So here’s the scary thing about faith. It changes, and it evolves. Just when you think you have it all figured out… BAM! You realize you don’t. I wonder why that is. Maybe we’re not supposed to have it all figured out. Just a thought…
I was having a conversation with someone the other day, expressing my concerns and feelings regarding abortion and the laws surrounding it. This person’s reply to my thoughts was to tell me what a grown-up thing that was for me to express and how unselfish it was. Which is awesome because it’s super easy for me to fall into the selfish trap. Now, I wanted to reply (inside my head) that these have always been my views on abortion, and I’m not even a grown up. And while they have been my views for quite some time, they certainly haven’t always been. You see, I no longer believe that a law to ban abortions will stop abortions, and it certainly won’t solve the actual problem. The truth is, women have always found a way to have abortions since the beginning of babies, laws or no laws. So, making abortions illegal may be a step in a process, but it’s not the issue I want to focus my eyes on anymore. I’d rather look at the hearts of the mothers. Because the truth behind every issue, no matter what legal or medical terminology is used, is a heart issue. It’s all about the heart. And in EVERY situation, if we don’t start from the roots, the heart, the situation will never fully improve.
So back to my conversation about this the other day, I wanted to say I’ve always had these “grown-up thoughts” (although I haven’t spoken with, or watched on TV a multitude of grown-ups that have expressed these same thoughts), but I couldn’t say that, because it’s just not true. I haven’t always thought like that.
My faith has changed in many other areas too, such as the ways I look at my homosexual brothers and sisters. Actually, it’s pretty much the exact same way I look at my heterosexual brothers and sisters. But no, I didn’t always think this way. I am completely ashamed to say (no wait, just kidding, shame only exists for those who believe in it). But I am so sad to say, that I saw the “pretend gatekeepers of Heaven” who say who gets in and who doesn’t, as a completely normal thing. I was 14 years old when I used a verse from the Bible in a project I had to make about traditional vs modern families that said homosexuals wouldn’t enter the Kingdom of God. It makes me throw up in my mouth a little bit to think about that project. I didn’t know any better.
Maya Angelou once said:
Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.
Now that I know better, I pray with every fiber of my being that I do better.
I don’t know much about Heaven, or about who will be there and who won’t. But I know that the verse I quoted from the Bible when I was 14, was taken severely out of context. And I don’t know much about sin, except that Jesus paid for all of mine and all of yours. But I do know that never again will I pretend to be, or put up with, someone who thinks they are Heaven’s gatekeeper.
Just the other day I was with a group of people when a woman expressed that Christians have “something different inside them” that Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t. The hair on the back of my neck started to stand up, and tears of sadness and anger formed in my eyes. When I got home I immediately emailed my blogging friend, Shawni, because she’s the only Mormon friend I have, and she’s one of the best people, and examples of God’s love that I know. I didn’t know what to do and I couldn’t believe what I had just heard. And then I remembered, I could have just as well been listening to a recording of myself talking about something like this just a few years ago. Because I didn’t know better. Because this woman doesn’t know better. So she couldn’t do any better. And the fact that I may know better now, doesn’t place me any higher than her. When we do know better and our faith has changed, we can’t exclude certain people to make room for the new people. No, no, no. We’ve completely missed the point if we do that. I believe that when my faith grows, my heart does too, so that I have more love for my new friends that my faith has stretched in order to encompass, and certainly enough love for my old friends, or those who were once like me. Wherever they are in their faith, they have SO much to offer me. Namaste, my friend, the God in me sees the God in you.
I still have a lot to learn, and my faith still has a long way to evolve. But, I believe with all my heart that I’m on the right track. I believe that I’m asking the right questions. I’d rather have a faith filled with questions and doubts than a stagnant one.
Rachel Held Evans writes this:
People who change their minds are called flip-floppers or backsliders, accused of capitulating to culture and “conforming to the world.”
But some of the most recognizable names in the Christian story experienced changes of heart: Paul, Augustine, Martin Luther, C.S. Lewis and Madeleine L’Engle.
In my own life, questions and doubts have served as refining fires that keep my faith hot and alive and bubbling where certainty would only freeze it on the spot.
I’m thankful for uncertainty. And I’m thankful for the change.
Because back in the day when I chose to believe the Messiah was coming back to Earth on the wings of a particular political party, my views reflected whatever that party said. Sounds completely silly, right? But I know so many people who still believe this metaphor to be a bit too true.
At some point I realized that Jesus probably isn’t a Republican. And he’s probably not a Democrat either. Therefore, I don’t want to pledge my allegiance to anyone other than my Savior, and brothers and sisters of this world, which encompass conservatives, liberals, and everyone in between. We’re all in, baby. The Kingdom is for us.
So whatever age you are, wherever you are, don’t be afraid to open your heart to what God is saying. The Bible is not our only source of growth and information, but remember that the most important commandment ever taught in there, is to love. We have to use the Bible along with our hearts and minds, and the Holy Spirit that lives inside of us.
Changing is scary. Think how frightening it must be for a caterpillar to go through the process to change into a butterfly. The pruning stage is never the best, but boy is it worth it! Hang in there. Be kind, and be brave.