It would be a strong understatement to say that things have been a bit busy around these parts the past month.
The extreme allergies that we battle have an inconvenient way of rewriting life. They leave me desperately longing for the normal, day-to-day ‘busy’ of raising my three littles instead of finding myself knee deep in ambulance transport, hospital stays, and fear for the next reaction.
Even outside of medical drama, the past month has been full. Through a string of what felt at the time to be random events, I was given the opportunity to practice love. The timing couldn’t have been worse, or my resources more stretched. The issues involved were horrifying. It was obvious that nothing I might do or say would begin to make a dent in very real pain, struggle, and loss. Yet, I felt an undeniably strong call to reach out, to practice love.
It was clear from the start that what I was being led toward was not the easy-peasy, convenient type of love that I tend to practice because it fits easily into my life, schedule, and preferences. Certainly not the “this-love-will-probably-come-back-around-and-benefit-me-in-the-future” kind of love that finds itself at home in my heart more often than I’d like to admit. This was different. It was an opportunity to practice the kind of love that I dream and write about, the love to which I believe Jesus calls us.
And it was hard. Constant, and utterly exhausting.
It was also surprising.
I was surprised by the deep peace I experienced as I was following what I felt to be Jesus’ leading. I was surprised as well by how people from different churches, generations, and walks of life worked together to tangibly support someone they knew nothing about other than having need in a horrible situation. It was Jesus’ love in action, and incredible to witness.
I was also surprised by reactions from some in the Church. Many followers of Christ knew those in need, and used the painful situation to share what they saw as past failures and choices of which they did not approve. I heard that any attempt to offer support was a both undeserved and a waste, that my efforts wouldn’t end up changing anything long-term. I was told I was being taken advantage of, pouring out my time and energy only to be discarded when needs were met.
It was a sea of judgement, and waves of condemnation came crashing down.
I suspect some spoke from a place of having been taken advantage of before. Others shared from a place of past hurt or betrayal. Others still spoke out of a desire to protect me.
There was, however, another message that came through loud and clear: grace shouldn’t be wasted on the undeserving.
This idea reminded me of Mike Yaconelli’s perspective in ‘Messy Spirituality’—
“Nothing in the church makes people in the church more angry than grace. It’s ironic: we stumble into a party we weren’t invited to and find the uninvited standing at the door making sure no other uninviteds get in. Then a strange phenomenon occurs: as soon as we are included in the party because of Jesus’ irresponsible love, we decide to make grace “more responsible” by becoming self-appointed Kingdom Monitors, guarding the kingdom of God, keeping the riffraff out (which, as I understand it, are who the kingdom of God is supposed to include).”
Why do we, as followers of Christ, refuse others entry to the party by judging the merits of their attendance? How can we better extend grace as we’ve so abundantly been given? How do we move away from the false paradigm of merited grace?
And, one step farther, what are our words and actions toward our gay neighbors communicating?