This has been the hardest blog post I have ever tried to write. I have written it over and over and over again. Most recently, I’ve been struggling with how do I communicate with people I love who don’t understand where I’m coming from? How do I put into words the turmoil within my heart, mind and conscience? How do I express that I might disagree with them about politics and religion but that I still love them very much? How do I help them understand why this is so important to me?
I could go on with the questions forever. But, here goes. This is my 1,819,816,116th time of trying to put into words where I’m coming from.
It’s been a complex process, so that is what makes it so tough to boil down into a few paragraphs. Where do I even start? How about here?
Change is painful, but it is always necessary. Change is growth. Comfort is the enemy. Lies are comfortable. Truth is not.
Time to unpack these statements. I hate change with a passion. I love comfort even if I have to live in a fantasy world to achieve it. Sometimes, I don’t want to know the truth. Change is a constant part of life. Not only have I changed, but my world has changed over and over again. Everyone I know has changed in one way or another. We have no control over the advance of time, but, we do have control over whether or not (and how) we let our minds grow and change. Knowledge is change, and knowledge is good. Ignorance kills. Just think of how we’ve advanced in medicine, for instance. Before we knew about germs (when we were ignorant), people died of infections and had all sorts of strange procedures done to them in hopes of curing them. Think leeches here people.
In my own life, I once thought one way, but since experiencing more life, and more pain, I have changed and grown. It’s because I have been forced from my comfort zone that I’ve seen and heard things that have changed me. I think I’m changed for the better. Some might argue, but, that’s not my problem. I want to please everyone. That’s a bad habit I deal with. But, I can’t – so I won’t bother.
The thing is, I have seen, and continue to see, that this election – the election of Donald Trump – threatens the safety and happiness of people I love and care about.
So, what does the election of Donald Trump say to me? It says this — a lot of people are comfortable with racism being a part of the fabric of the United States’ government. This candidate, soon to be president, was the most openly racist candidate I’ve seen in my lifetime (besides George Wallace), and still Christians voted for him. That tells me that they don’t care about racism very much. But, I think Jesus cares.
My Jesus was dark skinned, from the Middle East for starters. I wonder if Jesus were around today, what he might say about Donald Trump? I don’t think that I could look Jesus in the face and explain to him why I voted for Trump, if I had. And, I certainly don’t think I could look him in the face after I’ve elected this man and then gloated about it all over social media and called other people names who are understandably worried.
But, since I’m not Jesus, I have some explaining to do now anyway. You see, up until this election, I had always voted Republican too. I thought just the same way as many of my friends and family do. If things hadn’t changed in my heart and life, I too might very well have voted for DJT. So, I shouldn’t be too hard on anyone else.
I used to think Fox News was a prophetic voice, in line with godliness and right thinking. I used to think that gay people chose to be gay and that they were dishonoring God. I used to think that’s what the Bible said, so there was no arguing with that. I used to think one could love the sinner and hate the sin. I really did. I bought it all, hook, line and sinker. I couldn’t even imagine a Christian voting Democrat. What about all of those unborn babies?
I get it. I do. I still care about unborn babies – in spite of the fact my stance on abortion has changed. I still don’t want to see abortions happen, but I don’t want to outlaw it either. I want to create a society where the need for it would be rare. That is a discussion for a later day, however.
The reason I brought it up is because I want to explain that I do understand where people are coming from, to an extent. But, I have changed. Dramatically.
When you’ve lost your only child, the one you cared for 24-7, day in and day out, and you know what it feels like to have your sunshine go dark, then you will understand the kind of authentic reality you need from God. I can’t follow the same God I once did. I am barely clinging to life as it is – at least that is how it feels. At any moment, I could be swept away into darkness and despair. It’s ever looming over me. That’s why I need a God who is light. I need a God who brings me love, who is real. The God of hate is not real.
I refuse to believe in a God who would teach us to turn the other cheek, love our enemies and care for the least of these, and then turn around and support Donald Trump. Some have even suggested that God chose Trump! I can never believe that. That is not the God I serve.
Jesus is my lord – and I will follow him even if it means I go a different path than every single person I know and love. He is my life raft on this stormy sea. And, I will not close myself off from other people based on who they love, what color their skin is, what religion (if any) they follow. My God loves everyone, and has grace for them all. He is not petty in the least. My God is the one who holds me when I cry myself to sleep and feel that I have nothing to live for. My God is the one who tells me I do still have things to give. My God is also the one who is there in the darkness as a young gay teen cries himself to sleep and wonders if he has anything to live for. We have to be the ones who reach out in Jesus’ name and tell him that he still has things to give, and he is beautiful just the way God made him. My Jesus is also there when a young black man wastes away in prison for the same crime a white man did no time for, and he’s weeping over that situation because it is so unjust. And, we have to be the ones who stand against mass incarceration and throwing people away.
I have overcome a lot of pain in my life by following the Jesus that loves me enough to push me out of my comfort zone into new horizons. I devote my life to following that Jesus, wherever he leads me – to eating with (and loving) gay and atheist friends. I also follow the Jesus who shows up at protests against the systemic racism that threatens the lives of innocent people. My Jesus doesn’t think that black folks are less than white folks and he doesn’t ignore the pain of his children of color when they are threatened. My Jesus will come to their defense, and I will be there with him every step of the way.
(None of these sentiments make me noble. My gay friends and atheist friends honor ME by accepting me the way that I am. I am doing nobody any favors by standing against racism either. That is only common decency. I am still stumbling through life like a lot of people. But, I have to start somewhere.)