Prayers for the Snake Guy

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By: Jana Greene

Four months into seminary (or, as I like to call it snarkily ‘Holy Roller School,’ after an acquaintance referred to it as such) and I am starting to see things in a whole new light. I hope more and more light seeps in and around me, as I continue on this trepidation journey to fire my old god and fully embrace the God of Love. Accepting pure love is harder than you’d think.

Today our community lost a local celebrity – and venomous snake aficionado – to a domestic violence incident. The man was missing fingers from messing with the most dangerous snakes in the world, and yet he died from a gunshot, presumably fired by his wife.

If you met him, you’d never forget him. He was so un-vanilla; a very colorful character.

As these things go, my little web of Facebook friends started posting the in-credulousness of his death,  and before you know it, information is spreading like wildfire.

The murder happened in a little apartment over the Cape Fear Serpentarium – owned and operated by the victim. So the first hints of what had happened were…

I wonder if it was the snake guy?

The serpent dude is dead!

Half of the street has blocked off around the serpentarium!

Speculation runs amok. Did his wife shoot him in self defense? Where was his toddler at the time of the shooting? All kinds of scenarios play out in an epic display of what the great George Carlin often referred to as ‘brain droppings” – thoughts that used to clang around in our skulls and peter out are now open fodder for theorists – conspiracy or otherwise. Butcher, baker, candlestick maker…everyone has a platform in the interwebs, myself included. Within a page of feed, he was either a wife-beating monster or a national treasure, victimized by his spouse. In reality, nobody knows exactly what happened at this juncture.

I have felt convicted of the ‘Proper Prayer Reproach” lately. It goes something like this:

I need the facts to pray. What if he was a vile monster who provoked his wife to violence? As a Christian, I should hope he is in ‘hell’ facing eternity skinny dipping in a lake of fire! Right?

But what if he was just a little quirky – a genius with serpents but not so much marriages? Then we should pray that he is standing at the Pearly Gates.

Who gets top billing in this prayer thing?

When did Christians – of ALL people – earn the right to cherry pick who is deserving of what fate? What if we ‘accidentally’ pray a blessing on someone who is guilty? God forbid.

Sometimes, we use Proper Prayer Reproach as a way to gossip, as in “I need more information on Suzie Q. so that I can pray for her better….”

Other times, it’s even a little malevolent – manipulation sandwiched between two slices of self-righteousness. “Lord,  do your Karma thing because so-and-so really deserves it.”

I can assure you as a Holy Roller student, God is the only judge of who deserves what. And that no matter who/what/when/where there is a need for prayer, Jesus gets top billing. When we think we have to know who the Bad Guy is in order to pray, we are making the praying all about ourselves, our power.

I’m learning this as I go. Parts of me really want to get all the facts on a given situation so that I can ‘pray properly.’ But prayer can’t – and shouldn’t – wait. And we will never in a million years have an understanding of every nuance and action that all parties involved have experienced.

So here is my prayer for the gentleman and his family. I ask that you join me in prayer – whatever that looks like to you.

Jesus.

I pray for the deceased, that he is at your feet right now as we speak, and that his heart is whole and his spirit at peace. I don’t know if he knew you in life, but you’ve known him before he was in his mother’s womb. I pray he recognizes your face as the countenance of an old friend. I pray that you welcome him.

I also don’t know what his wife believed, and right now she needs you more than ever. She may not even believe in you, but you believed in her since before time. Tonight she is in a cell, likely terrified and shattered. Sit on the jailhouse bench with her, so close that she knows you are tangible. Pour your love out on her.

Jesus, there is a three year old child whose whole life as he knew it was changed forever today. He is an innocent victim, an instant orphan. He is perfectly adorable – when I saw this little boy’s picture, I immediately thought, ‘this must be how Papa sees his kids,’ mischievous twinkle in his eye and cherubic smile. Oh, sweet Jesus. Wrap your arms around that child and minister to his little spirit in a powerful way. I don’t know anything about him, but I know you desire him to grow up and walk alongside you. That’s what good Papas want for their little ones.

I don’t need the facts to ask God to intercede. Prayer is urgent! It brings God into the darkness, banishing it. Lord, help me to see more light.

That’s seminary progress, from a lifetime student of the Proper Prayer Reproach.

Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.

Comfort. Move. Surround. Inhabit. Assure. Draw near.

LOVE.

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A Penchant for Plus: Sizing up Acceptance

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By: Jana Greene

Can we just be real here for a minute? I need to tell somebody this secret I’ve been keeping, and I thought 1,800 of my closest friends would enable a soft place to fall.

It’s official. I’m plus sized now.

Whoop-de-doo, you might be saying. So is half the adult population in America! Although that is true, and I have friends of all shapes and sizes and find them all BEAUTIFUL and stunning creatures regardless of what a little tag inside their blue jeans says, I cannot seem for the life of me to afford myself the same kindness.

That little tag meant nothing to me when I was a kid.

I remember being so thin that my step-father would make fun at me at the dinner table by taking two toothpicks and making them ‘walk’ around the table. “Look! These are Jana’s legs!” He’d laugh.

So hilarious.

Even my beloved grandmother – who was a big lady – fed me lines about weight as far back as I can remember. “Don’t get fat,” she’d say, point blank. “Most men don’t like fat women.”

Here’s what I wanted to say: “Well, that’s okay since I’m SIX YEARS OLD right now.”

Here’s what I said, “I’m sorry.”

Because I am always, eternally SORRY for every and anything, including the food I ingest. I’m starting to think the guilt thing is far more pertinent to my weight issues than I’d previously thought.

I wanted to ask her why there was a clause for boys. One of them rode my bus in middle school. He often wore a T-shirt that said “NO FAT CHICKS” (hey, it was the early 80’s – that kind of crap was allowed.) I’m not sure if this kid ever got the memo that he HIMSELF was a VERY fat guy.  He was known for being a fat guy. And for wearing a shirt that looked like this:

fat

Well, alrighty then.

My mother was always thin. And always drop-dead gorgeous. She didn’t seem to struggle with weight at all.

As a teen, I grew gigantic boobs practically overnight. This blog may seem an inappropriate forum to share that, but stay with me here. They were not SEXY big, they were FREAKISHLY big. Everyone – even my family – made a huge deal over them, so I started to think maybe fat was OK, IF it was in the right place. It seemed like a cruel twist of fate, since I had zero input in deciding where my fat went.

Let me make sure I’ve got this straight -Toothpick legs are bad (or are they good?)

Boys won’t like me if I’m fat.

Unless it’s boob fat.

Got it.

I grew up with an abysmal self-image, and became a lady whose weight see-sawed like crazy.  In my 20’s and 30’s, I was plump, but paid it no mind since I was busy doing things like growing new human beings in my body and nourishing them with milk, compliments of those enormous boobs. I wore mom jeans and baggy shirts, and stayed busy.

And then came the divorce. It was a horrible divorce. I had no interest in food whatsoever and took twisted glee in watching myself whittle down to nothing. I smoked 2 packs of ciggs per day and got my nutrients from Diet Coke.

I would play mind-effery games with myself, like ‘how little food can I get away with eating and still be alive?’ I lost 80 pounds total, and people told me I was too skinny or asked if I was sick. In some way, it validated me. They think I’m sick? I must be SUPER skinny. GO ME!

When I met and married my second (and permanent) husband, I was JUST RIGHT. I’d quit smoking and started eating normally again. He caught me right at a 10-minute window where I was my personal best. Ok, I’m exaggerating. It may have been a 15-minute window.

I took a solemn vow to never, ever, ever get fat again. Not to my husband, who has this quirk of finding me attractive no MATTER what age / weight I am at any given moment. I took the vow to myself never to get fat again.

Except that I did.

I started gaining when I quit smoking cold turkey in 2006 to impress my boyfriend (now husband.) That’s where the first 10 extra pounds piled on. I substituted Virginia Slims for Jolly Ranchers – preferably the sour variety. I constantly had a Jolly Rancher in my mouth, but rationalized that “at least I’m not smoking cigarettes.”

Maybe the catalyst was the hysterectomy I had in 2008 – I sure as sh*t haven’t gotten smaller since then.

Or the lack of exercise that followed major surgery to rebuild a broken ankle in 2012.

Or the way I use food to numb / enhance / punish / reward myself. (But that’s a blog post for another day.)

Perhaps I just freaking love to eat food.

I do, you know.

You would think seeing myself naked getting out of the shower would have tipped me off. It SHOULD have tipped me off.

You might think squeezing my muffin top into and under a pair of elastic-waisted pants  or squashing into shirts may have given me pause.

As long as it was size 14 or smaller, I could handle it.

I have a sick fixation with 14. It is the last stop in the ladies department

“Please squeeze into the 14. Please squeeze into the 14. Please squeeze into the 14,” I would plead with my fat.

To which it would reply: “Hey, look what I CAN DO!” before spilling copiously over the top of the waistband.

I am not in great health. Several of my medications carry the cruel side effect of weight gain. Migraines make it difficult to commit to a work out routine. Excuses? Probably. But also damn good reasons why I’m not the hottie my husband thought he’d married.

I’m not proud at all to share what I’m about to share, but in keeping it 100, I feel I must. There have been times in my 40’s that I have stooped to the “binge and purge” low. It’s gross, I know. It’s also more of a control thing than a food thing. It’s the ugly secret of having your cake and eating it too – just not keeping it down for very long. I haven’t purged in a long time – bingeing? Well, several weeks ago, there was that sale on Haagen Dazs and I needed to self-soothe an anxiety that I don’t even remember any more.

I have to employ the same 12-Step strategy that keeps me sober to help me deal  with my food issues. I’m so tired of food issues.

I’m tired of pleading with fat.

I’m tired of feeling guilty for every morsel I eat.

I’m tired of giving a little tag so much power.

I’m tired of assuring my own beautiful, smart, hilarious, strong daughters that they are PERFECT in the bodies they are in (because it’s TRUE!), all the while hating my very own body.

I will probably never have toothpick legs again.

I care less and less about whether or not ‘boys’ like me – I lassoed the only one I care about and he doesn’t seem to mind my extra fluff.

I will try to eat healthier, but put away the cat ‘o nine tails when I don’t.

So, hello, plus sizes.

I have one more regret. I’m sorry I villainized  you.

I think you’re the WWJD of clothing – soft and forgiving. I especially dig how forgiving you are. I figured since you’re probably going to stick around a while, we should make peace.

And suck it, little white tags. You’re not the boss of me.

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Your Destiny Awaits (In Recovery Magazine article)

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Greetings, all!

Occasionally, I submit a piece to In Recovery Magazine, and they have been generous with the opportunities to do so. The publication is awesome, and it’s always an honor to be a part of the work they do.

Do you know who else is awesome? Each and every one of YOU.  I hereby declare today Reader Appreciation Day, because I appreciate you and your readership, and I need an excuse to eat cake.

Just kidding about the cake. Not kidding at all about my readers!

Thank you.

Thank you for taking the time to read my wordy posts. Thank you for your sweet and wonderful comments. Just – thank you; a whole lot.

I’m posting today to share an article with ya’ll that ran in In Recovery Magazine in 2016. Feel free to share the link, and as always…

God bless us, every one.

CLICK HERE to read “Your Destiny Awaits” – In Recovery Magazine