Men + Myself + God

Tag: christianity

Jesus = Homeboy: Surrender, Transformation, and Other Sh*t like that…

by P. Braithwaite

[Happy Easter, ya’ll. Although I don’t identify as Christian anymore, I’m committed to taking my spiritual lessons where I find them. I have lots of reverence for Jesus and the spiritual lessons he imparts.]

So, I’ve REALLY been struggling with the concept of surrender. I know the dictionary definition (verb. yield – give in – submit – give up), but I’m not sure what surrender is supposed to look like.  The whole idea seems opposite of how I like to live (by controlling, managing, spinning, and intellectualizing).

When I imagine surrender, I think of someone just standing there: full of inner-peace, trusting in the universe. I see a naked superhuman hippie playing her guitar in the middle of a war. I think of ignorance and a lack of productivity. I know it’s wrong, but surrender seems like laziness, weakness and an acceptance of failure.That’s just not my style.

(I’m from NY…we like to think we get things done).

Anyway, I’d been struggling with this for weeks when, during Mastin Kipp’s Love Uni-versity seminar (which is awesome, FYI) he said, “No one surrenders completely. Even Jesus, on the cross, yelled out ‘why have you forsaken me.’”

With that tidbit in mind, suddenly surrender makes more sense. To surrender doesn’t require a superhuman sense of peace; it doesn’t mean that you are 150% A-OK w/ everything that’s happening; it doesn’t require a Zen mind, or a heart devoid of anger.  You can be pissed off; you can feel alone. You can be scared, insecure, and ambivalent in a moment of surrender. You can doubt your survival and you can even be angry at God, because surrender isn’t about being anything other than human. Surrender only requires that you admit: “I’m stuck. I have nowhere to go from here. I can’t get out of this on my own.”

Surrender is more about being honest than about “giving up.”

We (or at least I) resist surrendering because no one wants to be a sitting duck. This makes sense: sitting ducks get shot. The truth is, though, that life is one big firing squad. Whether we shake, move, or sit still… we’re all just “passing thru.” Each of us little duckies, one day, bites the dust. So if Easter can remind us of anything, it’s that nothing lasts forever; therefore, nothing can really hurt us in any lasting way. There’s nothing that we really have to “do.” Jesus was nailed to a cross and (according to my religion teachers), he rose again. Why would our path be any different? His story reminds us that pain, anguish, and isolation are passing illusions and transformation/resurrection/change is the only thing that is real. At the risk of repeating myself: Nothing hurts forever…

That much I know for sure.

So now I turn to you, my often-silent friends: What would you do differently if you knew you couldn’t be hurt? How would you surrender?  What is keeping you from transforming?

Happy Transformation Day, folks. (Save me a jelly bean or two.)

Quickie: Caption This Picture…Please!

by P. Braithwaite

The Subway Evangelical

by P. Braithwaite

This morning, while taking the subway, I encountered one of those super intense evangelical commuters that rant about damnation while you sip your morning coffee and avoid eye contact. Sometimes they’re wearing like a bright red suit, other times they look like maybe they don’t wash. Either way, you see them and immediately you want to run in the other direction.

This type of intrusion is a pretty common occurrence on NYC transit, but, today, as I watched a man in sunglasses and a brown velour jumpsuit walk into my train car with a bible tucked under his arm, I had a radical thought: what if this annoying evangelical dude isn’t crazy?

“Ladies and Gentleman I’m not here to judge…” he had this awesome Jamaican accent. It sounded like Shaggy was reading the bible or something. Of course, after telling us he wasn’t there to judge, he launched into a passionate monologue about “men with men” and “promiscuous females.”

It made me think about the nature of lunacy: I generally assume these subway preachers are crazy because their thoughts are radically different from my own. Additionally, my sensibilities would never allow me to scream at people on the subway, but why is my “standard of being” the standard for sanity? After all, the` women next to me was actually moved to tears. She chimed in a few times with “tell ‘em Jesus.”

As I shook my head, I had to admit that I wanted to talk to this dude. Throughout this process of writing and talking to men, I find it easier to suspend judgment of those whose countercultural lifestyles fall on the side of liberalism; however, I struggle with conservatives who are radical or countercultural in their own ways. That said, I really wanted to talk to him about his life. Was he always an evangelist? Was he married? Has he ever been in love? When did he get “saved”?

I’m becoming less interested in judging people and more interested in understanding them. I wanted to tap this man on the shoulder, and start a conversation. Instead, I got off on my stop. This is NYC after all.