Instead of Living “Right” I Want to Practice Living Well.

In the rural hills of the Bible Belt where I grew up, I was taught a number things about how to live “right”. Emphasis was often put on behaviors that were considered sinful or not in accordance to the Bible or will of God. Sometimes the teaching was direct perhaps, through a sermon heard on a Sunday morning. Other times I was taught indirectly through culturally promoted ideas.

Through most of my youth and early adulthood I have felt the intense pressure of measuring up to a seemingly unreachable expectation of living “right”. Most of the time I have failed miserably. But, over the last few years there is one particular fault which I have come to regret more than anything else.

I regret the judgement I have passed on others.

In my quest to live “right” I found that it was easy to slip into deciding what was right for others too. I have felt intense shame and guilt when I remember times which I have potentially made others feel the sting of my self righteousness.In the past I have been fortunate enough to feel that sting which came from someone who was possibly trying to “help”. At the time I remember the rage I felt toward those who I felt were imposing their religious opinions on me. I say fortunate because I now realize that it has been through those experiences that I learned how important it is to treat others better in future relationships.

Recently, through a period of searching my heart for the person I want be, I realized that my fear of sin had created someone whom I did not want to continue to be. So, I changed.

The first step was to become aware that I did it at all (judged or persecuted in the name of religion).

Becoming aware of my own self righteousness has been the biggest gulley I’ve had to cross in my Christian life.

1 John 1:8If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us

I realize now that during the times I have felt the most inadequate, have also been the times I’m the most critical of those around me. This brought me to a change in terminology for myself.

I will focus on living well, not necessarily “right”.

Who of us can really ever live right anyway? We can’t. For those who profess Christianity we rationally know that we can’t. For me to aspire to live well encourages me to extend more grace to myself. When I’m forgiving of myself I’ve found that the ugliness of judgment rears it’s nastiness much less frequently.Earlier this week I saw this meme and thought “wow, isn’t that the truth”. Then I realized, how often have I been perceived as a religious person? Since I shifted my focus toward growing in love instead of growing religiously, I have found a peace unlike any I ever experienced. I am a Christian, a sinner and I will aspire to live well.

My religion is Love. And everything is as it should be. ❤️Xoxo-Brandi

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Rural Missouri. Comments on the state of our State. 

 Our family enjoys the outdoors for recreation by hunting, fishing, camping, and hiking. Maintaining the scenic beauty of natural resources is important. But, our congressmen wage war on regulations that protect our beautiful countryside while ignoring the human suffering which is occurring and spiraling out of control in our state. 

Apparently, being able to use certain types of ammunition and fishing tackle is the hot political topic in Missouri this week. For reals. 

Most of the reasonable adults I know do not even consider legislation about ammunition or fishing tackle something that should be being discussed, in light of the poor quality of life that so many of our citizens in Missouri are enduring right now such as: 

  • People are sick because Medicaid was not ever expanded in our state. Those, especially those with mental health conditions, cannot get the care they need and are in crisis. 
  • Children are hungry because of the availability of low income housing units that are located in food deserts. 
  • Teachers in our state, ask any of them… right now they aren’t just teachers they are also serving as case workers for their students because of the psychological effects that come with being a child born into deep poverty. 

In light of all the recent hub bub of the proposed budget plans, I decided to take a quick look at where our Missouri congressmen were going to stand on the matters. While my fear is that they will support cutting programs for our poorest and most vulnerable individuals… I thought maybe not? I mean…. a great deal of money is pumped into rural communities from federal programs such as community services block grants. So much in fact that many rural communities will find it difficult to continue to exist with out that funding.  

So- surely OUR congressman is going to be stepping up and speaking out right? 

Right now Missouri ranks in the lowest half of our nation in nearly every area (see links below). In health, education, unemployment, poverty…. anything that is considered in relation to quality of life. We’re no where even close to average. In addition our state relies more on federal dollars than almost all the other states in the nation. 

Missouri is the mythical “welfare queen” of the federal government in relation to other states.
A whopping 38% of revenue that comes into our state- does so through federally funded programs. 
Pause for a moment…. and think about that. 
Much of the funding that makes up that 38% is currently on the chopping block. The meals on wheels that many elderly rely on, after school programs, energy assistance for disabled and elderly… the list goes on and on. 

Hunters and fishermen- sorry. But your right to use lead in federal forests is not more important than caring for those who are physically unable to help themselves. 
Don’t be fooled folks. The federal government wants to take care of Missouri the same way that they do any other state. But, a few Missourians want to have their cake and eat it to and it won’t work long run, I really believe there are too many compassionate logical people in our state who will begin to speak up and out about what we truly care about for our state. 
I am so disappointed to even still be having conversations where ammunition and fishing sinkers are the main topic. Is this really a win, something to celebrate?? When our region is currently in crisis from lack of access to healthcare, jobs, poverty. Deep poverty that has became more and more complex with each passing generation? I don’t think so. I think it is a perfect example of representing about 5% of the white male population in our region who enjoy outdoor sports. Oh- and maybe a few women too. But none the less, completely at the expense of 95% of the population. 
Hunters and fishermen- there are other types of ammunition and fishing sinkers than the kind that are made with lead. The government does not want to steal your hobby. But you know what, even if they did… is it really worth it? Not for me. Not. Even. Close. 
So please Missouri congressmen. Represent the majority of the folks here in Missouri please. 

http://assets.americashealthrankings.org/app/uploads/ahr16-complete-v2.pdf

https://www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools/articles/how-states-compare

https://taxfoundation.org/which-states-rely-most-federal-aid-2/
https://jasonsmith.house.gov/