Monday, September 12, 2011

Messy Love

I've been so willy nilly about the whole blogging thing as of late.  I know.

But with my whole new addiction to Pinterest, the twins starting Kindergarten, teaching Lily preschool and watching another kid two days a week (yes, really) I haven't found much time.

But today I couldn't put it off any longer.  I feel though I may explode.

Really, I have so much I could share:  My ponderings regarding my children being old enough to go to Kindergarten and beginning the road to independence (sigh), how I was almost brought to tears when a group of fifth graders were beyond kind to my son at open house on the playground, my children's monster like behavior at home since they started school (seriously, what's up with that?!)  I could share about things like how I've decided to embrace our tight budget as a blessing and am figuring out how to make the most of it with decorating my home.  Or how somehow, I'm not sure how, I am now helping coach track and field for kindergarten? much to blog about.  But alas, none of these would be the cause of why I feel though I may explode.

I've been a Christian since I was three.  I have had my mind set on things pretty firmly since I was pretty young.  I've known what was right, what was wrong and really that there was no need for grey anywhere. 

Black and white.

And if you have known me for any length of time, you will know that mercy, grace, compassion (all those really wonderful traits) are not on my short list of attributes.

Yet this year, I've just been getting hammered.

In a good way I suppose, but really even if the final result will be something amazing - every time I get hit by the proverbial hammer, it's painful.  But as I've been getting hammered, and refined this year with all the wonderful things that have been thrown our way - love has kept hitting me in my face.

And not the gooey kind of love.  Or the comfortable kind of love.  Or the neat and orderly kind of love.  But the messy kind of love.  The kind of love that drove Jesus to hang with tax collectors and prostitutes.  Messy love.

Now, I am certain that Jesus wasn't down with thievery and fornication (let alone for pay) but He still loved these people.  He still wanted to spend time with them, know them...He still found value in them.  In fact, He found so much value in them that He risked His reputation to be in their presence.

I am not like Jesus.

And if I actually look at myself objectively, I would admittedly be more like the pharisees - who were sinning and yet pointing the finger at everyone else...

So my heart has been changing.  And I have found myself surprising myself with how my thoughts have been playing in my head:  "No, as Christians we need to love them..."  "Um, no person with the angry bumper stickers on your car, Democrats haven't been the sole source of the degradation of our society..."  "Good for you President Obama for quoting scripture, actually, thank you..."  "No Christian radio, I don't think playing a montage of someone speaking as God to the 9/11 victims is appropriate..."  "What can I do, how can I practically show them the love God has for them?"

And it has really frustrated me lately because I am seeing more and more how we as Christians have forgotten that it's not us against them - that we were never instructed to surround ourselves with impenetrable walls so that no evil could get us. We were never told to protect ourselves in a little bubble and only talk and socialize with those who are of like mind.  We were never commanded to only love when it was nice and neat, and came in a pretty little Sunday morning package. 

Last time I checked, the Bible didn't say that we as Christians were better or smarter - yet I find that so many of "us" have consciously or unconsciously segregated ourselves.  And I know personally, that it's so easy to talk about talking about our faith - and yet, when I think about the last time I actually talked about my faith to someone who didn't share the same beliefs with me, my memory gets a little foggy.

Because that would entail vulnerability, humility, grace, compassion, mercy...a really messy kind of love.  Sharing with someone who didn't believe the way I do would require me to put aside my schedule, my routine, my comfort.

And here's the one that's been the hardest for to say that quite possibly there is room for grey on some issues, that love really can conquer all (and only when it's not in my nice little Sunday package) and that sometimes people with completely different opinions on life may actually have valid points - is all a part of that messy kind of love.

On my newly beloved Pinterest, I saw a pin and it made me squirm when I read it.  It said these words:


When I read those words, I was instantly convicted.

Homeless neighbors scare me.  I lock my doors when I see them on the corners.  I don't love them.
Muslim neighbors...I struggle with that continuously since 9/11.
Atheist neighbors make me get on the defensive.  I instantly feel like they are attaching my mental fortitude for believing in God...I'm too busy being proud and arrogant to love them.

I could go on, but you get the point.

I want to love like Jesus loved.  I don't want to love only those who are politically minded like me.  Or spiritually minded like me.  Or family minded like me.

I want to love people because Jesus loves them.  And that should be enough.

Time to get messy.