Thursday, March 28, 2013

Apologies, Christianity, and Homosexuality

In light of my recent incessant shares on Facebook in regards to my support of marriage equality for all American citizens, I would like to do two things...

1. Apologize.
2. Explain.

1. It was never my intention to offend anyone with my posts. Although I did share the pictures or updates from others, I do not personally 'Like' all of the profiles that the pictures or updates came from. The only thing I am sharing is that one specific comment, viewpoint, or joke...I am not sharing the profile.

While I do apologize for my lack of specificity about WHY I share certain things that might be considered offensive in a turbulent time such as this week, I do not apologize for my firm belief in marriage equality. Or for my sense of humor, for that matter.

Since Facebook is a public forum that allows me to share my thoughts and feelings with others, I have utilized it this past week in support of something I am passionate about. I do not use it as a forum for my personal beliefs that often and the people who have expressed to me that they were offended by some of my shares are people that know who I am and where I stand in my beliefs outside of Facebook.

Although these same people that have approached me about being offended have posted their own updates and shares over time that I find personally offensive, I don't feel that they owe it to me to explain themselves or to apologize to me. I also don't find it necessary to let them know that they have offended me by posting on their own personal page nor do I think of them or treat them differently when we next meet. I know who they are, I know how they love, and I know where they stand. Offensive postings or not, I know them well enough to know that is not 100% of who they's just an exaggerated take on one of their beliefs.

I am a firm believer that we all are who we are and believe what we believe for different reasons that are specific and unique to each of us individually. Although I may not agree with someone, I know they have their reasons and I would rather understand why they feel that way instead of trying to convince them that they are wrong. I always strive to make someone else understand why I have the opinion I do in an attempt to provoke thought. I would like to think that in a perfect world, we could all be like that but sadly, this is not a perfect world.

One of my Facebook friends posted this yesterday as their profile picture without any explanation as to why they feel that a legal marriage contract is strictly for a man and a woman.
While I find this highly offensive simply due to it mocking the image that supports legalization of equal human rights, I do not have a desire to contact this person to let them know that I now think less of them based on their lack of tact. If we were ever to enter an open dialogue about the marriage equality issue, I would calmly bring up the fact that I did feel offended by this and that in my opinion, it made them come across as bigoted and unfeeling...whether they are or not. I would then continue the open dialogue by explaining why I feel it came across that way instead of as support of conservative Christian values. I would encourage this person to explain why they feel the way they feel in an effort to understand their choice to post this.

This person has every right to post a picture that opposes my view point. I see how it is not fair to think poorly of them simply because they posted this as a statement of what they believe in. But I most certainly do not agree with the way they chose to support traditional marriage and do not feel I am owed an apology for what I consider to be a lack of tact and good judgement.

As I always say, the first amendment gives everyone the right to say what they really think and feel. But everyone must always remember that when you open your mouth, everyone else reserves the right to think you're an asshole for what comes out of it. Me included.

So again, I apologize to those people that felt inundated with my postings or who were too sensitive to this issue to see what I really meant by them. That was not my intention.

2. As many of my closest friends know, even after searching tirelessly for my place in the religious world, I still consider myself to be a non-Christian. Not because I don't believe in Jesus or his teachings. Not because I don't believe in God. Not because I choose to live a life filled with sin instead. But because I am doing just that...searching. I am not ready to be baptized or to turn over my heart to Jesus because frankly, I don't really understand what any of that truly means.

I was not raised with religion, church, or the Bible. I grew up thinking that Easter was about eggs and chocolate and Christmas was about gifts and family. Jesus being born and rising from the dead were not even in my realm of understanding.

When I moved to the south, I made friends with people who WERE raised in a Christian environment. And these were (and still are) REALLY good people! So I started to seek my place in religion. Was it for me? The only way I could find out was by learning as much as I could about Christianity, the Bible, and Jesus. I occasionally attended church, I helped raise money for mission trips, I joined a life group, I asked questions of people that were raised Christian.

After spending the past 9 years of my adult life researching and asking and debating, I feel that while I am certainly no scholar, I have a REALLY firm grasp on what it means not to just be a Christian, but to be a follower of Jesus....

It means to live your life by his example knowing that you are never going to be perfect and that's OK. 

My grasp is so firm on this that I have a very hard time trying to comprehend how others could be fully immersed in Christianity their whole lives and not understand the same meaning that I have come to learn.

While my basic level of understanding of who Jesus was, what he was about, and what he expected of us does not have any bearing on my political view points, it does play a huge part in why I don't understand anyone's opposition to equal marriage rights for all American citizens. At the end of the day, legalizing gay marriage is not about what is right or wrong in the eyes of God's law but about what is right or wrong in the eyes of MAN'S law.

In all of the studying, question asking, and Googling I have done, I have yet to find a passage of scripture that states a government of men are required to force their citizens to live by God's laws. As a matter of fact, what I HAVE learned is that you can lead a man to Jesus but you can't make him hand over his heart to him. That is where faith comes into play, not force.

So if your viewpoint is that a gay man or lesbian woman is not Christian because of their sexuality and therefore should be forced into following God's laws, then you are not living as Jesus would. You are passing judgment on someone else's faith and you are forcing someone to live by a set of rules that only God can enforce. Not the US government.

The reason why I have an issue with people who choose to use their religious beliefs as reason to publicly oppose and vote against equal rights marriage laws is this......your argument makes it appear to me that you have not only missed SEVERAL key messages of the Bible but it also makes you appear to be hiding bigotry.

Now before you fly off the handle, let me explain why it makes you appear to be a bigot.

Taking a political stand against a law that would do you no harm by allowing same sex marriages appears to a liberal to be a cowards way of saying you want to punish people for being gay by not giving them the same civil right that you have.

The Bible says it is wrong to be gay so whether gay people can be married on a piece of paper or not, you still feel that it is a sin in the eyes of God, right? But to openly express that you disapprove of people that are gay comes across as being a hate crime, politically incorrect, or that you're a bully. And who wants that?

So what can you do instead? You can do everything in your power to hide behind your disapproval by focusing it instead solely on the legal aspect of the issue.

To use only one of the definitions of marriage and citing scripture as your reasoning for not wanting a law that does not effect you to pass leaves the door wide open for people to think you are hiding bigotry. Does that make it true? No. Does that make it a valid argument from the left? Absolutely.

To a liberal and/or non-Christian, another set of questions they might want an answer to is, "Why are you not as passionate about other things noted in the Bible as a sin such as adultery as you are about gays having the same civil rights that you have? Why do you spend time turning a blind eye to other sins while focusing your energy so intensely on this? What makes this a bigger sin than cheating on your wife?"   

Possible answers to this could be along the lines of, "It is not our place to judge people that commit adultery but to help them find redemption and salvation. If we stop gay marriage from happening, we are one step closer to saving them as well."

The follow up topics I encourage you to ask yourself are:
  • Is it my job to save everyone?
  • Will not allowing a gay person to be legally married stop them from being gay? 
  • People still commit sins whether it is legal or not. Why have I not encouraged my government to outlaw those things, such as adultery, as well?
  • Why do I feel it is my right to force someone to live their life a certain way when the Bible teaches us to love and not pass judgment on others because that is God's job? 
Equal marriage rights has always been a cause I am passionate about. Not because of a lack of Christianity in my life or because I knew someone growing up who was gay. I am passionate about it because it is the civil rights issue of our generation and civil rights have nothing to do with what God expects of us. The two are not dependent upon one another to exist.

To say that someone who is my equal in every other way is not allowed the same basic human right to legally commit to another consenting adult that they love is devastating to me. We live in a country that turns rich people's personal lives into entertainment, sex into a way to sell products, and binge drinking into a hilarious hobby but refuses to give the legal rights of a marital contract that I have to my equal. And that is just plain and simple screwed up.

I did not write this edition of my blog to spark debate or to poke the bear. I wrote it to make you understand why I stand where I stand. I wrote it to make you understand why I can't understand your passionate opposition to a basic human right. I wrote it to make you realize why people will try to call you hateful words for your viewpoint.

I don't wish to change your mind. I wish to encourage you to listen to other viewpoints, evaluate why marriage equality makes you so upset, and if stopping it has any REAL bearing on your life or the lives of the people that want it.


- Jenn Brown
  Apprentice level Jesus follower   

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Anyway by Mother Teresa

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you've got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God;
It was never between you and them anyway.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

I'm moving on

I'm an open book about most things. But there is one part of my life that only a few friends (and not even my mom) know romantic relationships.

Throughout the years, I've not had much luck with the opposite sex. I've had crushes that went nowhere. I've had innocent "flings" that went nowhere. But I haven't really connected on that deep "holy shit!" level of chemistry with anyone except for two boys in particular. We shall call them 18 and 20...the ages I was when they wandered into my life.

Although I never actually dated 18 or 20 and I've had a HORRIBLE time staying in the kind of contact with either of them over the years that I've wanted, I think in the back of my mind I always thought they were my plan B. "Well, if I can't find someone out there that I connect with as much as them, then I can always pray that they are still single and want to give it a shot down the road." I think it has been an odd and admittedly unhealthy way to deal with dating in my 20's and now 30's. Because of 18 and 20, I've been a firm believer in knowing it when you see it. And I haven't seen it since them.


Over the years, I've had contact off and on with 18. It's always been more so on my end unless he is apparently bored and feeling up to chatting. We went through a phase where he was VERY into chatting and would spend hours on the phone with me. Then he'd drift away again. I've driven myself absolutely insane over the years watching his life go by in front of me via social networking. Being proud when he is successful, sad when he changes his status to "in a relationship", and then happy when it changes again to "single". (I know...totally uncool, right?)

I've tried over the years to hint to him that he was important to me but it never seemed to work out. Either he was dense or he was avoiding the conversation he knew I wanted to have with him. About a month ago, I was watching an episode of Bones about her regrets of letting fear rule her love life and I broke down. I bawled. It hit SO close to home with 18 that I made a drastic move. I typed an e-mail. YES. An e-mail. (Cue dramatic music.)

But this wasn't just any e-mail. This was a "take a leap of faith and pour your heart out" e-mail. As you can probably guess...this e-mail was addressed to 18. I typed and typed and typed and laid it all out on the line. I reread and edited and then added and took out more. After all, I didn't want to freak him out too much. I just wanted to get it all off my chest.

Those who know me well know that I can tend to be a little on the frank and honest side. Mix that with the past thirteen years of emotionally holding onto 18 and I can see how it might be a little bit on the intense side. But it all had to be said and I couldn't take another day of holding it in. It had to be said that I've always wanted to know what could've been. It had to be said that I subconsciously compare other men to him (which is both a blessing and a curse).

I told a friend that I had just sent the e-mail and her reaction was, "OMG! You've gotta be so nervous for his response!" But I really wasn't. I just felt like a giant weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. Like all that "18 baggage" I'd been holding onto had just gotten quite a bit lighter.

I didn't check my e-mail every five minutes to see if he had responded either. I figured when I clicked send that I would be anxious until I got his response but I wasn't. Curious...but not anxious.

After a day or so, I sent him a message on Facebook letting him know that I had sent something to his private e-mail that was important to me and to please take a look at it. A month later, I still have not received a response via e-mail OR Facebook.

I have pulled up his profile twice now with my mouse on the DELETE FRIEND button but I just can't bring myself to do it. 18 has made it pretty obvious that the feeling wasn't mutual by not responding and to be honest, I'm shocked that he has not done so because he always had SUCH strong character. Maybe I was naive to think that time wouldn't change him. Or maybe I spent thirteen years living with memories of a false reality. At this point, I'm doubtful that I'll ever know and over time I think I'll be 100% OK with that. Right now I'm only at about 65%.

Now on the other hand, I've got 20. 20 was one of my best guy friends and we danced for roughly a year on the "will we or won't we" line. (We never did, by the way.) As disappointing as that was at times, at the end of the day...he was one of my best friends and I'll love him forever. BUT........he was still always in my subconscious as a plan B.

About a year after I moved to Nashville...which was roughly seven years ago, I lost contact with 20. He moved and for some reason changed his e-mail address. But did that stop me? HELL no. I tried EVERYTHING to find him over those past seven years. I paid $14.95 to a people finding service four different times to get his contact info and I mailed letters to each known address that they gave me. I mailed a letter to the Navy's service member finding department on two separate occasions requesting information on his current whereabouts. I've tried Myspace. I've tried Facebook. I've tried old phone numbers. I've tried everything. And the boy was nowhere to be found.

Now just to clear the air and defuse any suspicion that I am a crazy person, I did not go to these lengths because he was my subconscious plan B. I went to these lengths because I love 20's friendship and I missed it desperately. I'd go to the same lengths if any of my best female friends dropped off the face of the earth as well.

But alas, all that effort was for nothing. The Navy sent me letters saying they would pass on my info, the letters I mailed came back as "not at this address", and the phone numbers didn't work. Every 9 - 12 months I would get a bug up my ass again to find 20 and I would start at least one more attempt to find him again.

Cut to today. For some reason he popped into my head again. So I did my standard Facebook and/or Myspace search. Who knows. He could've gotten with the 21st century and joined the world of social networking, right? But there are a gazillion people with 20's common name so I stopped before I started.

And then it dawned on me. You have his relatives names from the people finding service. Look them up!

So I did. And I was successful.

I e-mailed two of his female relatives and right away one of them wrote me back. I had found 20.

My heart started racing and a lump got in my throat. Seven years of looking and the answer was in front of me the whole time...find his relatives and find him. I was SO excited.

Then this thought snuck into my head...what if he's married? I got a sinking feeling in my stomach and just knew it was going to be the truth. But I tried to ignore my gut and think positively. I could be about to be reunited with my friend AND he could be single. Ya know...plan B.

A few minutes later my gut was proven right. His relative let me know that 20 had gotten married only a few months ago.

A few months ago. A FEW MONTHS AGO. What shitty timing, right? I mean, seriously...I look for the boy for SEVEN YEARS and he gets married a mere few months before I find him? Is this a joke? Really...can someone please tell me what kind of cruel joke this is? Both 18 AND 20 have no longer become my plan B in only one month's time when I have been hanging onto them for roughly the past fifteen YEARS?! This is bullshit!

The knot was and is still in my throat as I type this out but for an entirely different reason now. I've lost the only good thing my subconscious had to cling onto. My relationship security blanket. Whether it was truth or fabrication to comfort me, it was gone. Now I have to face reality. There is no one to "fall back on". I'm out there on my own with almost half of my lifetime's worth of romanticized memories equaling a giant pile of crap.

So where do I go from here? I'll tell you exactly where I go from here.

Phase 1: I'm gonna be sad. Accept it, friends. Because this girl needs to grieve so that she can let go. I can't move forward without letting go. But it's gonna take some time. So just bear with me. Sometimes it's OK to be sad.

Phase 2: I'm gonna be OK. Even though my currently broken heart and tear stained shirt are trying to convince me that all hope is faith knows that this has all happened for a reason. I know in my gut that God thinks it's time for me to move on. I believe that he needed 18 to not respond and that he needed me to not find 20 until after he was married so that I would be forced to let go. Otherwise, I would've spent a lifetime clinging to "I wonder's" and "what if's".

So the moral of this story, kids, is that sometimes you can ask and hope and want answers but sometimes, no answer IS your answer. Something was trying to tell me over the past decade+ that I needed to let go but I didn't listen. I know it is counter-intuitive to the moral of this story but I'm glad I ignored that dead air not giving me my answers. Because had I not pushed to get my answers, I wouldn't be able to learn my lesson. I wouldn't be able to let go. I wouldn't be able to move on.

I know I don't always practice what I preach but I do know the lesson I'm trying to teach. And you can take that one to the bank.

18 and 20, if you're out there somewhere reading this, I wish you both nothing but the utmost joy and happiness that this life has to offer. You changed me as a person and you showed me that the guy I'm looking for does exist. Sadly, he just isn't either one of you.

In the words of Rascall Flatts, I'm moving on.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Please join me tonight (10/7) or donate!

Hey, everyone...

I just found out this morning about a fundraising/awareness walk for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

So of course, I will be walking for Craig. Don't feel obligated to donate and don't feel obligated to walk with me. But I would love some partners in crime for Team Craig the Crab!

Thanks, everyone.

- JB

To donate:

To join my team (Craig the Crab):

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Jenn's Top 25 Countdown

If it was possible to own stock in one particular channel on XM, I would get all of my money back and then some by investing in 80’s on 8.

I recently made a playlist entitled 80’s Favs for the gym which ended up being 250 songs long. I found myself skipping to the next song while busting tail on the elliptical in an attempt to find my favorite favs. After one workout session of that, I decided it was probably time to create a new playlist with my actual favorites that I can listen to over and over again.

I started making my NEW 80’s Favs playlist and thought, “Hey…most people loves 80’s music. I wonder what songs I’m missing in my library that I would love. I wonder if I love a song that someone has forgotten about.” Therefore, I present my new 80’s Favs playlist to you.

Getting it down to 25 songs was much easier than I thought it would be but putting them in order of volume of love was much more of a challenge than I expected. Some are catchy but some have stronger sentimental value. Some are fantastic but didn’t make the list because they aren’t easy to work out to. And so on.

So cruise through my list and tell me what your favorite 80’s songs are. Who knows…maybe some of them are the same!

25. We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off – Jermaine Stewart
24. Never – Moving Pictures
23. I’m Free (Heaven Helps the Man) – Kenny Loggins
22. Private Eyes – Hall & Oates
21. I Hate Myself for Loving You – Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
20. Material Girl – Madonna
19. Let’s Go Crazy – Prince
18. Safety Dance – Men Without Hats
17. Popsicle – New Kids on the Block
16. Under Pressure – Queen (featuring David Bowie)
15. Kyrie – Mr. Mister
14. Dancing in Heaven (Orbital Be-Bop) – Q-Feel
13. Don’t Dream It’s Over – Crowded House
12. P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing) – Michael Jackson
11. Age of Consent – New Order
10. Talking in Your Sleep – The Romantics
9. Love Shack – The B-52’s
8. Foolish Heart – Steve Perry
7. Cruel Summer – Bananarama
6. Ring Me Up – The Divinyls
5. Dead Man’s Party – Oingo Boingo
4. Everything She Wants – Wham!
3. Love Somebody – Rick Springfield
2. Time (Clock of the Heart) - Culture Club
1. Hold Me Now – Thompson Twins