Sunday 21 March 2010

Stephanie's article "Announcements"

It’s funny how an announcement can change your whole life. Announcements such as “Honey, I am pregnant” , “honey we won the lottery”, “honey, I was laid off today” or any number of such things. One sentenece can change the course of your life, path or journey in this world.
I started reading the Gospels over again as I do over and over and there is a reason for that. I have a deep hunger for the life of Jesus. He said follow me…and for years I followed every wind of doctrine and realized that I had no idea what Jesus was all about. So back in 2003 I made a commitment to only follow Jesus and announced it as such. I highly recommend it.

I had been out of organized Christianity for at least a good 7or 8 years without picking up anything that remotely said “God” or anything remotely associated with God. I was and am a reader and continued to read but I read mindless fluff like romance novels and best sellers with a few “self help” books thrown in for good measure. I became like an everyday normal person…not focused on God and the knowledge of God… actually I was trying to forget. The pain of betrayel in “Christiandom” had ruined my appetite for anything God. Of course I blamed God and the folks who caused the pain in my life. When I made the announcement to my Church that I was leaving, the looks from friends, family and foes and the looks of horror are still imprinted in my mind….but the sense of freedom that came with the announcement is forever at work in my heart. Come what may I could not take the inconsistancy of that kind of God nor could I take the fickle feelings he had for me and his creation. I could never ever call myself an Athiest or Agnostic because I couldn’t get away from the whole “Jesus” part of the deal. When as a young girl I went looking for answers I was looking for love. This Jesus guy did exhibit plenty of that and I couldn’t get around it. So I would defend Jesus and shake my fist at God. I could not reconcile the two….

In about the 7th year after my Exodus from all things God my husband and the Father of my three children made an announcement …he was leaving me for another woman. We went from pillars in organized Christianity to divorce in just a few years. It made me wonder if the naysayers were right about God and all my failure at knowing him and it kind of proved my point. I didn’t know why he continued to torture his creation with “life” tragedy and drama all the while expecting me to give one ounce of care to “know” him. I didn’t make it a practice to go down to the mental home to visit mentally ill people to find my answers …so why would I seek a God who clearly couldn’t make up his mind about wether he loved or despised his creation. If you already have low self esteem then that was the final blow to me. I think after my husbands announcement I lost my mind. Little did I know that was probably for the best.
Stephanie McEntire

So, after the divorce I went back to doing what I do best and was most succesfull at, taking drugs and getting into one drama after another. I came from an abusive home and pain made you feel and so I picked the worst boyfriend I could find and took drugs to kill the pain. It had a great pay off…It was a life I was familiar with and I stepped right back into the “victim” role. I lost a lot during those days…and it all came to a head one evening when the boyfriend and I were coming off some serious drugs and withdrawel is a bitch…I had lost custody of my kids and they were only seeing me every other weekend and didn’t really want to but my loyal little baby girl continued to tread the treacherous waters cause she loved her Mother and that paticular evening she was there when all of this horror was going down. The abusive boyfriend who normally only took out things on me…turned on her….and I was numb to do anything about it and I went into the kitchen and took a pill…and if I had had more…it would have been over for me that night.

After the boyfriend locked himself up in a room I went looking for my daughter. I found her on the bathroom floor sobbing and screaming out to God….”why are you doing this to me?” I fell to my knees and realized something….God wasn’t doing this to that dear child….her Mother was. It was at that moment that I knew that my whole life was an announcement to the world of my victimization at the exspense of all who loved me. I had been so selfishly happy being the victim…that it had even transcended into a decision to see myself as such victim…at the hands of God. I packed my daughter up and sent her to her Fathers. I also packed a bag and called my brother and announced “I was going to rehab” yet another life changing announcement. I packed in haste because I was fleeing but I did manage somehow to throw in a Bible.

I found myself in rehab with no one except “me.” It was not a “christian” rehab (one of my stipulations and announcements…another good choice.) After about two weeks of withdrawels they sent me back to my room with a book called “The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.” It’s a book I think every recovering “Christian” would benefit from. Just insert “religion” to every reference to drugs or alcohol…believe me…your eyes will be opened to the addictive power of religion. In the “Big Book” (slang for the book) they explain the disease of addiction and I loved that part. You see if I had a disease I was still the “victim.” This was right up my alley…until I got to about chapter 4 or 5 when there is an announcement…one that changed my life ….it’s the hardest thing for a victim to say….”YOUR TROUBLES ARE OF YOUR OWN MAKING.” I threw the book across the room…it split in half like the red sea…and I immediately wanted to leave the rehab..I didn’t want to go to that place…

Go to that place I did though. I had no where else to go. In the next few days after marinating in that statement I sought out one of the most influencial people in my life to this day at that rehab. He gave me an announcement…and asked me to do something I had never thought of…start over. Who would have thought it could be so easy. He asked me to think about forgiving myself…what heresy…forgiveness was only handed out by God…and he didn’t hand it out very generously..(or so I thought.) I didn’t want to go there either because my view of God was “bait and switch” know the old commercial God that hung is Son on a cross for my sins because he loved me…and needed atonement for my “sickness” and then expected me to act like him from that day forward. It was an impossibility back in the day…and one at that moment as far as I was concerned. I wanted nothing to do with it. So my friend gave me another “announcement”…”Why don’t you start over there too?” No one had ever told me that I could start over with God. He handed me something called a “set aside prayer.” That little tiny piece of paper was a launching pad for me. It went something like…”God…I set aside all I know…all I believe… all I think I know…and admit that I really don’t know anything at all.” I took that prayer back to my room and literally emptied myself of all knowledge. I killed my FrankenGod….you know the one built out of all the winds of doctrine…all the generational hand me downs…the guy on T.V….etc etc…I just literally emptied myself and made an announcement that I “forgive” myself even though I am not really sure what that means but I hope it looks something like a “clean slate” or an exspance of time that I can change in. I asked him if he would help with that….but if he came at me with one ounce of shame…I was out of the relationship. I had enough of that without his. It really was an awesome day. I went back to my first love…which was “love”…and begin to dance with the one who “brung” me all those years ago.

About a week after that while going through my suitcase I found the Bible that I brought. The words “follow me” just kept going over and over in my mind. So, I started in Luke wanting absolutely nothing to do with any commandments or heavy duty shame…and began at the beginning of the life of this man I was suppose to follow. We all know about the Birth of Jesus having seen the play a million times…but there was something that stuck out to me…an announcement by a group of heavenly beings to a bunch of shepherds in a field …..”Good tidings, a Saviour was coming.” Something was about to change and change was what I needed so I began to see that announcement as “mine.” It was a like a “peace offering” or an olive branch straight from God himself or at least that is how I felt. It was as if I was being asked to really think about Jesus being the “Prince of Peace” for my heart. I had to have “peace” in my heart about this process of “knowing” him as I had heard that he had asked ...he did ask for us to “follow him”….so I decided to do so by reading only the Gospels for the last 10 years or so…highly recommend…I found that God was trying to say something to me through this man…he was trying to show me what he was like and what his space is like which is outside of this time and space. It was “green pastures” and a place for restoration…not so much to reconcile me to some form of “sinless” life because of poor pitiful me…but reconciliation of the two of us…and Jesus was going to show me what that looked like. I was invited to a wedding feast….a huge banquet of restoration…of which I don’t think I have moved from the table since the invitation…so why I have said all this? I say it because I need to…it is my myself every single day…He loves me. He doesn’t love my knowledge of him or keep his eyes on all my shortcomings…He loves ME. It is so easy to forget that in our search for knowledge and as I follow him I find that learning of him is all about his love for strings. NO STRINGS. No bait and switch and no getting away from it. So if I could announce on a loudspeaker to the world one thing…it would be that there is no getting away from that love and my life is an opportunity to show my neighbor this wonderful thing. Shit will happen in this cause and effect world but love will remain..period. If I walked by “sight” in this cause and effect world as I used to…I probably would have been dead a long time ago. I walk by Faith in this love now…and it opens up a new vision…and new eyes and there are no fences around this God whom Jesus was showing me. I love the way it's put in Song of Solomon, …his announcement to me…”His banner over me is love. “ Nuff said for me. It's just that simple. What does his banner over you say? . See you next week!
End of Stephanie's post on Facebook


jul said...

beautiful read, thanks for posting it!

Chris Welch - 07000INTUNE said...

really missed you julia.
I think it was actually you who categorically stated that I should do my own blog, certainly Lyds or you. i remember writing to Lyds at one point when this blog hit 8000, wondering if this was all a good use of time....and wondering how you got to Dan Bowen's a hundred gazillion hits.