My heart is aching. I feel heavy. All around me is grieving, groaning. Nothing is as it should be.
So many, many places around the world. Every single day.
Our precious Judah is weakening (Jesus, we need a miracle).
Now Nebiat. The girls’ neighbor-friend back at Abbey Lane. 14 years old. Found dead in a pond today after an apparent suicide. My heart breaks for her, for her family. Refugees from Eritrea, trying to make a life in Columbus, Ohio.
Oh, Nebiat. Beautiful, smart, smiling, young, young Nebiat. (Sweet Jesus, be near.)
And so many others hurting. So badly.
And I feel overwhelmed. What can I do?
It feels like the answer is nothing. But I know that’s not true.
Pray. Listen. Give. Love.
And I think about love and how we live it out as Christians.
And I think about people who don’t feel loved. Who feel sorrowful and trapped and anguished enough to say, “I can’t live anymore.”
And I think about the statistics that say Muslim, overweight, and gay teens are the most likely to commit suicide. That 45% of transgender teens have attempted it.
And I think of how Christians rant and rave about Bruce Jenner and how “despicable” he is for saying he’s a woman trapped in a man’s body. I see Christians applauding and linking to a post by another Christian, notorious for “speaking truth” (but rarely in love, hardly ever, ever in love), blasting Jenner with cruel, hateful words. I think of that same blogger bashing Robin Williams when he took his own life. (etc, etc)
I think of Christians “loving” gays by despising their sin. Loudly. Self-righteously. At every opportunity.
I think of white Christians refusing to admit white privilege exists. Of Christians saying racism is “in the past” or “goes both ways,” that black people “make a big deal out of everything.” Of Christians pointing to rioters, looters, and saying, “See? They’re thugs!”
(Deep breath. And another.)
(Jesus, forgive me. Forgive them. Help me to love, not just the marginalized and oppressed, not just the pimps and johns, but the Christians spewing hate in the name of Jesus.)
Friends. Please listen.
Can we know, even for one minute, what it’s like to be someone else?
Can we know the depth of someone’s pain, what their lives have been like, the injustice they’ve endured, what it’s like inside their head and heart?
I have never been black. I cannot know.
I have never been gay. I cannot know.
I have never been overweight. I cannot know.
I’ve never been bullied to the point of wanting to end my own life. I cannot know.
I’ve never lost a child or spouse to a horrific disease. I cannot know.
I’ve never been an alcoholic. I cannot know.
I can’t know. I can’t judge. It’s not my right, not my place.
I am to love. Period.
To listen. To be there. To hear the whole, tearful story. To nod in affirmation. To pray for empathy. To offer my shoulder to cry on.
Love is the most important commandment. Love is the way people will know we’re disciples of Jesus. Love is the command given over and over and over. Love is what Jesus modeled for us time after time after time.
God = love. To be Jesus to someone = to love that person. And not with idle tongues, but with actions. Jesus didn’t beat people over the head with scrolls. He listened, he touched, he healed, he loved.
We have nothing.
And I am so, so, so tired of the age-old response. “Yes, BUT…”
No. No more buts. Love is NOT a watered-down gospel. Love IS the gospel.