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Sunday, November 24, 2013

What It Meant to Me Today to Be a Christian ... And ... Roy Speckhardt of the American Humanist Association Stomps on Poor Children's Christmas Morning




What it meant to me today to be a Christian.

My computer crashed Monday night. A very kind friend came over Tuesday and worked on it for hours. God bless him. He got it running again. I spent much of Wednesday, and all day Thursday, trying to get it fully functional.

I'm a writer, a teacher, and a job seeker and I spend all day on the computer.

I lost the time I devote to writing and job seeking. I wasn't able to respond to my students as fully as I liked.

Thursday I never left the apartment. Never got in my daily walk, sorely missed. Never prayed my daily rosary, also sorely missed. Never did my daily writing, missed more than I can say.

Friday I tried to do something on my own, without relying on others' advice, and I screwed up the computer and sabotaged my own work. I was very frustrated, frazzled, and fried.

I am dyslexic. It is manageable. I am a writer. That condition is completely unmanageable.

In my efforts to bring the computer around to what it had been before, I had to rely on my rational, systematizing, calm brain.

In order to write, I let loose my passionate, intuitive, creative soul.

I was feeling the tension I feel when the two conflict, when one is crowding the other out. I was also castigating myself deeply for sabotaging the computer all over again by trying to do something independent of others' advice. I was also beating up on myself for not having computer knowledge, while being so very dependent on them.

I left the apartment only after nightfall, something I almost never do, because I live in a high crime neighborhood. My shoulders were very tight. I like to feel alert and aware when I am outside in my neighborhood, especially at night. I was not alert and aware. I was obsessing on computer woes.

I went to the post office to buy Christmas stamps. Like all writers, I hate the post office. Post offices are torture chambers. We send off our beloved babies, our manuscripts, from post offices. From the post office, we receive rejection letters.

In this post office, the postal clerk was rude, as postal clerks often are.

I took my change and walked away.

I had a quick glance at my change. The white board inside my brain suddenly became blurry. That's a snapshot of what it's like to be dyslexic. When some input is too much for me, because I am too tense, hungry, tired or preoccupied, the white board inside my brain becomes blurry. I couldn't make out the numbers on the white board.

I could have just shoved the change in my pocket and kept walking. I had an excuse. I was tired and overwhelmed. But I felt a prod to check.

I put my bag down and approached a stamp display case. I splayed out the bills on the display case glass. I counted the bills, breathing deeply. S l o w l y.

I realized that the rude postal clerk in the torture chamber post office had given me twenty extra dollars. On this day that sucked so badly and really needed redemption, a little boost, a little something nice for me.

I felt a little jolt of triumph. I wanted to keep this lovely twenty dollars, a lot of money for me. I knew I had many reasonable excuses to just shove the money in my pocket and keep walking. Because I was so tense and overworked, it's possible I was doing the math wrong. The clerk was rude. I had a bad day. The post office has screwed me over so many times by losing my mail. Etc.

And the voice inside my head said, "Jesus does not want you to keep this money." The voice did not sound censorious. The voice didn't threaten, "You will go to hell if you keep this money." The voice didn't promise, "You will go to heaven if you return this money." It just said "Jesus does not want you to keep this money," in a kind, informative, neutral tone.

I turned to the clerk. I fanned out the bills she had given me. "Count these," I said. I asked her to do that because given how tired and overwhelmed I felt, I really needed another set of eyes.

She was immediately loud and combative. "What's the problem? You gave me a fifty. I gave you. Oh!" And she snatched the extra twenty out of my hand and turned away, never saying thank you.

***

I posted this admittedly minor story because I ran across a post by a Facebook friend who is an atheist. She and a group of other Facebook friends who are atheists were talking about how stupid and weird Christians are. They were slapping each other on the back congratulating each other that they were not as stupid and weird as Christians.

I don't think that most Christians are the stupid and weird people self-congratulatory atheists make us out to be. I think most of us are doing what I describe above: negotiating life, moment by moment, trying to do what we think aligns with Christian teaching. I don't think most of us are Mother Teresa; I don't think most of us are Fred Phelps. I think most of us are debating what to do about matters as small as twenty bucks.

I also posted the above because I saw a video on Facebook that knocked me on my ass. (I am a Christian who swears. I edited the previous sentence inside my head before typing it, but then I realized, heck, that's how I talk. Let it stand.)

Roy Speckhardt – Speck Heart! It's too perfect! – Roy Speckhardt of the American Humanist Association smashed a toy drive for needy children because Christians were involved.

You can watch the video here: 



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