Tuesday, January 15, 2013

More Neighbors and Wise Men

I said I would blog more about Neighbors and Wise Men by Tony Kirz- so here we go...

I have to be honest- I didn't read the book. I DEVOURED IT. I probably read waaay to much too fast. But I feel like as I was reading it, this insatiable yearning- something through all the honesty and pain that rang with me too. As I read, a could feel a balloon popping inside- releasing so much agony and bitterness and self-hate- like helium, so much of my junk leaked away, leaving me empty but clean in a way I never realized I could feel. As I read, I identified with how I feel, growing up, forced and expected to be this 'Hallmark' hero for the Christian religion- even when in reality it was so contrived- so un-genuine- so fake and cheesy. Like vacuum salesmen or info-commercials masquerading as the Holy Truth of God. And for so long I was so angry. So bitterly angry. Simultaneously, I was stuffing all the bile away somewhere- filling up my internal balloon like a tumor. What's more to my shame, I was, and probably still am, actually really good at the whole Christian religious game. But when Tony spoke about his time in Budapest, his time as a dead soul, I feel in my heart that once I was one too. It took selling Christian radio to kill me. I offered up my testimony as marketing bate for the attention-hungry. Sure it paid, but I had to run away after a year of it. I had to. It didn't matter if it was in my home town- or that my family was there confused and trying to root me on- or that my wife was doing well with her work. Everyday I had to get dressed- and as I put my tie and hat on- I put away my humanity and my dignity. I started drinking. Sure, I disguised it as social drinking- but there was always a hungry, ragged look in my eyes whenever alcohol was in the room. Anything to escape from living hell. When Tony spoke about riding the train to nowhere again and again- I cried. That was me, too. Catatonic. Walking dead. I had been dead, too. I have abused too many of God's unlikely servants because they wore a different emblem around their necks. I have hated and lusted and lied. I have been a corpse, too.

My path to healing is something different from Tony's. God moved us away- back to Missouri, to the same little town I had just left a little over a year before. Back to the very same house I used to rent the basement out of during college. The only job I had was working at a local gas station. This just went to prime my self-hating bitterness and fully ignite my own self-wretchedness. College degree, multiple experience in my field- and here I am selling cigarettes and porn to the morons on society. God is taking so much pain and healing me- day by day. I'm tired of Christian religion. I don't really knows what it means to say I love Jesus outside of Christian mantra- but I want to. I hunger and readily identify with people who clearly do, though. I think Tony is one of them. That's why I'll gush a million thank yous for his hard work, because for one poor 24 year old living in Hannibal, MO- all your struggles and failures described in your book lighted God's grace in me just a little more.

Later on in your book you talk more about Portland- where I was born and raised before my family moved to New Mexico. How you speak is so familiar- your thinking is like a native language I had, until just recently, completely forgotten. When you had your conversation in the bar with your Jewess, and she shamed you for claiming God had forgotten you- she shamed me too. So many times I have simply rattled off my own testimony- looking to wow or greedily gobble others' expected sympathy. I read and expected her to react like so many have reacted- on a cue- to me. She didn't. I thank her. When she spoke to you- she was speaking to me, too. Thank you for writing this.

I don't really know how to live in this new life, outside of religion. I don't feel I really have an accurate context for dialoguing loving and following Jesus. But I'm trying. And I'm so thankful, like you realized, that it is God ultimately healing me.

I was truly inspired when you spoke about Dr. Perkins visit to Reed. I caught my breath, because at the gas station, I see the culture of hatred stand in line every day for their smokes and gas. And so often, I am ashamed to say, I hate and mock them right back. And I also find ways to justify and encourage others to do so, too. I don't know how to be better- I just hope that God will save me. What must so many of these regular customers have lived through to be who they are now? My own personal hell must be heaven compared to theirs- a place where real, true horrors lurk.

I'm so glad you talk about your failure openly and honestly. You don't try to paint some happy smile on it or make it some cheesy Christian ending where everyone gets saved and the dog comes home and people get married. It's real life, instead. It's a place where the pain is closer to where Jesus is. It's a place where all the scars we carry help us feel Truth the most. Thank you for writing about failure. Real failure which is yours- or the ramifications of living which ends with impossible, messy situations which rip and tear and bleed. This is where Jesus is too. I still have trouble handling this reality, especially when it's my own, too. Thank you.

I wont be something great. I wont be a best-selling author or a successful Christian entrepreneur- this blog is probably confusing and rambling. But it's honest. And it's all I have to offer. In short, thank you for writing- and being who you are through your life experiences- because it helped a stranger in need and Jesus knows it.

God bless. 

Like what you read? Join in with your own insights, stories and art- send them to ryanpfreeman1@aol.com. Thanks and God bless -Ryan

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