Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The spanking girl

Before I tell you this story, I must preface it with the fact that Little Monster is every bit a four year old boy. He talks. And talks. And talks. The other night while with my mom the child talked for five and a half hours. Without a break. Without a pause for someone to answer the billions of questions he was asking. He just talked. It wouldn't be so bad if the child would use some punctuation when he spoke - -but often one sentence just rambles into another. Sometimes he forgets spaces for his wordsandtheyendupsoundingmuchlikethislooks.

I know. You all think, eh. Typical four year old. I'm not sure. I think he talks more than most four year olds, but maybe that's because I'm with him constantly.

By the end of the night, my mom and I just stared at each other, mouths agape in horror at the fact that he hadn't passed out from lack of oxygen. And then he went to bed and I watched Elf. It's not a masterpiece of the arts by any means, but after the day I'd had with Little Monster, it was downright hilarious in parts. Elf was Little Monster. Little Monster was Elf.

But now we need to get back to the original story. This evening it happened again. Non-stop talking. Running up and down the aisles at Michael's, while bouncing all over the place. I'd put him in "time-out" touching the cart, but it wasn't working. My patience was getting worn out. As we were in line checking out, he started to act up again. (Act up is probably a bit harsh. He was really just being a bit loud and asking questions I was too tired to answer and I didn't want to sound like a grouch around all of the other people in line). I didn't have much left for it. He had worn me out during the day with all "his friend who lives in Frank in the white house, and to get there you turn left and left then right and can we go over to his house after school his telephone number is 4" talk.

So, as we were standing there, and was tempted to issue an empty threat for a spanking, it came out of my mouth without thinking.

Little Monster. Did you know that there is a lady who spanks naughty kids in stores?

What? There was. That one lady. That one time. You don't remember?? Read This. Yeah, see. I didn't lie.

I thought it might squelch the very minor attitude and get him to be quiet for a minute. I was wrong. It just brought on more questions.

Mom, that girl that spanks naughty kids -- where is she?

I don't know. She could be anywhere! (Now I know she WAS in Ohio, but I don't know where she is right now.)

Mom is she here now?

I don't know honey.

MOOOooom. You're just joking. Right?!

Cue the guy who is standing in front of me with his young wife (who is giggling uncontrollably).

"No! I've heard about her!!"

At that moment you could see all of the color drain out of poor Little Monster's face as his jaw dropped down. We all stood around discussing whether it was possible if she was in the store the poor kid started to get scared. That some mythical woman might jump out between the checkout lanes and swap him in the butt for being naughty in the yarn section of Michael's. And the more we talked about it, the harder it was to contain my seriousness. The lady in front of us (young wife) was crying she was laughing so hard. She literally HID her face in her coat at one point because she didn't want to ruin the moment.

I may or may not have mentioned that if this mythical lady has to come out to spank you, she immediately calls Santa and puts you on the naughty list.

I'm not terribly proud of my momentary lapse in parental judgement. But I might just use it to my advantage. After all, I don't know where that lady is at any given time, and she could be anywhere, ready to spank my naughty children for me since I'm not willing to do it in public myself. But at least I'm not duct taping him to walls. Yet.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Instead of protesting a protest...

Perhaps it's because all of the pain is so new, so fresh. My Dad's funeral was only three months ago. Perhaps, it's just because I'm a human being who has a bit of empathy and I can't imagine what it would have been like to be so sad, to have lost so much, and be mourning the lost of a dear loved one, only to see picketers outside the funeral home or church. Whatever the reason, I am not alone when I say that the Westboro Baptist Church is way WAY out of line.

I'm not out to take away any one's right to a peaceful gathering, to take away their free speech. I don't follow my husband half way around the world every month so that he can protect those rights for nothing. I hold those rights near and dear to my heart. And so does he. We've talked about it, and he would not stop an anti-military protest. He refuses to say anything to anti-war or anti-military picketers on the street. Because they have the right to air their opinion in a peaceful manner.

I think, that if the group doing the picketing in this case were any group of people without ties to a Christian organization, I would feel much differently. I might not be as upset. I might not feel like it was as vitriolic, as disgusting. But then, maybe not. I think it is a violation of humanity to stage a picket line, a protest at someone's funeral. Turning an entirely somber affair designed to allow family and friends to say goodbye to a loved one into a political statement is entirely wrong. I don't know how. I can't give you a biblical example of why it is wrong to do this to people at a funeral, but I'm pretty sure it is. It goes against so many things that Jesus taught. It breaks my heart that the organization doing this comes in His name. It makes me want to scream and cry and try to stop it all at once.

Would God really use a teacher's car accident to make a statement against the way the public school is run? This church claims that the reason this teacher died was because the public schools teach rebellion. I think it's a little bit ironic, because wasn't that was Jesus was? A rebel? Didn't he fight the church leaders left and right? One of the things He came here to teach us was that sometimes a little rebellion isn't a bad thing. Jesus defied all sorts of social standards, liturgical laws, and rebelled against the sinful and unholy way the Pharisees were running the temples.

Why does it bother me so much that people are protesting at funerals? Maybe it's partly because of what my husband does for a living and this church is known for protesting at military funerals. Mostly it's because it's a church. It's a group of people associating themselves with MY faith and MY God. Maybe I'm wrong. I could be wrong simply because I am holding them to a higher standard than I would any other group or organization. Very often, I'm too judgemental of other people, especially Christians. I expect Christians to live a life with a higher moral standard, to be nicer to people, and to be law abiding citizens. But that's wrong, perhaps even hypocritical. I break the law, I'm not always nice to people, and I'm a Christian. I dare you to catch me on a bad day. Heck, let me catch you texting and driving, and you'll see the Christian fall off of me faster than a Maserati on the Autobahn. So, when I see a Christian failing my high expectations, I need to remember to pray and remember that I too, fall short. I too, sin. Most of the time it works.

But not tonight. I'm tired. Tired of hearing about these funeral protests. I'm tired of hearing about people showing up with signs that say that God hates Fags, and that all of our problems in this country are because God is somehow judging our nation for supporting a 'homosexual agenda' or fighting an unjust war or whatever else we do that could anger Our Father.

I'm tired of hearing about how much "God hates fags." That isn't true. Not in the least. God hates sin. God hates the behavior that often happens on earth as a result of humans having free will. God, however does not HATE any one. Be they a fag, a christian fundamentalist extremist, a tax collector, a murderer, even pedophiles. God doesn't hate human beings. God loves us. All of us. It is for that reason that He sent Jesus to die for our indiscretions. He sent his only Son to DIE so that we could have life. What is it that we don't get about that? It doesn't matter what we do, or what we don't do. The only thing that matters is what we believe. We don't earn an entrance into Heaven.

If God hates homosexuals because they engage in a sinful behavior (because again, God hates behavior and sin, NOT the being itself), then he must hate me too. Because I engage in sinful behavior every day. Just the other day my four year old had to remind me that the "f" word wasn't a very nice word. I told some girl to drive, rather than text with her "f"ing phone in a rather loud and mean voice. I sinned. I KNOWINGLY and consciously engaged in a sinful behavior. I think about doing BAD things all the time. I want to HURT people who stand outside of funerals with signs claiming that "God Hates (anyone)." God is love. And something that embodies love cannot hate anything but the thing that would destroy that love.

People don't die because of God's judgement. People die because their bodies wear out. People die because we were given free will from the beginning of time, and that free will sometimes leads us into bad decisions. People die because people die. It's bigger than a stupid church or a military policy on sexual orientation, or whether our schools are teaching the wrong things. The reasons for death are so deep and that I can't even wrap my entire mind around it or explain it in an angry blog post, but ultimately, it doesn't matter. Death is just the beginning for Christians. Without death we wouldn't have life.

This church believes that protesting at a funeral is a Christian act. It isn't friends. It just plain isn't. As Christians we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. And believe it or not, the word "neighbor" doesn't limit us to loving those people living in residences directly adjacent to our own. Neighbor here means a fellow human being. A fellow sinner. Whether homosexual, soldier, civilian, criminal, or regular old Joe Schmoe just trying to live his life. If we love our neighbors, we certainly aren't going to choose one of worst moments for a family to stage a political protest.

On some crazy level, I do understand where this church is coming from. I know what they are trying to accomplish, but the way they are going about it is all wrong. If you're mad at the government, protest at the federal building. Or the state building. You think the way the curriculum in the public schools is wrong? Join the PTA. Make changes. Home school your kids, or send them to a private school. Picket outside the Department of Education. VOTE to change the government and it's policies. It's your right. However, standing outside of a teachers' funeral claiming that she died because our schools teach rebellion doesn't change anything. It sends the wrong message. It tells people that Christians are hateful, spiteful, hypocritical human beings.

My message to a church that would send such a message to the world:

A Christian's first mission is to bring people to God. By sending such a hateful message in the name of God, surely you are turning people away from Him. And a back turned from God is a face turned towards sin.

What does the Bible say about Christians who lead people into sin?

Matthew 18:6 (NIV) But if anyone causes one of these little ones who
believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung
around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

Mark 9:42 (NKJV) But whoever causes one of these little ones who
believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung
around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea.

Luke 17:2 (NIV) It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea
with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these
little ones to sin.

Not once, not twice, but THREE times it's mentioned. Three is an important number, and if you're a Christian, you know that. It's not an accident.

I could go on forever talking about how God loves everyone, regardless of their sins (He really does), how He wants us all to repent and believe so that we can go to Heaven (He really does), how He sent his Son to die so that we didn't have to pay the price for our sins (He really did) because He loves us so much, or how we can't get into heaven by doing (or not doing) anything (we really can't) and how it all hinges on what we believe.
I could, but it's late. And I'm sure I'm rambling by now. So instead, I will pray for this church. Because that is what I do when I'm angry with someone. I will pray that they will see how horrible, how AWFUL they are being by using a painful time in people's lives to make a political statement, turning what should be a sad but beautiful last moment in someones earthly journey into a media circus. I will pray that that the family will be protected from seeing the whole ordeal as they grieve. And lastly, I will pray that these events will cause people to question what the true God would say, and what He really says about moments like this so that they will come to know how much He loves us all -- no matter who we are or what we do.