I really do live in the wrong place. I detest the heat, could care less about the beach, and wonder why anyone would enjoy sweating.
Then fall winter and spring happen. North Florida is a pretty amazing place for these few months. We get some real cold fronts that barely make it further south of us and get a few real freezes each year – even if they only last a few hours into the day.
And then amid the cacophony of negative conservative talk radio, latent racism in the South and some not-so latent racism here, the coldness speaks to me. I sit with my windows open on this (for Florida) cold evening, watching CBS Sunday morning which I TiVo every week, and it dawns on me. Not only do I love this place where I live that is Riverside, but I have an admission to come to grips with.
I’m a liberal.
You see – liberal is a term I’ve avoided labeling myself or really anyone. I always believed it was an ugly term, like neo-conservative is to me. But then I realized – hey yeah, I listen to NPR instead of the blathering of cruelty and insufferable desire to make fun of others. I watch PBS, am fascinated by Nova, know science is not antithetical to faith, and believe and know without a doubt that government DOES do good things when used as a tool instead of a blanket. I can’t fathom why people would want to beat others down to gain stature, why someone would hate someone else just for their beliefs, or how anyone who claims faith thinks anything other than God is the right answer. You and your ideas are not God, but are as a result of a gift from God. Stop taking credit for his good. I don’t want to go too far down the rabbit hole, but that doesn’t mean that you just sit back and go “I’m a good person and I do good – that’s gotta be enough.” But I digress…
So – I’m a liberal. Now what? First off – though I disagree vehemently with just about anything neo-conservatives believe in, I respect them as long as they don’t disparage we liberals. I respect their opinion as I hope they do mine – but know that it’s their fault if they don’t respect differences. And as my faith continually reminds me, I love them as one of God’s children too.
One thing I hope everyone could do is find their own way in life. Don’t tote the party line. Don’t repeat the blatherings of politicians. Don’t seek answers without also seeking opposite viewpoints.
If you can’t stand to listen to Obama speak, you’re doing it wrong regardless of how you see his politics or policies. If you can’t stand to listen to liberals like me spout on about our belief in the good inherent in people, then you’re doing it wrong. If you can’t stand to listen to hate, you’re doing it right.
If I’m so terrible for being a liberal in the deep south, then so be it.
Can’t we all just start with respect?
Loving, even if it means getting hurt.
Opening up, even if it means feeling naked.
Believing, even when nothing points to truth.
Hurting, because we WILL be lied to.
Happiness, when trust is vindicated.
Fulfilling, if it is returned.
What we do when no one is watching.
Sticking by someone, even if it means some sort of failure.
Helping a friend, even if they don’t want it.
Belief, even when all hope is gone.
Trust is faith but wrapped up into someone. It’s the personification of all the intangibles that go along with a person we can’t imagine living without – be they friend, lover or family. Faith can not be sustained without trust. Trust is the lifeblood of faith – existing in a symbiotic relationship, the result of which is… Love.
Times are hard. Right? I mean – we all know someone who is suffering. Some of the pain of failed marriages, some of failed businesses. Others suffer by means outside of their control and yet others suffer daily by the consequences of their decisions.
The world is dangerous. Americans have enemies at every corner who would be content only with the total destruction of our way of life, our country and its inhabitants.
Our days are longer with work than our parents. Our children are riddled with concerns no youth should shoulder. They are surrounded by evil, temptation and sin the likes of which most of us never knew until adulthood.
Yet take heart – this is not as bad as it can be. It has been this bad before – worse, even.
Regardless of your belief in the country’s leaders. Regardless of your views of current bills. REGARDLESS of what angers you most – step back and look at what that anger and fear is doing to you.
We as Christians are called – not to chastise, not to belittle, not to insult, not to break down, but to build up through our faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and savior. To build up by love – and caring – and compassion. Luke 12:22-26 tells us ““Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear.23 Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? ” (NIV).
Yet we still worry, and insult, and speak ill of and allow ourselves to brood over negative feelings time and time again. Many of us – myself included – are professionals at repressing that anger. We may not speak publicly of our feelings, but it shows itself in our passionate dispositions on societal topics.
Matthew 6:39-48 gives us our marching orders. It lays it out how we should ALWAYS be and culminates in the sweet truth of verses 44 and 45: “But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (NIV)
Love your enemies. Clear. Concise. Love them. Pray for them. Don’t delve into their anger – show your love for Jesus by your faith that he makes all well.
I’m not talking about inaction either – indeed, inaction is not part of that deal. Love is the action. Have your deeds show your love – not your hate or even dislike.
And it’s not just what you say either – it’s what you allow yourself to think. The serenity prayer seems to help me the most.
“God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.