too much to ask. Sure, she used the phrase a lot in emails and letters and conversations. I knew she loved me just as much as I knew I still loved her. Neither one of us could feel it though. Why? Because of that damn wall. It became the condition - the barrier that refused to let love travel through it. And that, my friends, is why I can’t get on board with any religion that looks more like a fort than a welcome mat.
Keeping it Real: Look, believe what you want. I’m not here to tell you what to do. But could you at least have some manners about it? And maybe find a way to acknowledge the someone else’s current reality even if goes against your beliefs? My fellow Christian Americans - please tell me how you can sing along to Elton John (I know you have), watch Ellen (I know you do), be nice to your gay neighbors at the grocery store (You might have actually been flirting), and then turn around and ignore or shame your gay relatives to the point of suicide. After I told my mom I was engaged, she decided to refer to my fiancee as my friend because she couldn't handle the fact (yes, fact) that I am engaged to a woman. My lady has it worse; her parents refuse to acknowledge my existence at all. If you’re trying to make a loved one feel unloved, you’re knocking it out of the park with this behavior. But if you’re trying to be a loving man or woman of God, there is some disconnect here. I can’t figure out why some Christians think acknowledging reality suddenly makes them a PFLAG ambassador. It doesn’t. And guess what? Sacrificing reality for a delusional dreamland where everyone around you suffers just so you can earn your martyr card doesn’t make you a Jesus ambassador, either. It just makes you rude. I’m talking to you, Kim Davis.