When I say the word, “Conservative” or “Evangelical”, what comes to your mind? (Keep reading, my liberal friends.) I can only imagine the plethora of images that flashed in peoples’ minds when seeing those two words. If you’re like me, you probably saw Jerry Falwell, boycotting all Disneyland properties. You probably had flashbacks of sermons about backward masking Eagles’ songs. You might have even conjured up the faces of Swaggart and Baker, tears streaming down fallen faces.
Or it could be that the thoughts which sprang up in your mind were a little more positive. Perhaps your sweet grandma, who has been a member of the Harvest Apostolic Full Gospel International Baptized Holiness Church of God in Christ of the Pentecostal Free House of Prayer & Charismatic Revival Outreach of the Potter’s New Testament Bible Church with Signs Following just down the road a piece for the last 87 years, is about the closest thing to Heaven you’ve ever met. She baked you chocolate chip cookies without the nuts for you and only you, took you to Sunday School, and taught you to say your prayers when you went to bed. The world could use some more grandmas like that. In fact, the world could use more PEOPLE like that--just in general.
I’d like you to meet my friend and the first hero of my “Heroes” series, Marsha Jo Akins-Jordan.
Marsha, Marsha, Marsha.
She was pointed out to me across a crowded room of teachers the week before school started. We’d both been hired to teach 6th grade at a private, Christian school in downtown Vegas. My first words to her were, “Hello! It looks like we’re going to be partners in crime!”
She’s never committed a crime in her life.
She smiled and embraced me, and we were inseparable from that point on. She could lift my spirits like no other on that campus. She saw straight into my soul at any given time and spoke into my life on many occasions with her wisdom. Her compassion filled every child to overflowing. We were all better for having had her in our lives for that season.
And she didn’t own a pair of pants.
The woman wore dresses and skirts, never touched a drop of alcohol or nicotine, and didn’t wear make-up. Conversely, I cussed like a sailor, still listened to the Eagles, and was pretty darn proud of my boob job with the hoochie tops to prove it.
Marsha was completely unaffected.
I tried to tell her once that I had a tattoo on my butt. She said, “Girrrrrl, you shut yo’ mouth and stop yo’ lyin’.” She just couldn’t be convinced that I wasn’t absolutely and completely, earnestly and passionately, unswervingly, wholeheartedly, decidedly, and resolutely smitten and devoted to the Ultimate Hero, Jesus Christ.
That’s a pretty accurate description of me, by the way, despite rumors to the contrary.
People have hypothesized as to why, then, if the aforementioned statement is true, DO I cuss like a sailor, still listen to the Eagles, and show my $4000 cleavage? Some interesting theories have been brought boldly to my attention: I’ve not recovered from my abusive childhood, I hold bitterness and anger in my heart and act out from my angst, I haven’t been discipled, I have no spiritual backbone, I have no spiritual discipline, my conscience has been seared by my painful past, and my personal favorite: I’M JUST NOT SAVED! Mind you, I have heard every single one of these with my own ears. I’m not making this up!
I usually don’t address the murmurings. Just to add to the intrigue, I keep my reasons sealed tightly behind my ever-so-slight, irreverent, little smirk. So, listen up because this is the closest I’m ever gonna get to admitting why I am this way.
I believe that I am the way I am because I am acutely aware that we have precious little time on this earth, and I’ve wasted just about enough of it playing the “Jesus Plus” game. You know that one. All you need is Jesus. PLUS, you can’t drink or smoke or chew or go with those who do. (Ode to Jim Halbert with the “Jesus Plus” reference, pastor of Crossroads Community Church here in Nampa. Jim, I told you I’d cite you if I quoted you, so there you are.) See, I just think the “rules and regs” of the church are really quite arbitrary. People just picked ‘em, I think. I don’t know if there was a vote or what, but I just decided to pick different things. For example, I decided to choose unbridled compassion, kindness, and excellence in everything I do as opposed to keeping up with the Holy-Joneses. Who’s to say they’re not the JIM Joneses anyway? I have to admit, I’m not really a “refraining” kinda girl. I’m more into freedom. Maybe it’s because I had to live in oppression for so many years. Maybe it’s because I don’t need to be in the “Cool Kids’ Club” I like being in the “Just Jesus and Jesus Alone Club”, and so I file everything else under “idolatry”. I think I could even back that up with Scripture. What a concept. Those I do my utmost to love might retort accusingly, “From the heart, the mouth speaks!” Like what? do you mean? Like gossip, hot off the prayer chain? Like stirring up dissension among the brethren? Like sleeping with a gay prostitute and telling your gargantuan congregation you didn’t? Hells Bells! I just let the f-word loose once in a while! Much more benign, I assure you.
You know, maybe I just want to avoid all the hoo ha and get straight to the Marsha Jordans in my life. Yeah, I think that’s probably it.
Jesus truly lives inside Miss Marsha Jo, and she recognized Him immediately in me without even having to look very hard. I found her wonderfully invigorating. She is virtually unpolluted by the “Jesus PLUS” crowd. You see, she is conservative WITHOUT the judgment and the condescension, without the pride and the prejudice. She personally and, might I say, privately chooses to abstain from certain habits and attire and appearances as she works out HER salvation with fear and trembling. She refreshingly never tried to work out mine. She didn’t assume that my path would look even remotely like hers. And best of all, she had faith that God, Who began a good work in me, Daisy Martin, would also be faithful and, not to mention, quite capable to complete it.
THAT, my friends, is a woman of faith. We’re shown that men and women of FAITH is somehow connected to whether or not one drinks, smokes, or chews, or goes with those who do’s. Marsha and I have figured out that faith reflects simply what one believes about her Savior and what He can do in any human life. Compassion. Kindness. Excellence. Jesus-based and Jesus-inspired.
Marsha is my hero because she loves first and asks questions later. She is my hero because she is a living example that “conservative” people are not always judgmental or condescending. Sometimes “conservative” people are the way they are, not to make others feel less spiritual, but because they are sincerely demonstrating their love and commitment to God in a way that requires a certain measure of spiritual discipline which they have found to be right and correct and beneficial to them. There are conservative people in this world who understand that a personal relationship with Christ is just that: personal. Not all of us need to look alike. Our paths in Christ are different--our goal is the same. Marsha Jo walks her path with wisdom and compassion. All she has in this world has come from God: mercy and grace. Therefore, it would stand to reason, that all she has to give to anyone else is mercy and grace. It is all she holds in her hands.
Marsha, incidentally, was published BEFORE yours truly, God love her heart. :) Her first book is entitled “The Belmont Addition” and chronicles her life as a young teen who knew condescension and judgment quite well and overcame it all. Let me know if you’d like one. I’ve got connections.
Of course, my copy is autographed.
Marsha, my friend, you are a treasure and a divine appointment in my life. I love you. Thank you for studying to know me. Girrrrrrl, you represent.