Culture

October 05 2011
19

I have this thing I want to tell you.

I’ve wrestled words for an hour and deleted paragraphs because what I want to say isn’t really as complicated as it feels in my gut.

I want to tell you the story of the time she moved from my “friends and nifty people” list to my “be cautious” list and then back again. We sat up in a hotel lobby until 4am and told our stories, and all of it – her ideas, my stance – made sense.

I want to tell you of the time I didn’t know she was Catholic until we had been friends for a while and I already knew that she loved the same Jesus I love. I was flabbergasted to discover that perhaps these Catholics didn’t need “converting” after all.

I want to tell you of that time my friend told me he was gay and the day I met his fiance. And how much I love both of them.

I want to tell you of how I panicked before I went to that gathering, where I knew I wouldn’t fit and I knew they had probably already labeled me as rebellious and backslidden and liberal and an outcast. And I want to tell you about the moment they saw me and hugged me and love filled the gaps I knew were there.

 

Did you know that

it is so much more difficult to be bigoted toward a person when you are looking at his face?

it is nearly impossible to hate someone once you’ve heard her story?

19 comments

  1. Janet

    You have written such an important thing -

    Especially the last two sentences.

    This is such a crucial part of the real Christian message -

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  2. dear ashleigh…
    i am right there with you. in so many ways. thank you for this.

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  3. Thank you so much for this! Would you believe that I have faced both of these things just in the last month? And, I love my friend who is bisexual just the same as I always have and I love my Catholic (soon to be) sister-in-law just the way I do my other friends who believe in Jesus. Some people don’t understand it – so thank you for speaking out.

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  4. Yes! And you may have already looked that person in the eyes unaware.

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  5. This is beautiful, Ashleigh. Makes me think of that scripture – love covers over a multitude of sins. I often find myself being so judgemental, when what i really want to do is to see people through the eyes of Jesus. They are as broken as I am, just in different ways, and all of us needing the love you write about. xxx

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  6. One of the most powerful things I have experienced in community is when a group of women who had been gathering together to do Bible study and book studies for over a year decided to take a break from material and focus on our stories. Each week, one of us had an hour to an hour and a half to tell the story of our lives. It was awesome. We brought pictures and made poster boards and passed around artifacts and memories. We showed how God and His magnificent prevenient grace had been at work, all along, even and especially in the hardest, darkest places.

    It was in one of those story-telling hours that I learned that one of my closest friends, a true and dear friend of my heart whom I love like no other, had had an abortion when she was in her early twenties. In an instant, the whole discussion changed for me. I thought I didn’t know ANYONE who had ever had an abortion. (Oh, I was so wrong.)

    It’s easy to cast stones at a straw man. When the straw man takes on flesh and blood and heartbeat and eyes and touch and voice … Everything changes.

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  7. This is so, so true, and I just saw this in my own life. I recently met someone new–someone about whom mutual friends had told unflattering stories, someone I was convinced I wouldn’t like. But when I actually met her, something in my heart reached out to her, and I knew right away I loved her. I told this story to a friend, and she said, “You love everyone once you’ve met them.”

    The whole experience really got me thinking. It’s one thing for my heart to respond to someone in person, but I need to be able to have my heart respond to someone before I know them too. Grace is important–necessary–for the recipient and the giver. I need to let the giving of grace do its miracle work in my heart too.

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  8. Thanks for living in reality- the reality that other people are just that people. Thanks for telling your story and listening to others.

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  9. I understand this all too well. People shut me out before I even start sometimes because they know my religion. They think they know my beliefs.
    When I was in Jr. High, i was taunted, teased, and mocked for my faith. If only they could have known that I am not in a cult and that I love the same Jesus they do.
    It should be more difficult to be bigoted to someone’s face, but too many children are taught hate in those very places where they should be taught love.
    I pray we can be the generation to change that.

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  10. we are all different, but we are all human. flesh wrapped souls who desparately want to understand life as a whole. Just when we think we might have it nailed, life {I like to think God Himself} puts a fork in the road and we are left to decide. I think HE puts this fork there entirely on purpose – to see if and how we chose to accept and to love another regaurdless of their vastly different lifestyles. I like to think that its just one of HIS ways to see how Chirstlike {as much as I dislike that word [the reasoning is a whole other story]} we are. Jesus, cares about our souls… not the flesh that covers it.

    Reply
  11. we are all different, but we are all human. flesh wrapped souls who desparately want to understand life as a whole. Just when we think we might have it nailed, life {I like to think God Himself} puts a fork in the road and we are left to decide. I think HE puts this fork there entirely on purpose – to see if and how we chose to accept and to love another regaurdless of their vastly different lifestyles. I like to think that its just one of HIS ways to see how Chirstlike {as much as I dislike that word [the reasoning is a whole other story]} we are. Jesus, cares about our souls… not the flesh that covers it.

    Reply
  12. R(achel)

    Yes. That is part of why I commented on Emily’s post earlier this week. To say, “Hey, here I am, and I enjoy what you all are doing even though you may not agree with me on some things. Let’s be friends.” To that end, I am using my whole name this time. ;)

    Befriending people who are different from you is dangerous in a wonderful way. Truly, that is what Jesus would do – what he did, over and over. People were always saying, “Why is Jesus hanging out with THOSE people?” If people are asking that question about you, you are probably doing something right.

    And once you are blessed with those new friends, all the old “issues” change for you. No longer can you see them merely as “issues”; they are matters of great importance for your friend. You long for everyone to feel the love that you do for this person, to listen to them instead of judging first. And just think: if WE feel like that, what about God?

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  13. Oh Amen, Sister.

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  14. Thank you for this post. I am a nondenominational Christian but my husband’s family is mostly Mormon (or ex-Mormon). I have been embarrassed often by the defensive position that Christians seem to take in regard to Mormons, and why, as a culture, Christians sometimes seem to feel that it is okay to be ugly and judgemental toward other faiths. My husband is an ex-Mormon that is now a Christian but his biggest obstacle in receiving saving faith in Christ was his experience with Christians and Christian churches, and their preaching that Mormonism was a cult. Even IF this is true, it is no way to represent Christ to nonbelievers. I don’t believe that’s how Christ would have approached any human person, and therefore, it doesn’t give us the right to go there either. I take the same stance on homosexuality and other lifestyle disagreements. It’s not wrong to deal directly with sin, but we cannot apply the law to those that are not under the law, and they will not be under the law until they receive the love of Christ, which they should experience from His followers.

    Just my two cents. Thanks for this inspiring post — I know it’s brought a whirlwind into your life, but I think it’s important stuff that needs to be said.

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    • Georgi

      Cara, you put this so well: “we cannot apply the law to those that are not under the law, and they will not be under the law until they receive the love of Christ, which they should experience from His followers.”

      They will know we are Christians by our love – right?

      Thanks, Ashleigh.

      Reply
  15. Lovely post Ashleigh!
    Lately some things have been pressing on my heart that directly relate to this.
    In some of the things I read from long-time believers, I have been left with the notion that loving people from all walks of life with wild-fire-contagious-Christ-love is not the norm in some places, and the voices in opposition to a loveless church are few.
    This breaks my heart.
    Christ interjected for the adulteress, He sat with a Samaritan woman, and promised her living water. He loves us all with a great and unsurpassed passion. He died for all of us, not just the Christians.
    Is it not His second command for us, right after loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength?
    I was not raised in a church or with religion at all for that matter. In our home Jesus was a curse word and a manger baby. And I also struggled with my own sexuality.
    And now I am a new creation in Christ; with entirely new and different struggles.
    But in looking back… during my lost moments, and in my own darkness I know, KNOW God loved me then the way He does now. Only now, through faith in Christ, I consciously receive and return the love.
    And I can recall a few believers who loved me with great Christ-love in the thick of my deep struggles.
    Love and truth are not supposed to be in opposition, and your words reconcile the two.
    Thank you for your boldness to clearly express your love for these friends.
    I love your friends too, and so does Jesus.

    Reply

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