I have been listening. I have been educating myself. And I have been learning to love better. This month I have been at a loss of words for the darkness of racism, discrimination, and hatred in our country. It breaks my heart that there are people in the world who hold prejudices against people of color, against people who wear a uniform, and against people who are not like them. I cannot imagine being in the shoes of someone who is discriminated against based on the way they look on the outside… it must be so painful.
I have to be honest with you, I did not have the intentions to address this topic in our newsletter out of fear that I may say something wrong and simply do not feel confident about speaking on a topic that I am still educating myself on. Because I am still learning about the racism that exists in our country and how to be a better ally to these communities, I have decided to write about something a little more broad that has been extremely impactful to me especially during these times of division.
Recently, I read the book, “Everybody, Always” by Bob Goff (And if you have never heard of Bob Goff, you need to get all of his books right now because they are incredible!!). “Everybody, Always” shares Goff’s personal lessons of what it means to love without restrictions and to give love away like we were made of it. Loving others is such a simple concept, but loving people can be really difficult, especially when we don’t like someone. Goff’s words really struck me and reminded me of what it means to be a kingdom builder and not a castle builder. Castles only let in a certain number of people and keep others out with a moat. Whereas a kingdom is open to all people who enter it’s gates, which are open to all people. One paragraph in Goff’s book really stuck out to me especially during these times of unrest. Goff writes,
“God wants me to love the ones I don’t understand, to get to know their names. To invite them to do things with me. To go and find the ones everyone has shunned and turned away. To see them as my neighbors even if we are in totally different places. You’ll be able to spot people who are becoming love because they want to build kingdoms, not castles. They fill their lives with people who don’t look like them or act like them or even believe the same things as them. They treat them with love and respect and are more eager to learn from them than presume they have something to teach.”
I think this paragraph is so important, because personally I often get lost in trying to find people like me instead of embracing the people who are different from me. I let my fear of conflict due to differences keep me from loving and inviting these people into my lives. I have let fear control my life, not love. And for that, I am sorry. But rather than live in the shame of my fear, I move forward in confidence and in love.
As I continue to educate myself on today’s current events, I know that change begins with me and it begins with you. We need to fight to end the hatred and division in our country, but that begins by realigning our own hearts into a rhythm of love and grace. When we fill ourselves with the love and grace that Jesus Christ has shared with us, it pours into the people we call friend, family, and stranger. When we allow love to work and flow through us, it’s truly incredible the impact it can have. Because simply put, “love does.” So I encourage you today to go out and love. Love the people who are different, love the people who are difficult, love the people you hate. Allow love to change you, allow love to change the world.
Recommended books that focus on love:
Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World - Bob Goff
Everybody, Always: Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People - Bob Goff