In the old way of thinking, I see now how religion reduced people to objects. It was all about checking the boxes, working the formula, collecting people like you’d collect baseball cards. Just add them to your list, say the right words, and you thought you were collecting crowns.
This new way is like having the entire galaxy at your disposal to explore compared to looking at a picture of the night sky. When there is no formula, when there are no checkboxes, when everything I do matters, and I have complete freedom – then I am presented with the challenge of actually opening myself up for connection way beyond the surface.
Now relationship means something more. Now I actually have to take a look at the effects my choices, decisions, and behaviors have on those I interact with. Now people are no longer objects that represent my ability to perform.
Now I can’t slap a label on you, put you in a box, and call it a day. Now I am challenged to meet you where you are and pursue understanding how I can be a better person in relationship with you. No matter who you are. Whether you are the elder of my tribe, the person sleeping in my bed, the person paying me, or the clerk at the store that I may never see again.
Now you matter no matter what. You aren’t a means to an end. You are the whole point. In this moment. And maybe to come. But my action or inaction impacts you and in turn impacts me and us all.
Yes, Hitler is responsible. But those who participated in the atrocities and those who didn’t do anything to stand up for those being hurt – all are responsible in some way. Even those across the seas. Who knew.
That is an overwhelming thought in this day and age. It seems like the world we live in is a swirling cesspool of dehumanized zombies absolutely decimating each other in staggering numbers and incredibly cruel ways. There is too much work for one person, even a few.
But until we ever reach a point where we’ve cleaned up enough of our junk to seek out the deliverance of those oppressed elsewhere: start in our own backyard. Actually start in our own house. Who will you interact or communicate with today? Start with the next person.
May I suggest even starting with yourself. We sometimes forget Jesus said to love others as you love yourself. Remember, no checkboxes anymore. Are you even minding your own life? Your own business?
I wasn’t. I was on the performance train speeding down a never-ending track of seeking assurance and safety that I didn’t realize was already mine to enjoy forever. When the eyes of my heart were uncovered, I was overwhelmed with the amount of time I had at my disposal that was previously spent slaving away for false religion. I approached the former way as if I was my own savior. Just tell me what to do. Well-meaning, but so mistaken.
I am now working through facing years and decades of regrets. Things I wish I had done differently. Mainly people I wish I still had in my life. That’s the worst. To accept that not only did I make decisions in the past that hurt people, but that I may never be able to fix those relationships in this lifetime.
That is real freedom. That is real respect. The sides of the coin that are probably more commonly quickly disregarded.