It’s always interesting to watch a “news piece” trickle through my Facebook feed. I have friends who I have known since birth, friends who lived on the street I grew up on, friends from elementary, middle and high school, college friends, grad school friends, work friends, neighbors and mommy friends. They are white, asian, latino, and black (though I do have a vacancy in the American Eskimo category). They are Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Buddhist, agnostics, and atheists. They are gay, straight, and bisexual (I also seem to have a transgender vacancy). They are democrats, republicans, independents, and even a tea partier or two. My friends are a hard working, honest group of folks. I like to think they are pretty good people who, at the end of the day, love their families and love their country.
I like people. I like Facebook for just that reason. I love “talking” to my cousins. I love seeing my friends’ big kids’ and new babies’ pictures. I love the self deprecating mommy stories that remind me I’m not the only one who has ever sat for an hour on the bathroom floor of a toys r us, shouting “oh, for god’s sake, would you please just poop already?” at their 3 year old son. But I truly love Facebook because it gives me a chance to get to know my childhood friends as adults. When I hopped my fence and headed to Beth Faircloth’s house to play dolls, dress up her sister, and eat her dad’s great cooking, did I know she’d turn out to be a minister? When Martin Musierowitcz pulled up in his smelly old Volvo every morning to pick me up for school, blasting Eazy-E, did I know he’d be a big shot businessman posting pictures from his latest work meeting on a yacht in Malta? I love it!
It’s all such a beautiful, happy place until the P word happens. That’s right. Politics. Childhood friendships give you the illusion that you fundamentally know someone. You think that, in some way, you have been privy to their true selves. And yet, time and time again, I am truly surprised by the political people my friends turned out to be. I have several friends who could not be farther from me on the political spectrum and by and large, it’s never been a big deal. There are a few who are prone to Obama bashing and I can fairly easily shrug it off. He is, at times, not my favorite person, either. The only FB “arguments” I’ve ever gotten into were when I felt the facts had been completely ignored or intentionally twisted. If you know me, you know I have a hard time keeping my mouth shut when I think that people haven’t done their due diligence to get to the bottom of something.
But nothing has so polarized my FB friends like the current headlines about Chick-fil-a. I have friends ready to call for one of those unwitting and unwilling cows’ heads and some lining up in the drive through for hours to show their sincere support.
It took me a little while to finally cement my own feelings about what is going on. As a native Atlantan, I grew up with Chick-fil-a. My grandparents were big fans of Mr. Cathy and were pleased to see a business stand firm that Sunday was the Lord’s day, even if it cut down on their profits. They knew about the WinShape foundation and were pleased to see Mr. Cathy give back some of his money to help children and to help couples work to strengthen their marriage.
Me? I just loved the chicken. Honestly, My mouth is watering now just having to write about it. I don’t care what anyone says, you can hate the place, but don’t you dare say a bad word about that delicious homo-phobic chicken.
Wait, this was supposed to be about my grandparents. My grandparents grew up in rural Mississippi in the early 1900’s. They weathered the Great Depression and ultimately left farming life to move to Mobile, Alabama. While my Papa fought in WWII, my grandmother played the role of Rosie the riveter at Brookley Airforce base. When my Papa came home, he worked as an airplane mechanic and she a school teacher. With their meager wages, they saved and saved and eventually bought a home and raised a daughter (my amazing mom). They were southern baptists. No drinking, no gambling, and truly embraced the idea that idle hands were the devil’s workshop. They were hardworking, salt of the earth kind of people.
Theirs was a great love story. They weathered being separated by a world war, the tragic loss of two children, my grandmother’s incapacitating major strokes, and still their greatest joy was to sit on the front porch and quietly watch the world go by as they held hands. Their marriage, like their faith, took work, and it served to lift them up and provide great comfort to them their entire lives. In fact, my Papa could not bear to go through this world without his sweet wife and passed not quite 11 months after she did.
They attended church regularly, studied the bible daily, and did their upmost to follow in the steps of the Lord. They were my first example of Christians.
My grandparents were the most incredible people I have ever known. Loving, kind, and generous to a fault. After they died, we discovered they (both on small government pensions) had given more than 30 percent of their income to their church. After my Grandmother passed, my mother continued to receive letters from former students who told stories of my grandmother secretly buying their books, shoes, or clothes, when their families couldn’t afford to do so. In every way, they were the original WWJD followers. They ministered to the sick, helped feed the poor, and clothe the children. My grandparents believed that being a Christian meant loving your neighbor, even when they let all five of their dogs crap on your lawn. They taught me by example that being a Christian meant using God’s word to lift people up. It meant never judging (lest they be judged) and truly embracing the Lord’s commandments to love and show compassion to his entire flock.
I, like many of my friends, was surprised and disappointed to see that the Cathys were heavily investing in groups that actively seek to deny marriage to a group of people. Their assertion is that because of who these people love, they should be denied a basic civil right. So assured of their righteousness, Dan Cathy, recently defended chick-fil-a’s position, stating, “I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.” He went on to add, “and I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is about.”
I actually couldn’t agree more. I am so glad that Mr. Cathy’s personal relationship with God has lead him to know what God believes marriage should be about. The Bible is certainly no help in that department. It’s absolutely all over the place. Well, accept when it comes to rape and marriage. Those two, it seems, go hand in hand. But truly, I feel just the same way that Mr. Cathy does. The only rub is that my God tells me that people who love each other and want to committ themselves to each other in front of their families, God, and everybody, ought to get to do that. He tells me that marriage is about love. It’s about compassion. It’s about companionship. It’s a sacred bond that I seem to remember reading is a pretty big deal to him. It means being there for each other at the absolute best and worst times of your life. That’s right, your “life”, because it is not until you are married that you become one life. That the good and the bad become “ours” not “yours”. It’s why, when we rushed to the ICU for my grandmother, only her husband was allowed in. Only he was allowed to make decisions based on a lifetime of discussions in a darkened, quiet bedroom with his wife of 60 plus years. And that marriage is how they were able to build their family together, our family. The one that is still here, fighting for the values they believed in. And hoping that every person will be lucky enough to have the kind of marriage that they did.
And so when I think about all the things I learned from the people in my life who truly embraced the spirit of Christ’s teachings. Who understood the true nature and meaning behind Christianity. I’m left with no choice but to turn away from my life long love affair with Chick-fil-a and away from the hatred that I truly believe has no part in God’s plan for us. Because the first Christian song I ever learned was “Jesus loves the little children” and my grandmother never ever included the line, “except all the little gay ones.”