Perspective…sometimes it knocks you off your feet…

“Lesa!  Watch this!” my sister called out to me.  It was Sunday and we were visiting my grandparents like we did every week.  I was playing touch football with friends that I had in my grandparents neighborhood, and my sister, well she was finding fun of her own. “Niki, don’t do that.  You are going to break the window,” I replied.  “No I’m not…watch.” she insisted.  My parents car was parked in the alley and my sister had collected some rocks from said alley and was tossing them over the car. She was pretty proud of herself.  Each time she made it, however, she would take a step back, pick up another rock, and toss it over the car. Window I heard several of those “Lesa!  Watch this!” exclaimed at me.  And then it happened.  Step, toss, SMASH!  She didn’t quite make it and this time I heard, “Ohhhh, I’m in trouble!”  She tried to talk me into going into the house with her to tell my parents that she broke the car window, but I told her she was on her own.  I’m pretty sure I added, “I told you to stop doing that!” in my most annoying big sister voice (smile).

Her perspective was that since she made it once…she would always make it.  The mistake she made was not taking into account her changing circumstances (stepping back each time and choosing different rock sizes).  I’ve certainly done that before, but instead of rocks and car windows, I’ve done it with God.

I’ve suffered with chronic fatigue and pain for the last 21 years.  About 15 years into my illness, I had a Christian friend tell me that God wasn’t healing me because I didn’t have enough faith that He could do it. (Gay people are faced with these types of statements all of the time)  I remember feeling like I had been punched in the gut.  How could this person possibly know how much faith I had in God?  How could this person truly know about my relationship with God?  For them, it was very simple.  I wasn’t praying hard enough and lacked faith.  Then this person got cancer.  Their circumstances changed…and so did their perspective. When the tables were turned, they understood that you can have all the faith in the world, and pray continuously for something…but not get the answer that you want.  Sadly this person lost their battle.  Perspective.

It’s really easy to think of what someone else should do when faced with certain circumstances.  I’m often asked what changed my mind about what the Bible has to say about LGBTQ individuals.  The easy answer…circumstances….perspective. The longer answer…well really I would have to answer that in person.  But I can say that when life’s circumstances change…you are sometimes driven to look for answers to questions you never thought you would have in the first place.

I did lots of reading…

I did lots of research…

I did lots of soul-searching.

It was scary because it brought up lots of other questions.  I’m so thankful that God was faithful to be with me through the whole process.  He was ok with my questioning.  I don’t have all the answers…I never will…and I’m totally ok with that.  It took me awhile to get there…and honestly sometimes I get scared about whether I’m “hearing” God correctly…but each and every time I wonder that, I get what I feel is a sign from God to keep pressing on.  He is cool like that!  The greatest thing I did for myself in all of this was to put myself out there and meet more LGBTQ people.  THAT is what cemented my perspective for me.  I’ve met the most amazing people and I’m a better person because of it.

There was a time when the Bible was used to support slavery.

There was a time when the Bible was used to persecute Jewish people.

We look back and think…how could people back then do that??  And then things changed.

Circumstances…perspective…sometimes it knocks you off your feet…and sometimes it knocks you off your pedestal.

 

perspective

Love each other…because love matters.

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Yes even rioters deserve love…

Given the Facebook posts I’ve seen this week…I may get some flack for this post.  Boy oh boy…people have had some opinions this week.  Strong ones.  To think that I just visited my old neighborhood in Baltimore just two weeks ago and this week so much has happened.  I lived in Southwest Baltimore so it wasn’t at the heart of the protests, but there were some fires there on Monday night.

As I was watching the news coverage, I was filled with a lot of emotions.  I would say the first being anger.  Angry that people would act in such a violent way.  As I watched what seemed like hundreds of people looting a CVS store, it was just so surreal.  I felt like I was watching a movie…not something that was occurring in real life.  But the longer I watched the live news feed on my television, the more I was overcome with compassion.

It is easy for me to sit in my house in the suburbs and judge what is going on in the city.  It’s also wrong.

I realized that I have NO CLUE what it’s like for the people living in this part of the city…

I have NO CLUE what it’s like to be a police officer working in the city…

And I have NO CLUE what it’s like being a leader making decisions in very stressful situations in the city.

I do know that there are families that have to choose whether or not they feed their kids, pay their rent, or pay their utility bill each month.  I know that there is a system that fails them countless times..  I know that there are issues passed down from generation to generation.  And I can imagine how hard it is to not feel desperate, hopeless, defeated…over and over and over again.  Just like I can imagine how difficult it must be to be a police officer trying to keep the community safe, as well as themselves, and how they must get frustrated when they see people they arrest right back out on the streets again.

I’m not making excuses for the rioters or the police brutality that happens.  Both obviously are wrong.

I do know, however, that the hateful dialogue that was going on in social media will not help the situation.  I was ashamed of what I was seeing.  We need to learn to listen.  We need to learn empathy.   And most importantly we need to remember that everyone deserves love…period.

Sometimes things need to break down in order to be rebuilt.  Baltimore has been here before.  I hope we are learning.  But more importantly I hope the leaders of Baltimore can stop for a moment and let the citizens of Baltimore know that they are:

Seen…

Heard…

Their struggles do not disqualify them from love…

And that they have something to offer.

For ways to get involved, check out what Somebody Cares Baltimore is doing.

Love your neighbor as yourself…even when you disagree with them…because love matters.