Americorps, Charlottesville, church, Easter Bunny, Faith, God, Grace, growing up, hell, Holy Spirit, humility, Jesus, love, mentoring, ministry, rehabilitation center, Santa Claus, self-esteem, Spiritual Calling, tangible proof, Tooth Fairy, tutoring, VISTA, work ethics
(I was branding him much much worse)
What is this “redefinition” of which I speak? It was intensely personal I can assure you, but I know that others go through a similar ordeal. When I was a child, I believed in anything because I was told it was so. I believed in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, God, and his son Jesus. The first three gave tangible proof of their existence by the goodies they bestowed, making it easier to believe in them. Why would anyone give stuff away and not claim credit for themselves. It had to be the Fat Man, the Confused Rabbit, and the Dentine Fetishist.
But, I believed in God with the same intensity, even though all he ever did for me was make me dress uncomfortably on Sundays. And, once again the reason for the belief was because that’s what “they” told me. Well, I eventually found the truth about the first three (and was most heartbroken over the loss of Mr. Claus) and even in the face of those deceptions, I STILL believed in God. It was strictly on the assurances of others. No one said, “We were just fooling you about God to make you happy and because you’re too little to see through our lies.”
Oh no. God and Jesus were and are serious business. As a matter of fact, there were dire consequences if you didn’t believe: HELL!
God kept a Naughty/Nice list just like Santa, but if you ended up on the wrong side of HIS balance sheet, it wasn’t a lump of coal you got in your Christmas Stocking. You got to spend eternity screaming in roasting agony in the middle of a coal furnace. And, you were ALWAYS naughty! *nods* So, you better ask for forgiveness and ask for it quick! Plus, how can you ask for forgiveness if at first you don’t believe? Huh? Figure that one out.
Well, sooner or later we all have to grow up. Sooner or later we have to believe in something or someone not because are told to, but because we know it for a personal fact. How can we know something about a non-physical, scientifically unprovable being unless we somehow make a personal, very real connection with that being?
That was the state I was in when as a young teenager I made that personal connection with the Holy Spirit. It was a consequence of that connection that I received a Spiritual Calling. It was turning back on that calling that led me down the road to that nearly, but not quite, loss of faith that found me, in 2007, dragging my nearly dead ass into a rehabilitation center. It was in rehab that the miniscule speck of faith in me was rekindled into a flame.
There I was, once again, on fire. Forget the fire extinguisher. Find me a ministry.
This reconciliation was stronger than previously owing to the cause for its reappearance and the vast difference in personal experience gained between intervals.
there was a huge disconnect of which I was unaware. The sensation of the experience was more profound, but there was little if any difference in my understanding of the nature of faith in the Spirit. I felt Love deeper than ever, but I had not grown in how I was to walk in that faith. Moreover, the heightened intensity fooled me into thinking that understanding had also grown. Consequently, I did not seek to study how I should move in this new state of Grace.
Considering the forces I was about to confront, this error proved very costly indeed. It was in just such a state of willingness to serve and ignorance of how to walk in faith that I entered into my new position in Charlottesville. Hindsight is a bitch.
I left the Center in June 2008 and moved to Charlottesville. The director promised housing by the end of the summer. With the understanding that I would be gone by September 1, I moved in with my friend. This would be the first of three times that Rydell Payne lied to me on that particular topic, and the first of multiple other times that he lied to me on a wide variety of other issues.
The regular year contract of a VISTA didn’t begin until September. From the time I arrived in June until then, I was to serve under the title of “Summer Associate.” My first duties in that post were to mentor a group of young men between the ages of 9-12. I tutored them in reading and acted as mentor. We went on field trips and had outdoor recreation. I also supervised boys age 12 to 15 in summer jobs that included yard work and car washing. This was ostensibly to foster good work ethics, self esteem, and put some cash in their pockets.
It was fulfilling. I felt that I was providing worthwhile and God blessed service. I met a fellow volunteer who was destined to become a life-long friend. It was a blessed and unforgettable time. I had to bear the ever-increasing burden, curse and damaging influence of the director. At that early stage, his depredations were overshadowed (albeit briefly) by the blessings I was experiencing. I even justified and rationalized his unjustifiable and irrational behaviors as a lesson in humility given to me by the Spirit. Somehow, under his corrupt tutelage and guidance I was supposed to reap a harvest of humility and grace. I was soooooo wrong. A bad tree does not produce good fruit.
I was keeping a journal and wrote in it every day. I was writing detailed reports of daily activities. I was also keeping a detailed log of thoughts and feelings.
To close this post, I feel it is necessary to make an important point.
I did not continue to go to church after arriving in Charlottesville. For the first time in over a year, I was not a member of a like-minded group of people in a spiritual community. This one factor was key to my coming redefinition of faith and to the direction my life would take from the moment I set foot in C’ville.