Joel Osteen. I know. I’ll bet I just brought tons of traffic over here from folks that are going to shrivel and die a little when they read about the fact that I almost had to get an ultrasound during my period. I might have said that just to give a few folks (including myself) heart palpitations but it was just a horrible misunderstanding thank god. Speaking of which…
My mother sent a cryptic email earlier this month to my sisters and I: “I sent you a kindle book that you’ll get on the 31st. No judgement!” You know what, anytime someone, especially my mother, cheerily says “no judgement!” I’m pretty sure what comes next is going to be offensive. But I’m easy going enough not to jump to any outright conclusions and so when the following click-to-accept-gift note comes:
“This is a challenge. Read one a day for the month of August. I sent same to sisters. There is a caveat….if there are references to organized religion, you should know I ignored them. :-). That said the core is my philosophy and I wanted to share!”
I think, I’m so glad my mom sent me a gift. Even if it is self-help related and/or religious (as is her wont). I’m so lucky. Until I SAW the book. I Declare: 31 Promises to Speak Over Your Life by Joel Osteen. I’m not linking to that. I don’t want you to buy it. Seriously. Please don’t buy it. My mother bought FOUR copies and I will be happy to loan you mine.
Let’s be clear for a moment, religion is a hard subject for folks to speak politely about, myself included. This post is not about religion. It’s not even really about the way Joel Osteen presents religion. It’s about my relationship with my mother. Comments, as always, are moderated the first time and approved every time thereafter on a sanity basis (my own). I’m not a journalist and I delete things I don’t like. I’m super fun that way! Speaking of…
I wish I could delete the part of my mother that thinks it would be okay to send her gay, non-religious daughter a copy of this book. Clearly she thinks the most egregious thing about the book is that there may be a reference to organized religion which, mom…it’s Joel Osteen. Of course there will be. That isn’t a problem at all! There are perfectly good viewpoints within and outside of organized religion and I’m not opposed to hearing them. Joel and I, we’ve spent some Sunday mornings together. That guy is charismatic as hell.
My mom completely missed that fact that, charismatic or no, he thinks I’m a sinner. He routinely conveys to one of the largest congregations on the planet that I am wrong. An abomination. A sin. That I choose this path of sin. He says worse than that actually, if you do any research, and he’s allowed to preach that even if I think he’s wrong and an asshole. But for MY OWN MOTHER to buy and then give to me a copy of his book shows, at best, a poor understanding of who I am and the challenges I face on a day-to-day basis and, at worst, is actively sending a hostile message of change and rebuke. I’m assuming she is naive to the discrimination we face and that she is ignorant of the way it feels to be actively oppressed.
I am assuming the best. I’m also repeating that to myself. A lot. She mentions her philosophy and it’s true that this book reflects it (yes, I’ve begun it). Her philosophy was shoved into every potential emotional leak I had as hard and as deep as possible. Happiness is a choice, she would trill, misery is an option! There was no room to mourn, grieve, stumble, hiccup, ponder, reassess, or fall. The only acceptable emotion was to haul yourself up (shame on you for getting to that point) and paste a grin on.
I’m with her on the concept. You can choose to be happy. I do. I choose to find the right way for me. The best path. The brightest angle to consider a challenge. I make choices that preserve serenity and bring joy. But you know what? I can still be sad. Be miserable. Be heartbroken. Be blocked. Need a damn hug. For a second. Joel and my mom are on the same wavelength and god bless them both. But I don’t need to understand her philosophy if it means financially supporting a person who preaches hate.
You’re right, this post was about religion and I’m sorry for it. I’ll loan you my book. Remember, you can choose to be happy about this.