Friday, January 31, 2014

Support and Perseverance: Combating Mental Illness Together

Many people who are diagnosed with any medical condition, whether it be bipolar, depression, cancer, etc., often find themselves alone.  I confess that I've been having that sinking feeling of isolation for a long time.  It wasn't until recently that even an inkling of belief that I wasn't alone began to emerge.  Ever since all of this mess started (my first entry on the blog By the Seat of Your Pants chronicles in detail my journey beginning my first year of college), I've had this feeling of loneliness.  I wasn't just weird anymore, someone who had a few quirks, but was otherwise okay.  In short, I was a freak.  At least, that was my personal view of me.  No one else I knew had these problems for the longest time.  When I first joined SAI, and during my first year of college in general, the only thing I ever told anyone was that I was "sick."  Which was true, but I left out the "important stuff:" depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation...  I couldn't tell anyone.  That was my plan.  I would get through this stuff pretending to be normal.  I had done it for so long; surely I could do it for a few more years.

But, of course, that proved to be wrong.  Dead wrong.

I've been working on finding ways to get treatment.  I've been seeing the clinic here on campus, and I hope to find a doctor once I return home for summer break.  Am I better?  Well, no.  But this isn't an easy road to walk.  I'm still trying to get better.  And I couldn't have gotten where I am now without the help of some amazing people.

First, my cousin Amy.  I've referenced her a lot on this blog, and in turn, she's referenced me.  She's been a big inspiration for my writing.  She was the one who encouraged me to start this blog as a therapeutic way of getting my feelings across and to stay stable, after seeing the success (both personal and otherwise) of her blog Letters to Daniel, which is now not only a blog and a bestselling memoir, but hopefully an eventual documentary!  And seeing her rock the publishing world with God only knows how many books and contracts she's earned over the past few years fills me with hope that yes, I can publish a novel, despite the setbacks that I constantly have to face.  Not to mention the other members of the writing community that I've befriended, including my friend Triston, who is currently working on a novel of his own, and my fellow writers on the By the Seat of Your Pants blog.  I've learned to turn my work on Gears of Golgotha, Coffee-Crazed Writer, and By the Seat of Your Pants into outlets of therapy.

I also am blessed with an amazing boyfriend, Matt.  He knows that I can be successful, and supports me in everything.  He encourages me to pull myself up by the bootstraps, as we say here in the South, while still lending me a helping hand.  February 19th will mark ten months of being together, and they have been the best months of my life.  Through him, I've learned to trust people, that not everyone is out to get me.

As most of you know, I am a member of the Gamma Upsilon chapter of Sigma Alpha Iota.  (Love and Roses, girls! <3)  And my sisters have been a big help to me over the past year.  Earlier today, my Province Officer Carrie came down to visit me to talk to me about my diagnosis and my journey thus far.  Carrie was a huge help to me, and even pointed me in the direction of available resources to help accommodate my illness.  Now more than ever, I definitely feel the bonds of sisterhood.  There's also my friends outside of SAI, but I have too many to mention.  They have all been there during this difficult time in my life, and I am grateful for the support they provide.  Again, I have too many to mention, so for those of you reading this, you know who you are.

I also have amazing professors and faculty here at Morehead State, including members of the education, English, and music departments.  The faculty and staff have all been extremely supportive of me, making accommodations and helping me succeed.  I am especially grateful for the people at Morehead State's Tutoring and Learning Center.  Through them, I've learned that I can succeed, and that asking for help is not a bad thing.

Is my life easy?  Well, no.  But nothing worth fighting for is ever easy.  As Walter C. Dornez says in Hellsing Ultimate, "If something can be achieved easily, it probably isn't worth it."  (Yes, I did just quote an anime.  And yes, I probably just spelled Walter's last name wrong.  But I don't care.  Nobody freakin' knows how to spell his name haha.)  And when you fight for something, it's always good to have allies, friends, and loved ones to back you up.

So this is my advice to you: try as hard as you can to establish a support group.  This can be anything: your friends, your family, your church, a club at school or at the library.  Mental illness can leave you with this stinging feeling of isolation.  But guess what?  You're not alone.  There's an entire website devoted to mental health statistics.  For example, 2.6% of American adults live with bipolar disorder, according to the National Institute for Mental Health.  That statistic may seem small, but put that in perspective with our large population.  That's about 5.7 million Americans!  The National Alliance on Mental Illness (or NAMI) has many groups around the country.  If you don't live in the United States, ask about appropriate resources available in your home country.   But one of the best things you can do is educate yourself; read up on the subject of whatever illness you or your loved one has.

And for those of you who are reading this who do not have a mental illness, but are currently helping someone on their road to recovery: thank you.  Thank you for being supportive of us on this long, hard journey.  We realize that this is hard for you, too, and I don't think we make it known enough how appreciative we are of you.  Without you, we may not be here today.

Mental illness may seem like a losing battle.  But when you fight it together, it's a battle that you can win.

Love and Coffee cups,

Monday, January 27, 2014

Don't Panic?

I can't believe it.  I was so high.  It was like euphoria.

But now, I can feel the crash.

No, I'm not referring to drugs.  I'm referring to mania.

This semester, even with what little I'm doing, is starting to pile up, mostly with things with my fraternity, Sigma Alpha Iota.  This week is our Recruitment Week, which means three different informationals all week. Tomorrow night (well, I'm guessing by now it'll be tonight) is our Live Action informational, which is basically going to have a life-sized Candyland board, improvisation games, pictionary, etc..  Then the day after that is our sleepover/girls' night informational, and ending with our Formal Informational on Friday.  I'm helping to set up everything, mostly because I volunteered for everything under the sun during my episode of mania all last week.  Now, I'm starting to crash, to feel the weight of all of this pressure.  On the one hand, I've already set these commitments to my chapter.  I love SAI, and I love my sisters, and I don't want to let them down.  But on the other hand, I'm also feeling the pull of having to get all A's in my classes.  I don't want to have to leave Morehead.  I've already established a support group here.  Hardly anyone back home outside of my immediate family and a handful of friends is aware of my health situation other than what I've written on this blog.  If I have to leave Morehead, I'll be forced to start all over again in establishing a support group, and it already took me forever to find the one I have now.  Leaving will only put me farther behind in my treatment.

One of the central lines in the book The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is the phrase "Don't Panic." I think the idea of that in the context of the book was to tell the reader, "Don't worry about space; everything you need is right here."

But applying that phrase in real life?  Yeah, easier said than done.  Much easier.

See, while we may not have aliens or anything like that, we have drama, and work, and class, and (for some of us) health issues that we have to work around in order to do well.  Trying to juggle bipolar disorder or whatever problem you have, as well as a job, and class, and a fraternity (or sorority), and a boyfriend/girlfriend... it gets rough.  There are times when I will snap at my boyfriend when I get upset, or I'll snap at a sister, or start crying nonstop.  Or it'll be the opposite: I'm suddenly overly nice.  I want to do everything under the sun.  Oh, you need help with something?  Let me take on your project 100%.  Oh, I have five other projects I'm working on?  Don't worry, I got this.

And then?  Boom.  You feel the weight of everything that's expected of you.  Those five projects?  Well, what first seemed to be little more than ants have now grown into the size of giant hydras.

Five giant hydras with one hundred heads each.
(And yes, I did just pull a Hercules reference.)

In a word, it's scary.  Don't panic?  Yeah, I'd like to see someone try to say that after riding this roller coaster. Up, down, up, down.  And not just that.  Really high ups, and really low downs, over and over again.  And it won't stop.

There are only two things keeping me up this week.  One, our chapter's recruitment week.  Membership and informationals have always been my favorite part of SAI.  Two, I only have to trudge through one more week after this, because next weekend, I get to see my boyfriend for the first time since the semester started. I'm telling you, I think I could use a nice cup of coffee... or tea... both sound good right now.

Love and Coffee cups,

Monday, January 20, 2014

Is There Only Black and White?

Hey, everyone!  Sorry I haven't been posting.  Classes started last Monday, so I've been trying to get used to my schedule and all.  I absolutely adore it!  I'm taking an astronomy/cosmology class, a natural history class, music history, post-World War II history, and a class on special education.  My professors are absolutely amazing, and they have been more than supportive of my bipolar diagnosis.  I also start work tomorrow, so that will be awesome.

So, I've been thinking of what to post for this blog.  I've been tossing around several topics over the past few days: the misuse of religion, the unfair stigma of mental illness.  Growing up liberal in the so-called Bible Belt region is extremely difficult.  You often feel as though you are completely alone.  Thus, you never try to get involved in conflict, especially if it's political or religious conflict.  But this blog--and you, my wonderful, beautiful readers--has been a healthy outlet where I can be myself without starting a fight.  Keeping this in mind, I decided to step back and analyze my week as a whole.  As I meditated over everything that has both irritated and inspired me, I learned one crucial lesson: the world is full of gray areas.  Not in the sense of the world being cold and unfeeling, but more so in that there is never an easy answer.

This may seem like common sense to most people, but for some, this statement will seem at best unorthodox, and at worst, downright heretical.  Songs such as BarlowGirl's "Grey" and Bible verses such as Revelation 3:16 reinforce the idea that you can either be on one side or the other; every answer, every issue must be absolute.  At least, that is how the modern church construes these messages as.  Divorce? Completely evil.  Going to church?  Completely good.  Abortion?  Completely evil.  However, what many don't realize is that there are many other sides to each issue, and the facts that surround each case change from person to person.

Take, for example, divorce.  Many people are comfortable enough in their own shoes to say that divorce is completely evil.  The Catholic Church's stance on divorce is a big "no."  There are some exceptions, but not many.  (Before anyone says anything about me being abusive towards Catholics, I was raised in a Catholic church, and about half of my family is Catholic, so I am familiar with their policies.  Also, I am very supportive of Catholics, and I am not afraid to tear down anyone who dares to abuse them.) However, what of those who are victimized, who are endangered through these unions?  Domestic abuse is a very real thing in this world.  There are some people who won't be afraid to say, "Tough jerky.  You should have truly known this person before making that commitment."  Here's the thing, though: people are very good liars.  Even while you're dating someone, you still may not be able to see their true nature.  Or one could be blind to what is obvious to others.  When I was dating my ex during my freshman year in college, I couldn't see that our relationship was extremely unhealthy.  All he ever did was tear me down.  This was around the time when I was starting to be evaluated for mental health problems.  Whenever I would find myself thrust in a panic attack, he would leave me there alone, just staring at me.  Often, he would call on someone else to take care of me while he went back to whatever he was doing (which was usually to play games or to hang out with his friends).  It wasn't until some time after he dumped me that I saw how bad he was for me, and that I noticed that once he was out of my life, I was finally starting to feel better (or better than I was during the relationship, at least).  This is true for marriage as well.  He could be your dream man while you're dating him, but after you get married, he would change, and his true colors would show.  And this is just one of many occasions where divorce may be necessary.  It is unfair to say that all divorce is evil, when it is clear that for some people, it is needed.

And what about going to church?  Many religious people will say that this is a definite good.  But what if the person experiences abuse at the hands of those who claim to live by the credo "love thy neighbor?"  Many members of the LGBT community experience this abuse.  Hell, late last year, a Methodist minister was defrocked for presiding over his gay son's wedding.  Many people experience this abuse behind closed doors, and never return to church.  And you know what?  I don't blame them one bit.  To be perfectly honest, I would rather never go to church again than go to a place where I felt like I was treated like nothing. I don't need that negativity.  Bipolar disorder has given me enough problems to tackle; the last thing I--and other people--need is to be demonized because we don't fit into a perfect mold.  All that should matter is living by the two commandments Jesus gave: "Love God and love thy neighbor."  Love, and the rest will follow. (And if anyone ever tells you that the only way to accurately follow those commandments is if you fit into their mold, kindly refer them to Romans 2:13-16.)  But on the other hand, not every church is like that. The Episcopal Church has been a wonderful home for me over the past few years.

For all of the black and white the world tries to throw at us, abortion is the one issue that people have tried to define the most.  My mother is a very godly woman, and the reason she cites that she is pro-life is that she wants to stand up for the unborn child.  However, unlike my mother, most other members of the pro-life community really care more about birth than the child itself.  And if the movement is called pro-life, then why do they resort to violence against abortion clinics, which sometimes even end in death?  Like it or not, abortion is going to happen.  I would much rather have it be safe and legal than having the mother resort to going to some back alley and have more... shall we say, unsafe procedures performed on her.

Posted by The Christian Left Facebook page
January 16, 2014

(I think my views on abortion could be best summed up by comedian George Carlin.  I've really grown to love this guy's material.  He is shocking, but honestly, that's what the world needs every once in a while: a good shock.)

I know I haven't really talked about my writing much this time, but honestly, I wanted to devote this entry to addressing the problems that I've been encountering.  Rather than starting a fight among my friends and family, I wanted to take the time to address the problems I've been encountering, that way I can address everyone at the same time without having to jump from comment section to comment section, and in worst case scenarios, ending up resorting to ad hominem arguments. In truth, I should no longer be afraid about standing up for what I believe in.  I may not enjoy conflict, but if I'm going to protect others that are victims of these supposed "black and white" arguments, then I might as well step up to the plate.  In the end, Revelation 3:16 shouldn't be about defining beliefs or issues as black or white; rather, it's about being passionate about what you believe in.  If you're going to believe something, go all out.

Love and Coffee Cups,

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Flowers Watered with Tears: Musings of a Writer Afraid of the Spring

So, today marks the last weekend before classes start.  Mostly I've been spending it getting settled in, watching Doctor Who (Christopher Eccleston, you are still my muse) and Once Upon a Time (Captain Hook is delicious, just saying), eating, and getting ready for class.  One of my classes requires that you take an obscene amount of notes in order to pass, so I've been trying to read ahead and get started on that.

Oh yeah, and sleeping.

This semester is filling me with... shall we say, apprehension, to say the least.  Only one of my classes this semester is going towards my major; the others are general education classes.  So, I'm not too worried. As my good friend told me, "There's no pressure."

But then, on the other hand, spring has never been a good time for me.  In high school, there was a year-long period where several of my relatives all died in a row, beginning in the spring of 2011 and ending in the spring of 2012.  Last spring was when the attacks got worse.  Spring was the time of year I attempted suicide, and the day after that, my now ex boyfriend dumped me.  Let's just say that when T.S. Eliot wrote "April is the cruelest month," I think he meant it to be literal for me.

That's not to say that good things haven't happened in the spring.  My parents' anniversary is in the spring.  I graduated 14th in my class in the spring of 2012.  I was accepted into the Kentucky Ambassadors of Music in the spring of 2011 (a group that would go on a sixteen day tour across Europe in the summer of 2012). More recently, I started dating my boyfriend last spring, and this spring will mark our one year anniversary. And when I get older, I want to have a spring wedding, that way something else good will happen in the spring.

So I guess that I'm afraid of the spring.  It's a pretty time of year, but the flowers are watered with the tears of loss and suffering.  What if I fail my classes?  What if I lose someone else?  What if my mental health declines?

But I can't let my life be dictated by what ifs.  I don't know what this spring will bring.  I'm going to leave the things that I'm not sure of to God.  I will prove to everyone that I can succeed despite the setbacks of the previous several years.  Nicolas Cage put it best in Ghost Rider when he said, "You can't live in fear."

For now, all I can ask is that you wish me luck with this semester.

Love and Coffee cups,

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Biggest Hypocrite in the World?

So today, I was talking to my sister about Gears of Golgotha.  We were looking up actors that looked like my characters, and I was telling her all that I had planned for the novel.  The conversation seemed to be going well; we were talking civilly, like actual human beings.  That is, until I told her about why I was writing the story, that if we want to make the world better, we need to drop the labels and actually do something as a species.

She turned to look at me.  "That," she said, "is the most hypocritical statement I've ever heard you say."

My jaw dropped.  

I'm used to being called a hypocrite.  Hell, I'll be the first to admit that I'm the biggest hypocrite out there. Still, I'd be lying if I said it didn't hurt.  When you're writing something that's supposed to have a good message and then have someone knock it down, it kind of stings.  Just a tiny bit.

I sat on what she said for the rest of the day.  She did have a point.  I do have a tendency to label people, especially those who don't agree with me.  I won't hesitate to jump on the bait about anything that makes my beliefs look right.  Growing up liberal in a mostly conservative environment, I had to deal with people thinking I was a blasphemous idiot for quite a while before I found a place where I could fit in.  I've never been able to express my political opinions without starting a fight that usually ends in damaged relationships and tears.  Every time my family starts talking about politics, I just put my headphones in and try my best to ignore them.  So now, whenever I have an opportunity to express my beliefs, I take it.

On the other hand, regardless of what beliefs I or others have, I should not stoop to that level.  I know the pain of being demonized just because I was different.  I should never have any excuse to do the same. There's a difference between telling people you're a liberal or conservative or Christian or atheist or whatever, and telling people that if they aren't what you are then they're uneducated bigots.  If I do that, I become just as much of a bully.

But does that mean that I am a hypocrite for writing Gears?

The world isn't perfect.  Many things are easier said than done.  We may spend too much time talking about doing good things rather than actually doing them, but honestly, sometimes it's just not possible to actually do them.  If I could rescue every stray animal, I would.  But I don't have the money to adopt and feed them, or the room to keep them.  One person can't do it all.  It takes a group effort.

I may be a hypocrite, but I think that this is the one time that I'm not.  I can't bring people together on my own.  Honestly, Gears is my penny that I'm tossing in the wishing well of the world.  Besides, maybe by writing this novel, I am encouraging an inner transformation of my worldview and thinking.  I just hope that I don't lose sight of this purpose as I progress further into my story.

Love and Coffee cups,

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Music to Grind the Gears By

Yeah, yeah, that was a really stupid pun.  I probably should have warned you all, I tend to make jokes. Really stupid, unfunny jokes.

While I am aware of the origin of the phrase (and it just so happens to be one of my favorite Family Guy episodes), the purpose of this entry isn't to describe songs that annoy the ever-living crap out of me.  Rather, these are the songs that inspire me the most while writing Gears of Golgotha.  You could say that this list is more of what I wish the soundtrack would look like.  Maybe by posting these, I can leave you another little nugget about the novel.

Writing may be my first love, but I've always had a secret love affair with music.  Hell, before I was an English major at college, I was a music major.  I remember when I switched majors I described my situation and feelings as such:  "For me, music is in the friend zone.  I love it, but I'm not in love with it.  I want to be in love with what I do."  This isn't to say that I hate music.  On the contrary, it has become one of the greatest inspirations for my writing.  (I am also a member of Sigma Alpha Iota International Music Fraternity. So yeah, I kinda like music a little bit.)  I usually come up with some of the best parts of my story by just putting my headphones in and letting the music take me.

So, without further adieu, here are the songs that inspire me the most while writing Gears of Golgotha.

(By the way, quick warning: this post is going to have A LOT of links.  A LOT.)

1. Feed the Machine (Red) - This song is about how people have given themselves to the world and have given up their individuality.  The Chemists act like Chemists and the Mages act like... well, Mages.  Why? Because that's how New Pangaea works.  Every person has its place.  The world works like the Gears; every piece must fit perfectly into place that way the cogs can mesh.  The "machine" that they have given themselves to is the Gears.  Everything in New Pangaea revolves around the Gears.  Erin has given up her Chemist identity, her identity determined by New Pangaea and the Gears.

2. Radioactive (Imagine Dragons) - Yeah, I'm pretty sure this is the anthem for every dystopian story.  The techno sound, accompanied by the pounding of the drum, make the song seem surreal and grand at times. That's how the people feel about the Gears.  But more than that, to me, the song is about welcoming change. The citizens of New Pangaea welcomed change after World War Three, and Erin welcomes the change that she undergoes and that she can bring.

3. Unleashed (Epica) - This song was actually recommended to me on the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) "Post a Synopsis, Get a Soundtrack"  forum.  While the song is actually more about death than anything, and the thoughts that go through someone's mind at the end of an uneventful life, I feel that it can still fit into the overall tone of the novel.  Some religions talk about a person "dying to one's self."  In other words, they shed who they once were to become someone else.  This is something that every character (well, almost every character) goes through over the course of a story, especially in Gears of Golgotha.  They die to who they once were and become someone better.  (On a more literal note, *SPOILER ALERT* someone dies in Gears!)

4. Wrong Side of Heaven (Five Finger Death Punch) - I previously did an entry on this song and about how it connects to Gears, so I'll be brief.  Erin feels like that no matter where she goes, she can't fit in.  She doesn't fit in with the Chemists, but the Mages don't completely accept her, either.  She's too bad to be good, but too good to be bad.  She's torn between the values she was raised with and what her heart is telling her.

5. Rise (Colton Dixon) - Recommended to me by my younger sister Mary, this song is about overcoming obstacles to become the best person you can be.  Erin must overcome her fear of conflict to stand up for what she believes in and for the good of New Pangaea.  You may have your own beliefs, but if you don't stand up and say something, things aren't going to change.  It's something not only Erin, but Makswell, Damon, and every character goes through.  It's pretty much the same principle as Unleashed.

6. Narcissistic Cannibal (Korn feat. Skrillex & Kill the Noise) - This song mainly focuses on the darker aspects of Gears.  That is, the villain and his attitudes and motives.  I won't disclose much other than this, just because if there's one thing I want to keep a surprise about Gears, it's the villain.  (Villains are one of my favorite parts of any story.)

7. Impossible (Manafest) - When my cousin Amy McCorkle (the awesome author of Letters to Daniel) and I went to Panera yesterday, she introduced me to the song, and I fell in love with it completely.  To me, this song is about someone being in suffering and calling out for help.  In the case of Gears, it's for the characters not being true to themselves. This song definitely characterizes the feelings that Erin and Makswell experience throughout Gears.

*Honorable Mentions* (Mostly, these are other songs by some of the artists above.  I really don't like using the same artist more than once in a list.)

1. Breathe Into Me (Red) - This song makes me think of the Mages and their magic, as they call upon their magic to "breathe their life" into their power.  It also makes me think of the desperation in Erin to do what she has to do.

2. Battle Born (Five Finger Death Punch) - This song mostly has to do with the identity of the wanderer shared by several of the characters.  The Gears have impacted their lives in such a way that they have lost sight of who they truly are.  And in the end, they are reborn from the ashes of their destroyed identities.  (I still can't make sense of that flight announcement in the middle of the song, though.)

"But why are you using Christian artists alongside artists like Korn and Five Finger Death Punch?" you may ask.  To be quite honest, religious and non-religious people alike behave the way they do because that's the way they were conditioned to behave.  What you say, what you do, what you wear, what you listen to, they're all determined by what values you hold.  And the difference in values often leads to discrimination (think Crusades or Spanish Inquisition).  That's why I'm including artists like Red, Manafest, and Colton Dixon, which are obviously Christian artists.  The point of Gears of Golgotha is that if we truly want to make the world better, we need to drop the labels.  The mixture of religious and secular music is a little homage to this message.  (Not to mention that the groups can attract fans they never were able to reach before.)

Let me know what you think of the list.  I know I have a very eclectic music taste, but I think that just makes life more fun.  If you have any other song ideas, don't hesitate to let me know!  Happy listening!

Love and Coffee cups,

Thursday, January 2, 2014

"Jesus was a Friend and Not a Judge...": My New Year's Resolution

"Sunday morning, wake up early
Skip church service to find my Jesus
I know, it sounds so sacrilegious
But I just don't belong in a place like that
I love the cause but not the act

"'Cause Jesus was a Friend and not a Judge
He loved the sinners as much as he loved the little ones
That Man was Love and not an act..."

Yeah, yeah, I know.  Another song post.

So, 2013 has come and gone.  And now, 2014 has opened its doors to new and great possibilities.  Many people take this time of year to set resolutions: go to the gym, spend more time with family, etc.  I've been trying to think of something to do for my New Year's blog entry.

Then, this afternoon, one of my friends on Facebook posted an article from The Huffington Post about how we can't say "love the sinner/hate the sin" anymore.  That got me thinking about how I've been living this past year in 2013.  I nearly lost a friend on Facebook to a fiery debate on gay rights; I said some things that weren't kind.  (Then again, I was probably in the middle of a manic episode, looking back on it.)

2013 has been a rough year for me.  It was the year I changed majors in college.  It was the year I was diagnosed with mental illness.  It was the year that I attempted suicide.  But most of all, it was the year that I felt farthest away from God.  Looking around, I saw all of these people using the Bible, which is supposed to be filled with words of goodness and truth, and warping it into a document which condemns anyone that doesn't fit into their perfect little mold.  I couldn't find God in the Church anymore.  My dreams of one day becoming an Episcopal priest went up in smoke.  During the fall semester, I only went to church about three times; for two of those times, it was when I was at home with my family, and it was mostly to "keep up appearances."  I began to have a certain distaste for Christianity.  Or at least, what it had turned into.

I'm pretty sure if Jesus came back, many so-called
"Christians" wouldn't hesitate to crucify him all
over again.

I knew that this wasn't what Jesus taught.  I looked at what Gospels actually said.  Love God, love thy neighbor.  Help the poor and needy.  "Whatever you do for the least of these, you do for me" (Matthew 20:40-45). This was the God I knew, not the condemning monster that people were presenting as Him.  That's why I posted the lyrics to "Sacrilegious" by NeverShoutNever at the beginning of this post.  If I could just live like Jesus, I would.  If I could be as kind, gentle, and loving as He was--and is--I would.  I already know I'm going to fail; I'm only human.  But as I posted on Facebook earlier today, the least I can do is try.

So that brings me back to the second part of the title of this entry: my New Year's resolution.  My resolution is to live like Jesus.  Not the one that many paint him to be today, the one who hates atheists, LGBTs, the one who judges and discriminates. No, I want the One who lives in the red letters Gospel, and the One whom I want to live in me.  The One who is a friend to all.  Sure, there have been days where I wanted to tell Christianity to kiss my ass.  But how can I make the Church better if I'm not around to do so?  My worry is that people will only think of God as a terrifying creature in the sky who takes a magnifying glass and burns like ants all of those who don't fit into a perfect white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant mold.  I'm pretty sure that some Christians will think of this post as nothing more than reiterating common sense.  But how about we stop with the talking about it and actually live it?  It's what Jesus would do.

Love and Coffee cups,