07 December, 2011

Erasing the Negative Legacy of Bad Ministers

I understand...

Yes, I agree there's no such thing as a "perfect" church.

Likewise, there's definitely no such thing as a "perfect" minister.

Far from it.

I thought I processed all my negative experiences in regards to church experience through creating this blog. Yet here I am, another Christmas season staring at me in the face. Christmas is just a seasonal reminder of what I don't want to experience anymore while attending church or any other spiritual institutions.

I spent over 6 years with The Salvation Army and part of the Holiday tradition is their infamous red kettle stationed all over commercial areas. Over the years, I've dealt with the best and worse of human behavior and with the expectation of placing a "Christian face," I've forced a smile all the way through some of the ordeals. There were some highlights like receiving a solid gold krugerrand in the kettle. For the most part this was definitely a character builder.

The first two years with the Salvation Army allowed me to build a spiritual foundation, and allowed me to express myself to how creating a relationship with God helped transformed my life. Once we got to year three and beyond, I found myself attempting to please the powers that be in that organization and my connection with The Higher Power deteriorated. I equated pleasing them as pleasing God. I took to heart every little criticism they made towards me including my activities outside of church, my study habits and the time I took to study, and the type of acting jobs I pursued.

It was a challenge to believe that "God loved me" when I kept on dealing with disapproval after disapproval from those who supposedly have authority on who God is/was. When I officially ended my membership with "SA" (Asian American Christians utilized a lot of initials and acronyms), I received an email from the Territorial Director of Programs:

"The responsibilities of being a Soldier of The Salvation Army requires a higher calling and empowerment of the Holy Spirit. I am sorry you were not able to fulfill such higher standards."

Those words haunted me to this very moment such that hearing the different bells at each kettle corner creates a similar effect as a military war veteran with PTSD would react to "popping" sounds.

Yet, a week ago I attempted to take the higher ground and assisted my friend who needed an hour break from his kettle duties. I thought afterwards I've moved forward and everything in regards to being a part of The Salvation Army was behind me, but I found myself bombarded with all emotions from the past as a result of just one hour of simply ringing a bell.

Lately, I've found myself angry and easily irritated around people attending church, those who openly talk about God, the church I attend now, God him/herself, and most of all, Me for allowing and co-creating all of the experiences in the first place.

Nobody wants to live life feeling disconnected from a Higher Source. In fact I see that people are doing what they can to create such a connection, even risking mental and emotional abuse just for a brief second of connection. Look no further beyond the bars, the crack houses, the dispensaries, the Occupy camps, the music and dance gatherings, and other places where drugs are prevalent. I would venture to say that these folks are sooooo starving for a connection to feel comfortable existing in their own skin, free from shame, free from discomfort, free to just be them and to be ok with it. They're willing to go all out in search of it even to the detriment of their immediate mental and physical health.

Meanwhile, on the corner somewhere near a congregants of shopper a bell is ringing away, asking for money.

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