A Time (or two) I Screwed Up

Write about a time you screwed up- a mistake you made.

Is he mormon?

I look back and think, "Really? That was my question?" There were so many other important questions to ask. Questions that would have been important, should have been important, to me as I fell in love with him and imagined a future together.

Is he a good guy?
Does he smoke weed?
Is he a partier?
Does he value family?
Is he a hard worker?
Can he love me wholly?

Thankfully God had my back on this one.  He hand picked Josh for me.  So of course, he was a good guy, a hard worker with family values.  He wasn't a partier, never so much as touched a joint, and most importantly, he was able, is able, to love me wholly.

As I look back on my life, I see mostly good decisions.  I see mostly well thought out and executed plans that have gotten me where I am today.  But that, my inability to see past his religion, past my religion, that haunts me.  (To read the whole story, see Part Two of my Life Story.)
Church has been heavy on my heart lately.  Or rather what happened with my church.  And why church sometimes doesn't work.  And today I remembered the most disturbing evening I shared with a friend ten years ago.

We had met at work in 2003 and instantly clicked. We were besties. In the end, our friendship was short lived once we were both let go after the holiday season, but those few brief months together, sitting back to back, placing flower orders, we were overjoyed to have each other.  

We were both in the newlywed part of our marriage and not doing much but enjoying life.  One evening the four of us (she & her husband, and me & mine) went to a Christian event sponsored by her church.  Josh ended up leaving, he didn't feel well and wasn't able to shake it, but I stayed on, flanking my friend on one side, her husband on the other.

After some worship music and a brief message from a highly respected professor at Multnomah Bible College, the floor came open for questions.  My friend, who had suffered a miscarriage because of lymphoma and the following treatment a year earlier, asked the man if God had been punishing her (with the cancer and the loss of her baby) for having pre-marital sex.

"No. No. No," I was silently willing him to say the words I knew were true.  "No, our God is not a vindictive God. No, God would never purposefully hurt you because of sin you have since repented.  No, you are wonderful and He loves you."  

Instead he sat, thinking for an uncomfortable amount of time, then launched into this hell & brimstone talk about how sin dominates our world and all that ugliness comes back on us. Basically, he said to her, "Yes. Yes, God was punishing you for getting carried away with your emotions when you were eighteen by killing your baby and putting your life in jeopardy."

I was stunned. So stunned in fact that I didn't talk about it with my friend.  This powerful, heartless man moved on to other questions and by the time we got in the car to go home, our conversation had drifted on to something else.  

I have since lost contact with this friend.  And I will forever regret not telling her, "No. No way that the God I know, who loves me like I love my babies, would ever, ever purposefully crush your dreams by giving you cancer and taking away your baby.  He would never. Oh, and also, I love you."


I am thankful to be where I am now. Open and accepting of others' beliefs, able to know what I believe is true and not shove it down anyone's throats.  To know that God is love, and if you love someone, God is there.  Just like he was when Josh and I  met. And just like he was there when my friend & her husband suffered like they did.

"Faith is a knowledge within the heart,
beyond the reach of proof."
-Kahlil Gibran

1 comment:

Kasey said...

Oh Shelly, Your story of what happened to you with your church hits me hard every time you share about it. This story makes me angry, because YOU are the one who is right. We don't know why God answers prayer the way he does, and no man has the right to say God was punishing you. ESPECIALLY not a pastor/speaker at a large conference where he doesn't know the person he is counseling. (that's how this sounded to me).
When I met my husband, a good man who is the right person for me - I came to terms with the fact that he is a non-believer, or a lapsed catholic... When we decided to get married we nervously asked our pastor to do the ceremony. He agreed, but several months later, just before the wedding he and his wife took me out alone and told me they would still do the ceremony because marriage is good, but that they were going to treat it as a ceremony between non-Christians. Telling me MY FAITH wasn't real. There wasn't time to find someone else. And we stopped going to that church. I am still friends with the wife, we see each other a few times a year, but I couldn't look to someone as a leader who didn't see my faith as valid. Rob and I have been attending a Presbyterian Church for nearly four years, and they are so accepting. Rob is on his own faith journey and I have no idea how that will end.
I totally get your position on choosing not to attend a church (not trying to change that). You have been burned too many times. I just really felt the need to share my story today. Men are not infallible and so many make decisions or say things that push people away rather than love them.