Why do some Christians think it’s their moral duty to make everyone around them miserable? I’m not trying to be one of those edgy Christian bloggers who are constantly calling out Christians for being bigoted, but I do want to humbly ask, what in the hell is wrong with us?
Or, as my grandmother would say, “What crawled up your butts and died?”
A few years ago I lived on my own in a tiny town outside of Fort Worth, Texas. This town was old—old—and filled with close-knit people whose families had been intertwined for so long that their great-grandparents had gone to school together. How I wound up there is a long story, but once I got there I was too broke to leave. I figured I would make the best of it and make some friends. This plan went horrifically wrong.
Fast forward to a year later and I’m an outcast, have developed severe depression, and am the oblivious object of malicious rumors that have forever ruined me in the eyes of people who had previously been my friends.
Why does no one want to be near me? What did I do? Am I a terrible person?
Without friends or family to tell me otherwise, I began to believe that I was unloved. Then–because subtlety just isn’t my lot in life–near the end of my time there I was in a car accident that took my job, my car, and my health. I was on crutches for three months, and in a walking cast for six more. I actually became as alone as I had felt all that time.
The worst part: I was a self-pitying bitch.
When I finally got the funds to leave Texas I spent the next year nurturing intense hatred and bitterness for everyone in that town, even though I had physically left them behind.
I still struggle. Every damn day.
The church I’d been a member of turned their backs on me at a time in my life when I was too broken and vulnerable to handle it. My relationship with God was that of a rebellious teenager and her long-suffering father, so I wasn’t strong enough to realize that I needed to forgive them and move on. I kept trying to please them, to be one of them. I was desperate to earn their love and friendship, but they saw through me and not only rejected me, but went out of their way to be cruel and hateful.
I’m not writing that to make you feel sorry for me. I was a mess. While that doesn’t excuse their behavior, their sins sure as hell don’t excuse mine.
Over time I changed. God graciously forgave me and came after me. He dragged me, kicking and screaming, back into the light. Yet in order to be forgiven, I knew that I needed to let go of my hatred for that town, and the sense of entitlement that made me believe they should have done more.
It’s a lesson I have to remind myself constantly. Forgiveness is not a once-given, forever-done kind of thing with me. With God, yes. I am by nature a bitter gnome though, and once I decide I hate you that’s pretty much never going to change.
Overcoming my nature is one of the hardest things about being a Christian–but it’s also kind of the entire point. Every day I have to bring my bitterness and spite to God and ask Him to help me move forward or I inevitably slide backwards.
So today, realizing that I am truly the worst Christian imaginable, I ask forgiveness from those people in that tiny Texas town. I had no right to judge you, to hate you, and to harbor those feelings long after you all forgot my name.
I don’t know you. I don’t know what knowing me felt like to you. I’m so sorry I wasn’t more loving, because I don’t know if you needed it as much as I did then. My pain could have brought hope or healing to you, had I trusted God enough to use my hurt as a learning opportunity.
My point is that I have been on both sides of “Christian-on-Christian violence” and it sucks. Both sides are destructive to the soul and erect a barrier between you and God, the only being whose love and approval matters.
Don’t be like me. Don’t be the worst version of Christ that you can be to the world. Swear, get mad, kick ass if you have to, but don’t hold onto anger once the time for it has passed. Everything has a time and place. Feel everything there is to feel in that moment, and then give it to God when it wells up in you again, having faith that God’s grace is enough to keep you moving forward.