I Refuse To Hate

Today my heart is breaking. As I sit here watching the live video footage of the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, tears are streaming down my face. The hate, the anger, and the violence that is taking place right in front of me is enough to bring me to my knees. Here’s the thing; I am usually not the kind of person who shares my political beliefs online. I am not typically known as the one who goes on rants about our government or the people of this nation. However, today I cannot remain silent any longer.

Let me start off by saying one thing that may offend some people: Black Lives Matter. This statement alone has caused so much controversy in the past months. By stating that black lives matter, I am not saying that everyone else’s lives don’t. I am not saying that black lives are more important than white lives or that anyone should be considered above anyone else. My point is simple. The Black Lives Matter movement is not here to offend, belittle, or degrade you. It is simply to make a point. People in the black community have suffered from many injustices that I will never be able to understand. I have never had to endure racist comments in the grocery store line. I’ve never had to be fearful for my life during a routine traffic stop. I never had to grow up in a world that was plotted against me. I am a white female, and whether you believe it or not, I admit to the fact that I have always been blessed with white privilege. When I say that I support the Black Lives Matter movement, what I am saying is that I recognize the injustices that black people in our nation are suffering from today. Slavery may be gone, segregation may be illegal, but racism is still alive and well, and by supporting rallies like the one happening today, we are only lighting their fire and giving them the fuel they need to continue on in this ignorant and hateful mindset.

The thing that breaks my heart more than anything is to know that many of the people supporting this movement publically proclaim to be Christian. It’s sick, it’s twisted, and (excuse my language) truly fucked up that people who preach love and acceptance would use such vulgar and demeaning words and actions towards people of color. In 1 John 3:15, it is written that “everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” John 15 verses 12-15 state “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” 1 John 4:7-8 reads “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” Now let me say something that is really going to offend some of you. If you support this movement, this hateful, and nasty protest, then you are not a Christian. God calls us to love everyone. He doesn’t say pick and choose the people that you want to love or judge others based on the color of their skin, no, nowhere in the Bible does it say any of that! God COMMANDS us to love everyone. Period, end of story. There are no excuses that anyone could make that would ever make any of this okay. Hating someone simply for the color of their skin or for the country in which they were born will never be okay. No excuse will ever be good enough.

There is so much more I could say, but let me limit it down to one final statement. I refuse to hate. It really is that simple. If everyone in both our nation and world could come together and rally around this one simple concept, our world would be a much better place. If we could all just look past our prejudices, if would could just learn to appreciate people for who they are, if we could stop using religion, color of skin, and origin of birth as a way to categorize ourselves into who’s the best and who’s not, then just think of how much better life would be! Just imagine a world where everyone could come together in peace and love and acceptance, a world in which no one would ever have to face racial or religious injustices ever again. Sadly, in light of today’s recent events, I can see that our world is far from that reality. However, we should not give up hope. Although I may never live to see a world where everyone is equal, I will spend the rest of my life spreading love to insure that my children will, and I pray that each and every one of you who read this today will do the same.

 

 

Enlightenment

There was an eerie silence in the abbey that day. The morning prayers had been said, and the nuns had quietly floated their way back into the solitary confinement of their tiny rooms. Lilly Madison, tired of a morning spent all alone, slowly and carefully turned the smooth silver knob of her dark wooden door and slipped into the empty hallway. The door let out a silent whisper of protest as it shut behind her. Glancing in both directions, Lilly glided gracefully down the stairs. The smooth beads of her silver rosary swayed back and forth as she pushed past the heavy wooden doors to the chapel and made her way down the aisle towards the heavily adorned altar. She glanced briefly up at the image of Christ before kneeling at the foot of the cross.

This was unnatural for a nun of her status. As a new member of the convent, she knew that she was not supposed to be wandering the halls alone, nor was she allowed to enter the chapel without a guardian; however, none of this stopped her from slipping her rosary from around her neck and letting the cool beads grace the soft tips of her fingers. With each bead her fingers passed, she prayed a small prayer: one for guidance, one for forgiveness, one for peace and understanding. She prayed for strength, and that God would provide her with the means to accomplish her task.

During the many days, weeks, and months that she had spent alone in her room praying and meditating over the scriptures, she had come to an enlightenment like no other. Lilly truly felt as though God had spoken to her directly, but she kept it quiet for fear of condemnation from the other nuns. She was well respected by everyone, a promising new nun surrounded by a cloud of potential. The abbess had become quite fond of her, and had taken her on as somewhat of an apprentice, mentoring her in the ways of the abbey and helping her to reach a new level in her relationship with Christ. Every day, Lilly fell to her knees in sovereign adoration and prayed that God would make her more like the abbess. After months of waiting for an answer, she finally felt as though she had discovered the very will of God.

The sturdy sound of the chapel bells pounded her out of her thoughts and pulled her to her feet. The abbess would be making her way to the garden for afternoon prayers. Her time to act was now. Rosary in hand, she eased her way out of the chapel. A brilliant smile spread its way across her rosy cheeks. The beads now felt warm in her hand, and she clutched them tightly to her chest as she cascaded down the hallway, through the front door, and across the lawn to the prayer garden.

The gate let out a scream of resistance, startling the abbess from her afternoon prayers.

“Lilly? What are you–”

There was hardly enough time to react before Lilly wrapped the silver string of beads tightly around the neck of the abbess. Pulling her to the ground with all of her weight, she held fast to the rosary, making sure to cut off all air as the abbess struggled for a breath. No screams could be heard as her face slowly changed from a rosy pink to a deep shade of blue. Lilly stroked the hair of her suffocating mentor and began to pray.

“Lord, guide me in my mission to serve you. Cover me with your grace and protection. Allow me to complete the task that you have so clearly made known to me. Give me the peace and understanding to know that your will must be done. Forgive me of my transgressions, and help me to forgive those who have done me wrong. Restoreth my soul, and lead me down the path to righteousness. Guide me as you have guided the mother abbess, and allow me to continue on with her vision for the future of the church. Bless her in death as you have in life, and lead her safely to the pearly gates of heaven. In Christ’s holy name I pray, Amen.”

 

Baptism

Today is the day of my Baptism. Nine year old me wiggles impatiently as my mother tries desperately to brush the knots out of my thick, tangled hair. I am wearing the shirt that she made me specifically for this occasion. It has a bright red heart painted on it and reads “I gave my heart to Jesus”. My nine year old mind is full of wonder and excitement. 

Me: So, tell me. How this is going to play out again?

Mom: Lindsey, I have already told you what’s going to happen. And besides that, you’ve seen it done many times before!

Me: Just tell me one more time…please? I promise I won’t ask again!

Mom: (Sighs) Okay. You’ll stand in line at the top of the stairs that lead into the tub. Pastor Roy will give his speech about how all of you have chosen to accept Jesus, and then one by one he will ask you to step down into the water with him.

Me: Will it be cold?

Mom: No, it’s warm like bath water. But remember to step in carefully because if you slip, you’ll fall in and it will be embarrassing.

Me: Okay….then what?

Mom: You’ll stand in front of him sideways and he will take your hands. That’s when he’ll announce to everyone that you have accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior.

I grip my face dramatically in an attempt to impersonate the victims on the late night horror movies I wasn’t supposed watch, and then let out my best and most award-winning gasp of terror.

Me: HE’S GOING TO TAKE MY HANDS?!?

Mom: Lindsey, for the love of God, you know what I mean!!

Me: You said it, not me….So after he gruesomely takes my hands from me, then does he dunk me?

Mom: Lindsey, stop fooling around. This is a serious matter! And no, not yet.

Me: Well then when does he dunk me?

She sighs and continues to yank at the stubborn knots in my thick red hair. 

Mom: Not until after he asks you if you have accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior.

Me: But wouldn’t he have just said that to everyone? Why would he tell everyone that I already have and then ask me?

Mom: (Clearly beginning to lose her patience) I don’t know, Lindsey! That’s just how it works!

Me: (Pause)…..And then he dunks me?

Mom: (Sighs) No. not yet. Not until you say yes…

Me: (Interrupting) But what if I say no?

She abruptly stops brushing my hair and sternly looks me in the eyes.

Mom: Why on Earth would you say that?!

Me: (Laughing) It sure would shock him! Ha! He wouldn’t see that coming!

Mom: (Angrily) Lindsey!

Me: Okay, geez I’m only kidding!

She stares at me, arms crossed over her chest, looking un-amused. 

Me: Soooo…I’ll say yes…and then he’ll dunk me!

Mom: No. Then he’ll say I now baptize you in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…

Me: (Interrupting yet again) And theeeeen he’ll dunk me!

Mom: Not yet! He’ll ask quietly if you want to hold your nose…

Me: Which I’ll say yes….

Mom: And then….

Me: (excitedly) He’ll dunk me!