Friday, July 5, 2013

Relieving Love

People are beautiful. Sometimes frustrating, sometimes annoying, but always beautiful.

And I forget that too easily.

Why is it so incredibly hard for us to love each other? I know the logical answer, or I should say the "Sunday school" answer: that we are sinful human beings who are fighting against our flesh's desire for selfishness. And that's true. Completely true. However, that doesn't change the fact that I wish it came easier to me than it does.

Lately I've been reading Blue Like Jazz, and let me tell you...that book is blowing my mind. I definitely recommend it. Anywho, there's a part in the book that literally made me just stop and say "what in the world" and then when I really thought about it, I realized that part should not have shocked me. Let me set the scene for you: 

The author of the book is Donald Miller, who I believe at the time was auditing a class at Reed College, which according to him is said to be one of the most "godless" campuses. Miller was a part of a small group of Christians who wanted to do something for God and their community during the annual Ren Fayre, which is basically a weekend of partying and fun. To make a long summary short, they decided to set up a Confession Booth available to anyone who wanted to check it out during the weekend. However, there's a twist. The Confession booth wasn't about these non-believers confessing their sins to was actually the other way around. The Christians were confessing their sins, and apologizing for the many terrible things that have been done under the name of God and all the ways in which Christians have been lacking.

Wait, what? We should apologize for that stuff? 

It seems so simple right? When I hear about the crusades or even in most recent events, the truly despicable things that Westboro Baptist has done, I've always just written them off as fanatics who completely misunderstood the message of God. People who truly had no idea who He was; people who didn't actually believe in the same God that I do. Here's the thing though, just because I know that, and you may know that...non-believers don't. 

It's no secret that one of the biggest complaints against Christians is that we're hypocritical and judgmental. We hear that all the time. But I wonder, do we ever truly take credit for it? Do we ever actually own up to it?

Along with my Blue Like Jazz kick, I've also been somewhat obsessed with documentaries lately. I watched One Nation Under God and Beware of Christians, and it saddened me so much to listen to what people had to say about us. Not because it was hard to hear (although it was) it was more because all I wanted to do while watching was to run to them and reassure them that Jesus loves them so much more than they could every imagine and I felt like I had to apologize for myself and my fellow believers for misrepresenting and skewing that.

I was in the shelter of Christianity my whole life. Raised in church, went to a Christian school from fourth grade to senior year. Before coming to SU, I don't think I realized how truly judgmental I could be to non-Christians. I judged them for partying and drinking. I judged them for not caring about others. Just thinking about it, makes me so annoyed at myself because I had no right, and will never, have the right to judge others. I am a mess. I am full of brokenness and hurt and pain. I need God in all areas of my life. My weaknesses may never be with partying or drinking, but that doesn't mean I don't fall and stumble on a consistent basis with other sins. And it took a lot for me to finally realize that I needed to get over myself. I needed to stop being such a brat and truly love those around me.

I'm just going to be honest, I am really bad at loving others. Or let me re-phrase that. I love people. Like I said above, people to me are absolutely beautiful. But I have the tendency, once they hurt me or reject me, to reject them. I close off and I'm done. I can be entirely without grace. Isn't that just a bunch of silliness? I mean I believe in a God who is full of grace. I have done SO many things that has done little to warrant any grace from Him, but He freely gives it. So why can't I do the same?

It's because I let my own problems and struggles get in the way of loving others. But the whole point of love, is to be there for that person through whatever. The good, bad and ugly. Through the flaws. Because that's what we all are. Flawed, imperfect people. And I forget that so much. I forget that I am a flawed human being who is only alive through the grace of God. So how can I go throughout life, rejecting those who reject me, hating those who put up a fight and shunning those who hurt me? Genuine love goes beyond that. Genuine love is seeing past that and to the person inside who is lost and scared and in desperate need of a God who will love them unconditionally.

Recently I started attending a new church. I think I'm a bit of a church hopper. However, I do think I've found a home in this church. Not because it is without flaws, or has the perfect worship band and pastor. It's because of the overwhelming sense of community and love I felt upon entering that place. It is breathtaking to witness a church of believers who genuinely live out this kind of love. Not only is it a beautiful thing to witness as a fellow believer, but it is truly encouraging to be a recipient of this love. And I desire SO much to be the kind of person who loves others above myself. Above my selfish desires.

Gosh. I don't even know what this post has become. It's definitely not what I intended to write about. It just kind of had a mind of it's own. Hopefully though, this has made some sort of sense.