In junior high I took part in a peaceful protest walk against abortion. As we walked quietly through the streets of downtown Phoenix, we prayed, strangers gathered with similar passion. Some people held signs with pictures of aborted babies, others with words or messages. I was young, and my eyes were affected by the sting of the warm bright sun and my constant attempt to blink back tears from the emotion of it all. And as we came to the end of our walk, the rallying point the Arizona State Capitol, there were equally as many people gathered to protest our protest, and just as many signs held high, and equally as much passion for their stories.
I met a guy in college who made me crazy. Craze. EEEE. The problem was, I couldn’t escape him. He was friends with everyone and everyone I was friends with was a friend of his. He was so, so…so happy and had tons of energy and would sing opera anywhere and everywhere. His freedom made me uncomfortable because I was an insecure teenager. I cared what people thought and his very presence made me uneasy because his comfort in his own skin made me crawl in mine. The thing is, at some point I relented and got to know him, and found out I loved his heart and relished in his passion for life and ability to express his love for God in how he interacted with people. Looking back, I know his freedom was a catalyst in setting my own heart free from the opinions of others. Everyone should be so lucky to have a Tor in their life.
As a grown up with kids, I now have interaction with the parents of my kids’ friends, and I want to know those people. A couple of years ago, my daughter came home to tell me about her new best friend at school. As I listened to her heart it was apparent this was long-term, so I made a dinner date with the friend’s mom. In high school, I’m not sure we would have been friends, her more funky, smart, alternative, me, awkward, not knowing my place. And as adults, well, it didn’t take long for her to see I talk about the God of the Universe as if we have a personal relationship, or for me to learn her passions about politics and social justice, from the “side” I didn’t grow up observing. We could have easily walked away from that dinner with our preconceived ideas of “Conservative Christians” and “Left-Wing Liberals” and thrown away a really good thing. But we didn’t. The thing is, this woman is amazing and beautiful and equally as passionate about raising her children to make an impact in the world as I am, but if I had closed my heart to her because of preconceived stereotypes, I never would have learned how very much we do have in common and how much she inspires!
Anne Lamott is one of my favorite writers. A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to hear her share candidly at the Storyline Conference put on by Blue Like Jazz author, Donald Miller and his team. The following quote is so powerful I wanted to share it in light of this “What If…God?” series I’m writing here for the next few weeks. I hope it challenges all of us to stop filtering our view of God through others and start filtering our view of others through God’s unconditional love.
“You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”
― Anne Lamott
What if God loves the people you hate?