Pam Neal
Corsicana, Texas

Pam Neal is a gifted encourager and creative. Her mission is to nurture healing and build community through creativity. She is a therapist, writer, workshop leader, motivational speaker, and stage director. She uses creativity and self-discovery to support people to live fully, by overcoming unhealthy thinking and harmful habits.

Essays Life Stories

Christianity is Like Acupuncture

on
August 20, 2018

My former-husband frequently amused himself with descriptions of acupuncturists.  

“How do they all fit in their tiny car?” he began.  “And those big red floppy shoes.   Twenty to thirty of them piling into a Volkswagen Beetle driving around town with their orange wigs and bright yellow costumes.  How do they keep from smearing makeup on each other?”

It never grew old.

I don’t believe acupuncturists are clowns.  Clown school is a little different than acupuncture college.  Sure, acupuncturists can go to clown school, and clowns become acupuncturists, but they still go to different schools.  

Clown school graduates are granted a license to be spontaneous, playful, and very wacky, while acupuncturists stab you with five-inch needles and are rarely spontaneous or playful.  

I’m not one of those lunatics; lounging on a filthy sofa in my parent’s basement hashing out a sinister plan to shatter the window of some acupuncturist’s office and hurl rubbing alcohol on the naked pin-cushioned body of an innocent patient.

According to NIH research, acupuncture appears to be a reasonable option for chronic pain. However, in the very next paragraph, they highlight the role of expectation and belief as a significant factor in the effectiveness of the treatment.  In short, if people think it will work, it is more likely to work. That is the crux of faith, and that is also where Christianity begins. Faith.

Faith is crucial to Christianity.  It is believing that Jesus walked the earth, died, and came back to life as a selfless act of love, to spare those seeking a way to escape an impending harsh fate.  To be Christian is to believe that the Bible is the actual word of God; a loving memoir about God’s son, Jesus. It is faith that God is real when your skin can’t touch His, and you can’t see Him.  

Historically, even the suggestion of God’s existence has led to people being burned alive.  Jesus himself was flogged and sentenced to death for saying he was who he was. The fever is real.  There are psychiatric hospitals with entire wings devoted to patients claiming to be Jesus. It’s all very illogical, irrational and downright silly.  But, for some, including me, very real.

Until March, I identified as an Evangelical Christian.  Its premise, share the good news so everyone can benefit.  It was my 51st birthday, and I celebrated with my father. We chatted on the sofa after dinner.  Like most of our family gatherings, all roads led to Trump.

“Why do they support him?” my father asked.

“Who?”

“The Evangelical Christians support Trump.”

I’m a bit of a media hermit.  Ten years cable-free, commercial-free radio, and no magazine subscriptions.  In addition, I’d been on a 6-month Facebook hiatus. I knew nothing of a unified group of Evangelical Christians.  I thought I was one, but I had never been invited to a meeting.

“I don’t support him, and Evangelical Christians don’t have a consensus on that.”

I was wrong.  There is a group, with a spokesperson.  However, their group is not my group. The messages I hear from that group have nothing to do with my faith.  For the first time, I understood why people think Christians hate them, and why people hate Christians.

This struggle isn’t new, like any group, there has always been division within Christianity.  But, this particular division disturbed me. How did this group catapult so far from what I know to be the foundational message of Christianity?

What could I do to make a difference?  Probably nothing, but I needed to try something.

As a writer, I have a platform in my connections and in what I create and share: blogs, songs, speeches, scripts, books.  I have a hope, though the Bible confirms it will never happen; I pray Christians will help each other remember (or realize) that Christianity is about a personal relationship with God through Jesus, not about rules or judgments passed on others who don’t know Jesus personally.

With acupuncture, people who are not patients of an acupuncturist never need to avoid wearing deodorant on the day of an appointment.  Non-patients are not belittled for missed appointments, nor need concern themselves with antiseptic. The rules inside the office do not apply outside.  I haven’t heard any mass effort to guilt acupuncture patients into pain management clinics or onto raw diets. Acupuncture works for them; it’s what they want.

Christianity was never intended to be a list of rules clamped on people like handcuffs. It was always intended to be a choice to follow Christ, a choice to believe, a choice to love.  Christianity was never meant to be followed by those who do not believe in it. Why in the heck would they? Acupuncturists swear by acupuncture, vegans beans and tofu and so on. A carnivore won’t suddenly go meat-free without an internal shift.  

The success of acupuncture is in the positive marketing.  The ancient tradition that promises healing, potential clients are invited to receive relief and healing.  

And yet, I laughed with my then husband.  Together we painted the picture of orange yarn-haired acupuncturist emerging from VW Bugs.  It was easy to laugh. Easy to look down at lots of groups. To think I’m so different. Am I?

I recall my repulsive attempts to share my faith. In my zeal to persuade, I have lost sight of my miraculous experience with intimately knowing Christ.  I’ve resorted to insisting that the other person’s beliefs are wrong. I point to their behaviors, the things that God is best suited to point out.

I’m right.  You’re wrong.

Who would want a faith that is shared without patience, kindness, and love?  I have never been told I was going to die, by an acupuncturist standing outside my doctor’s office. But I did have a childhood friend invite me to her church’s vacation Bible school. 

I do believe that the world needs Jesus. Yes, Jesus. Not just me.  

So, as a Christian, I take notes from the marketing strategies of acupuncturists.  They are the same strategies taught by Jesus.

  • Focus on positive stuff, like better quality of life.  
  • Hold off on discussing billing, no-show penalties and payment methods until someone is interested.
  • When someone says, “no thanks,” don’t take it personally, move on, or go take a nap.
  • I want them to come back.  I should be nice.
  • Tell the truth and present the evidence.
  • Allow questions and be prepared to answer or find someone who can.
  • And finally, live in a way that attracts others to my wonderful remedy to life’s pain.

 

 

 

 

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