All About the Love

The summer before I started my first year at the University of Michigan, my mom told me (warned me?) “Please don’t become a liberal.”  At the time, I suppose I considered myself a moderate-conservative Christian.  Of course, I was eighteen, and who knows who they are at that age?  I knew I was open-minded and wanted to be in a diverse environment, and I wasn’t opposed to the fact I had been accepted to what many considered a school which getting into was difficult.

 

Off I went from West Michigan to Ann Arbor, and, lo and behold, five years later (yes, five years – don’t judge), I left the University of Michigan proclaiming myself a liberal.  I don’t think I changed all that much.  In fact, my mom is the person who taught me, before I went to college, before I began any schooling of any kind, to respect and love others no matter what.  I’m pretty certain she – and maybe a tiny bit of my time at U of M – is the reason I am a liberal.

 

Thanks Mom!

All of this to say, even though I call myself a liberal, that label doesn’t define me.  No label defines me.  Or you, for that matter.  Yes, labels are great for describing characteristics, but we are forever changing and growing beings, constantly being molded into the person we will be tomorrow.  We are not square pegs or round pegs to be fit into a matching peg hole.  We are not even triangles or octagons, or parallelograms.  We are malleable shapes, not meant for peg holes of any kind.  Eventually, we would not fit anymore, and have to break free.

Likewise, I consider myself a Christian, but I’m certain there are other religions with which I relate.  Buddhism, for one, and – as a friend suggested to me – I might lean toward Secular Humanism, which isn’t a religion (I think).  Sometimes I wonder if I’m an atheist, but I’ve never let go of the idea that God is possible, and something I hope beyond hope is as real as the world around me.  I’m attracted to Catholicism lately, even though my church of choice is non-denominational.  I mean, the current Pope is amazing!  Aside from my favorite president and Mother Teresa, he’s the greatest Catholic person I know.

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Okay, I don’t know him-know him, but neither do any of you, so let’s move on.

At times, I may seem a bit jaded, cynical, angry and depressed.  On the inside, however, I’m all about the love, peace, and happiness.  I love having friends and family, no matter what beliefs or non-beliefs they uphold, who are also about the love, peace and happiness.  It’s comforting to know there are people in my life who are able to agree to disagree, and focus on the important things in life – giving, caring, loving, and helping.

Earlier today, my neighbor knocked on my door to ask if Beatrix could watch God’s Not Dead with her kids.  She asked if it was okay because I had recently shared this article on Facebook, and stated “After watching the trailer, I knew I couldn’t see the movie. Glad I didn’t.”  The trailer portrayed atheists and Christians alike in a narrow-minded stereotypical fashion.  It was enough for me to skip the movie.  This, of course, means my opinion of the movie is based only on the trailer and the article I read.  “Yes, of course Beatrix can watch it,” I told my neighbor.  Yes, this Christian mother will allow her Christian daughter to watch a Christian movie.  It seemed silly that she had to ask me, but I love that she respected me enough to ask.

I’ve taught my children that they are to love and respect everyone, no matter what they believe.  (Oh my goodness, I just realized I AM like my mom!).  Before they watched the movie, I told Beatrix and her friend the only reason I didn’t want to watch it was because I didn’t think the atheist character was realistic.  I explained that I have friends who don’t believe in God who are good, kind, loving and caring people.  I told them what I liked about the movie trailer – the main character stands up in the face of adversity to proclaim his belief in God.

 

As with all movies (okay, maybe not all), I like to discuss them with my kids.  The good parts, the bad parts, the funny parts.  I do think I’ll watch the movie now, so I’m able to talk about it with Beatrix from a more informed point of view.  I’ll ask what she liked about it, if she learned anything from it, and I’ll share my opinion.  I’ll also let her know that it’s okay for her to have her own opinion, even if it differs with mine.

I asked my neighbor why people can’t be more like us (jokingly, of course…ha ha).  She is someone who is all about the love, peace, and happiness.  She loves me and I love her, and we can disagree and still be friends.  It works out quite nicely.

There are people on all sides of the coin when it comes to religion.  There are some who believe in freedom of religion, some who believe there should only be one religion, and some who believe there should be no religion.  I equate it with people who want children and people who want to live child-free.  Sometimes it seems there’s a war out there between the two, but I don’t know why.  There are reasons to have children.  There are reasons to not have children.  I’m certain we are wise enough to realize that one is not better than the other – just different.  People know that I’ve had a rough time as a mom, but of course I didn’t want children for the sleepless nights, tantrums, guilt, and lack of personal space.  I chose to have children because I wanted a family.  I wanted to kiss squishy cheeks, teach growing minds, and love those minds and squishy cheeks till the day I die.  I know those who choose to be child-free because they want freedom, a career to which they can devote their time, more money in their bank account, and the ability to travel without having to worry about schedules and babysitters and….okay, I’m starting to get jealous.

Likewise, that’s how I view my spiritual beliefs.  I don’t choose to be a Christian so I can be self-righteous, or point out “sinful nature” in others, or feel guilty when I’ve done something terrible.  I choose to be a Christian for the good that the religion offers – loving others, helping the poor and oppressed, spreading joy and peace.  I don’t want Christianity to define me, especially when so many people define Christianity so differently.  Even peace-loving, hope-spreading, lover-of-the-oppressed Gandhi once said “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

 

I want to be more like Christ, and less like other Christians.  I want my faith to bring about good in the world, not hate.  I know non-believers out there want the exact same thing.

So join me, will you, in bringing more good to the world.  Make friends with the person who has different beliefs than you do.  Debate with them, but do so in a way that doesn’t diminish the other person or bring about hurt and hate.  Be someone who is all about the love, peace, and happiness.  (If that’s your thing, of course.  If not, well, we might just have to agree to disagree.)

 

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Bonnie
    Sep 22, 2014 @ 09:36:37

    Mandy I love you so much. You are a good mom and wife, and a follower of Christ. Love, mom

    Like

    Reply

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