Archive for the ‘Three Word Wednesday’ Category

The Ebbs & Flows of Faith

Posted by Doug White under Three Word Wednesday

To see why I wrote this, look at: http://www.threewordwednesday.com/ 

Religion.  It’s an interesting topic for me to discuss of late.  You could actually say that I’ve been ‘abstaining’ from religion – or church – lately.  More on that later.

Faith has always been something very big in my life but it’s also been something I’ve struggled with from time to time.  I guess that’s why they call it faith right?  Faith is fluid, and like any fluid, it ebbs and flows.  But it’s always been important to me.

I was born and raised a Catholic.  I had for many years thought I’d be a priest.   It was something that just seemed right for me.  I admired many, many priests in my growing up years and really thought being one of them would be the perfect thing for me.

That was, until I found out about girls, or at least realized that being a priest meant that girls were “hands-off”!  While my faith was strong, my spirit was definitely weak when it came to the fairer sex.  So being a priest was put to the side.

Then while I was in the Marines, I had my first real spiritual challenge.  I was working for the Chaplains Office in Camp Lejeune, NC and I worked for a Baptist Chaplain and a Catholic Priest.  And I worked with one of the most obnoxious women I’ve ever known.  To be truthful, I was young and some of it was most definitely my fault, but the lady was just worthless at the job.

I had come to the office first and when she came we were both of the same rank.  However, shortly thereafter she was promoted above me, which made her my boss.  But like I said, she was just no good at the job and we fought constantly. 

The final straw happened after I showed her that she was incorrectly doing some administrative work.  I was right, but I was also wrong.  I was wrong because it wasn’t my place, being her subordinate.  I know this now, but at the time I felt the justification that all youth do.

The Catholic Priest had me moved out of the job.  While I was still a Marine, I had been technically “fired”.   It’s the one and only time in my life I’ve been fired, so in my mind it had tarnished that halo I was sure was above my head.  I was moved into another office and the Warrant Officer who told me (because the Priest couldn’t be bothered) made me feel like I had been worthless myself in the job.

At that point, I stopped going to church.  I blamed the priest to a degree and took that blame out on the church and so I just stopped going.  No one could talk me out of it.  Until I was sent to Okinawa, Japan.  At that point, I met some incredible young people and I started going back to church and had reconnected with my faith.

Shortly after I got out of the Marines, I met a young lady whose father is a Baptist minister.  It was through him that I learned about the Salvation of Christ and asked Christ to save me.  Six months later, I made a conscious choice to leave the Catholic faith and be baptized in the Baptist faith. 

This decision was undertaken with much thought and prayer.  See, by now I knew I was in love with this young lady and I did not want to make this decision unless I was sure it was not solely based on my feelings for her.  And I believe that I made the right decision.  17 ½ years later, I am still convinced that the decision was right.  While I have fond memories of my time in the Catholic faith, I am more and more convinced that the teachings of the Baptist faith are truer to what God intended for us.

But by no means is this religion perfect.  There are some people in this faith that simply are not good people. Considering I am not perfect myself, I know that people fail all the time.  I’m the number #1 person who fails!  But sometimes the things I have witnessed just scream to me that these things cannot be of God.

When we moved to Sioux Falls, we joined a church here that was exceptional.   The preacher was probably the best preacher I had ever met and the families seemed to all be connected and caring for each other.  I felt at home in this church in a way that I had never felt anywhere.

But slowly I started noticing things that disturbed me.  There seemed to be an especially strong trend in this church to treat women/girls as 2nd class citizens.  I understand and agree that the Bible talks about different responsibilities that men and women have, but the extremes I was seeing made me very uncomfortable.  I would push it to the side though as these beliefs didn’t seem to extend towards the pastor and so I chalked it up as just some people exposing their sinful, human side.

It got worse and worse as the time went on.  And while pastor didn’t condone it, it became evident to me very quickly that he didn’t condemn it either.  I would look at my girls and think, “Do I want them exposed to this?”  And the answer kept coming back as a resounding NO.

The final straw for me was my wife.  She worked for the school in this church as an assistant for the high school teacher.  This meant she did whatever this high school teacher needed her to do.  The high school teacher (who was actually the youth pastor) asked her to handle some subjects and he would handle others.

This didn’t sit well with a young teenage boy in the class, who had been taught by his father that he did not answer to women – despite the fact that he was a boy!!  So this boy would be disruptive, get into trouble and the father would come and cause issues for my wife.

At one point, this father wanted to have a private discussion with just my wife.  I then stepped in and called the youth pastor and said that isn’t going to happen.  The youth pastor was my wife’s boss, he’d given her a job to do and if the father didn’t like it, he could take it up with the youth pastor and not my wife. 

This last year, that boy’s sister was a senior in the high school and had fallen behind on many of her subjects.  My wife tried to work with her but the girl was not very responsive.  The father – who had issues with my wife doing anything with his boy – now blamed my wife completely for his daughters’ inability to get her work done.  The Pastor’s response on this behavior?  NOT. ONE. WORD.

My wife – who was born and raised in this faith and is probably the most spiritual person I’ve ever known – started becoming nauseous at the thought of even going to church.  That was the final straw for me and we stopped going. 

I am struggling with this, because like I said before I know that churches are filled with imperfect people.  To me though, there is a big difference between being imperfect and striving for spiritual perfection and completely ignoring imperfections because you either don’t care or don’t feel they are wrong.  While I understand that my earlier decision to not go to the Catholic church when I was in the Marines was done in haste and was a poor decision, I don’t feel like my decision to not go to this church was done for the same reasons.

My wife and I have taken the summer and have been doing services with the kids ourselves.  I try to give them some sort of biblical lesson each Sunday.  But I know that eventually we should consider looking for another church.  I don’t think we can go back to the previous church unless or until their house gets in order.  Finding another church frightens me though.  While I am convinced of the truth of my faith and that faith clearly states that church membership is an expectation of God, I am no longer as convinced that any group, church or body of people are truly building the church of believers that God expects of us. 

Is it arrogant of me to think I know more than older, more “learned” people in my faith?  Probably.  But I look at my little girls and I am determined that before I set my heart on another church that will become one of the spiritual guiding forces of my girls lives that it will and must be held to a higher standard than I’ve done in the past.   God put my wife and I as the protectors of our girls both physically and spiritually and I am taking that job very, very seriously.

For Want of a Banana

Posted by Doug White under Three Word Wednesday

To see why I wrote this, look at: http://www.threewordwednesday.com/

“I truly would sell my soul for a banana right now.” He whined to his wife.

She looked over at him, trying to mask her annoyance but the grimace on her face was a dead give-away.  “Would you stop? You’re almost done with Phase 1 of this diet!”

He knew he was being a pain, but it seemed impossible to stop.  He’d been on this diet for several weeks and it had proven to be very successful.  He’d dropped over 80 pounds – the equivalent of a young kid – and he felt really good.  That is, with one exception.  He couldn’t get his mind off food! 

Hamburgers, pizza, chocolate chip cookies, you name it, if it was bad for you, he was thinking about it.  Food even invaded his dreams! He’d dream about falling off of his diet by sneaking some of his daughter’s birthday cake or eating a bag of Twizzlers in the car on the way home from work.

And the oddest thing of all is he thought about eating fruit all the time.  The diet prevented any sugar from being eaten and that included fruit.  He desperately wanted an apple, or some pineapple or a banana.  He was sure that when he was off this diet he was going to hit the local grocery store and just eat his weight in bananas until the cops took him away for disturbing the other customers.

“I really would hon.  I’d sell my soul for a banana.  Really.”  He said again to his better half.

She looked at him once more, her annoyance at him seeming to permeate from every pore in his body.  “Oh really?  Would you really sell your soul? Hmm?”  And with that last question, her face seemed to contort and … change.

Suddenly, his wife was no longer there and in her place stood one of the most demonic, hideous creatures he’d ever seen.  He gasped in horror as one moldy, bug infested hand of this thing that replaced his wife grabbed his shoulder and another slid a piece of paper over to him.  “If that’s the case, just sign here…”

He tried to let out a scream but there was nothing coming out of his mouth. He bolted from the chair he was in and began to move away from this monster.  But it kept moving towards him, paper in one hand and what looked like a banana in another. 

Finally he got the strength to turn and run, only to stumble over one of the dog’s toys on the floor.  As he fell, he hit his head on the side of the stove and was unconscious.

“Daddy get up!  Daddy?  Are you ok?”

“Huh?  Whazit?” He opened his eyes to see his wife and one of his daughters standing over him.  Slowly he sat up, rubbing his head as he did so.  “What happened?”

“I don’t know, Daddy.  It looks like you fell and hit your head?  Are you ok?”

“I think so, hon.” He stood up and tried to get his bearings.  Was any of that real?  Surely it was all a dream?

About that time, his wife came over and handed him some…bananas.  “Here you go, sweetheart.  I know you’ve been looking forward to having one.”

His face contorted in shock as she continued, “And when you’re done, I’ve got something for you to sign…”

Night Fishing

Posted by Doug White under Three Word Wednesday

To see why I wrote this, look at: http://www.threewordwednesday.com/

It had been a long and unseasonably hot day.  The day came and went – as so many do – with little fanfare.  But to Bill Midland, the day couldn’t get over fast enough.  Bill was planning his first night fishing trip and couldn’t wait to get started.

Finally the work day ended.  His family was out of town and so with no obligations before him, he began to prepare for the big event.  By no means was Bill a seasoned fisherman, but he had his poles, some hooks; a flashlight for when it got dark and plenty of mosquito repellant.  All he needed to do was make a stop at the local store for some worms to use for bait and he had everything he needed.

Bill headed out to Wall Lake, which is about 15- 30 minutes away from his house.  It’s a beautiful lake that his girls and he found about a year before.  One area is reserved as a kind of a beach for those who want to swim and enjoy the day.  But if you traveled around towards the back, there is an area with a little dock as well as a small bridge that you can get up close and personal with the fish.

Bill got to that area right about sunset and began setting up.  He had decided that he was going to fish off the bridge.  It was relatively quiet with the exception of some cicada’s singing in the trees.  Bill felt the stress of the day wash away as the peacefulness of the lake flooded through him.

 Within a short time the line on his pole began to jump indicating that he had caught something.  Bill gleefully pulled his line in and grabbed a hold of his catch only to find that it was a… tennis shoe.  Annoyed, he pulled the shoe off and threw it to the side.  He put his line back out into the water again.

 As the darkness started to envelop the area, Bill felt another pull on his line.  “About time!” he thought to himself and began to reel it in again.  And again, he got a tennis shoe, the match to the first one. “What in the world?” he muttered.

 He tried again.  The area became even darker as the sun completely set. Bill began to consider just going home as he wasn’t catching anything when he felt his line tug again.  “Better not be another stupid shoe!” he said out loud.

 It wasn’t.  This time, it was a t-shirt.  A red and black one with some local band displayed on the front.  His heart skipped a beat as he noticed that the front of the shirt seemed to have a tear from the top of the right side of it to the bottom of the left.  A jagged tear; almost as if it had been done with a…fishing knife?

Realization washed over Bill in great waves.  Someone had been attacked out here.  Bill couldn’t bring himself to throw his line out into the water again for fear of what he might find.  The darkness seemed more menacing all of a sudden.

 Bill grabbed his equipment and began to move off the bridge.  As he walked quickly towards his car, he heard a soft voice seemingly coming from the water.  “oooh my next victim…”  Before Bill could react, a hand from the water grabbed his leg and pulled him over the bridge.