Showing posts with label love. Show all posts
Showing posts with label love. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Margaret's Story (The Voices Project)

I want to thank "Margaret" for sharing her story. Please consider telling yours.

IF IT'S NOT OKAY

My father was not from the church originally, but joined later on (mainly because he met my mother, who he wanted to marry, and saw that the only way to marry her was to join the religion). So he joined, dated my mother for a year or two, got engaged, and as is typical with OALC (Old Apostolic Lutheran Church) couples, got married a few months later and then nine months after that, I was born. Now what my mother couldn't know and what she couldn't see—because she was so naive and so fully inundated with the message that marriage is what a young woman should aspire to—was that my father was troubled.

He was controlling (which she likely mistook for love), he was arrogant, he was opinionated, but because all of this fit within the ideal that the OALC sets for women—that the husband is the protector, that the woman should listen to him and obey him, that the woman is merely the helpmate—she wasn't able to spot the red flags. What ended up occurring was years of abuse not only of her but of me, her daughter. It was verbal, it was physical, and there were times that he was sexually inappropriate. 

Amongst all of this, my brother and I were being raised in the church. I went to high school desperate to fit in with the OALC youth, but just couldn't. Among other things, they were racist, they were rude, they were so concerned with materialistic items and who was dating whom that it made me nauseous—nobody cared about doing anything besides sitting in the Fred Meyer parking lot and smoking a cigarette (or five). It was so frustrating that at the age of sixteen, even though I was abused at home and terrified to my core, I refused to go to church.
 . . . even though I was abused at home and terrified to my core, I refused to go to church.
Of course, there was fallout. There was a lot of talks with my parents, who were disappointed. Then there were the meetings with the preachers, several of whom told me that my desire to play sports and to go to college was foolish, and that I should focus on being a good helpmate for my future husband who would, as one put it, "just be paying off your college debts while you raised the children anyway. Why would you want to put a good man through unnecessary debt?"

But the most important thing about my story—and what I desperately want people to know—is that after I left, I went to college. I graduated, and am a nurse, making good money at a job I love. When I left, it gave my mother the strength to leave, too. She now has a college degree and a new husband who is not from the church and makes her brilliantly happy. My little brother just went to his first prom and couldn't have had a bigger smile on his face. The struggle is unimaginable when you are going through it and there is a depth of pain that is almost unbearable. You feel like a failure because you couldn't fit in, you feel embarrassed of yourself and your desires, but the truth is, you were just strong enough to stand up for yourself when what you knew what happening was wrong. 

You saw a group that was fervently bent on a religious ideology that was fundamentally wrong in the way that it was executed and you chose not to stand for it. Instead of standing for constant judgement and rigid rules that somehow dictate whether or not you will be saved, you realized that there was a way to live life with love in your heart for everybody. It is terrifying to leave something that was completely your way of life, but now the choice is up to you. 
. . . you realized that there was a way to live life with love in your heart for everybody. 
I chose to go to college and get a nursing degree. I chose to get engaged to a wonderful man. I chose to be a nondenominational Christian and have never been stronger spiritually. I realized the joy that going to a really good movie can bring. The overwhelming amount of choices you can make is amazing, and though daunting at first, soon you realize that your life is your own. 

You can be free of abuse, you can create the life that feels good for you, and you can still be a Christian. The poisonous lie that exists in the OALC that that church is the one way to get to Heaven is just that, a lie. It can be difficult to realize that those you thought were your family and friends will not recognize you and will still be believing that lie but understand this: they cling to it because they were too weak to see that there is good in all people, not just the OALC, and the word of God is good, no matter what Christian denomination you might be.
Learn to live free, and remember: "If it's not okay, it's not the end."

***

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas to the Pale Blue Dot

Wishing all of you a wonderful Christmas, readers. I hope you enjoy this video. Please reach out to strangers over the holidays . . . those of us who have left a faith community know that the holidays can be a lonely time, and the smallest of gestures can be an enormous comfort. Be well.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Love in a Jar

This summer I am teaching our kids how to make jam the old-fashioned way, with no added pectin, just fruit and sugar and a whole lot of stirring. We use observation (does it gel on a cold saucer?) instead of a thermometer to judge its doneness.

We skim the foam, ladle the bubbling jam into hot jars, cap them tightly and invert them, then after a few minutes, turn them right side up and listen for the ping, pong, ping of the successful seals.

Our son uses his best penmanship, if not spelling, on the labels ("apricot vannila" is one Finnish-like result). He and his sister carefully align the jars on the windowsill to admire.

Their delight in the process is surpassed only by their delight in the product, spread on buttered toast, glopped onto ice cream, or eaten straight off the spoon. They've invented an "Italian soda" using sparkling water and jam foam (too sweet for grown-ups).

How fortunate we are. Within an hour, we have wiped up the counters and turned to other activities.

While typing up a beloved aunt's memoirs recently, I realized that I come from a long line of women who worked from sun up to sun down, and often beyond, growing, harvesting, and preparing food for their families, in addition to all of the other chores of tending to family and farm. Preserving food for the winter was a necessity, a stay against hunger. It was certainly not recreational.

If they didn't plan ahead and ran out of sugar or jars (as I'm wont to do), the fruit could go bad before the next trip to town. If they felt like blogging instead of making dinner, ordering pizza was not an option. Planning was essential. How little time they had just to themselves!

This summer as I practice that ancient kitchen alchemy, I thank my mother, my grandmother, my great-grandmother, and all the women before them in a long chain of caring and lore. They bequeathed many skills to me that are no longer necessary for survival (or even for canning, e.g. paraffin). But their legacy of love is preserved. Generation after generation. Spoonful after spoonful.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Once

One of the few things that I think Laestadians do well is the aesthetic of beauty in plainness. There is a quiet beauty in a plain, white-painted wooden country church adorning a stark prairie landscape. A not-so-quiet, yet equally subtle beauty in seeing a large family of young children sharing a pew on Sunday morning. The beauty of young women with fresh-scrubbed faces and cotton print dresses. Of elders chanting mournfully in Finnish before ambling forward to receive communion.

I was reminded of this luminousness last weekend when my wife and I went to see the movie "Once." Set in Ireland, it captured "a guy" and "a girl" with simple dreams and ordinary challenges. Similar to Sweet Land there is a sub-theme of the immigration experience (in this case "the girl" is a first generation Czech immigrant). Yet throughout the film plainness and ordinariness is suffused by a quiet dignity, basic goodness, humor, and of course great music.

I recommend this film. It is rated "R" solely for language. I don't find this problematic, but if you do this is your warning. :-) Below are links to the film's web site and blog:

Once Official web site
Once Official Blog


-ttg

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Sweet Land

I hope everyone was able to spend Valentine's Day with their loved ones.

I'd like to heartily recommend the movie Sweet Land. Not only did I find it an excellent film and a poignant love story, but I found myself coming out of the theater thinking, "this is how Laestadian community could be, and should be."

Sweet Land is not about Laestadians. The main characters, Inge and Olaf, are immigrant farmers in 1920s rural Minnesota. However, their simple values, ties with the land, and the power of their tight knit church and community were all things that resonated with my Laestadian upbringing.

As unique individuals who remain true to their hearts over and against rigid and provincial community values, Inge and Olaf face many of the same issues that folks thinking about leaving the Laestadian community might face --including shunning and ostracising by the only community they have.

Unlike the bleakness of Laestadianism, however, this film promises hope and reconciliation. Without giving too much away, I'll just say that this movie affirms the notion that listening to one's heart --while bearing a high price-- yields a bountiful harvest in both self and neighbor.


-ttg

Monday, October 30, 2006

What a Woman Thinketh in Her Heart, So Is She

When I was 18, just out of high school and newly liberated from a stifling homelife, I visited a comparatively liberal OALC family whose daughters would become my first housemates. On their coffee table was a pamphlet titled "As A Man Thinketh." Browsing through it, I became rather excited by its focus on grace, which seemed so at odds with the OALC, but fit perfectly with the loving, joyful spirit in that family. Emboldened, I offered to recite my graduation speech for them, a meditation on "love your enemies," which was very well received. So well, in fact, that I gave those impossibly kind parents my only written copy, confident that I could never forget the words of my first real public performance.

Ha.

They are long forgotten, As was the incident itself until hp3's recent message.

hp3 said...

I attended a church that I really liked (an Assembly of God). The pastor said he refused to preach about 'details of sin.' His philosophy was that wherever your thoughts and focus were at, thats where you would end up too. (imagine that!) So instead of focusing on what NOT to do -and ending up there; he preached that you should focus on what TO DO. if you turn TOWARDS Christ you automatically turn AWAY from the world. Imagine you can only literally face one direction at a time and the opposite direction is at your back. So his focus was on turning towards Christ. That was his response to addiction, struggles with sin and how to live one's life. I loved it and have never felt so nourished in my faith and had it be so easy to commit a little less sin (I'm making no claims to perfection :)


MTH and I responded with loud amens. But what do you think?

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

You Don't Love God If You Don't Love Your Neighbor

Happy Thanksgiving. You can listen to this song, sung by Rhonda Vincent on Prairie Home Companion, by going to their archives via the link above.

There are many people who will say they're Christians
and they live like Christians on the Sabbath day
but come Monday morning til the coming Sunday,
they will fight their neighbor all along the way.

CHORUS:
Oh, you don't love God if you don't love your neighbor
if you gossip about him, if you never have mercy
if he gets into trouble and you don't try to help him
then you don't love your neighbor, and you don't love God

In the Holy Bible in the book of Matthew,
read the 18th chapter and the 21st verse
Jesus plainly tells us that we must have mercy,
there's a special wording in the 35th verse. (CHORUS)

There''s a God Almighty, and you've got to love Him
if you want salvation and a home above
if you say you love him while you hate your neighbor
then you don't have religion, you just toe the line. (CHORUS)