Certain favorite bloggers of mine have taken up the assignment of blogging 31 days in a row (#write31days), and in an attempt to re-galvanize my own writing, I decided to join in the fun. The idea behind this particular blog-a-thon is to be as real and vulnerable as possible, which is (almost) always a healthy exercise. I've tried blogging marathons in the past (to varying degrees of success), and my seminary schedule does not allow for much flexibility. so the process may be fitful or short-lived, but it couldn't hurt to try!
Day 22: I Picked Jesus Part 4
Knowing my God had walked with me through the valley of the shadow of death rather than standing in fixed judgment over me while I struggled alone, drained my heart of the loneliness which had saturated it for those few years of doubt and insecurity. And then a truly miraculous thing happened: gradually, I began to see beauty again in the beliefs and creeds which had once saved and later shaped my life. I could read the Bible once more, only now with fresh eyes to see how precious were its stories, how deeply good and true. It was no longer a yardstick with which to measure my shame, nor a guest list for an elite party; it was God’s story and our story, ever interweaving, inspired by God’s Spirit to communicate His profound love for us.
I also came to realize that the “second” greatest commandment given us by Scripture and reiterated by Christ (love your neighbor as yourself) is second only in order, not in importance. God, after all, does not pit us against each other in order to discover our devotion but bids us to love and serve, to build relationships and bring healing to those in need. Suddenly my commitments to loving God and valuing people were no longer at odds but were two sides of the same holy coin. The arbitrary barriers erected in my own heart by false religion began to crumble down as I saw the Image of God pouring out from behind the eyes of every person I met. It was as if life had color again, only now with a palate twice as rich.
I even came to see my old faith communities with renewed sympathy and compassion. I recognized they were merely struggling with how to know and serve God well, just like me. Granted, they may have inherited certain ideas about God and neighbor I perceive to be unhealthy but the goodness in their hearts which had once saved my life was real. So I could appreciate them, worship beside them, even while I disagreed with them. I could love them, even while I was uncompromisingly different from them.