One of my oldest and dearest friends is a faithful and devout Christian. Through the years we’ve had such wonderful conversations about our religious and political perspectives. Always with the utmost respect, openness and willingness to listen to the other. She doesn’t try to convert me, she is resolutely and quietly Christian in the way she lives her life, but not in a judgmental or evangelical way. She truly tries to live her beliefs as an individual, within her family and as part of her religious community. She looks for those places where she may fall short, taking responsibility and correcting her path along the way. I have so much respect and admiration for her. This is what I see as being a good Christian.
Why do I tell you this because I have found myself jaded in certain aspects of my religious tolerance. You see MC’s APs have a common theme. They portrayed themselves as devout Christians, going to Church on Sundays, quoting the bible on a regular basis, trying to get others to “accept the message,” touting themselves as “true believers” who want to help you be as strong in your faith in Christ as they are in theirs. All the while, they are fucking my husband. G-d wills it, therefore it must be. They truly believed that any choice to be made was in the hands of G-d and therefore part of the path G-d intended them to walk upon. As long as you accept Christ into your heart, all will be as it should be. Clearly, I have a HUGE problem with this type of thinking and not just because I am Jewish. They had another common trait as well, namely a sense of entitlement.
While I can and do believe that G-d, or whatever power you believe exists in the universe, will keep giving us a lesson over and over until we learn from it. I also believe it is our responsibility to take the lead to actually learn the lesson. Believe me, it takes me awhile to see it sometimes, to get it, I understand this. In fact, sometimes I wish G-d would just give me the damn “F” and let me move on to new lessons, but it doesn’t work that way. Lessons are not sequential, they are both concurrent and sequential and often intertwined. So, I look for the lessons I need to learn. Giving and receiving support to/from those who are actively wanting to learn and grow is part of that path. But, whether others want to learn and grow is up to them. I will always have a lot to learn, I will never understand all the lessons in this life, but I want to try to grow and learn and do the best I can, teaching our children to do the same. I am making the choice to try.
So, when I run into someone in our life that is the religious zealot and oozes a sense of entitlement, let’s just call it a trigger. Unfortunately, the mother of one of my child’s friends hits this nail on the head. Among one of several examples, for New Year’s Eve, I had two families over (8 guests, plus our 4). MC and I, who had just met the parents of the friend over the winter break, invited them to join us at our small kid-friendly event. A few hours before the event, she calls me saying they are going to a friends house and then asks if she and the friend’s guests can just come to our party (6 adults, 11 children). I declined. A while later, she friended me on Facebook and I accepted as our children are friends and classmates. There was post after post quoting the bible. As long as she doesn’t quote Corinthians (a favorite of MC’s APs to quote), I think we will be ok. Still, I’m sure there is a lesson here for me to learn about patience, tolerance and understanding. I am still working on that one!