By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. [John 13:35]
I know some people believe it to be impossible, that a woman in a lesbian relationship could consider herself a Christian, but I do.
I don't follow every single rule in Leviticus--in fact, find me someone who does, and I will give you $25 (I was going to say $100 but I really can't afford that, on the off chance someone knows a real stickler for Old Testament rules). There is one rule professed throughout the Bible, though, that I do take to heart.
Love one another.
What is love? "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." [I Corinthians 13: 4-8]
This is my rule--the one I live by. Love one another. Many people think that this passage only applies to the love between a couple, read at their wedding, but it doesn't. It applies to every moment of your life. It applies to the person in front of you blocking your view at the movie theater, it applies to the parent with a screaming child two aisles over, it applies to the scruffy-looking "delinquent" teenager on the street in the city.
This isn't something that only applies to Christianity. I know many other religions practice love and forgiveness as a main component of their belief, and many people who do not practice any sort of religion act with much love, forgiveness, and kindness in their lives. I'm just saying that I myself am a Christian, and that is my inspiration for my life.
If you ever wonder why I find it difficult to immediately suspect someone of malice, this is why. If you ever wonder why I am always say things like, "Well maybe they were trying to do this, and it came across wrong.." it is because I am trying to see things from their point of view. I am trying to protect, trust, and hope. If you ever wonder why I find it ridiculously difficult to choose sides in an argument between my friends, this is why. Because it breaks my heart. I want forgiveness to prevail. I want happiness and love to abound. But most of all, I love them, and to cut that love off once it has been given is like cutting out a piece of my soul.
Don't get me wrong. There are people in my life that I really can't stand. There are people who drive me crazy, and I am NO saint. There is one woman in particular who has hurt me enough that I'm fairly certain I will never be able to forgive her, and when I hear that bad things have happened to her, I can't stop myself from feeling a sense of smugness. I am a sinner, just like everyone else, and that is just one of my many faults. Everyone has their own faults, their own sins. Everyone struggles with something or another, but I can't help thinking that with just a little bit more love in the world, how much kinder the world would be.
I read an interesting quote this morning:
"Forgiveness is the scent that the rose leaves on the heel that crushes it." - John Arnott
I think that pretty much sums up how I feel about life. People will hurt us, consciously or unwittingly, every day. People say things, do things, or perhaps ignore us completely in an effort to be hurtful. Sometimes they do it without even knowing how upsetting their words or actions are. Who you are is determined by how you respond to the situation once it has been catalyzed.
One of the things I am most ashamed of, is a friendship that was ignored for too long. We both said things we may or may not have meant at the time, and in between many hurtful things were said and written. I am pleased to say that we are friends again, but in the end it wasn't me who made the first step toward reconciliation. I will always be ashamed of that. She will always remain the bigger person to me, the one with the bigger heart. She was the one who embodied the Word of God, the Lord's commandment to love one another. She doesn't know it, but every time I speak to her I think of how much I admire her for that, and my heart warms knowing that we are finally in contact again.
So, Christine, this post is dedicated to you. Thank you for showing me that forgiveness and love is a way of life, not something we pick and choose on whom to bestow. I love you.