Yesterday was an emotional day.
I was elated that my candidate won the Presidential election last night. Yes, I know, the fact that I voted Democrat makes many of my family and fellow Texans squirm. But after a lot of prayer and research and fact-checking and deliberation, my vote went to Obama.
But immediately after that high, I was then dismayed and shocked to see many of my Facebook friends, fellow Christians, start BASHING me and those who voted for Obama. One even went so far as to tell me personally that by voting for Obama, I was basically voting for the murder of babies and that I was a poor Christian and Jesus would be pleading for leniency on my soul.
Honestly, at about midnight, I was never more ashamed to be associated with the body of Christ. Do not mistake what I am saying--I am in NO WAY ashamed of my savior or the fact that I am one of His followers. What I am saying is that in that moment, after reading post after post in which Christians referred to those who voted Democrat as lazy, lowlifes, moochers, stupid, murderers, morally bankrupt, and a whole list of other terms, when an entire segment of the population was being blindly judged and condemned, I was outraged at the hypocrisy that is so rampant in our ranks.
To be honest, in my darkest moments last night, with tears streaming down my face at the pure hatred and vitriol being spewed forth in the name of Christ, I was ready to just throw in the towel with the entire idea of church. I'm content at our current church, but it isn't the perfect fit for me. Last week, I sat fuming in my seat while the Pastor stood on stage making the same statement (albeit heavily veiled and in a much milder tone) that many of my fellow Christian friends were making--that by voting for a candidate that, on top of many other things, is pro-choice, I was a bad Christian. Never mind the fact that a President doesn't write the laws regarding abortion (our Congress does that). Never mind the fact that determining the fate of abortion jurisprudence in America isn't even in the President's job description. Never mind the fact that I had prayed, researched, read, agonized over my decision and made the one I felt led to make. The race was being boiled down to a single issue--and I, as both a person and Christian, was being judged by what others perceived was my reaction to that issue. And the worst part about it--they are completely wrong about my stance on that issue.
For a week now, I've listened to countless people who identify themselves as Christian assume things about my heart and soul and faith, and flat condemn me. They were completely wrong in their assumptions about me, ignoring the complexity of this election and instead, using a single superficial fact (who I cast my vote for) to denigrate and marginalize someone different. And I was fed up.
Now, I know what you are thinking. This is supposed to be a post of thanksgiving, so why is she going on about all of this....
What I am thankful for today is wonderful Christian friends, pastors and fellow believers that God has placed in my life over the past few years. Because without those people, who have shown me what true Christian love and community can look like, I probably would have walked away. Not from my faith--but from church.
I have been blessed by amazing men and women who have loved me, taught me, accepted me (faults and all) and challenged me. They've lovingly confronted me when I was off the mark. They've listened and prayed for me and offered me encouragement in my darkest times. Had I not had these experiences of Christ's church, as I believe He intended it to be, I may have been one of the statistics, one of the thousands of people who are leaving the church, tired of the hypocrisy and anger that they too often see there.
So, after a lot of praying, crying out to God, and reflection, you'll be relieved to know I'm not planning on a hiatus from church. I do love the communal worship, feeling the Spirit move through a room of believers. I know that I am spiritually fed while there--even if the sermon is messy or not my style or sloppily delivered, I'm mature enough to know that God uses broken tools to build His kingdom. I'm still angered and sickened by the hatred I see coming from my fellow Christians. I don't expect to always agree, I know that these believers are passionate about God's mandate to protect the sanctity of life and I respect that and support it--but I am angered by the sinful means they use to express that passion. But thanks to the incredible example of my Christian friends and the experiences I've had with them in recent years, I know...it can be better than this. I know that I can't walk away, that I am charged to be salt and light, to reflect the love of Christ, and be the change I want to see in the church. And I'm praying a prayer of Thanksgiving that God has so richly blessed me with life-long friends of faith.