I’ve thought a lot about the last week of Advent – the coming of Love. What that means for us, how we embrace it, and how we so often miss it because of all the noise in our lives. Obviously the week of Christmas has come and gone. I got caught up in the busyness and noise of preparing for the big day. I let the quietness of love get lost in the noise of my life.

Yet love still came.

 

He came without fanfare in the noise and messiness of a stable. He came as one of us, born into the beautiful mess that is humanity. And he waits for us to quiet down, to take a moment, to be still and to know. He doesn’t get in our faces and shout it at us. He doesn’t beat us over the head with his word. He stoops down and writes quietly in the sand with our accusers watching. No accusations. No “I told you so.” No shame. He takes the time to sit with us by the wells brimming with our mistakes, and treats us like we really matter. He treats us like the living, breathing people that we are, accepting our only offerings; our hurts and our hopes for redemption. Not as the labels the world has cruelly written across our hearts and plastered across our chests for all to see, like the blazing scarlet letter, warning good Christians everywhere, “beware!”

Adulterer, murderer, liar, cheat, whore, gay, lesbian, atheist, Muslim, Mormon, ugly, stupid, fat, loser, redneck…

This list is as endless and diverse as the people love came for. It’s sad that we have cheapened anyone by reducing who they are or what they’ve been through to merely a label. Anything that is used to make you feel less than, love came to overcome.  

We only need be quiet enough to let it do so.

I received the following message a couple of days ago from one of my friends. It broke my heart for her, to read her words. And it broke my heart for me as well, as I have been guilty of the same things. Guilty of contributing to all of the noise that drowns out the message love brings. Read it and insert whatever it is that has you hiding. The body of what she said might read a little differently for you, but the hurt is the same. The heartbreak is the same. The shame she is made to feel is very much the same.

“How do you insulate a closet…so that you don’t hear all the noise outside and feel the effects of the pounding outside the door? How do you reinforce the door’s structure so that the darts thrown at it don’t penetrate to the inside?

It used to be so easy to hide comfortably in the closet. It felt fortified with personal secrecy guarding it. The curtain of an acceptable facade camouflaged it nicely. The only hurt was inside. Afflicted but not inflicted. It was a quiet existence because then it was rarely mentioned, so its existence was easily ignored by others.

Being gay was not the subject of the day. It wasn’t blasted all out of proportion on every news station. It wasn’t brought up at family gatherings as a topic of conversation because some bearded redneck’s comment or some celebrity declaring his/her truth. When you heard the term ‘glad’ you thought of happy. When you heard about ‘coming out’ you thought of debutante parties. When the subject of marriage came up it was applauded and not debated. When you laughed heartily, retelling Ellen’s jokes because she was a comedienne, and they didn’t realize she was a LESBIAN. When you could appreciate a good chicken sandwich without making a moral statement.

But now it feels like there is an intercom in the closet blaring the accusations, the disdain, the ridicule, the outrage, and the disappointment.

And it does not hurt my ears…it hurts my heart.

I’ve grown immensely weary of social media feeds filled with hatred, and judgement, and shaming. Where’s the love people? Not the ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’ or ‘speak the truth in love’ kind, but the love that Jesus was born to bring and the love he died because of.

It’s not our place to reduce someone to merely a label. It’s not our place to change people. Did you get that??? It’s not our place! Yes, God can and will use us in people’s lives, but it’s Holy Spirit’s job to do whatever changing needs to be done. I think Jesus actually says it much better and much more succinctly than I ever could…love God and love people.

If we would only let love be, quietly, like love came… 

 

And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love.
But the greatest of these is love.
I Corinthians 13:13   

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