Today’s post is going to be a little different. I don’t normally post here about my faith or morality. I started out writing to create a safe place for people to come and read and laugh about the weird life I lead. It’s become so much more than that. I’ve kept relatively quiet about my faith and I promise that it’s not something I’ll continue to talk about here often. I’m just not that kind of person. My heart is hurting though, and I feel myself called to put my money where my mouth is so to speak.
I am a cradle Catholic. Baptized at birth and spoon fed the teachings of Christ. I spent 13 years in Catholic school and then went on to study world religions in College. My faith life has been rocky. Even though I identify as Catholic I have always seen the value and beauty in other religions. Unfortunately, I have for most of my life held the belief that Christ really wouldn’t be interested in me or want to be my friend. That he didn’t come here for me because I wasn’t worthy. This distresses my mother who worries that she did something wrong. That’s never been her fault. Other people did it and I bought in.
You see in Catholic school I was picked on. I was cast out. Why? Because in a rich private school I was one of the poor kids. We lived in “the wrong part of town.” I didn’t have a big house or loads of fancy things. In fact, four of us lived in a two bedroom, one bathroom house built in the forties so that paying for Catholic school tuition would be possible. I was and am damn proud of the sacrifices my family made. It wasn’t until my classmates at this privileged school began to spout racist rhetoric, homophobic ideology, speak with ugliness about the poor, and treat my fellow “weird” friends like trash that I began to doubt that Christ would have wanted me. Years of learning told me that Christ came for the poor and down trodden, for the different and weird and yet here were his followers, claiming to be Christians, going to Church every Sunday, and hurting the types of people that Christ intentionally befriended during His time here on Earth.
As I got older I learned that these kids didn’t come up with that stuff on their own. They were raised that way. (Seriously if you can’t drive on your own how the hell could you even know what “the wrong side of town” meant?) Their parents lead by example. Their Christian parents. I forgave my bullies and their parents and moved on. The damage was done though.
In High School, I was blessed to find myself in a community of Christians (and even some non Christians) who accepted me and others as we were. They lived the values of Christ. It was there that I learned and truly came to believe that all human life has value no matter it’s form. To me this value is rooted in my belief that we are all made with God in our hearts. These people weren’t perfect. I met some jerks along the way, but over all, the Christians I met did a great job of showing me Christ’s love through their words and actions.
I don’t often use people’s real names in my blog but as I write this with tears pouring down my face so many names come to mind. Mrs. Shaffett and Mrs. Wintz who taught me about the love of Christ in religion class and outside of class too. Mrs. Cowgill who saw potential in each and every one of us and loves us BIG to this day. She was and is unashamed of her Christianity. Joy Thomas who invited this crazy white girl to come dance and eat and laugh with her big, beautiful Black Christian family. (Her Mom gave me the best hug I’ve ever had in my life as soon as I got there and immediately made me feel welcome despite being one of only two white people there.) My wonderful friends, too numerous to name, who accepted EVERYONE despite their oddities because it was the right thing to do and because that’s the kind of people they are. The list could go on for days. I learned more about being a true Christian in those four years than I had ever known before. No one was condemning me or speaking hate to me or the people I loved. We weren’t super popular kids but we were allowed to be who we were. I was surrounded by Christians who cared.
When I was a high school senior my faith journey took a leap forward as I participated in The March for Life in Washington D.C. I belived then, as I do now, that all human life has value. ALL HUMAN LIFE. I marched with so many people who believed the same. It was a moving and transformative time for me. With me marched people from all over. Christians and non Christians. My faith grew stronger and a foundation was laid. I began working little by little to see the beauty of God in everyone around me. (Let me tell you it’s not easy and I still struggle with it.) Books like Love Does by Bob Goff and Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller were instrumental in my journey.
Try as I might it wasn’t until recently that I truly believed that Christ would have wanted me to sit at His table too. That He would have loved me too. Why? Because I had to separate the actions of so many Christians from the teachings of Christ. I had to remember that we are all human and that it was unfair to judge Christ by the actions of the flawed humans who profess to follow Him. It breaks my heart to see my news feed filled with self-professed Christians spewing hate. Hate for the LGBTQ+ community. Hate for the poor. Hate for immigrants. Hate for People of Color. Hate for those who have different beliefs and lifestyles. Christ didn’t come here to teach us hate, we had that already, he came to teach us love.
I often wonder how many people out there are like me. Drawn to Christ but chased away by his followers. Told by actions that they must look and speak a certain way to deserve the love of Christ. To deserve love. To deserve to be taken care of. To have value. As Christians, we are called to LOVE EVERYONE. We are called to stand up and defend those who are oppressed. We are called on to befriend and care for everyone because by denying them we are denying Christ. When we reject others because they are different than us we are rejecting the spirit of God that lives in them.
It is our duty to fight for equality for all of our brothers and sisters. It is our duty as Christians to defend the rights of all human life. For me that means becoming an ally to the LGBTQ+ community. It means fighting for their rights to be treated equally. It means checking my white privilege and washing the scales from my eyes so that I can recognize and fight systemic inequality and racism. It means supporting better healthcare for everyone. Better programs for those facing addiction and mental illness. It means doing what I can to make sure that people get the help they need so that we can all live with dignity and respect. It means raising my children to respect all human life and to fight for those who can’t fight for themselves. I won’t always succeed. I’m not perfect. But I’ll be damned if I let myself become someone’s reason for feeling like they are unworthy of Christ’s love or mine.