#LoveWins

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

I started this post as a mild “in your face you ratchet closed minded religious conservatives” type rant. I was so completely and utterly caught up in the moment in other words I was in my usual wickedly horrible unpredictable “think before I do or say” mode. I fiercely typed out my rant as I sat waiting for my oil to be changed at the Jiffy Lube. I let word after word flow from my pseudo political activist brain through my long piano fingers to my WordPress app on my iPhone 5s.

I didn’t care about the possibility of the person sitting so close to my right being able to read every word I typed in my post. I didn’t care whether or not he was a supporter of the LGBTiQ community. I caught the writing bug and I needed to release everything before I lost it. Unfortunately, I didn’t finish the said previous rant like version of this post; which perhaps might have been a good thing.

To be completely honest, even as I am now starting to write the thirteenth version of this post, I still cannot find the words to say about the U.S. Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage. I can say that I’m overjoyed that high court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage not because I’m a huge fan of marriage but because I feel like everyone should be able to choose for themselves whether or not to live in matrimony and misery. It made me happy to know that once and for all the great country I’m proud to be a citizen of would finally progress into the 21st Century. That all persons born in or become naturalized citizens of this country would indeed be granted all basic freedoms equally and protected under the law regardless of who or what a person claims to be.

Boy was I delusional and jumping the gun.

I forgot where I live. I forgot what type of family I came from. I didn’t think about any of those aspects until I saw my sister’s Instagram post Saturday afternoon. I didn’t think about her still being as close minded as the religious conservatives who run the State of Texas. I thought we were past the bigotry. I thought she had evolved and opened her mind.

I thought wrong!

Picture it. It’s a sunny Saturday afternoon. I’m not really doing much. Just lying around as I normally do. I logged into my Instagram for the umpteenth time that day and I see this:

 

I honestly wasn’t surprised by this post because deep down, I already knew she felt this way. I already knew that the battle I had with her way back when would somehow revive Itself I just didn’t know when or how.

I’m not going to bash my sister for her beliefs as she is very much entitled to her opinions and is free to express them however and whenever she pleases. She’s grown and fully capable of making up her own mind. Who am I to stifle her beliefs and thought processes? Who am I to reject her for who and what she is even though she rejects who and what I am?

You guys weren’t expecting that were you? Read between the lines and move on.

——

I’ve never been the type of person to flaunt who or what I am flamboyantly. I’m very much an advocate for being and staying incognegro at all times. I speak when I have something to say or when I’m around people who make me feel safe and at peace. I’m just a girl who wants more than anything in this world to be accepted for who she is as a person. I do not wish to be chastised for being different or for not fitting into a stereotypical mold someone who knows nada about me places me in. I do not wish to surround myself with folks who says one thing to my face and another behind my fucking back. For me, that is a deal breaker in any relationship.

So imagine my dilemma having a sister who feels and believes one way and me another especially when it comes to the LGBTiQ community. Imagine not being able to trust whether or not what your ‘best friend’ of 20+ years is really and truly your best friend and biggest fan. Imagine having a rush of loneliness engulfing your every being because now you don’t know who you can be your authentic self around. This is the absolute worst feeling in this world.

This feeling isn’t just my own but is shared by thousands LGBTiQ persons everywhere. Religious conservatives wish to prevent anyone who does not fit into their conservative Christian mold from enjoying the same freedoms they take so much pride in. The conservatives feel homosexuality and same-sex marriage are abominations in the eyes of The Lord. They say God is saddened by the SCOTUS decision. They say that same-sex marriage will ruin the sanctity of marriage and will send the wrong message to children. Yet the divorce rate among heterosexuals is constantly increasing. Yet there are sick and perverted men, like Josh Duggar, who are straight and active in the church that molest young girls. There are straight men and women who have sexually transmitted diseases who don’t give a fuck about who they infect.

I’m so incredibly tired of religious conservatives using God and the Bible to justify and rationalize their blatant discrimination against the LGBTiQ community. How do we even know for sure if God is angered by homosexuality? Did God tell you so? How can a deity that stands for love and understanding possibly be upset when we were ALL created by the same person? Certainly when God created the human race, he (or she) knew who and/or what each individual would be when we grew up. Certainly a God of love would love us all the same and not pick and choose who is worthy of his or her love and mercy. Isn’t that why Jesus preferred to be with the sinner than the person who thought he or she knew it all? Is that not why the Bible says love thy neighbor as ye would be loved?

I have an extremely difficult time believing that God punishes us solely because of what we are. I refuse to believe that a book written thousands of years ago by man is the end all be all of human existence. Yes, there are passages that can provide comfort and peace for any situation but at the same time, these stories were written in a time that is not our own. We don’t know the entire context of the stories of the Old Testament to take them as literal as religious conservatives do. And yet these are the passages we teach our children. How can we expect the future to behave as God would have them to if we teach them that God only loves a certain type of person? God, at least the one I’ve understood to exist and grew up learning about, loves us all the same. Regardless if a person is gay or straight; black, white, red or purple; male or female; sinned or sinless; love is love and it should be shared by all and not just to a privileged few.

Thanks for reading…

 

the southern yankee 

Day 19: What Do You Think of Religion?

Oh dear lawd.

I’m just going to get this over with.

I have never really been a religious person. I believe what I believe and I know how I feel about God. But I am NOT a fan of organized religion. I’m not a fan of flashy, panky rang wearing, luxury car driving, holier than thou preachers either. Now before anyone starts criticizing me about my attendance at Lakewood Church, let me just say that’s different. I don’t know what kind of car the Osteens drive nor do I care. I attend Lakewood because I feel at home. I feel God’s presence every time I step inside the sanctuary. So please no comments about that. You will be ignored and deleted!

I’m also not a fan of so called Christians that say they believe in the Lord but don’t do as the Lord or the Bible says. Check out this video I found on YouTube. It sums up exactly how I feel about chu’ch folks. There’s a difference between church people and chu’ch folks. I’ve learned that good church people will love another person regardless of who they are, where they come from and how they got to the church in the first place. To me, these people are the true followers of God because they practice what they preach. They recognize they’re not perfect and that no one but God in Heaven is perfect nor should we try to be.

On the flip side, there are chu’ch folks. You know who they are. They’re sweet and kind to your face but behind your back, they’ll back stab you and throw you under the effn bus. Here’s an example.

Sweet: “Heeeeey baby… how you doing? You aight? How’s school and your family doing? Both are okay? That’s good honey. Alright we’ll talk soon. Tell ya mama I say hello okay? Bye baby…”

Fugly: “Gurl you know that child ain’t gon amount to anything right? I never liked that family no way. I’m just nice because that passa’s family member!”

Obviously, I’m exaggerating a bit but not by much. My grandmother is the epitome of a stereotypical chu’ch lady. I never understood nor continue to try to understand why “Christians” are like that. They preach unconditional love but not for everyone obviously because some say “God hates fags” or “Kill the gays”. Really preacher mayne?! Really?! Give me a break.

However, just because I cannot tolerate pseudo-Christians, doesn’t mean I don’t believe.

Here’s my story…

I grew up in a very small Podunk little town approximately 60 miles Southwest of Houston. My home church is probably the largest (building size) and possibly oldest of the three churches in my tiny little town. In my lifetime, the church has had two pastors. The first pastor lord rest his beloved soul was there until my cousin and I were in high school. He taught me a lot about religion and God. He spoke in a way that was easily understandable by a child and he engaged the kids at my church too. My cousins and I, dubbed “The Trio”, would sing, usher, take up the collections and volunteer with other auxiliary groups. He made church fun. He made it comfortable in the sense that I didn’t have to feel like I had to be someone I really wasn’t. I felt like I had two grandfathers in the church. Papa was a deacon and he and Rev. Cones had known each other for longer than I can even say. If I remember right, Rev. Cones performed my mother and her ex-husband’s wedding ceremony. I had hoped he would someday perform mine but he passed way towards the end of high school. I remember at the end of each regular Sunday service, he and the deacons would stand in the middle aisle and shake everyone’s hands as we exited the main sanctuary. He would also give each person peppermint sticks. Dude I used to look forward to that because I would be hongry. Yes hongry! You go to a black church and tell me you ain’t hongry from being in chu’ch so damn long! And his wife was just as nice as he was. I sat with her often during church and helped her with whatever she needed around the church. They lived in Houston but would travel faithfully every 1st and 3rd Sunday. I loved them both so very much. Because of Rev and Mrs Cones, I really love going to church. I love the way church humbles me. I love to sing along with the praise and worship team. I love how after church I feel a sense of peace and calmness comes over me.

However, when Rev. Cones passed away, a new pastor Rev. Blount came. He’s the reason I don’t like flashy, panky rang wearing, luxury car driving, holier than thou preachers. He’s the reason I lost faith in organized religion. I felt like that even though he had two children, he didn’t really like children. He didn’t engage us at all. In fact, in a short period of time, the majority of the kids just stopped coming. We used to have a large children’s church. One that I was really happy to help with when my mom became a Sunday School teacher. But there was just something about him that didn’t settle well. Perhaps it was because he wasn’t Rev. Cones. It also could have been because his preaching style. I just don’t know what it could be. Now while he seemed a bit shady, his wife and son were the nicest people ever. Mrs. Blount used to wear “chu’ch lady hats” every Sunday. Black folks you know the hats I’m talking about. You really cannot sit behind women who wear these hats because you won’t be able to see anything. Don’t get me wrong they were really pretty but not my cup of tea for me to wear. The son was this toothpick thin fellow who grew so tall my cousin and I could pick on him anymore. The daughter was a DIVA! Like drag queen shade with a triple shot of tea diva. I didn’t like her much. I remember feeling as if we would get in trouble for her mistakes and evilness. Smh that girl was a rotten little kid.

Anyway from the point of when the new pastor came until now, God, Jesus and I have had some interesting conversations. Some of our conversations have not been so respectful from my point of view. Others have been me hearing what they’re telling me but definitely not listening. However, after everything that has happened to me in my life, I’m not sure where I would be if the Lord was not on my side because frankly no human would be able to deliver me from the lowest of low. There is a song called “If It Had Not Been” that the choir at my church sung all the time. I never really understood its meaning until just today as I am writing this post. This song is such a huge testament to my life. I’m pretty sure I would not be here if God had not prevented the asshole who robbed me at gunpoint in 2009 from doing anything else. People can say otherwise but I won’t be convinced by their arguments.

My journey with God is my own. I question him constantly and have trouble keeping the faith but every time I think one way, he somehow finds a way to lead me back to him. In Proverbs 3:5-6, it says “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” That’s all I can do right now because at the end of the day it will be him and only him that will save me.

Thanks for reading…

The Southern Yankee

Day 13: A Band or Artist That Has Gotten You Through Some Tough Ass Days

Dear Mr. Houghton,

Wow… where do I even begin this “fan letter”?

Perhaps I should start here: Thank you! Thank you for all the times your music delivered me out of a horrible place. Thank you for sharing your journey with the world.

I discovered your music when I started attending Lakewood Church back in 2009. It had been years since I attended any church and to be quite honest, I never even thought I would one day be attending a church like Lakewood.

At that time, my entire world felt so very cramped and dismal. Nothing in my life seemed right and I did not know how to get back on track. Then I heard your music. It seemed like every song spoke to and moved me differently.

“Saved by Grace” and “Favor of the Lord” became my theme songs.

“Moving Forward” and “I Receive” without fail, especially when sung in church, always make me cry. I believe the Lord uses those songs to help me release whatever is hurting me at the moment.

I truly believe you were meant to spread the word of God through your music and your amazing spirit stirring sermons.

Thank you to your mother for not going through with the abortion. Thank you to you for being a willing servant of God and the rescuer of my soul and life through song.

Yours in Christ,

The Southern Yankee

Day 3: Something You Have to Forgive Yourself For

It is now Day 3 of the 30 Days of Truth challenge and I was doing well until I got to today’s topic: Something You Have to Forgive Yourself For.

Let’s be honest with each other for minute. Can we agree that regardless of who forgives and the forgiven, forgiveness is hard? Forgiveness requires soul-searching, deep thought and faith. not for the other person but for yourself

The whole notion of forgive and forget is not true for everything and everyone. For some people, it is one or the other but certainly not both and not at the same time. Maybe after a few years more like decades one will forget but in the here and now not so much.

Now I am not an advocate of spending your entire life mad at someone.

Truth be told, I don’t hold grudges.

Often.

For very long.

Okay so I do. Sue me! pero not for reals because you not gon get anything but a penny LOL.

I have been known to stay mad at someone for waaaay longer than I really need to be. I believe it is in our nature as humans to want to stay mad because we really do not know how to channel the emotions we feel when we have been wronged by someone else.

But what happens when we cannot forgive ourselves for something? To me, this is harder because if you’re like me, you are your worst and harshest critic, judge and jury. It may take five minutes to forgive a friend for criticizing your significant other or brilliant get rich quick scheme but five years to forgive yourself for running that traffic light when it was clearly not your turn and causing an accident. Or ten years for telling your mother an awful lie that caused her so much anguish your relationship with her was never the same after. Or twenty years when you find out that your gay sibling committed suicide because you and your conservative pseudo-Christian family would not look past his or her sexuality.

I was young. Mentally and in age. I thought I was grown. I thought this would never happen to a relatively good kid like me from Podunkville, USA. I came from a “Christian” home with “Christian values”. Who knew my thinking I was grown would lead to the one and only event in my life I regret. The one and only event that haunts me to this day the entire month of its anniversary. I have spent the majority of my life contemplating ways to forgive myself for that day that I remember so vividly as if it happened yesterday. I’ve read stories, magazine articles and books about “moving on” from traumatic events in one’s life. Nothing really helped. I thought (and still think) about it constantly. I needed something more than what I was already doing. It wasn’t possible to apologize to the person I wronged because the situation was complicated for more than just me. I would have opened a can of worms I wasn’t (and somewhat still not) ready to deal with.

I think it was April 2009 when I started going to Lakewood Church in Houston, TX. My sister had been attending church there for some time and invited me to go to the Easter Service. It was a weird feeling to be in church again because I had not attended on a regular basis in I don’t know how many years. I felt a sense of peace that I had not felt in YEARS, which really didn’t surprise me because I really do love going to church. I’m not a bible thumper nor some “holier than thou” type of person. I don’t go around quoting scripture or trying to convert people to a certain religion. I’m not at all my grandmother’s granddaughter. I love the ambience and aura that certain churches possess. At Lakewood, I feel an overwhelming sense of “being at home”. The people are so sweet and caring. Of course you wouldn’t think so if you saw how rude they become when trying to leave the parking garage. Jesus… The praise and worship portion of service reminds me of a black church. People of all races clap, sing, dance, sway with the beat, jump and down with joy and have a great time.

One Sunday, I believe a few months after I started attending regularly, I attended service by myself. If I remember right, it was the first time I had ever attended a church service alone. I sat in my sister and I’s usual spot. The music started. I sang along. Then I became emotional. Not my usual emotional where I can suppress whatever I am feeling. On this occasion, I could not suppress my emotions or the tears these emotions produced. I was crying so hard my chubby cheeks felt like river beds. I couldn’t explain what was going on. I had never cried like that in public before. I think that was the beginning of my long process of forgiving myself.

Since that day, I have had numerous emotional episodes at church. I don’t attend as often as I would like but I can honestly say attending Lakewood has helped me to process what happened so that I can eventually fully forgive myself.

Thanks for reading

The Southern Yankee