I’ve not written on here in awhile. It’s been intentional, for the most part. I’ve needed to listen more than I’ve needed to talk or write. I need time…time to figure myself out…time to live life…time to take it all in. I work better like that. Don’t push me. I hit that wall, pretty frequently compared to most people I know, where I just need my space. Sometimes space is a good thing – sometimes, not so much. This time around, it’s been both good and bad. I’ve been breathing it all in and instead of letting any of my thoughts or feelings come right back out, I’m allowing them to marinate inside and just…listen…just think. And, really, I mostly wanted to just listen to God’s voice because the voice of others just gets me confused, annoys me, or made me feel like I had to think like they do…when, in reality, I don’t. So, I tuned them out, stopped listening – that is, until recently. Wherever I go, whatever I read pretty much leaves me thinking, “Wow, everyone has somethin’ to say!” I guess where I get a little uncomfortable in my seat is when I feel like your journey to live outside the box and speak freely (and, you should speak freely) pushes me into a category, or in a box I don’t want to be pushed into. So, where my heart stands is not on saying what you need to say, but rather in how you say it. Coming from the place of the one digging deep to listen, I feel like I’m all I’m reading or hearing these days is an “I can say whatever the heck I wanna say however I wanna say it” and when you’re living in a world – well, my world – where you’re trying your best to detox from religion and pursue people, things and life with passionate love, I’m left wondering, “Hey, man…where’s the love?” Even in our attempts to love “the very least of these” we may be forgetting who they are and just what it is they need is less criticism and heaps more grace.
I was recently volunteering in a Bible club my church hosts at our local elementary school and I watched as two girls in the age group where I worked laughed and pointed at another girl while she was literally “dancing like no one was watching”. I admittedly got fired up because I went to that place of thinking, “Well, gosh, these girls go to church. They ought to know better.” The minute I thought it, I could’ve hit myself because I don’t wanna go there at all. I wanna go to the place of not wanting to hang these girls up by their toenails to the place of realizing just like they weren’t aware of what I knew about the girl they were making fun of, I don’t have a clue what’s going in their little lives either that’s making them, well…mean. See, I knew the girl dancing had every “right” to be moping. She had just been freed from a life of verbal and physical abuse – a life where no one was telling her that they loved her, yet, she danced. She danced to songs about Jesus because regardless of the ugly side of life, the ugly side of people, she never complicated it because grace is simple, and grace is deep…it covers the deepest hurt and gives us dancin’ feet. It heals. And, in that little girl’s not-a-care-in-the-world dance, I found the place to realize, “Everybody needs more of that, and a lot less condemnation,” so I refrained from hanging those mean girls up by their toenails and I spared them a look into my wrath and just gave them grace. They didn’t leave club that day knowing I gave them grace because grace doesn’t always use words, but it turns itself into hope and believing in others. I believe those girls won’t always be mean. And, I believe that us big people with our opinions, and our staunch desires to just BE will realize that we can BE without condemning the lives of others. It’s cliché to say that my journey is not your journey, but there’s still a lot of truth in that. Yep, we get to say and act anyway we want, but at who’s expense? If I have to tell you I’m a leader, I’m probably not. If I have to tell you that I’m humble, I’m probably the opposite. If we have to stamp our foot down so people will hear, then trust me…no one is listening to you. Maybe I’m rambling, but there are little girls dancing around holding hurt inside, with mean girls making fun of others and in the end…both are trying to just be HEARD. I love words. I take a lot of wisdom from a lot of places, but the most recent words I read were from a book that I often think I have really, really read, only to discover I know NOTHING! In my Bible yesterday, these words jumped off the page at me…
“If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care – then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends.” Philippians 2:1-4
I read this and I’m like, “Yes, I want more of that!” In my own journey to move from religion to living out the simple Gospel of loving like Jesus, these words hit me deep. I see differently that annoying person that gets up under my skin. That person that is attention-seeking and loud looks less like just a loud-mouth and more like someone who just wants to be accepted and loved like the rest of us. The prisoner, the criminal, the drunk, the addict, they all have “Show me grace, love, hope tattooed on their forehead. All of these have the same thing in common – their heart. You see, they’ve got one, and for some it leads to the flourishing path, but for others it leads to death, to stupidity, to hurt. Want I want to say is, let your love win them. Let your grace draw them in, and in our own individual quests to have a say, let our voices reflect nothing short of overwhelming love…because someone, somewhere is listening.