Saturday, April 2, 2011

Seeing Things Differently

Over the last couple of weeks, the class of teenagers I work with have been learning about segregation, specifically how that looked in the south in the 1950s & 60s. It's been eye-opening for them to learn how far our country has come and to see how different things were just a few generations ago. Hearing their discussions about the horrible treatment of minorities, specifically black people, has been awesome. They are seeing it with fresh eyes & hearing it with untainted ears. Their lifetime has not included prejudices. While it's foreign to me that they DON'T understand a lot of this, it's refreshing & I'm PROUD that our nation has begun to move beyond all that yuck to a better future.

Tonight I talked with a girlfriend about several situations involving friends of mine....things that changed my life, made me rethink the deep-seated black & white lines I had drawn in my mind about what I felt was right or wrong. There are so many things that I grew up believing or that I created my own standards for along the way that have been shattered & removed in the past several years. Among those things: divorce, abortion, addictions, rejection of people who aren't "good enough", extramarital affairs, financial crises, even whether to work or stay at home after having a baby....the list is lengthy. In living through hard, hard, hard life circumstances with friends, watching them handle emotions & grief & shame over things that had never even entered my scope has changed me. And I must say, it's changed me for the better. I've learned so much about redemption, forgiveness, and life. While I might or might not handle all those situations in exactly the same way, the truth is, I haven't lived those things so it's hard to say what I'd do if I were wearing their shoes. My eyes have been opened, though, enough to realize that not everything is quite as black & white as I thought.

In that same conversation with my friend, we talked about another scenario with a girl who's been 'burned' by the Church. Several times. She's pushed the boundaries of all the "norms" in such a way that many look at her as a little weird. She will tell you herself that she's a mess. She's lived some tough stuff but she's plugging ahead and taking care of business. Maybe she is a little weird, but I love this young lady more than she may ever realize! She, too, has changed me for the better. My eyes are opened and my heart has stretched to hold as much of her as she will allow me to hold. I am SO glad that our paths crossed.

The more years I live, the more I realize that I want my kids to see things differently than I do. Sure, I absolutely want to instill certain things in their lives -- morals, values, our faith in Christ, a strong foundation in family... but I also want them to have their eyes open, to be aware of things going on in the world around them. I want them to decide early on that God created ALL of us and that different doesn't mean bad....that His blood was shed for ALL of us and that different doesn't mean unworthy of grace....that the man who is crying into a bottle or holding a gun, or the woman who looks all crazy & smells stinky NEEDS JESUS JUST AS MUCH AS WE DO!

If we continue to push people out the back doors of the church buildings we go to on Sundays, they may not come back when they have their life together. Jesus went out seeking sinners and people whose lives were in shambles, but we in the Church today tend to run in the other direction from those people. Or we shun them & kick them & point them out the doors of our holy building. They may never learn how much they are loved by God. Just the way they are. Right now. Before they get it all together. Screwed up mess or not.

While talking to my girlfriend tonight, she was telling me about a song she heard this morning that basically speaks this same message....and it reminded me of Nichole Nordeman's "Wide Eyed". I can't find a youtube link that works & will play the song all the way through (the one I could find freezes up about 1/2 way through every time!) but these are the lyrics. Please read them. And if you are a Christian who thinks you have got everyone all figured out, I pray that reading these song lyrics will help to open your eyes. We just never know what's going on in someone's life, what their history is, etc....but we need to remember who created them and that HE is still madly in love with them.

Wide Eyed by Nichole Nordeman

When I met him on a sidewalk

He was preaching to a mailbox
Down on 16th Avenue
And he told me he was Jesus
Sent from Jupiter to free us
With a bottle of tequila and one shoe

He raged about repentance
He finished every sentence
With a promise that the end was close at hand
I didn't even try to understand


He left me wide eyed in disbelief and disillusion
I was tongue tied, drawn by my conclusions
So I turned and walked away
And laughed at what he had to say
Then casually dismissed him as a fraud
I forgot he was created in the image of my God.

When I met her in a bookstore
She was browsing on the first floor
Through a yoga magazine
And she told me in her past life
She was some plantation slave's wife
She had to figure out what that might mean
She believes the healing powers of her crystals
Can bring balance and new purpose to her life
Sounds nice

She left me wide eyed in disbelief and disillusion
I was tongue tied, drawn by my conclusions
So I turned and walked away
And laughed at what she had to say
Then casually dismissed her as a fraud
I forgot she was created in the image of my God

Not so long ago, a man from Galilee
Fed thousands with His bread and His theology
And the truth He spoke
Quickly became the joke
Of educated, self-inflated Pharisees like me

And they were wide eyed in disbelief and disillusion
They were tongue tied, drawn by their conclusions
Would I have turned and walked away?
And laughed at what He had to say?
And casually dismissed Him as a fraud?
Unaware that I was staring at the image of my God?

No comments: