6.15.2007

someone asked me once

why i'm not a christian.
i had to politely explain to them that my primary motivation is that christ's teachings, though valuable from what i've gleaned, are no justification for me to worship him. he was a man. i don't believe he was god's son any less or more than i am god's daughter. period. it's not a gender thing. i've never felt comfortable referring to jesus as my savior. i was the queen of gospel choir in undergrad & high school, but more because i love singing. i wasn't blaspheming; my faith in god is simply unshakable. however, singing "jesus is real" always feels like a conflict for me; the clark sisters' "you brought the sunshine" is one of my absolute favorite gospel songs but i harmonize along w/ twinkie & them because i love that song. it's kind of difficult to explain, but most of my girlfriends who're non christians feel the same way. especially those of us who grew up worshiping in what's considered the black american tradition. it's a given. you love god with all your might and the time to really demonstrate it is sunday at church. give god the glory, praise, and honor; your blessings are yours because he gives them to you. there's another component to that which i call the hurry up & wait factor but i'll get into that another time.

i learned to show my faith when i was a child. you must claim god, you must tell the whole world that you worship jesus. i don't know if it's an actual bible verse (i haven't read the book in ages & would like to dedicate actual focus to doing so) but i was constantly told by various church folk that if i were ashamed of christ, he'd be ashamed of me before his father. okay. so that, to my 11-year-old mind, was the ultimate guilt trip. i was fat, didn't have some extravagant relaxed hairdo like my classmates, had ridiculous acne & was NOT tryna have anyone else be embarrassed by me. so i learned all the dogma & put up the front like nobody's business. i was just waiting to feel jesus working in my life. i didn't know that everything is a blessing, even when it's not what i want. i was told that praying and waiting were the way to go. but i was a child. you know i prayed that god would exact revenge for me against all those rotten ass kids in my class who did me dirty. and by the time i was in 7th grade i couldn't believe that any of my schoolmates (or administrators for that matter) at blair christian academy were actual followers of christ by virtue of the fact that 3 girls were kicked out of the high school for being pregnant by the time i was ready to enter eighth grade. then, when went back to public school i had begun to realize that i was a christian at a christian school because i didn't know what else to be.
i felt it was necessary because that was the tone of the school, that was the culture, etc. we were not outright graded on how faithful we were, but there were always comments on my report cards about how i was growing in christ.
why did i have to grow in christ?
why couldn't i just grow?
it upset me. i loved anita baker's music and could not believe for one minute that god was gonna send me to hell for listening to secular music. i tried to shake myself of it. but i couldn't. tlc's first album was my favorite. i couldn't live without sneaking to listen to the chronic, the u.m.c's, or whatever was on the radio. when atliens came out, i couldn't get to my radio fast enough. i was making pause tapes until i graduated from high school. if listening to michael jackson's off the wall was a sin, then screw it. i'd have to answer to the lord for that.
i attended a quaker high school. the quaker ideals were much more realistic to me: the inner light, service to others, quiet reflective meditation. this was something i could really get with. but quakers weren't the right kind of christians, so i could learn about quakerism allllllll i wanted to. i'd just be out of my mind to attempt to practice it in that house. i was on gospel choir. that was the jesus showcase, you hear me? quakerism wasn't as christ intensive as many black folk like. so it wasn't goin down.

my grandmother died when i was 2 weeks shy of my 18th birthday. i think that, at that exact moment i stopped believing in jesus altogether. it wasn't about him taking her away from me; she had copd & was really gonna go anyway. i believed in jesus (or claimed i did) for her. she had to know i was bullshitting, though; who doesn't know a child that they've essentially raised? at any rate, her funeral felt crazy to me. i felt god all around me but couldn't call on jesus while i sat there and wondered why there was such a thing as an open casket funeral for anyone who'd been very ill. her skin was green, for crying out loud. i'm supposed to call on jesus when i know i'm finna have nightmares for months on end? nope. i had to tell my grandmother directly, "please get some rest, momzie. get some peace." she hasn't been in my dreams since. it's been 9 years.

as i entered my anti-organized religion twenties, i became everything that that embodied a sinner. i drank, smoked weed, picked up a cigarette habit, had all kinds of sex, cursed a lot, stole, & took the lord's name in vain almost nonstop. i felt good about my life. i never thought "coming to jesus" was gonna fix any of my problems. i knew it was incumbent upon me to make things right, to balance myself.

so as i began to do that, i found ifa. i haven't looked back since. i love my religion. i feel great about it & nobody's gonna change that. every day i learn a little bit more about the goodness of the universe.

maybe i'll edit this for clarity/ cusswords & make my mom read it. so she can understand that i'm not turning my back on god or worshiping the devil. maybe.

4 comments:

tia said...

you shol' got a lot of entries for someone who doesn't feel like writing :)

thank you for the sinus suggestions.

secret squirrel jenkins said...

girl i dunno wtf it is w/ me. i say i don't wanna write, and then this here comes bubbling out of me. i'm glad, though cuz writing makes me happy.

snake woman, she who hears said...

good stuff.

rattler said...

I appreciate your honesty on this topic. I mean, how many of us can give ourselves the room to believe what we believe without recriminations? If you do show this to your mom, I hope it goes well.

Ashe...