I have spent a great deal of my life trying to figure out the truth. From a young age I was asking the type of questions that most little kids wouldn’t bother with. I was told from the time that I was able to talk about this God who loved me and who sent his son to die for me. I was five years old at that little spanish church in Santa Ana when I raised my little hand in Sunday school and confessed my sins and became a Christian. The thing is though that I still had questions that still had no answers. Questions like: “Why am I here?” and “Is there really life after we die?” My new faith had tidy little answers accompanied with nice little flannel-graph stories to help me understand it all.
The funny thing about the flannelgraph is that you can make the characters fit just about anywhere on that board. I learned so many lessons about God early on in this manner. Choose Jesus and everything in your life will fit nicely and neatly just like stories seem to on the flannelboard. The big problem with that is that we live in a world that is super complicated and life is simply not just about us.
And that is the truth that I have discovered after all of this time. It seems like every part of Christianity is focused on our need to be “saved” from something. I was taught to confront people with the truth of their own human condition and point out that there is a way out. There is an “escape plan” for all of us. We are supposed to be in fear of going to hell for everything that we say or do, that is of course unless we confess our sins to this unseen God. We are then free from going to a place which the Bible says is really prepared for the devil and his angels. So you bet that I wanted to do everything possible to help keep me from ever going to that hot place where I would burn forever.
I was so scared of that impending future for me if I strayed from my path. It literally scared me into remaining a Christian for all of those years. Fear is the greatest tool that can be used to keep us in bondage and in prison. I literally remember when I got older that the simple act of crossing the street was one that involved fear and guilt. You all might think that this is trivial but maybe not.
Fear is a terrible motivator and can be quite destructive, especially if you make a life based on it. I would literally get to a crosswalk when it was still reading walk on the sign and would give hesitation to crossing the street because I was scared that if I was caught in the middle of the street when the don’t walk sign flashed that it was somehow symbolic of me missing out on eternal life. That is what living in fear looks like friends. When even the most mundane and insignificant things in one’s life take on meaningful purpose. Even now, I see how my former Christian friends choose to distance themselves from me. They feel like I have somehow been deceived into believing a great lie. That is funny because although I choose not to judge them about their life decisions but I feel that same way about them. Who is truly the one being deceived here?
How can you believe all of this stuff about flying around in some eternal state of bliss in some magical far-away fairytale land? Instead of being critical though, I have become empathetic to the fact that we are all human and if what they are doing doesn’t hurt anyone and is helping to make this world a better place than it is just fine with me.
Who really cares how anyone else chooses to define gender for instance. The important thing to know is that we should only be concerned with treating everyone that we ever meet with the same care and dignity as we would want to be treated ourselves. That is it, that is the only truth that we all should strive to live by. Everything is not just like life is represented on a flannelgraph. It might look nice and tidy from a distance but is life ever really meant to be so simple and one dimensional?