Category Archives: Fear Factor

Fighting with God


Have you ever been angry with God?  I mean spitting nails, fists clenched, foaming at the mouth, screaming at the sky angry with God?  I had heard people talk about being mad at God, but it never really made sense to me.  As far as I was concerned, I could not imagine what could possibly happen in a person’s life to give them reason to be upset with God about anything . . .

until recently.

A couple of weeks ago, I was feeling pretty down.  I have been out of work for many months, which means I’m spending even more time than usual alone.  Then to top it off, I couldn’t afford to pay for television service anymore, so I was left with nothing to distract me from being alone.  All this being alone led to feelings of loneliness and then to sadness because I was alone and lonely.  So, as I always do, I started to talk to God about it.

As I was talking to God, I began to feel myself getting irritated.  Then I would check myself and then continue to talk with Him some more.  The more I talked, the more irritated and aggravated I got.  Before too long I found myself downright mad!  The conversation went something like this:

Me:  “Why do I have to be alone, God?”

God:  SILENCE

Me:  “Haven’t I done what you’ve asked me to do?”

God:  SILENCE

Me:  “Haven’t I been patient?”

God:  <insert cricket sounds here>

Me:  “Why can’t I have a romantic relationship?”

Me:  “What is the BIG DEAL???”

By now, I was yelling!  I was literally shaking my fists in the air and pacing all over my house.  I was slamming things around.  I WAS MAD!!!  At this point, I’m glad I live alone, because I think anybody witnessing my behavior may have called the men in the white coats.  At first, I kept apologizing to God because I felt hurt and angry.  At first, I kept thinking I was going to be struck by lightning (not really, but it sounds better than I thought I might be crossing a line).  At first, I thought I was doing something wrong, but a funny thing happened.

As I continued to fume and foam, to cry out and cuss (yes, I did it) to rail and rant I suddenly felt an overwhelming sense of peace.  I felt like God was almost chuckling at me because it had taken me so long to finally feel comfortable with Him.  Like a father comforting a crying child, I felt a “there, there” pat on my back and could almost hear God say to me:

“I never said you couldn’t have those things.”

And just like that, I wasn’t mad anymore.  Just like that I realized, rather sheepishly, that I had been the one imposing restrictions on myself.  It was I who had put myself on this path.  I was the one who suffered in silence and watched man after man fall in love with someone else, and

just

like

that,

I understood.  My whole life was laid before me and I saw the makings of my own loneliness.  I heard all the self talk that said I wasn’t allowed to tell a boy that I liked him, because good girls don’t do that.  I saw myself putting on a brave face as I fell in love with a friend, and hoped that he would feel the same thing.  The conversation continued, bobbing and weaving in the boxing ring of my thoughts,

Me:  “I’ll get hurt.”

God:  “You’re hurting already.”

Me:  “But I’m afraid I’ll be rejected.”

God:  “That’s a chance you’ll have to take.”

Me:  <insert cricket sounds here>

God:  “You’ve been unfair to the ones you loved.”

Me:  ???

God:  “Every time you’ve fallen in love with a friend, you’ve been hurt because you haven’t been honest with what you’re experiencing.  You kept your affections a secret, but you expected them to share openly and reciprocate love that you never expressed.  You expected them to arrive at a destination without letting them get on the train.  How is that fair?”

Me:  “You’re right, God!”  (the audacity, I know…but that’s what I said in my head.)

And I was done.

I was done being angry.  I was done being afraid.  I was done being hurt.  I was done being lonely.  I WAS FREE.  I was liberated from the negative self talk.  I was unfettered by the chains of self restriction.  Not only was it OK to tell someone how I feel about them, I have a RESPONSIBILITY to be honest with my emotions.  Yes, I might have to put myself in a position to be hurt, but the hurt will be on the front end of a relationship when feelings are new.  I won’t have to wonder if a man knows I’m attracted to him romantically, he’ll know because I’ve told him.

I realize that most of you dear readers came to this realization back in the third grade with the giving and receiving of the profoundly moving “I like you.  Do you like me?  Check Yes or No” note.  In contrast, the very idea of that was mortifying to me.  The joys and the indignities of love that most people face as children and teens, I painstakingly avoided.  The fine art of romantic relationships, the give and take, the push and pull – I was too afraid to hazard.  As a result, here I am, a grown woman, who is suddenly faced with the realization that I have to go back and start living life in a whole new way.  What have I got to lose?  Nothing ventured is nothing gained!

In fighting with God I learned not one lesson, but two.  Aside from the obvious, I learned that it is not only OK to fight with God, it is necessary.  Lest you think me a heretic, allow me to elaborate.  A needful component in every relationship is the ability to resolve conflict.  A relationship with God is no different.  There will times when you don’t agree, and the way you handle the disagreement is an indicator of the relationship’s health.  When things are new, you hold back because you don’t know what to expect and you don’t want to hurt feelings, so you make excuses.  You say, “Awww, that’s OK.” even when it’s not.  Eventually, as intimacy grows, so does the potential for conflict.  The deeper intimacy gives way to deeper issues and oftentimes, result in differing views.  When the intimacy is deeper, the risks and the rewards are greater.  In my life, I rarely fight or argue with people.  In fact, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been in a verbal altercation with someone, and still have several fingers left over.  Growing up in my house was a different story.   My siblings and I battled over everything.  We held back nothing.  The difference was intimacy.  I knew that disagreements with my family would not result in a permanently broken relationship.  I knew that no matter what, we would still be family.  That’s the way I felt fighting with God.  I felt safe.  I knew that I could be mad with Him, and we would still be family – I wasn’t going to lose Him.

In the scriptures, we see an epic example of this in the life of Jacob.  Jacob had just swindled his brother out of a blessing, and he had literally pulled the wool over the eyes of his father to get it!  He was persona non grata at his house, and he was running scared.  We pick up the story where Jacob has taken his wives, servants and children along with all their worldly possessions, and have escaped under the cover of night.  Jacob goes back to the camp site alone when

“. . . A man came and fought with Jacob until just before daybreak. 25When the man saw that he could not win, he struck Jacob on the hip and threw it out of joint. 26They kept on wrestling until the man said, “Let go of me! It’s almost daylight.”

“You can’t go until you bless me,” Jacob replied.

27Then the man asked, “What is your name?”

“Jacob,” he answered.

28The man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob. You have wrestled with God and with men, and you have won. That’s why your name will be Israel.”  29Jacob said, “Now tell me your name.”

“Don’t you know who I am?” he asked. And he blessed Jacob.

30Jacob said, “I have seen God face to face, and I am still alive.”

Fighting with God has had far-reaching implications in my life and in my relationship with Him.  I find that I love Him even more.  I feel like He loves me even more, if that’s even possible!  It’s like the last barrier to intimacy has come down.  I’m certainly not suggesting that you go out and pick a fight with God, but I do recommend being real with Him.  But be prepared, because just like Jacob, you will not walk away unscathed.  Everyone who wrestles with God walks away a different person!  I know I did.

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Geronimo!


Jump out of a perfectly good airplane???
Jump out of a perfectly good airplane???

Have you ever been sky-diving?  Nah, me neither.  Basically because I’m a big chicken.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love to fly!  My favorite part of any flight is the take-off and the landing.  I always position myself near the wings just so I can watch the braking action upon landing.  It’s a huge rush to hear the engines strain against the metal, to feel the halting of the immense beast mid flight, to know that thousands of pounds of metal, circuitry and humanity are hovering perilously, and miraculously over the earth.  But the thought of jumping out of a perfectly good airplane???  The mind reels.  First of all, I’m a big girl…what if the parachute doesn’t deploy?  What if it does, but then a freakish accident causes the parachute to rip and ker-splat!?  What if I have a heart attack mid fall?  What if, as I’m about to step out of the plane, I trip (I do that alot – thank you astigmatism and failed depth perception), bang my head against the door, am knocked unconscious as I tumble out of the plane, and am unable to pull the rip cord?   All of these scenarios end with me plummeting to my untimely and gruesome death.

So what’s the point of this diatribe?  Well, while I would like to say that the preceding ramblings were contrived, I must confess that these are, in fact, my actual thoughts about the topic.  I know, scary – right?  Unfortunately, this mode of thinking is not confined to the subject of sky-diving.  I have what I like to call Analysis Paralysis.”  I over think things.  If there’s a “What if?” question to ponder, you can bet I’ve thought about it from every angle.  Normally, you might say that thinking something through is a good thing, but the fact is it is agonizing.  Think of the movie “War Games.”  In the final act of the movie, Matthew Broderick‘s character stumps an über-computer intent on destroying the world.  He does this by proposing a game of tic-tac-toe.  It analyzes and computes, computes and analyzes, but it ultimately DOES nothing!  As we all know, that game is essentially unwinnable.  Now imagine the same situation in a real-life application.  The results are devastating.  The fear of making a mistake or wrong move is crippling.

Everyday decisions are easy.  What should I wear to work?  Done.  Should I take a walk around the neighborhood, or at the park?  Cake!!  Should I cut my hair off or let it grow?  It’s just hair!  Those decisions are easy to make because they only affect me.  I don’t know about you, but I get bogged down with cerebral gymnastics when the choices before me have more impact on those around me, or better yet if the impact is eternal.

Then       I       can’t       move       !!!!!!!!!!

Do you ever experience the same thing?  If “Analysis Paralysis” isn’t the answer (and it isn’t!), then what do we do?  How do we move past the debilitating fear of making a wrong choice?  A better “what if?” question to ask is “What if I make a mistake?”  What’s the worst case scenario?  Will the world come to a screeching halt if I screw up?  Ummm, NO!  (Not unless [like the aforementioned über-computer] I’m on THE BUTTON, then – ok, yeah, maybe…)  The Bible has a lot to say about the subject of worry, anxiety and fear:

Fear nothing–not wild wolves in the night, not flying arrows in the day.”

–PSALMS 91:5

“The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in GOD protects you from that.”

–PROVERBS 29:25

“Don’t panic.  I’m with you.  There’s no need to fear for I’m your God.  I’ll give you strength.  I’ll help you.  I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.”

–ISAIAH 41:10

“Save your fear for God, who holds your entire life–body and soul–in his hands.”

–LUKE 12:5

A choice stands before me now.  Not one of those easy decisions; this one is a life-altering, rock-my-world, eternal affecting decision.  My human inclination is to immediately go into analysis mode.  To agonize over the “What if’s?”  Suddenly, I’m up in that airplane again.  The shock of rushing wind assaults my face as the bay doors of the fusilage open to reveal the chasm between me and the earth.  I hear a voice urging me to jump, to trust, to take that first step.  But there’s something else…I’m not alone.  I have a tandem jumper.  I am attached to the master jumper.  He holds my life in his hands – literally and figuratively.  I can stand, immobilized by all the potential outcomes. . .or I can sit back into the harness, tuck my chin and trust my partner.  Maybe all my fears will be realized.  Or maybe — just maybe, taking a risk will allow me to experience something more amazing than anything I have ever done before.  Maybe the decision’s not so hard after all. 

“There is no room in love for fear.  Well-formed love banishes fear.  Since fear is crippling, a fearful life–fear of death, fear of judgment–is one not yet fully formed in love.”

1 JOHN 4:18

My tandem partner is Christ – my bridegroom.  He doesn’t expect me to make the jump alone, He loves me!!  He’s invested in my success, and along the way (because He loves me), He wants me to enjoy the view!  To live an abundant life!  In the final analysis, I can’t make a wrong choice when I rest securely in the grip of the Master.  I feel His arms around me, and I am safe.  He speaks and I hear Him say “Jump!”  Even in the face of the great unknown, I can easily and eagerly leap forward as I hear myself screaming into the wind;  “Geronimooooooooo!”

Let’s Go on a Safari


Poised to Pounce
Poised to Pounce

I’ve had a rough couple of days, and after talking with some of my other friends, they are having a rough time , too.  For me, its been a general sense of irritation.  For my friends, they feel beaten down, depressed, discouraged.  It’s irritating how frustrating it feels to know you’re a Christian but you still feel “down in the mouth!”  We have the added pressure of being the face of Christ, whether or not we feel irritated, depressed, discouraged or mad.  Well-meaning Christians can often times pander to our emotional distress and regurgitate the banalities of “Good Christian-ese.”  You know what I’m talking about.  You’ve, no doubt been on the receiving end of the sweeping generalities.  Think Job and his friends.  You get told, “Just cheer up!” , “If it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger.”  They even use scripture to tell you that your feelings are wrong – “Count it all joy….!”  I have to confess, I’ve been guilty of this myself from time to time.  But this can’t be right.  It’s honest and human to experience a variety of emotions, including sadness, irritation, discouragement and anger.  I’m not advocating that we just give in to our negative feelings and allow ourselves to languish in despair.  That doesn’t do anyone any good.  So what are we supposed to do?  There’s gotta be a happy medium.  It reminds me of an experience I had when I was at college in Samford University.

In 1990, I spent a month in Zambia, Africa where I had the opportunity to go on a photo safari in one of the Nature Reserves in the neighboring country of Zimbabwe.  It was an amazing experience.  I got to see herds of Kudu, giraffes, zebra (pronounced ZEH-bra by the nationals), I even saw an elephant swimming across the Zambezi river!  I saw lots of hippos, and very brazen baboons.  I was hoping to see some of the more exotic game – hyenas, rhinos, and water buffalo, but there were none to be seen.  What I really wanted to know about was the big cat – The King of the Jungle himself, a Lion.  The guide assured all of us that the predators were out there, we just couldn’t see them, they were hidden in the brush.  That didn’t exactly foster a feeling of well being.  To know that a killer is potentially sizing you up as a tasty morsel is a feeling that is difficult to describe, but one with which we are all keenly aware.

Today I’m on a safari of a different type, thousands of miles removed from the plains and wild-life of Africa.  The jungle I now traverse is suburban.  More urbane, certainly, but none-the-less hazardous.  In the Bible, we are warned in 1 Peter 5:8 (NIV) to ” 8Be self-controlled and alert.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”  Well, paint me with stripes and call me a ZEBRA, because I’ve been under the lion’s attack.  He’s been stalking me for some time now.  I just came from an oasis where I filled my belly with living water and the food of the Word, so I’m looking mighty appetizing to him.  You may not be able to see the marks, but I feel the effects of his slashing claws.  My hide remains intact, but my spirit bears the puncture marks from his constant, biting attacks.

So here I am today.  I had a coworker make a comment that rubbed me the wrong way. (SLASH)  I felt doubt about the choices I’m making for my future.  (SWIPE)  I allowed insecurity about my relationships to confuse me. (SNAP)  Well, how is it possible that a person can feel so secure and close to the Lord one day, and feel separated and isolated the next.  The reason is that we have an enemy.  You may not be able to see him, but he’s out there – sizing you up.  1 Peter 5:8 in The Message says it this way; “Keep a cool head.  Stay alert.  The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping.”

You get a little comfortable in your Christianity.  You get the slightest bit complacent in your calling.  You let your guard down just a little.  Those are the opportunities that the enemy uses to sneak up on you and attack.  He strikes when and where you are most vulnerable.  If you’re in the buisness of encouraging others, then you’ll be attacked to feel discouraged.  If you are a leader, you might be racked by insecurity.  But what are we supposed to do about all of this?

Do we take the pat answers of the well-meaning, but usually ill-informed?  I say emphatically, “NO!”  We have to recognize that we are made in the image of God.  Jesus himself experienced a full range of emotions and he was not considered weak or ungodly because of them.  If we are, in fact, created in His image (and we are) then we should be allowed to experience the same range of emotions.  It’s OK to be discouraged.  If discouragement was an emotion that was unfamiliar to God, then we would not have the abundance of references to it and how to get over it contained in the scriptures.  In Genesis 32:24ff, we have the great story of Jacob wrestling with God.

“However tried or discouraged, we shall prevail; and prevailing with Him in prayer, we shall prevail against all enemies that strive with us.”

Notice that being discouraged is not cast in a negative light, it just is.  By the same token, we cannot allow ourselves to wallow in the emotion. . .because we are immediately reminded that WE WILL PREVAIL!  We’re gonna get through it. Again, we are reminded of a battle and in each battle, there is an enemy.  We would do well to remember that.

Once more in Genesis, we find Abraham in a discussion with God about the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah.  There is an exchange between them that goes on for some time – they are dickering the number of decent people required to save the cities.  God starts high, and Abraham is nickel and dime-ing to get the numbers down (he’s been to the city and knows the odds).  At one point Abraham says to God (Gen. 18:30),

” Master, don’t be irritated with me, but what if only thirty are found?”

Did you catch that?  Abraham is saying it’s possible for God to be irritated!  So, if God can be irritated, then why do we beat ourselves up when we feel that way?  Or is it just me?  In Romans 12:8ff, we are warned about the potential to become irritated in the midst of helping others whom we are encouraging.  In 1 Corinthians 9:8, Paul says,

“I’m not just sounding off because I’m irritated.  This is all written in the scriptural law.”

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’m not quoting all of these scriptures to defend my right to be unpleasant, rude, angry and irritated.  On the contrary, I find these scriptures to be encouraging.  If the great heroes of the Bible dealt with the same feelings I encounter, then there is hope for me.  Unlike the “Don’t worry, be Happy-ism” mentality of the modern day church, the people I read about in the Bible are real.  They don’t pretend that they feel great when they’re having a bad day.  They don’t lie about being mad, sad, tired, discouraged, irritated, lonely or afraid.  So why do we?

I point again to the ENEMY!  We are at battle!  The enemy would like nothing better than for you to remain in a state of discouragement, irritation and fear.  That’s what happens when we don’t deal with an issue face-on.  I can be all painted up like a Zebra and ignore the fact that a hungry lion is stalking me.  I can tell myself, in my zebra voice – “Just count it all joy…” and hope the lion will go away.  But that’s not very realistic.  If I’m not aware that I’m being stalked, I’ll be lion-chow before I can finish one chorus of “This is the Day that the Lord has made!”

When confronted, the enemy flees.
When confronted, the enemy flees.

Take a cue from our animal friends.  Be alert!  Be vigilant!  Be prepared!  You ARE going to be attacked at some point.  The animals that survive are the ones who are prepared.  When a lion goes after a water buffalo, the buffalo will run for a time, but when an attack is imminent, the buffalo turns to face the claws and jaws of his pursuer.  This so disarms the hunter, that more often than not, the buffalo is spared.   So prepare yourself for an attack.  When you feel the enemy stalking you, don’t ignore it. . . Confront it.  The lion’s instincts to attack are activated when the prey begins to run. The Bible tells us to flee from sin, but we are told time and time again that we have been given authority over the enemy.  Let’s exercise that authority and tell the devil to go back to Hell.    Know that you are not alone in your emotional struggles.  Know that you can take on the safari and come out the victor.  Now will someone help me out of this Zebra suit???

Paint me with stripes and call me a zebra!
Paint me with stripes and call me a zebra!

A disappointing day in a local church


I’ve been back in my hometown for a year and a half.  In that time, I have visited a handful of churches in an attempt to find a body of believers with whom I can worship.  Brooksville is a small town.  The size of the town however, is not an accurate indication of the number of churches available for the potential worshiper.  In fact, all you have to do is an internet search and you will find that in my small burg, there are no less than 169 places of worship!  I have visited at least 20 of them.  I have yet to find the place where I am supposed to be, and frankly I’m wondering if that place exists.  But I am encouraged to continue trying.  It was in this spirit that I visited the most recent congregation.

As I pulled up to the tiny building, nestled in between pastureland and a historic cemetery, I was comforted by the familiarity of the place.  I’ve been here before, but it’s been a long time.  A colleague of mine and her husband are the leaders of a Bible Study, and it was at her invitation that I chose to come.  I loved the Sunday School class.  I was hopeful that maybe I had indeed found a place where I could serve and worship.  When I entered the sanctuary, I saw many familiar faces.  I smiled and searched to make eye contact, only to be passed by time and time again.  It’s not my personality to sit quietly by, however I thought I would take this opportunity to make a sociological observation.  I saw five co-workers, yet none of them saw or acknowledged me.  Mind you, the church only holds about 150 people (if it’s packed to the rafters) and on this day, there may have been 40 people there.  I found this curious.

Finally, a lovely lady and her husband (whom I know from our time together at another congregation) came over and greeted me, hugged me and asked me to join them.  I gladly complied.  I enjoyed the hymns, but it was shockingly still in between songs as we waited for the technology to catch up to the leader.  The pastor led a prayer, and he made a point of kneeling beside the altar, but it felt forced and routine.  There was no welcome of visitors.  For such a small, country congregation it was cold and detached.

The praise and worship music started.  OK, finally, something that I will love.  They just take awhile to get warmed up.  That’s what was going through my mind.  I was sadly mistaken.  The technological issues persisted, and as I looked around I was impressed with the amount of money that had been spent to make sure that this building was outfitted with the most current equipment.  They had a Bose speaker system.  They used video presentations for the praise and worship.  Each of the five members of the “praise team” had a wireless microphone.  The senior pastor was among them, and he wore a Journeyman microphone.  Again, there was frightening silence between songs.  There was no leader.  There was no one to encourage us to sing, or to really lead us into an attitude of worship.  OK, they’re just getting into this.  They haven’t really found their footing, yet.  That’s what I thought.

The pastor began his sermon.  There were four alliterative points.  There was a scripture at the beginning, but the sermon really had little to do with it.  It seemed to me to be inconsequential to his message.  The heart of which was not really what he spent more than 45 minutes telling us about.  The thrust of the diatribe was really about who “right thinking Christians” should vote for on November 4th.  He even went so far as to say how we should vote on one of the amendments.  This could jeopardize their standing as a non-profit entity, but I know it goes on in many churches.  I was offended.  I wanted to leave.  Had I not been sitting with the aforementioned lovely family, I would have found a way to excuse myself.

Look, I don’t have a problem with people expressing their opinions.  I’m all for it.  I think that God encourages us, no, He commands us to examine the authorities that we allow to be over us.  I even think that the church has a responsibility to educate people in areas of public policy.  The problem I have is when people use the pulpit and the guise of religion to bash others.  How does this make us different from “them?”  You know who “they” are, don’t you?  Anyone who thinks differently than you or I.  “They” are the ones we’re fighting in this war.  “They” are the people from the other churches (or “CULTS” according many).  I’ve actually heard people stand up in the pulpit and call the Catholic Church a cult!  But that’s another soap box…I’ll save that for another day.

That’s not what Jesus was about.  Jesus did not insist that we all think, feel and behave the same.  In fact, he was consistently in opposition to the great thinkers of His day.  I would challenge anyone who professes to be a follower of Christ to find a contextual scripture to support that type of behavior.  I know that God is a righteous God.  I know that He has identified sin as odious to Him.  I know that He cannot look at sin.  But what I want to know is when did He quantify sin?  When did God ever say this sin is more grievous than that sin?  In point, I am infuriated when I hear my fellow republican Christians say “If Obama is voted in, what happens to the helpless children who will be aborted?”  Well, tell me this…we’ve had a supposed Christian Republican president for the past 8 years!  How many helpless children were aborted under his leadership?  What about all the lives lost in this war that is completely meaningless? 

What infuriates me most is that the process of voting is a PRIVILEGE!!!  We are a fortunate country.  We have the right to vote our individual thoughts, feeling and beliefs!  Many people have died and continue to die to protect that right.  How dare you stand up in the pulpit, or anywhere else for that matter, and tell me that because I don’t believe, feel or think the same way that you do, I am not a “Right Thinking Christian!”  How dare you?  I have never been so infuriated.  We as Christians are supposed to encourage one another.  We are to build each other up.  I have not felt love and encouragement from my fellow republican Christians.  I have felt the opposite.  I have felt persecuted.  I have had my faith called into question on more than one occasion.  It is no wonder that people who don’t know Christ aren’t encouraged to become a part of Christianity.  We paint a very unflattering picture of Christ and Democracy.

I am on my way to the polls.  When I am there, I will cast my votes for the people that I have prayed over diligently.  I will vote my conscience.  I will express my individuality and at the same time, be bound together with others who agree with me and disagree with me in the real process of Democracy.  I am wearing a shirt today that is emblazoned with one word:  FREEDOM.  I have found Freedom in Christ, but I experience freedom in America because of the people who have gone before me.  Who are you to say I am right or wrong?  We should all embrace one another.  We have participated in a process that many others will never experience.  We have raised our collective voices and made our will known.

The Remorseful Republican


You know, I don’t typically dive into political waters.  I prefer the relative safety of the beach, secure in my cabana with a fruity drink in hand.  I have my opinions, and I generally prefer to keep them to myself (unless I’m asked).  But I think it’s time to pull on my water wings and reluctantly slip into the currents.  WARNING:  You may not agree with me, and I’m OK with that, but I can’t just sit back and remain silent. 

I was so excited when I turned 18 and was allowed the privilege of voting.  I was a huge fan of then Florida governer, Bob Graham, who was a democrat.  I followed his lead, and signed up with the Democratic party.  After a few years, and some more study, I chose to change my party affiliations and became a Republican.  I embraced the Republican ideals, the Republican morality, and the Republican alignment with my Christian ideals.  I almost always voted along party lines.  However now, I am faced with a dilemma. 

At the start of this electoral season, I was completely anti-Obama.  I believed that he was Muslim, I believed that he refused to pledge allegience to the flag, I believed that because he was a Democrat, my choice was even easier.  I have always been a fan of John McCain.  I was impressed by his military history, I was impressed by his perceived honesty and “Aw, shucks!” mannerisms.  I felt that he was the better choice eight years ago when the Republican Party chose George W. Bush.  For me, this year’s election was pretty much a fore-gone conclusion.  I am Republican.  I would vote Republican.  End of discussion.

I am a Republican because I do not want to have partial-birth abortions, or unregulated stem-cell research.  I believe a woman’s body is her own, but I see the life she carries beginning at conception and based on that I would like to see Roe v. Wade overturned.  While I love my friends who embrace alternative life-styles, I don’t want to have same-sex unions recognized as legal marriages.  I have conservative views about most things.  I STILL feel this way, but what this election comes down to ISN’T abortion, stem-cell research, pro-choice or pro-life, same-sex marriages, or any of the other issues that have always been central to my party affiliation.  My feelings haven’t changed on these subjects.  They never will, but I feel that this election is about more immediately pressing issues.   

I’m hearing all this talk about tax-cuts, insurance credits, dependence upon foreign oil!  All rhetoric.  What about what’s really happening in the American households.  McCain talks about a freeze of non-vital programs!  What does HE consider non-vital?  Education?  Health Care?  Social Security?  I’m concerned.  I hear him talking about defense, defense, defense – but truthfully, what are we defending?  We have become the offenders.  We are in another country, fighting a war that we have no business fighting.  We are there under false pretenses and I hear him pressing the issue to continue this offense.  Here’s an idea – we are hurting financially because we’re spending so much money in Iraq (not to mention the even greater cost of lives), why don’t we bring our soldiers home and let Iraq handle it’s own business? 

Here’s another idea.  Why don’t we stop borrowing money from governments that we consider unfriendly just so that we can continue in a lifestyle that we obviously can’t afford.  What ever happened to living within our means?  McCain keeps talking about not raising taxes, but we have so many affluent people in this country who could easily afford to increase their tax contributions.  We are in an economic crisis, how do you suggest that we get out of that?  Apparently our government is incapable of identifying the real needs that the majority of Americans face.  What ever happened to government of the people, for the people and by the people?  Where are the normal people in our government?  I guarantee if I ran my household the way our government is running our country, I would be bankrupt, and in a serious world of hurt.

I went into the presidential debate thinking it was a foregone conclusion that the Republicans would win.  I was sadly mistaken.  Frankly I was disgusted by the smugness that McCain displayed.  I was further bothered by his lack of answers and his preponderance of self-promotion.  I mean, I realize that this is a campaign, and the candidates are trying to convince us that they are the best choice, but come on!  I was surprised to hear clear, concise answers from Barack Obama.  Frankly, I was convinced that he clearly won that debate.

Now, I’m listening to the second Presidential debate and I’m even more disgusted by this man who represents the party to which I belong.  He is evasive when a question is asked.  He is driven by his own agenda, and he is so busy tooting his own horn, that I’m surprised that he can hold the microphone.  I so want to have a reason to believe that McCain and Palin are right for our country, but I do not see it. 

I believe that Obama is genuinely concerned with what the American people are experiencing.  He speaks clearly and concisely.  He does not pander to his own record.  He does not condescend to his opponent.  He does not sit by while his opponent is speaking and smirk smugly, while shaking his head. 

You know what I hear from McCain?  “Me, me, me, me, me, me – I, I, I, I, I, I, I.”  What I hear from Obama, “We, we, we, we, we – compassion, concern, sincerity.”  Herein lies my dilemma – I still believe in the Republican ideals.  I have since learned that Obama is a Christian.  I have learned that he is personally opposed to abortion, but feels that the woman should have a right to choose.  What do I do?

My heart is telling me that McCain/Palin is a huge mistake for America.  I’m more convinced that Obama/Biden are what we really need.  But I’m not completely sold.  What I am completely convinced of is that America is sorely in need of a Holy Intervention.  Only God knows best what we need, and I need a word from Him – soon.  I pray that we will hear His voice and obey His leading.

In the mean time, I’m feeling a little “pruney” so I’m going to climb out of the pool.  I think I see the cabana boy with a fresh drink with one of those cute, little umbrellas.  I think I should have stayed on my lounger in the first place, ’cause now I have a cramp!  Oh – boy, can I get a fresh towel?  Aaaaah!!!