The Gatekeepers of Heaven

As I’ve gotten older and more life experience (as well as met more people with different life experiences), I’ve become more and more liberal in my theology and thinking. (Oh gracious, I’ve become more and more hippie-like and this disturbs me.)

I feel as if there are fewer and fewer lines of distinction on what it means to live a “Godly” life. Evangelical Christians would have you believe that you have to do XYZ and look a certain way before you are “Saved” but really, I think that’s just bullshit. That’s just the new Pharasaical order.

If you think about it and consider the patriarchs of the Christian/Jewish faith and their lives, they really don’t fit into the nebulous “Christian standards” very neatly. Or at all.

For instance, what about Abraham? He married his SISTER. Ok, HALF-sister, but still. EW. He whored her out repeatedly to other kings (I don’t believe for a second that she always remained untouched). On top of that, he had a concubine because his wife was barren.

What about Lot and his daughters getting him drunk and impregnating them? That’s right. daughtERS. Plural. How drunk do you have to be to not realize you’re having sex with your DAUGHTERS?

What about Israel (aka: Jacob)? He had two official wives and at least two concubines and at least thirteen children (of course, we only know the names of his twelve sons and the one daughter who was raped).

Or Judah, Jacob’s son? He visits a prostitute – who turns out to be his widowed daughter-in-law, by the way – and impregnates her. When he tries to turn her out for being a whore (hypocritical, much?), she sends him proof that it was he who did the whoring.

What about Joseph? He married an Egyptian and had two sons and I’m pretty sure they weren’t brought up in his religion, etc.

Or King David? With his hundreds of wives and concubines, he commits adultery and murder. He may have been a great artist and a man after God’s own heart, but he sure messed up his kids and condoned the rape of his daughter. (Well, perhaps condone is too harsh of a word. But definitely doesn’t do a damn thing about it.)

Or Paul? He told people that it was better to be a eunuch for the Kingdom of God than to be married because then you could devote passionately to the gospel. Somehow, I have a feeling that Christianity would’ve died out if that were the case.

Please note, I am only bringing up the “faithful” in a long line of “faithful” servants. They were deeply flawed human beings – and yet, God still spoke to them and favored them. They were polygamous, murderers, incestuous, adulterers, and really, just a product of their times.

And yet, Christians constantly like to draw boundaries and lines of who belongs and who doesn’t. Okay. Let’s be fair. This is not a problem or distinction known only to Christians. This is a human problem.

If I am honest with myself, I, too, have my own ideas of who gets to be a “Christian” or not. For instance, I have a hard time believing that racists, sexists, misogynists, and hateful people can be “True” Christians. Or really, I have a hard time believing many of the vaunted Biblical heroes would be considered “Christian” by today’s standards. They were some deeply troubled and fucked up people.

John the Prophet? CERTIFIABLY INSANE. I mean, Revelations is one crazy work of fiction, right?

My point isn’t to nitpick people and be the Heaven Police. It is merely to say that God seems to cast a wider net than we do. Case in point: the parable of the vineyard workers.

Here’s the tl;dr version. An owner of a vineyard goes out at 6am in the morning to find workers at the local Home Depot. He picks up a bunch of folks and sets them to working, telling them he’ll pay the full day’s wage at the end of the day. He goes back to Home Depot at 9am, noon, 3pm and again at 5pm. At 6pm, the end of the day, he lines up everyone and starts paying the folks he hired at 5pm. He gives them the full day’s wages. So, the people hired at 6am fully expect to get paid their wages and then some. But when it comes to their turn, they get paid the same full day’s wages. The 6am (and perhaps the 9am workers, too) start grumbling about how it was completely unfair. They should have gotten more wages. What the heck? Was this guy a commie?

The owner gets wind of the complaints and asks the 6am workers, “Hey, did I neglect our agreement? Did you not agree to work the full day for this set amount of wages? Did you not think that was fair at 6am? Then what’s it to you if I am generous and choose to pay the later workers the same amount?”

I love that parable. If not because really, who are we to complain if God is generous?

It’s because we feel entitled to certain blessings and good things and “wages” that we start drawing lines around who deserves what and why. But in reality, who the fuck are we to decide who gets in and out of Heaven? When did God say we were the gatekeepers? And who is to say that God isn’t being generous with the wages in the first place? When did we become so fucking awesome? The appropriate response would be gratitude.

I also love it because clearly, I’m also on the benefiting side of the “last minute” workers – and let’s face it, all they really do is show up for an hour – if even that! It’s awesome. To receive unexpected and undeserved blessings. (That’s what I consider privilege: like, what sex/class/race/orientation/ability/etc. that I’m born into.) The appropriate response, again, would be gratitude.

Anyhow, my point really is that God lets in who He wants to let in and that culture is constantly changing. The only true criteria seems to be you have to be human (this is not to be species-ist) and a sinner. There is no way we would let in Abraham into the holy Church circles as he was. I mean, come on! What we consider appropriate changes with time. Are we wrong? Do we have to go back to Old Testament times? When if a woman was raped, she was given to the rapist as a wife and all the guy had to do was pay a donkey?

I am SO thankful that I do not live in Biblical times. Or any other time other than now. I am also deeply grateful that the pillars of faith were sometimes execrable human beings. That means I may have a chance at Heaven, too.

Reclaiming Our Lost Days

Hapa Papa and I went out for a rare and impromptu dinner last night. During our conversation, he mentioned how he would like our days to have more structure because he feels as if his days are getting lost. It seems to be a particular waste because right now is a unique time in our family. The kids are still small and around us most of the time (and desire it, too). Hapa Papa is working from home 80% of the time. I’m home 95% of the time. And yet, each day seems a blur. An enjoyable blur, to be sure. But still, a blur of half-paid attention to our kids. He is sure there must be a better way.

Like the doer that I am, I forced us to immediately come up with a list of what we would like our day to look like (to be combined with my previous list of what I’d like to get done in a given day). I am aware that if we have too many things we’d like to do, we run the risk of not getting them done at all, but rest assured my concerned readers, this list is more of a framework for how to live our lives rather than a to-do list.

So, here are some of the things we discussed:

1) Have set times when Hapa Papa is “at work” when he is at home. He will do his best to actually work. (Oh, come on. You all know this happens whether or not you are at the office.)

2) When Hapa Papa is NOT working, to leave his laptop in the office and not bring it downstairs to futz around on. He doesn’t really get any meaningful work done, nor does he get meaningful time with the kids. With his computer, he’s more like a lump on the couch that occasionally (sometimes, more so) gets orders from my lazy self to do stuff I am too lazy to do (like change Glow Worm’s diaper).

3) I need set “Facebook” time. And then, I need to not look anymore. Because really? How much happens on Facebook? Do I really need to be that quick to comment or like things? (Yes, Yes, I do!!)

4) Both of us need to set aside our iPhones when we’re with the kids. It tells you something awful about how much I’m on the phone when I actually put my phone away to semi-pay attention to the children and they’re going out of their way to find my phone and give it back to me.

See? That’s all it was. Trying to be more meaningful with our children. Now, of course, that doesn’t mean that every moment needs to be fraught with portent or magic. But I do think that I am on the phone way too much and am way too distracted to parent with intention.

Hrmph. I feel as if this post is all sorts rambley. Ah well. It happens. Happy Monday. Let’s see how twitchy I get without my phone.

 

A Cure for Resentment

Some days, everything Hapa Papa does is golden. He takes the children out to the park, drops them off at school, plays with them, feeds them, does everything for them and all I have to do is kinda show up and breathe. He will do the dishes, wash the diapers, and on top of that, do work. It is easy to love him then.

Other days, (especially when Hapa Papa is busy working), he can do nothing right. I notice every tiny infraction and point them out with little kindness or grace. I complain when he doesn’t immediately respond to my barked orders (let’s not fool ourselves and pretend I’m asking him nicely to do anything). I get upset that I’m spending all day wiping tiny baby butts and picking up after preschoolers with sieves for mouths and he gets to spend time in glamorous hotels like the Hilton and the Comfort Inn, fly to exotic locations like Nebraska, eat filet mignons, and gets a full night’s rest.

In turn, Hapa Papa gets annoyed that I am always tired and needing massages or a break, that he can’t get any work done at home, and that the burden of providing for five mouths is all on his nicely shaped shoulders. He thinks about how if I had just stayed on the marketing track instead of jumping ship to financial advising (something that I hated and wasn’t particularly good at), we’d both be in VP positions and paid comparably and then we’d be in even better and easier financial straits. He gets mad when he thinks about how I “squandered” my UCLA education and stay at home, reading, watching TV, eating snacks, and spending all his money on Amazon Prime. (Ok, that part may be true.)

Our resentment leaches out in acerbic comments, dirty looks, and heaving sighs full of portent and misery. We snap at each other and play the “Who’s got it harder?” Game wherein we both lose. Hapa Papa is better at holding his tongue, but when he doesn’t, his comments are barbed and mean. I have no such self-control and I go for the jugular and speak to kill. We explode into a few short and cruel sentences and stomp off (that would be me) to nurse our wounds. We find plenty of ammunition for self-pity.

Inevitably, Hapa Papa apologizes and I huff a bit more because sometimes, I enjoy clinging to being an injured party. (He apologizes first 99% of the time because he is a good man, a grown up, and kind. I am getting better at apologizing first, though. Or at least, letting things go a bit quicker.) We rarely are angry at each other longer than an hour unless I’m willfully being a brat and holding on to my grudge as if it’s a prize.

From our awkward détentes, we briskly move back to normal – usually with the aid of a few more apologies, stabs at attempted gratefulness for the other person, and a few self-deprecating jokes. But most importantly, it is our willingness to be grateful and see things from our spouse’s perspective that breaks us out of our tightly held resentments.

The truth is, both of us have roles that have their shitty and stressful moments as well as sublime and awesome moments. But when I start focusing only on my sacrifices and difficulties, I start thinking I am entitled to having a better life, a better husband, a better whatever. I get bitter, cranky, and cruel. This is when Hapa Papa and I start sniping at each other. It’s not always me starting it, but since I have no control over my husband, I can only point to my part of the problem. 

The easiest way I have found to stave off resentment is to choose gratefulness. To willfully remember the sacrifices Hapa Papa makes for our family on a daily basis and then thank him for it. The other way is when I notice my spoiled brat inner self starting to make objections, to highlight the absurdity by making a joke out of it and saying it out loud.

For example, if Hapa Papa mentions that he has to be on a call so he can’t help me with the kids, I might say something like, “But it’s Saturday!” To which, Hapa Papa will gamely reply, “It’s Wednesday.” Then we laugh and I remind myself that hey, Hapa Papa actually has to work occasionally and I’m already incredibly fortunate to have him at home 80% of the time.

See? I can be a grown up, too!

At any rate, it’s hard to go on and on about how hard I have it without sounding like an entitled prat (because, well, I’m being an entitled prat). I’m just glad Hapa Papa is a good sport and is so quick to turn the other cheek. What do you do to stop resentment in its tracks?