Monday, March 28, 2005


So I had an amazing night last night. I ended up having a great conversation with Sal. The conversation was thick and so I ended up waking up at about five this morning with my brain already spinning at full speed. So I went to the doughnut kettle to journal out some of this stuff that was floating around in my mind. Five cups of coffee, one buttermilk bar, one maple bar, and 2.5 hours latter I decide to head out to church. It is Easter Sunday, so my church is doing the good deed of having two Sunday services to better serve the masses. I had hashed out a lot of the things that Sal and I had talked about Saturday night.
I was wondering aimlessly around looking for someone to chat with. I find my dad sitting out in the front, following with the idea of deepening my relationship with my dad; I sit down to say hi. He asks me about a book that I gave to mom and him the day before, so we chat about things a bit, I get to the part about trying to love other people, somehow we get stuck on the aspect of homosexuality. I was trying to explain why I felt this need to love people regardless of whether or not they are the pastor, a Christian, or a homo. His response is that the sin of a homosexual is worse than that of a liar, because it goes against creation, and society. We argue back and forth a bit and he settles on a verse in Romans where it says, “he gave them over to their wickedness and depravity”. So I guess that in his mind he has explained why it is worse, but it just seems wrong to me. Wrong down on a deep and heart level. I try and explain how I felt that intolerance was a bad thing, and that I did not want to hate someone. He quotes the bible telling me that if I condone the sin, than I am guilty of the same sin. I leave.
I sit through the service next to Kay and Kent Hodeling. Several times during the service, I just start to breakdown and cry. I just don’t see how the God who pastor mark is talking about is the same God that my dad was talking about just before. I feel this overabounding love and appreciation to God, to Christ for dieing and hurting and suffering for my own failures and my daily faults. It was intense; at that moment, I felt a real connection. At the same time, I sit here and write in my journal that if God would send me to hell for loving somebody, that I would dance in the flames and shake my fist at a cold and dead God. So intensely loving and hating at the same time, perhaps those two emotions are a lot closer than I thought.
The emotion roller-coaster peaks with the pastor reading from John 3:16, for God so loved the world, that he gave his only son that who ever believes in him will not die, but have life. I make the mental note that it does not say that God loves the whole world except the homo’s. I guess that that is the point that I just crack.
Rick and Sal show up for the between service brunch, I lay down the story so far. I am so wound up that I am just pacing the church from front to back trying to make sense of the vast array of emotions that were running through my mind. Rick corners me and tells me that I just need to walk, to walk McMinnville, I remember thinking that there were not enough sidewalks in Mac to let me walk this off.
I leave church, but I cannot go home, my Dad is at the house cooking the family Easter dinner. So I leave church, than I leave Mac, than I just decide to leave, I decide to go to the beach. I drive to the beach; somehow I come to the conclusion that I just don’t want to talk to people again. I decide to take a vow of silence for a day, than it turns into a week, than it just turns into silence for as long as it takes. I am troubled by the thought that my mom or sister might worry about me if I don’t show up for dinner, so when I get to Lincoln City I send a text message to my sister telling her that I wont be able to make lunch and sorry. My silence in tack I get out on the beach, and make it to the sand, take my flip-flops off and feel the cold wet sand squish up between my toes. Not ten feet into the sand I see this nice lady walking towards me, and she smiles, so I smile back and say Hi, she returns the grin and verbal greeting. I notice that I just blew the whole vow of silence, wow, almost an hour, good job Matt.
So now the setting around me starts to look like the inside of me feels. It is a beautiful and wicked stormy day at the Oregon beach. The wind is whipping, the rain is drilling into my skin driven by the gale force wind. The waves are crashing into the sand with an audible boom. I head straight for the waters edge, somehow standing in the surf with the waves running against my legs I start to realize the extent of the turmoil that is spinning inside my mind.
I start to walk, no goal in mind, just walking, my eyes down cast watching my feet as the waves wash over my feet and legs. I feel somehow like I am in the movie cast-away, on an island all by myself. I walk and the waves bring in seaweed and it catches around my ankles and toes and is pulled sideway out as the waves rush out again. I never liked the foam that sometimes is made by the waves on the beach, I guess that it was the odd color, yellowish and not very nice looking. Today I just did not care, I walked sometimes stumbled as a wave would rush in and push my feet out from under me, almost in a straight line. Walking through sea foam, I realize how much fun it is to be able to walk through the foam, how the waves bring it in, and half gets sucked out, but the part inland of my foot and leg would be trapped on shore. How after walking through a big pile of foam it clings to my foot almost like a foam bootie. I can feel as the waves pull the sand out from under my feet. I am reminded of the verse about building your house on the sand, and how unstable the sand feels under my feet. If I stand in one place for more than one wave, the wave pulls the sand out from under my feet and I start to sink into the sand. I think about what Rick said to me that morning, I think about what my dad said, I think about what the pastor said, I think about everything that I have heard in 26 years of being immersed in the Christian culture. I realize that Rick was right, I needed to walk, I also realized that I was right, there would have not been enough sidewalks in Mac to hold me, but the pacific coast has enough beach.
I came to a realization, I turn to the storming waves, and scream out “I am no longer Matt the Christian, I am Matt the guy in search of God”. I am not kidding, but at that instant, the wind stops, the rain stops and there is a single patch of semi sunny sky straight out to the horizon. There I stand knee deep in the Pacific Ocean and wonder at the full effect of what I just said. I look around wondering if anyone heard my ranting. I can see only one other couple far down the beach bundled up in parkas and rain gear. I realize how crazy I look, out in a great spring storm, up to my knees in the surf, flip-flops in my hand and nothing on but shorts and a soaking wet sweater.
I guess that I came to some kind of peace with that statement, because I turned around and start walking back to the park. Every once in a while I would have to turn to the ocean and scream it out again, just incase I did not mean it the first time. On the return to the park, I can keep my head up; I am looking around, I am not so deep and lost in thought. I notice how people on the beach avoid me, how they go out of their way to avoid walking close too me, I begin to think that perhaps I am just about loosing my mind. Perhaps it is a curse.
At first I was scared by what I had said, I was not sure what I meant by it. As I chew through it, it makes sense, I don’t want to be a Christian, what is that? What does that mean? I know deep down at the heart level that there is a God; I see his signature everywhere in creation. I believe that Christ was God, that he was here on earth, that he felt the cold, the warm, he ate food and he died a nasty death. He also loved people, something that I fail at every day. I refuse to hide behind blaming someone else for my failure, “I would love you, but –blank-“.
I don’t know if any of this is making any sense at all, I guess that it just does not have to.


Josiah said...

This is really random, but I visited McMinville numerous times as a child. My cousin Sarri Tate lived there. Do you know her by chance? How about Adam Page? Both graduated in 1996 from McMinville High I think. I guess you could let me know through my blog or email.

liz hughes said...

hey matt. i just read your story and i have to say i understood it in a lot of ways. i had a simular discussion with my small group a couple of weeks ago, and it ended in simular frustration. i asked them, "can you be a christian and be an alcoholic?" and they said yes. then i said, "why cant a homosexual be a christian? why do we see that sin as worse than others when the bible is clear that all sin is the same to God?" they threw some bible verses back at me, something which does not calm my deep questions. as far as saying "i am not a christian, i am a man in search of God," i think that is an excellent way to look at. i mean, how important is the label of "christian" anyway? isn't honestly searching for God and his truth what matters?