Saturday, 20 April 2013

To love - to tolerate - to humiliate

I posted this on Facebook and thought I'd share here for those who aren't on it.

I posted my joy over the passing of the "gay marriage bill' in NZ the other day, and of course, in the middle of the joy and relief, the haters jumped on board.

There was a lot of rhetoric, much heated gainsaying, and plenty of plain pigheadedness from just about everyone, but in particular from those against gay marriage and homosexuality in general.

But here's the thing - in the middle of all that, some of us started to try to understand each other. A glimmer of willingness to be wrong crept in and opened the door to real dialog. As the dust began to settle, genuine questions opened up, and reality kicked in. Some of those who were slamming gays and just demanding repentance, began to listen and ask questions from the heart, challenging, and responding with respect.

That is what its all about! I have the utmost respect for those people. I could see them struggling to understand, with genuine concerns, but still asking and listening.

So often we write people off before we give them our hearts and try to open up real dialog. Time after time I've seen, when I get off my bandwagon, stop taking offence and treat people with the same respect I expect, things start to change. Sometimes it can take time, and you may never agree, but the point is, you start to understand each other, respect each others opinions.

I have seen so much arrogance and disrespect for people. People acting catty and self righteous, proud and intolerant. And the worse thing is its not just from the pharisees and religious fundies. I've seen so many people who talk of grace and love not even taking the time to use basic communication skills, no respect for the journey others are on, no tolerance for bigotry and hatred they may well have carried in the past themselves!

We will never all agree on doctrines or "what the bible says"! But if we are lacking the decency to listen, to draw out each other's hearts with integrity, to extend the love and grace to others we expect, even when they are lashing out at us - then we are no better and need to go back to Gospel 101.

I stand guilty myself on so many occasions. I have reacted and shamed people, told them they are bigoted wankers and worse. But seeing as I am one with God, I should be able to display his love, endless patience and tolerance as he has extended it to me. I apologize for all those I have offended by my intolerance - yes you may have been total assholes to me, but that isn't the point. I have to take responsibility for my heart and my attitude - not yours!

We will always get those who refuse even the most heart felt call to understanding, and we may have to end communication and relationship to avoid damage to each other. But the moment we react in the same spirit, when we sarcastically belittle them, label them with ignorance and mock them, we have just disappeared up our own anal orifice and lost hope of any integrity we may have been clutching too.

If we don't practice this grace we are so vocal about, we need to go back to square one and start again.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Fix it Jim!!

I was talking to a good friend today, and we were laughing about trying to fix people.

You know (especially guys) how when you hear someone pouring out their heart, you just want to jump in and fix it. We think people need to have our lifetime's worth of wisdom presented to them so they can apply it and, well, get fixed.

I realise that its wrong on many levels, but I had to stop and think about how I really respond to this. The moment people start to share problems and concerns, the first thing that pops into my brain cell is "what can I say that will help this person".

I start to flick through all the wise advice that has helped me and I think would be appropriate to help others. Perhaps there's a key word or concept that will trigger that cathartic moment. 
Perhaps the latest revelation I've had about God will release their pain. Maybe if I can present the doctrines/beliefs that changed my life, in the right way, they will understand and have the same "breakthrough" I did.

Or perhaps they really just need a shoulder, a loving heart and ear, who's only purpose is to be there for others.

We can't fix each other (as much as I really want to) despite the best of intentions. We don't need to give advise, and even if people ask for it, what exactly do we give them? For those who are familiar with counselling techniques, listening is the key. But with God, I think it might even be more than that. 

God is uniquely entwined with each of us. We are in total union with Him, even if we don't realise it. Our relationship with God is just that - OUR relationship. Mine is different to yours, everyone is different. Its like the relationship with our best friend or partner - no one else really understands it. 

So many christians, especially charismatic/pentecostal types, think we have to have a "word of knowledge", that its our duty to give the "word of the Lord" to people in need, and even made to feel "unspiritual" if we can't at least provide an appropriate scripture. 

But God speaks to us one to one, individually. All we have to do really, is create an environment of love, acceptance and peace - allow our hearts to feel God's heart, so we can truly be in agreement with Him and pour out His immense love on each other - even without words!

God will always speak in his way and his time to all of us, and this not only applies to those in desperate need, but also to all of us on our journey in life. We are all in different places, with different views and understandings of God. It's great to discuss, throw around ideas, stretch each other, challenge each other, but we can never assume we know where God is at with any other person in creation. Only God can determine what the next step is for each individual. 

So lets just pull our heads in, stop giving good advice, stop telling people they are wrong, or heretics, or sinners, or ignorant, or evil, or going to hell. If we aren't mature enough to give and take, to discuss, to empathise, and basically love, then we should just put up and shut up.

Yep, I've been known to jump on people with my good advice, and I must admit I have little time for those with closed bigoted hearts, but even in that, I'm open to change. Fortunately, God is also listening to my heart, patiently drawing me closer into his arms, so that we will breathe as one.

When God first introduced himself to me, 40 year ago, there's one thing he said in a vision that always stayed with me - "One thing at a time and all things in My time". When I do occasionally remember that, it makes the world of difference!