Black Sheep RULE!

I am a black sheep.

And I’m proud to say it.

The more time I spend reflecting on my youth the more I see the threads of a revolutionary. Within the confines of the walls of my parents house I was always pushing the envelope and standing out in the field.

The field is…was full of sheep.

A while back I composed 4 rules I chose to define myself by.

1. Cynicism is a virtue.

2. Optimism is a disease.

3. Conformity is an abomination.

4. Anger is a gift.

I am a natural-born cynic. I have an old soul. It says so on my birth certificate. In order to see the glass half empty one can not be optimistic that you will get more water to refill the glass. it’s already half empty, move on.

I accepted what was dished out to me as truth and I ate it and washed it down for a number of years. Then when I had enough I started spitting the truth back and the people who pushed it on me…

I have not conformed to anyone’s ideal. I have not just accepted what was given and what people “thought” I would do..when presented with an ultimatum I often will choose against what is expected because I will not be backed into a corner and forced to take your shit.

Give it to someone else because if you throw it at me…I am eventually going to throw it back.

My wife accuses me of not letting people close to me or those I work with to see my dark side. I have a very dark, dark side. Some people reading this blog who “know” me…don’t really know me. They have no idea how dark I can get.

For a long time if you pissed me off, I wrote you off. And in some situations that still applies to this day. Do I care? No. Not at all. Just because we are family doesn’t mean I have to like you. Chances are if we were friends and we had a falling out, we’re still there. Nothing changes with me.

I find the more people who hear my story and what my extended family life has become often agree with me and my decision to walk away. Toxic is toxic. Am I bitter about communication within my family…HELL YES I’m bitter. But I am trying to purge some demons here, and I am trying to let go of past hurts.

My brother would say I’m being a cry baby about this…but he obviously expected and lived a different life than I did in our parents house growing up. I don’t know how that happened, but it did.

This past Friday my Grandmother’s sister Beatrice (aka: Eleanor) died. She was 79 years old. Fought a courageous battle with cancer over a few years. Aunt El was one of the original 10 kids that started my mother’s family. Now there is only one left.

Aunt El was the closest female relative I had to my grandmother (who lost her battle with Pancreatic cancer at age 60 in 1988)…Growing up my brother and I went to the movies with Aunt El more than a few times. I remember seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark and E.T. with her. Possibly even Goonies and Blade Runner (…ok not 100% sure about Blade Runner).

Anyway,  We’d pack up our own snacks and sodas and smuggle them into the theater and get lost at the movies for a few hours. She was a fun lady. As I grew older and started dating Dawn I didn’t see Aunt El as much, sometimes at some family functions, maybe Thanksgiving at my parents house when she didn’t go to Atlantic City etc. Atlantic City became her regular routine after a while. Something my mother hated her doing if I remember correctly. Oh well, Aunt El was her own person and you couldn’t stop her.

I went to her memorial service this morning. Mingled with a few cousins and their kids and the few remaining aunts and uncles still with us. Saw a lot of familiar faces, extended family and friends and others. I was the lone representative of my family.

Not my father.

Not my brother.

Just me.

The character flaws I am seeing in this family are starting to make my head hurt. Today was an absolutely amazing display of disrespect toward a member of my mother’s family. And for my mother Aunt Eleanor was/is her closest connection to my grandmother. Her mother’s sister. Both of whom are no longer with us, now.

If my presence there was noticed by those that mattered I hope they don’t think I was there for all of my family.  I was there for myself, my wife and my kids.

Not my parents and brother.

They could have made the effort to show up, the service lasted all of 45 minutes.

I am appalled by the lack of reasoning, lack of respect and lack of courtesy. I never knew they had it in them, but then again they all have often had low tolerance for family members not “Born Again” and who might still be catholics which meant they were beneath them and their “saved” brethren.

I’m not pulling any punches anymore. I have heard the snide comments and utter disrespect paid toward family, cousins who “screwed” up their lives in their not so humble opinion. Like our family was at all perfect…oh wait, we were born again. so yeah…we were perfect. ….NOT!

What goes around truly comes around. Wonderful elitist born again christians getting what they have coming to them or so it seems.

Baa Baa Black Sheep RULE.

Push the envelope.

Question authority.

Don’t accept anything as given.

and When in doubt…doubt.

so yeah… suck on that.

-S.

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Published in: on June 28, 2010 at 10:06 pm  Comments (1)  

“Gimme a Bottle of anything and a Glazed Donut…to go!”

I am trying to let some crap in my life go. I’ve been thinking about all the crap that are just huge boulders in my life. I have obstacles in my life and I, for the most part put them there.

My last post revolved around family issues and frustrations. Even my wife wondered why I am still not over this stuff. I am stuck in a rut and seem programmed to want everyone to see it “my way” but with my family there was never an outlet to discuss my opinions or thoughts about things that bothered me…like the book that caused me to stumble and falter in my faith…a tiny blasphemous volume of contradiction called: “The Prayer of Jabez.”

I questioned the book the minute my mother gave me a copy. It had “just wrong” all over it…it was a shade of the ass backward doctrine being preached out there called “The Prosperity Gospel” which claims God wants to bless you so just “name it and claim it” …BULL SHIT.

My parents were so Hook, Line and Sinker in the pentecostal church they either didn’t see it because they were blind or ignored it because “Good Christians don’t question”….Ponderous!

I questioned it. I brought my argument to my father, a Deacon in the church at the time. He blew me off and told me I was old enough to make my own decisions. I knew the scripture. …his exact words. I swear.

I did know the scriptures and this book was full of shit. The entire Assemblies of God church embraced this book and like the lemmings they are rushed off the cliff together.

I walked in the other direction. I might have run, in the other direction.

I saw elements of elitism in the AG church we went to and as a Deacon’s kid (just as bad as a Pastor’s Kid I suppose) saw too much behind the curtain. I appeared to be the only one in my family who had the smarts to question his leaders and doubt what needed to be doubted…just like Peter.

Peter doubted Jesus right on the waves. Peter ate with Jesus, traveled with Jesus and witnessed his miracles first hand. And yet while they both stood on the water, Peter doubted Jesus right in front of him.

Peter began to sink beneath the waves….even with this demonstration of doubt Jesus built his church on Peter. If Peter could doubt Jesus in his literal life time…how much more was required of me as a believer. Doubt was a given and Jesus rewarded Peter for the faith he did have.

I question and I doubt. Thats what I do.

I doubted the validity of The Prayer of Jabez and watched my foundation in the AG church erode away into nothing.

It was never about the church. The “church”  was the problem. My faith was shaky to begin with and this little book shook it loose. My faith and belief in God coming to earth as a child to live a sinless life and die a horrible death for our sins thereby bridging the gap between himself and his creation should have been the focus to begin with. But from the age of 10 until about 30 I was in over my head in church doctrine.

Doctrine (Latin: doctrina) is a codification of beliefs or a body of teachings or instructions, taught principles or positions, as the body of teachings in a branch of knowledge or belief system.

I am certain like everything else man has touched, he has tainted the truth of the gospel and shaped it into a way of living and judging others. The doctrine being preached at Valley Chapel was politically influenced by the AG church and monitored by district leaders with their own agenda.

These district leaders with the AG church had a hand in excommunicating my father after he pursued a license in the Assemblies. They blamed the collapse of the congregation long-suffering after the poor handling of a changing of the Senior Pastors on my father.

So much hypocrisy.

About a decade earlier…on Monday January 16th 1998 I had a sleepless night. I was restless all night. I was 28 years old. Just took a position at Ramada’s Corporate office and still living in our first apartment.

Dawn and I were fairly involved with activities in the church at this time. Good friends with the Youth Pastor and his wife and another couple.  We were “leaders” in the youth group and I was a Sunday School teacher at the time.

My sleepless night was troublesome enough to force me out of bed. I had heard growing up in the church sometimes it’s God waking you up to pray about something…you may not know what for, just pray.

I did. And I fell right to sleep soon afterward.

For the next 3 months I had this “nagging” feeling in my stomach. Not like a pain but a sense or a feeling of some urgency. For 90 straight days I tried ignoring it. But it would not go away.

I approached Pastor AL (youth pastor) about it at lunch one day and eventually our Senior Pastor, Pastor D’angelo. After careful consideration and a short meeting and prayer with Pastor D’angelo…I realized I was being “called into the ministry”

“Let me get this straight” Pastor D’angelo said “you feel the call of God on your life to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ?”

…”apparently”  I said humbly.

He and I prayed about it…and the feeling in my stomach went away. ????????????????????

I know that it was not the audible voice of God calling me, but it was God. I know that much. When the urge went away, I got nervous…was I wrong? The questions started immediately…my uncertainty was nerve racking. But I didn’t rule it out.

Two years later The Prayer Of Jabez was published and I questioned it…and the cracks that were developing all those years inside the doors of Valley Chapel crumbled under the weight of my disgust.

When my father was jumping thru hoops to appease the AG church to acquire his license a few years later circa 2002-2004 or 2005, something I didn’t agree with because the Apostle Paul didn’t answer to a group of people in order to preach the good news, God called him and equipped him and Paul hit the road. The AG church needed my father to fit a profile and meet certain requirements (ie: school) and then play politics.

I was so aggravated by the process this group of self-appointed board of regents determined one man’s ability to preach the Gospel that I jumped on the internet and acquired in a matter of minutes my own license to minister.

I found an organization: “St Luke Evangelical Christian Ministries” who offered ordination for the asking. So on December 16th 2004 I was certified as “Reverend Scott Ebisch” ordained as an independent Christian clergy, authorized by St Luke’s to perform any and all Christian religious services, ministries and evangelical duties.

My point was (mostly to myself) that there are more ways to skin a cat. My father was doing hand stands to keep the Assemblies happy to get permission to do what Apostle Paul just went out and did because he was called by God to do so. Basically all believers are called to spread the Good News…so who needs to jump thru hoops?

I never liked playing politics and if it were me I would have told the Assemblies to shove their license up their ass and started my own church because God called me to preach the Gospel. So be it, why play games? My parents as usual wouldnt push the envelope and sucked it up only to have it all unravel because the district needed a scapegoat to blame lack of attendance and lack of church funds on.

To date I have not done anything with God’s calling. It’s been 12 years since that sleepless night and while we are back inside church doors, we have found a small unassuming church in nearby Vernon that “feels just right”

I am still reminded of the call on my life and maybe I wonder if some of my misfortunes in the last 10 years are because of my disobedience. But I am not saying God gave me cancer…but since he and I haven’t always been on speaking terms he might have looked the other way when Death was walking around my neighborhood….

I’m not sure if my life’s experiences since my call that sleepless night in 1998 will serve me down the road but if God has a plan, maybe the 12 years since he woke me up that night will all make sense one day.

Only he knows for sure.

Until then, I am still trying to purge my demons and this is one of them.  My upbringing in the AG church and my current status as a recovering Pentecostal.

I am a believer.

I am a doubter.

I am okay with it, and I think God is too.

Be well.

Denial.

“Denial is a defense mechanism postulated by Sigmund Freud, in which a person is faced with a fact that is too uncomfortable to accept and rejects it instead, insisting that it is not true despite what may be overwhelming evidence.” -Wikipedia

Apparently there are a few levels to denial. (I don’t usually dwell in denial so this is new to me): simple denial – deny the reality of the unpleasant fact altogether, minimisation – admit the fact but deny its seriousness (a combination of denial and rationalisation), or projection – admit both the fact and seriousness but deny responsibility.

Denial is a mechanism of the immature mind, because it conflicts with the ability to learn from and cope with reality.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Denial. My family lives there. My parents and my brother apparently have property in Denial and never plan on leaving. They would rather live in denial than in reality with me and my family.

Denial is a suburb of Reality. I have lamented about my upbringing in this blog before, it involved a lot of church which in my humble and not so humble opinion fosters major construction in DENIAL. My parents invested a lot of time and money and most of their lives in the doctrine spewing out of the mouth of the man who stood behind the pulpit and exposed my brother and I to too much of it.

I eventually grew tired of the taste of the cool aid and stopped drinking it, this allowed me to break free and escape the walls of denial my parents erected to protect themselves from reality and as they continued to live behind these walls I moved on with my life…questioning everything as I stopped buying into the crap, and got on with living my life.

I blame church for most of the “denial” in my parents lives and therefore hold the Assemblies of God partially responsible. My parents apparently needed denial in order to survive.

I was diagnosed with Renal Cell Carcinoma and Hodgkin’s Lymphoma on December 19th 2006. I broke the news to my parents. They heard me but never uttered the word CANCER around me. My mother always said she was “Faith Believing” I was healed…or would be healed.

This “Churched Denial” infuriated me. The Chemotherapy worked and I am 3 years into remission. In February of 2009 my mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 Small Cell Carcinoma (metastatic Lung Cancer)…there appeared to be a sliver of “Oh shit” acceptance but after several radiation treatments it seems denial set in as usual and treatments and the will to fight it was given up. No attempts to plan passed what was originally a terminal diagnosis were discussed. She has survived it almost a year and a half with no clear sign that things are unraveling as fast as previously thought, my parents just exist at this point.

No planning ahead or family meetings with my brother and I. No discussion of treatment options when they would have made sense…my family NEVER talked about important things…(I blame this on Church too). as a result of the lack of communication in their house my parents and I are not close. Never have been. Because of Church for some reason my parents NEVER talked about the hard shit in life. No conversations about anything substantial ever took place in my parents house. It was almost as if we don’t talk about it it doesn’t exist.

Oh wait that sounds like denial…if my parents didn’t have to say “cancer” that means I didn’t have it.

To date my mother is bed ridden and not using the wheel chair she has been capable of using earlier in her radiation treatment days. It seems they just deal with “what is” on a daily basis because this is the bed they have made almost as if waiting for death to arrive already.

Yesterday, my son graduated from Kindergarten. My in-laws came and my son asked “Why didn’t Nana and Pop Pop come to my graduation?” I didn’t mention it to my parents because they have not chosen to “live” while my mother has cancer but just exist with it. They have made no attempts at using the wheel chair, changing the house where necessary to accommodate the wheel chair so she can live in her house and not just the hospital bed in the living room.

If I told them about graduation they wouldn’t have come. My mother hasn’t seen the sun in over a year. This has been her choice apparently as she has made no amends to try to get outside. A friend of mine and I built a wheel chair ramp over a year ago to allow her access outside when she was being transported to and from radiation. The ramp is just attached to the house now.

Her choice to not “live” while dying drives me to distraction. I don’t understand the inability to accept reality, but collectively my parents did not accept my diagnosis either. My brother believes it is their life so let them live it the way they choose…so be it. I don’t have to like it.

Their decision to not make changes in their lives to accept and deal with the long-term situation of her cancer has impacted my mother’s ability to be involved in my kids lives, so my disagreement of how they are living is also based on the fact that my kids are not enjoying their grandparents like they used to. My parents have chosen to deal with my mother’s condition the way they have and because of their decision, last year I chose to again, get on with my life and my family.

My brother appears to have put his life and family on the back burner enabling our parents to live the way they have chosen to…why? because my stupid brother subscribes to his “live and let live” mantra so no one can tell him how to live his life. Opinions being what they are (and I have plenty) always get in between my brother and I. Because I will speak my mind, question authority and push the envelope…he does not, we do not agree on anything.

This difference between us has driven a wedge between us and I chose to walk away from that toxic relationship as well.

Life in denial is not a life. My parents are missing out on living life to the fullest in spite of cancer, fight it and give it the finger and get out of that bed and into the wheel chair and do what you used to do…instead just lay in that bed and waste away, complain about it but do nothing to change it.

My parents seem to have missed the fact that my mother has not died when the doctors said she would. So I ask why not live to the best of your ability?

It comes down to a matter of “wanting to” (in my opinion). If this is how she wants to live the rest of her days so be it. I can’t change that. I think it sucks that my kids are losing precious time with my mother and one day it won’t matter anymore.

As far as “Faith believing” goes…I never hear either one of them mention God’s name or Jesus anymore. For the 20 years I spent in church and being force-fed doctrine and a lifestyle I disagreed with I have noticed all their spouting off about “worldly this and secular that”  and “God this and Jesus that” I have seen no miraculous healings…not in my body or hers.

God has not stepped in and fixed my parents problems. For all their faith and time spent in church like attendance every week mattered as if God taking roll call, God has not intervened. I don’t fully believe he can. He may have established the universe and the laws of physics but has not and did not ever reach down to earth and alter these laws to change anything.

He may not have created cancer but it exists, and he can’t do anything about it. Cancer is a product of man’s sin and mistreatment of this planet. 

(this a topic for another post on another day)

God mourns those who have cancer I’m sure of that. God mourns everything that has befallen man. He may have provided salvation but that is it. The daily intervention people talk about, pray about etc doesn’t exist. God did the best he could be providing salvation but the rest of the crap we have to deal with HAS TO BE DEALT WITH! God has his own obstacles, we have ours.

Denial has allowed my parents to miss out on a lot of life. They might argue that is not the case…but that is how I see it. And this is my blog and basically this is my opinion and it is what it is.

Deal with it.

To paraphrase John Lennon: “I am the Black Sheep coo coo ca’choo”

“The world breaks everyone…”

Love these guys: http://gaslightanthem.com/ Their new album “American Slang” drops on Tuesday. I can’t wait to catch them Live again. They are Jersey Boys. (New Brunswick) and can really bang out a tune. Very Springsteen/Punk. Very Cool.

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I have been feeling the DRAG of not making some kind of art lately. I can feel the cartoonist inside SCREAMING at me. Just too much going on right now. It’s going to get really deafening in my head real soon and I am going to have to respond. Maybe I’ll slap whatever falls out of my head on this blog…I should post it over at “Random Doodles” but that’ll probably never happen.

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My 10-year-old daughter got the “Anatomy” Girl talk in health class this week. Words like “Egg” “Sperm” “Fertilization” and “Period” came out of her mouth yesterday. I almost fainted…..she is growing up. Hopefully we won’t have to have the rest of the talk for more than a few years.

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Sometimes 3 years in remission seems like forever…and sometimes it doesn’t. It feels like yesterday.

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I’ve noticed I seem to be ok in my skin these days, I’m on my way toward 41 (this October) and I have to say after cancer made making 40 a milestone in my life I’m settling into the reality of my 40’s pretty well. Let’s see how this goes. I’ll keep you posted.

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Random body pain keeps popping up with or without alcohol lately. Took a good 2 weeks before I felt as close to 100% after my last weekend of drinking. And today’s crappy weather (cold/wet/damp/rainy) seemed to light me up like a christmas tree again. It’s something different everyday…I just have to accept it I guess.

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“Nature knows no indecencies. Man invents them” -Twain.

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http://thxthxthx.com/ I enjoy this blog too. Check it out.  “A thank you note everyday” Worth a smile.

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Shmily?

See How Much I Love You?

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“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.” -Ernest Hemingway

(truth)

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“Whatever you give a woman, she will make greater.. If you
give her sperm, she’ll give you a baby. If you give her a house, she’ll
give you a home. If you give her groceries, she’ll give you a meal. If
you give her a smile, she’ll give you her heart. She multiplies and
enlarges what is given to her. So, if you give her any crap, be ready
to receive a ton of shit.”

(another truth)

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We can sleep on the beach if we ain’t got a ride.  Sleep on the beach all night.

…Be well.

Published in: on June 10, 2010 at 9:13 pm  Leave a Comment