Learning to Love

This morning I went on a journey through my memories to all of the different places we lived when I was a child and I made a sobering discovery: my parents were like so many other parents of the day, bigots and isolationists. I remember one town we lived in where the school was not up to their standards so they moved from living in town to living on a small farm in the country. No neighbor children to play with and consequently no new friends. Now I have to confess I do not know what went through my parents’ minds or what discussions they had before the move – they kept all of that to themselves. I only know the end result.

This move was followed by another transfer to a big city. We lived in one part of the community for a couple of years and then moved to another side of the community for a couple of more years before once, again, we moved. Again, I was not privy to the reasons for the move and only have anecdotal evidence and the colored memories of childhood to tell me why.

I can remember being told not to play with certain kids because they weren’t ‘our kind’. I never really knew what ‘our kind’ was because it wasn’t permitted to question my parents so I took it on faith. There were ‘our kind’ of people and ‘not our kind’ of people. I learned that money or the lack thereof was not a determining factor (“you can’t buy class”). I learned that education levels were not a determining factor (“some of the most educated people we know are idiots”). I learned that color of skin was not a determining factor (“you can’t change the color of your skin any more than a leopard can change his spots”). So I learned what were not determining factors, but I never figured out what were determining factors – until today, that is.

Today I went before the Lord to deal with what I believe is a haughty spirit within me. I do not want it and I want it to be gone and if there is pride that needs to be dealt with then I want that dealt with right now – not later when I stand before the Lord. So that’s how I ended up going through all of those memories. The Holy Spirit took me on a journey to my past to show me where some of my haughtiness originated and to help me lay it down. And the journey has led me to a point where I am questioning even the Christian church – because here is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. Even within the church I see biases.

When I was a child, our kind of people were 1) Christian; 2) Kind; 3) Quiet and unobtrusive; 4) Family-oriented; 5) Law-abiding; 6) Good citizens – that means obedient to authority; 7) Friendly but not overly so; 8) Erected good fences to keep neighbors as neighbors; 9) Employed; 10) Non-aggressive; 11) Non-threatening; 12) Did not pry into other people’s business; 13) Did not gossip; 14) Were social drinkers but not drunks; 15) Did not beat their children; 16) Did not abuse their spouses; 17) Went to church on Easter and Christmas; 18) Took care of their aging parents; 19) were at least second generation Americans; and on, and on, and on. You get the picture. Anyone or group of persons who did not meet the ‘criteria’ were not ‘our kind’ and thus we were to find other friends.

I confess that I carried these biases into adulthood. I passed some of them on to my children before I became a true child of God. Once I was filled with the love of Christ these biases became dust to me. God loves all people and when His love dwells in us, we do the same. Today, however, with the help of the Holy Spirit I uncovered some biases and very unlovely things that managed to continue in me and have enabled a haughty spirit to continue to operate in my life. I am even now repenting of those things and asking for the Lord to help me overcome them – to redeem my life from pride and haughtiness.

It can be so hard to overcome things that are ingrained in us from childhood – unless we ask the Lord’s help, that is. Having identified this particular problem I know that the Holy Spirit will lead me out of it. I want and need to be able to embrace ALL of God’s children in an open and honest embrace of love. No one is greater than another. No one is more worthy than another. We are all created in God’s image and molded by His hand and our circumstances. It is His will that we overcome our circumstances to become the people He created us to be. So I’m headed out the door to practice what He is teaching me.

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