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Rant Alert: Marriage Equality & Christianity

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I’ve sat and watched with increasing frustration the last few weeks as people on social media have debated the topic of marriage equality back and forth. It’s frustrating for a number of reasons. The level of vehemence on both sides. The ignorance. The intolerance. Often, the sheer stupidity of the statements, again, often from both sides. More than anything, what has both frustrated and angered me is the responses I’ve seen from self-proclaimed Christians, especially from people that I know and love. I’ve debated back and forth whether I really wanted to get into the fray by writing something about it. I didn’t want to get into heated debates with people. I’ve made some comments on social media in various places, but mostly I’ve restrained myself from really diving in. Tonight, after another one of these topics came up in a Facebook post, I decided I couldn’t hold back any longer. I’m not going to debate whether homosexuality is a sin or not. I’m not going to open that can of worms. I am going to debate why marriage equality should happen (or continue to happen), and why Christians should stop getting so up in arms about it. The main point is this:

It May Share the Same Name, But It Isn’t The Same Thing

The biggest argument I’ve seen against marriage equality is that it smacks in the face of God’s definition of marriage. It’s sinful, an abomination, and will be the downfall of society, America, and apple pie. Here’s why you’re wrong.

1.It’s not the same thing as the marriage you’re talking about.
It just isn’t. The Judeo-Christian definition of marriage is the joining of man and woman in a holy covenant between themselves and God. They are spiritually and physically joined together in a union that is meant to last until death. It has a HUGE spiritual significance. It is a huge deal, just like all covenants with God.

Other cultures and religions have varying interpretations and emphasis. For some you’re joined to Gaia, for others it’s a union blessed by Thor and Odin, or the moon and the stars, or whatever. Marriage has a different meaning for every different culture and religion. They all share a common ground, the joining of two people’s lives, but the significance and what that union means can vary and is entirely dependent on the couple and their beliefs. This is not the kind of marriage that you need a government to condone. This is the type of marriage that has gone on for centuries across most cultures in the world since societies began.

The kind of marriage that people are losing their freaking minds about is the other kind of marriage- a legal contract between two consenting adults that joins their lives in a legally recognized way and bestows upon them special privileges and selectively-apportioned state benefits according to that government’s laws.

It’s a legal.

Contract.

As far as the government is concerned it has nothing to do with love, God, Allah, Gaia, Thor, the entire Greek pantheon, or my chicken sandwich. Any other significance, beyond the legal, placed upon it from there is ENTIRELY dependent upon the beliefs of the couple. Arguing over this topic to the point of violence is as dumb as arguing over whether “sinners” should be allowed to sign the Apple Terms of Service Agreement.

Christianity doesn’t own the concept of marriage. We don’t have a trademark on the term. Marriage of one kind or another has been happening in societies long before God made His covenant with Abraham or before Moses wrote the Ten Commandments. It is an ideal that has been practiced by cultures that had never even heard of Yahweh,  Jesus, God, or the Holy Spirit. Hell, Native Americans were practicing a form of it before the rest of the known world invaded and gave them the gift of smallpox and introduced them to the concept of eviction.

Now, if said homosexual couple wants to have a religious wedding, then that is another topic for debate; but it has nothing to do with the marriage license or the legal side of things, which is all the Supreme Court decided. Either way, there are two different versions of marriage at play here. One is legal, the other holy. Stop confusing the two and getting up in arms about it.

2. It is Incredibly Hypocritical 

The “baker” question has been floating around quite a bit on Facebook lately. Should Christian bakers bake cakes for gay weddings? Would Jesus? (I’m not touching on whether they should legally be forced to, just the idea of willingly doing it or not.) I said this in a Facebook topic earlier today and I’ll share it here, and note that this is me with my “Minister” hat on now:
I’m wondering, for all of you hypothetical bakers, if you’d refuse to bake a cake for a couple who had a sexual relationship before the wedding, or if they’d committed adultery, or been previously married but divorced for a reason other than adultery? If the answer is yes, how, exactly, would you plan on staying in business?

When did homosexuality suddenly become this line in the sand and thus worse than all other “sinful lifestyles”? Why is a homosexual wedding any different than a couple who had lived and had sex together out of wedlock before the wedding, or what if they’re wiccan, or agnostic, or atheists? They’re all considered “sinful lifestyles”, yet you don’t see these bastions of Christianity denying cakes to everyone else. Is it only okay as long as the baker is ignorant of the lifestyle in question? Should we start having sin questionnaires just to be sure? Should we have to call their pastors and confirm that they’re card carrying Christians? Do we not see how hypocritical this line of thinking becomes?

Further food for thought, for the ones so aghast at the thought of “Jesus the baker” baking a cake for these sinful people- he WAS a carpenter. Do you think he refused to make furniture for “sinners”, knowing that they may use said furniture to celebrate acts of gluttony or even for use during a wedding of other hedonistic sinners? Did he tell the Samaritan at the well that they must not drink from the same water as the Jews because they were a “sinner,” as the Pharisees and Sadducees did? (Note: Yes, I’ve heard the wooden idol argument. No, it isn’t the same. That is a symbol of idolatry used in a religious ceremony. A cake is not.)

It’s out of love and compassion that He wanted His followers to be known by, not the same self-righteous judgmentalness that the Pharisees and teachers of the Law displayed. I’m seeing so many people hurl insults towards homosexual individuals as though these people are somehow worse than the rest of us. You don’t have to agree with the lifestyle, but you should keep in mind that we are ALL sinners and we’re all equally filthy in the eyes of God without His forgiveness. So I say this in love:

Grow up, get over it, and stop being such a hypocrite.

We don’t live in a Christian theocracy. You can’t expect a secular society that is a melting pot of all different kinds of religions and ideologies to conform to your way of thinking or sense of morality. Nor should you to expect to be treated better, or given legal benefits and privileges  solely based on what’s going on between the legs or by skin color.  You think homosexuality is a sin? Don’t do it. You don’t agree with homosexual marriage? Don’t do it. You do you, and stop worrying about everyone else- particularly in areas that don’t affect you personally one single bit.

Added from a comment I made below, which I think sums things up well: What it really boils down to is those against gay marriage are really saying that homosexual couples don’t deserve to have the same legal government/insurance/financial benefits and protections as other couples, and I have yet to see one solid reason as to why without people injecting their personal religion or beliefs into it.

 

Note: I decided to open the comments section because this is a topic that’s important to discuss. That said, I have to approve every comment before it’ll show up, so keep it civil. If you disagree that’s fine, but I refuse to let this degenerate into anything ugly.

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*Updated* Rant Alert: The Narrow Road- A “Struggling With Faith” Follow Up

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Hello everyone and happy holidays. It’s been a while since I’ve updated the site. I’ve been taking a bit of a break and focusing on some personal stuff here lately. With the new year I’ll be starting fresh and hitting the keyboard hard and I hope to be updating something here on a fairly regular basis again. I decided to break my silence today because I received a message earlier letting me know that someone had left a comment in an article I wrote back in July: Struggling With Faith and Belief. The commenter’s name is Rebecca, and she said that she had stumbled across the article this morning. I’ll go ahead and post her entire comment:

It’s Christmas Day. I found this page after a discussion with my agnostic husband. I was raised in the church. God seemed to “bless” me with an exceptionally analytical mind. I’ve been careening down this path towards unbelief for a few years now, asking those hard questions, trying to let go of the faith safety blanket. He gave us a thinking brain for a reason. I hold onto a thread of belief. This has taken me down dark roads. And many terrible things have happened over the last few years that add to the questions. Thank you for your honesty. My deeply spiritual mother has been the only “Believer” I’ve been able to be honest with about the depths of this struggle. I don’t know where I’d be without her. But even then, I need my own footing for when she’s gone. I hope you’ve found answers.

Rebecca’s comment really hit me where I’ve lived in the past few weeks, as I’ve had this very subject on my mind a lot lately. I’ve found that there are a LOT of people struggling with their faith. Most are afraid to talk about it with friends and loved ones because it’s not an easy subject to discuss. Most believers tend to go on the offensive whenever the subject is brought up, and most people who are struggling with these types of issues really don’t feel like getting into a heated debate where they’re bullied into toeing the line by well-intentioned people doing “God’s work”. It’s hard enough trying to figure this stuff out without feeling like you’re being interrogated or a lawyer fighting a court case. It’s a deeply personal thing. It’s a very difficult thing, especially if your spiritual beliefs have been a cornerstone of your life for a large period of time, as mine have been. My beliefs were more than just my religion, they’ve been my entire life the last fifteen years as I’ve went to school to study theology, psychology, social sciences, etc. in order to be a more effective minister, and as I’ve served in ministry both as a volunteer and full time as a licensed professional.

I’ve struggled with things off and on for a few years now, but it wasn’t until the last year when I started seriously questioning things and examining what I believe and why. I’ve come to terms with some things, as I mentioned in my previous article.  I’ve both seen and experienced far too much to question whether or not there is a higher power/God. I know that there is. Where I still find myself struggling is in the day to day things. The finer things. The technicalities. I’m not sure what I really “identify” myself as anymore. I find that the more I think about what Christians as a whole believe, why they believe, and how they live their lives and express those beliefs (and more to the point, how that affects those around them) I’m not so sure the label “Christian” fits so much anymore, or more to the point, I’m not so sure I like what it’s come to stand for to people. I find I have difficulty in judging my own life and the lives of those around me based solely on the Bible- a collection of books that were found, translated thousands of times in throusands of different ways, and that we can’t prove that is the “infallible Word of God” no matter how much many people may believe that it is. The entire Old Testament is completely suspect, given the historical inaccuracies, contradictions, and the fact that many of the earlier “origin” stories (such as the flood account, for instance) were lifted from other, older cultures.

The New Testament has more going for it in that we at least have a good portion of letters that we can pretty much confirm were actually written by apostles of the first church, namely Paul and Peter, but we also have four Gospels, the only accounts of Christ’s ministry while He was on the Earth, that weren’t written by those who were actually there, but were written close to a century after His death and named after apostles to lend credibility. Two of the four Gospels (Matthew and Luke) actually lift a good portion of their text word for word from a single unidentified source, Q, and the rest from the influence of the book of Mark, among others. John doesn’t even bother to do that. I guess he didn’t have the same cheat sheet they did.  That’s not to mention all the other apocryphal books that have also been found, often written by the same authors as those in the Bible, that didn’t make the cut for various political/spiritual/whatever reasons.

Anyway, it just doesn’t seem to be a very firm foundation to base an entire belief structure on- especially when said belief structure is used to determine how one should live their life and judge others by how they live theirs (even though the very texts themselves say specifically not to judge others, but then they kinda do, and so on. No wonder no one can freaking agree on anything). Personally, I just got tired of being down on myself and feeling guilty for being a normal human being. I got tired of being worried all the time about what everyone else would think of me and how I live my life and feeling like I had to put on this mask and be “perfect” for fear of losing my job. I got tired of seeing people passing down judgements on others, shunning them, shaming them, simply because they’re acting like the people God made them to be (God forbid! Don’t you know you must be like us?! One of us…one of us…). Its exhausting and disheartening and after well over a decade of it I’d just had enough of watching groups of people who profess to exemplify the love of God turning and feeding on each other like piranha.

That’s not to say that all Christians are that way, or even the majority. There are many who really do try to live good lives, that try to help others and be an example. They do very good works for those less fortunate than themselves. They try to live with integrity and compassion. That’s awesome. I also know quite a few non-believers who do the same just because they want to be decent human beings and don’t need God or a book to tell them to do it.

So that’s where I’m at right now. I’m still struggling to find the truth for myself. It’s an ongoing process and it’ll continue to be for the rest of my life, no doubt. I’m always open to a guiding hand or a word from On High, but until then I’m going to focus on living the kind of life that I think would make God proud- doing the best I can for my family and loved ones, treating others with respect and compassion, and always keeping an open mind while seeking the truth, not just jumping on the bandwagon and believing what’s easiest, the most popular, or the most comfortable. As before, I’m writing this not to goad anyone or to start a flame war/debate in the comment section. I’m writing it so that others like Rebecca can know that they aren’t alone and that there’s nothing wrong with using the brain God gave you to figure things out for yourself. It’s okay to doubt. It’s okay to ask questions. If it’s the truth and you are honestly seeking it, then you’ll find it (hey, that’s even Biblical!). Anyone who vehemently tells you any different is just afraid to do the same for themselves for fear of popping their spiritual safety bubble.

Have a safe and happy holiday everyone.

Update: I wanted to clarify something. In my little rant above I didn’t mean to imply that I don’t believe in any of it or that the baby should be thrown out with the bathwater, so to speak. We have evidence that shows Jesus was a real person. We can historically back up events of His life, death, and the early church. We have a pretty good idea about what He taught, and it was all good stuff. The point I was making is the same one I’ve been making for a while-where I’ve really been struggling with my faith is not with God/Jesus, but with the church and the accuracy/authority of the Bible itself and where I belong. I believe that Jesus is who He said He was. I believe that the events depicted in the New Testament, specifically the Gospels, are probably a solid place to start. What I do not believe is that they are word for word accurate, infallible, and should be used like ammunition against other people. I do not think that they give people the moral authority to lord over other people. I absolutely do not believe that Jesus would want His followers to do so in His name, especially to the point of harming others. It goes against the very thing that Jesus exemplified in the Gospels that those same people love to quote to validate themselves. “The Bible says…” is not a valid excuse for hate or intolerance, and if you can’t think for yourself outside of what a book says and check with the inner conscience God gave you to tell whether something is right or wrong then I believe you shouldn’t open your mouth in the first place. I believe that a relationship with God is so much more than what’s on a piece of paper and where you plant your butt once or twice a week. I believe that my beliefs are just that- my beliefs, and that every single one of you reading this right now should examine things for yourself and make up your own mind, worry about your own relationship with God, and mind your own business as opposed to being more concerned with how other people are living theirs. That’s what I believe.

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Rant Alert: Struggling With Faith- Peace

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I’ve made no secret that I’ve been struggling with my faith for the past year or so. I’ve written a few articles on the subject in the past few months, and those articles have spawned quite a few comments and discussions both here and on Facebook, which is good. The whole point of my writing about where I was at and how I was struggling wasn’t to test other people’s faith or to cause anyone to doubt or stumble, but to offer a sense of comfort to others who may be going through similar experiences. All too often spiritual leaders such as pastors, priests, etc. feel the need to internalize a lot of the problems they experience, doubts that they have, or other struggles because they have a responsibility to the people that look to them for guidance and as an example. It’s a tremendous responsibility and it can put a lot of pressure on us. We’re human, just like everyone else. We struggle, just like everyone else. We have doubts, questions, moments of weakness, moments of anger, and moments when we’re just completely burned out- just like everyone else. For a long time I felt like I had to hide those things and put on a happy face because it would look bad professionally and could have a negative impact on others if I didn’t. Then I realized while that may still be true, it’s stupid.

People need to realize that no one is perfect. No one has all the answers. We’re all just trying to do the best we can with what we have to work with. I felt that it would be more beneficial to be honest about my struggles than it would be to pretend everything was peachy. I thought that maybe it might give other people who are struggling a sense of comfort to know that they aren’t alone, that they aren’t “wrong” for feeling like they do, and that it’s okay.

Well, it is. It’s normal. God doesn’t hate you for doubting or asking questions. He doesn’t hate you because you might get angry with Him and feel like life is unfair. He doesn’t hate you if you don’t drink the kool-aid and believe everything you’re told by people who claim to be Christian just because they have the word “church” on the sign in front of their building. It’s okay.

I’ve been completely burned out spiritually, emotionally, and physically. I’ve been lashing out and cutting myself off from everything. I’ve been doubting pretty much everything. Basically, I’ve just been struggling with deep depression and when you’re in that place it’s hard to not feel like your life has been a total waste and therefore you as a productive human being have been a total waste. My whole life for the past 16 years has been directly tied up in my faith. It’s who I was. It’s how I identified myself and found a sense of self-worth. When everything came crashing down for the third time in the last decade or so, I just imploded. It was a slow process, like watching an explosion disintegrate everything in it’s path in slow motion, but it eventually was complete and I was left feeling empty.

You know the old saying that doctors make the worst patients? Well, that works for pastors as well. Whenever someone would try to comfort me or offer me advice it just would make me more upset. It fed into that frustration I was feeling. This was something that was incredibly personal and that I had to work out for myself. It was between me and God and our personal relationship. Again, I’m not saying everything is peachy. I still have doubts and questions. That hasn’t changed. I can say, however, that I finally feel like I’ve reached a place of peace, spiritually. Me and God are cool again, and for me that’s more important than any of the other stuff. Let’s face it, we’re never going to have all the answers. There are questions that we just won’t know the answer to until we pass on from this life. At that point we’ll either move on to whatever comes next and we’ll find out how right or wrong we were about things, or we’ll just cease to exist all together and it won’t really matter anyway. Either way, we still have a life to live in the meantime.

J.R. Broadwater is the author of the non-fiction book Down with the Thickness: Viewing the World From a Fat Guy’s Perspective, the sci-fi detective novel You Only Die Twice, the fantasy novel The Chosen: Rebirthing Part 1 & 2, and the superhero tale Just Super, all available now in digital and paperback formats. Sample chapters and more information about these books can be found here. Kindle editions are all available for $0.99.

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Rant Alert: Struggling with Faith

depression_1-ad78d208bfd0907a122c249a74cd8f6ff184705e-s6-c10Author’s Note: I’m going to be discussing religion, God, faith, etc. If that’s not your bag, or if you’re easily offended, feel free to click a link to somewhere else this time. I won’t be offended. Likewise, if you’d like to leave a comment or participate in a discussion about this, that’d be great, but be civil and respectful of whoever else may post. That doesn’t mean you have to agree, but it does mean don’t be a jerk. I approve every post before it’s seen by the public, and I won’t allow anything that attacks someone else or is just outright offensive. I promise, however, I won’t prevent a post from being seen for any other reason.

I was a very troubled young man. I’ve struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts most of my life. I tried to commit suicide when I was 11 by hanging myself. I never really felt like I belonged anywhere. A medical condition I have, which went unnoticed until I was 30 and it was too late to do anything about it, prevented me from developing muscle like I was supposed to and had the fun side effect of causing me to be morbidly obese regardless of whatever diet, exercise, ect. I tried. So I was also mercilessly taunted, teased, picked on, and made to feel like complete crap on a daily basis for most of my childhood. My parents were never overly religious and we never attended church. I wasn’t really exposed to religion in a significant way until I was 16. One of my best friends at the time, Matt, had grown up in church and his parents were members of the church leadership. Another, mutual best friend, Brennan, had recently started going to church with Matt and had “gotten saved”. I go into detail about this in Down with the Thickness, but the TLDR version is one night while Brennan, Matt and I were talking about God I felt like I heard God speaking to me and I felt His presence around me. Our conversation lasted through the night until the next morning, as did that feeling. When it was over I not only believed in God I dedicated my life to Him and felt as though I’d been called to be a minister myself. I finally felt like I found where I belonged- like I knew my purpose.

I spent the next five years serving in ministry at our church. I went with Matt’s dad every week to do prison ministry at a local prison. I served as a youth leader. I worked as an assistant under the youth pastor and was at the church almost every day helping and learning to be a pastor. When I graduated High School I went to college as a Pastoral Ministry and Psychology major at both a local college in Memphis, and later at a Bible college in Chattanooga. There, through a ministry summer camp, I got connected with New United Church, and eventually was hired as a youth pastor and was licensed there. I served at New United for 8 years, on and off- the last three years in a full time capacity. That is until the church imploded due to some very corrupt people who ran the finances. After spending a year and a half unemployed I was hired by the Salvation Army in Belleville, and worked there full time as a Youth Director for an additional 3 years, give or take a few months.

In total, I have dedicated literally half of my life in service to God. Every major life decision I’ve made since that night when I was 16 has been made with God in mind, in an attempt to do what I felt I was lead to do. To be a better man. To be a better pastor. To do the right thing. To help people. I’ve spent countless hours volunteering, helping people in crisis, talking with people at 3 am who felt like their world was falling apart. I did it all because I felt like that was my purpose, because that was what God called me to do, and because He was with me, He cared, and He would take care of things.

Now I wonder if I’ve totally wasted my life.

With the exception of a seasonal job at Christmas that lasted 7 weeks, I’ve been unemployed for a year now. My health has taken a nose dive and has gotten exponentially worse, particularly in the last year. I’m now physically unable to do things that would have been easy even two or three years ago. Regardless of my education or experience, I’ve been unable to be hired by anyone, church or other, because when I get to the interview portion of the process my physical/medical issues tend to weigh against me. I can’t honestly blame them. I’m a risk. I get hurt easily. I look like I may have a heart attack just walking down a hall. If it came down to hiring me or someone else who looked like they might not be at risk of dying on the job, I’d choose the other person too. So, obviously this is going to have an affect on my disposition. I struggle with depression anyway. Feeling like you’re completely worthless and just a burden on your family is enough to make anyone tailspin a bit.

I’ve spent the last year throwing myself into my writing. It took ten years for Mark and I to finish our first book. In the last year I’ve completed and self-published four, with a fifth currently being edited and three more in various stages of completion. I’m proud of the work. I think they’re all decent books. I’m still learning, still developing as a writer, but I wouldn’t put anything out that I didn’t feel wasn’t up to a professional standard. However, they aren’t selling. Promotion/advertising without money is difficult. It’s all by word of mouth and while I try to promote through this site, facebook, and twitter, it’s just not getting the job done and I refuse to be one of “those people” who just spams everywhere and annoys everyone.

I’m not writing this to get people to feel sorry for me, or to throw a pity party for myself. I’m simply trying to give some context for what I’m about to say next:

My faith in God has taken a huge hit. It’s being gradually ground down until, at this point, there’s not a whole lot left. It’s not because my life got flushed not once but three times in the last 10 years due to church crap. It’s not because my whole body literally throbs with pain 24 hours a day and I have to take a high dose of Vicodin three times a day just to function, let alone sleep. It’s not even because I can’t find a job, feel like I’ve wasted my life, and am a completely worthless human being. No, my faith in God has crumbled because I feel like He’s just not there anymore. I feel like I’ve been used up and now I’m done. I’m not expecting God to be a genie in a lamp who will magically make everything better. I’m not acting like a spoiled child who, just because he doesn’t get his way, yells “I hate you!” and goes to his room to pout. I don’t blame God for what’s happened. No, my faith is dying because the only thing I asked of God is that I wanted Him to speak to me. I wanted to know, beyond doubt, that He was still there, still cared, and that my whole life hasn’t been dedicated to superstitious crap. I wanted something supernatural, from Him, that couldn’t be explained away, misinterpreted, or twisted. Talk to me, send an angel, burning bush, whatever. I just wanted Him to let me know that He cares and that I’m not alone. If I had that, I could face all the other crap. I could get up in the morning, feeling like I got run over by a bus, and face the day. I could get up in the morning and not feel this pressing weight that manages to also feel like a void. I could go through my day without feeling like I’m wasting my time. I could go through my day without, at least once, feeling a compulsion to just end it all. I just wanted God to speak to me, to love me, to show me He’s still there and still cared. It’d give me the strength to face the rest. Even if things never got better and I spent the rest of my life in pain and struggling, I’d still have the comfort of knowing I served Him as best as I could, and that peace was waiting for me.

It hasn’t happened.

6 months, nothing.

I know all the old church standbys and excuses: “He speaks in a whisper, maybe you’re just not listening.” “He speaks through other people.” “He speaks through the Bible.” Look, I know how the game is played. I know all the things we tell ourselves in order to make us feel better, to justify our faith, to reinforce ourselves when we begin to doubt. I don’t want to hear stuff from someone else unless God freaking divinely inspired their butt into saying it. I don’t want to “hear through the Bible” because that can be interpreted any way anyone wants. I don’t want to convince myself I’m hearing from Him just because I desperately need to believe that He is. I don’t want some message that can be interpreted seven thousand different ways.  I want undeniable PROOF that He is speaking, that He is there, and that I haven’t wasted my life. For an all-powerful God that shouldn’t be too much to ask. We shouldn’t have to operate on blind faith. Our forefathers in the Bible didn’t. Every single one of them was spoken to either directly by God, Jesus, or an angel. They were given signs. Undeniable, supernatural, signs that God was moving, speaking, involved. Why should I settle for anything less? I’m not asking him to miraculously heal my body, win the lottery, magically provide a job, or anything of the sort. I just want Him to talk to me in some way. I just want even ten seconds of attention, a supernatural equivalent of a hug, something. I don’t think that’s too much to ask from my Heavenly Father whom I’ve faithfully served the last 15 years.

I’m tired & I’m running on empty.

For me, it’s time to put up or shut up.

J.R. Broadwater is the author of the non-fiction book Down with the Thickness: Viewing the World From a Fat Guy’s Perspective,  the sci-fi detective novel You Only Die Twice, the fantasy novel The Chosen: Rebirthing Part 1-, and the superhero tale Just Super, all available now in digital and paperback formats. Sample chapters and more information about these books can be found here.

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