Of Course God Is Not Dead — Neither Is Goodness and Democracy

I was just talking to a lady on the sale pages on Facebook, and she commented that she was having a really hard time right now and she just kept hoping that her family would see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I commented and told her that I always remind myself that Tyler Perry was down to living in his car before anybody was willing to take a chance on his writing.  And that it always helps to keep in mind the old adage that
the way in which you view the world is the way in which you will meet it.  And that it’s just been my experience that if you constantly expect the world to be understanding and generous and good, they usually are.

No, that doesn’t mean that people can’t be assholes, and that selfish people who are miserable won’t attempt to use you or abuse you to get a rise for themselves because they are personally powerless and they know it — because they’re everywhere, and in abundance.  But it means that when you put out good energy, you generally get it back.

I remember a lady posted one day on the local concerned citizen page that she had lost a wallet at Kroger and she was so surprised that somebody turned it in. There were like 50 comments of people that followed saying how shocking that was. My response was something along the lines.of acknowledging that I know I’m an eternal optimist who can find the rainbow of sunshine in the middle of a tsunami shitstorm and who can eternally spot the unseen blessing  in anything — for example, I always feel like I’m one doctor visit away from a colon cancer diagnosis, and then I think, well maybe I would be qualify for Make-A-Wish Foundation and I might actually get to see a Broadway production before I die (although it won’t be Hamilton)  — but as that eternal optimist, it didn’t surprise me that people found a wallet in Dickson County, Tennessee, and turned it in.  Because that’s exactly what I would do!

The title of that movie “God Isn’t Dead” always bugged me, because my immediate response was,  “Whoever said that he was!?”

God is alive and present every day. But so is goodness.

A conversation I had with a friend once (who I missed dearly) always bounces around my brain in a moment like this. We had found some money on the ground and I immediately went on a mission to find out who the $10 belonged to. I told her that that was my granddaddy and my Uncle Chunky’s doings. My grandfather was so honest that he accidentally left the gas station with a candy bar one day that he hadn’t paid for a while getting gas, and he wouldn’t even eat it until he went back the next day and set it right. And that my Uncle would say that God was watching to see what I did with that $10.

Well, my dear friend Ms Sherry was raised by her aunt and uncle, and although she was old enough to be my mother and then some, we had so much in common, which meant her Aunt and Uncle were depression-era just like my great aunt and uncle. So they had a way of teaching life lessons that would stand the test of time. She told me a story about finding $20 when with her uncle, who she called her dad, and she queried her dad “what if God is just checking to see if we do the right thing,” and he responded: “Maybe, and what if it’s God’s way of buying our lunch?” 

We laughed for days at that, but I also told her — “And that’s why when I lose my purse, somebody turns it in, and  why when you lose yours, they use your credit card, because it’s “God’s way” of sending them some quick cash.”

We had such fun with that — God rest her soul, I think about her everyday — but it’s a lesson that sticks with you. One that goes back to what I truly believe. Of course bad things happen and honest people get taken for a ride, but I truly believe that if you expect goodness and honesty, and you put out goodness and honesty, it’s what you will find.

It’s why I could never understand the mentality of a man like Donald Trump.

I want to win the lottery just to give it all away. I keep lowering the prices on every piece I paint because I don’t feel right charging somebody for more time than it took me to make it. (And, also, I know how cheap I am. So, in turn, I expect a fair price for them.)  Because while I do believe that people are still good, I’m not sure that I believe that all business is good. The corporate greed that is taking over America is one of our downfall.  A nation that built our greatness and our success on hard work and labor unions, we’ve attempted to kill them for the sale of money in the pockets of rich men while teaching and persuading the working man that  it’s for “his best interest” — and we’ve used moral issues, like Jesus Christ, abortion, and guns to do so. So as to distract him from noticing that he’s getting stiffed. 

It’s sad. It’s sickening. It’s wrong.

Which is why it was hard for me not to tell tell that sweet lady to remember to vote on November 8th — and to remember to vote democratically. Because if we ensure four more years of the democratic platform, your family might actually begin to see the benefits of an economic turnaround spearheaded by the Democratic Party, and one that benefits the middle class.  But I try not to be political in every area of my life, but it’s hard — because I can’t separate who I  am from myself.  And I am someone who wholeheartedly believes in the government of the United States’ responsibility, and the obligation of those of us who’ve been given the right to live in the greatest nation on Earth to remember the government’s ability to better the lives of people. It’s not “everybody for themselves” as the allegedly ‘Christian’ party has been brainwashing us to believe. And it’s also a little bit troubling.

No man is an island. And while nobody gets sick by themselves, nobody gets well alone either. And if one baby in this nation goes to bed without milk in her stomach, it doesn’t matter to me if they suffer because their mama was lazy and could actually get a job, or if they suffer because their family couldn’t afford it, all that matters to me, in the wealthiest nation on Earth, is that a baby went to bed hungry.

And that’s all I need to know.

The national deficit isn’t increased because of food stamps. It’s increased because of billionaires like Donald Trump who don’t pay taxes. They took a third of everything my uncle worked his entire life for before they let me see a cent.  And do you think for one second I tried to find a way to get out of that?! No, I tried to see if I could roll it into an IRA, but my Uncle Chunky believed that that was the responsibility that came with living in such a blessed Nation.  (Now, I take mad issue with Dickson County’s mismanagement of property taxes and the way they are sticking it to us for a lawsuit they’re playing a game of semantics and lying about it — and the day they get honest about that is day I might care about paying my property taxes on time), but as a nation, my uncle believed in the Bible when it said “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s.”

And so we did.

That’s the difference in the Democratic Party —  and in one where we use our power for good to actually change lives.

Is government the solution to every problem?  No, but if it’s not the beginning — who the hell is? If government isn’t here to better our country for everybody, to ensure stability and goodness and growth — what the hell is it here for? For men like Donald Trump to make insane amounts of money by evading federal taxes while that woman at McDonald’s works 50 hours a week and still can’t pay the rent — while paying our troops and our officers and our schools every cent that she owes?

Much like my beloved  Uncle, Joe Biden’s father always said it best: “Joey, this is the price we pay for living in the greatest nation on Earth.”

If you believe in goodness and kindness and opportunity, please remember November 8th.

And if you believe our better days are in front of us instead of behind us, please remember to vote blue consistently.

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What’s Done In Secret, God Rewards In Plain Sight

You know, I’ll say this … I’ll say a lot on my blog, but I’ll just say this here.

When you grow up around a bully, you develop a fight or flight mentality. Boyfriends have chased me down, got in front of the car so I can’t leave, because I absolutely hate bickering and verbal abuse and chaos. Boyfriends hate that about me.  I walk away from a fight. My mother hates that about me, too. I had so much of it growing up, that I just don’t. I’ll say what I have to say — usually in print — and I’ll set  down somewhere where you can read it, and then after that, I’m out until you push me to the point that I show up at your house with a ball bat or a broom.  I run.  I escape. Until I can’t and then I’m kill or be killed. That was a coping mechanism. What I don’t do is all that in the middle. I just say what I have to say and let them whirl. When you whirl too much, you’ll see me. But I don’t go back and forth. When you grow up never knowing  what day you’ll say the wrong thing and have to endure getting your ass kicked, you pick your battles, and you only know one escape — away.

When people start jawing, I’m out. I just put my truth out there, you can do what you want with it. That’s the same reason I no longer argue politics. I just say what I think and you’re only job is to like it or not. I don’t give a damn about “arguing” or feelings. That wasn’t exactly a luxury I had. There was just ANGER all the damn time.

That said, as much as I walk away the second somebody starts running me down — no, I will not stand around one more day and listen to abuse — nobody deserves to be shunned. Nobody. I wouldn’t wish the pain of what I’ve had to endure — and ignore — on my worst enemy. Ever.

It’s cruel. It’s manipulative. It’s abusive. And it’s wrong. The world can never strip from me that which my Uncle Chunky gave me, and even in my most alone, even in my most let down, even in my most lonely, I can go visit his grave and know, instantly, that there’s somebody out there that loves me the way that God loves us all. The world can never beat me down enough to make me lose that. But it doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt. It doesn’t mean I was immune. And I wouldn’t wish that treatment on a stray dog, let alone a person. Nobody deserves that. Nobody.

My friend Jamie would always tell me that where man has hurt you God will use you. And my Uncle Chunky always said what’s done in the dark eventually comes to light, and that God sees all — and rewards all — even if man never does.

If all of that is true, man — it’s going to be hell of a time when it’s time to cash in on spiritual payday. Karma is ugly. But some of us, we have a huge refund coming.

I’m ready to collect my check. 

About Those Vulnerable Citizens, Governor.

I could barely sleep last night, tossing and turning, thinking of Mike Pence’s rabid defense of why he believes a 12-week clump of cells is more important than a living, breathing human child who just might be of Syrian descent, saying that a society can be judged by how it treats its most vulnerable.

If that’s true, Governor, then our particular American sect of this society that we call Earth can expect to be collectively condemned for the way we turn a blind eye to the suffering of our fellow man, woman and child simply because we don’t like the language they speak, the God they pray to, their country of origin, or the color of their skin.

I am not a mother. Much like my idol, Dolly Parton, I believe that that is so every child is mine. God doesn’t allow some to become mothers who have it in them to love everyone else’s just as they would their own — for that reason. I never wanted children of my own. I always wanted to adopt. Always. When I look at a child, I see Avery, Emily, Chloe, Savannah, Katie. Every child is just one that I haven’t had the opportunity to love yet. I don’t distinguish between them — I mean, I think “mine” are better than yours, and my twins are definitely better than any other twins — but when I see children in war ravaged parts of the world having their arms and legs blown off, I don’t see Syrian refugees, I see human beings!

If society can be judged by the way it treats its most vulnerable citizens, then what about all of those global citizens in underdeveloped countries that we refuse to help simply because they have no natural resources that we need. What about that 19-year-old, single, penniless, pregnant scared teenager? Is slut-shaming her (with no accountability for the man that impregnated her and ran off) kind? What about the black man pulled over for a tail light and gunned down by the police? And what about his family when a grand jury refuses to indict a clear murder on tape?  What about the families impoverished inside inner cities where they’ve lived for decades with lower incomes, no opportunity and politicians that want to continually keep them disenfranchised by refusing to raise minimum wage when corporate profits are at an all-time high?  I don’t think you, Governor Pence, get to decide who the only “most vulnerable citizens” are in our society.  And if we look at America as a whole and the way we treat all of life’s most vulnerable populations, we really suck, Governor.

And I damn sure don’t see the Christianity in that.

Nor do I see the Christianity in turning down federally-funded dollars that would have provided Pre-K to 6,000 children in your state simply because you don’t like President Barack Obama or Washington. There are 6,000 children in your state right now, Governor, that could be learning in pre-K from families who would have appreciated the opportunity. If we’re going to be judged on anything, to me, that sounds like one of the most heinous of offenses to our young, vulnerable, eager-to-learn American citizens. No?

What is a Southern, Christian Democrat?

I’m Jimmy Buffett and Willie Nelson. Miranda Lambert and George Strait. I’m a $4 cup of coffee, down a back road and listening to an old Travis Tritt song, reminiscing about coming of age in the good ‘ol days when somebody’s uncle could still buy you a 12 pack of beer or a fifth of whiskey and not end up in the pen for it. Back when the “bad” kids were just smoking weed
in the bathroom stalls and not chopping Oxycontin. I think if Heaven sounds anything less than like Dolly Parton, I’m not sure I want want to go. I read hardbacks and I vote Democrat. I like rescue dogs and Westies. I think car payments are for yuppies and if you want something that lasts long enough to hand it down to your grand kids, you gotta buy a Ford truck.

I am country.

I am southern.

I have more of a dependency on God than you can possibly fathom.

And yes, I’ve still got his Presidential back.

I am Southern, Christian, Democrat.

And I’m white.

As I passed by the house with multiple Confederate flags and Trump signs taped to the tree, I thought — is that what you think it means to be country?

Is that — ignorance and proud of it — being “country” to you?

Country to me means that I recognize that I live in a nation where our forefathers fought for freedom. Freedom means that what a man does in his own house, so long as it doesn’t hurt anybody else, is none of my business. That’s the legacy I learned from my forefathers that fought in World War I and World War II. Everytime I look at the shadow box on my grandmother’s dining room wall with a letter from my great-grandfather — just one of the many Mathis that set down this land for all the generations to come — dated July 2nd, 1916, and written from serving overseas; everytime I look around and see the pictures of his son, my grandfather, who served in three branches of armed forces for our freedom, I think about what that means. And that it — freedom — means that we don’t dictate how another person lives their life. Not here. Not now, not ever. Not under those stars and stripes — and that even applies to those who temporarily refuse to salute it in protest.

I think about his best friend, my uncle, who served in the Air Force and the knew the Bible better than anybody I’ve ever met. He didn’t just talk it, he lived it. And every Saturday night as he headed into the kitchen to study the Bible, I always joked that he already knew it and was pretty sure it hadn’t changed, it — without fail — earned me a lesson from it. As he told me that God commanded we go out into ALL the world and preach the gospel.  Not just your safe, white, homeschool corners. It meant I went where I was uncomfortable. It meant I went where I may be the only Bible some people ever read.  He told me that where there is injustice, it’s my responsibility to stand up. And if we still live in a nation — a nation whose history includes slavery and segregation —
where I can pull the trigger and kill an unarmed man and have a better chance of convincing a jury that he deserves if he were black than if he were white, we have a problem. And it’s my job to acknowledge that. 

That’s what being a Christian means.

That’s what country means.

Southern means  when I’m having supper and there’s plenty on the table, we invite the neighbor in — no matter what he looks like, no matter where he comes from, and regardless of how he prays. Because that’s my opportunity to share God with him.

And that is the responsibility that comes with living in the most blessed nation on Earth.
That’s what southern means to me. That’s what Christian means to me. That’s what American means to me.

I don’t know what Southern y’all are finding in a flag that represents those who went to war to continue owning people of color,  and I don’t know what Christian you’re finding in presidential candidate who spews ignorance and hate speech.

I just know that I’m a Democrat because it is now, and always has been, the party that cares about someone other than its self.

Hard to get much more Christan or Southern than that.

When God Commanded Me To Love My Neighbor, I Didn’t Think He Was Just Kidding

Out driving with my aunt Paula to get a cup of joe at the Dunkin Donuts by the interstate, we saw a homeless man. Now, as one who did a stint of driving with a  boyfriend to White House everyday, I know those “homeless”  guys at the two local exits are scams. But this man had had a leg amputated, was clearly  homeless, dirty, sad. And he looked pitiful. And my aunt Paula stated crying.

So… I got out to give him $5.

As someone who has spent time around twelve step programs and recovery centers, working with and getting to know alcoholics and addicts, I know the worst thing you can do is give an addict cash. And when I got out to give this gentleman the cash, he was trembling and in poor health. If I had to guess, he was suffering from the DTs or the after effects of crack.

I just kept thinking about that magical night in that Music City BallRoom, shaking hands with one of the founders of the first Alcoholics Anonymous groups in Akron, Ohio, an almost ninety-year-old woman who got sober with Bill Wilson, and as I shook hands with her, I asked her: “Ma’am, how did this little girl from Nowhere, Tennessee, get lucky enough to meet one of the original members of a program that has sobered over two billion worldwide?” 

She looked in my eyes and said, “By the grace of God, honey, and don’t you forget it.”

Now this man, this poor suffering soul on the side of the roadway, looked old enough to be  a Vietnam vet, and I don’t know if he lost his leg to an accident or in service to his country.  I just know that when I saw him, I saw someone — a soul, a child of God — who was suffering. I thought about how all  alcoholics and addicts are someone’s children; someone’s sibling.

I knew $5 wasn’t enough to do much damage if it went — and it probably did — towards alcohol or drugs, but the Lord says whatever you do to the least of thee, you do to me.

And it continuously reminds me that the party that talks about entitlements and “welfare queens” — with the biggest welfare recipients being corporate welfare with tax evasion and those politicians that draw six-figure salaries and do nothing — are somehow, ironically, the same party that seems to claim Christ.

That’s not the God I know.

We can help and treat addiction in this country if we really wanted to. That would involve your actually loving your neighbor as much as you love yourself, instead of just talking about it at election time and on Sunday morning — right before you go out and vote for politicians that strip down any programs that actually help those that you claim to love.

Of all the reasons I am a proud Democrat, it’s because of love for my country, my fellow countrymen, and the complete and total respect for, and acknowledgement of,  this principle thought:   That no man is an island.

God isn’t some magical voice that speaks down from the heavens, he works through us; through each other. You can’t claim to know God, to love God, to do his work,  and then turn your back on his greatest commandment: To love each other.

And while we’re wallowing in homophobia and gay shaming and worrying so much about something God said so little about — being gay — we ignore in a big way the thing God said so much about.  Love.

Candice Mathis

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Candi is a lifelong reader, writer Democrat, and kid keeper. She drinks coffee at midnight and schools Gators fans for fun. Catch her @CandiMathis on Twitter.