I am afraid this will make me unpopular… not because what I am saying is somehow wrong — it is not– just, I know a good deal of people who fail at perspective taking. I’m not sure everyone will put the effort in to understand these words, and what they mean.
Story after story. School shooting after shooting.
Church shooting. Concert shooting.
Rape. Abuse of power.
My heart breaks.
Not just for the victim, but for the aggressor as well.
What went wrong in their lives? Where did we fail them? Were they a victim previously, and everyone turned a blind eye to their wounds? Did they never know love? Were they suffering mental health issues, and never received the healthcare they needed? Did stigma keep them from seeking help? Did ignorance and lack of education keep them from a better path? Did social injustices back them into a corner?
Did someone claiming to be christian, lead them on a path away from Christ and living as a christian should? Did we ever take a moment to know them? To ask about their day. To invest in their dreams. To sacrifice our time and resources to cheer them on toward a good and right and successful life?
Were we there when their hearts were breaking?
NO. I’m not saying I don’t care about the victims of the crimes. I grieve for them.
I guess, I just don’t believe evil happens on accident… and I don’t believe that it has to be those offender’s whole story.
So today, I’m grieving that there is a 15 year old that felt the solution to whatever it was in their life, was to take lives.
Yes, I realize there is a complex world of psychopathy, which is, sometimes, the only motivator for crime.
But for the cases when it isn’t?
Could something have been done earlier to keep these people from harming others and ruining their own lives?
I am not going to pretend like I have any answers here… this is just what has been burdening my heart today.
I just finished a scroll through my newsfeed on facebook. Filled with the regular — post in support of causes that are important to people on my friends list,
fear about trump’s twitter etiquette (or the lack there of), and then a few but very persistent bunch of trump supporters who sing his praises, but in subsequent posts voice opinions that are left-wing in nature, but have no clue, and think they are republican ideologies.
Or, they are in need of program assistance — but consistently vote for individuals who oppose those services.
Then there was this.
A video of a small herd of elk that fell through the ice, but were being saved by a group of rescuers.
I teared up. I didn’t want the elk to suffer. I was glad they were being saved– at the pain and detriment of those saving them (they were getting wet with ice water, risking themselves out on the same thin ice which had let go under the elk).
THIS. This, I thought.
These people– of different backgrounds came together to save those who were suffering. And the suffering were ELK. Not people.
If your sensitivities are aroused to want to love an animal that many of you probably would consider eating, then how much more should we constantly be at the ready with empathy and love for one another.
If the elk were people drowning in icy waters, would you ask them their political affiliation before helping? Would you ask about their sexual orientation? Their religious beliefs?
I would guess you wouldn’t…. I pray you wouldn’t.
It is true the elk walked out on the ice themselves… but they are suffering, and something within us (religious or not) wants us to do something to fix it.
That’s how I feel as a liberal. I see people walking out on thin ice. I’ve put out warnings everywhere I can, in every way I can… but that won’t stop them.
Maybe you’re one of those people. And if in life, you get swallowed up into a hole of icy blue death –I will not turn my back, even if you’re one of the conservatives who post things like “dems don’t deserve to breathe” “I hope the flood takes out those libtards” “progressive thinking is a mental disorder” “stupid snowflakes too dumb to know they are dumb.”
Yes, even if you were the author of those books. Even if you were trump himself.
Because — empathy.
Because — love.
Because I believe that if you’re going to call yourself a christian, you better be trying to live your life as fully loving as you are capable of. You should be asking to be filled with love so that you can pour it out to others.
Because, I’ve read the Bible over and over, and I know Christ spent a lot of his time living among and loving extravagantly individuals who were vastly different than himself.
And he called us to do the same.
So if you’re a CHRIST-ian, I feel like you should pick up his challenge to love others abundantly EVEN if they are different.
Or perhaps, especially so — because you want the non-believer to look at christians and be able to say…
“They are the most loving, kind, generous people in the world, and I want to know what feeds them to be so loving….I want to know this Christ they worship and serve.”
but sadly, I have heard many times from non-believers the exact opposite.
They say that if Christians are this terrible, judgmental, and unloving they want nothing to do with this Christ they supposedly follow.
We cannot let that continue to be the case. So the challenge I leave with you is love fully, deeply, truly, self-scarificially with empathy going before you toward whomever you may meet.
Also… one last note, after a series of meme’s I’ve seen lately —
Do not dehumanize others, because they are different. This is how Jews ended up slaughtered in the holocaust, how people of color ended up treated as animals…
And these are things we can never be in support of (the dehumanization of others) — ESPECIALLY if we call ourselves a Christ follower.
Oh, and remember that we need to work together.
Lyrics for reflection:
I was browsing facebook this morning when I happened upon the gem above. Apparently if someone expresses disapproval of the President, they “must be one of those clueless, socialist, snowflakes.”
Because, obviously, you cannot be liberal AND Christian at the same time. WHATEVER.
I may have touched on this in one of my previous blogs, but it is my Christian faith that has informed my political leanings. The example of the church in Acts (Acts 2 if you want to read the chapter). The example of Christ going to and loving those who were different, and poor, and broken. The way he was always pointing out that the Pharisees had it wrong. That it isn’t all about law/legalism, but about LOVE, freedom of choice, and grace.
The fact that he commanded us to love others over and over and over again should be enough to see that there’s something wrong with the GOP’s stances and how they are practicing loving one another — particularly those who are different than themselves.
I also saw a comment today, but I forgot to get a screenshot that assumed that if you were liberal, you’d make some comment against Trump without Bibical knowledge (they were suggesting that he was a great godly man of biblical christianity).
The thing is…. where have these supporters been? Can they not see how awkward he is when he is asked to do anything Christian? Can they not see that he is completely unfamiliar with the Bible? I mean….come on…. he called it Two Corinthians instead of Second Corinthians.
My point is, that I am not an atheist, yet I am a liberal. I am not unlearned when it comes to Biblical concepts, theology, and the themes, topics, and stories revealed to us in the Bible. I am not unfamiliar with the character of Christ.
I grew up in Christian schools. ALL THE WAY THROUGH AN MA!! haha. Yeah, I was in school a long time, and it was all Private Christian education. Religion/Bible classes were required. Worship occurred everyday either in class or for the whole school.
So, I’m educated, Christian, well-informed, Bible-studied, loving, empathetic…..AND liberal.
And they go together just fine.
You may think that’s an awfully odd thing for me to say about myself, or perhaps if you know me you may disagree, but trust me. It’s true.
I’m willing to fight for good. I’m willing to fight for you– even if that means fighting with you.
This hatred being expressed by many in the world today, must be stopped, and the weapon I choose is love. I know, I’m brave. It means going into battle with my heart open instead of closed. It means I’ll walk away defeated in some of the small battles — but I know a secret. Love wins in the end.
Love doesn’t mean that I don’t challenge hate. On the contrary, I will try my hardest to challenge it in word and deed. I will fight until I’m bloodied. I will speak against it, until my voice grows inaudible — and then for whatever I cannot say, I shall live.
While I think it is important to stand up to bullying, negative, hateful behaviors — I do not believe that is enough. No, go out there into the battlefield of life, and love people. Love them hard. Love them when it IS hard. Love them when it sucks. Love them when you get hurt. Love them and don’t let anything change your mind about it.
Remember this is war, and you need to remember what side you are on.
It is far too easy for those who are on the side of what is right and true and good to let “being right” become their belief in being superior. It is too easy for them to let their distain of the opposition’s view become their distain of the opposition. It is too easy for hatred to get a foothold. Then even the side who may have started fighting for what is good and true are converted to fighting for the other side — even without their noticing.
This is a war, and there are two sides. Love and Hate. You cannot fight hate with hate, and remain on the side of love. No, if hate is your weapon, you’re already on the wrong side of things.
Hate that people are getting hurt. Hate that there are people who were raised in a way that they didn’t experience the blessing of learning to love beyond the borders of their own ‘tribe’. Hate that they have been deprived of seeing the beauty in diversity. Grieve that their education failed them. Become impassioned about the cause of their hearts. Hate that life was so unfair for them that they will never have what it is you had growing up that led you to a place of acceptance of others.
But remember — they are suffering from this. Hate’s venom doesn’t only hurt those that these individuals go out and cause problems for. It eats away at the hater too.
After having dealt with bullies in my past, I came to know one who realized there was something different about me, and how I responded to the bullying. His heart was wounded. He was simply behaving in a backed-in-the-corner animal sort of way, to his own fears, insecurities, and hurts.
I have met some, that simply didn’t know that their stance was wrong. But changing one’s perspective on truth is hard. We hold on to our beliefs rather illogically, don’t we? And I mean you too, not just those who are out there causing problems. We all do, and in the face of conflicting info, we are given the choice to accept that we are wrong, or we can defend our stance. I understand this propensity in myself, so I recognize it when I see it in others.
The best way I have of convincing these people? Staying on message in my own life. What I say I believe, I better be living it, if I think others should be changing their beliefs to match mine. So if I’m saying that they have to change their hate-filled, fear fueled beliefs– I best be loving and brave consistently.
So remember folks, this is war. There are two sides. Love and Hate.
Once upon a time, there was a fair and beautiful land where no one and nothing could prevent anyone from achieving their dream life. Nothing. No one. Everything was possible if you just put on some magic panties and determined yourself to make your life a fairytale.
I don’t live in that world. I live in real life….where comments and notions like the above stab deep.This comment both blamed me for my misfortune, and accused me of not trying. It hurt me, not only personally, but for those whom I know are even more restricted from achieving their dreams….or for those people who do not even dream, because never have they even heard rumor of a fair land.
Perhaps they never were shown or taught even the most basics required to achieve their dreams. Maybe their dreams take a lot of money for start up. Maybe, just maybe…. they need help and no one has even looked their way. They may have come by meager help from government programing. They may have come across the ocean because they were told the only place they can dream is here, in the US… but deniers come around and say no one needs help. That everything is just there. Available. That all they need is a little hard work and magic panties and they can achieve every one of their dreams.
Since I cannot expound on everyone’s story, let me share mine. The one I was ridiculed for.
You see, I got a bachelors degree in psychology — and had not been accurately warned that there were no jobs for BS psychology individuals. My program gave no practical experience, so all I knew was the theoretical aspects of the profession….and I loved it.
After university (graduated with a 3.96 gpa), I could not find work. Two years of searching, and all I managed was a temp job here and there. When one finished, I finally found a job back on the campus I had attended for University, thanks to a friend who had previously worked there and knew of the job opening. I worked there for awhile, when all of a sudden everyone seemed to conspire and start pressuring me to go back to school.
My boss (they had to pay me more as a staff rather than a student), my parents, friends, and acquaintances. They said that’s how I’d get my dream life…the american dream.
So I went back to school to get a masters degree in counseling, continuing on the path of my undergraduate education. My professors knew I wasn’t happy. My friends knew I wasn’t happy. My intern supervisor knew… but I finished anyway. I could get over it, I told myself. I could do it just because.
Until I realized I had no joy, and none of what made me ME left. It had taken it ALL from me. I was living physically, but in all other ways I was dead. It wasn’t that I just didn’t like it. It was….like holding your breath while running a marathon. It was that sort of impossible. It both hurt and left me hollow.
So, after graduation, I promised myself I wouldn’t do that to myself any more. I would never sacrifice all of whom God created me to be, to satisfy perceived or actual expectations from other people. I knew God had created me for a purpose, and this was screamingly obviously not it.
So, I went on the job search. I worked a temp job for awhile, and then I found a full-time real grown up office job.
Things were going well, until there were rumblings of budget cuts, and I sensed my job was at risk….and it was….and my job was cut.
At first I attempted to run my own business, for about a month I was selling things at farmers markets– but being Seventh-day Adventist meant I could only go to Non-Saturday farmers markets. I only found one. It was small. On the best day I was there, I made about $50 — but I lost products due to the wind blowing things down and breaking them. I also wrote a book that year and self-published.
So… deep deep into the job search I went. 100+ applications. ZERO. ZERO!!!!!!! call backs. I tried out tried and true resume forms, new catchy creative ones. I tried emailing and networking. It took over a year to find a job.
And all I found was a part-time job….and I only found it because a friend was leaving the job and they hadn’t been able to find a replacement, so she mentioned it on Facebook and I saw the post and applied.
But, apparently I wasn’t trying. If I was trying I would have definitely achieved my dream job in that year…. and applying to over a hundred jobs is no big deal. So easy that I do it for fun now (NOT).
I cried so much over how stuck I felt. I was spinning and spinning my wheels and getting ZERO traction. I needed help….and I didn’t get any…so as soon as I had an ounce of energy, I’d go out there spinning my wheels again.
As for the driving. I had been terrified of learning to drive, perhaps more so because I wasn’t young and I didn’t know who to get to teach me. I wanted it to be a friend. Someone I felt comfortable making mistakes in front of (which I wasn’t comfortable doing in front of my parents). I would find friends willing, but it would end up not working out for more than one lesson. So my lessons were extended over months and years. I finally decided I didn’t have any friends who were able to teach me, so I had my dad teach me…and I conquered all my fears related to driving and failing –and I was SO PROUD of myself for finally pushing through all of that….and then I was shamed for it taking me a long time instead of being celebrated that I finally got my license.
Here’s the thing. That message (and the rest of the conversations I’ve had with individuals with similar mindsets) hurt me deeply. I honestly started thinking about not attending church, because I may run in to some of those people….because I believed that no one wanted me there anyway…I was depressed. I was lonely. I was scared about what my future would or wouldn’t hold. I needed friends so much (tempted to think I’m just not strong enough? Have you never had a period of bad luck and/or depression? Have you never felt like your friends just were’t there for you?– yeah… I thought you had experienced these things. We all do).
But I didn’t get those things. I got messages like the one above…and what frightened me the most was that I knew I could make it through the turmoil I was going through. I didn’t know HOW I would, I just knew I would…but at that time I knew several people who were extremely depressed. Suicidal even. I wasn’t sure what would happen if someone treated them the way I had just been treated.
Would they survive?
Or if they did survive… would their faith survive?
You cannot always pull yourself up from your bootstraps–especially if you don’t even have any boots in the first place. You cannot always get unstuck if there isn’t a hand on steady ground offering to help you out of the sinking mud.
If your policies do not take into account that there are people who cannot obtain even the basics on their own accord. Or that stigmatizes mental health….or simply denies it.
You’re living in a delusion…and magic panties obviously didn’t do you any good.
1 Peter 3:8 Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. 9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.
So, I’m not going to pretend to know how I’m going to fit this into the series (note the missing number on this post)– but it is something I have to share.
And you need to read.
People are hurting.
So, put your political opinions on what is right or wrong, and who is worth listening to and whom should be shamed for their liberal beliefs, life choices, public or private sins away.
It’s not our job to determine who is worthy. It’s our job to see that people are hurting and to do something about it.
I’m someone who has experienced trollish conservative attacks…and in each time I tried to get the individual to slow down, to put their judgement in their back pocket and sit on it, and to realize the damage they may do if these same words fall upon someone else less capable of dealing with it than I (I just watched 13 reasons why….. so I think you can see where I’m coming from).
I would remind them, the trolls — you never know what is going on in someone else’s life. There is a quote that says to be kind because everyone is fighting a hard battle that you know nothing of.
This is where I burst your bubble, and confirm that it is true. People are hurting. Start taking an interest and asking people how they are doing, catch the tendency to say “eh, ok” or an irritated “fine”… don’t burden them with a barrage of useless questions , that’s not what I’m saying… (thoughtful questions, thoughtfully timed is what you’re going for) invest in their lives. Show them that they are loved and appreciated and make yourself present in their lives. That way if they do need someone, they know that you’re willing to be there with them and to love them without judgement.
I saw pain three times today, once in a message scrawled on a chalkboard. Once hidden in a, “I’m ok”…once not hidden at all… and I want nothing more than to pour love into those lives.
One I know has different political and social beliefs than I do. One, I’m fairly certain they are different…and the other…I have no idea.
But I still want to love them. I don’t want them to feel isolated or shamed or judged.
I want them to feel love and to grasp onto love.
I want them to be able to live a good life full of loving supportive individuals — to get through unscathed by trolls and haters and people who think that you are only to love those in your in group.
And to those, sitting on the outside, bleeding from wounds or bearing the weight of judgement, I’d love to know the right words to speak to your situation.
I have these. I hope they are good enough.
You are enough.
You don’t have to be alone.
No storm lasts forever. None.
Life isn’t easy, but there is beauty to be found…and boy…. is there beauty out there to be found. I can show you some. Look at @beauty_in_the_bleak on instagram. I share some beauty I find there. While I can only show things that are beautiful that way, there is deeper beauty out there…..and within you.
This post isn’t done, but I’m publishing it now. Rough spots, errors, all.
Because there’s someone out there about to bully or shame someone, and there’s someone out there that needs to know that someone cares about them and their struggle…and I hope both of these people find this post.
I remember as a child, overhearing the adults reciting a saying that I’m sure you’re familiar with.
You catch more flies with honey (than vinegar).
I thought that this concept was universal… that people knew that if they wanted to minister to people they would know to go in with something sweet, comforting, and lovely if they wanted to minister to people and to respond to the gospel commission.
And when Jesus gave the ‘readers digest version’ of the laws he wants us to keep (focusing on the over-acrhing principals of all the other laws) he summed it up like this:
Matthew 22:36-40New International Version (NIV)
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Our neighbor was never specified as the one who “believes like us” or “lives exactly the same lifestyle” or “is of the same race” — rather we were given vastly different definitions and examples of who it is we are to love.
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[a] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
How does this relate to the topic? Well, my neighbors tend to be very varied. My neighbors are muslim and LGBTQ, black and yellow, red and white–ALL are precious in God’s sight. And I can love them, as they are. I don’t need to do the sorting only the fishing— only the loving and ministering.
So I go for policies that protect and support my neighbors–even if they are different. No, especially if they are different.
Being harsh, judgmental, or condescending will not win you any flies. Will not catch you any fish. We were called to fish. We’ve been called to love.
I woke up, and as per usual, I turned my computer on and began browsing facebook.
When I scrolled down and saw this version of Imagine by Pentatonix:
I realized I had never really listened to the words and thought about them, but this morning I listen…and I grew more and more sadden as the verses spilled out.
Imagine there’s no religion — for the sake of having peace and unity?
“False religion”, I growled under my breath, as I closed my laptop to get ready to head to work. While I fully intended on leaving these thoughts safely closed away with my laptop while I headed off to work, they followed me there.
Recently, I had a discussion with an individual about how christians never follow christian ideologies of love, charity, and the example of Christ. That there are so few actual christians that the name Christian is spoiled and that those who are truly Christ-like should find a new name to call themselves and do all they can to disassociate from the vast masses of those who call themselves Christians. Others have echoed this, saying they have never been more judged or hurt than by so-called Christians.
I apologized. I can’t undo what others have done or said, or failed to do or say. I said can offer them the chance to interact with a Christian (myself) whom I hope that they will find different than those who have caused them pain. I always offer the disclaimer– I am likely to hurt them too. I’m human afterall, but I am (and pray to remain) different than those who use religion as a means of control, of one-upping, and nothing short that bullying.
I felt that familiar crumbling-sinking within my chest– oh how many hurt people are there?
Taking a deep breath, now behind my work computer I catch a whiff of something my brain reads as artificial grape flavor. A memory flashes in my mind.
Grape bubble yum. The taste. The smell. The mouth too-full, tired. The memory came back to me, and danced in the spaces around my aching heart and searching mind that was carrying with weight the thoughts of false religion.
Fake grape. Fake religion.
Both may taste sweet to the partaker. Both come in a form as food, but offer no sustenance.
Don’t get me wrong. Bubble yum was delicious, as I remember it. It was soft and easy to chew……just….like…force fed false religion.
False religion often comes with a set of directions, easy enough to follow and understand. Don’t do this, or this, or this. Those who do this, or this, or that are sinners. They are bad. Save yourself by not being like them! It seems to promise, that by completing these directions you can earn your sustenance. Your salvation.
(no, most don’t cognitively recognize this — they will say they believe that only Christ saves through grace — but that’s not how they live, behave, or speak).
Still pondering the thoughts, one more begs for entertainment — “feed a starving man bubble yum, and he will still be a starving man.”
Christians, will you feed the starving man?
…if they are muslim?
…if they are LGBTQ?
….if they are black?
…if they are an addict?
…if they are a prostitute?
…if they are a felon?
…if they are a murder?
….if they are in some way different than you?
Will you love them? Do you believe and live by a love big enough to love them? Jesus went to eat with and talk with those that were different. His example to us is one of non-judgemental love. The love is what changed-and changes- people, not judgement and shunning.
So, if you have a mouth full of bubble yum (false religion), spit it out so you can speak love into the lives of these people. It isn’t feeding you anyway. You are the starving man, also.
(if that is too hard to read visit: http://www.teenvogue.com/story/muslim-lawyer-shuts-down-troll-christian-isis ).
PS: Found this on the topic of being a scientific minded individual and believing in God– thought I’d share it with you: