Shifting Gears [4]

unashamed

Unashamed

I was born under the twin towers of shame and pride.

My mother prided herself on rising up from the dilapidated shack on the Hudson River across from New York. Her rise from second-hand clothing and no running water was her badge of honor. My father hid with shame, the quiet emotional poverty of a childhood spent reacting to the mercurial moods of an alcoholic parent. He never thought he was quite good enough to take us to nice restaurants.

Before the age of three family members died one after the other and though I don’t remember any of them, the awareness of death and separation plagued my young mind. Inherited pride led me to believe I was captain of my ship, yet with shame, I noted how rudderless and shaky my travelling vessel was. All the while I asked myself was there any point. Death loomed.

Before I wrote my first novel, I drifted uninspired and crippled with doubt into many ports always with an eye on the storms that might lead to shipwreck. The novel grounded me. I thought I wanted to play the hipster author smug and ironic, but my characters had hearts and souls. How could they take grace, love, and redemption seriously? How could they believe in an un-hip God? They refused to be cool.

Fifteen years passed. The grounding was an illusion. I was still on a boat but no longer at the helm. Conversion stories abound on the internet. Mine happened searching scripture to put hypocritical words in my characters’ mouths.

Recently I realized I still live under the towers. My characters (and I suspect God), try leading me, but I tend to cry shipwreck and jump into the sea or hide deep in the hull of life.

A few weeks ago, a fellow blogger invited me to give answers to a Q&A series about reading habits. My shelves sag with history, literature, and how-to books (maybe I keep some to impress people), and for most of the questions I kept my head above water until I was asked which single book I would recommend to another.

I hesitated . . . for days. I considered lying. I had a hidden crutch, a new-found yet semi-secret belief in what some considered an offensive savior. When I hit the send button with my answered questions, I had a sinking feeling I’d lost all standing with this faraway internet acquaintance. I recommended the Bible. I suddenly realized how easy it was for Peter to deny Christ.

My hipster novelist thing shattered. I’d often sold my book as a story about a morphine addict because I wanted faraway people to think it was edgy—but I lied to get “likes.” The real story is about a family on a difficult journey, as we all are. In the end, they figure out who’s at the helm. There’s no shame in that any longer for me.

© Adrienne Morris, 2015

Adrienne blogs @ Middlemay Books

 

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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36 thoughts on “Shifting Gears [4]

  1. Sometimes, it is very hard to be “real.” I did feel bad for her, having family members not living and a father who didn’t want to go out to nice restaurants not feeling worthy.
    This post expressed some disappointed moments and over the whole post a feeling of hiding and shame of her family’s reality. I felt bad for Adrienne but I also think one reason why people write books, songs or paint pictures is to express their angst. I am glad her book (s) are published through Middlemay Books. Hoping at some point, Adrienne comes to love ♡ herself. 🙂 ~Robin

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  2. It is always a pleasure to to read a well written article even if you disagree with some of its sentiments. I think it is important to keep an open mind and listen to other points of view. From the above comments your story seem to resonate with a great number of people. Congratulations and thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Hello Adrienne,

    I enjoyed reading this. I admire your courage to stand for what you believe in even if it is viewed as being somewhat uncool according to popular mindset.

    In comparison, the society where I come from prefers the exaggerated variant of religion and spirituality. The two have become incorrectly used interchangeably.

    One is almost bullied into banging tambourines as soon as they hit the streets, peppering their speech with religious lingo to impress, to blend. Intelligent questioning is seen as a lack of faith.

    Where I live, to choose subtle spirituality is considered being lukewarm, backsliding even. A quiet prayer is deemed less potent than a loud one, justified with an adulterated interpretation of “The kingdom suffereth violence, the violent taketh it by force.”

    Forced amplified enthusiasm becomes the sad outcome. A breed of silently faithless believers (quite the oxymoron. 🙂 )

    In the end, God sees the heart.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. So interesting! Thanks for sharing. Your story reminds me of a story told in The Gulag Archipelago where Stalin visited a city council meeting and everyone stood to clap once he entered the room. No one had the courage to stop clapping first since it might be a sign of disloyalty and lukewarm enthusiasm so they clapped for 20 minutes. Finally someone stopped and they breathed a sigh of relief. The one who stopped first was sent to prison camp (I think).

      I agree that God sees the heart. Whether a country rules with the iron fist of theocracy or totalitarianism based on a secular ideology the outcome is the same: brutality and slavery.

      The US was a beacon of religious freedom for most of its history (though not perfect) but now there is a move to silence Christianity here so I’m definitely coming at this from the other end of the spectrum. 🙂 Christianity is a choice. Jesus never forces his will upon anyone. Christian conversion stories are inspiring love stories of a God for his children.

      Do you still live in the country you speak of?

      I hope you are at peace and I wish you many blessings. Thanks so much for writing your thought-provoking comment!

      Adrienne

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh Adrienne! I LOVED this post! Thanks, Timi, for being so generous with your blog. I have been here! I don’t have a hipster novel, but i know what it’s like to try to balance a Christian mindset in a mainstream environment. I know what it’s like to compromise.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’ve definitely noticed an uptick in anti-Christian remarks in the last ten years in the media, but never had to deal with it personally until I worked on an organic farm. My boss discovered I was a Christian when I made some off the cuff remark and for the rest of the season I was singled out for his almost daily anti-Christian commentary. Looking back I should have challenged him on it, but I was too much of a coward. I learned a lot about myself that year. It was very humbling to realize how much I cared about what other people thought–at the expense of my deepest convictions. Ugh. Still growing.

      Have you ever self-censored?

      Anyway, thanks for your kind remarks.

      Adrienne

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you, Timi for hosting Adrienne, and thank you, Adrienne for sharing your experience.

    I sometimes find that it’s hard to talk about my faith. Saying anything about it can feel coercive to people who have been on the receiving end of the kind of evangelists that seek to force their ideas and understanding on others. Many people I meet have a negative attitude toward Christianity because they hear so much in the news about the narrow-mindedness and cruelty of some groups of Christians. And yet, the Christianity I know is all about love. Sometimes I, too, hesitate to talk about it.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I hear you. I remember being on the receiving end of some of those over zealous evangelists.LOL. There are zealots in every walk of life. I just listened to the story about a vegan animal rights activist who received death threats when she gave up veganism to save her health!

      My husband used to keep a pocket bible on his desk at work and it was funny to see how people reacted to him just because of that.

      I think the blessing of being a writer is that you can slip your messages into your work but be out of punching distance. haha (that might be the coward in me). Seriously though, I’ve been moved by people who live their lives faithfully, they don’t hide but they don’t push either. Sometimes it’s a fine line.

      Isn’t it funny that there’s less fear talking about being almost anything but a Christian?

      Liked by 2 people

  6. It’s great when we accept ourselves as we are without worrying about what “they” think. As we reclaim our integrity, we notice increased harmony in what we think, what we say, and what we do:

    * Always remember that you don’t have to be what they want you to be. ~ Mohammad Ali

    Here’s to shedding our masks!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Thank you for hosting, Andrienne, Timi.
    I enjoyed reading your thoughts, Andrienne. I love that you recommended the Bible. I’ve found there’s a solution to every problem I face, when I open my Bible. I love the Roosevelt quote you mentioned in the comment above…so true!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I used to think people who read the Bible and actually memorized scripture were really weird! LOL. When I really dug into history I realized how common it was in the Western world of our recent past. There’s so much bad or untrue stuff written about the Bible sadly. It’s the most amazing book in the world. Incredible, breathtaking wisdom! And the love God has for his children–I had no idea.

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  8. Love this story and treasure the dialogue it has provoked. Timi really knows how to gather thinkers and sharers. Very enriching. I was an agnostic in my twenties, which is probably pretty normal in the USA. I’ve written about my journey to conversion in a series of three posts on my Blog. It starts with my loss of my childhood religion in Hubris Part 1, through seeking purpose outside religion in Hubris Part 2, and then describes being helped to risk opening up to Jesus and the explosion of faith and grace that brought in Hubris Part 3.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. I commented before, but need to add something. I find that I have two problems when it comes to sharing my faith. One, God is simply too big for me to understand, but Jesus fleshes out love in a way few of us experience it from humans. Two, some groups that call themselves Christians seem to have missed the point and I can’t really identify with them. So I have to try to find ways to share the incredible love that is Jesus, while trying to keep that separate from many Christian religions.
    Unfortunately, Christians have given Jesus such a bad rap that it really takes grace, discernment and sensitivity to know when and how to share to get through many people’s preconceived ideas. .

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I don’t think I could ever do street corner evangelism (though once on a trip to Nicaragua we did a mime performance about Jesus–now that was way out of my comfort zone). The Christians I’m drawn to are the ones who aren’t afraid to defend their faith, but at the time just quietly behave the way Jesus told them to. My concern is that I’m drawn to them because they don’t quite challenge me in the same way as say the American doctor in prison in Iran for his Christianity.

      The Bible says many people will turn away from the light and I know how easy that is to do. I don’t have an answer on this as it’s part of my struggle too.

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  10. Isn’t it amazing once you open your mind, how such old stories can speak to modern times. In the 1950’s I took a course in modern literature. I did very poorly in it. In the 1970’s after reading the Scriptures through first without faith and then later with new faith, I took another modern literature course and found I could now understand what the books were about, because they were all about humanity”s struggle between good and evil and believer or not the authors drew on the bible’s riches. The long lasting authors, whether they were consciously aware of it or not, are all influenced by the Scriptures.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So true! How did you come to faith?

      It’s difficult to explain to a non-believer the peace and strength God gives you once you believe. When I didn’t believe I just thought the Bible was full of cliches and judgment! How little I knew. I remember reading the story of Joseph and his brothers for the first time. When Joseph wept, so did I. What was that??? haha. When you think you have to prove something to everybody life can be unnecessarily hard.

      Teddy Roosevelt said” a thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education.”

      There was quite a lot of Bible bashing in my college courses but I got they impression that no one knew what they were talking about–a lot of the students and profs hadn’t read it through (I had read only bits and pieces).

      Thanks for commenting,
      A

      Liked by 2 people

  11. I am glad you could surmon the strength within and without to express your convictions without feeling guilty.

    Somewhat our subconscious control us in subtle ways, the feeling of being stuck in a rut trying to figure our identity as a person in exclusion of our surroundings and traditions we can’t control is the bane of contention.

    What I could grasp is not to allow fear and past mistakes\issues determined our future or determine that we don’t deserve the best out of life

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I think to grow we have to make peace with the past. For me this came when I saw that the characters in the Bible were really horrible at times yet still God had a purpose for them and loved them. I think I was too caught up in being loved by EVERYONE. A lot of it has to do with pride.

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  12. It seems to me that all of life is about searching for love, meaning, significance, and security and defending the values that give us these with our time, money, etc. A journey of conviction if you will.

    Your story holds special meaning for me as I experienced a crisis of faith on my journey of conviction this year.

    Peter who denied Jesus at crucial moments later had opportunities to proclaim him from some of the biggest platforms of his time. There is hope for the rest of us …

    To declare and stand by your convictions, whatever they may, in any culture hostile to them, takes courage. Somewhere in the definition of courage should be the word, unashamed.

    Thanks Adrienne!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so thrilled the piece spoke to you. Dark nights of the soul are very difficult.

      In the US the level of persecution is low compared to other places. Here it’s a social ostracism in dumb little ways and some troubling big ways. It’s okay if you’re a Christian, but don’t ever bring up Christianity in polite conversation or at school!! Self censorship is my problem–one I’ll be working on in the coming weeks.

      Good luck on your faith journey, Timi.

      A

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Interestingly, I had the need to visit a psychologist recently. During the course of discussions and Eve’s n response to a direct question, I said ‘I have my faith abs I lean on that’. It was a split second conscious decision on my part to make this statement. Yo could hear a pin drop in the silence that ensued. The young female psychologist stared at me. Her intern who was sitting in ontve session stared at her notes; refusing to meet my eyes. I did not mind waiting for them to decide when tgeawkwardness for them had abated so we could carry on. All I know I put it out there unshamedly. I was happy.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. That’s a GREAT story! I wonder why people are so uncomfortable around believers. Is it that darkness hates the light or that they just feel bad that we’re crazy? LOL. I think a lot of people would rather not think of things in spiritual terms–it suggests a decision or a weakness.
          Good for you! That’s heartening for me so thank you.

          A

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  13. What an inspiring story. Even through all the vicissitudes and conundrums of life, He was & remains at the helm. It takes some divine steering to arrive at this revelation. I love it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think about how long I tried to steer and how miserable I was doing it and laugh. But it’s a scary thing putting your trust in God. God was very sneaky with me. he seemed to know a head on confrontation with the divine would have scared me so He gently nudged me to explore the scriptures for a secular project I was working on. A long story but filled with God’s steering for sure!

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