Hey there beautiful people.
My name is Charles but please feel free to call me Charlie.
I think it time I finally start this whole blog thing after various people have suggested or mentioned it to me. So since I have much down time during this summer, I would like to share some of the ideas that go on in this noggin of mine and the things that are very dear to my heart. I don’t know where this blog deal is going to go and I don’t know how often I will be writing but here is a little attention grabber to say the least.
Truthfully, I am having a bit of a hard time starting this thing because there are so many different places where I can start, yet I want to start at a fitting place that places you right in the middle the of heat of fire. Freaking goodness, this feels exactly like that time I was trying to write an introduction for this ridiculous 10-paged research paper. (See what I mean? The things that go on in my noggin).
I am a 21-year-old Houstonian kid that lives at home with his lovely mother and madly frisky, but playful, black miniature poodle, CoCo. I am also a very playful child that loves to have fun, crack jokes, and make the masses laugh by being my randomly goofy self. Additionally, I am very forward and blunt with the words I say and my mouth can be quite spicy as will be revealed later throughout my writings. I have this crazy infatuation and affection for people, more like an actual love and craving for people. I love them. A lot. Because they are so damn amazing and they are family! I also like segmenting sentences for emphatic purposes. Plus, it sounds so much cooler in my head when I read it to myself. I love Jesus, too. Really cool guy. Jewish with a very unorthodox and un-Christian sense of humor compatible with his sweetness, love, mercy, and transparent heart. This is really one cool dude. Saved the World and everyone this one time like 2,000 or so years ago. Man crush? Yup! In love? Definitely. Love my sexy chocolate self? Best believe it. [Laugh here].
Now, instead of me starting from the beginning when I came out of my mother’s womb covered in vernix, I’m going to start at the point where things got interesting (not to say things weren’t interesting before), where I began to see life and people in technicolor and melody, where I first heard and believed the Gospel.
Let me toss a disclaimer out there now: I am not your typical Christian. Even further than that, I wouldn’t even label myself one. The way I see things and the things that I say would freak out and piss off a good 90-95% of the Christian population. Let me toss out another disclaimer: my intent in this blog is not to purposely offend you, ruffle your feathers (though it may happen), or point fingers at you because I really just want to share my heart for the open ears out there. With that being said, what I am about to share will stem from my experiences at the church I have gone to and grown up in for essentially all my life. I will not be taking personal shots at people or going on a preacher-minister vendetta because I really don’t have a reason to. This is not me being angry, bitter, or resentful towards anyone at the church, let alone me responding out of hurt. This is me just sharing my heart and kinda “coming out of the closet” with things I have intentionally been holding back on saying.
To somewhat set the scene of my church home, it is an Apostolic black church glazed with a Pentecostal background — also known as Non-Denomination — that is characterized by shouting, being baptized specifically in the name of Jesus for the remission of one’s sins, being filled with the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues as evidence of being filled. I love these amazingly beautiful people and their sincere intentions and I am fully convinced knowing that Jesus loves them without fail or regret. Concurrently, I cannot avoid that within this sincerity, much unintentional harm has been committed, spoken, and showered towards many innocent bystanders.
In all honesty, I had a very vague understanding of who Jesus was growing up at my church. Consequently, I had a even greater misunderstanding about who God was. I knew many of the church cliches, learned the vernacular quite well, and had my Doctorates Degree in Communications of Christianese. I mean I heard that God was good all the time and all the time God was good nearly every Sunday. I was taught that Jesus died for me on a Cross for my sins when it should have been me instead for my sinfulness. I was taught about the seriousness and depth of hell, its eternal fire, and the Sovereign God overseeing everything that was to make it happen unless I changed the way I was living. I was to be in the Word of God, rightly dividing it accordingly. I was taught that I had to give 10% as a tithe to God and also offer an offering as well. I was supposed to serve God with “all my heart, energy, soul, and strength.” I was told not to sin or to stop sinning or to get it right or to “choose ye this day” whom I was gonna serve: Jesus or Satan (along with sin). Speaking in tongues, repenting for my sins, and getting baptized in Jesus’ name was heavily emphasized. I was taught so many things, was to believe so many things at face value, and I didn’t know what the hell any of it really meant. I just went along with the flow of things.
As I grew up and started getting more informed about the “calling” on my life to preach, I, consciously and unconsciously, started to take church, ministry, my calling, and my life a bit more seriously than needed. But serious in the wrong way. So serious to the point that I started becoming a young, closed-minded Pharisee in the making. I secretly looked up to the key preachers and speakers at church that declared the “Word of God” from across the pulpit. I also started taking special note of their styles in delivery, the way they gesticulated, the way they articulated their words and altered their tone while reading the Bible. I quickly learned the ways of the Jedi Shouter on the alters. I was academically memorizing and retaining Scriptures without fail. My activity levels in the church were through the roof, literally bursting forth with glee. And before you knew it, I had climbed that Apostolic ziggurat by being a youthful, zealous and eloquent voice on the pulpit and developed a pretty cute reputation at my church.
And with all that, I still didn’t know the heart of my Dad.
I still knew little about loving people unconditionally. Without any type of conditions, fine prints, or ulterior motives. My Ph.D in Christianese did me zero good in seeing and loving people the way Jesus sees and loves them. With all my memorization of Bible verses, my nice little reputation as the “little bishop,” and being somewhat of a popular face around the church, I was always judging people because they weren’t meeting up to my standards, the arbitrary standards I learned from the upper-level laity, or the standards of holiness and righteousness I believed God placed upon them. If you cussed, you missed the mark. If you smoked, you missed the mark. If you got a tattoo, were considering a tattoo, or had a tattoo, you missed the mark. If you weren’t as fired up and energized as I was about Kingdom Business or the church, you missed the mark. If you had a drink (beer, wine, or Mike’s Hard Lemonade), you missed the mark. If you had sex before marriage, you missed the mark. And if you were a homosexual, by God, you were the vilest creature to be in my presence.
Repulsive, I know.
Most times it wasn’t evident that I was judging because I was doing it internally. Sometimes, if I heard you proclaim that you were a Christian or I knew you were, I quickly voiced my Christian moral beliefs that proved why what you were doing or saying was sinful or wrong. Other times, I would feel conflicted and shitty because I could never understand why I could never bring myself to say or behave in such ways towards my best friend since second grade who wasn’t what would be considered “straight” during high school and didn’t really believe in God. Continually and consistently was I being morphed into and behaving from the image and likeness of the church elite. I didn’t know who I was. Yet, I didn’t know anything outside of that. I didn’t really know what I believed; I just believed it. Fear, his girlfriend, Law, and his parents, Condemnation and Guilt, along with their bastard cousin Hell did a massive whammy to the way I viewed people, relationships, church, God, love, and life.
Then we fast-forward to the summer of last year, then a sophomore/junior in college. This is when everything changed. Everything.
Last summer was the first time I had heard the Gospel. I know this may sound and seem a bit counterproductive after having been in church all my life to make such a statement. I can unashamedly say this though. I started listening to this amazing teacher of the Gospel, John Crowder, and my little Christian antennas at the time were on high alert because I didn’t understand what was going on. More specifically, for the first time while hearing this guy teach via his Youtube videos, I saw a really happy guy totally in love not only with Jesus but with how much Jesus loved him and the Human Race, a guy not speaking from Christian duty or moral obligation. As the guy talked, shared his heart, and pronounced this Good News that I had never heard taught aright, he exuded so much unexplainable joy, happiness, intoxication, bliss, and authenticity I had never seen before. The way this dude expressed Dad’s heart slowly, but surely, began to make me aware of a world and reality that had always existed, that I had always been part of but unfortunately was veiled to. I saw that this was what it looked like to be overtaken and constrained by Grace and all its majestic splendor.
The way he talked and what he talked about was beyond foreign to me; it was downright blasphemous initially. For so long, I heard about Jesus, about joy, about freedom, about the power of God, about holiness and righteousness, about being saved, about various things of the like. And yet, I still wasn’t experiencing this Jesus that had happily ruined John Crowder. Though it may not have been the intent behind what was spoken and preached at my church, I found myself either feeling guilty about my “secret sins’ while being unsure about the destination of my soul’s outcome to feeling like God’s favorite because of my church-driven performance to shout properly, speak in tongues with clear enunciation, and be zealous like those who’s spirituality was hallmarked by ruthless fasting, praying, and whatever other spiritual disciplines.
Unknowingly, I was hooked to the Jesus and God that Crowder was proudly proclaiming. No matter how many times I felt quick to label him wrong, heretical, or off, I kept coming back for more. He was saying some, at the time, excruciatingly out there statements such as:
- God is not mad at you.
- Jesus died for and as the entire Human Race.
- We are perfect and without flaw to this Lover.
- I am not a sinner and there is nothing sinful about me.
- God forgave all of Humanity and isn’t holding trespasses against them.
- Jesus’ obedience without a doubt trumps Adam’s disobedience.
- I am righteous and holy and clean and pure.
- God reconciled the world to Himself in the Person of Jesus [Union].
- You belong to God and He accepts you.
- Jesus saved you whether you know it or believe it or not! It is finished.
These few little points may seem trivial to some and offensive to others just as much as it was to me when I started hearing them, but these truths brought so much freedom, so much life, so much joy. I was beginning to lose my mind only to find it in Jesus. I was rediscovering and discovering, relearning and learning, recapturing and capturing the eternal beauty of this Jesus figure that really always had me and the rest of Humanity in mind and in his hands. Astonished, shocked, scared, amazed, lost, unsure, overwhelmed, mesmerized — these were just a few of the things I felt and experienced when hearing the Gospel. Just like that, much of what I had been taught and hugged so tightly to as a foundation had literally disintegrated right before my eyes. What was once concrete assurance in my faith turned to mere chocolate pudding. I was left, just like that, to actually get to know this God that Jesus perfectly revealed. I no longer had to or could cling to Fear and all his relatives anymore for my theology, my Salvation, or my relationship with God. I no longer had to let fiery flames and an eternal furnace be my motivation in trying to talk to the “lost sinners” or those in the world or those that didn’t believe in God or those who didn’t believe God exactly like me verbatim.
The way I read, saw, and interpreted the Bible was turned upside down right on its cover. It began to actually make more sense when I saw it through the unchanging act of Jesus on that Cross. I was beginning to understand that Grace got me and that Grace was a Person named Jesus! Such a sweetie pie. The pie that has a pretty gnarly kick and punch though. My heart was captured like a lemon on a hot summers day. My insides were torn into pieces, left with the fullness of thankfulness, happiness, and hopefulness. The subconscious mentalities of us vs. them, in vs. out, Christian vs. the others made no sense and lost any trace of existence they could possibly have. The spineless traditions, hand-me-down teachings, and harmful beliefs were getting ambushed and replaced with the goodness of God as revealed so clearly through my bro Jesus.
My desire to continue going to church had been squelched. Nonetheless, I was so eager to bring this news back to the home church and tell the people that they can stop with their dreary tears, loud cries, and balled fists towards God because He was pleased with them. Not on a basis of their performance or lack thereof but because they are His damn kids! Because He did something so foolproof and permanent in Jesus on the Cross that He couldn’t help but be pleased. I was up and ready to let people at my church know that God really loved them unconditionally and wasn’t threatening them for not loving Him enough back. I was eager to let them know that it wasn’t up to and never had been up to them to preserve, maintain, or attain their Salvation.
Sadly, I immediately found out that this wouldn’t be such a wise decision. For instance, this one Sunday morning during Sunday School, I questioned something within the lesson and said some things that came against what was being taught. I wasn’t trying to be offensive for the sake of offense or flare up the hornets nest to egg on a reaction. I was just throwing something out there for brainstorming purposes. But let’s just say what I asked and said wasn’t welcomed with open arms and warm kisses. No, I wasn’t excommunicated from the church or chased out after with gasoline drenched torches as if I were some witch or warlock. But, there was a quick urgency to correct me and tell me what was right and why it was right.
Surprisingly, this was what I had done for the majority of my life because this was something I adapted as a Defender of the Faith. When anything pertaining to God, church, or sin came my way, I was always on my toes to correct or point out why something else was wrong. If it didn’t line up with what I grew up learning, it must have been wrong. If it seemed to me that your life wasn’t on the straight and narrow as I felt it should have looked according to me, I would try to guide you back to the “Word of God” so you wouldn’t spend forever in the Hell God prepared for sinners.
Learning more about Grace, my identity as a Son and not a sinner, and not being sinful, rotten, or dark (besides this milky skin color of mine), I began losing every taste, urge, mindset, and desire to sin. Sin became more and more irrelevant. Smaller. Alien. As I began to rest in the reality that Jesus really does love and accept me for me; that I didn’t have to live up to the expectations of what others figured I would be; that He always desired me and never took His gaze off of me even when I was in sin or sinning out of ignorance; that He still wanted to just hangout and have fun with me, I began surely falling in love with a very, very, very good Father and Lover. A Person that cared. That loved living life with me and seeing life through my eyes.
During all the quick and gradual changes that were taking place in my life, Dad started showing me the real me. Not who others wanted me to be. Not who others thought I’d be. Not who others wished me to be. Just the Real Charlie. I have been learning more about who I am and how He expresses Himself through me. It’s one heck of the combination of sexy, bubbles, rainbows, and Tinkerbells.
I began to get a greater understanding of His heart towards His girls. The sweet spot I have for women and the way I express myself towards them is something I know only His freedom and love can produce in me as a guy. I like it though. A lot. I am super affectionate, brotherly, sisterly, motherly, and fatherly, and can be quite the intimate one. I get to call them beautiful, gorgeous, boo, sexy, amazing, treasured, darling, cutie pie, valued and even “all that” (anyone still uses that phrase in the 21st centruy?) without trying to get into their pants or imply some discreet sexual undertone that I want to hook up with them. I hug them tightly. I embrace them. I avoid that awkward side-hug bologna like the senseless plague it is. And for the love of Obvious Land, it is apparent women have breasts on their chest. Goodness! And sometimes, if I know the comfort level and freedom of the individual or depending on the situation/setting, I will kiss her on the forehead, head, or cheek. I have held their hands, been in close proximity with them, consoled them as family would do, and looked them deep in the eyes with full acceptance as I do my beautiful girlfriend.
I love being the Real Charlie. The guy that has no shame in being unresponsive towards manipulation, coercion, or control. I respect those in authority, but I will not bow down to you and your forceful, unloving demands. I will not “submit” to what you tell me to do simply because you tell me to or have some years of experience and age on me or think it the will of God to throw Bible verses at me with a “thus sayeth the Lord” attached to it.
I get a thunderous joy being myself with people, sharing my wholeness with that of others. I love to give to people whether it be monetary or material. I enjoy investing into the lives, dreams, and desires of those around me that privilege me in doing so. I think the homeless are so damn awesome! Genuine. Sweet. Peachy. Colorful. Actual people with real life stories and human experiences. I like to break out in dance or song along with random strange sounds that make no sense. I love being the big kid that I am without having to constrain my happiness or feel like I must be someone else so I don’t disrupt the comfort zones of those that believe Jesus is too serious for laughter and fun. I like being as or more childlike than my nieces and nephews and other people’s children.
This is the Real Charlie.
I am not the hugest fan of modernized, traditional church today. I don’t read my Bible daily and I don’t have a set quiet time to talk with Jesus. I listen to “secular” music. I like Paramore, Breaking Benjamin, and Anberlin. I like Seagrams and Wine Coolers. They taste like spiked Snapples or Arizona Teas. I love dancing to songs that have a funky, old school or Latin feel to it. I love visiting my girlfriend’s Facebook page because I can’t get enough of her smile and aura of joy. I love being transparent and direct. I enjoy laying out the truth for you (if you care to hear it). I have grown a unique affinity for bromances more than ever recently. I don’t mind letting my feminism coexist with and blur together with my masculinity. I think it’s cool knowing Jesus farted and probably had morning wood (Google it). Because he is a dude and experienced puberty.
I love witnessing Jesus reconcile a marriage back together right before my eyes when a wife was fearful that her marriage was a goner. I enjoy seeing love Chuck Norris kick the lies in the face that are tormenting a fellow sister/daughter contemplating suicide. I love hearing from my friends that dead babies are being raised back to life after having been pronounced dead while in their mother’s womb. I get a kick out of seeing people so intoxicated on the very freedom Christ died for them for. I get wrecked hearing that His kids are living in freedom without having to die daily, crucify their flesh, or combat against sin as if it is an unbeatable foe. And I love losing my self when others begin awakening to the declarations and beliefs that God has always spoken and believed about them.
This is me. The silly, goofy, straightforward, nothing to hide, having fun Charlie. This is who I am.