I hit puberty, fell in love with the Big Gulp, and got fat all at the same time. I’m guessing they were related. Since then, I’ve only been not-fat twice. I was in college the first time. Fitting in and being accepted were the two most important things to me, even if it required a form of anorexia to make my body into something I didn’t have to be ashamed of. It didn’t work. I had a 30 inch waist, but was still ashamed.
The second time started in 2008. I don’t know what happened. I steadily lost a couple pounds a week until I had dropped 60 pounds. I gained a few of those back when I went back to school, but I maintained a weight around 180 for a few years. I loved it. I was working through the shame under-girding the eating disorder, so the body shame was being taken care of the right way. I liked the way clothes looked on me. And I liked the way I looked without clothes. Mostly, I liked the way I felt.
In late 2011, my psychiatrist put me on Depakote for bipolar disorder. I expected to gain some weight – everyone gains five or ten pounds with it – so I wasn’t worried when I was 5 pounds heavier at my next check in. The medication was working and that was more important. I didn’t like the second five pounds, but I could handle 190 and I didn’t need to buy new clothes, so I stuck it out. Everyone gains five or ten pounds, but those lucky few keep gaining and gaining and gaining. By the time I stopped taking the Depakote at the end of 2012, I had gained 65 pounds. In just over one year, I went from comfortably fitting into size M clothing to barely squeezing into size XL.
I just received a picture of Timber on the beach with his new family. He’s a mess from swimming in the salt water and running around the wet sand. He looks play-all-day tired and at home with his new people.
It’s been three-weeks since I handed him over and it’s been harder than I’ve let on. I don’t pine for him day and night. I’m not in a major depressive funk. But there are moments I wonder what the hell I did giving away such a great dog like that. Because he really is a great dog.
I have to remind myself that it’s not about great dog. It’s about fit. Timber needs an active family. He needs kids to grow up with. Timber needs lots of relationships. I need the sort of dog who only has eyes for me. I need a dog who prefers to stay by my side. I need a service dog who isn’t so interested in everyone else that he forgets about me. Different needs is all.
Last October, I resigned a pastoral role in a church gone awkward compounded with health issues of my own. I needed some time off. Then, a few weeks ago, I woke up one Sunday morning and decided to go to church. At that moment, I was sitting at the breakfast table with a plate of eggs and bacon, a cup of coffee, and my iPad. A handful of churches popped into mind, so I visited their websites.
One was too far away. Two started too early for me to finish eating, shower, dress, and get there on time. Two viable candidates remained. I have history/connection with both, and that history has good things in it and bad, but none that would stop me from showing up. I read their online doctrinal statements (noting what they called their doctrine, by the way). Neither said anything I just couldn’t handle, but the one that was further away said some things in ways that raised questions about whether their outward appearance accurately reflected their inner workings. In fifteen minutes, I’d picked a church and finished my eggs. I went. And I’ve gone back a second time.
1. Stop capitalizing “bible.” I know it’s grammatically incorrect, but it’s going to help you find a healthy relationship to the book and its messages. The message holds the power to restore the universe to wholeness. The book holds paper and ink. We Christians tend to get those confused and turning a “B” into a “b” helps us get it straight.
2. Verses do not exist. I know your bible is full of thousands of little address markers, but they aren’t actually part of the text. Unfortunately, we tend to make the text slave to the verses instead of letting them be little helper bots. Because of our addiction to analyzing the text like a preserved frog, we need to go cold turkey. If you can’t help yourself, buy a bible that doesn’t even have them. The Message is the best known option, but versions of other translations exist without verse numbers, as well. If the message in the bible is as important as we say it is, it’s worth the effort to find a vehicle that doesn’t get in the way. The smallest unit in the bible is not the verse – they don’t exist, remember – but the pericope. What’s a pericope? For those of us who grew up in the television era, it’s a scene. It’s the mini-story within the story.
This post is one piece of a community creation in the form of a synchroblog. This month, the Synchroblog will be centered on Bridging the Divides and ideas and perspectives that different bloggers might have on ways to heal these divisions in the church.
A friend posted an issue on Facebook that is contentious in church and culture. Comments ensued. Many “sides” were represented, but one person jumped in with a strong “You are lying. That is against Jesus. How dare you call yourself a minister?” sort of message. It’s here that one of two things usually happens in a Facebook discussion:
- The conversation devolves into hopeless name calling and hair pulling.
- The “offender” is blocked and comments are deleted.
The first option is occasionally fun but rarely helpful. Sometimes, the second in unfortunately necessary. But the rare third option showed up in this particular thread. The Bible Defender never backed down from his message or rhetoric and others in the thread called him on both. At times, comments were posting faster than Facebook could refresh. People holding each primary position spoke their minds without name calling or ad hominem accusations. Eventually, the conversation slowed, everyone took deep breaths, and we walked away uninjured.
In that moment, the Defender took one last, little, parting shot: “We are the Body of Christ, the Church Universal. We’ll be around here until the end of all things. I pray you’ll give up your false jesus, and follow the true Jesus of the Bible.” Ouch, right? So another member replied with the following (slightly edited to remove identifying features):
Like Jesus was killed by anybody. Come on. He was God. He could have stopped Judas before the betrayal. He could have disappeared out the back door after dinner. He could have let his followers rush the guards with their swords. He could have come up with words that would have satisfied the Sanhedrin without betraying himself. He could have answered Pilate. He could have calmed the rowdy crowd as easily as a storm on the sea. He could have ripped the whips out of the torturers’ hands. He could have planted his cross in the ground and commanded it to produce figs. Jesus could have commanded the birds to pick him up and carry him off to the heavens at any point.
Jesus was not killed by the Jews. Jesus was not killed by the Romans. Jesus was not killed by his followers. Jesus was not killed by atheists. Jesus was not killed by homosexuals, trans folk, murderers, rapists, abortionists, eaters of pork, people with tattoos, dog owners, tax collectors, contemporary worship leaders, Mormons, Evangelicals, Liberals, Progressives, Catholics, Illuminati, Knights Templar, Dan Brown, Mel Gibson, Mel Brooks, or the Methodists. Jesus was not killed by you. Jesus was not killed by me.
Jesus was not killed.