Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Love is Enough



At church on Sunday, Pastor Jonas thanked God for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and all the other Civil Rights activists--known and unknown--who marched with him seeking justice.

Known and unknown.

I sat there in the pew and thought about that phrase: known and unknown.  Why should we only honor famous people?  Yes, we should celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday.  And we should also celebrate every other child that is born on each day.  All of us has a gift we carry.  Not all gifted people march in the limelight of history.

A few minutes before I had said the bolded words of this prayer aloud among the Presbyterians surrounding me:

You are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus,
for as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
There is neither Jew nor Greek.
There is neither slave nor free person;
there is no male and female, gay or straight,
for all are one in Christ Jesus.

Wow!  That's some radical shit, I thought to myself.  I did not say it aloud.  But I bet several others thought it too.  Unless they're regular church goers and expect this kind of radical love and acceptance.  I had no idea until last November when Katie asked me to take her to church and we picked Grace Covenant Presbyterian in Overland Park, Kansas.  My friend Sarah invited us.  I figured if the people are as nice as Sarah it's gotta be good.  And it is.

So yeah, we're going to church.  Me.  The lover of secular humanists such as Kurt Vonnegut and Christopher Hitchens.  I've never been baptized.  I didn't grow up going to church regularly.  I used to cringe each time I'd enter a church when I'd attend someone's wedding or funeral.  I was afraid my heathen ass would burst into flames the moment I entered the sacred place.

My ass has not caught fire, but my enthusiasm for helping my brothers and sisters who need it has lit fire in my belly.  Remember on Obama's campaign trail when he talked about that volunteer who got them all chanting, "I'm fired up and ready to go!"  I'm not quite extroverted enough to be that volunteer, but I'm the white girl sitting in her basement watching a YouTube video about it, occasionally raising my beer and shouting "Heck yeah!" at the screen.

But no, seriously, I like this church.  And in two months of attending weekly sermons and an adult speaker series, I've learned one thing: love is enough.

I never thought I was a good enough Christian because I didn't read the Bible and I didn't go to church.  I hung out with all sorts of people, religious and irreligious, all of them of varying degrees of faith.  I try to love all people, but I have a soft spot in my heart for the marginalized.  Turns out, from what I'm learning from hanging out with people who call themselves Christians, there's lots of other people who believe love is an action verb and helping marginalized people is the right way to live your life.

I'd been feeling down because the three year anniversary of when I decided I wanted to write a memoir and get it published and spark my career as a professional writer passed and no agents have sent me a message back saying, "sure, I'll read it" and somehow that one agent who is mostly unknown to me, her opinion of me becomes too important.  She didn't like my query letter enough to respond in the affirmative.  Poor me.  Poor, pitiful me.  The rejected writer.

And then I turn on my laptop and I log onto my blog and I write a post about poor, pitiful me and how this one unknown agent doesn't want to read my stuff, and I'll publish it on my own blog, the one I have complete control of, the authority to write about what I feel is important, and people I know and care about will read it and that will make me smile, but I wish it made that one unknown critic in the back of my head stop telling me my words are not good enough.

Love is good enough.

Once my born-again Christian sister Jenny told me that she sums up her Christian beliefs like this: "Love God.  Love people.  That's what Jesus commanded us to do."

It's that simple?  I don't have to worry about this dogma or that rule or that person's opinion or those criticisms?  I can love God and love people and that's that?

To tell you the truth, I kinda didn't believe my sister at first.  I thought she was high on religion.  You know how someone will sit there and go, "hey, man, smoke this" and you're all like, "no, man, I gotta go to work" and they're like, "no man, this will help your focus" and you still refuse because you think you're being practical.  That's how I felt when my Christian sister told me all I had to do was love God and love people and that was good enough to help me feel better.  That all the anxieties and worries I struggle with daily will seem less important, and that I'll realize that loving is the most important thing I can be doing.

Wait a minute?  Am I talking about going to church or going to Colorado?

So anyway, I found out that today is the day a dear friend of mine, Janel, starts her daily blog.  This woman is a miracle of love.  Every word I've read she's written has to do with love.  She's amazing.  So go read her stuff.  I'm honored that she claims I am one of the inspirations for sharing her words with the world.

I want to worry less about fame and fortune and focus my thoughts more on inspiring others to share their love.

But enough about me.  Go read LittleMrsFlowers.