Thursday, December 9, 2010

Reverb10 day 5 - Letting Go

Author: Alice Bradley

Prompt: Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?

I let go of a prejudice this year. It's strange to think in 2010 that people still hold onto prejudice. It's something that I think people had to deal with in the '60's with the Civil Rights movement. Occasionally I still hear an older person use a "racial slur" in their conversation, but I never think of prejudice as something I needed to deal with.

I mentioned in an earlier post about a group from our church reading the book "Guerrilla Lovers" by Vince Antonucci over the summer. Each week this group - we called ourselves the "Love Squad" - would read a chapter together, talk about it, then spend the morning going out and sending "love bombs" into the community. That sounds violent - it really wasn't. We would go out in the vans with big coolers of lemonade and whenever we saw a person working outside, we'd run up to them with a cup of lemonade, and offer it to them. You'd be surprised at how many people look at you like you're crazy because you offer them a cup of cold lemonade on a sweltering hot day.

The first question they ask is "Why?" The answer was, "Because we want to show you God's love." Then the conversation continued.....

I could tell you 100 stories about lemonade blessings....probably a story for another day...

The missions got harder for me when we went to minister to the homeless. We have a significant homeless population in our city. So we went equipped with bags of bread and bottles of water and other non-perishables, and we spent the day finding homeless people, talking to them, giving, praying, listening.

As I walked through the day I felt myself fighting feelings of uneasiness and resistance. I saw how easily the people I was with (many of whom were younger than me) sat and talked with the homeless just like they were anyone from their school or work. I winced inside as they passed out bag after bag of food. One bag? Sure. But bag after bag? I listened as I heard one girl say, "We can give you so much because God gives big blessings." I knew my feelings were wrong, and I was fighting them.

I had read John 13:34-35 where Jesus said, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know you follow me, if you love one another."

How will people know I'm a follower of God if I don't love like God? God loves lavishly. God loves bountifully. God loves when we don't deserve it. God loves the mighty and important, and the meek and seemingly insignificant exactly the same. I knew I needed to love that way. I had to let go of my prejudice.

I remembered back 6 months before that. I was riding in the car with #1, and we drove to an intersection where a homeless man held a sign "Homeless and hungry. Anything will help." #1 asked me what the sign said. I told him, then I locked the door. He said, "We could get him something." I drove off. And as I did, I went into this long explanation of how this man was on the side of the road because he most likely made poor choices in his life that led to other poor choices, and I told him that giving him a meal wouldn't help him make right choices, and that's why we ignore people on the side of the road. I remember feeling self-righteous as I spoke. #1 listened and understood. I had just taught him my prejudice.

As I continued through my summer day, I felt my heart melting and my hands opening as I let the truth of God's word help me release my prejudice and condemning spirit. I know handing out bread and water and groceries is not going to solve the homeless problem in my community. The Bible even says in Matt 26:11 that you will always have the poor with you. But I know for me, a big step in becoming more like Jesus was to see people like He does - not one any better than the other - and loving them the way God wants me to.

The other great thing about the day was that all three of my kids were there. They saw love in action. They learned that love breaks down walls. I actually talked to #1 about our car conversation 6 months earlier. He remembered it, amazingly. I apologized to him, and told him I was wrong. He said, "it's ok mom." He's the first one to jump in the Green Truck - the Green Mean Jesus Machine. He loves to serve already. He'll pray with people at our church food bank. I'm glad this is one prejudice that won't be passed down to the next generation. Hopefully, only unconditional love will be passed on.

1 comment:

  1. Gosh, I can feel some parallels here with what I wrote today. Remembering not to judge, and to question and fight your own prejudices have some similarities. And go you with your work for the poor and needy, that is truly admirable work. I'm not a Christian but I'm full of awe for anyone who walks the walk rather than talking the talk.


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