I am a parent of children with special needs. Oftentimes I find myself on the receiving end of terrible behavior and on the giving end of yet another lecture or adult tantrum. I do not always agree with my children’s behavior, but I love them anyway.
My husband is not perfect. He sometimes says bad words while doing home improvement projects and he lets our children ingest far more junk food than I would ever allow on my watch. I do not agree with each of my husband’s choices, but I love him anyway.
I don’t feel that this is a difficult concept to understand. Do you?
Because lately it seems like society is struggling to realize what is so basic to me. That we can love without agreeing. That we can find a way in this world without feeling the need to be cookie-cutter in our beliefs. That we can reach out to others, even when we are on different sides of the political, religious, racial, and gender fences.
I ask myself daily, What is going on with this world? Why is there so much need to make everyone believe the same way in order for us to exist with one another? Why must we “take sides”? Why are we judged for not changing our Facebook profile pictures to support the latest world crisis? When did being either Republican or Democrat mean that we are no longer united, or even simply American?
I am a Christian. I am a registered Independent voter. I am Heterosexual. I am a Caucasian woman, wife, mother, and daughter. And I’m terribly concerned about the fact that our culture is pushing me into a corner where I am only allowed to associate with those of “my kind” out of fear that my love for ALL mankind may be tainted by intolerance or disagreement in some way. I am even more concerned that so many of those around me seem unaware that they, too, are being pushed into their own very specific corners.
As a person, I don’t have to agree with your views on sexuality, your opinions on gun control, or your stand on immigration. And as a Christian, I most certainly do not have to change my own beliefs to co-exist with my neighbors. Because in my eyes, ALL human life is precious. And that is why I will mourn for every life. Whether that life is lost to cancer, a shooting, suicide, war, or even execution on death row – you will not find me on the rejoicing end of anything that means one person is given permission to take the life of another.
Perhaps that makes some of my Republican friends angry. And maybe some of my Democrat friends will send me frustrated emails. I would guess that even my Christian friends could find some way to disagree with something I believe. But here’s the thing, folks. Are you ready?
I still love you. We don’t have to agree on everything. We barely have to agree on anything! You are created by a God that has a plan for your life. And whereas you may not be on the same path that I think is correct, I still love you.
Understand this. My love is not a Tolerance vs. Acceptance kind of love. It’s not a love that means I’ll bad mouth you behind your back when I walk away. I will love you with the only kind of love that I know… the kind that allows me to still hug my kids before bed, even when they’ve been complete turds. And it’s a love that lets me snuggle close to my husband at night, even though we fought about money just hours before. It’s a Godly love – plain and simple.
For some reason, we always try to include ourselves into the tragedy of others. We put our own views ahead of what we’re called to do, which is love others through their pain. Why can’t we just grieve our country’s repeated losses without being judged, lessened by disagreements over lifestyle, or arguments over political debate? At what point are we just blatantly disrespecting another’s loss by including ourselves in the mix, like it’s somehow about us personally?
Just as easy as it was in the beginning of this post, I will say it again: I do not have to agree with someone’s choices in order to grieve their loss. Period. Because it’s not about us. It’s never been about us. It’s always been about a sinful world, in need of a Savior – in need of large amounts of grace and mercy. And when the world is hurting, I want to be Jesus’ hands and feet of that mercy, not another roadblock that pushes people to their respective corners.
So today, as a concerned citizen, I say this:
If you do not have love for any particular person or group, then please allow God to check your heart and fill you with His love – one that is pure and prays for those who struggle or who are causing contention or who have committed a crime. Ask Him to give you love for those who are like you as well as for those who are very unlike you. Let yourself be overwhelmed with the loss of any life and to pour yourself out in any way that you can.
And I also have this to say… to those of you who feel defensive – to those who walk around feeling targeted or unsupported – to those who are always ready for an argument or judgment or political battle – You, too, should allow God to check your heart. Learn to accept love from those around you without turning everything into a debate. Learn to disagree peaceably and to not make every act of kindness from another group into something that fits a particular agenda. Allow yourself to put down your weapons and your fists when someone offers a helping hand.
Because we are all people. And we were all created by the same Holy God. And we all need His love.
And we can all learn to love, despite disagreements.
Choose to be peace. Choose to be hope. Choose to be love.