20 Lines A Day

A Community of Writers and Photographers


God’s Little Gang

For the past 20 years, my husband has worked in the restaurant business. Recently, he and my daughter, who also works in the industry, have been telling me about a phenomena that makes me feel sad, and quite honestly, angry. Like anywhere in our lives, we are going to run into all kinds of people doing all kinds of things. We are all familiar with people cutting us off in traffic, the occasional obscene finger gestures thrown our way from a passing window, the rude comments from people in stores, theImage callous service we get from restaurant servers…the list goes on and on…

This new thing, though, is particularly disheartening. My husband and daughter hate it when the “Christians” come in to their restaurant. Armed with Bibles under their arms, they gather at the restaurant for Bible Study. They throw about God Bless You’s at the same time they complain about prices. They boldly ask for things for free, or act surprised that there would be a charge for the extras they have asked for. They loudly preach to their audience about Jesus’s love, and yet they steal…that’s right…steal  sweeteners and napkins, and whatever else that isn’t nailed down. Their orders are never right, not that it could possibly be their fault, and the employees are treated like second-class citizens. After taking up tables for extremely large periods of time, they leave nothing in way of compensation for their servers, but leave their tables totally thrashed, as if it is their right to have others clean up after them.  The employees hate to see them coming.

Sometimes I want so badly to go in on the nights these “holy” people come in and ask them what exactly their goal is. If the goal is to have some sort of exclusive country-club membership to a God club, then kudos…well done. No one wants to be in your God Gang. Maybe you could spread your elitist, self-serving agenda at some other restaurant. Evidently, the spirit of the Pharisees and the Sadducee‘s is alive and well in America today.

The fruits of the Holy Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. How do you propose to show Jesus to those around you when your actions are so demeaning, rude, arrogant, and self-serving? What is your purpose in the Kingdom of God? Are you a representative of Jesus, or are you using Christianity to further your own goals?

We should always assume people will be watching us when we least expect it. And it is of no consequence to God whether or not we think someone is worthy to be in our “club”. The girl taking your order at a drive-thru or the homeless man begging on the corner…both were created in God’s image, no more and no less than you or me. … This isn’t about club membership. It is about life and death, heaven and hell. It is war-time, with satan leading a very skilled attack on every aspect of our lives every single day. You’re a tool — we all are. But you should know who’s wielding you.

I completely understand that as Christians, we all have to start somewhere. And I emphatically agree with Bible studies. But my question is aimed at the leaders of these Bible studies. It would seem to me that if you are ready to teach other Christians, you’d be more sensitive to how your behaviors will reflect on your God. We are known by our fruits, are we not? We aren’t going to be perfect, but we should remember who we are representing….

What good is all of these theological discussions on Adam’s belly button if just eating a meal at a restaurant drives people away from God??

If you aren’t helping us, then you’re hurting us. If saving souls isn’t your goal, there are some serious questions you should be asking yourself.

— Bird

We’re All In One Club or Another, Whether We Like It Or Not

It has been mentioned a few times in comments (always kindly), and many times by me in my articles, that I tend to be kind of simplistic in my approach to pretty much everything in my life. While I am able to embrace this little characteristic of mine now, that wasn’t always the case. I waged war on being child-like for a really, really long time. To me, being

We all ride the short bus in some aspect of our lives. :-)

child-like and simple equated to being mildly retarded and plain stupid. And I blame that feeling directly on the handful of kids I went to school with at the Christian school, who all seemed genetically blessed with intelligence of Einstein proportions.

One thing that I can say for public schools — most of humanity usually falls comfortably smack in the middle in some crowd or another. Unofficial clubs, if you will. There are so many kids with so many issues with so many things to overcome, you can pretty much find a “club” to belong to that you rank in the acceptable middle of. For instance, I played sports. I wasn’t the All-Star Volleyball player of the team, but I didn’t warm the bench every game either. Happy Middle of the Club. I got fantastic grades in English, but Chemistry kicked my butt — twice. In my self-analysis, they balanced each other out. I could successfully hide in the Average Section of humanity there, and be alright with the fact that while I wasn’t going to be the President of the United States one day, I probably wasn’t going to be homeless, either. I was okay with that.

But, I kept ending up back at The Christian School, and just to give you some perspective of just how much I wasn’t in the middle of this club, let me give you a list of what those miserable overachievers do now for a living: (all but Audra’s names have been initialized to protect the innocent).

For an introduction to Audra, my best friend, you can go here:

I Have A Stonking Best Friend

and also, here:

My Best Friend Cheats At Board Games

The Elite Club Membership at The Christian School:

J. – Successful Musician and published Poet Author

J.D. – Seriously Successful Heart Surgeon

Audra – College Graduate of a really prestigious, exclusive, hoity-toity University with a Communications Degree

A.C. – Successful career in the Military; fought in several of our wars.

R.N. – Owner of his own successful business

S.D – A Military Linguist — And not just for one language — More like 5 of them, and all of them the really hard ones that sound like made-up Star Trek languages

D.N. – Not only did this girl score a perfect score on her SAT’s, but she now holds several Master degrees from Texas A&M

And Me: Bookkeeper

Albert Einstein Français : portrait d'Albert E...

Albert Einstein Français : portrait d'Albert Einstein (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And because I know just how wonderful and kind all of you are, you are probably thinking to yourselves, “Now, that isn’t so bad…”. Yeah. It is. You can be honest. Only one in this class was riding the Short Bus, and it was me.

Now, please don’t get the impression that these kids rubbed my face in their higher-evolved-brains. They didn’t. We were just teenagers, and by the nature of the structure of this kind of private school, none of us were privy to what the other student was working on. We used PACES, which were workbooks that we completed at our own pace (hence the name). There was no classroom teaching with a teacher at the front chalk board, or open discussions, or any lectures. We were essentially sitting at enclosed little cubicles learning at our own speed. So, quite frankly, you could hide from the brainiacs that you were stuck on Geometry while they were coasting smoothly along through Calculus and Trigonometry.

I worked really, really hard at hiding from this accomplished group of students my true short-comings. And during middle-school years, I was fairly successful, I think, about fooling them into thinking I belonged in their Awesome Brain club. But when high school hit, I finally had to admit to myself that the jig was pretty much up. I mean, they weren’t stupid after all. Oh sad day when I looked myself in the mirror as I was getting ready for school and told myself: Yes. I am the dumbest one going to school today. And they all know it now.

And then Jesus stepped down from Heaven, showed up in the classroom and made the announcement that He was blessing me with a new, even-more evolved brain than theirs because He loved me so much. Not.

Instead, He was a bit more subtle, and He gave me something else…perspective.

There were some key people growing up that probably have no idea how much a kind word from them helped this struggling girl come to grips with who she was. I think God used them to patch up bleeding wounds in my soul, and actually guided me to a real path of healing and acceptance of who I really was.

The first one, hands down was a lady named Kay, and she was Audra’s mom. Kay was the kind of person that one experiences. I could write for a year every single day about some of what Kay has said and done to and around me, and I still wouldn’t run out of Kay stories. From the day I showed up for a visit in that household, the woman treated me like one of her own kids. Kay made me do the dishes the first time I’d ever spent the night at Audra’s house. And she checked them afterward to make sure they were really clean. She has complimented me, and yelled at me. She never bothered to try to be impersonally polite — oh, no. If she was telling me something about myself, I guarantee, it was what she really thought. Just the effort she put into me personally was enough for me to feel better about myself…she isn’t the kind of woman to bother if she just isn’t feeling it.

The next one was a lady named Joyce, who was actually the mother of one of the over-achievers. I don’t even remember the incident that sparked the statement, but she told me that I always was the courageous one in the group, always standing up for what I believed in. I remember my little heart almost beating out of my chest with pride — maybe I wasn’t brilliant, but I was brave! And it was coming from a person who I really admired because she never seemed to be holy, just real. Holy people have always made me nervous, but I’d heard her say a bad word, and I loved her all the more for it.

Another positive perspective actually came from my school supervisor. While muddling through my paces, I came upon an assignment where I had to write an alternate ending to a book. When I turned it in, I awaited for the constructive criticism that always accompanied my completions. Much to my surprise, he seemed genuinely impressed. And believe you me, the man didn’t impress easily! He said in kind of an off-hand way that I should focus on being a writer. That I had a talent for it. Sweet! That had been the only easy part for me in the whole stupid workbook. And being a writer was something I could enjoy doing… I was elated that I seemed to have at least one talent that could compete with the Elite Ones.

I was the regular babysitter for that same teacher and his wife. They would take me camping with them to help out with their girls. Once, on one of those camping visits, Virginia told me that they just weren’t comfortable leaving their daughters with any one but me. That they trusted me with what was the most important things in the world to them. I was trustworthy!

Those were the adults that really off-handedly helped put myself into some kind of realistic focus. It is a lot of hard work to try to fool people around you that you are want you are not. And it isn’t something you can keep up for any really extended amount of time either. Eventually, the person you really are will introduce yourself to the world. My advice for those fellow Bottom-of-the-List club members would be that we can’t possibly be on the bottom of every list in the world. Find the positive things in yourself and nourish those characteristics. Always aim to be a better you, without losing sight of just who YOU really are.

And try to be kind to those who feel like they are ranking the lowest in their own sets of clubs at the moment. Who knows just how much of a difference you’ll make to that person later on. :-)

— Bird


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