Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wasted Wednesday: The Choice to Love

About a week ago, an awesome guy named Jarrid Wilson posted a blog titled Gay, Straight or Purple.  The post was one I'd been hoping for because it is a topic I have struggled with.  I know quite a few gay people who have been nicer to me than any straight person...sometimes nicer than some Christians.  I used to wonder, why do Christians speak out so violently about gay people when God loves gay people just as much as he loves everyone else?  Jarrid makes the point that Christians today handle gay marriage very poorly.  Christians are supposed to love and yet they carry posters saying "God hates fags".  Of course I agree with him when he states, "this doesn’t mean I wont stand for my beliefs and proclaim The Gospel of Jesus Christ."  I still do not agree with gay marriage but that doesn't mean I will treat a gay person any differently than a straight person. We all have different baggage and God does not judge us because of it so why should we judge each other?  Shouldn't we love each other like Jesus would?
Jarrid's post stayed with me throughout the day and by the end of the night, when I was brushing my teeth, the idea for this Wasted Wednesday post came.  We live in a media based culture - where our references are not always back to family events or dinner with friends but to the characters and scenes we watch on television.  I'd say about ten media clips pop into my head daily.  Maybe even more than that.  When I was brushing my teeth, a scene from Friends popped into my head.  For those who don't watch Friends, let me lay out the scene for you.  We will start with the background.  In Season 2, the character Monica started going out with an eye doctor named Richard who had been her eye doctor ever since she was a little girl, friends with her father, and was much older than her.  Despite that, the two of them fell in love and it was with the deepest regret that Monica had to break it off when Richard admitted he didn't want to be a father again.  After raising two kids of his own with his previous wife, he doesn't want to do it again and instead wanted to focus on his life with the love of his life, Monica.  After the break-up, Monica became very depressed and it turns out to be the hardest break-up she ever has.  Never-the-less, life goes on and she begins to date other people.  Now let's speed forward to the actual episode that popped into my head.  It's Season 4 and it's Thanksgiving.  While preparing dinner, Monica gets something in her eye and has to be rushed to the eye doctor where she is relieved to find out that Richard is absent and the on-call doctor is in.  To her surprise (and dismay), it is Richard's son.  After they catch up during her appointment, Monica invites him to her Thanksgiving dinner since he has no where to go and she finds herself attracted to him.  While this doesn't seem weird to her, it seems weird to the other five Friends who won't let it go.  After harping on it all night, Monica finally has enough.  In frustration she shouts, "Fine!  Judge all you want to but (pointing at her brother Ross) married a lesbian, (points to Rachel) left a man at the altar, (points to Phoebe) fell in love with a gay ice dancer, (points to Joey) threw a girl's wooden leg into the fire, (points to Chandler who is in a box for reasons I will not explain) live in a box!" 
The scene is meant to be comical, and it is, but it actually says a lot about the point I am trying to make.  Here are six friends together and five of them are ganging up on the one and judging her because of it.  But then Monica flips it all when she points out that, hey, she isn't the only one who has faults and makes bad decisions.  Each one of her friends has done plenty of stupid things too!  Isn't that true of all of us?  I mean, haven't we all made mistakes?  I think it is safe to say that none of us our perfect.  Yet why do we act like we are?  I know I do it all of the time.  One of my friends re-blogged something yesterday that said, "I have this unexplainable complex where my self-esteem is about as nonexistent as it can get but at the same time I'm in love with myself and feel superior to a lot of people."  This is something I struggle with all of the time.  I have to realize that, yeah I do have some great qualities but I also have a lot of rotten ones.  The truth is, I'm not the best.  No one is.  By realizing this, it is clear that we need to stop putting all our faith into ourselves and instead put our faith in Jesus Christ because He overlooks our imperfections.  Where we are hard on ourselves for not getting published in a magazine or for not getting the job we wanted or for loosing the race, Jesus lets it go and loves us anyway.  Nothing else in the world can do that. 
Tenth Avenue North sings, "You are more than the choices that you've made, you are more than the sum of your past mistakes, you are more than the problems you create, you've been remade."  It's hard to fathom that our choices don't define us.  I struggle with this idea all of the time because I try to make good choices everyday.  But I don't always make the right choice and unlike the government, God doesn't keep a permanent record of what you've done wrong.  It's mind boggling to think that despite all the times I have failed God, He has never failed me.  Now, don't get me wrong, this doesn't mean that choices aren't important.  I'm still all for the Harry Potter quote "It is not our abilities that show what we truly are, it is our choices."  To an extent, yes this quote speaks volumes.  Our choices are important.  But the thing is, we are all born with sinful hearts.  While we may be trying to make a choice that is pleasing to God on an earthly scale, it might not match up on a heavenly scale.  We must learn to look through heavens eyes.  Because we are all sinners, our right choices may seem right at the time but may not be right in the long run.  We may rebel against God or we may rebel against our parents or we may do deliberate harm to one another.  Yet God still loves all of us and says He will let it go.  By His grace alone, we are forgiven and remade.  When we learn to put faith in Jesus Christ, we are reborn.  We must die to live. 
Now, while I struggle with my own sense of perfection, I also struggle with the imperfections of the human race.  I struggle with my family, my friends, and people I don't even know but see on TV or making a left turn on red.  I struggle with their faults and annoyances.  Then I read a book called The Wind Is My Mother by Bear heart which taught me a lot of things but this quote in particular put imperfections into perspective for me.  Bear Heart says, "Do we always have to wait for a crisis to be able to truly manifest our love for one another? People talk about unconditional love, but they never talk about nonjudgmental support, which goes hand in hand with unconditional love. Those two go together to express real love. I used to go to a church where the choir had to march in from both sides to get into the choir loft. Altos and basses came in one way, sopranos and tenors came in the other way, and they had to pass one another until they filled up the loft. There were two ladies in the choir who were not speaking to each other, even in church, so as they passed by, one would look one way and the other would look the other way. And yet the first song was “Oh, How We Love Jesus.” If they can’t love each other, how can they say they love the One who created them? If someone is unkind or throws verbal daggers at you, that person has a problem – why make it your problem, too? You might not love what a person is doing, but you must love the person, because if you are going to say you love a Higher Being, you have to remember He created that person also. If you can’t forgive, then that’s a challenge for you to work on until you can pray for that person and mean it." 
We must die to live.  We must know it is not all about ourselves.  We must learn to love like Jesus.  We must learn to know God so that we can forgive those who hurt us and forgive ourselves.  It isn't an easy task and it is something I am trying to work on to this very day.  But as Tenth Avenue North says, "Hallelujah, we are free to struggle!"  And speaking of music, what song comes to mind when you think of love?  For me it is All You Need It Love by the Beatles.
I took a music class last semester and we actually studied the song All You Need Is Love.  I can't say I am a huge Beatles fan but I am enough of a fan to know that these guys changed music history and wrote some of the greatest radio hits ever.  In my opinion, All You Need Is Love is the best song ever written.  My teacher had us actually break down the song so that we could observe all the levels it had.  In the beginning of the song it plays the French National Anthem.  This is done because the Brits and the French don't really like each other and since the song is about love, the Beatles are making a statement that they want to get along.  All you need is love.  The song was written during the days of the hippies who revolted against the American government for going to war in Vietnam.  It was a time of war and the world wanted peace.  All you need is love.  Throughout the song we hear many modern day instruments that truly symbolize rock n' roll.  But behind those instruments are not-so-modern instruments which includes a brass band.  Why is this important?  Not only are the Beatles appealing to their younger fans and fans their age but they are also appealing to older fans who grew up with brass band concerts in the park.  They are bringing the young and the old together.  All you need is love.
And so that song alone should be enough to tell us that all we need is love.  We have to make the choice to love.  We must love like Bear Heart says, unconditionally and unjudgmentally. We must learn that we are not perfect and that we can't fix people.  Each of us has done some bad things and good things.  And Jesus loves us anyway.  It's a struggle to think that we can't be our own savior.  We always are trying to be better and do better but with God, but it's our faith in Him that defines us.  Not what we have done or have failed to do.  It's something I am still struggling with daily but I am praying that God will show me how to let go of my sinful pride.  So make the choice to love today.  Make the choice to put others before yourself and make the choice to help one another.  Remember God's unfailing love for you and His love will push you to love. 

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