I am about to be 44 years old in less than two weeks.
This past year . . . wow. That’s really all I can say. Just . . . wow.
The election. The disintegration of unity. The arguing. The finger-pointing. The refusal to hear anyone with a different opinion. Christians, who I refuse to ever join, shouting loudly and claiming to represent us all – yet don’t.
Those on the other side who label their dissenters as intolerant when they’re just as intolerant, if not more, than their victims.
It’s stifled me and hurt me in ways I will never be able to write about here. In fact, it’s so censored my voice that I almost can’t even think about writing much these days.
If you’re like me, as more life hits us and as more willing we become to be real, like the Velveteen Rabbit, you suddenly find you’ve become a honey badger.
I’m not interested in sideways glances between Christians when I tell them someone I love is getting a tattoo. I’m not interested in being told my voice is invalid because it doesn’t mesh with the other side’s beliefs. And I’m not interested in acting one way and quite another with a different group.
I’m too old for that. I can’t save precious energy for that anymore.
There are starving children who I’ve met in places like Ghana who would just like a mother. There are people living on the streets who need more than just monetary donations and two hours of time a month – and I know this because my father was once one of them. There are hurting people whose hearts bleed-out each day from unspeakable stuff you and I can’t even fathom – or maybe we can but we just don’t speak of it because of those silencing sideways glances.
I’m no longer interested in the Sideways Glances Crowd.
I once was able to endure them but not anymore.
They make me tired and quite truthfully, ill.
Yet I am interested in loving those with tattoos (sideways glance?). Or piercings (another?). Or unwed teens choosing life. Or people who speak truth even when the truth is not popular. Or those battling addiction. Or depression. Or cancer. Or whatever else is just plain hard and reminds us this place here on earth isn’t our final destination.
When I was training for the Chicago Marathon eons ago in 2002, I was told the last six miles were mental. If your body can physically run 20 miles, the last six miles were a battlefield of the mind.
They were correct.
When I crossed Mile 20, I felt like I had entered a war zone.
There was moaning. Sighing. Out-loud prayers without embarrassment or fear of judgement. Tears.
They were the longest six miles of my life.
And yet . . . don’t you think these were precisely the people for whom Jesus died on the cross?
If I recall scripture correctly, the only times in the Bible Jesus was angered involved the Pharisees.
These days, it’s the Pharisees who would be doling out the sideways glances.
So as I embark on my 44th year on this earth, I’m vowing to be a Six Mile Person rather than a Sideways Glances Person. And trust me – I say this not from a place of self-righteousness but rather from a place of conviction. I’ve been a part of the Sideways Glances Club.
As a Six Mile Person, I might cry. Moan. Sigh. Pray out loud without embarrassment. There will be tears because life . . . oh my stars. It’s just so messy.
But so help me God if I become a Sideways Glance Person. Because even though Jesus died on the cross for the Pharisees too, I want our “things we have in common” to end there.
I hope you choose to be a Six Mile Person as well – because there are enough Sideways Glancers out there.