October 15, 2010

black and white.

i talk to myself.
conversations that begin with other people continue in my mind.
and recently, i am YELLING to myself.
you CAN be both!!
Black and White.

Personally, I am very CONSERVATIVE.
I am VERY pro life, VERY conservative fiscally, I believe in small government, I believe that marriage is between a MAN and a WOMAN. I believe that SEX outside of the bonds of marriage is a SIN.
I am modest. I don't believe in altering my body with tattoos or enhancements. I believe children are a gift from God. I believe families are blessed when a mother can stay home with her children. I don't swear (most of the time). I believe in the 10 commandments. I believe that pornography, drugs and alcohol and homosexuality lead to unhappiness and sin.
I believe in laws that outlaw WRONG.
Stealing is wrong, murder is wrong, abortion is wrong, adultery is wrong, abuse is wrong, rape is wrong, sex outside of marriage is wrong... immorality, disrespect, crass behavior, addiction, abuse, etc... these things lead to the disintegration of a community.
Our laws should protect us and our children from exposure to things that corrupt.
I vote conservatively, I believe in these principles, and I teach my children RIGHT versus WRONG.

Saying all this... my heart and my soul are VERY liberal. 
{this does not mean i act conservative and feel liberal... it means i am conservative but i LOVE easily... i empathize liberally.}
I am a listening type, people come to me and share their stories with me.
I have MANY people i LOVE who are gay, who have had abortions, who certainly do not wait for marriage to have sex. I LOVE many people who have committed adultery, had abortions, smoke, drink, have tattoos, have breast implants, mothers who need to work and mothers who want to work. People I love smoke, drink, steal, go to jail, struggle with homosexuality, mental illness, promiscuity, teenage pregnancy. My heart aches for my friends and family who are alcoholics, prescription and illegal drug addicts, pedophiles, suicide survivors, rape and abuse victims.  (Not that working mothers compare to pedophiles... just that in my society people seem to judge one another about so many things... I don't think we can judge, on big things or little things.)

Can I not support Gay marriage and still love people who are gay?  Yes.
Can I think abortion is a sin and completely love and grieve with someone struggling to heal from an abortion?  Yes.
Can I teach my children not to smoke and teach them to love and respect people who smoke?  Yes.
Can I feel that it is wrong to put silicone into your body to enhance your breasts and still love my smokin hot friends who've had boob jobs?  Yes.
Can I empathize with a child abuser?  Yes.  Even if I think they should go to jail?  Yes.

My sister was living with a man who was abusive.  I went to help her leave him... and she couldn't do it.  I prayed that God would change her, that I could make her leave.  I learned, as I cried with her on her bed, that it is HARD to choose, even if it is the right thing to do.  God did not change her, instead he changed me.  He told me to love her.  And, I did.  I understood that it was harder than I thought.  Yes, I still think it was RIGHT for her to leave him, but I knew it was harder for her to choose to leave than I originally understood.
Could I think she was wrong and still completely love and respect her?  Yes. 

Everyone has a story. Usually, people who struggle are people who have survived more in their life than anyone should have to endure. Tattoos—who the heck cares about a tattoo? Boob jobs? Abortion? Homosexuality? Addiction? How can we judge... especially when we don’t know the story. Every time I hear their stories, i LOVE these people. I learn from them, in MANY ways I want to be more like them.

In fact, I have a MUCH harder time with someone who appears "perfect" and is so openly critical and judgmental of others than I have with a big tattooed, beer drinking, cussing, kind-hearted motorcycle man. The more I am around religious, educated, wealthy people, the more I am DISGUSTED by their pride and judgment of other people. The MOST Christ like, giving, selfless people I have ever met were uneducated, unimportant, poor, loving people who have endured much in life.  People who have endured much can love easier.  People who struggle can empathize better with others who struggle.  Isn't it interesting that most of the 12 apostles Christ choose were poor fisheman? 

{In church once, I made a comments that started, "I like Barrack Obama, but..."  People were aghast.  They gossiped about this comment and labeled me "liberal".  Oh PLEASE.  I do like him.  I respect that he is the first black president.  I respect that he grew up in a single parent home, graduated from Harvard and that he is spending his life trying to make a difference.  I think he's funny.  I think he's smart.  I like that he lived in a cheap apartment when he was in the congress.  I like that he values his family and that he is married to a strong woman.  I don't agree with him politically, but I like him.  I respect him as my president.  I believe he is trying to do good.  If people sitting in a Sunday School class have a problem with that, I think there is a problem with them.}  

I'm trying to find the quote from Brigham Young, he said something like, "If our chapels do not smell like smoke we aren't doing our job."
I KNOW that all of us stink. We all do things that are wrong. Some sins are just easier to see than others.
Is it MORE wrong to have homosexual tendencies or MORE wrong to scream and hit your kids?

Take two first graders, an A student and a D student... one has a parent who checks their homework and quizzes them on their spelling words and another whose mother is working all night or drunk. Can you say one is smarter? One is better? No. You have to know their stories. Is an A better than a D? Yup. Is the A kid better than the D kid? The A kid grows up and marries and raises a perfect family where the D kid struggles with addiction and teenage pregnancy and steals... is one better?

We CAN NOT judge. That is why Christ is the judge... he is all knowing, all loving and all merciful. He can judge perfectly. Grades, appearances, even life style choices are not good judges of what a person is made of.

I have a friend who works with pedophiles and murders in the jail system. I’ve asked him, “Have you ever met an EVIL person?” He said, “No, not yet.” He went on to explain that so far (he has been doing this for 10 years) every person he has talked to eventually softens and describes a childhood of pain or abuse that is unimaginable. Yes. Pedophilia is evil. Yes, it is wrong. Yes, it should be illegal. Yes, no matter what your background you still have a choice. But, I can’t judge a pedophile. I don’t know their pain, their story, what it must be like to struggle with that addiction. (I do think there are EVIL people in the world... I think there must be people who choose evil and don’t care. But, most of the people I know have good hearts and a desire for goodness, even if they don’t always choose good.)

My heart loves liberally even if my vote is conservative.

I have studied the life of Christ. It is interesting to me that when the Son of God, himself, was on the earth he did not condemn the sinners. He had compassion on them. He healed them. He blessed them. He forgave them. He taught them. Who did he condemn? The people in the temples and churches. He cursed the hypocrites. He said, “He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone.” Then to the adulterous women, “Neither do I condemn thee, go thy way and sin no more.” He rebuked those of us with a beam in our eye who are arguing about a splinter in someone else’s eye. Every time I hear the life story of someone who seems easy to judge, I am humbled. Every time.
Yes, there is sin. God is a god of JUSTICE. Right versus wrong. Good versus evil. But, He is also a God of MERCY. I would NOT believe in a JUST God if I did not believe in a PERFECTLY merciful God also.
And so, I am BLACK and WHITE.
Conservative and Liberal.
My vote is conservative, my life is conservatinve, my heart is liberal.
I believe in both Justice and Mercy.
Love the sinner, hate the sin.

And, I teach this to my children.
Yes, smoking is bad for you, you should not smoke.
Yes, you can still love and respect someone who smokes.

Yes, you should wear modest clothes, you should not get tattoos, you should not have sex before you are married, you should be kind and obey the law and study hard to get good grades, you should not steal, you should not get an abortion, you should believe in God, and pray, and go to church. Marriage is between a man and a woman...
but ABOVE ALL, you should love other people.
You should love people who are different than you and love imperfect people and not think you are better than someone else just because you have been taught differently.
The greatest commandment is to LOVE God and the second is like unto it, LOVE your neighbor as yourself.
To love is more important than to not smoke.
To love is more important than to not get a tattoo.
This is what I teach them, and what I believe with my whole heart.
We are NOT the judges. We're just not.

and, i'm Mormon, i'm Christian, i'm pro life, i'm Conservative, i'm not a fan of socialized medicine, communism or big government  and still, i like Barrack Obama.
i would not vote for him, but i would invite him to my home for dinner and games.
just sayin.'

want to read more?... after i wrote this post, i read this... i guess my church agrees with me.  :)


Starr said...

I didn't vote for him either...but if he accepts your dinner invitation I'd love to come too! :)

Jaidi Clayton said...

WOW! You took all my feelings and put them into one blog entry! Thank you! I love everything that you said. I struggled with a lot of these feelings lately. And I am so glad to know that someone else has the same feelings I have...Now I don't feel bad about it. You made it sound all okay! Thanks! :)

melissa said...

My name is melissa smith. I privatley stalk your blog and LOVE it. I love your open and honest testimony. I met you at book club a few times years ago. You talked about patterning your week after the creation. Sometime if you are at a lose of what to blog about I would like to hear that again.

Ann said...

Awesome post, Jen. Awesome post. :)

Chase and Leah said...

I SO admire your willingness to share such an open and honest declaration of what you know to be true. I love the way you put it. Thanks for standing up for what you believe in. Love you Jen!
P.S. You wrote an email to CJane didn't you...you're famous!

Rachel Ure said...

would love to hear about the conversation that started this whole blog post. i love it. i agree with you. it is about loving- not judging. my favorite is thatthere were sweet zoo pictures that , to me, seemed to have everything to do with the post. ;)

jenifer said...

starr- you're totally invited!

jaidi- don't feel bad... for sure, you are OK!!

thanks ann- um, did i tell you i'm going to TRY and go natural with this baby... i go CRAZY at the end of my pregnancy and have been induced 6 times, because i talk my doctor into it... you have got to help me go into labor ONCE before i die. :)

leah- i did write an email to cjane, but i don't think i was the jen from texas she was talking about.

and melissa- i would love to write my creation cleaning schedule... i guess i'm still waiting for my house to be a bit cleaner before i post it. :)

and rachel- a zoo would be NO FUN at all if every animal looked the same... so, it kinda goes together.

Kerri said...

I loved loved loved this post. I am a moderate with a liberal heart, and I love my conservative and my liberal and my moderate friends with equal fervor, but I'm afraid I've felt not as loved lately by those with a strong conservative voice. Thank you for stating your opinions with so much strength as well as kindness. If we could all love each other with the pure love of Christ, our differences wouldn't matter as much as they do when we look at each other through eyes focused on the differences.

Steph said...

I used to see the world in such polar opposites. I used to think it was easy to know who and what were right and wrong. But the older I get the more I realize that it really all is about loving people. Everybody is dealing with something. Thanks for the post.

Susan said...

You are awesome Jen! Congrats on the upcoming baby...hope you can go natural and by yourself....it's awesome and the only way to go : )
I very much appreciated your post...sometimes it's hard to remember that unconditional love does not equal unconditional acceptance of the choice/lifestyle.
Hope all is well in your world ~

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