Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Madison County Stories, Forgiveness & Encouragement

Today at my Starbucks afternoon jaunt I started talking with one of the regulars, an older man, and we discovered we knew many of the same people from a dark rural corner of Madison County, Virginia. We drank coffee, hooted and hollered out many stories about that part of our world. We were laughing so hard we were both literally crying.

Told him about the time the moonshiner's alcoholic adult son named Leroy rode his bicycle down to our country store wearing a shiny silvery new plastic cowboy hat. I asked Leroy about the hat and he told me how he'd found an old plastic dishpan up in the woods, held it over a fire till it was soft enough to mold and then he spray painted it silver with a leftover can of paint he got at the dump. I still laugh thinking about how proud Leroy was of his new cowboy hat.

My new friend told me about the time this mountain woman who's family I know had a baby. She wasn't married and had hid the pregnancy. By the time her momma and daddy had worked out she was pregnant and in labor she locked herself into her bedroom and crawled under the bed. They called the sheriff's dept and the closest thing they had in town at that time to a doctor was the vet. The deputies pried open the bedroom window, pushed the vet in and he delivered the baby up under the bed. But not before he'd had everyone park their trucks facing the bedroom with their brights on so he could have some light coming on into the room to see to deliver the baby by. This was many years ago when not everyone had electricity up in the hollow.

We guffawed over the man that has what looks like crude art in his yard, a old timey top wringer washer with a Christmas tree mounted on it and upside down Care Bears hung in the tree. Plus a teepee with graffiti on it and an old wheelchair inside. How the artiste will come out of the house with his shotgun if you slow down to look at his handiwork.

Or the mountain family that was upset at their youngest member who was in prison. They weren't upset he'd driven the family truck through the wall of a rich weekenders house and stolen a pricey antique store to sell to a shop up in New England. They weren't upset he went to jail. What they were upset about was that he 'Wasn't taking it like a man'. They seriously felt like it was a slur on their family honor that he was whining and crying about being in jail to anyone who would listen.

Tales of moonshiners and hillbillies, boats and illegal fishing,  spotlighting and avoiding the Game Warden.

and a thousand more stories.. one day I'm going to write them all down. It would make a funny novel indeed.

My BFF told me on Easter that the B.Z. Body family had left Rabid River church (used to be Possum Creek Church before they renamed it), the church we all used to go to where Mrs. B. Z. Body was the gossiping secretary that drove the split between the two factions, the ones that wanted it like it had always been and those that were going off towards Toronto Revival land. B. Z. had been one of the main instigators in the split and I have studiously avoided her. Last week I was bitching about her takeover of Starbucks for her homeschooling organization use.

I saw Big Fred Body, B. Z.'s husband sitting at a nearby table looking down and out. I decided that if they'd been driven from Rabid River like I'd heard, then chances are they were experiencing the same horrible spiritual abuse I had gone through and so had my friend Joanie. Time to let bygones by bygones and make sure they knew that they weren't alone and it would get better. I'm glad I did.

Big Fred told me that those people that had turned on my friend had turned on B.Z. and the kids. Yet again, no one said a thing to the husband, just took out their nasties on the wife and kids. B. Z. experienced the exact same type of abuse both Joanie and I had been put thru. They've found a new church home, a decent place to heal and were trying to make that transition when everyone you think is a friend turns on you and proceeds to tell you how horrible you are, how you were never a True Christian, how you were going straight to H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks, etc. The Body family is suffering.

A familiar pain, brothers and sisters in Christ turning on you suddenly. I hope I helped ease that just a smidgen this afternoon as I talked to Big Fred. I tried to pour on the love of Christ on him and sharing just a bit of my own journey, encouraging him to keep walking forward and ignoring the hateful horde. Haters gonna hate. Plus some advice on how to handle them. The thing that has worked wonders for me when coming across the haters is that when they approach hurling some zinger about hearing something about you going to the dark side you only reply with questions. You give them no real information but you make them think about where they're getting they information and how it's really just idle gossip.

Example:

Nosy Lady From Old Church: "Someone told me you were an apostate now! How could you walk away from Christ like that! Don't you know you're going to hell?" 

Me: "Who told you that?"

NLfOC: "Well, Darleen, Lurleen, the Preachers wife, just EVERYBODY!"

Me: "Why are you so concerned that you couldn't call me but you could talk to everyone else about me?"

NLfOC: "I didn't know how you'd react now that you're an apostate. But you must turn back to the Lord now!"

Me: "So you haven't consulted me but you've decided I'm backslidden? How did you determine that? Did Jesus put you in charge of that? Do you have a secret decoder ring?"

NLfOC: "Everyone says you are."

Me: "How does everyone know that? What hard evidence do you have?"

NLfOC: "Everyone...err.... says"

Silence.... is oh so very golden.... it's usually at this point that the accuser runs away, sometimes crying big old Jesus tears because you've confronted them wanting to know how they know their gossip is true. They can't back up anything they've said with real proof so they run.

There's a time and a place to run  your mouth. Talking about supposedly fallen brothers and sisters isn't it. It's ironic that the very thing B. Z. did to others turned out to be her undoing. But I don't want to see anyone else suffering from spiritual abuse like I did. It's so wrong, wrong enough for me to forgive, forget and try to go out of my way to help others, even others that have wronged me, get past it.


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