Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Your Christians Are Not Like Your Christ

My faith is important to me. It has shaped who I am and who my husband and I are raising our children to be. We are Christians and my husband and I were both raised in Christian homes, by Christian parents. Lately, though, I find myself thinking a lot about the quote by Ghandi where he stated, "I like your Christ. I don't like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ."
While my faith is important to me and while there are convictions I have based on this faith, I also like to think of myself as a fairly decent, accepting person. I don't begrudge anyone their religion (or non-religion) or personal preferences. I tend to take the approach that while I believe this way and my life is a reflection of that, you also have the right to believe and live how you want. That being said, as a Christian, there is a certain "code" I live by and expect others who claim to be Christians to live by as well. Some of that includes helping those in need, working hard, and generally treating others how we would want to be treated. There is a verse in the Bible, in the book of Matthew, that states, "Truly, I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." I take that seriously and think that we as people, but especially as Christians, need to treat people better. All people. Not just those we like or those we agree with, but people we may not like, or people we may completely disagree with or even struggle to tolerate.

This past year has been very bumpy for us personally and professionally and the people who I would have expected to offer support didn't. (And by this "support" I am not referring to anything tangible. I'm referring to emotional support, checking in, etc. As a disclaimer, let me also publicly state that I am not referring to my family. They have been wonderful and amazing and things would be unbelievably worse were it not for their help). While this hasn't rocked my faith it has caused me to take a hard (and painful) look at the church to which we belong and those we considered our church family. While there was initial concern, after a few months we heard nothing from anybody there. Nobody checked in to see why we hadn't been to church in a while (serious health issues with our son and my husband's work schedule being the two primary reasons) except for a really snarky email from our pastor after missing a few weeks of services. I had made mention to the pastor early on that as a result of what we were going through we were feeling rather depressed. He never once followed up with either of us to see how we were doing. Outside of one man who was wonderful to my husband in the early months not a single other attempt at outreach was made.

While I have pretty thick skin this hurt a bit. The other part is that it made me wonder if this was really a church I wanted to be a part of. If other people are hurt or struggling or ill do I want to be associated with a church that is viewed as cold and callous? The irony in all of this is that this church (and many religions in general) criticize the government and always advocate for private charity, church help, etc. This argument presumes that the church is willing or able to help. It was very disappointing to me, after hearing all my life, how Christians are supposed to help others, care about others, treat others as we would treat Christ, etc, that the church put none of this into practice. It will be hard for me to sit through another sermon hearing about how we as Christians are supposed to behave and treat others when I have witnessed and experienced the hypocrisy first hand.

This is not an indictment of all Christians, of all churches, of all religions, or even of all people in the church I am referring to. My husband and i had attended a few services at another church a few weeks leading up to the start of our "year from hell" and when I opened my email I had offers from people to bring meals, offers from people to help watch my other kids while I was running all over town to doctor's appointments, offers for people to do my grocery shopping, etc. These offers came from women I had met briefly and in some instances never met. These are the types of people that epitomize my perception of Christians. These are women with a servant's heart looking to treat others as they would treat Christ.

I have been a member of my "brand" of Christianity all my life. Considering leaving is not something I take lightly. There have been incidents throughout the years that keep bringing me back to a place where I really feel I need to make the move and start over. This may have been the final straw that serves as the catalyst for that move.

I am interested to hear your thoughts. Have you left a church or religion altogether? If you are not religious how does my experience match up with your impression of Christians? If you are a Christian how would you handle this situation?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Hall of Fame Induction Speech

My high school basketball coach is being inducted into the Hall of Fame here in town. A few months ago he asked if I would give his induction speech. I was and am very honored and of course agreed to do it. The ceremony is tomorrow night and I am a bundle of nerves. Despite being a decent public speaker it gives me intense anxiety. I'm sick for days about it.

He was a wonderful coach and is a terrific man and was truly the ideal high school coach. We had unprecedented success and to this day some of my former teammates remain my closest friends. I look back fondly on those years and my basketball experience is the primary reason for that.

So, while I am incredibly nervous about sweating profusely, stumbling over my words, or blushing with embarrassment (pale, white people have a tendency to do that) I am also thankful for the opportunity to publicly acknowledge the impact he had in all of our lives.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Foot Loose and Tonsil Free

Our 4 year old son has his tonsils out yesterday and it has been a rough 38 hours since. The procedure itself went fine, but he came out of anesthesia fighting mad. They rushed out to the waiting room to get me (I would have preferred they came and got me first and then woke him up, which likely would have prevented the events that followed from occurring).

Anyway, when I walked back there he was swinging at the nurse, SCREAMING at her, completely incoherent. He was wild-eyed, scared, and in pain. It broke my heart. I ran to him, scooped him up, and laid down in the bed with him. He went right to sleep.

Then they woke him up to try to get him to drink or eat a popsicle, both of which he refused. He then also tried to rip his IV's out. The nurses finally gave up and removed them for him.

He vomited on the ride home, all over himself, the car, and the Albertson's parking lot.

Poor kid.

Thankfully he slept on and off for most of the day. He woke up rather frequently to vomit. After the 8th time in as many hours I called the office, where I got a medical-assistant who informed me that it is "normal" to vomit every hour for up to 48 hours. Whaaaat???? I'm not a doctor, but if the number one concern after surgery is dehydration then it seems to me that throwing up 48 time sin 48 hours would be a bit of a problem.

Last night was pretty miserable. I got a total 1 hour of sleep because his fever rose up to 103, he continued to vomit throughout the night, and he was pretty much just miserable. At 3 am we came downstairs and watched cartoons until 9 when he finally fell asleep for an hour.

The on-call surgeon I called at 7 this morning told me he wouldn't call in an anti-nausea medication, but I should instead take him to the emergency room, where they could both hydrate and medicate him. I wanted to be able to control the vomiting at home in the hopes that he would then start to be able to keep down what he attempted to drink. Long story short, the nurse from the surgery center ended up relaying my frustration to our actual doctor who finally at 2:30 called in a prescription for anti-nausea meds which I promptly gave him He then slept for the next 4 hours. Since he's been given two doses he has not vomited once and has even been able to take three bites of an icee.

He is not consuming anywhere near the amount of liquids he needs too and if his fever doesn't stay under control we will likely end up in the hospital anyway, but I am working my ass off trying to avoid that.

I just really hope having these tonsils out makes a difference for him. I asked the surgeon to save the tonsils so I could see them. They were pretty bad. Huge, cryptic, pockets of bacteria. It made me feel better about subjecting him to such misery.

All in all, having your tonsils and adenoids removed is quite the ordeal.

My son is loud, rowdy, and rambunctious. I am constantly telling him to quiet down or calm down. Right now I would kill for that loud, rowdy, rambunctious boy to be running through our house. This listless, miserable, upset child breaks my heart.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Addison Rerecich, The Pink Ninja, Gets a Second Chance at Life

A young girl, 11 years old, who is a member of the church I grew up in became very ill last May. She ended up in the ICU where she still remains. This was written by her mother on a Facebook page that people around the world have been following, "Addison Rerecich was a normal, healthy 11 year old girl, until late last May, when she was suddenly stricken with a dangerous bacterial infection in her bloodstream. Although she has survived the initial infection, her lungs were horribly damaged, and she has been in the Intensive Care unit at UMC's Diamond Children's Center for more than 3 months, fighting for her life. She now is waiting for a lung transplant, her only hope for recovery."

She has been dubbed The Pink Ninja because by all medical accounts she should have died months ago. The fact that she is still hanging on is nothing short of a miracle. I have spent a lot of time checking the Facebook page for updates, hoping and praying, that this little girl is given the life saving transplant she needs, while acknowledging for that to happen someone else has to say goodbye to a loved one and make the difficult decision of whether or not to donate.

Yesterday, Addison underwent a double lung transplant that will ultimately give her a second chance at life. It won't be the same life this once healthy, athletic girl had, but it will be a new life nonetheless. It was indescribable the relief I felt when I read that she was in the operating room. I was also incredibly sad that for this to happen some other family had to grieve the loss of a loved one. It also made me incredibly grateful to that family that in a moment of such sorrow they were able to make such a selfless, life-giving decision. Her family has been very cognizant of this fact through the entire process.

Today, I am just incredibly thankful that this child who has fought for months, is breathing air through lungs that aren't riddled with bacteria and punctured with holes and that were rendered useless. She has been kept alive by machines. Without those the doctors said she would have died within seconds to minutes, not hours, not days. While she is still on a ventilator her lungs are able to finally take in and expel equal amounts.

Today is a good day. Today is the first day of a new life for an 11 year old girl and her family.