Today was beautiful. Actually, it was freezing cold and I woke up late and rushed out the door without any breakfast or caffeine. But, when I arrived at my destination, none of that mattered anymore. I was walking into a place where love was palpable.
In Dallas, there is a church called Wilshire Baptist, that recently voted on a resolution stating that it would permit all members to participate in congregational life regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, including the ability to consider all members for leadership, ordination, baby dedication, and marriage.
As I am sure you can imagine, in the middle of a red state, in the bible belt, after an extremely contentious election, this has caused quite an uproar. Because of this decision, the church will be expelled from the Baptist General Convention of Texas (although they can still operate as a Baptist church.) This was a consequence of their vote that the congregation understood when they made their decision. What was not expected was that protesters would show up last Sunday, with bullhorns, screaming at the people walking into church about how they are all going to “Burn in Hell.”
Way to act Christian, Christians.
I respect everyone’s right to their beliefs, but I have no respect for people that spew hatred. In my home church the message that “love is love” is preached from the pulpit and that is one of the reasons the members there are my people. I believe in a Jesus who very clearly said that we are supposed to love our neighbors as ourselves and that everyone is our neighbor- and we don’t get to make exceptions for that.
I have been having a lot of feelings lately, I mean these last few weeks, right?!!! No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, I think everyone is feeling a little rough after this election cycle.
You know how I got through the election? By drinking an entire bottle of wine in my “command center” surrounded by the TV, my laptop, and my phone, while stress-eating half a bucket of leftover Halloween candy. Around midnight when it was pretty clear how it was going to turn out, my husband had to force my drunken crying hot mess into bed and take my phone away from me.
But I digress. One of my friends from church invited me to a Facebook group of people who were going today to form a line of love in front of Wilshire Baptist. The idea was to serve as a sort of anti-protest just in case the protesters from last week came back.
Luckily they did not, but something magical did happen. At 8:30 on a Sunday morning a small group of about 20, most of us strangers to each other and with no ties to Wilshire Baptist, welcomed the church attendees with smiles and signs of encouragement and thanks. It went so well that a bigger group of us came back at 10:30 to greet the next service.
And I can’t even begin to count the number of hugs I got today. I certainly can’t count the tears that were shed, a large portion of them admittedly by me. All the pastors and church staff came out to thank us, most of them crying, to say how hard this time has been. More than one person expressed to us that this showing of community support meant the world to them. I had one woman tell me that she had not been to the church in almost 40 years because she was not sure she was welcomed and that today was her first day coming back. I think she picked a pretty good day for a homecoming.
For the second service, I brought my kids and husband with me because I wanted them to see this outpouring of love for our community and the impact it was making on our neighbors who were hurting. Standing out there chatting with strangers, hugging everyone, and covering these people with love was not only good for them, it was healing for my soul.
A part of me has had a wall built up around my heart recently. Sometimes I feel like there is a battle inside me between my desire to love everyone well and my fear of what could happen when my heart is that open. The scary state of the world made me want to protect myself-to curl up in a little ball and just hope for it to get better.
Today I got to remember that the best part of life isn’t waiting for the world to get better, it’s doing what little bit you can to actually make it better.
Today love won.