Last night, as I was winding down, I surfed a little on YouTube and revisited some of my 90s music favorites that I haven’t listened to for a good decade or two.
It started off harmless, reminding me of windows down, hair blowing in the wind, and singing at the top of my lungs with my young teen friends to songs blasted on our cheap car stereos…. prom night… graduation night…. and slowly, I moved into the grunge metal that I used to love.
Music is odd in that it can take you back to a precise moment in time in a nanosecond. One of my favorite bands was Alice In Chains. “Rooster” was my favorite song of theirs, and I would blast it in my headphones over and over again as I did homework throughout high school…. I hadn’t listened to them since I was younger, and it was intriguing and amazing to somehow feel like that 17 year old again, fired up against adults who were letting me down in my life, excited for the unknown future I had before me, and the simple-mindedness of letting guitar and base permeate and take over my mind through my headphones. (I’ll have you know I had really good “head banging hair” back then too… crazy hair runs in my family.)
I then moved along to their song “Man in the Box” and remembered how much I loved that song as well….. and found myself almost accidentally singing out loud “Jesus Chriiiiiiiiiist….. deny your maker…..” like I absentmindedly did as a kid. I stopped dead in my tracks. I can’t sing that, not anymore, but I turned off iTunes with a sort of sadness.
I know too much.
I woke up this morning with a blend of 90s songs in my head, when the loud and beautiful church bells began ringing across the street. They seemed to drown out the other faded music memories, and remind me of a higher Truth. Plenty of music is neutral and simply a matter of preference. But some is not.
And I have to pick a side.
Last week, I put up a post on social media condemning the “art” photos released by Kathy Griffin. I don’t normally get very political in my posts, as I tend to focus mainly on my personal life in faith and humor and struggles. But I felt I had to say something: that joking about murder or assassination is never funny, no matter whom we are talking about, or where we stand politically or religiously. My post was one that would appeal to both (or all) sides….. or so I thought.
Apparently, someone who pretended to be a “friend” hated what I had to say, even though I quoted a politician that she loved. She, along with others, started an online smear fest that seem to have come out of nowhere. Stories were told, things I had supposedly said and done, my “thoughts and intentions” revealed…. and it was all mostly fabricated. I halfway wondered if they had the right Shalimar, but the odds of that (given my unique name) were slim, and what started off as shock and sadness eventually turned into chuckling. I even earned a nickname: “Agent of Duh.”
Yes, for the first few minutes of this discovery, I felt incredibly sad… People who know me, who’ve seen pictures of my children, and if they took time, would understand that my main purpose in writing was still not political, but rather my love for all life… they jumped into what looked like a cross between a verbal stoning and a middle school hissy fit. And when good friends came forward to defend me, they posted “why don’t you just let it go?”
Of course, I and my friends have let it go, rather quickly, actually. It’s not worth bothering about people who find online character smears a fun pastime. And “friendship” with those folks was never real in the first place, so there is no real loss…. only a chance to pray for them, even though they hate that idea, too.
But the reason I mention all of this is that once again, I discovered that while difference in opinion is many times about a neutral subject (some people are cat people, and some people are dog people), neutral subjects are becoming fewer and farther between these days. I was trying to please both sides of the crowd by making a true statement…..
But sometimes, you have to pick a side.
Whenever I come out with the side of life, all life, some people are just going to be disturbed by it. Perhaps their political party is more important to them than truth above all, perhaps they are trying to justify a lifestyle or past action that they are ashamed of, perhaps they are clinging to codependent friendships or not wanting to “offend” anyone, or perhaps they are simply angry at life in general and need to dog-pile on another victim to feel better about themselves.
Perhaps they are part of the fickle crowd that says “Hosanna to the King!” and then “Crucify Him!” a few days later.
We are all fickle at times, and I am definitely included in that definition, even though I am fiercely loyal. Sometimes, I accidentally become fickle, like Peter at the fire with the slave girl. I don’t intend to switch sides, but I get caught up in trying to reach out to EVERYone, instead of just letting a truthful statement sit there for people to chew on, no matter what they call me.
(For the record, I didn’t invent the Truth. So…. )
This morning a beloved relative of mine sent me a released video of ISIS militants demolishing a Catholic Church in the Philippines. I watched as they smashed statues, shattered glass, toppled a beautiful crucifix and stomped on it, and eventually, they set the whole beautiful church on fire and walked away. My heart was in my throat with sadness and disgust by the end of watching the video, and the music in my mind from the night before dissipated….
In the end, we do have to pick a side.
No, I do not deny my Maker. And I love every human life He has created. All of them, born and preborn… All of you, even if you hate me back.
And I do not apologize for who I am and how I love and care for each soul.
I know Whose side I’m on, even though I fail miserably at remaining steadfast at times. We all fail at times…. but even so, are you on the fence? Do you ask “what is Truth?”
If so, please check out the side of Life and Love. I am a convert from atheism. And I didn’t make that decision lightly. It cost everything, but it is more worth it than I even know. There is PEACE. Got questions? God wants you, He loves you….. He loves all of us relentlessly….
And He wants you on His side.
“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!” Deuteronomy 30:19