Choices
A Knowledge of Crows   I’ve had this article in my head for a long time but I’ve never been able to quite put it into writing. I understand why now, the timing was wrong, I didn’t have all the pieces of the puzzle even though I thought I did. This might be a lengthy article because I have more explaining to do than usual but I make no apologies, it takes as much time as it takes.  It starts with my wife’s search for her childhood best friend; they had grown up together and had drifted apart as the years past. Her best friend’s name is Andrea. I usually change the names to protect the guilty but in this case I haven’t. Part of what made the search for Andrea so hard was that she was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness, which is a particularly nasty cult. Anyone they can’t control they disassociate themselves with. Andrea had joined the army to travel and get a good education and joining the army is an issue with them. Consequently, they virtually kicked her out, even her family refused to admit she existed. That made inquiries impossible. I’m not quite sure how but my wife managed to track her down in the net, emails were exchanged and meeting arranged. Andrea had been through a lot both physically and spiritually; she had been to various churches, seen other world religions, put them all together and had a distorted, inaccurate, messed up understanding of what she thought Christianity is. She had been around people who called themselves Christian but clearly weren’t and she had been around Christians who were Christian but didn’t live it. My wife told me when we went into this that there might be some awkward moments because Andrea at this point in her life is bitter, contemptuous, and mocking of Christianity. We were determined to deal with it gently and not put her down nor let her put downs should they occur, to get to us.  Andrea is single, a college teacher, has adopted two children from Central America and tries really hard to look happy. She for all purposes doesn’t have a family so we hoped we could eventually be her family. She could accept or refuse Christianity, as she chose. We made up our minds from the beginning that we would never shove our faith in her face but nor would we deny or hide it. Things went well for a while, she named us aunt and uncle to her kids (unofficially), we went on outings and had thanksgiving together. (Another thing about Jehovah’s Witness is they dint celebrate holidays), which we thought would be fun and good for her. We never shoved our faith in her face, never tried to hard sell her into going to church, nothing. We did invite her to a church hay ride/wiener roast once but that’s not like church, at the hayride we’re just a bunch of people eating and having fun, Amazing grace wasn’t sung, babbling in strange voices wasn’t to be heard, no one jumped onto a bail of hay and commenced to preach, not a single thee or thou was to be heard, not a bible verse was recited. It was just fun, and she declined the offer anyway. Her loss.  Then suddenly she turned mean, we had always known it could happen but this was unexpected since things seemed to be going well. She had went to a bible study at some church and didn’t hear what she wanted.  So based on her experiences at another church she labeled us dimwits, although she had no clue what we believed or stood for. She bashed us and put us down with no understanding of us. She told us about our beliefs, all of which were wrong and how stupid they are. Ok, it hurt some but we were resolved to not let it get to us. We were going to give her the benefit of the doubt, even though she thought she knew the bible inside and out she has no clue. Jehovah’s Witness also has their own version of the bible, they remove all the parts they disagreed with. There was also the fact that se had been around so many weird messed up people claiming to be one thing and were another.  She was, in effect trying to understand doves based on a knowledge of crows.  I have to digress at this point and give a short lesson in ornithology for city folks who have never seen either bird and for people in other countries where neither species exists. Crows are large black birds. They are very smart and very predatory. They will eat anything they can catch, including each other and their young. They are a beautiful black, so black that the light seems to slide off of them. Black from beak to claw and they have a very, very loud, rude grating call that can be heard for miles. They’re not a pleasant bird and will attack you if they feel the need. Throughout history crows have been symbols of evil and it’s partly deserved. Doves, are smaller more gentile birds. They come in several sizes and colors, all of which are gentle, passive birds that never peck or show aggression. I bought one for my wife as a pet, its living with my mother in law now but I wish often that I had it back. Whereas crows make a grating raucous CAW CAW  sound, doves have a quieter more relaxing voice. There is nothing quite like dropping off to sleep for a nap while listening to a dove’s gentle COOing. In short, they’re diametrically opposite birds.  Now, having gained an understanding of crows and doves I’ll say again that Andrea was trying to understand doves based on a knowledge of crows. She applies her experiences with cults, fakes, and posers to what she THINKS is the real thing. It would be easy to come to her defense on the basis that she just didn’t have good role models if it weren’t for her bitterness. She mocked us and insulted everything we believe in, which we were prepared to let slide. When my wife replied to her vitriolic email she denied having said it or sent it. Bad mistake; my wife had saved her email and sent it back to her. Being faced with her own words and busted for fibbing she chose to get meaner still by saying that we should just part company based on a lot of reasons that she made up. Her memories had been corrupted and made up and all she remembered were bad things, most of which never happened.  We were perplexed at this attitude, my wife and I have different theories on why she adopted it. Personally I think she saw something in our relationship that made her jealous and sad because she doesn’t have it. I could be wrong; I guess the reasons don’t matter now since the bridges are burned.  At this point in her life she’s lost, all because of crows. I hope for her sake she someday sees the truth, but this is the end of Andrea’s story; now I have to tell another one and connect them.  I had a tumultuous childhood, by modern standards I was abused but I won’t go into detail as nothing good would come from it. My mom wouldn’t let me fight in school, if I did I got beat on when I got home, if I didn’t I got beat on at school. One time some bullies took one of my shoes and I had to walk home in the mud and rain, needless to say I got beat on for letting them take my shoe. The key phrase is beat on. I grew to have a burning hatred of bullies. I hated them more than anything in the world. I hated bullies so much I became one. Huh? One of the most miserable tricks of satan is to turn us into what we hate the most, which he did to me. I learned that I was bigger and stronger and faster and could play the game better than the bullies could. I learned to fight, not everyday fighting like kids do, but the real thing. After I was out of school and out in the world I got involved in ninjitsu, which I lived for years. I learned every fighting form I could and learned to use every weapon I could find. At that point in my life I was lean, mean, smart, and dangerous which is a very bad combination. I then applied my knowledge to provoking bullies and hurting them so badly that they never forgot it. It wasn’t uncommon in my twenties for me to rip off fingers and punch out eyes, and worse.  A strange characteristic of rage is that it feeds on itself, if left alone it will grow and consume a person. In time it will corrupt completely, in more time it will kill the person who harbors it. I realized one day that I had become what I hated the most and I resolved to change or be poisoned forever. Since then a lot has happened in my life; I haven’t damaged anyone since the late 70s, it’s taken all the resolve I can pull together but I’ve lived peacefully, on the outside. On the inside that rage still burns sometimes; I wish it was dead but it isn’t. Now a lot of Christians would say “give it to God” and other apparently wise statements like that and I tried to do just that but for some reason He’s decided to not remove it. At this point in my life, I feel that He left it there and gave me the grace and strength to deal with it and master it. As I grow I might take another point of view but for now that’s the way I feel about it.  I still hate bullies, I hate them with the same passion that I had before but now I understand that God hates bullies too but loves them and will deal with them accordingly. He has shown me that bullies are what they are because they’re a product of their environment and often need compassion more than slapping. I have to admit I didn’t want to share that part of me but it’s the only way this article will make sense.  Two things have recently happened that made the purpose of this article clear to me. I recently ran afoul of a bully, one that can’t be avoided. This set off a thunderstorm in me that tormented me for days. One part of me wanted to find him and kill him. I have the training, the personality and the willpower. I can do it. That’s the crow within me screaming to be set free. On the other side, I know that I have to not only forgive him but love him. I need to not only let the offense go but I need to forget it. That’s the dove within me singing, quietly, gently, persistently. The storm raged. I knew what is right and what I should do and what I want to do. I also knew what the crow in me wanted to do. Then a seemingly unrelated event brought it to a clarity that I’ve never experienced before.  Last week I lost my billfold. We searched everywhere, tore the house apart and it was simply nowhere. I finally concluded that it must have fallen out when I was somewhere in public. This was a nauseating feeling because I’d have to get a new drivers license, new bank card, new this new that and some things could never be replaced. I was completely distraught. On Friday nights my wife and her friends all get together and sew, that leaves me with 3 hours to myself. I determined to give the house one more search even though I knew it wasn’t there and that’s what I did. I tore the place apart, hoping to get it back to some sense of order before I went to get my wife. Nothing, as expected.    I was defeated, I decided to use my last resort, prayer. I find it strange that what should be our first resort usually ends up being our last. That which is the most powerful tool in creation is the last one we use. I guess it’s because we want to do it ourselves and prayer brings God into it which is where He should be in the first place.  Anyway, I said a little prayer, then decided to look in the car one last time. I gave the car a cursory going over because I knew it wasn’t there and went back inside. Lying right there in the floor, in plain view, where it hadn’t been 5 minutes ago was my billfold. It would have been impossible to miss; it was right in the middle of the doorway. It was one of those experiences that are just creepy and make me want to just stare. I stared for a second, but only a second. I was so happy I danced around and held my billfold up as if to say “look here, I got it!!” I said another prayer, one of thanks; that’s when the moment of complete clarity struck me. I’ve thought and thought and still I’m not sure how to put this into words but I have to.  I have a God, a Father so good, so loving, so powerful that He can do literally anything necessary for my wellbeing that everything else seems trivial beside it. I understand now that what offense by people can offset the Love that God has for me? What can nullify it? What can happen to me that His Love can’t overcome? Not a thing, not a single thing. What He feels for me makes all the rage seem silly and all the bullies insignificant. It makes all the tears temporary and all the sadness fleeting. This was the most liberating second of my life, every light was turned on, every corner illuminated. I can love the bullies, I can do it!  Now to make the connection between the two stories. Andrea has had so much experience with crows and little if none from doves. Even if she insults me and bashes me God’s love will overcome that and I can either choose to be a crow or I can be a dove. I could have blasted her Jehovah’s Witness background and made it devastating. Their doctrine is full of holes, their history is shady, their founders crooked, their leaders incompetent, it would have been child’s play to rip them apart, but that would be the way a crow would act. I have to teach the world what its like to be a dove. I’ve spent a lifetime sometimes being a crow, sometimes being a Christian and yet acting like a crow and not being the example that I should be. It’s no wonder that Christians are hated and ridiculed, so many of us are loud, mean, predatory, rude, and vicious all in the name of God. I, we, all of us calling ourselves Christians MUST be constantly aware of how the world sees us because we’re supposed to be images of God. God isn’t a crow. We can very often teach more by actions than we can by words and I for one am sorry I wasted so many years being a crow
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