Months earlier I’d complimented my husband on his new-found closet organizing, color coordinating skills. He waved across his shirts and said, “ROYGBIV” (pronounced roy-ga-biv). I’d never heard the term before. red-orange-yellow-green-blue-indigo-violet. Am I the only person on the planet who did not know that ?
Anyway, due to a crazy good sale I found whilst shopping with my mom a couple of weeks ago, I added some new tops to my wardrobe and thought they looked kind of cool hanging there.
Until (gasp) I realized these tops made a rainbow. And last Sunday, I did not want to be associated with any rainbow. No way. No how. Period.
Being the thinker I am, I’ve spent considerable time mulling over my anti-rainbow gut reaction.
Obviously, it’s more than the rainbow. It’s the ever-changing nature of our American culture.
It is change I find disturbing.
So all week I’ve observed the rainbow banner, the #Love Wins, the ugliness erupt on both sides of the same-sex marriage issue with law suits and the words bigot and intolerance bandied about on blogs, Facebook and Twitter.
The back and forth within the Christian community alone is sad and disappointing. And I don’t know what Bible is being quoted, but some of the words and actions attributed to Jesus don’t exist in anything I’ve ever read.
Me? I’ve wanted to rant a little myself. But I’m not a debater. At least that’s what I tell myself while eloquently pleading a case to my bar of soap in the shower, while I drive, while watering the plants, while doing laundry and while cooking dinner.
Man! I’ve got to get this stuff out of my head!
So how do I remain faithful to God, true to myself and meaningfully share this planet with those I don’t agree with? I’ve got a plan for that….
1) Preserve relationships –
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. – Romans 12:18
I love my people. I respect my people. But all my people don’t believe the same thing I do.
I may be on the conservative side. They may be on the liberal side. But when we share life events, when we sit around the dinner table together, it will be with love and respect and concern for the other, as far as it depends on me.
Love is greater than being right.
And that extends to friends and friends I’ve yet to meet. Because when rainbow flags and being right is our focus, we cannot hear anyone else. And when we label, mock and marginalize, we do not learn.
2) Remain in Faith –
Remain in me and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine; and you cannot be fruitful apart from me. John 15:4
Those actually are words Jesus said. And they’re words I hold on to. Ask me how I know they are true….
I’ve lived long enough and screwed up enough and been extended more grace than anyone deserves. I know who I am, I know what I believe and in whom I believe. And I’m standing firm.
That is not bigotry.
That is faith.
I trust Him to guide my thoughts and words and direct my steps.
3) Punch fear in the face –
In the words of the great philosopher, Rocky Balboa –
It ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.
I’m not sure why. I’ve looked back on my life to find an event that might have triggered this, but I struggle with fear.
I fear offending people. And sometimes it’s silly stuff, like I’ll want to call one of my sons. And then I spend an hour trying to decide if this is a good time to call, is he working, is he eating dinner with his family – – and then when I get him on the phone I start apologizing for disturbing him. What is the deal??
I mean, this fear thing goes way back…. when Doug and I went on our first date, oh, about 47ish years ago, we stopped in Santa Cruz, California to watch the ocean. It was getting too dark and windy to walk on the beach, so we stood on the edge of a cliff, watching the waves crash below us. Suddenly I saw his arms raise over my head and my first thought… my first thought, people!, is…
… “he’s going to push me off the cliff”! Who thinks stuff like that?? And by the way, he was just throwing his jacket over my shoulders.
Anyway, beyond being tossed off cliffs and making phone calls at inappropriate times… I fear being judged. I don’t like labels. It’s hard to undo the false perception someone paints on you. And a label does not account for the whole of your life story. I know this first hand… from the receiving end and the giving end.
But maybe worse than being labeled is being afraid to speak up at the right time. Even taking points #1 and #2 into account, there are times to speak up and stand up. And that’s why I need to get violent with fear.
I’ve noticed that intolerance word used a whole lot on both sides of the aisle. I’m not sure how other folks define the it, but here’s my take on it…
Intolerance is a spoiled brat that has to have its way.
Intolerance succeeds by dividing and isolating individuals and groups of individuals.
Intolerance divides and isolates by using labels and ridicule.
I won’t have any part of that. And I won’t be afraid of it either.
There will be hard times moving forward in this country I love. And there will always be label hangers. But you’ve got to press on anyway.
Because of love.
And love, yes I do believe LOVE WINS. But it’s a much bigger love than the version sloganized across social media. It’s a love that was designed for ALL of humanity.
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. Psalm 139:23-24