Today was a weird day. I had all these plans to do all sorts of things and only really managed to accomplish one, getting Nick to his arts and crafts program at the town's Recreation Center.
Now this is a very cool program. There's a large kid play area filled with huge foam blocks and all sorts of different toys and puzzles and during this particular program, Muchkin Madness, the kids get some free time to play then a story is read to them and they do an arts and crafts project related to the story. If there's time after the craft, and there normally is, the kids can play some more. Most of the moms mill around chatting on the outskirts of the area. I've never felt particularly welcomed though I have had some good conversations with some of the moms. This one mom however seems to go out of her way to ignore me and Nick. Today I got the feeling it was a religious based thing because I happened to overhear a completely unrelated conversation she had with the "teacher" of the program. Just a simple hey this book mentions jack o lanterns is that OK with you. Previous experiences have led me to believe that some strict Christians and Jews do not celebrate and wish to censor their children's experiences to many holidays based on their Pagan roots. To which I say KUDOS because being the odd one out is not easy, especially with kids. I hold nothing against this but it did make me feel like it was a religious reason that she was shunning me and my kid.
We're different. I get that. We all wear a lot of black and I have a huge fondness for skulls which my kids have copied. I know there's a stigma against the goth look, that they're witches or satan worshippers or whatever. I've been shunned before because "Jesus wouldn't approve" of my lifestyle or whatever. It happens, it hurts and it royally sucks but it happens. Maybe this woman just doesn't like me and I'm putting too much on the religion thing. It was a comment I shouldn't have heard and didn't mean to hear. I am paranoid and am insecure, lots of other things play into that not just religion. I was upset about being shunned at the program and posted a comment on facebook. My comment read....Jesus preached about love and acceptance and tolerance of everyone, some of the most hated people in his time were tax collectors, whores and lepers and yet he accepted and loved all of them. So why can't his followers? For a god who was so kind and open his followers are awfully mean and close minded. This is why I don't go to church anymore. Too bad I can't avoid people like that in the world.
A few comments later and I got the impression that this could be construed as me hating on Christians. Not at all my intentions. It wasn't even meant to be a religious type thing. I had simply meant that Jesus' followers are supposed to emulate Him. I was raised in the Church (quite literally, my father and mother were super involved in our church and Jesus was a part of our daily lives) and for the most part I enjoyed it and learned a lot about it. But when I got older and started experimenting with my self identity I learned alot about the hatred these followers can express. I wore black nail polish and heavy make up, dyed my hair green and pink and blue, I wore short skirts, fishnet shirts, super wide leg jeans with chains. I listened to heavy rock and metal music and partied a little. And my parents friends told me I was going to hell for these choices.
Just a little background to explain myself....
At this time in my life, high school, I still prayed to Jesus and read my bible and even tried teaching Sunday School at one point. I loved children and dreamed of the day when I'd have a husband and lots of little ones to fill our home. I truly didn't understand why Jesus would send me to hell for my nail polish or clothing choices. I had a long term serious boyfriend in high school, he followed much of the same clothing trends as I did but was really shy and didn't talk much to anyone. And my parents friends hated him more.
Fast forward a couple years and I'm still with this guy, I'm 18 and out of school and pregnant. I still go to church on occasion and have calmed down a little, no more crazy pants or hair color though I'm still to this day partial to black clothing and nail polish. My life's going pretty good. I've got a good job and I'm going to college, I'm saving every penny for the baby and I'm very respectful of my parents wishes. I come home at night, I don't have my boyfriend sleep over, and I haven't moved out yet but I'm still being bombarded by hate from the people I grew up around in the church. I'm still going to hell and people are telling me how sorry they are that I'm pregnant and I've sinned in this way. So I leave the church. I cannot tolerate the hypocrisy I'm getting. The pastors and Jesus have taught me that we love all people, we forgive their sins and it's not our place to judge others as we have not been sin free ourselves. Yet I'm constantly getting the message that they don't care what my personal life or relationship with God is they just see the black shirt with skulls and the round belly and know that I'm going to hell. I left the church.
I've gone back a few times, had my baby and the one after him baptised and married the high school boyfriend. I live a pretty decent life and my babies are 7 and 4. I still like skulls and black clothing and even have a few tattoos. My kids emulate this, Philip has a mohawk and Nick wants one. We let them pick their own clothing and they like skulls and darker colors because all little kids tend to copy their parents style. My upbringing has pretty much taught me that for all people preach love and kindness and say stuff like WWJD and they follow Christ's path they're pretty full of hate.
I hate being shunned and judged on what's on the outside. I get the message from the outside world constantly that I'm a bad person and a bad parent. I "force" my kids to be goth, I'm handicapping Philip because I won't have him implanted with a cochlear implant, I'm raising gay boys because I let their hair get long sometimes, let them wear nail polish and play with dolls and kitchens, I can't possibly be a responsible parent because I was just a kid myself when I had them. Etc Etc Etc. The list is endless on the ways I'm a bad influence on kids. But what they don't see is what our home life is like.
At home we strive to live eco friendly and I'm constantly looking for new ways to become more so. Philip is being taught that he's loved for who he is deaf or hearing. We sign with him at home and it's his choice each and every morning if he wants to wear his hearing aids, he knows that when he's old enough he can make the choice for himself if he wants the implants. We may cuss like sailors around the kids but they also hear us say please and thank you and you're welcome to every single person. We have piercings and tattoos and look all goth and dark (though I don't think we follow goth trends at all) but my kids hold doors open for other people and Philip has been recognized at school countless times for consoling other kids and returning found items. My boys wear nail polish and play with kitchens and dolls and know that if they are hetro I'll love them and accept them but if they're gay I'll love them and accept them just the same. My children aren't being taught to look at someones clothes, skin color, partner or any other labels to decide if they like that person. My children are loved and cherished and we adults respect their feelings. They have equal say in most everything we do though they do understand that as adults my husband and I have the final say. We try our best to respect their feelings and opinions and we strive to make sure that we'll love them even if they choose to wear a close cut hair style, khakis and polos and marry another man even if that's not how we chose to live our personal lives. My children will never have to worry about what is rape or not for they'll learn that a woman can walk by them totally nude and swinging her hips and that doesn't mean she's asking for anything much less sex. They will never have to worry that if they are gay or they love a person of a different race or religion they have to hide it because they are being raised with love and acceptance of all. For as much as my facebook post turned into a religious thing my kids and myself know that a person's faith only describes a part of who they are. If raising my children this way means I'm a bad person, a sinner and am going going to hell...so be it. I'd rather be in hell then surrounded in heaven by people who are capable of blind hate and discrimination.
I had posted the post because I was upset and emotional and it really just brought up a lot of bad memories from the church experience I had as a teenager. I see such beauty in Jesus' teachings and there are many many many people who follow Him and are amazing people. I just really get bothered when people look past his message of acceptance and non judging and focus on the "you have to live exactly as I dictate" sort of message that gets passed along within the church.
This ended up being a long post but I felt I needed to defend my facebook post and explain in a better format then I could have on facebook.