From the time I could talk, I would look at the world around me with this critical lens of "If it's not like me, then it's not worth my time."
Life is so much more pleasant when I draw hard lines around what is acceptable, what's not, and how far I want to distance my care from the edges of my boundaries. Many times growing up, I never asked "Why" someone was different than me. I just walked away and mentally-noted they were less than me.
If you are thinking, "Man, Angie is a jerk," then I would really love to meet you. I think many of us have or had some form of criticism in our hearts. And if you don't know what I am talking about, then this post might not be worth your reading time.
I endured great suffering to chip away at the legalistic, critical, biased shell around my heart. Like, pain that cut through the very thick of my soul. A devastation so brutal that I went through the gamut on the mental health spectrum. No joke. At one point, I seriously felt like I had no reason to breathe anymore.
God led me through this very deep dark valley and only brought me out of it in a heart-shaped tunnel. I found sweetness again. I found love on a deeper level. And I found joy in living--even if my deepest prayer has yet to be answered--even if it never is. I found FREEDOM. FREEDOM in the same God who many would never associate freedom with.
But my God adjusted my flawed eye sight through the suffering, and gave me a perspective that blows away what I was "trained" to own as a believer in Christ.
Before, I had been trained to "own" the stuff-- the motions, the ideals, the platforms, the striving to fit society into my pretty little box.
I had lived within the confines of my pretty little box for quite some time, unable to cope with the idea that I was suppose to do something more radical than hold on to the stuff that seemed strong enough to hold up my box.
When the person I loved decided that the box was a sham (the catalyst for my suffering) my perspective began to shift. As the walls came down, I clung to the the foundation it was laid upon--Christ--even if that person took a jackhammer to that foundation too.
Funny how I lived with Christ as my foundation all that time, but let the "stuff" block out His fullness.
Through the suffering, I discovered that the value I'd put on the stuff of my box had really just marked me as a Pharisee. And not only that, it was actually blinding me from the truth of what God called me to do as His child.
I had never learned what it meant to live outside of the box...or even, that it was in the will of God to do so. Actually, most of my influence was loud in saying that the world was the no-man's land for a Christian. That we could be kind and throw money at the right efforts, but that we should fight against anything that wasn't a brick in our walls. I was only permitted to go out there if I tried to convince those poor souls outside of the box to believe in Jesus and join me in the box.
I never considered that the ways of the world didn't need my permission to BE, but that the ways of the world need my compassion to SEE Christ beyond the stuff.
On the brink of this hideous election (and if you haven't heard it described that way, don't you think it's pretty accurate?), I am sad to see that the walls are being built high around the heart of Christ, and that the world only sees the man-made confines, not the ordained love and compassion. An old feeling creeps inside me and makes me want to throw a fit.
I am called to a Holy Priesthood, to this beautiful race in the footsteps of a Savior who felt every temptation and sacrificed everything so that I might live--that ALL might live.
Why do I feel like I have to control everyone else's footsteps, especially if I run the risk of Christ being considered a sham? And believe me, many call Him this because of the way His people have represented. Sad but true.
Is it really my job as a believer to lay down the bricks of faith in an imposing, exclusive way that blocks any light from the world that desperately needs it?
Or is my faith not imposing at all, but a Yoke for the burdened and oppressed, that ALL may come to Christ and find His rest?
Does any non-believer even see that my Christ is anything like that? Or do they see Christ as the oppressor, just like my old self--oppressing and unloving--pointing fingers, agendas, and fears at everyone who is different than me?
I think, as Christians, we should be the first to stand up for the poor, the oppressed, the unloved, the mistreated EVEN if we don't agree with what they've chosen.
IT IS NOT ABOUT US.
It is about our Savior. The One who allows us to come to Him in our messy, broken lives and find Grace and the chance to live more fully.
Can't we give the same to those who are different? Maybe that's the key for changing hearts anyway?
I mean, it worked for Jesus's ministry.
Wonder how much we would see God move if we tore those walls down and did what we were suppose to do--LOVE?
You are no less than me, even if you are different.