Tuesday, March 08, 2011

"... handing tickets out for God"

I started writing (one day last week) about the Jesus Freaks who stopped by with their version of the "Good News" and somehow wandered way off topic and started going on and on about how I used to be a Jesus Freak myself, and therefore I don't mean the term in any offensive way, but more in the way former band geeks talk about current band geeks or ex-goths talk about emo kids: You've been there, so you know, and almost feel a sort of kinship, but you're really glad you're not there anymore. I don't think there's anything worse for a believer than a former-believer: all of my sarcasm and surety that I was made a fool for so many years is always right there, and I'm sorry if sometimes it slips out. I try not to be patronizing - I really am glad for you that you still believe - but when they start trying to convince me, all bets are usually off.

So that's the way the post was going, and then I realized that I'd written that post before - multiple times. Yes: the Catholic Church and I used to be BFFs and yes; I could probably write another 17 posts about that, but that wasn't the post I sat down to write, so it wound up in the draft folder (like a million other posts: seriously - my draft folder is a scary place). And now I'm back, attempting to tell you what it was about the Jesus Freaks that pissed me off .

It took me a while to put my finger on it myself, but eventually it boils down to this: It is the sense of judgment I feel when they're telling me how easy it is to fix who I am.

Here's the thing: Remember in the fall, how when I was living at Grandmother's house, helping her with her post-stroke recovery, things here at home were progressing on the 'build a ramp so NTE can get into the house more easily' front? Well, now we have this beautiful ramp that's slippery as hell in the winter, and takes up our entire front yard but makes my life about 200 times easier. And yet: it is a beacon for the 'people of the Lord.'

While we were building it, a woman walked by and asked my dad what the final product was going to be. When he explained that it was going to be a wheelchair ramp, she said "I'm so sorry," then returned a few days later to drop off some rosary beads and a scapula she thought I might like. I found them on my bed when I came home for a shower that week, and my dad didn't understand why I didn't think it was the 'sweetest neighborly' thing for her to do.

Twice (that I know of) since then, we've had various forms of preachers come to the door: The first time, the guy was Mega-pushy, and I felt no compunction about not letting him in the house or giving him a chance to speak: I kept him on the porch, while he started his spiel about 'those who turn to Jesus will find a way with him,' and how 'putting my feet on the path would help them walk again.' I know that you all know me well enough that I can admit I was sorely tempted to just walk out onto the porch just to see the look on his face, no matter that I would've fallen down eventually, or that it would've hurt like hell: I still am kinda sad that I didn't, because the "OMG: I AM TOTALLY WITNESSING A MIRACLE" moment would have changed one of our lives forever. ( I know, I am damned to hell, so I might as well enjoy it, right?)

This latest preacher though, was a very nice gentleman (and he came with a silent friend), and he specifically said "I don't want you to let us in, I'd just like to tell you some things, if that's alright with you. " Well now, I'm not a heartless bitch, so I opened the screen door and gave him the ok, give me your best lines, preacher-man, and I promise not to laugh. (Again: I'm good with you believing, but once you're trying to get me to believe, I can't promise that I'm going to be able to hide my skepticism.) So he starts off pretty swell, talking about God's willingness to help people, and how it was his job to try to find those that most need God's help and bring them his Word.

And then this well meaning fellow, with his quiet and (I could honestly tell) earnest sense of caring starts talking about miracles, and Jesus making the blind see and the lame walk, and I'll tell you. it took everything in me not to slam the door in his face. I just - can't hear it. I just... I don't even know how to explain how badly that makes me feel, how irritated it makes me just to hear it.

Just to have that experience of - once again - being a person, going about their normal day...I was making breakfast when the doorbell rang, playing with my 1 yr-old nephew and chatting with my sister... when all of the sudden someone interrupts your life to tell you how you are just not right, just not good enough the way you are, just not the way a person should be. I am not saying that that is what he said , because, again, he was kind of a sweet guy, but that is the way he made me feel. I had to sit there and be irritated and frustrated and ashamed, all because - in society's eyes, and I guess in 'God's' eyes too - there was something about me that was just wrong. Something that called for miracles and saving and the power of God.

That me, just being me, requires the intercession of God on my behalf, in order for me to be fixed? Pisses me the fuck off, I gotta tell you. Of course I wouldn't thumb my nose at a miraculous healing, should one decide to take place, but you know what? I'm not broken right now, or maybe I am, but not in the ways that you think I am. And if I am it's none of your damn business... I'm not asking to be saved just by virtue of living as who I am. Just by having improved my house to the point that I can finally get in and out of it on my own, I'm not giving you the right to comment on my life.

It's something I get a lot of, in a lot of random ways: people who see me 'walk' the steps to my chair and tell me I'm not sick enough to the handicapped parking placard, or strangers who tell me they'll pray for me when I'm out in public. When you're visibly disabled, everybody's got the right to comment suddenly. I didn't ask you for your opinion on what I'm eating - the fact that I'm having a cheeseburger is not in fact the reason I'm in this chair, but thanks for telling me all about how you stopped eating meat and your rash went away. I don't have to justify my applying for aid to some arsehole cousin who thinks that all social welfare programs are tools of the Communist Party, and I'm lucky that I get to spend his "tax money" on my "frivolities."

All I am trying to do here is live my life, and as nice as that preacher was, when he left behind a scripture for me to read and "think over with your heart", I was all too glad to close the door behind him. I appreciate his belief that I could use some blessings (because, holy hell, yes, I could use some blessings), but I don't like the assumptions he made about who I am, or the life I live, in order for me to earn his blessings. It feels like pity. It feels like ableism. It makes me feel like less than.

So I know I won't be opening the door to any more preachers, because their blessings tend to feel like curses, and I have enough of those. I'll take all the prayers and warm thoughts and fairy dust you want to send me, but don't assume that I need them because I'm in this chair... I'd much rather have a family that was kind to each other than a body that worked correctly. Or a baby that I knew I could provide for. Or an understanding of how to be happy, regardless.

I'd like to be healthy, sure: but I'm living my life the way it is, and that's not sad, or in need of fixing, or less than anybody elses, so don't make me feel like it is.


Sue Jackson said...

Oh, my gosh...I am so so so sorry I haven;t been here in so long! Please don't take it personally - I am just having a terrible time finding time to visit blogs lately. I'm way behind on everyone's.

Anyway, I specifically looked for yours tonight because I had a few minutes, and I've missed you!

I could relate to this post. I am a bit embarrassed t admit I am usually pretty rude to these kind of people for interrupting my life. Actually, this is the one problem I have with religion - ALL religions...they all believe their way is the only way and they all try to convert others to their way. To me, it is just the height of arrogance. There are so many religions in the world - who is to say which is the "right" way? Why not just let each person worship and be spiritual in their own way?

Ah, you can see you've touched a nerve here! Actually, since we moved to DE, I've discovered the Unitarian Church - a bunch of my friends belong. We rarely make it to Sunday services, but I have gone to their book group for years! And that's what I like about the Unitarians - their philosophy is that there is no one right way, people of all religious backgrounds are welcome. I think all religions should be that way - no more trying to convert everyone else.

So here.

Missed you!


Crazed Nitwit said...

Hmmmm. They did have terrible approaches. Because seriously, the "you would just be "healed" if you accepted Jesus as your Lord and savior" approach is pure bunk. You know I'm a Christian and have faith. However, nowhere in my bible or my religion does it say Believe and you shall have a healthy trouble free life. NOWHERE.

I'm amazed at your tolerance as I would have slammed the door in their faces or told them to go back and actually read the new testament. Because then I would have asked them to point to the actual passage or book that says you'll be healed. They'd be stymied because that passage/book does not exist.

Good grief these folks give Christians a bad name.

Love ya!

Anonymous said...

I think you should express your sentiments directly to these people... it's not being disrespectful, it's being honest. If you just shared your thoughts with them, an actual dialogue could occur, but the way you're going about it, you're just letting yourself be preached at. No wonder you're bitter about it.