Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Update and Introspection

Radio @ AOL : Christian

First of all thanks so much for all your kind comments about poor Jeremiah.  He's a trooper, even though we took him back to the minor emergency clinic this morning.  He had the same headache from yesterday and fought being woozy all night long.  The doctor wrote a referral for him to get a CAT scan tomorrow morning.  Hopefully he'll be given the all clear. 

Sunday I broached the issue of me dealing with serious perfection issues.  I'd like to rip that open a bit more and examine it.  If you asked me where I think it comes from I would point you right to my strict, religious upbringing. 

No where is perfection expected than in a devout Christian family in the heart of the Bible belt.  You're expected to walk right, talk right, look right and do right 24/7 or you end up the object of congregational criticism.  I dealt with this a bit in my script, "Dirty Little Secrets", where my protagonist Grace McKinney has the unenviable position as a PK - or preacher's kid. 

Grace is a lot like me.  I even ended up naming her with my initials (this was not on purpose, either).  My maiden name was McCandless, her name McKinney.  What I put this girl through is not pretty, and it hurt like hell to write it.  I wrote what it would be like to be imperfect in a role where you could be nothing less than perfect.  Strict fire and brimstone father, passive obedient mother and an entire small town who watched you under a microscope just hoping you'll screw up so they can feel all the better about their own human limitations.

In my first draft I made Grace a lesbian.  I like to get in there and stir the pot and this hit really deep.  What better way to test grace and acceptance against intolerance and bigotry than to put two polar opposites in the same room - forced to make it work or completely implode.  Inevitably I dropped that angle because there was just so many things going on with her that making her a lesbian on top of it all seemed almost cruel.  I even had readers tell me that I needed to cut Grace some kind of break - it was almost too much.

Now that I've seen Monster I see a lot of parallels between Grace and Aileen.  The only difference was Grace didn't take her anger out on the world, she took her anger out on herself - which I could definitely understand.  Though Grace's method of destruction included drugs and alcohol, it was the same premise of addiction that I have with the food.  Neither Grace nor I felt like we were worth a damn, so slow suicide seemed like all we deserved.

The one thing I wanted to address in this script was the danger of organized religion.  I do not believe in religion because I believe that's just one more lie of the devil to keep man and God as separated as possible.  I mean let's face it.  When Jesus walked this planet the one group of people he had the most trouble with were the ones who should have welcomed him with open arms. 

And I trace a lot of my self loathing right back to my religious upbringing.  I remember sitting in that uncomfortable wooden pew on a hot summer morning, fanning myself with a program and listening to the preacher drone on about how this and that meant you were going to hell.  EVERYTHING was off limits.  And to make his point, this huge booming voice would scream down from the pulpit about how I was a low down dirty dog sinner who deserved hell. 

I was 8 at the time.

Everything fun was frowned on.  From the music I liked to the TV I watched or the movies I wanted to see.  I couldn't dance, kiss, laugh or even God forbid hang a poster of Steve Perry on my wall because that was just another form of idolotry and lust.

I had to walk the straight and narrow because my salvation had a tenuous shelf life, living or dying with every Sunday morning altar call.  God's grace surely would run out and he'd remember how lowly a sinner I was if I listened to a rock and roll song that week and send me to hell where I belonged.

I could never be perfect - and I so wanted to be perfect.  When I was growing up things were very difficult for me in the respect that my family was bitterly divided.  My dad and I were in one camp, my sister and mother in the other.  From the time I was born my mother worked and most of my interaction with her was asa strict disciplinarian who spent a lot of time criticising me and everything I did.  Now, as a parent, I understand how easy that is to do.  You want so much for your kid to avoid the mistakesyou made it's hard to remember what it felt like to be that age and have all those feelings.  I ended up doing to Timothy what I used to HATE my mother doing to me, and that was giving more effort into correcting what he does wrong than praising him for what he does right. 

But at the time I wanted to be perfect so my mother would finally love me, because I never felt like she did.  When I hit my teens is when she started reaching out for me, but by then I felt it was too late.  I wanted to spend time with my friends.  She, on the other hand, had only me. 

As an adult I can see why she did what she did.  This religious stuff is generational  - and my mother also had a great deal of self loathing.  I've come to learn that she made so many of the same mistakes I did, for exactly the same reasons.  My mother always put herself last - still does - because she doesn't feel as though she deserves anything for herself.  It's almost become her badge of honor to be the martyr, and in some ways has passive-aggressively used that martyr-dom in selfish ways. 

I've done that too.  It's so much easier to do stuff for the people you love and insist they do not return the favor, then rely on guilt to get them to do what you want them to anyway.  Martyr-dom is truly a very selfish, manipulative state of mind.  I'm still working on that, and it comes especially into play in the weight loss journey.

If you do a study on obese women, most of them are martyrs.  We spend all our time taking care of everyone else and not paying mind to our own care that we run ourselves into the ground. 

In essence, martyrs do not value themselves and expect others to be indebted to their generous kindness in order to ensure that someone, somewhere will love us. 

The downside of that is that we generally surround ourselves with "takers".  The more people take from us, the more entitled we feel, the more we indulge ourselves in self destructive ways. 

The vicious cycle continues until we decide that we ARE people of value who deserve to eat right and take care of themselves.

But in my religious upbringing that meant vanity or pride.  Religion breeds martyr-dom.  It feeds on this because it's extremely destructive, and religion is happiest when man has destroyed itself over something that God not only accepts, but created.

But Ginger... how can you claim to be a church going Christian and talk like this about religion?  Isn't that being hypocritical?

No, not really.  I believe in God but I do not believe in religion.  I believe in the Bible but I don't believe in a group of imperfect people demanding perfection from me in order to gain their judgment, which in the whole scheme of things their judgment means squat.  I believe in relationship, not religion.  Relationship with Jesus Christ, learning his true heart and mind and following what he taught is totally contradictory to religion.  Religion says we must judge those who don't act, think, talk or believe like we do - Jesus says love thy neighbor as we love ourselves.  Religion demands justice, an eye for an eye.  Jesus says if our enemy strikes one cheek to offer the other.

Religion feeds on fear.  Jesus personifies love.

Religion takes what he taught and bends it to fit their own personal agenda, Jesus says I'm the same yesterday, today and forever.

Religion is man's interpretation of God.  Jesus is God's interpretation of man.

There's a song we sing at church called Fields of Grace and one verse says, "There's a place where religion finally dies".  And that is in God's grace.  That grace I'm still struggling to understand, because as a human I cannot fathom such an amazing, awesome act of truest love. 

Religion raped me just as sure as that stranger did all those years ago.  The problem was, it lasted far long and the scars cut much deeper. 

So when you ask me where that unrealistic and harmful perfectionist attitude came from, I know exactly where.

How to change it is the true trick.  It's not just a matter figuring out what the problem is - it's undoing the damage that was done to that fragile young child who needed to know the Love of God, not the Wrath of God. 

In keeping with this theme, I rode my bike today (15 minutes) to some upbeat Christian worship songs, and one of those was Fields of Grace.  Go find it, you'll be blessed.


He Reigns - The Newsboys
Fields of Grace - Darrell Evans
All Things are Possible - Darlene Zschech 
Trading My Sorrows - Delerious


SNACK.  That's right, you heard me. In order to lose weight you need to eat.  The morefrequently you eat, the more you get that metabolism boosted and the more fat you burn.  It also keeps you from binging.  You feel more satisfied and therefore are less likely to overeat when you do eat.  That whole, five or six small meals instead of three big ones is true.  Now, by snack I do not mean you wolf down a bag of Doritoes.  But maybe some nuts or cheese, fruit or veggies could keep you going through the day and keep you on program.

Here are the stats, still running low on exercise today due to a nagging headache I've had since yesterday when all this mess happened with JD.  I told him I had sympathy pain.  But goodness knows I have no clue how bad he's hurting.  I didn't have a 45lb weight slam into my face.  <shudder>  Just thinking about that makes me cringe.

Calories: 2048
Fat: 29%
Sat. Fat: 11%
Water: 72oz
Exercise: Exercise bike for 15 mins

DAILY AFFIRMATION: I am what God created me to be, I deserve what God intends for me to have - the fullness of his Grace, Mercy and Love.



sjburgess51 said...

You're right, it's time to come to terms with the "religious" upbringing.  What a pity and a shame.  I was raised in a church that was "strict" by some means (no piano, no organ, no crosses on the wall" but we were not yelled at from the pulpit.  We were instructed to love and serve one another.  Were we perfect?  Of course not, we are human.  I'll say one more thing... we were never told that we were the ONLY folks going to Heaven.  That one grates on my nerves still.  ;)
 We had a preacher in Lubbock that said in a sermon, "Never keep your eyes on man (preachers, your bible leader, etc) because you will always be disappointed ... Keep your eyes on Jesus, he will never disappoint you".  I've tried to keep that in mind when I find new people that I think have a grasp on being a true Christian.  (I'm still having trouble remembering Max Lucado is just a man, he is such a great writer!!!).
 You know Gin, at least you are back in a Bible believing church.  That takes a lot of guts on your part for sure.  Many people won't set foot in ANY church after encountering an upbringing like yours.   I wonder if that was "bad religion" or just  ignorance on the part of the people involved.
 Hope you are having a much better experience now!  
Love you

journey2sarah said...

I awakened this morning (before I saw your entries today) with the faces of clients before me.  On a part-time basis my clients include women attempting to drop weight.  Women from all walks of life--their lack of hope, their sorrow, and their fear--and the way they look to me with just a drop of hope when they begin--was somehow indelibly etched on that screen this particular morning--the one that is erected in the back of our conscious mind somewhere.  It came to me how the MEDIA is SO responsible for so many many women feeling inferior, worthless, imperfect, unlovable, of no value, etc..  I then thought back to my New York City days...the days of BIG media...and how phony the environment, the values of the "artists", and how the men of today look at a photograph have NO IDEA how much money, time, and effort went into the airbrush, lighting, makeup work, hairdressing, etc. to get that piece --that slice of life, or even just a simple headshot-- for just one split second of time to look the way it does when it is presented to the public.  Even then, just out of school, I turned down a job writing copy for clients on the order of Revlon International because even though I knew I could max the opportunity, what it was doing wasn't good enough....  Enough on that for now.... My point is simply:  the students of the boob-tube, the magazine covers in the grocery check-out stand, etc.,  are getting a subconscious message:  if she doesn't look like this...______(fill in the blank).  --Part I  

journey2sarah said...

Part II of today's comments

I grew up very very happy with my faith.  I knew everything being "preached" was the truth.  I still do.  I am so glad that I had that and I thank G-d every single day for showing me the truth.  The Lord led me however to an even higher truth, if it could be possible, converting now to the "sister" church of the church of my youth!  I did not even know about the sister church.  Both of these churches are the orginial Apostolic succession of the church Our Lord founded while he was on this earth, but there was a split around about the year 1057.  It is sad to see splits (Our Lord prayed for unity) heretical teachings, false teachers, etc.  But Holy Scripture (the Bible) does say it will happen, but the devil shall not prevail (win) against the church.  Our Lord knew it would happen too.  So, He must have known it could happen to you.  Now, I would rather to err on the side of caution, then on the side of not having faith...so, it is so odd that you bring this up this morning, because I was thinking (See part I) of these women from a different vantage point--I began to envision the "condition" of their souls.  What we call an "interior life".  And, my thought was...oh how they are sad, despondent about the weight, their appearance, etc. but even more importantly, what is the condition of their souls?  If we truly love one another we think about these things.  Perhaps your preacher was doing his best; if he was not avaricious (greedy for gain) it could have been his mindset that he was helping you but he was not taught correctly himself.  Whatever seed he planted though is somehow taken root.  Now you are an adult and free to seek the fullness of truth.  As an adult you are empowered to root out the negative stuff...pull out the weeds from your garden and cultivate your faith. --Be glad you have a "garden!"  

sjburgess51 said...

 I had a very stong impression to tell you to check out "Bible Study Fellowship" in "your town".  I think they are calling you, what a good experience that would be for you.  If you are interested I'll give you the info and the next "Introduction" date.  We are studying "ACTS" this year and so far it's wonderful.  It's a good way to meet other women with every kind of background imaginable.  Sometimes when you hear their stories you gladly take your problems back!  Please let me know if you want any information regarding "BSF".
Love you