My grandmother, Nanny Esther, once hit a woman in church. She said, “That’s where she did her dirt and so that’s where she got her whoppin’.” It’s comical in a sense because my Nanny was in her sixties at the time. It is completely antithetical to the message of church, and I was reminded of that incident by something I recently witnessed on TV: A woman in was praising God in one scene and in the next pulling out her Timbaland boots, her Vaseline and a straight edge because she didn’t agree with something another woman said. (I won’t name the show, but you can see what gave me pause here.)
I consistently see people who profess to be of God act the furthest from Him, in their relationships. To me, this isn’t about religion, but more about practicing what you preach. If you say you’re about a faith that teaches forgiveness, acceptance and love then, how can you mistreat the people that are closest to you?
I have a lot to say about the programming that’s on television right now. It’s obvious that I do, indeed, watch a lot of it. I tell my roommate that I have to watch it for business purposes, and that is true to an extent. But, what I think many of us critics don’t give reality TV credit for is that many of the themes portrayed are real. We may not want to admit it, but we all have a sister or brother-friend who in one moment is praising God, and in the next, they’re exhibiting anything but God-like behavior.
I’ve seen a first hand example in my father, who is a preacher. Yes, I am the proverbial PK (preacher’s kid). However, my father has always acted in a way contrary to his cloth. I’m calling him out, but it’s the truth. Thankfully, seeing my father’s behavior did not turn me off of spiritually or keep me from having my own relationship with God. And, he is not alone—all you have to do is wait one or two news cycles and the next minister or preacher is resigning in shame.
I am critical of people who claim to be of a faith no matter which “religion” it is that teaches something different than what their behavior demonstrates. But, I understand the human process, and it is difficult to always walk upright. I often struggle to love first and then react in business situations when someone does me wrong. I’m getting better at it, but I still react first in the great majority of situations.
My pastor always says, “How can you love God who you’ve never seen and hate your neighbor who you see everyday?” It is a great question that I literally attempt to live by every day. We are all works in progress, but the next time you are in a confrontation with someone, don’t grab your Timbs, your Vaseline and your straight edge – grab some love, especially if you just finished reading your Bible.
Wishing you love and ceaseless joy!
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Nathan’s book INSPIRATION: Profiles of Black Women Changing Our World is available now.