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To Love As Jesus

compassion (2)

I have many devout Christians within my family and among my close friends. I respect their beliefs. They are good people who strive to live as Jesus did – treating others as they want to be treated. What I treasure most about these beautiful people is their hearts are filled with empathy, respect, personal responsibility and non-judgment.

They do not shove their religious beliefs down the throats of others. They do not judge those who do not believe as they do. They are not hypocrites. They do not ridicule, bully, mock or vilify anyone who disagrees with them. They do not make others wrong for not believing as they do. They do not seek to limit the rights of other people. They live their values while also respecting each human being’s right to create the best life possible in their own way and by following their own chosen beliefs.

I appreciate the way my Christian friends behave as a reflection of Jesus. They leave the judgment, persecution and ridicule out of their spiritual practice. This is very important to me. As a gay woman who was raised under strict fundamental Christian dogma I had a very difficult life. I was surrounded by those who did not extend empathy and respect to me for being “different.” It was made clear I had to change to be what they considered “normal,” to fit in, to marry, and have children so I would be welcome among them, to be worthy of God’s love and theirs. It was hard being persecuted, ridiculed, and told I was not good enough for God or for them. I just knew in my soul I was different even as a little child of four. Sure, there was a brief period in my early teens when I succumbed to pressure and tried to change. I was miserable and soon learned, in order to adopt the identity others were forcing on me, would mean I’d have to go against the biology of how I was born “different.”

Today I do not identify myself with any religion, yet my life is devoted to God. I strive to treat others as I want to be treated. To love as Jesus did. But I do so without the label Christian.

While I support and honor the many Christians in my life, I also support my family and friends who have chosen a different path to God and who do so by respectfully and peacefully living their faith. I believe God appreciates that we focus on ourselves, to ensure we walk as the Divine asks: to lift others up rather than tear them down, to love and allow ourselves to be loved, to respect as we desire to be respected, and to find ways to support others rather than judge them.