I’ve been dreading my winter long runs because they take place on a treadmill instead of the great outdoors. I’ve been staring at the walls of our unfinished basement instead of taking in the beautiful green hills of the countryside. (Ok, don’t miss the actual hills, too much work.) So to keep myself from going crazy I have been watching different movies and tv series to pass the miles. And today I found a new show that wasn’t much to speak of, but there was one line in it that has stuck in my head throughout my morning into the afternoon.
The main character who is an outsider in the community tells the other character this, “When everyone else was mean to me, you were kind.”
Right then and there I knew that that is the person I hope to be. Not who I am, but who I aspire to be.
This is the place where the rubber meets the road when it comes to my faith and who God has created me to be.
I had this moment where I imagined that I was standing before God and God was saying to me, “When everyone else excluded me, you were kind.” I was thinking of the passage in Matthew 25 where God is asking us to stand with those who are strangers, take them in. Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit with the sick and the poor. Do all these things for others just as you would for God. This is what God is asking of us.
As a kid I used to wonder what it was like to grow up in a time of tension, whether it was global or local. Since the era of segregation and the Civil Rights Movement were the freshest in our history, that is the time period that often came to mind. I would imagine that I was alive then and would ask, what would I have done? Would I have kept quiet because it didn’t directly affect my life? Would I have spoken out for justice? Would I have marched? Would I have done anything at all?
I don’t know. I hoped I would have. But I don’t know.
So here we are now. A time of deep tension, particularly in the church. There is so much pain and fear surrounding the issue of homosexuality in the Kingdom of God. At this time, there is no place for an honest homosexual within the walls of many churches. We are still living in a time where we ask people to keep their secrets in order to stay in the boundary lines. And I believe that is wrong. Totally wrong. I cannot imagine having to keep my own sexual orientation a secret in order to be part of my church. How painful that would be when I am so aware that it is nothing I have done, it is simply who I am. It is simply who I was created to be. But because I am created in a way that is acceptable to the church, I am allowed in. But at the same time I watch as people I know are not. And so I ask myself today, what would I do in this time of tension? I don’t have the answers. I don’t have the brain to understand all this theological talk the church is using to talk and talk and talk and talk about how we can love each other. Or to continue the conversation on who is allowed in.
I only have one voice. My voice.
With my voice I say this- Keeping people from fully being part of a church because of who they were created to be is wrong. I say that I will not draw a line in the sand that keeps one group out and one group in. I will not only go to church with people who have exactly the same beliefs as me (hint- we all already do that.) I will not be quiet as a way to keep the peace. I will stand up for those who are hurting. I will speak up for those who are excluded.
What can I really do? I don’t know.
But I won’t be quiet.
I will love.
I will pray that one day I will be the person that someone can say…
She spoke up when others were quiet.
She cared even when the outcome didn’t change her life directly.
She was kind when others were cruel.
May God grant us all the grace and strength to love our neighbor (no matter how we choose to believe) and to find our way.