Understanding

There are those who think I’ve turned my back on the Church, on Christianity, on God, and His son, Jesus. Those who pray I find my way back. I’ve tried many times to reason with them, talk with them, explain what I’ve done to them. I’ve learned, it’s useless. What I’ve done, the decisions I’ve made lie outside their understanding of the world, of life. To them, I’ve embraced the ways of the world, the ways of Satan. And I’m lost.

It’s something I strive to understand about the world around me. How people are the way they are. Why they do what they do. What they believe, and how what they believe drives them.

This week, I’ve had to continue growing my understanding of life, and people. This week, I’ve encountered more of news stories of Michele Bachmann. In the past her words would have outraged me, made me laugh and declare how silly she is. But, that’s simple lack of understanding on my part. Lack of reason. She is, like all of us, human. With her personal beliefs, and she does her best to live according to what she believes.

That’s not a reason to laugh at her. Nor is it a reason to pity, insult, or belittle her. She’s a human being, like you, like me. We are all mortal beings, with our own beliefs, our own ways, our own understanding of the world.

So, I’ve decided to examine what Michele Bachmann has said that made so many news headlines this week. But I’m not going to take a critical look at it, with the intent of discrediting her. No. That’s not what I’m trying to show. That’s not what I believe. That’s not who I am.

I want to see if I can understand what she has said, why she has said it, and what that tells me of what she believes, in the hope I can better understand her. So, let me find something she said. I’ll look here:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/20/michele-bachmann-obama-rapture_n_7104136.html?utm_hp_ref=michele-bachmann

“Any nation that accepts God and his principles is blessed, and those who push away are cursed. That’s what we’re seeing happen to the United States. We will suffer the consequences as a result.”

Now, I have no way of knowing if these are her exact words. I know they are the words attributed to her in the news article identified in the link above. As a Christian, having read the Bible completely, the New Testament three times, and the Gospels countless times, as the son of a Southern Baptist Pastor, as a person who grew up in the church, I do understand what the above quote is saying, and I understand where it comes from.

Ms. Bachmann is being honest. She is stating what she believes. Whether she used the quoted words or not doesn’t matter. What matters is the content, the thought, those words represent. For those not familiar with the Christian Bible, it clearly says Jesus will return one day. Some call it the rapture. Some call it the second coming. It doesn’t really matter what it’s called. It’s part of Christianity. Jesus will return, and when he does, he will gather his children and take them to safety. Those left will endure the apocalypse (for lack of a better word), with disease, famine, war and death. To survive, people will follow a strong leader most Christians reference as the antichrist.

To a devoted Christian this is a serious topic. It is a call to arms, to witness to as many as possible, teaching them of the Christian beliefs and ways, in the hopes they will become one of Jesus’s children, so that when Jesus gathers his children, he will also gather them.

As Christians also know, no one knows when the end will come. No one knows when Jesus will return. All we know are the words of prophecy in the books of the Bible, both the Old Testament and New Testament.

And there lies the problem. Dependent on how you interpret those words, the end times are upon us, or the end times will be much worse than the times we live in now. The difficulty is, there’s not a consensus on what the Bible prophecy says. To some people, it describes today, the world now. To others, it describes an apocalypse, such as a meteor strike, or comet strike against the Earth. To others, it describes a protracted fall of civilization into continuous war, blood lust and greed.

Given the broad countless interpretations of the end time prophecies, and the consequences of not being ready for the end times, I find her thoughts and actions agree with her beliefs. Given my personal belief that no one knows when the second coming will happen, I’m not surprised by her words, or her behavior. I would be surprised if she believed as she does, and said nothing.

I welcome her words, and her actions. I don’t agree with her, but that’s OK. We believe differently. That does not give me the right to condemn her, or judge her. Rather, I should understand her, understand what she believes, and thus understand her actions. I may wish for a compromise with her, but I know, based on her beliefs as I understand them, she can’t make such a compromise. She would have to betray God and His son, Jesus, to make such a compromise.

I chose to let her believe as she believes. I do not chose to humor her, or laugh at her, or call her names, or insult her, or her faith. It is not my place to judge another. Instead, I should be honest with her, and others who believe as she believes. I should seek to understand them, and their faith. And to grow that understanding so we may learn to live together without war, or fighting, or violence, while we wait for the second coming.


It’s April 24th, the 20th day of the A to Z Challenge 2015. This is the 20th of 26 pieces I’m writing in April for the challenge. This one’s for the letter U. Tomorrow brings the letter V. I wonder what I’ll write for that.

Two Steps To The Side

[Content Warning: This post speaks of depression, anxiety and thoughts of suicide. Proceed at your own risk.]

I used to walk more than a mile down Princess Anne Boulevard and Dam Neck Boulevard on my daily walks. It was part of how I survived the events of 2010 and 2011. Many mornings during those days I walked during morning rush hour, with both roads filled with cars, busses, pickup trucks, SUVs, and commercial trucks.

More than once, on those walks, I knew a simple truth. If I turned to the side and took two steps, I wouldn’t have to live with the emotional and spiritual pain I was in. Two steps to the side, and one big truck, doing 45 or 50 miles per hour. I’d never know what hit me.

I knew how to die, escape, leave, abandon this world I never made. A world that had torn my heart out with its fingernails, then threw it on the ground, and stomped on it. A world that said to me, “You’re done!”

I walked those mornings knowing everything was wrong. I wasn’t in my car, driving to work, like everyone else was. Instead, I was spending my days at home. Writing. Watching TV. Doing household chores. And wondering what everyone I’d known, everyone I’d worked with, felt was so wrong, so broken, with me.

I walked when I needed to walk. When my emotional state became so tense, so confusing to me, I couldn’t think at all, let alone think straight, or rationally. I walked when I wanted to scream, when I wanted to punch people in the face, when I wanted to argue with everyone I’d ever met, when I felt completely numb, when I couldn’t feel anything, or think anything.

I walked to find my way back to me.

I can’t explain things better than I have. I haven’t found any words for what I felt in those days. Anguish is such a disposable word. Depression has become a sheet of paper people use to cover up emotional topics. Too many words we use in our society have lost their meaning to me. They’ve become disposable, wink and nod and the world’s OK, cover up words. Words used to filter out things people don’t want to deal with.

I can say I knew, even as I walked, I never would take two steps to the side. I’d have walked through a hallway filled with fire, with a floor covered in burning coals, but I’d never take those two steps to the side. Because I knew. If I took those two steps I’d be running from what I was afraid of.

And I don’t run.

I have learned my doctor, and my family, were more than a little scared about my long walks. Part of what scared them was whether I’d take those two steps. They never spoke of it, other than to say how concerned they were when I had to take a walk.

I’m still figuring that part of my story out. Still figuring out how people reacted to what I was going through. How they felt about my behavior, the things I said, the things I did. I remember being asked, more than once, why I was so angry. If I was OK. If everything was alright. I remember my answer was always, “Yes. I’m fine.” To me, I was. By my standard, by my understanding of life, everything was OK. I was enduring some changes, long overdue ones at that, I was angry, frustrated, scared. Scared of what was happening. Of the unknown, of moving away from everything I’d known, everything I’d done, everything I’d been.

To me, everything was normal. To me, knowing how to remove myself from this Earth is normal. And I do know more than a few ways. Doesn’t everybody?

I’ve also learned my doctor took a while to figure out how tough I am. I know this is true because I didn’t end up locked away in a room somewhere on suicide watch. My doctor figure out I wasn’t at risk. No one needed to lock me up, to protect me from myself.

All I needed was time.

Turned out time was all I had.

To this day, I know the truth. Two steps to the side, and it’s over.

To this day, I know the truth. I won’t take those steps.

I don’t run.

Bring it, life. Bring it.

Mark.