ren·ais·sance (rĕn’ĭ-säns’, -zäns’, rĕn’ĭ-säns’, -zäns’, rĭ-nā’səns) n.
- A rebirth or revival.
- A revival of intellectual or artistic achievement and vigor
Renaissance Christian© defined:
- A born again believer in the salvatory redemptive work of JESUS CHRIST on the cross who understands and submits all their gifts, talents and abilities to the authority of HIS Unchanging WORD in this present age;
- One who knows that JESUS is LORD and submits their life fully, in all aspects, to HIM;
- One who unashamedly seeks the deeper things of GOD by HIS WORD, WHO is JESUS, and receives revelation by HIS HOLY SPIRIT.
So I see you sitting there, feeling a little put off and asking: What’s a renaissance Christian? Well, I’m glad you asked. Believe me, it took a while for the notion to sink in.
You see, I have always wondered about why I seem a little peculiar, different from the rest. And why my husband calls me ‘Fiyah Bunny’. We who are born again in CHRIST are all a bit ‘different’, peculiar as it were. However, some of us, like me, are more ‘peculiar-er’ than others.
So I was seeking the LORD about why I felt as if I was outside of the crowd. Even in general conversation with fellow professed believers, some hard hitting nuggets of HIS Truth would fall from my mouth, much to the dismay of some of those same professed believers. Maybe this happened because I had over a ten year period when I immersed myself in HIS WORD and HIS Ways. I was determined to study to ‘show myself approved, a workman that needs not be ashamed, rightly dividing the WORD of GOD by HIS SPIRIT’. So during the time from 1998 through December 2009, I purchased numerous study guides as well as various translations and transliterations of the HOLY BIBLE, and re-studied world history in the Light of HIS WORD by HIS HOLY SPIRIT.
Let me step back a bit. I believe that this is the time for a little background check.
My family is rooted in the Deep South. Our religious tradition was Christianity. However, mixed in with it was a fair share of ancestor worship, magick, spell casting, numerology, reading of horoscopes and all round superstition. I believe that every African American with a religious background of the Christian tradition has this as a basis. Honestly, I believe that Christian faith in this country has been tainted by other traditions that are not Scripturally sound, Biblically based and are in their essence, against the Truth of GOD. (I’m sure there will be some protests against that statement; however, a person who honestly compares our current tradition of faith versus what it was during the physical manifestation of CHRIST on this earth will have to admit that statement is true. To that I say: Good! I’ll examine those protests in time.) So even as we sat in pews on Sundays and read the WORD, we were subject to cursing and drinking and fornicating, molestations and spousal abuse, gambling and adulteries and sexual perversions, among other types of ungodly behavior.
Yes, we prayed. The prayers were always the same, usually written down in a book or learned by rote from something passed down through a pastor/minister or grandma, under whom we submitted ourselves for the sake of appearances. After all, church going was a community function when I was growing up, and those families who did not attend some house of worship were looked at askance. We children were not allowed to play with ‘those children’ because they were ‘godless’ (what hypocrites we were!). And there was even a division between denominations, when the Episcopalians looked down on the Baptists and the Methodists scorned the people of the Holiness persuasion.
So in this tradition, I was brought up to believe in JESUS and the Easter bunny, to celebrate HIS Birth at Christmas, and ghosts and goblins on Halloween.
Confused? So was I, and everybody around me, including the adults. I don’t say this with bitterness, I say it with the understanding of someone whose fallen state was a reflection of theirs. A family who practiced holiness and godliness was rare. Most of the families around me were broken and dysfunctional because of various spiritual conditions in the households, conditions that were not honestly addressed. Some things I found out about my own upbringing and the upbringing of others later in life clarified their characteristics and actions during those times.
So here I was, lost and befuddled. It was no help that my parents were squabbling and quarreling, that my father found it necessary to spy on my mother at night, coming home from his work at odd hours after midnight to peep into his own windows. It was no help that my mother was attractive and gregarious, the total opposite of my father, who could not believe that he had the fortune of marrying so well connected and beautiful a woman. So underneath the prim and proper family appearances and rituals, there was a roiling serpents’ nest of deceit, distrust, anger, bitterness and pride, a dry ice-cold tangled mass that sat in the middle of every spoken word and every deliberate action. At the same time I was treated like the proverbial royal princess, I also felt the fear of abandonment. Yet every Sunday, we prepared for a trip to the sanctuary of our choice, sitting in seats of honor because my parents had ‘status’ in the community.
But! deception can only last so long. The strain of faithlessness finally took its toll in divorce court. And I was thrust into the tug-of-war that so many children experience because the parents are just as childish as they.
So I began my own personal journey into the world of spiritual warfare at the early age of five. Of course, I didn’t know that was what it was. After all, I was just a little girl, trusting in the adults who had sheltered me and believing, as they had, the ‘impersonal’ god who was there when they needed him for two hours on Sunday mornings, and moved aside the rest of the time to the shelf of their dark hearts when they did not. And the darkness of their hearts translated to a darkness in mine.
For a time, after the courtroom conflict, there was a truce. My mother moved out of the house we lived in and into a smaller, one bedroom shotgun house. I was quietly content, because the fights between my parents were temporarily at a standstill. We lived close to some of my mother’s relatives, right across the street in fact, so there was some protection from my father’s ranting for a while. Although I missed him, I was glad that I could play with my friends and have hot dogs on Saturdays with my brothers and sister. Even when I had the measles, I was happy for the confinement, because my mother coddled me and let me eat anything I wanted. The only time she became upset was when, against her strict orders, I looked outside into the summer sunlight at my friends playing between the houses. That one act of disobedience scarred my corneas, and my eyesight became blurred from that point onward.
My mother had been given custody, but my father was not willing to accept that. He could not and would not stay away from us. When he found us, the violence that consumed him exhibited itself in days and nights of banging on doors, broken locks and windows, violent tussling until finally, my mother hid me with one of her “friends”, whom I did not know.
I remember the first place where I was hidden away. I doubt that my mother knew this woman well, because she had her own children to provide for and I was just another mouth to feed. She was not intentionally cruel; she was just unable to show affection to a child that was not her own. And so the first of many heartbreaks established itself in me. I felt abandoned not only physically, but emotionally as well.
Please understand, I believe my parents loved me . However, I also believe that the stress of dealing with my father’s anger clouded my mother’s judgement. And so, she placed me where she could, because there were three other children to look after, and I was the focus of my father’s wrath. So to remove me from her home was an opportunity to get some peace.
Because of the fight for my physical person, I was shunted from one place to another by my parents, who played hide and seek with my location. My mother would put me in a place and then, after my father had found out where I was, I was taken, sometimes in the dead of night, to a place I did not know to people who did not care.
Except once. My father had some cousins by the surname of Isley. The Isleys were a family of four boys and one girl. As soon as I stepped through their door, the love they had for me engulfed me. They lived in a two bedroom house filled with the smell of good cooking and love. I was another daughter to them. And it was through them I began to realize that the GOD of the Bible, the GOD of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, was indeed LOVE Personified. The Isleys were Pentecostals who attended a home church led by an evangelist who herself had taken in the transient children of two of her relatives. We were made to feel welcome, made to feel that we had a place in their hearts and in the Heart of GOD.
My time with the Isleys introduced me to Scripture reading, speaking in tongues, dancing before the LORD, confession of sin to one another, laying on of hands, healing of the sick by the Power of GOD. It was a miraculous, wonderful time for me. Again, I missed my parents; however, that scar that started in my heart was healing, and I began to be free again to run and play and laugh.
I loved the Isleys, and they loved me. The boys were my brothers, the daughter, my sister.
However, the joy was not allowed to last long.
This is the first installment of a personal memoir being written for publication. To be placed on the mailing list for updates, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org