|It's not easy, but I can do it!|
Whoa. Dude. At what?
I know, you never thought I’d start a story with THOSE words.
Well, I never imagined it either. Yet, I, along with The Girlfriend and my boys, have been attending regular Sunday services at our local Presbyterian church and we’re working toward full-fledged membership.
Look, it’s not like I woke up one day and suddenly found God or something. In fact, I haven’t found him at all. Hell, I’m not even sure that I’m looking for him.
I’m doing this for my boys... to introduce them to a community with strong values and moral beliefs, to show them what organized religion has to offer, and to let them decide what role, if any, God will play in their lives.
I was raised Episcopalian, with a pretty diverse religious experience. Most of my early education came from Catholic school and I even did a stint at a Jewish summer camp. (I’m not sure what my grandparents were thinking when they sent their bastard Episcopalian child to Catholic school for eight years and made him spend his summers with a bunch of kids in yamakas.) I even played the role of “Jesus” in my high school production of “Godspell.”
The result, however, was “God overload” and, for years, I rejected organized religion.
Before Nana died, I started to recognize the importance of a religious education and would occasionally bring my boys, with her, to the church where I grew up. They responded well and enjoyed the experience, but becoming active members of a congregation nearly 15 miles away didn't make sense. That, coupled with the fact that the boys’ mother blew an epic fucking gasket when Lu-Dog expressed interest in being baptized in Nana’s church, sort of put our religious plans on hold.
After Nana’s passing, I did a lot of soul searching. I thought about life, death, spirituality, and my role as a father... and I kept coming back to the realization that my boys need to become part of a religious community.
At first, I wanted to check out the local Episcopal church, but The Girlfriend thought that the Presbyterian church would be a better fit. We locked horns for a while and it wasn’t until our close friends, active members in the latter, convinced me to give it a shot. I did, with a promise from The Girlfriend that we could try BOTH churches.
We never made it to the Episcopal church.
After one visit to the Presbyterian church, I knew that we had found our home.
I love it. I love the people, the music... the reverend. I can’t explain it, but I really feel like we fit in. On top of that, there is a big congregation filled with people we know... and kids... LOTS of kids.
The boys love it, as well. We have a Sunday routine and there have been few complaints. It helps that they have friends in “children’s church,” and they seem excited about enrolling in Sunday school, especially since we just found out that one of Lu-Dog’s best pals is in the program.
Okay. That was a really long introduction to this:
At church the other day, the reverend gave a sermon about “turning the other cheek.” He spoke at length about ego and our natural desire to exact revenge against those who have wronged us.
You know, I really felt like he was speaking to ME...
The last few years have not been easy. I have been divorced, arrested, stalked and had my name dragged through the mud. In many respects, life is great... but I still have this nagging urge to get revenge on everyone who has ever manipulated me, bad-mouthed me, or hurt me.
That really serves no purpose.
Certainly, the reverend pointed out, Jesus' words do not mean that we should not stand up for ourselves or take abuse... but I’m certainly not a battered man.
Most recently, an individual with an axe to grind has taken to the Internets to sully my already sullied name. He talks about me on his Facebook page... He comments on published stories that bear my name... He’s obsessed with painting a picture of me that does not exist.
At first, I created a few “troll” accounts. It was my mission to toy with him and make him look stupid, mostly over his hypocrisy and poor grammar... but then I heard the reverend’s sermon and I asked myself...
Sure, I would get a laugh out of making him look stupid but, hasn’t he already done that on his own?
“Instead,” the reverend urged... “bless them.”
The reverend is right, when we “pray” for our enemies... when we open our hearts, we chip away at that tough ego inside of us... We find peace.
In the end, maybe all of this church stuff isn’t just for the boys... but for daddy too.
So, God bless you, crazy man. You’re gonna need it, because the next person you cross may not be a church goin’ man!
How about you, dear readers? When it comes to petty bullshit, do you seek revenge or do you turn the other cheek?
This inquiring mind wants to know.
Oh... and then there's this: