Tuesday, April 21, 2015

I want to be different . . . journal prompt

Last week I was an outside observer to an incident that I can't really give details of here due to it's confidential nature. But let me just tell you that it was something that any average citizen who was treated this way would have been appalled. But these weren't 'average' citizens. These were former prisoners. As I've gotten to know some of these people I've noticed something that has bothered me and made me take a closer examination of my own life. 

From their vantage point, they don't expect to be treated with respect. 
They don't expect people to be honest with them.
They don't expect you to like them.
And most of all, they certainly don't expect you to be their friend in the true sense of the word.

What they expect is to be lied to,
shunned by others,
looked down on,
and used and abused. 

In truth, part of that is because that's how many of them have treated other people. I get that. But the rest of the story is often that they have always been treated that way. Granted, some of these people come from great homes and they just screwed up. And now they can't see any way back to healthy relationships and a 'normal' life. I believe with all my heart that this can be changed for many of them. Don't get me wrong, I've been brutally honest with them. If they do something stupid, I'd be the first in line to call their parole officer if I thought they'd be safer in jail. And I realize that not everyone wants to be saved from a destructive lifestyle. I'm not naive about this. But that doesn't give me license to treat them with disrespect.

I am sort of a no compromise type of girl. This is right; that is wrong; what is it you don't understand? That's me. Life is pretty black and white to me. (No racial implications there at all.) I don't see many gray areas. I realize there are some fine lines in life that we all have to walk. And the older I get, the more those lines seem to blur. I'm not sure if that is my age or the culture, or perhaps a combination of the two. But I usually don't have a hard time seeing right from wrong. 

Some of these people honestly do.
Sometimes they act completely out of survival mode and just deal with consequences later.
Act, then think.
It's a terrible way to have to live. 
Sometimes they literally need someone to talk them step by step through the ordinary tasks that most of us take for granted. But if they want to change their lives, many of them can, with help!

Through the weeks leading up to Pentecost our church is reading a devotional on holiness that our pastor, Matt Friedeman wrote. Our memory verse this week is:

Jesus replied: 
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." Matthew 22:37

If this is how I want to live my life, and it is, then people matter. All people. Not just the ones who fit in. Not just the ones who are socially acceptable. Several of these people have become my friends. The response I get over and over from them is that I'm something extraordinary just because I actually care about them and treat them with respect. Not true. There is nothing special about me. I'm just a sinner saved by grace. My past didn't involve a prison with metal bars, but I was just as much a prisoner as they were. I'm no better than anyone else. 

What I took away from this incident that happened, which was completely inappropriate and an emotional violatiion, and possibly a legal one, is that I NEVER want to be that person that they expect me to be. Pastor Matt often says we want to love like Jesus does at DaySpring Community Church. 

Jesus loved the socially unacceptable. 
Jesus loved the poor. 
Jesus loved the outcasts. 
Jesus had compassion for those who were caught in sin. 

I want that kind of love. 
I never want anyone to say that I looked down on them because of their social status. 
I want to love my God with everything that is in me. 
And I want to love people with that same kind of love. 

I want to be different from what is expected by those who are the 'least of these'. 

I want to be different from the world. 
I want to love like Jesus does. 


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