Clarksville, TN – Please don’t think you “know” me.
Please don’t take a look at me, or even my public self on social media and think you got me all figured out.
Just because I am a woman, does not mean I cannot take charge.
Just because I am little, doesn’t mean I won’t put up a fight.
Just because I am a Christian, doesn’t mean I am judging you.Just because I am a mom, doesn’t mean I love Pinterest, soccer or making cake pops.
Just because I am divorced, doesn’t mean I have drama.
Just because I go to church, doesn’t mean I am not fun anymore.
Just because I am Baptist, doesn’t mean I am a Republican.
Just because I am not a Republican, doesn’t mean I am a Democrat.
Just because I am 40, doesn’t mean I feel remotely old or that I am done growing.
Just because I have a concealed carry permit, doesn’t mean I am in the NRA.
Just because I love Jesus, doesn’t mean I hate Muslims.
Just because my beliefs have changed over the years, doesn’t mean I don’t love everyone the same (if not more!)
Just because I post nauseatingly sweet posts about my hubby, doesn’t mean I think our marriage is perfect.
Just because I own a business, doesn’t mean I have unlimited money.
Just because I am a Christian mother, doesn’t mean I am afraid for my kids to learn about other religions.
Just because I believe in Creationism, doesn’t mean I don’t love science and medicine.
Just because I drive a big car, doesn’t mean I hate the earth.
Just because I love pumpkin spice, doesn’t make me “basic.”
Just because I love animals, doesn’t mean I feel guilty for being human or eating a steak.
Just because I am from the North, doesn’t mean I don’t love sweet tea.
Just because I live in the South, doesn’t mean I like pecan pie.
Just because I am saved, doesn’t mean I am sinless.
Just because I sin, doesn’t make me a hypocrite.
Just because we are different, doesn’t mean I won’t be on your side.
Just because I believe in my rights, doesn’t mean I want to lord over yours.
Just because I love the Bible, doesn’t mean I don’t want you to be happy, whole, and completely valued for your heart, your mind and your soul.
Just because I am me, doesn’t mean you can’t be you. Or that I want to change you, that I should change, or that one of us is inherently wrong.
People are complex and rarely ever “basic.” I want to value each person for their worth and understand their story. From the hate-spewing Westboro “Baptist” who uses the twisted facade of a loving religion to wound others, to the stay-at-home Army wife who sacrifices herself daily to support her husband and serve her family, to the human rights activists who seek to secure the pursuit of happiness to all, we do not have to agree for me to accept that you deserve love as much as I do.
Here is my goal: to not say I “know you” until I have earned the right to hear your story in your words from your heart, to not judge your motives or your beliefs based on limited information, and to not position myself above you based on how you look, how much you make, what you can do for me or anything other useless measuring stick.
I have learned that I can love you, even when you screw up, stand up or stand out. And I have learned that I need to be loved when I am a mess, when I sin, or for who I am even when it makes very little sense to you.
No one likes to be “judged”. I have spent the last few years pondering this though, because most of us are very sure of our views and have no problem judging those that we strongly disagree with.
If you are doubting me, think about your reaction to President Obama, Kim Davis, Caitlin Jenner, Kim Kardashian, Kanye West, Donald Trump or the dentist who shot Cecil the lion. If you haven’t judged any of them for their policy, their faith, their choices, their appearance, their money or their beliefs, then you are a saint!
But here is why judging hurts: because it means that someone decided a whole lot about you based on only a sliver of who you really are (or who you appear to be). It goes against our basic need to be understood and to have approval.
I don’t know about you, but doesn’t it sound a lot more fun and interesting to enjoy the piecing together of a complex and uniquely beautiful puzzle than to boast in the simplicity of putting a 16-piece toddler puzzle together and calling yourself a genius?
Let’s challenge ourselves more…to know each other more deeply before we determine each other’s place in our lives or even in the world.
Oh and one more thing: just because I am a female, doesn’t mean I won’t preach it.