Renee, a precious friend saw a video in her Facebook feed today that stirred something in her heart. What she wrote following that was so raw and heartfelt I asked for permission to repost it here and she graciously agreed. It’s a reminder that though we may seek to be like Jesus, I think most of us can agree we have a long way to go yet.
“”First, let me say, “I LOVE MY CHURCH” – this is not meant to bash or criticize any one church. It’s not meant to bash anyone. It’s intended to bring awareness. The “church”- are those that attend and are members of the church – “the people” and the leadership. I have had a heavy heart about this for some time now. Being in the military I have had to move many times…. so I have been involved in many churches.
Nobody really knows “My story”…. in many years, nobody has really asked. But I seem to be okay on the outside…. so I always seem to blend in. I’m an open book, if someone would just ask. I have a story. I’ve sinned more than I can even remember in my 50 years. We ALL have a story. I’ve done a lot, seen a lot , I’ve hurt most of my life over terrible experiences & tragedies. Many I am still not “over” – I’ve also hurt OTHERS my entire life trying to hide my hurts and pretend to be someone I am not. I have moved on and by the grace of God…. I manage. Many call me a “connector “. Is that a thing? To be a connector? I am empathetic – it’s not that hard. I seek out those that look lost, sad, lonely, different, or that they may not feel that they belong. I pay attention to those around me. I listen. So many [are] eager to be heard…. few are willing to just listen. Heck, I’ve been in my current church for 4 years now and I still feel like I don’t belong.
Over the years I have watched people gravitate and reach out to those that are like them….. those that look how we think they are supposed to look. To those that seem to be made from the same mold. People that dress nice. People who attend certain schools. Being in an affluent church, it seems many are blind to reality and those that are hurting right under their noses. Maybe being an affluent church isn’t the reason….I don’t know. I know many who claim to be Christians that are so judgmental. Yet they claim to be Christians? Aren’t we to love unconditionally? Sin is Sin – that’s what the bible says. Why are we eager to accept the adulteress, the thief…. yet we condemn the homosexuals, the drunks, the addicts, the abusers…. WE. ALL. SIN. There is no such thing as “little sins” and “big sins”- yet we still treat our neighbors as if one is lesser than another. We all struggle – with something. I’m so tired of people being left out or overlooked because they appear to be “less than us” – more damaged than us…. or just unforgivable.
Life is hard – very hard. Especially when you are different….damaged. Socializing and stepping out of your comfort zone is a tremendous challenge. I do it EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I would rather stay home and help people from my computer than get out and actually talk to people – interact. It’s horrifying! Did you know that about me….. probably not. In my own church I have seen people leave because of homosexuals attending and being welcomed in our church – I’ve seen others leave because of a transgender [member] in our church, others because they felt they got lost or never connected…. which isn’t necessarily anyone’s fault…. it just happens. I challenge ANYONE reading this post to STEP OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE! Baby steps…. maybe this week….then the next…. and the next…. Seek out those who are different from you ….. and ask the same of your kids…. to seek out the kid that seems different and invite him to sit with him/her at lunch….. maybe a play date…. a party….. same with the adults. Step out of your comfort zone and engage with someone that is different than you…. maybe in color/race, maybe religion – maybe in social status or financial success,….. OPEN YOUR EYES…..Adults; invite someone you don’t know very well to lunch/coffee – a neighborhood social, Sunday BBQ – whatever your “thing” is. Like my pastor recently said, “Instead of putting others in their place…. put yourself in theirs”….. and you can’t always know what someone is going thru unless you ask…. or pay attention. So OPEN YOUR EYES….. you might just learn something.- and make a friend in the process.””