Jesus Christ

All posts tagged Jesus Christ

I Don’t Wear Yoga Pants

Published October 22, 2015 by Maryanne

bullshit

Ages ago, it was really cool to be spiritual … when no one else was.

I secretly studied the works of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky with a mentor. The catch metaphysics phrase of the 1980s was “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” And sure enough, at the age of 24, I met a man twice my age (though so wise he seemed even three times my age). We studied together intensely for eight months. During this time I stopped drinking, stopped clubbing, didn’t watch television and read over 100 books about various sources of spirituality including: Teachings of the Far East, Finding of the Third Eye, The Aquarian Christ, and Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson.

Back then this knowledge was sacred. I covered my books in brown paper bags so no one would know what I was reading. I entered a journey beyond this world. It was a true blessing.

Then a few years later, I found Jesus Christ and became a Christian. Even knowing all this esoteric knowledge, I felt the strongest connection to Jesus. Nevertheless, unlike the stereotype Christian, I still drew from my knowledge of other cultures and religions and the really deep stuff like Gurdjieff. In 1989 I coined the phrase “spirit whore” meaning I was all over the place spiritually. I liked that a lot. Being non-committing and feeling safe in any place of worship.

Fast forward to the modern world. It’s no longer the 1980s and thanks to Oprah, the sacredness of spirituality has been brought to the masses. That would be fine, as it is the Age of Aquarius and people should know this stuff. HOWEVER … it’s a shame that Jesus Christ isn’t acknowledged in the mix. It’s cool to be anything but a Christian. So this is what these modern day new-agers use as a way to one-up: “I’m so worldly, I’m so spiritual, I’m better than you because you’re JUST A CHRISTIAN.”

It’s become a sad hip phrase for middle-aged women to make it KNOWN: “I’m spiritual, not religious.” It’s an ugly mantra I’ve been enduring for the past several years — said more and more frequently.

The “I’m spiritual, not religious” sing song haunts me as I try to sleep at night, so much so that I swear it must be a chant to bring satan out of hiding. It’s like chalk on a blackboard, just a pathetic way of saying, “I’m better than you.” URGH, how it makes me cringe! So much so that I’ve come up with the snarky phrase that I’m sharing all over social media:

“Spiritual not religious” gives middle-aged hipster women something else to do
… besides Whole Foods and Botox.
When something that was once beautiful has become so blown out of proportion that people are using it as a way to seem hip and condescending — I’m sorry, it’s not spiritual.
Perhaps these “spiritual” criers should seek out religion, if not for anything else, for balance.
They are too ignorant to realize that they are behaving the same as the holier than thou super-saved Christians who believe in a monstrous god who damns everyone to hell.
maryanne backI don’t wear yoga pants
But they are worse. They are disguised in designer clothing, yoga pants, botox, and hair straighteners. A new vision of wolves in sheep’s clothing. Modern new-agers are just as judgmental as super-saved Christians. And that ain’t nothing special.

 

Nailing the Last Four Commandments with Common Sense

Published April 4, 2015 by Maryanne

10 CommandmentsCharlton Heston as Moses

While Easter weekend is a time to honor Jesus Christ, it’s also a time to reflect on God and the Bible in general. I got to seriously thinking about The 10 Commandments and how easy it is to follow the last four if you simply mix psychology, common sense, and love for your fellow man.

7. You shall not commit adultery. There’s an old saying that when you cheat you cheat yourself. This couldn’t be more true. Whenever someone confesses to me that they are unhappy in their marriage and thinking of cheating, I remind them of the consequences. For example, if you already have a partner who is jealous, imagine how much more tragic your situation would be if you got caught cheating? Especially in divorce court!

Before you even THINK about other people, it’s best to end an undesirable situation first. Cheating is always a lose/lose. When people start putting others (and themselves) “second” nothing good ever comes out of it. Sneaking around isn’t “real” just a mere fantasy. When you cheat, no matter how much you think you’re “connected” you’re not. And while there’s the possibility that one party could decide to make it “real” and leave one partner to go with the other — the other will most likely lose interest because he/she didn’t really want you, he/she just wanted to play.

Cowards lie, sneak and cheat. Adults discuss things and find solutions to problems. If leaving is a solution, go for it; don’t drag an unsuspecting party into your mess because karma is a bitch and the truth always comes out.

When I met my husband, we were both available. No sneaking around, not hurting others, and no baggage! Just being together as much as we wanted was heaven. Almost 10 years later and we’re still so in love! And that’s about as real as you can get!

Mind you, we’re no better than anyone else; people fall in love every day. But you have to be in it to win it, so be a winner by starting with a clean slate.

8. You shall not steal. Of course if you steal goods and get caught, the law will take care of that. But what about stealing other things? Like time.

I’m a stickler for being on time. It says a lot about a person’s character. It says that you care about other people’s feelings. It says that we’re all equals and no one should wait for another person — not even a doctor. I’ve walked out of doctor’s offices if they made me wait too long.

Life is short and while you can do some amazing things while waiting (perhaps for some, finding comfort in their own thoughts or reading a book; perhaps for others, texting) it’s the most awesome feeling in the world when things run smoothly and on time.

I don’t like when people have to wait for me, it’s embarrassing. And when I wait for others, it makes me question how they feel about me: Does this person really want to spend time with me or am I a chore to them? But no matter how much others make me wait, I will never steal time if I can help it. It just feels like good karma! So I love this commandment. Thank you God!

9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. Gossip and storytelling never sat right with me. So much so that I created my own business just to get away from that.

When I was still on Face Book, I had a musician friend who was having a hard time with an ex wife who was bearing false witness against him. My heart truly went out to this man and his wife for having to deal with such garbage, in and out of court. I was once acquainted with another man who went through something similar and it was hell on earth for him. My heart bleeds for those who have had false witnesses against them. I couldn’t imagine ever doing such horrible things to an ex. Trying to destroy someone’s life, especially if they are no longer in yours is the most psycho thing ever. Man, I had some disturbing exes, but my best revenge was that I married someone a billion times better! And the exes that were good ones, I always wish well and have nothing but kind words for them.

But as I said earlier, the truth comes out and the good guy always wins. So if you can’t love one another, at least mind your own business and don’t start trouble.

10. You shall not covet. I’m nothing special, nor do I have much, so it hurts me deeply when others covet the little I have. I always said jealousy is an ugly disease. So is begrudging. When someone has something you want, don’t be jealous or begrudge — be HAPPY for them. This is the greatest lesson in life my Mom taught me early on. So many people struggle with jealousy, so I feel blessed that I’m not a jealous person. But honestly, not being jealous is the easiest thing to do. Just live in a state of love, where you like to see good things for others because that is when others will be best for you — when they are happy! It’s just a win/win. Not everyone has the same path in life and we can’t always be on top. While many people insist misery loves company, I’m the opposite. When I’m down, I want my friends to share their good news with me — because that always makes me happy. And, hey, isn’t happiness better than war?

Happy Easter!

Whether you celebrate or not, embrace the contact high,

for He has Risen!

Jesus LambJesus Christ, the Lamb of God

 

Religious or Spiritual? Universal!

Published February 24, 2015 by Maryanne

HelloBuddhaDrawing by Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta, 2005

“Religion” means God-fearing. And in this day and age “spiritual” means people-fearing. People are so afraid others thinking they are Catholic or Christian, they wear the word “spiritual” like a badge of courage.

That upsets me.

Because while, no doubt, it’s not healthy to be God-fearing, dogmatic and/or pious, religion does have a huge place in ethereal growth. Yes, even Christianity.

Hear me out.

In the mid-1980s, I spent almost a year studying several different religions with a spiritual mentor. I was only in my mid-20s and back then it was unheard of for a young girl to want to study with a man old enough to be her father. For almost a year, I spent less time in nightclubs and more time in meditation. It was a wondrous experience I will never forget and have several diaries in case I do.

The conclusion I came to was that everyone is right. In fact, my favorite book that my mentor gave me was called “Everyone is Right” which is available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Everyone-Comparative-Religion-Relation-Science/dp/0875165656

Even though I came to this conclusion I was still drawn to the Christian church. What can I say, I just love the teachings of Jesus Christ. Mind you, I was never forced to go to church as a child. I came to love Jesus on my own. And a few years ago I found a Christian church I was able to call “home” though I don’t go as often as I probably should.

Some Christians don’t relate to me because I still take from other religions. And on the flip side, many non-Christians turn their noses up on me as well for going to church.

It’s okay though. I feel completely comfortable being around others who are not exactly thinking like me. This is the beauty of putting faith into a ritual (of sorts) and sticking to your guns about it. I feel that in order to grow spiritually, you need to be around others who are different from you. That kind of experience makes you more spiritual. Uh … wait … I can’t use that word, it’s become too hipster (and possibly a code word for non-Christian).

Let’s just say I’m universal! That’s a badge of courage I can live with! 🙂

Jesus Comments Accepted and Welcome Here!

Published June 24, 2013 by Maryanne

Jesus

I just stopped following a blog I regularly follow because the person was putting down Christianity and I defended my religion. Sad to say, my moderated comment was never accepted.

Second time this week, mind you.

I think it’s beyond pathetic how people like to keep Jesus in the closet because they feel that it’s not “cool” to be a Christian. It’s A-OK  to be a Jew, or a Buddhist, or a pagan, or an atheist or a satanist … but God forbid you talk about God or Jesus!

Well, let me enlighten you. Nothing is cool. Cool is OUT. So you can all re-think your mission of keeping Jesus in the closet. Because even though you never accepted my moderated comment, it’s not going to stop me from posting about my Savior here.

SO WHAT DID MY UNACCEPTED MODERATED COMMENT SAY?

That NOT ALL CHRISTIANS  judge people!

That the pastor at my church does a lot of interfaith work.

That on Martin Luther King Day, our church joined with another church to give a service. My pastor spoke. So did a rabbi. So did a priest. The good word, is the good word, no matter who delivers it!

That there are cars parked in front of my church that have pagan “co-exist” bumper stickers on them and that is FINE because my church welcomes EVERYONE!

That I — A CHRISTIAN — have done more for gay/bisexual/transgender rights than any other straight person or Buddhist or athetist or fill-in-the-blank new-age hipster of the momenteer that I know!

What have YOU done for anyone lately?!

But I can talk until I’m blue in the face because people have to have their silly, ultra-ridiculous Christian stereotypes embedded in their pea brains because they need something to poke fun of to make themselves feel better about themselves. Ain’t that always the way. And of course we live in a “me, me, me” world, so people can’t have anyone say anything about anything unless it isn’t directly about THEM.

“Oh, not my religion, let me make sure everyone knows that!”

“Oh, I’m not religious at all … gotta get that out there … don’t want anyone to mistake I might be Christian.”

“Oh, it’s not hip to be Christian. No, can’t have that. No, I’m cool! I’m cool!”

“I’m not religious. I’m spiritual.”

WHATEVER! I’ve heard it ALL!

How many posts I wrote about my positive experiences in church and people just have to share that Christianity ISN’T their religion. It’s like they can’t press “like” and be happy for me without also expressing that is NOT their religion. Maybe if they fail to do so the world will combust and they will die tomorrow or something. Who knows?!

But this anti-Christian trend has to stop. It’s annoying. We, as Americans, put down people for being racists, so let’s do the same for religion-ists who hate Christians!

People fear Christianity because they see it as some sort of judging religion, when here they all are, the pots calling the kettles black by being ever so haughty themselves with their condescending put downs towards Christianity.

Well, with this post, I’m taking Jesus out of the closet! I don’t moderate comments about Jesus. Fellow Christians, feel free to share your positive stories here.

With 500+ people clicking on my blog each day, I think the word will be spread pretty quickly.

YEAH!

Someone had to say it, guess it was me!

I-love-God

 

cool-chris2t

 

Jesus as a Mother Hen

Published May 17, 2013 by Maryanne

mother hen jesusBeautiful picture swiped from Google

(Note: there’s a copyright in the center if you look closely)

Today was the first day I got to go to the women’s bible study at my church. They have them every third Friday of the month, which is hard because some days I have assignments on Fridays but today I was free all day! It was definitely a day off and felt so good.

The theme today was “Beneath Her Wings,” a bible study article written by Audrey West and published in the March edition of Gather magazine.

When Jesus (in the Gospel of Luke) is on his way to meet his end in Jerusalem and he offers shelter, he refers to himself as a mother hen, to those who remain close to him.

Our pastor spoke of this before in a previous sermon. I like the idea of Jesus as a mother hen because it is a metaphor for someone soft and gentle, yet strong and protective — showing the feminine side of our savior Jesus Christ. With all the other biblical metaphors Jesus could have chosen — a lion, an eagle, a bear — he chose the hen, a mother who loves her chicks so much that she gives them shelter under her wings.

Another soft reference for Jesus is as the lamb of God, my person favorite imagery of Jesus.

One of the questions we discussed was what keeps people from desiring to be gathered beneath Christ’s wings … what gets in the way of our own acceptance of God’s shelter?

My answer was that people may not be rejecting Jesus, but rather how the church is viewed. Remember a few months ago when Pastor Bell didn’t want to tip a waitress and wrote a nasty note to her that read, “I give God 10 percent, why should I give you 18?” I blogged about it here: https://maryannemistretta.wordpress.com/2013/02/02/pastor-bell-do-the-math/

Ridiculous things like this can turn people off to church. So it’s best, as Christians, to be more careful and not do silly things like this. It’s very hard to be sin free and perfect (I am the first to say because I can get very mean when provoked), but I feel that those in high places in the church have a responsibility to their flock and need to be on their best behavior when out in the public eye.

I also said that people may fear going to church because they could fear being judged. Unlike our church where people are so accepting. I shared that I felt comfortable from the get-go. Others in the church had tattoos like myself. Everyone is down to earth. I truly get so much comfort and joy going there because I can be myself. If this is how God loves me, so should everyone else — and I get that impression that I am very loved in my church, as I love everyone there too. Even if I wasn’t Christian, I can honestly say we really do have a good group of people who are positive, cheerful, polite, smart, fun, funny, joyous, happy, good hearted, kind and giving. (And I’m a fussy person who doesn’t take much to people — trust me on that!)

As June, who ran the bible study, said, “We have saints and sinners here alike … and you can’t beat that!” Not sure if those were her exact words, but that’s the gist of it, meaning no one is perfect and that’s fine!

Young girls in our church wear pretty dresses, some are short and that is fine. No one judges. I’ll never forget when I was young and I was wearing a short skirt. I got out of my car to go the bank and an old biddy yelled at me, “You have a Billy Graham bumper sticker on your car, but you are dressed like a hooker!” That was so mean. And I will never be that judging to another person, as long as I have my wits about me.

Another positive thing I learned about my church was that back in the 1960s the pastor who was at my church did a lot for the civil rights movement, which was absolutely great.

Being with this group of senior ladies for just a few hours really made my day. It takes me back to when I was just 18 and working my first job at Scribner Book Company. All the older ladies looked after me, like mother hens. Now I have this wonderful group of church ladies to converse with and share and grow with.

Perhaps this is a way Jesus manifests through other people … another way to interpret the “mother hen” reference.

Yeah, God is good that way … showing that He’s near in many creative ways and knows which way you personally will resonate most with.

 

Happy Birthday Tommy James!

Published April 29, 2013 by Maryanne

tommy-james-and-mary-anneTommy James, Maryanne, 2011

Happy Birthday to one of my favorite artists, Tommy James!

In honor of his birthday, I am directing you to a blog I wrote last year on my other blog page, “Maryanne’s Jukebox” which describes my first experience going to see Tommy James perform back in 2010, and at the end includes an article I wrote about him that was published in several Patches online.

I truly feel that seeing Tommy James perform “Crystal Blue Persuasion” live planted a seed in me becoming a Christian. One day I was sitting in my car and heard “Crystal Blue Persuasion” started breaking down in tears and at that moment rededicated my life to Jesus Christ. Then just a few years later, I found my home church.

(Interesting side note, today I found a Christian magazine that needs writers — such a coincidence on Tommy James birthday! I’ll let you know what happens!)

Please enjoy my Jukebox page about Tommy:

http://maryannesjukebox.wordpress.com/2012/06/13/tommy-james/

When Christians Judge – Part Two

Published April 7, 2013 by Maryanne

Sissy Spacek - CarrieSissy Spacek “Carrie”

The past two days I was thinking a lot about how Christians turn people away by being judgmental, haughty and condescending.

If someone goes to another with a problem, it should be handled with love. It should not be taken as an opportunity to come across as Holier than Thou, making someone feel weak and small.

When I think of judgmental Christians, it reminds me so much of Piper Laurie’s character in “Carrie.”

Check it out:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2aUzos0VZzk

It’s funny, but more so it’s sad.

When I think of judging Christians, I think it’s a missed opportunity to bring someone to Christ. It turns people off and makes them not want to be lumped in with others who are that way.

I know first hand because I was there myself. It took me a very long time to learn to focus on Christ, the church, the lessons — not the people, and especially not those who judge. We can say, “We’re human and we make mistakes” but honestly, I know so many people that aren’t as religious and spiritual but they are more inspiring because they really walk the walk.

This is why I always felt that God is an umbrella term for all things good and can come in the forms of many religions. This is why I am so proud that my church worked with other faiths on Martin Luther King Day and my pastor spoke in another church that also had a priest and a rabbi speak.

God is so vast that His black and white goes so far that it’s gray. God isn’t limited to one political belief. God isn’t a “cult” just for a bunch of followers who think you have to be a certain way to believe in Him. God is for everyone no matter where they are at in life.

Several months ago I was following “Couples Therapy.” There was a beautiful young woman on the show named Courtney Stodden. Courtney was just 17 and dressed very sexy. She also married a man who was old enough to be her dad.

Courtney is a Christian.

Maybe not someone you’d typically see in church because she is very outrageous in her style, but yes, she was a Christian. I adored watching Courtney on “Couples Therapy” because she was wise beyond her years, she was extremely kind to animals and she nurtured her husband in a way that was truly comforting. She was also very warm and loving to other couples on the show, but they were mean, judging her because of jealousy. I always felt bad for the kid and just wanted to give her a big hug. The others on the show were at least 10 years older than her, yet they judged her terribly without giving her a chance. And of course Courtney would get defensive and antagonize people who judged her. What do you expect? She was only 17!  How would you have reacted if people judged you at age 17? Right?

Courtney was an inspiration to me and she planted a seed.

Courtney StoddenBeautiful Courtney Stodden and husband Doug

My point is, and always was, even before I became a Christian — that you judge people by their soul, not by their clothes, their political beliefs, who they are dating, what kind of music they listen to, and even what their religion is — because in the end, it’s all God.

If God is always with you, then you can live each day seeing the beauty of things around you. Whether it’s your funny mom who is always cursing or that one oddball at a party who doesn’t quite fit in or a person in your work place that rubs you the wrong way … it’s up to YOU to up your game and make people feel wonderful and beautiful and welcome.

Your life can be anything you want it to be and judging others never gets someone very far because he/she is alienating and creating a clique, making Christianity seem exclusive and only for the select — when the message of God and Jesus Christ should be for EVERYONE!

Respect other religions and they will respect yours.

Respect people no matter what they look like and they will see the beauty in you! (Note: I’m just an average looking middle-aged woman, but so many people say that I’m good looking … well, it’s not me that’s pretty — it’s MY SOUL! I have a beautiful soul, that’s what you’re seeing.)

So there you have it …you never know who or what will inspire someone so don’t judge them because God is using them in ways you may not be open-minded enough to understand, but hopefully will be someday. While I had a few friends who inspired me to turn to Jesus, and I was so inspired by Tommy James, his beautiful song, “Crystal Blue Persuasion,” about Jesus Christ and yes, I was also inspired by Courtney Stodden! YAY! Thanks to all these seeds that were planted, now the tree is SOLID! I wake up every morning read the Bible and feel a true connection with Jesus Christ — thanks to all these little things over a few years, all adding up to one big thing!

People come to God in all ways — so we need all different types of Christians to inspire them!

Enjoy this beautiful song by Tommy James, it’s about Jesus:

Crystal Blue Persuasion

If this post inspired just ONE PERSON to not judge and to open their heart,  then it was worth typing all of this at 8 a.m. with only five hours sleep because I had so much fun last night being a Christian in the real world!

God bless and Happy Sunday!

Service of Darkness

Published March 30, 2013 by Maryanne

Service of Darkness

Last night, accompanied by my husband, I attended my first “Service of Darkness” as a Christian.

It was powerful.

It was done so well that it was easy to let your imagination take over and feel that you were right there, watching Jesus as he died and bled blood and water.

The service began with one of my favorite classical tunes: Gymnopedie No. 1 by Eric Satie (my favorite classical composer).

Prayers were spoken,hymns were sung, the choir performed, bible verses were read and the seven last words of Jesus were read as seven candles were extinguished throughout the service.

The first word: “Father, forgive them.”; Luke 23:32-38: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

The second word: “Truly, I say to you …”; Luke 23:39-45: “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”

The third word: “Women, behold, thy Son”; John 19:23-27: “Here is your son. Here is your mother.”

The fourth word: “My God, my God”; Mark 15:23-39: “Why have you forsaken me.”

The fifth word: “I thirst”; John 19:28-29 “I thirst.”

The sixth word: “It is finished.”; John 19:30-37 “It is finished.”

The seventh word: “Father, into your hands …”; Luke 23:44-56 “Into your hands I commend my spirit.”

After the seventh candle was extinguished, you heard the closing of the tomb. And the church was dark.

We adore you, O Christ, we bless you, by your holy cross you have redeemed the whole world.

All left the church in silence.

New Member Experience: I Found My Home on Christmas Day

Published March 20, 2013 by Maryanne

new member

New Member Experience: I Found My Home on Christmas Day

By Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta

 I was recently asked to write about my “New Member Experience” at Calvary Lutheran Church in Cranford for the bulletin and I’ve decided to share with all of you. Enjoy.

Christmas Day, 2012, was my first visit to Calvary Lutheran Church.

Even though I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior back in 1991, I was struggling to find a home church and had almost given up. Not that anything was wrong with other churches, as God is everywhere. It was just a matter of finding the right church for me. But from that first service at Calvary on Christmas Day, I knew, in my heart, that this is where I was supposed to be. I guess you could say it was, “love at first service.”

After the Christmas Day service, I was not only greeted by Pastor Carol, but other church members – both young and old – making me feel very welcome. I told Pastor Carol that I would be back, and within a month I was. I had found my home and decided to become a member, something I hadn’t done at other churches.

The New Member Reception weekend was held on Saturday, March 2 and Sunday, March 3. On March 3, new members were invited to the home of Anne Dawson, the chair of Calvary’s New Member Team.

Anne was a wonderful host, serving many guests a delicious meal. I’ve been a vegetarian since 1986, so I was especially thrilled with her awesome vegetarian chili. It was a joy having dinner with other Christians and getting to know each other.

Afterwards, members sat around sharing their testimonials of how they came to Calvary. Everyone had a unique story and it just goes to show how, through the power of Jesus Christ, people from all walks of life can come together and truly enjoy each others company.

Fellowship continued into the evening with a birthday cake for Pastor Carol and Wii games.

The following day all new members: Steve and Annie Buonaspina; John Fischer; Denise and Martin Garry and children, Nathaniel, Christian and James; Kathleen and Jack Jacinto and daughter, Genesis; Steve and Amy Owens and children, Caitlin, Luke and Avery; and myself, were received into membership through the Affirmation of Baptism.

Once again, I was greeted and welcomed by Calvary members that I hadn’t met yet and after the service there was a pot luck brunch in Fellowship Hall.

“We like to eat here,” Pastor Carol said to me as I walked past her carrying a plate full of goodies.

“As the pants get tighter and tighter,” I said, jokingly.

Pastor Carol laughed. Her sense of humor and ability to connect with everyone in a special way shows how magnificently Jesus Christ is working through her. With each service being so creative and uplifting, she inspires me to want to be the best Christian I can.

It’s both an honor and privilege to be a member of Calvary. I look forward to growing and celebrating Christ with my new Christian family. And I hope — with all my heart — I can be as uplifting and inspiring to the next generation of new members as everyone has been to me!

Reflections on World Day of Prayer

Published March 1, 2013 by Maryanne

World Day of Prayer

It was such a blessing to attend worship this morning in honor of World Day of Prayer, a worldwide ecumenical movement of Christian women of many traditions who come together to observe a common day of prayer and action each year on the first Friday in March. (This was my first!)

Each year a different country serves as writer of the World Day of Prayer worship service. In this year’s focus , the French World Day of Prayer committee looked for a Christian response to struggles concerning immigration and for ways to welcome “the stranger,” as World Day of Prayer USA also recognized the need to express love to all God’s people and find creative ways to live at peace in an increasingly diverse society.

The prayer focus was to pray to God to make you open to welcoming strangers, asking God to remove judgement from your heart and help you see each person as a human being, a child of God, worthy of respect and dignity.

For myself, I took the service a bit less literally as my struggles are certainly not in judging strangers. I’m all for a potpourri of nationalities. Especially since so many different nationalities accept me! (I’ve been asked so many times if I am Indian or European and once someone thought I was from England!) And according to my blog stats, people from many other countries read my blog and I am honored by that.

Therefore, in return, my acceptance door is WIDE-OPEN to strangers, as a stranger is just a friend you haven’t officially met.

So where do my struggles lie in regard to acceptance?

Not in strangers, but accepting people who have “strange ways.”

By “strange ways” I do not mean people who have different cultures than myself. I mean people who are not friendly as I am; people who are stand-offish and mean; people who are negative; people who are obsessively materialistic.

These types of people are “strange” to me because it’s the furthest thing from my world, as I tend to surround myself with the most positive, most amazing, generous people!

Here’s a little story:

As some of you know once a week I help out at a health food store. I love this job because as you also know, health is my livelihood. It takes less than three hours of my time to unpack a large order and put items on a shelf. For these three hours I am paid very handsomely and the owner of the shop is just terrific, as he loves music and is a great boss.

The hard part, for me, is that the cook in the back doesn’t like me.

I don’t know why, or what I did to her, but she is always cold to me whereas she’ll speak nicely to others. It’s not like we have nothing in common, as I like some of the same music and even relate to her Irish ways as I LOVE Guinness beer. She knows this and yesterday when I spoke to her she turned her head and acted as if I wasn’t there. She didn’t even say hello to me and seems to only speak to me if she has to say “excuse me” if I’m in her way. What a bummer.

But I know my strength in God is becoming stronger as I didn’t feel as bad or hurt as I normally would. Why should I? I belong there like anyone else. I deserve a job/client, especially when it’s doing something I love and in a great environment with a great boss.

Whatever the reason this woman has for disliking me is out of my hands. Most likely it’s her imagination running away with her thinking I’m a bad person or not cool enough for her, or maybe I am “too good” for her. Some people just don’t like upbeat positive people and it bothers them. Sad, but true. So, I just go about my work and if next time she talks, fine; if not that is fine too.

This is what I mean about “strange ways.”

Not everyone is going to have my upbeat, dynamic personality and view the world as I see it, a place where angels are all around us helping and protecting us; a world where it’s a great place to wake up in the morning even when my business is slow and things aren’t perfect; a world where aging is an opportunity to make more of our dreams come true, not a time to be held back; a world with so much love and possibilities!

And as a child of God, I have to somehow come to terms with that fact — that not everyone has opened the door with the happiness key.

So for me, yes, it is so easy to welcome a stranger, especially if they allow me to welcome them.

But for a stranger (or someone with “strange ways”) who doesn’t welcome me this is what I will do from here one in:

I will still make him/her feel welcome with a smile or a soft welcoming vibe. Even if I smile to myself dissipate tension.

People with strange ways can make being a Christian tough. Because sometimes if you talk to someone and they don’t want to talk to you they take that as a negative. For example, I once has a woman who disliked me yell at me for simply saying “hello” to her.

True story!

She actually snapped at me and said, “DON’T FORCE IT!”

Even though I was always nice to her.

It’s also hard because you never know what people are feeling inside. Just like how you don’t know when an animal barks and nips at you — even though you are an animal lover!

It’s like, “Hey, I’m not the enemy! What’s the matter? I’M EASY! I LIKE YOU!”

And it’s true. I am easy. I do like you! Because no matter how much someone gets on your nerves, there is always a little good in everyone and it doesn’t hurt to find that good even if it’s for a short time. A smile, a “how are you?” a nod of the head. That can open up a world of goodness in anyone!

But the good news is, you can still love with a gentle heart (not always easy, but it can be done). And if you are often in a state of happiness, you can keep that going and not let someone’s bad vibe take that away from you. The more you remain in your blissful state, the more you can overcome the “strangeness.” And who knows, maybe a strange, unwelcoming person will someday not be so strange and unwelcoming.

We can all work together — and this is just some food for thought on World Day of Prayer!