When I was very, very young, in front of the whole congregation, I accepted Jesus as my Savior. It was something given to me by my parents. In my house, a working class home, in a bed-room community where most people worked in the city across the river, we had a heavy family Bible on our mantel. At a certain stage…not specific or dictated (there was no custom), but from listening to a call…it was hoped we would make a public profession of faith. Not limited to adults, decisions children frequently made, we were all given a Bible when we responded to the call, an added incentive worth having. The pastor made decisions seem joyful; and the converted usually cried.
I don’t know if I heard The call. At the very least I was emotional. I hadn’t expected to go down. All of a sudden I was out of my seat. But I had been steered in that direction from birth. The benefits, I had been taught, would come when I died. Purely by doing X, Y, and Z I would be saved, a full understanding of the algebra would come later. Since then I have learned it wasn’t straight math. For me, it didn’t add up. There were contradictions I couldn’t get past. There was one about evolution and another one about abortion and a lot of other things in between. I had become a humanist and a liberal and had suffered from attacks. The attacks strengthened my resolve and from that resolve came feelings of superiority, which didn’t help. I just couldn’t forgive…after all, I was right and they were wrong. See the equation?
Now, with a few days left in 2008, it doesn’t matter so much. This animosity could have led to my breaking all ties with my family. Luckily that didn’t happen, and we simply no longer try proselytizing each other. We talk. We really care for each other. Love fits in there. Or more correctly, love has overcome our prejudices. I didn’t think that this day would come and that we would have feelings of concern for each other that transcend our dogma. It did come. But that doesn’t mean I won’t ever get angry with them or not get my feelings hurt. I couldn’t see how I could forgive them for their narrow-mindedness. I was, of course, equally narrow-minded, even if they were as narrow-minded as I thought they were and now know they weren’t. After all, they were family and too close for objectivity and my own struggles over identity got in the way. But I’ve changed over time. And as I approach the end of my life, now knowing more than ever that I don’t know it all, I have mellowed. This hopefully will last. But that doesn’t mean I have changed my beliefs or that I will no longer take a stand. If anything, I’m more determined than ever. I’m just not going to let my passions destroy my connection with family.
That’s where I am now as I look forward to 2009. Randy Ford.