my whole life has been spent trying to make other people happy. my parents and my church taught me that you should never seek to please yourself, because that’s what evil, sinful people do. in order to be “right” in the eyes of god, you needed to put god and others first. you needed to be a cheerful giver and give until it hurt, until you had absolutely nothing left to give…financially, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. you had to be nothing and want nothing for yourself, in order for god to mold you into the person that “he” wanted you to be.
one of the songs that we used to have to sing in sunday school was called, jesus and others and you. it was a very simple song, with a very powerful message, and i believe that this song was used as their mantra…which sung over and over again from age 3 to age 18, may do quite a number on a young, impressionable mind. the lyrics: “jesus and others and you, what a wonderful way to spell joy. jesus and others and you, in the life of each girl and each boy. “j” is for jesus, for he has first place. “o” is for others, we meet face to face. “y” is for you, in whatever you do…put yourself last and spell joy.”
now me, i never sang…not even when i was young. i was then, the curious and questioning child, that i still am today. if someone was “forcing” me to do something, i absolutely needed to know why, and in order for me to do it…i needed a good reason, one that made sense to me, a bullshit answer never worked for me, as i thought about things in “adult-terms.” most adults didn’t understand, because it made no sense to them. they saw a child and knowing that children usually only think, as children…they used bullshit answers that worked on most other children.
not one adult in sunday school or church, could ever give me any better answers than: “because everyone else is singing,” “the bible says to make a joyful noise unto the lord (which i generally replied, “well, couldn’t that mean laughing?”),” and “we want god to be proud of us (which i once replied, “well, we’re his creations, wouldn’t he already be proud of us?” and got slapped across the face).” in my mind, if i didn’t understand something, i wasn’t going to do it, just because everyone else did it blindly. i thought, “well, if god created me and gave me a brain, wouldn’t he want me to use it?”
i could never understand why no one else at my church thought this way. i was very disappointed and disillusioned. i made a very mindful choice not to sing. it was my line in the sand. i would be there, because i had no choice, but i wouldn’t sing, because they couldn’t make me. in my mind, it made me happy to know that i made a choice that honored my need for understanding and that i didn’t just blindly follow, like the others.
this “little stunt,” as my parents referred to it, embarrassed them to no end. my sunday school teachers used to go and “tell on me” to them constantly for not singing. i believe that they probably thought that they could break my spirit down and make me bend to be a “good example,” to the other children, who might decide to god forbid, also not sing.
my spirit, however, could not be broken, compromised, or coerced. every time my spirit was subjected to anything, it simply left the building, endured, and reemerged…laughing, smiling, defiant, rebellious, and victorious. whenever times like these would happen, i would repeat part of a bible verse over and over, in my head…”the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak…” i knew that i was using it out of context, but it helped me, and became my mantra. that mantra kept my spirit safe, unbroken, and uncompromised.
***this is the end of part one. part two will be done either later today or tomorrow.***
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