My heart is heavy. I have pondered, prayed, cried out and sobbed. I have mourned, cursed and ached. I have asked why, I have asked when will it get better and how can I help? Friends, I see a dark cloud hanging above us in this time, a heavy cloud filled with fear, darkness and hatred. There was a time not too long ago that the world was filled with hope, I was filled with hope but that time has seemed to disappear and now we have been left in the cold wondering if the sun will ever reemerge. I have been silent for far too long and my heart and soul will not allow me to continue that silence any longer—it is time I address the unaccepting and hatefulness I see and can sense.
There is a beautiful quote I often see pop up on Pinterest and have repinned countless times. It reads: “If only our eyes saw souls instead of bodies how very different our ideals of beauty would be” (Anonymous). I would like to add my own flare to this quote: “If only our eyes saw souls and hearts instead of bodies how very different our ideals of beauty, our thoughts on humanness and our sense of the world would be.” What if we lived in a world with eyes that only saw the humanness of others rather than the differences society continuously emphasizes?
Something that my mother often says to me when I am intimidated by someone is, “They put their pants on, one leg at a time, just like you and me.” Something as silly as remembering a person putting on their pants one leg at a time takes away the fear and instead places an image of a human being in my mind. Rather than continuing to be intimidated I see them as not that different from me. Ultimately, we are all human there is something we are all scared of, someone or something that has broken our heart, we all long to be accepted for exactly who we are and we all desire to love and be loved. So why is it that I cannot turn on my tv, go on Facebook or open my news app without seeing some sort of hatred being spewed and reported or some act of hatred having occurred? We are obsessed with labeling people, labeling what is right and what is wrong and labeling love. People no longer have names, scars, hearts and souls instead they have labels; Christian, Atheist, Muslim, Jew, Black, White, Gay, Straight, Male, Female, Transgender, Rich, Poor, Right, Wrong and the list goes on and on and on. When will the list stop? When will we stop locking people away in labeled boxes? When will people just be people?
It will stop when we make the decision to stop labeling people and instead see people as living breathing humans with hearts that love, hearts that have been broken and yet still beat, hearts that love and hope despite all the reasons not to. Instead of seeing the label let us see the soul.
One of the worst kinds of pain that you can experience is being rejected because of who you are, what you believe, what you look like, who you love and all the little and big bits that make up the essence of you. I too have felt this pain, I have been deemed not enough, wrong, too emotional, weird and the list goes on and on. But I have felt the incredible healing of learning to love myself, of recognizing the truth that I am part (and you too are part) of God’s good creation (Genesis 1:31). I have found people who have allowed me to be unapologetically myself. My hope and goal is to allow my heart and arms to be a place where people can find refuge and be allowed to be unapologetically themselves.
My faith has taught me to love people, not label them; to accept them, not reject them; to embrace them, not judge them. 1 John 4:18 reads:
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because he first loved us. Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.”
How can I or any of us do anything other than love and accept people? The commandment is: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10: 27). In addition to loving God we are told to love our neighbors as ourselves. All we want is to be accepted by people, to be allowed the freedom to be who we are— so isn’t that what we should allow for others?
All are welcome at the table. Can we try to live our lives as Jesus? Jesus welcomed all to the table, Jesus offered living water to all, Jesus offered the bread of life to all. John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” I am told to love the people in this world, accept them as they come to me and allow them to be who they are. One of the most beautiful things in this world are the differences that make each of us uniquely beautiful and a rare treasure. I am tired of people being condemned for their differences and the things that make them a rare and beautiful treasure. We must learn the language of love and that the universal language of love crosses borders, overcomes differences in opinions, beliefs, appearances, nationalities, faiths etcetera. The universal language of love has the capacity to heal.
My friends, I am tired of fear and hatred always winning. Can we change the narrative together? Instead of the story being laced with hatred and fear let the story be laced with love and hope. So my brothers and sisters of this incredible world, know that I stand with you in love and I am praying that the story will no longer be about hate but instead about love. No matter how different we may seem I want you to know you are welcome at the table.
“We can reject every else: religion, ideology, all received wisdom. But we cannot escape the necessity of love and compassion…This, then, is my true religion, my simple faith. In this sense, there is no need for temple or church, for mosque or synagogue, no need for complicated philosophy, doctrine or dogma. Our own heart, our own mind, is the temple. The doctrine is compassion. Love for others and respect for their rights and dignity, no matter who or what they are: ultimately these are all we need. So long as we practice these in our daily lives, then no matter if we are learned or unlearned, whether we believe in Buddha or God, or follow some other religion or none at all, as long as we have compassion for others and conduct ourselves with restraint out of a sense of responsibility, there is no doubt we will be happy” —Dalai Lama
God, I pray that we open our hearts to your love, that you open our hearts to others and that we practice love instead of hate. I pray for this world and I pray for all of your children. Help us to do as you commanded us, to love You and to love our neighbors.
My brothers and sisters in the family of humanity peace, joy, love and blessings be with you all. Your sister, Margaret.