We walked into the restaurant & the techno music was blaring. We sat in a circular booth close to the sushi bar. Our waiter was overly chatty & really pushing the booze. It was weird. I ordered my mule & mom & I chatted straining to hear each other through the obscenely loud beats. B arrived & I requested he sit closer to cuddle. We ordered & I started to notice mom’s tremors getting worse. She was more anxious & more uneasy as the night continued.
B ordered sake & began drinking the clear liquid. The server kept pushing the booze & I was getting frustrated because we ordered what we wanted & certainly do not need to be pushed to drink more.
Suddenly, when B went to pick up his sake, my mom said, “DON’T Drink that.” B looked taken back a bit. & he politely disagreed.
“I see the devil in that man’s eyes. He’s pushing booze.”
Mom starts to shake more- her whole body is shaking at this point. & it is as if the music got louder. Mom is uncomfortable & it is really obvious.
She starts rattling off bible verses & she does not blink. I can feel my palms getting sweaty & I tell her she is scaring me & to stop the devil talk.
We discuss how to get to heaven- this comes up a lot & I can feel myself getting angry because she will bring up being gay & it will piss me off.
She tells me a long ass story about a passage in the Bible in reference to being gay & I ask her what the point is. I am tired of this convo.
She’s sweating now- her upper lip is sweating & I can tell we need to leave. She referenced the demonic music playing & the waiter & his evilness.
I’m taken back to when I was 15 & she had a nervous breakdown & she became obsessed with all things holy. When really I think she invited the devil into her body & he took over & she called the possession God.
I continue fighting. I tell her that the God I love would never ever ban a gay man or woman from heaven. God does not abandon anyone. She shakes her head & said that if they ask for forgiveness, they are welcome into the gates. I feel sick.
I asked her this, “If an openly gay man walked into your church & wanted to worship there, could he?”
She shook her head, “They would not be welcome.”
Are you fucking kidding me right now?
We must worship different Gods. The God I know would welcome anyone with open arms & hugs & a welcoming & caring smile.
Mom mentions wanting to leave & changing the subject. Mom always wants to change the subject when we do not see things the same way. I am becoming a right fighter & I can tell I need to get out and run away. I want to hop in a hole and hide & never come out.
We pay & help my mom out of the deep booth. We are sitting and waiting for the car & mom continues being dark & gloomy. She continues talking negatively: her friend’s daughter met a man via computer & got raped. I reminded her she’d already told me this story. & then she goes on & I remind her there is a lot of good in the world & that focusing on the good is a good thing.
We get into the car & get back to the hotel & I walk her up. B remains in the car.
She looks at me and the waterworks start. “I never want anything I say to put a wedge into our relationship.”
I reassure her that nothing she says or does could create a wedge. I reassure her that I love her. & she starts in on verses from the holy book.
Mel: “Mom, I believe in God. When I got maced, He saved me. The mace burned my neck, but The Lord prevented it from getting into my eyes. & I remember staring at the street light thinking it was the great light of heaven. & I remember that light giving me the strength to push through & fight. I scaled a 6 foot fence & lived. Another time, when Hope was small, I slipped on concrete steps on the 2nd floor & an angel placed Hope in the top corner of the first stair & she had not a single scratch. I, on the other hand, fell down 10 steps breaking my scapula. The Lord is good & real & a good God.”
Mom is crying.
Mel: “Mom, you do not get to decide where people go.”
Mom: “Then, who does?”
Mel: “The Lord.”
Mom: “There are only two places, Heaven & Hell. & if you do not accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and savior, you do not make it to heaven.”
Mel: “You are not responsible for where people go when they pass. You do not get to decide for them. You don’t get to shove bibles down people’s throats. Invite them to church & let them have free will, Mom. You are not responsible for their redemption, but you are responsible for your own. You are not responsible for the emotional well-being of others, but you are responsible for your own.”
Mom: “You are right. But, what if they don’t know about the Lord?” (There is real fear in my mom’s eyes. It almost looks like panic.)
Mel: “Be an extension of the Lord. Be kind & generous & help where you can. Let the Lord shine through you & those around you will take notice or not. You can’t control others. You can only control you.”
I told her that worth & acceptance are birthrights & are anointed when in the womb. The Lord does not care if you are gay or not. There is no criteria. He loves you the moment of conception. It is not earned, it is a birthright.
Mom starts crying, again.
Mel: “The Lord gravitates towards the broken, the homeless, the hookers, the drug addicts, & the social outcasts of the world because that is where the Lord is needed the most, Mom. We have to be a voice for the silent & we have to be brave for the brave less. You taught me to stand up for what I believe in, to be assertive, & to be strong. I learned all that from you.”
Mom is bawling.
Mel: “Mom, love all people from where they are. Love humans as they are.”
Mom through her tears: “You are an amazing witness of the Lord, Melissa. You are right, Melissa. You are right.”
I hug her & feel for her because she wants to save the whole fucking planet & she feels anointed to do so. God would never put that kind of pressure & responsibility on one human being. But, that is what my mom feels she is here to do. That is a lot to carry for one human being. You can’t save the world, but you can be your best & share the Lord with people without condemning them & shaming them & making them feel less than for believing differently than you. & then they get to choose which direction they want to go based on free will.
She’s crying harder now and I have to go pick up my kids and find some sunshine. I tell her I love her & to “walk in love.” This is the phrase she raised me with & she never had these limiting beliefs before. She is the one who taught me to love all & to stand up for others & to have empathy for everyone.
I tell her before she goes to sleep, to focus on the light & the angels & the sunshine & to find the good in those she meets & to give those she meets the benefit of the doubt.
I tell her that maybe our waiter does not know the Lord and maybe instead of calling him evil, we should meet him where he is & embrace him.
I’m not perfect. I’m not a perfect Christian. I do not believe the good book, word for freaking word. I believe we get to heaven by how we treat people on Earth. My mom completely disagrees and I am certain she weeps quietly & alone wondering if I will make it to heavens gates.
She believes I should allow my husband to control me because the Bible says so. I believe in equality between husband & wife. I believe in mutual respect & love for all. Her lectures & her verse spitting will not change my mind. I feel it is a warped sense of reality. I worry about my mom. I have to accept her & our differences & allow her to be who she is. I can’t change her, but I try to stretch her & open her mind & get her to realize this is 2017, not 1903. It’s no use, she is set in her ways & I am set in mine.
If I had a church, every single human life would be accepted, warmly. I would hug every single person at my table & I would lengthen my table & invite everyone to sit together & we would eat, drink, & be MERRY. We would talk about what makes the world beautiful & magical & amazing. I would accept all into my family & we would hold hands & love each other & build longer tables and bulid bridges.
We should stop condemning and start embracing. We should give our neighbor the benefit of the doubt and believe the world is innately good. We should find beauty in the broken. We should stop judging others & start sitting with them in their pain & in their joy. We should extend a hand, an empathetic ear, & a warm heart. All are welcome in my house. All.
I weep for my mom because she is tormented on a daily basis with the overwhelming feeling of responsibility to spread God’s word & that is a lot to carry & I wish she could see that it is not her job to determine where people go- that is the Lord’s job. Others redemption, or lack their of, is not her responsibility and does not rest on her shoulders.
My mom is not God. She tries to be & that is a gigantic job & those are ginormous shoes to full. I can’t even begin to imagine the amount of stress she must feel trying to save all of whom she sees.
Her intentions are good.
Her heart is in the right place.
Her hands are warm.
I will love her from where she is as often & as much as I can.
It’s hard, really hard.