Today, I bring you another installment of Conversations with Ourselves, a series of posts in which every Thursday the author addresses the Past Self through the Present or vice versa (or sometimes totally not this, but something equally cool) concerning matters of Faith, specifically.
I share words with you today from Amy. Amy exudes common grace. Amy has been a friend to this blog since it really started going two years ago. I think the first conversation in the comment box we had was about why I was giving up the Eucharist for Lent one year; since, Amy has been a steady encourager and friend. I'm blessed to commend her words to you today.
"You know life is rarely black and white. She tried to tell you that. 'You don't just abandon your friends no matter what lifestyle they choose,' she told you."
"Yes. She did," she tells me. "But the other voices were louder. I couldn't hear her."
"No. I suppose you couldn't," I reply. "Your idealism. It always did cause issues. But then He spoke to you. Almost audibly."
You do not have to condone her choice, He said, but it is not your place to condemn her.
"He did. I still remember."
"You don't have to understand it all. You never will. You'll never have all the answers. And that's okay. You're not meant to. Your peace will come when you accept that. In the unknowing you will find your confidence.
Fifteen years later she'll tell you again and this time you'll hear her. This time you will know the world is broken. You'll understand that life is rarely black and white and you'll love her anyway."
I have this conversation often. My now thirty-eight year old self wishing she could travel back in time to my twenty-three year old self.
My idealistic nature at twenty-three couldn't hear the voice of my friend over the voices of religion. Voices that insisted on distancing themselves from those they considered sinners. Their legalistic ideals unable to show grace especially to those who considered themselves gay.
My faith had yet to mature into my very own. At twenty-three I didn't know how to respond to my childhood friend and her admission she was gay. Our other friend tried to tell me. She tried to show me that our friend was still someone in need of love and friendship, but I couldn't see past all I had been taught growing up in the bible belt of the deep south.
My confusion haunted me.
I wonder if amidst our confusion God speaks so clearly, so loudly, that we hear it audibly. At least for me it felt that way. His words are imprinted on my mind.
It was not my place to condemn her.
We often catch ourselves distancing ourselves from those whose beliefs look different from our own. Yet how can we love them if we build walls made of religion and rhetoric? Where does grace fit in when all we can see is their sin and not our own?
I wonder why our world has to be so broken that we can't see those who don't fit into our neat little box as people loved by God. As people He saw when He formed them in their mothers' wombs just as He did us.
Fifteen years later and a similar admission from the friend whose voice I couldn't hear amidst my confusion. This time, though, I hope I've found the grace that I couldn't show our other friend.
I will never have all the answers and there is a peace in that truth. There is a confidence in knowing I can leave the confusion in God's hands and just love her. She's not an unknown face on the opposite side of a political issue. She's my friend.
Life is rarely black and white and I love her anyway.
Amy is a wife, mom, writer, photographer, and artist, but most of all a child of God learning to find the joy and see the extraordinary graces in the seemingly ordinary. She blogs at Ordinarily Extraordinary sharing what God is teaching her and hopefully encourage others along the way. You can find her on twitter as @amykiane.