“Not everyone is going to like you.” That used to be the worst thing someone could have said to me. I was a type-A, people pleasing SOB. All I wanted was for everyone to like me. And if they didn’t like me, I was going to figure out a way for me to change their mind. I was determined to be liked by everyone! (That is probably why I won the homecoming crown in college! #humblebrag #totallynot #improudofthat #prayformyheart#totallynotimportant)
The thing about having everyone like you is that usually means you have next to no opinions about stuff, or at the very least you aren’t voicing them. It’s a relatively peaceful existence, to be sure. I was able to keep this very non-committal stance on most issues because I believed peace was more important than being right. Which, again, to a degree, is a good sentiment. But when taken too far, when you are too passive, injustice is able to reign.
When I came out, I thought I was ready for the response from people hating on me. I’ve had a ton of people saying that I need to repent and all that stuff. I’ve had people call me a false teacher and satan. Again, I can handle. What’s been hard has been the response from people who say the following:
“I love you, but…”
…but, I disagree with you.
…but, I think your believing a lie.
…but, I you’re living in sin.
…but, I you’re on a slippery slope.
Here is the deal with the sentiment, “I love you, but…” This tells me that we don’t have much of a relationship to start. This tells me you haven’t once engaged with my story. This tells me that you aren’t really interested in hearing what Jesus is doing my life and more interested in pointing out the sin in my life and trying to save me from myself.
Guys, I’m saved by the grace of God. Moot issue.
I get that our theologies are different. I get that the way we interpret scripture is different. So what? Jesus is bigger than our differences, and if He’s not, then we should seriously rethink our whole faith system.Click To Tweet
Jesus didn’t go up to the crowds and say, “I love you, but all of you are sinners.” He said, “I love you because you are sinners.” A friend of mine, Jeff, said one time that God doesn’t love us because we are lovely, but that we may become lovely.
And, sure, I’m not perfect. I’m far from it, and I won’t pretend to have it all figured out. But I know that the love of Christ doesn’t have a “but” in it. The statement should be, “I love you and…”
…and I want to explore this more with you.
…and I believe in who God created you to be.
…and nothing can stop my love for you.
…and I’ve got questions.
That’s where friendship grows. It’s a journey of love, understanding, and letting people explore who God created them to be on their terms. And if you can’t handle it, don’t try to.
If your friendship can’t withstand a difference in theology, you didn’t have much of a friendship to begin with.
It sucks to lose friendships. It sucks to have my family look at me a touch differently than before. It sucks to discover that your friends only wanted to be in your life if you lined up with what they thought was good or true. And what will suck that a good chunk of the people I still have managed to hold on to despite our differences will refuse to come to my wedding day because of their convictions. They’ll refuse to participate in the lives of my future children because they’ll say I’m unfit to be a parent with a same-sex partner.
But if that’s the price of being myself before God and man, so be it.
My friend, Melissa Hawks, wrote this status on FB today, and I think it’s a word for us all:
Stop living your life afraid everyone is going to leave and start being okay if they do. That’s how you find your ride and dies.
That’s what I’m searching for. I’m finding my people. People who love me.
Love cannot come with conditions or fit within your safe parameters. Jesus dared to love the most rejected people. I think you can dare to do the same.