I started this autobiography last year, jotting down some rough notes and then beginning this blog as a vehicle to carry this story of an unknown person forward. Unfolding the story in a chronological way ended up being quite therapeutic for myself, like looking in a mirror – in a Michael Jackson sort of way – and I was encouraged. I have, after all, a complicated story and it was (is) my hope that others who read it can identify – not with the nameless characters that appear in my story – but with the events of the story, transposing them into similar events that may have happened in their own story – and perhaps finding some more language along the way for the reader to tell their own story.
That is my goal, after all, to equip others to tell their own story – recognizing how valuable such a thing is – that their own story has worth, value, meaning, and even an audience. The book stores can have best sellers filled with the rich and famous – like we all need to read their stories – like their stories take precedence over our own – but I set out to say no – that a nameless character can tell his story, and it can still have value, and it still is a story that should be told. And so I did – and still am – but now that I have caught up to myself (It took a year to write through several decades of my life) I will need to slow my story down.
I have caught up to myself and in the moment, right now, I happen to find my own story quite fascinating. I started my work with this inner-city organization almost seven years ago and immediately found myself immersed into this different social-economic – religious place that tended to expose the under-belly of Christianity. My life stories coming to this place and most certainly what I have experienced since arriving has shaped me dramatically – like I think it ought to as we are constantly shaped and molded by life’s experiences and events. But, out of these experiences that have lined my path over the last almost seven years now I have grown stronger in my faith and have drawn further away from the church – at the same time.
What does this mean? How is such a thing possible? Do not the both go together? Is that not how things are supposed to be done? I am surrounded by many who believe that to be true but the subtleties of their actions betray their own fragile place of acceptance within the walls of church. I was out at a contractor’s work site a couple of weeks ago talking to my contractor about an upcoming job when I was approached by someone who has volunteered with our organization for some time now. He hadn’t met me yet but knew me to be ‘one of the big-wigs’. He started his conversation by interrogating me.
“Where do you go to church”
“I am just visiting some right now.”
“You don’t go to church? You don’t have a home church? Give me a list of the churches you have gone to.”
“Are you asking if I am a Christian?”
Over the years this has been a common critique against ‘the organization’ but really what is meant by it is a critique against the leadership – out of a place of concern that we have taken a ‘religious’ organization and made it into a business. I stopped his interrogation, no longer interested in humoring him with such narrow-minded points of view. Instead I offered to pray for him as he was recovering from some major surgery. He accepted so right there on the street I prayed for this man I just met – this man who just a moment earlier was demanding proof of my christianess. After I stopped he suddenly realized just how busy he was and quickly ended the conversation and left.
I run up against this type of situation almost on a regular basis. Judgment passed because I don’t fit the mold. Conclusions drawn before I am engaged in conversation. This ‘type’ of Christianity seems to have saturated this place, this city, this province, and like eating too much candy at Halloween, my stomach has been put off it. What is this mess all about? Will the real Christianity please stand up as Eminem might want to rap about. Now that I have caught up to myself this is where I will slow the story down – to explore these ideas and other related themes, out of my continued experiences, often bizarre experiences – given the work that I do and have done for a number of years now. May my unnamed characters resonate with aspects of your own story, allowing you to find language to share your story because I know it is just as valuable as my own.