Love transcends Religion; A Muslim wedding

Tomorrow night at about this time, my friend of 8 years is getting married. πŸ™‚ It’s the first time I will be attending a Pakistani wedding as well as a traditional Muslim wedding, and it all started with a friendship based around defining stereotypes…

In my early college days long gone by I was active; active with the school’s newspaper, cross-country team, Christian Fellowship and a grassroots Diversity group. To which in that diversity group I met the girl who’s getting married tomorrow…

One topic that was raised by the facilitators, who were ready to shut it down if worse came to worse was the nature of stereotypes pertaining to religion. I don’t recall if she started the conversation or I did, but for the most part she addressed how people in a post 9/11 world has treated her badly, calling her names and expecting her to be wearing an explosive vest ready to blow herself and other people up.

I addressed how some people think Christians are homophobic, bigoted, narrow-minded Bible bashing individuals, and how I’m perceived that I have an air about me that proclaims I’m “holier-than-thou”.

When we flushed out the stereotypes, our friendship started to bloom. In the hallways we’d pass each other and she’d threaten to blow me up with her explosive vest and I threatened to Bible bash her to death…to the outsider it seemed malicious and absolutely wrong, but it our humorous greeting to one another.
That was the start of our friendship and it has been going well despite different belief systems and being really busy, but I thank God for every moment I have to hang out with her and just catch up and BE.

***

About a month ago I met her fiance, we had brunch and it was great to catch up with her and to finally meet her guy. πŸ™‚ I dig him, he’s a well thought out and compassionate guy, plus his rendition of how-we-met was great, as well as my friend’s commentary in-between, they certainly sound like a married couple already! πŸ˜‰

It will be a fun wedding, I can only attend for 1 day but I have been invited to all 3! Camera-in-hand I will be taking behind the scenes photos for both of them, I’m told it will be a good time and plenty of dancing, I’m a little timid about the latter but not too timid.

My friend and I have many differences apart from our belief systems, but I am glad they do not divide us, but our similarities and our friend love unites us, I can’t wait to celebrate her day (and I’m sure she’d say the same).

Good times and God times await me as well as my Muslim friends who are getting married! Yay! πŸ˜€

~Nathanael~

28/30 – Putting an end to a multi-generational curse

Putting an end to a multi-generational curse

I grew up in a home with an absent father for the most part. Work was (and still is) priority number one, and his intentionality to work long hours meant something or someone had to be given up, my mom/sisters & I were that someone.

I don’t know the fullest extent of growing up without a father has taken on me, but some of the more noticeable signs are as follows:
– I kinda rebel at male roles of authority, if I develop a relationship with the guy it’s easier, but from the get-go it is not.
– I have learned a lot of things the hard way, which if I had a father who gave me some insight I probably would not have made stupid STUPID mistakes, but I will say thankfully I’ve been learning from my mistakes and so there haven’t been much repeating in the mistake process.
– I was a hellion to my mother growing up, I bucked her authority because she took on both roles as a result of my father not being there, nothing quite like having your teacher also be your disciplinarian, things got better between her and I but it took years…

The sins of my father in his absenteeism comes from repeating what his father did to him, but it goes on before him and therefore is a multi-generational curse of having fathers out of the picture, away or even not there for their wives and children.

***

The turning point probably came in my late teens or earlier when I decided I did not want to put my future wife and kids through what I went through, and actually I was toying with the idea of having a friend snuff the life out of me if I ever did turn out like my father (which, as it should, scared the shit out of him).

But it has been in 20s that I have formulated what I will need to do in order to end the multi-generational curse, because an idea is just an idea, but if one has the gumption to put some sweat and tears and effort in changing something, that idea just became a well crafted plan of attack which holds more weight than just talking about it.
To which my plan of attack as it were is as follows:
– Having men I respect and trust to hold me accountable, to put out there my struggles and concerns.
– Putting it out there to my wife (in advance) where I’m coming from.
– Figure what my father-in-law did right and seek him for advice (I recognize I won’t be marrying just my June, but her family as well).
– Pray and have faith in God to see me through, that my wife and kids will not know the absence that I know all too well.

***

It’s not easy, and some days I would much rather stay in bed than face the facts concerning my issue, but I have had the pull to be a husband and father since I was younger and so I must go on and do what I need to do to get to that point. That day will come and I want to be as ready for it as I’m getting ready nowadays will putting out there my issues, concerns, and struggles.

I already await the days when my kids run screaming “daddy” and they hug my ankles, I already await the days where I go to bed with my wife and feeling safe & secure, I already await the days when my kids let me in to what’s going on in their lives and there isn’t a shred in parental-loathing teenage angst…

I have dreams, I have ideas, and I have plans, so I must get to planning the future for my wife & kids in the now.

~Nathanael~

27/30 – Being the first to the scene of an accident

Being the first to the scene of an accident

There have been times in my life where I have been the first one on the scene of an accident, and the last time I was went a little something like this.

I was on my way to work when my commute was close to 45 mins, but gas was about a 1/3 cheaper than it is now so to some extent with the hours I worked made it all worthwhile. My commute took me down a steep hill and then over a steeper one still, and at the top of this steep hill was a 4 way stoplight. As I was getting to that point of the road, across from my lane of traffic was a woman who braked as the light went from yellow to red, thing is…

the Semi behind her did not.

Her Land Rover flipped 2.5 times while the Semi drove off the road and into a ditch of sorts. I parked my car safely on the side of the road, so as to keep traffic moving and not blocked by my car. When I got to the vehicle that was upside down she had already crawled out of it and apart from some bumps and cuts from just being in one of the worst accidents I had ever seen, she was alright. The Semi driver was okay as well, just groggy from what just had happened.

Another individual arrived on the scene and had informed the woman that an ambulance and the police were on their way. She thanked the guy as well as me for stopping, as there were a lot of people present for the accident but not a lot of people stuck around, rubberneckers are annoying and can make for an accident themselves.

I recognize somewhere inside of me the nature of Fight or Flight Response in regards to accidents, I’m able to be in the moment and respond appropriately. I am certified in First Aid, I have to be it’s a potential possibility with my line of work, but even if I am not at work and something comes up I am able (and want to) help if needed.

There isn’t a place in this world for rubberneckers as they slow up traffic or worse, but thankfully there are people out there like me who will rise to the occasion to help out others in accidents. How sad and self centered this world would be if no one came to other people’s rescue.

~Nathanael~

26/30 – An intervention of sorts

An intervention of sorts

There is someone in my life who seems to “do a good job” at pointing out the faults and flaws of everyone and never seems to point it back at herself and start to work on her own issues. It is quite frustrating because she will go on and on verbatim ad nauseum about what he does/what she doesn’t do and so on and so forth, and so I’m considering an intervention of sorts.

Because there’s the dynamic where I don’t really care about hearing about other people’s problems when I’m trying to work out mine, I care, but not to the point where that’s the only thing this individual talks about. Plus there’s the dynamic where it’s quite hypocritical; yes it is easier to point out the problems of others because it keeps one from working on their own, but it’s not healthy for anyone.

I want to have this intervention to help this person see how troubling it is to me (as well as others) that this is all this person seems to dwell upon, and in a way seems quite obsessed with the problems of others. This individual can function, but she puts too much energy in…well, if you read this much, no need to repeat myself.

In a way I’ve learned from this person’s negative outlook on life. It gets me in gear to work on my own life issues before I start pointing out what other people do (or don’t do). I can’t say that I enjoy learning from a perspective of doing the opposite of what someone does, but sometimes it just happens and I’m okay with that.

So here’s hoping that this intervention goes well. I don’t have a Plan B if this person isn’t receptive to the intervention, so I’m hoping that it’s a success the first time around.

~Nathanael~

25/30 – I’m dreaming of a right Christmas

I’m dreaming of a right Christmas

There’s a level of disfunctionality that has been a part of pretty much every Christmas I’ve experienced with my immediate family. Everyone. The only time I had an enjoyable Christmas in recent years was when I spent time with my former fiancee’s family and extended family; so much bonhomie, so much love & plenty of peace and goodwill to all who gathered.

I liked it a great deal, it gave me a perspective of what a good Christmas looks like, and yet today’s prompt for the 30 day writing challenge is worst Christmas ever…well, here goes nothing.

Worst Christmas Ever

I think my worst Christmas came at a time in my life where I wanted what my friends had i.e. material possessions, in which it was right when Nintendo 64 was popular. I asked for it to be my Christmas present, my only Christmas present to sweeten the deal…but I wasn’t given it, and while that did make things horrible for me at the time, what made that Christmas the worst ever was that my father hadn’t purchased me anything and I think when I was shopping for a Christmas present for my mom on the 22nd or 23rd of December he said I should pick out something for my Christmas present as he hadn’t gotten me anything.

I’ve had a lot of shitty Christmases, but to select one’s own present after someone admits they haven’t gotten you anything takes the cake as being the worst Christmas ever. I kind of dread any holiday that approaches where standard decorum is getting together with friends and family, because that never happens in my family’s case, we either do things alone or alone but individually, so usually all holidays of this nature suck for me…but I have hope.

I have hope that someday I will be able to throw the best damn holiday parties ever! Whether I’m hosting or adding to the celebrations, I want it to be fun because I haven’t been given that in my life and I don’t want my June or my kids to have something that resembles what my current lot in life is. I enjoy cooking, so you know I’m going to be working my ass off to make good food for those I love and care about. I have hope that things will get better and these present times and shittier past times will be a blip on my radar and will not be repeated verbatim ad nauseum.

Here’s to better Christmases and every other holiday in the future! πŸ™‚

~Nathanael~

24/30 – Thailand through his lens

Thailand through his lens

I have never met Chris of Christao408 dot com but for a year I’ve been seeing some of his adventures, some of the food he’s eaten and his slice of Thailand through his lens via his website.

Thailand is one of those countries I want to visit; the cultures, the food, the architecture and the people. My good friend of 18 years parents-in-law have a ministry working within the red light district and with the women who are leaving prostitution, but my liking of Thailand goes back to when I was younger and I would read National Geographic voraciously, not only the new ones that came in every month but the older ones I would buy pretty much bulk at garage sales.

Chris’ perspectives are very much a-day-in-the-life and I like that, and with it being a blog primarily about his life in Thailand I get a bit of a grasp of a culture that is unfamiliar to me, it broadens my worldview. The world is quite a large place but in the age of the internet it can seem so small and at times personable because of the words and photos of others that gives me an idea what life is like from where they’re from, and I definitely appreciate that.

Until I get to traveling to new and different places I’m going to have to enjoy the world through other people’s words and photos, and when I do I will be sure to return the favor to others.

~Nathanael~

Recap of the I’m Sorry Campaign/Gay Pride Parade in Chicago 2012

This was the first year I commuted primarily by “L” to the Gay Pride Parade in Chicago. Blue Line Oak Park to Jackson, to Red Line Addison. It was very obviously very crowded, but there was a sense of bonhomie in the air for different reasons, and my reason was to join up with The Marin Foundation and their I’m Sorry Campaign for a third year.

It was my intention this year to be the eyes, heart, and ears of Jesus; eyes to watch people to see their reaction that an I’m Sorry t-shirt has and draw them into conversation about what we’re sorry about, a heart of love to those around us and whomever I was in contact with, and ears to hear people share their stories with me. I would have to say this approach was personally successful, thanks be to God. πŸ™‚

Due to a route change/extension the parade went the other way and we were half a block from the IHOP in Boystown, but the manyΒ I’m Sorry shirts made it noticeable where we were going to be. I said my hi’s and met some new people, I asked them from their perspective why they were sorry and for some it was because of once being homophobic to a point where the individual was worried that being Gay was transmittable, for another it was engaging the LGBT Community in a tangible and dynamic way of love, for another his journey was very similar to mine; years of struggling to figure out a personal stance as to if being a follower of Christ is compatible with being LGBT…
I liked that conversation, because the struggle to get away from “well my mom says/my father says/my pastor says” blanket statements is a worthy one, and I recognize in my life that if a person struggles through this and still thinks the same way at the end of the struggle, I’m more accepting of someone who does the legwork to come up with their own thoughts & ideas on this topic.

Then there was P* and D*; two guys, two moments of expressing I’m sorry for the way Christians have treated the LGBT community, two moments where they got what we were about, two good times and God times. I don’t want to give away their story simply because this moment was ours and ours alone.
I will say that it is a breath of fresh air in these God moments where there’s restoration and reconciliation, where perfect shalom seems closer and closer to coming to fruition. Itwill happen, and I want to do my part to be a part of it!

I had work in the evening so I left earlier, but in a way it was a blessing in disguise particularly with standstill foot traffic. People noticed the shirt and thought at first I was saying I’m Sorry for the pushing to move forward as it was very much the bottle neck at times, but I allowed those inquires to be addressed, to say I’m sorry for the way some Christians have treated the LGBT community by telling them that God doesn’t love them when in fact he does! It was received well, and I thank God for those moments when I couldn’t move forward because of the crowds.

All in all it was a good Pride Parade in Chicago yesterday. I wish I could have stayed there longer but I had responsibilities and I was blessed to have five hours off. The work of Andrew Marin and The Marin Foundation and for those who associate with them isn’t a well worn path, it has been traversed by a few but there’s still work to be done. I take the matters of building bridges seriously, intentionally and incarnationally, that is to say I want to be in the same setting where my ministry is.
Jesus exemplified incarnational ministry best, he was with the people, he lived with them, he ate with them, he went through good times and bad times with them. If I call myself a follower of Christ I feel obligated out of love and discipleship to “go and do likewise”. The Gay Pride Parade comes only once a year, but there are still ways for me to engage and build bridges, and you know what? I’m going to do that! πŸ™‚

P.S.Β  brought my camera, but alas I didn’t take any photos 😦 Oh well, here are some from our event through the lens of others;

I wasn’t angry or pissed, just rather hot…pay no attention to me, I’m better behind the camera lens than in front of it!

Be blessed and continue to bless others,
Nathanael