I don’t love you like that anymore…

…and I probably never really did.

A few weeks ago I was listening to a podcast, and the guest talked about not loving people that he didn’t love. At first, and on one level, I found that idea off-putting. As a former Christian I’d been trained over the years that we were to love everyone, unconditionally, and if not, there’d be Hell to pay.

That’s the idea….love one another, or else. How it gets meted out in the lives of individual believers is another topic entirely.

I call that kind of love, loving people under duress. Love is a consensual action. It’s something you cannot command or coerce. And loving out of obedience or under orders, or threats is a form of coercion.

As I thought about it, I realized that the guest on that show is right. People shouldn’t be able to lay claim to our love without our consent. There are people in my life that I want around as long as I live. There are others I really don’t care if I ever see again. Both have been members of churches I’ve attended.

One of the things I started doing when I left the Christian religion is taking back my heart and mind from it…taking back my agency. Love and love commandments are one of those areas.

In churchy circles there are numerous platitudes tossed about. People are always saying things like ‘God bless you,’ ‘I’m praying for you,’ and ‘I love you.’ Then when this last is not enough, some say, ‘I love you with the love of the Lord.’ I don’t talk that kind of language anymore. It’s a cutesy sounding, warm fuzzy generator that negates the individual’s ability to love at all.

Humans have loved, feared, hated, envied…they’ve felt things and experienced many emotions long before what we refer to as the Common Era….long before Christianity.

If I love you I’ll tell you. If telling you would make things awkward, I’ll find some way to let you know. It’s between the people. Gods and religions have nothing to do with it.

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The ‘price of freedom’

By @manhasruinedgod on Twitter

A high school football coach should be a hero for a winning season, not for dying protecting children in the line of fire. High school students should be crying over their crush or stressed about Homecoming, not wondering what to wear to their BFF’s funeral.
Go home tonight and hold your guns. Feel the cold metal on your skin and smell the gun powder and oil residue, and know that only in this country, your guns are worth more than the lives of our children.

Their warm hearts are now as cold as the guns you’re clinging to. Your illusion of safety is worth more than the blood being spilled in the hallways of our classrooms.
But let’s not talk about it now, or tomorrow when it happens again. Let these children die because “It’s the price of freedom!” (Bill O’Reilly, 10/17 after Vegas)

They want to restructure our schools into fortresses to prevent this from happening again. Where is the freedom for our children playing behind guard, gates, and guns? Is this what we imagined for our kids? A violent, fearful existence, where they’re not safe anywhere?

There have been 30 mass shootings, 18 of them at schools, all in the first 45 days of this year – this is our reality.

Tonight, look at your guns and remind yourself that it’s worth more THAN a child’s life, and you’re OK with that.

Car 

Back in December my Chevy Trailblazer, that I had been driving for over 7 years, caught fire on the way to work. I made it to the parking lot at the office, got out, popped the hood and saw a flame about 9″ wide. I shut the hood, got my stuff out, and called 9-1-1. By the time the firefighters got to where I was the fire had gone out.

For a few weeks I had been hearing a low-pitch droning or grinding sound when I’d shift into drive. I never heard this when backing up, only when I was first pulling away from a stop. I never heard it in Park or Neutral. I kept telling myself, during that time, that I needed to have it looked at. But I never got around to taking it to anyone.

All that changed on Friday, December 16th.

I called AAA and got it towed to a garage. I sat in the waiting area at the garage for a couple of hours waiting for a ride. While I was there the freak-out portion of the morning’s events presented itself in the form of overthinking.  I knew the vehicle would need a rebuild of the transmission at best, and a new one at worst. I also knew that I didn’t have the cash to have the work done. So I set an appointment with a sales rep at Carmax.

At Carmax I sat in a few vehicles, mostly other SUVs, but I have to give my parents rides to their appointments and they had a really hard time getting in and out of the Trailblazer, and it was lower to the ground that most SUVs I see. As I was taking with the rep I brought up the subject of cars. She let me sit in a few, and towards the end I checked out a couple of Nissan Altimas. There was a tan 2014 that was a couple of thousand lower than a 2015 next to it and had lower mileage. The problem was the claim tag. Carmax places a hold tag on the dash of vehicles someone has said they want. So I thought I wouldn’t be able to get it. The rep looked at the tag and realized that it had expired. You have 72 hours to come back and complete the purchase, and that customer failed to do that. So she filled out a claim ticket for me and we went inside to start the qualification process.

A couple of hours later I drove off the lot in a 2014 Nissan Altima with 20,100 miles on it.

It took a few weeks to for me to quit feeling like I was low enough to drive under the car in front of me. I had a pickup from 2003 to 2010, and a midsize SUV from 2010 to 2017. So I was used to a different perspective on the road. For a while. being in a car was weird.

The plan was to hold off getting into another car loan until this coming summer, but the universe and the Trailblazer had other ideas. I’m still  working on cutting costs so I can fit this car note into my budget better. The gas mileage is vastly improved over the SUV. So that was an immediate reduction. I’m still learning about the Altima, even the controls have taken getting used to, having had GM vehicles for nearly 20 years.

epiphany

I have cousins a few hours away in a couple of directions. I see one set a bit more often than others, and usually around Christmas. One of them is a minister and as expected his first concern is that one is staying faithful to God. I haven’t been to church in 3 years. In August of 2016 I posted a video announcing that I don’t believe anymore…that I am no longer Christian. I guess he and his wife didn’t see it. At least they don’t act like they saw it.

Every year when we meet up he usually asks me how long it’s been since I was at church, and says something to encourage me to go. Well I’m not going back. But I also don’t want to debate that at the table in a restaurant. I usually just nod my head while knowing that I’m not going back. This year I just really didn’t want to get into it. 2017 was extremely stressful with highlights of me selling my house and wrangling the move over to my mom’s with my dad in tow, dad’s health declining a bit more, my own trip to ER for heart palpitations…a visit I still owe money for. Then there’s the continued malaise, uncertainty and extremely annoying pronouncements from the White House. I just wanted the year over with and the family visit ended up wrapped up with all of that.

What came to me that morning, as I was obsessing over what my cousin was going to say about my non-attendance at services, was that my “service to God” is in taking care of my parents at this time in their lives. That it was acceptable to ‘The Divine.’ That it is good enough. I’m not a Christian. So I’m not going to try to influence anyone towards that path. The rest of what anyone thinks I “should be doing,” doesn’t matter.