Quite unorthodox, no? But if you ever visited my Commonwealth, you will see people in pursuit of spirituality, from the clichéd thumpers to the yogi who taught me how to stretch my body last week. You never believe how open Kentuckians are in their pursuit. In fact, Kentucky has the infamous snake handlers and the Old Regular Baptists. In my neighborhood, we have over 10 churches, from heretical to within Christian orthodoxy. It’s not to say that all are on the right path, but they are trying to walk heavenward.
My growth as a Christian and as an Autistic has been very very fast since I settled in Kentucky. It as if this Commonwealth was set up for such an environment the moment Daniel Boone noted its beauty. This broken but healing soul is relearning about the merciful God Who is eager to enjoy unity with sinners and change them so that they too can be like Him— holy and loving. I was pissed at Him for years, but now I desire His presence. I doubt I would feel that way if I did not leave Indiana and moved to Kentucky for a career.
Faulkner’s quote is interesting because you get to think how God is like a Kentuckian. I laughed my arse off when I saw that quote on a mug. Bought that mug immediately. It does not mean that the face of God reminds me of Harland Sanders or that He is walking around looking like an antebellum Colonel with a drawl and a mint julep in His hand. I thought of the placid roads of the Lexingtonian countryside. I thought of the raw spirituality people here expressed. I thought about the sheer hospitality. God represents a respect for truth and beauty, courtesy towards all, and being principled/honorable in His actions.
The beauty is that Our Honorary Kentuckian* does not look down at people outside His realm. He seeks and desires reconciliation with ungentle and wretched people. He has prepared a place for those who needed sanctuary. His hospitality is like the welcoming living room with two fingers of the finest bourbon— it’s 200 proof Gospel! And like the archetypical soldiers of old, He laid his life for us in order to liberate us from evil.
God’s scandalous, abundant graciousness is transformative. I have found a safe place to worship, a conservative “broad”(?) Anglican church in Louisville. It was exactly what I needed. For the first time in over 12 years, I felt that peace in a church. It’s not a loosey-goosey place. It’s orderly and as solid and as right as a great pair of sneakers. It is rigorous, home-like, structured and huggy. I did not have a mental episode. I felt whole again, loved by God, it’s that moment when you look around and realise that God has restored what the locusts consumed. And I am very very joyous about it. It means I can approach God again. To have that relationship restored means that I am able to enjoy my life to the fullest. I have good things happening in Kentucky– my career, my little apartment, great loving friends. And now that I found a solid place to worship, I am able to walk forward to new opportunities, with God abiding in me.
Which brings me to this. That joy has allowed me to step forward and forgive those who hurt me. I made my confession a few days ago and I expressed a desire to make peace with what happened during the exile. I confessed my sin of carrying such an awful grudge. Life is too short to carry that festering hatred for the rest of my life. When I forgive, I can fully heal out and focus on my future. It is not to excuse those who hurt me in Indiana. It simply means that I will let God deal with them as He sees fit and hope they will repent of their actions. As someone who jumped the fence and gained a new life, I have no reason to carry this grudge. It only impedes my new life and severs the bond between me and the Triune God.
I remember saying to myself on 9 May 2016 after my breakthrough visit to Churchill Downs: “Next year, in Kentucky!” Sure enough, I moved there the next year, and then the healing started. So forgive me for agreeing with Faulkner. My request to you all is that you continue to pray for my inner healing. I have so much to go.
*NOTA BENE: I confer upon Him that honorary title, as only Kentuckians can do that. He’s more than qualified. God transcends the universe, He’s not restricted to any region as He is the King of the Cosmos. Yet, He also made Hoosiers, Sooners, Iowans, and the rest of humanity in His image. And loves all of them.