Fighting Fear and Being Encouraged.

It can be a frustrating experience to get into an argument with another Christian on any topic that involves God or spirituality. I’ve felt the frustration whilst trying to explain the Sabbath to someone a few years ago who was Pentecostal and I’ve seen the near-anger of two people arguing over the use of tongues in church. I remember a scenario being described to me about an Adventist, a Jehovah’s Witness and a Pentecostal (what joke is this?) pretty much bickering over a homeless man sat before them at a bus stop. Homeless man had been spotted: three religious people arrived at the bus stop around the same time; clocked each other, and after that it was all or nothing. Level-playing field, cups on, helmets ready–who’ll win his soul first? But they got into a bicker: the Adventist thought the best way to help the man was to get him a hot drink and some food, to help him at his needs; the Jehovah’s Witness suggested a copy of the Watchtower would be better; the Pentecostal urged them all to pray over him. They argued so much that by the time they had settled on a compromise, the homeless man had run away somewhere, and a person in need had run from the people who should have given it!

Sometimes, discussions can be helpful, especially if two people are coming from polar opposite views. In my opinion, a Christian should view such discussions as healthy: it can show you who you really are; how did you go about it? Could it have been better? What did you learn? What arguments from the other side did you agree with, but hadn’t thought about before, and will you take these views into consideration next time, to allow for empathy with others? A Christian who feels as though there is nothing to learn from others is one who thinks they are perfect already, and need a bit of a reality check. I try to keep this in mind when engaging in discussion.

Sometimes, however, discussions are next to pointless. I feel this way when debating with my dad sometimes: he’s very stubborn so if he’s found a text that makes sense to his viewpoint, nothing I say will change it. After a while we just keep saying the same things over and over and no one learns anything. There are others who are so enclosed within their Scripture that they don’t actually know how to discuss things coherently. You want an answer from them, but it sounds imposing and irrational; random Bible texts spew from nowhere; tenuous links from Old Testament stories about people who didn’t listen to others and all the curses that came upon them arrive in abundance; dubious exclamations of how much prayer you need and disingenuous offers to pray for you, because you’re going down a destructive path that can only lead to one place…

I got a lot of that stuff for a while. When I was younger, I was told my lifestyle was a dark one and I’d have demons around me; I was pretty much told to stop thinking and just obey what the elders around me called ‘God’, otherwise nothing good would follow me. At the time, it was a frightening thing to hear: years of trying to get over an actual phobia of God, and trying to reeducate myself about a God of love rather than one who watches my every moment to slip up so he can banish me from heaven, made me–and still makes me–sensitive to any allusions to threats like that. Very recently I got into a discussion with a church brother about feminism and some of the things he said ignited those fears and insecurities again and after that discussion, there was nothing I could do but pray. I prayed for God to remove those thoughts from my mind, because that isn’t of Him at all. I knew the brother didn’t actually intend to rouse those thoughts within me, but I’m too heightened to subtle threats and forebodings to not think negatively about myself and to worry and to fear about things I have no need to worry about.

Sometimes, the people who bring us down the most are our own church brethren.

But it’s also important to remember that there is always more than one party in an argument, and that if you felt offended, then it’s likely the other person felt offended also. What more can be done but to pray for insight and to step away from it all? If it’s causing problems, it’s not worth your time. If needs be, don’t talk to that person about that topic again. If it won’t lead anywhere, what is the point?

Life is too hard. You gotta pick which obstacles are really worth fighting for.

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Draughts

Black and Red were my favourite colours.

There’s something about red;
the colour of anger
passion
strawberries, cherries, lovehearts and lipstick.
To me it signified blood.
The way it oozed down my brown arms
so slowly,
like a scarlet clad army
marching across muddy terrain.
It felt good to do this to myself
because I was lost
and locked up in my own madness
I was calm and collected
on the exterior
but in side lay the Jack
waiting, just waiting to jump out of the box.
Few people knew of my secret
of times in the bathroom stalls at school
with a blade in one hand
and my soul in the other
whilst girls outside chatted about
random things and everything
and I, only separated by a wall as thin
as a cubicle,
stood in a whirlwind of distress.

 

I loved Black because it healed and concealed.
The battle scars along my arms and legs
caused stares and questions
so instead I doused myself in black
I was a dirty scrap of paper
washed in fresh ink to beautify.
I was hidden.

I wanted my room to be black so that I could
cocoon myself in pity
I wanted my bed to be black
so I could crawl into a ball
and return to the womb
because slumber was the only time I was happy
when the night fell and the blue sky
was turned black
I thought of death
hanging bodies
mutilated corpses on my floor.
I was terrified. This colour that gave way to such images
was the colour I wanted to be
and to immerse myself in.

These spirits of death and decay followed me
until I was left entirely alone
with no friends
and no one to call.
It was just me and God.
And in that loneliness I could hear Him
calling to me.
When hurricanes sweep your life
and your possessions are flying about your head
when screams are ringing in your ears
and your house, the very foundations of your being
are cracking and crashing to pieces
you cannot hear the person calling your name
to bring you to safety.
It’s only in the eye, the silent circle of calm
that things finally make sense.
So as I stood in the eye of the storm of my life
I heard God. And His voice was sweet
like a hummingbird
whistling to the forest.
I began to return to Him.

With this newfound friendship
I became best friends with two colours:
Black and Red.

 

Black is onyx.
Black is the darkness that enshrouded
the Son as He waited
behind the stone of His resurrection
the onyx that waited in this garden
with two guards beside
and turned into a pearl
when He was risen.
Onyx stands for my resurrection
from a sinner
drenched in death
to one saved by grace
and saturated with the whiteness of
His righteousness.

Red is blood.
Red is the blood that dripped
from His brow
as He hung on the tree of death for me

when it fell to the ground
in a shower of rubies
and hit the soil
that was unworthy to absorb it.
Red is the love that He had for me
whilst I mutilated the body He gave me
and carved graffiti on
His temple walls.

Red is His compassion
that whilst I cloaked myself
in darkness
and observed my blood
trailing down my arm,
He observed and He cried
and He bled, to remind me that
mine should never be shed.
Red is the fruit of the spirit
that He wanted me to bear
and the spiritual gifts
that He gave to me
to write about the things that have come to pass

Red is His Passion.
Red is my Passion.
And with this passion
I will praise Him.