Friday, December 3, 2010

The Opportunity to Love

Years ago, I attended a small Christian congregation. For the most part, it was a pretty good group of people. Still there were several members there who I always felt were just outside the group even though they were included in church activities. One was a lady who was very needy to the point of being embarressing. Another was a single mom who had never been married. Still another was a woman whose home life was so dysfunctional and chaotic she could not hide it, including a grown son serving serious time in prison. At times my heart would break as I felt some of the isolation these women experienced because of their differences.

In one particularly insightful moment, I managed to ask God an extremely relevant question. In my heartbreak, I asked God why these women were here at this church. The answer I got back was almost instantaneous. "They are here to give the other people in the congregation the opportunity to love."

I pondered this one for a while. These women had lifestyles different enough from the mainstream Christian population for them to be ostracized within that community, yet here they were continuing on as part of it. I have believed for a long time we all choose our missions in life. I realized the lives they had chosen were not about their own glory but were about helping others learn to love--one of life's greatest lessons. In my mind's eye, I understood they were not the victims of their circumstances but noble teachers who chose to dedicate their lives to helping others.

From the moment of our births, we are taught the "right" ways to behave in society. Straying from that path subjects us to the disapproval and separation of judgement. However, life is not about separation. Life is about finding what is good in others and allowing ourselves to love them regardless of our differences. The opportunity to love is all around us. Time to lay aside our differences and focus on the light within.

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