Dear Me …
This is a letter to the girl I used to be
Dear Me …
There are some things that you should know
It’s not my intention to embarrass or to shame you
What’s inside the rear-view mirror is closer than it appears
We do the best that we know how, with what we have been given
And the difference between you and I is, I’ve been given time
In time, you’ll see

Dear Me …
This is a letter to the girl I used to be
Some things are not as simple as we said
Remember when we thought there were a handful of some magic words to pray
A guarantee and a down payment on a mansion
Remember all the rules we made about the Body and the Blood
The hoops we made them jump through
Though He offers it to everyone
I’m so sorry

Do you remember now the things I said I thought that I deserved
My flag, and safety, a place to learn
The things I know I didn’t earn
And bless their hearts, I’m sure it’s hard
But handouts don’t help anyone
And all the talk about the system
I sure hope someone can fix them
I said those things

Dear Me …
This is a letter to the girl I used to be
You’ll see, you’re gonna take the long way
And there is nothing you could do or say to separate you
From the love of God who made you just exactly as He meant to
And you cannot imagine all the places you’ll see Jesus
But you’ll find Him everywhere you thought He wasn’t supposed to go
So, go!.. Go!..

And hold all the mothers, whose babies bleed from bullet holes
And feel all the hunger, the bellies and the bones
Shout for the prisoner, cry for justice, loud and long
And march with the victims, as Jesus marches on
And sit at all the tables, ’cause Jesus eats with everyone
And dance to the music, if you can’t sing its native tongue
And cry for the wombs, the mothers and the empty arms
And hold high the warriors, fighting now for freedoms’ song

And love, love, love, love
Like it’s your own blood
And love, love, love, love
As you have been loved
Love, love, love, love
Like it’s your own blood
Love, love, love, love
As you have been loved
Love, love, love, love, love
Like [you have been?]
Love, love, love, love, love
It’s all about love!
Love, love, love, love, love
His name is love
Love, love, love, love, love

I love this song. I really hope you’ll take the time to listen to it or read the lyrics. I feel every word of it down to my bones. It’s my anthem right now. There was a time in my life that although I loved Jesus, I knew very little of how to love people. It breaks my heart when I think of it now.

Loving people, with Christ’s sacrificial love, is so far down the list of Important Things in much of Christian culture. So much of it is inwardly focused; are you reading your Bible, attending church, praying? Church is often reduced to self-help lessons. The church in America is becoming increasingly nationalistic and prosperity-based. If you are doing the right things, God will bless you with worldly goods. If He doesn’t, you aren’t working hard enough, or you don’t believe enough, or you have sin in your life (as if there are humans who don’t). Instead of God’s unmerited grace and giving from a posture of thankfulness for all of the things we have but did not earn, hard work is where we place value, and not necessarily hard work that benefits others. Our prosperity is taken as evidence of our morality. We disparage those who need help, we heap blame onto their already heavy-laden shoulders we tell them we shouldn’t have to be penalized and forced into generosity because of their failures. We pretend that good things happen to good, hardworking people and if good things don’t happen to you, it is because you failed in some fundamental way. In the rare times we focus on others, it is to restrict their actions or emphasize their sin (while ignoring our own). We pick and choose what sins are acceptable and which deserve preaching or legislating against, and make rules about who is welcome at His table. I accepted that for a long time, much longer than I wish I had.

God did not leave me there, though. He has challenged me and been merciful and given me grace more times than I could ever count. He has opened my eyes to the brokenness in our world and in our systems that we willfully ignore when we are so busy blaming people for their lot in life. He has showed me the deep grief and suffering of others at the hand of the church when so many make the mistake of believing their judgment is a form of love. He has reminded me that God’s kingdom is not in America, it does not have a human government, and we are not meant to bow at the altar of our country above all. Patriotism is not next to godliness, nor is it the fruit of the Spirit. Jesus came to flip all these things on their head. He shows us this in the Gospels over and over again, and we still miss it. The most beautiful truth that there has ever been is that Jesus’s great sacrifice and unmerited grace is for all of us and His table is open to all, no matter where you were born, who you love, what color your skin is, or what church people may think of you. If I ever made you doubt that, I’m so sorry. Every day my prayer is that I will be acutely aware of the undeserved love and mercy and grace that God has lavished on me, so I can love others as deeply and richly and tenderly as I have been loved. I fall short so often, but He persists in loving me anyway.

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