Love With No Conditions

mother teresaWe are so quick to judge and keep our prejudice views without ever hearing the story behind the eyes. We see their actions, hear their words, but keep our distance. We never ask how they truly are. We never ask to share their story. We insulate ourselves from the “world.” I think Christian’s take the phrase “in the world, not of the world” too literal. It becomes something of a righteous thing to say.

Oh, that person has AIDS, I shouldn’t go near them. What would people think? But I’ll pray for them (on the rare occasion they cross my mind).

That person is a lesbian/gay…I shouldn’t interact with them. What if their tendencies rub off on me? What if people call me a lesbian/gay because I befriend them? That would tarnish my “Christian” image…but I’ll mail them a tract and find a self-help group for them.

Her husband is divorcing her…it must be her fault. She must have done something horrible. I won’t call her because someone might get mad at me and think I’m taking sides. She probably already has support. But I’ll put her on the prayer chain and then gossip about her with my “friends.”

Their child has a rotten attitude and no manners. They are so disrespectful and disruptive. They shouldn’t have them in church. They cause a ruckus. I would never let my child act that way. They must be horrible parents. And I’ll tell them so.

and on and on and on and on….

It never ends. Christians shoot the wounded, the hurting, the lost. Instead of loving and helping them, they condemn, judge, ridicule, withdraw, gossip, etc. about them. Why is that? Why has love become so conditional among God’s followers? I’m always lost as to how people can justify the kind of conditional, demanding love that they have and claim they are Christian and acting like Jesus. The Jesus I know loved everyone…regardless of race, status, past, problems, sexual orientation, married, single, widowed, separated, poor, wealthy, in-between, dirty, clean, prostitute, diseased, drug addict, alcoholic, sex addict, lost, and more. He never distinguished between the people that he loved. And no one had to do anything to earn his love. He gave it freely. It doesn’t mean that Jesus condoned or liked what the person was a part of or involved in or where they were at in life…but instead of judging, he loved.

What would happen if more of us chose to love freely instead of beating them up? Instead of wounding those who are already hurting? They don’t need someone telling them their life is screwed up. Nine chances out of ten, that person is already quite well aware of where they are in life. They don’t need to be reminded of it every time they turn around. Instead, they need to be loved, wanted, needed…believed that they are loved in spite of their messy, screwed up lives. People who will love them in the middle of everything…who will be their friend, their confidant, their helper. People who won’t tell them how to fix things, how to change, what to do, how they screwed up, preaching and teaching.

Listen to their silence. Sit with them in their quiet, in their pain, in their joys and heartaches. Hold them in their tears. Rage when they rage. Cry when they cry. Laugh when they laugh. Be quiet when they are quiet. Don’t fill the silence with meaningless words. You can’t fix it. You can’t change it. And don’t try. You aren’t their savior and you aren’t their God. And the relationships aren’t about trying to make yourself feel better, look like a better Christian, earn a ‘notch’ in your belt, be a witness. Instead, you are to love. Read 1 Corinthians 13. It’s the defining chapter of love in the Bible.

Love is meant to be freely given, without conditions. it is a gift that was given to us to give to others. How dare we pick and choose the benefactors as though they must earn it. 

Who Cares If God is Male or Female?

spiritual beingRecently, I had a discussion with a friend about my journey of finding the Sacred Feminine. They asked me, “Why does it matter if God is male or female?” Good question! Honestly? It doesn’t matter in the actual gender sense. In my opinion, God is both mother and father (see post here where I talked about this). They initially thought that was the point of my journey, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg!

“The Sacred Feminine is a concept that recognizes that “God” ultimately is neither male or female, but a Divine Essence – an essence that is in a unified balance of masculine and feminine principles – a dynamic interdependent ‘immanence’ that pervades all life. The Asian Yin Yang is a good representation of this idea.

However, seeing the divine as an abstract concept of overseeing, distant consciousness, or immanence, is a challenge for most humans, myself included. We all have a basic need to put the inexplicable into tangible form in order to explore and understand our relationship to it. Thus we tend to attribute human characteristics to the unknowable. We name and assign form to an abstract concept in order to relate to it at our level. So the Divine Essence or Absolute has become a “Father” God figure that we were taught to visualize, pray to and imagine having a personal relationship with. In and of itself, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Unfortunately, seeing the vast, infinite, absolute and indescribable “God” only in the form of masculine metaphor and symbol has severely limited our human spiritual potential and greatly hindered our ability to live in peace and balance on this earth. For the last several thousand years, the dominant religious belief systems of our world have been patriarchal which sanctioned social ethics that elevated God the Father over Mother Earth and men over women.

But it hasn’t always been this way! It is important to remember that for eons before patriarchy, throughout the Paleolithic and Neolithic ages, there were worldwide “Mother/Female and Earth” honoring societies that lived a more egalitarian, sustainable and peaceful culture that thrived without war for thousands of years. It is urgent to rediscover and rebuild the lost memory of those cultures to inform us and inspire us to construct a more stable foundation for society’s future.

Remembering the lost matriarchal civilizations authenticates and validates the significance of the Sacred Feminine and the importance of women and female values.

It is time to balance the masculine and feminine principles within our belief systems, our religious doctrines, our cultural ethics, and within ourselves.

It is time to honor the Sacred Feminine. “Honoring the Sacred Feminine,” in the spiritual sense, means valuing the feminine principle, along with the masculine principle, as equal and fundamental aspects of the Divine. From a planetary level, it means respecting and healing our Mother Earth. From a cultural standpoint, it means reawakening the archetype of the Goddess through entertainment and the arts and using language that gives equal emphasis to “she” and “her.” In the societal sense, it means re-creating the role of Priestess and respecting the contribution of women in business, science, art, and politics, as well as the home and community. In a religious view, it means offering ceremony and service that reaffirms our connection to the divine, the Goddess, the earth, and each other. In the human sense, honoring the Sacred Feminine means especially valuing the innate worth of woman’s body, mind, and soul, as well as appreciating the “feminine” qualities in the male character. “ (Tate, 2014). This is what my journey in re-discovering the Sacred Feminine is all about, my friends.

 

*Tate, Rev. Dr. Karen. (2014). Voices of the Sacred Feminine, Changemakers Books. ISBN: 978-1-78279-510-0.

Love, Authenticity, and Truth

Been a long time…I thought I would give up blogging forever as I moved on to other things, but I have a pull to always write, to dialogue, to share my thoughts and hear the thoughts of others. I’m reading a book right now, “Blue Like Jazz” by Donald Miller. It’s provoking some interesting thoughts, touching on some things that I’ve always pondered. So much so that I feel compelled to write Donald Miller about my thoughts, something I don’t normally do. Yet, sadly, I’ve not found a way to connect or contact him. His blog, Storyline, and Facebook page seem to be completely devoid of his personal touch. Instead, it appears he has become more “corporate” and “untouchable,” marketing his new Storyline brand. How sad for me. Therefore, I’m sharing my thoughts publicly instead of privately…to hear your thoughts.

I struggled picking up this book. I thought it would be another holier-than-thou, beat me over the head Christian book that would make me feel guilty for my shortcomings and failings as a “Christian.” But I’m finding that my mind is stirred, my spirituality is simmering, my desire to converse is spilling out of me into this blog post. A good thing, I suppose, when you really look at it.

I have always considered myself a Christian, but the meaning of that has changed as I’ve grown and stretched as a person. It is more about Christian spirituality now. I wince whenever I say that I’m a “Christian,” because I don’t associate myself and my beliefs with the larger, negative view of Christianity. As a matter of fact, I try to distance myself from it, embarrassed and shamed by the vitriol, ugliness, and judgment that radiates from the outspoken right-wing groups. Not to mention the cruelty of things done “in the name of Christ.” My heart aches because of it. I want to scream and shout, “That’s not Jesus! That’s not me! That’s not what it’s all about!”

I’ll be the first to admit my spirituality is messy, unruly, and uncouth. I was raised in the conservative church and chewed up and spit out by the same conservative church. I know all the “rules,” the should’s and should nots. The feeling of not belonging because I’m different, authentic, and have a tendency to question authority. Why would I want to love something that doesn’t love me and who I am now, at this very moment?

I haven’t been back to an organized church since I was vomited out of the church 10 years ago, like a putrid sickness that was contagious. I was beaten and battered, disgraced and shamed, unloved and unwanted because I was me, my authentic self. But isn’t the church supposed to love the unlovable, the different, the cynics, the skeptics, the gay, the drug addicts, the artists, the rebels, the outspoken, the homeless, and still others? That’s what I thought. Apparently, the church did not agree with me. I’m afraid to go back.

Now keep this in mind…I’m not bashing churches as a whole at all. I’m commenting on the ones that I’ve had personal experience with through the years. Yet still, I love God. I believe in Jesus. I believe in His all-consuming, graceful love for me and humanity. At times, I doubt it. How can He love someone like me? Is He even real? Is what I believe in even possible? Or is it all some odd fantasy cooked up by someone and we’ve all been fooled? I worry that I won’t live forever with Him. I’m scared that when I turn to dust, it’s just that….dust. Nothing. Finite. But Jesus says that with Him, we are everlasting, infinite.

I keep coming back to the same two questions…Does He really exist, and if so, Does He really love someone like me?