The Grandfather I Never Knew

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I didn’t know my grandfather. My family would go over his house every Sunday afternoon for lunch, and he came to live with us for ten years after my grandmother died. He died in our house, but I didn’t know him.

My grandfather had alzheimer’s. My grandmother died when I was eight years old, and she had already begun to see signs of his deteroiation. Before she died, I was terrified of my grandfather and always avoided him. His wrinkled face was always set in a deep, disapproving frown, and he never showed any interest in me or my siblings. He moved in with my family seven years later, paying for an addition to our house to accomodate his assisted living condition. His frown only deepened, and he was more interested in his newspaper and food than in his growing grandchildren. His alzheimer’s kept getting worse, too. It wasn’t too long before he forgot our names. His frown was replaced with a clueless, gaping expression, his eyes blankly watching us as we moved about the house, doing our chores or goofing off as kids and teenagers do. The last name he remembered was my mother’s name, and then he died.

My grandfather wasn’t a total stranger to me. I knew his name. I knew his interests. I knew his birthday. I knew the standard social media facts, but I didn’t know him.

Then I was sitting at his funeral, listening to my father and my uncle talk about my grandfather, and that was the first time I understood how little I knew him. He had joined the Navy when he was seventeen and fought in War World II, serving in the Pacific Theater, though he never saw any action. After six years in the Navy, he transfered to the Coast Guard and served there for fifteen more years. He retired from the Coast Guard and started working with the Post Office, and there he stayed before retiring after sixteen more years of service. Even in retirement, he didn’t stop working. He began working with the State Highway Authority, focusing on the bicycle traffic. He kept record of bicycle accidents, worked with the B&A trail, and went to different schools throughout the county teaching children about bicycle safety. He was a judge for the state 4-H bicycle competition, and he always had a ready supply of helmets to pass out to children.

Since the funeral, it seems as though whenever my father gets together with his brothers, they only ever talk about my grandfather’s acheivements. They talk about his time in the military, they talk about his time in the government. They talk about his life with their mother, and how he raised his second grandson as his own son. They talk and they talk, but I still get the impression that they didn’t know him either.

Modern Pharisees

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I don’t know why you’re reading this. I don’t know what caught your interest or what retained it. I don’t know what you hope to gain. Wisdom? Laughter? Entertainment? I won’t garuntee you will find any of that here. I didn’t start this blog for readers or attention. This was just a place for me to let my mind wander. So if you’re looking for Confucius or Rachel Ray, you might want to try looking somewhere else.

Today I read an article called “Pregnant at 18. Hailed by Abortion Foes. Punished by Christian School.” It’s content struck a nerve in me that’s been reverberating all day, even prompting me to post a status on Facebook about it:

I think many Christians like to forget that they’re human and susceptible to the same sins that everyone else is. Yes, you’ve been forgiven by Christ, but you’re still sinning. None of us can stop. Christ has to keep forgiving us (and will keep forgiving us), so to be Christ-like, we need to keep forgiving others.
Not holding grudges.
Not so we can hold it over them.
Not so we can feel self-righteous and give ourselves pats on the back.
We’re all human. None of us are perfect. Christians aren’t perfect. Christians are human.
Keep forgiving.

I work at a private Christian school that boasts grade K3-12th. I’m a K3 teaching aide, and I work with the school’s extended care program on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Those days I work with several high school girls, and I consider them all to be wonderful girls, but they’re still teenagers. They’re teenagers trying to grow in a changing world, and they’re just as human as adults. They’re going to break rules, whether it’s chewing gum in class, playing hooky, or sleeping with their classmates–or someone else. No matter how many rules we try to chain them down with, they’re going to make mistakes. Everyone does; three-year-olds, teenagers, even adults. Unfortunately, not everyone accepts the consequences of their mistakes. Maddi Runkles┬ádid. I found that to be quite admirable.

Something I’ve noticed in the Christian community is that we tend to “rank” sins. Some sins, such as homosexuality and pre-marital sex, are considered worse that others, such as lying and gluttony. Ironically, that’s not something I’ve noticed Christ doing in the New Testament.┬áChrist told the adulterous woman to “Go and sin no more” (John 8:11), yet constantly berated the Pharisees, those who thought they were as perfect and blameless as possible, and called them “whitewashed tombs” (Matthew 23:27). The woman had been caught sleeping with another man, one to whom she was not married, and she was forgiven with no punishment given. The Pharisees were “righteous,” but they were rejected by Christ because they were so focused on the rules that they didn’t see the love behind those rules.

I fear that the Christian community has become like the Pharisees of old. The Bible provides only a checklist, and as long as you check off everything on that list (read your Bible, pray before every meal, no pre-marital sex, etc.), you’re a “good Christian.” Also like the Pharisees, you avoided anyone who wasn’t a “good Christian” for fear of contamination. IF you were friends with a sinner, that sinner was garunteed to drag you down into the pits of Hell. Your job was to preach at those sinners from a safe distance, tell them everything they were doing wrong, and condemn them until they saw the error of their ways. If they refused to repent, oh well! You did your best, guess they’re going to Hell. Meanwhile, you keep checking off the items on your checklist and pretend that your life is sinless even when you know it’s not.

“Christians” can be the most hate-filled, judgmental, mean people out there, and I’m ashamed to be associated with them.

Look, I’m not a Bible student. I have no theological degrees. The most I can boast is having attended a Bible college and have spending a life in a Pharisetical church that is just now starting to change. This post is just a Christian girl ranting against the behavior of other Christians.