The second I see ‘gay marriage’ and ‘evangelical’ in the same sentence again on twitter I pack my metaphorical bags. I canNOT right now with the fighting and snark and anger. I don’t want to wade through all the pointed comments and nastiness. I don’t want to feel coerced to pick a side. I don’t want to watch the church rip itself a new one yet again. I throw open the door, but as I begin to take a step I hear his voice “Jen! Don’t go.”
Do you have any idea how tempting it is to ignore it? I mean, actually you probably do. Maybe you’re the one who just slammed the door on the way out, or the one who slipped out the back and hoped no one would notice. I’ve said, and I’ll say it again, I can see doing that. I’ve had more than one person stare me down and ask me why I don’t just let it go, when it gets ugly like this.
It’s different when you’re in love.
I know people who see the fighting over World Vision and Calvinism and Chick-Fil-A and Duck Dynasty and alcohol and feminism and ask me why in the world I keep staying here to watch it happen again and again. I even had one friend tell me last week, very seriously, “you know at some point they’re going to come after you.”
I know it. Believe me, I’m already sort of afraid of that. Of the day when my personal battles get drug into the middle of this huge war between all these people who all seem pretty sure that they are absolutely right. And as much as I try to stay distant from the angry speeches and snark and name calling, I can’t pretend like I don’t worry that someday I will be the next battlefield. Because sometimes we leave as refugees, and I’m not sure I always know the difference between the cleansing and the pillaging. She’s laughing, and asking me why I hang around and wait for that.
It’s different when you’re in love.
I love the way he is mouthy with the religious leaders. I love the way he hangs out with kids in the middle of a busy day. I love the way he is at ease talking about everything with everyone from pastors to prostitutes. I love the way he is just enigmatic enough to be interesting but how he also believes that questions have answers. I love the space he gives me to wonder, and also the way he helps me understand the bigger things. I love his gentle touch, I love the way he sees and helps and makes time. I love him there, making good friends and still pulling in the lonely people. I love him, laying there, taking a nap in the middle of all this mess.
I love Jesus. I can’t leave Jesus. I never could. If the church looks even a little bit like this, even for a second, I have to be there. If there’s even a chance that we will be His body, I want to be a part of it. I am like Peter. I see how crazy some of the words sound. I see people scattering, moving away from Him. I get confused and even kind of frustrated and angry. Some days it’s a lot. But He looks at me, and asks me if I’m going, too. And I hear it in my own words. “I can’t leave you *now*”
And sometimes I hear Him whisper about people as I pass by. “I know she’s being ugly today, but you should see her fight for the underdog. I know He seems stubborn, but He just wants to know me well. He loves me.” And I look, and for a second I can see it. I can see us all as these sheep who wander and search, and I can almost feel Him loving us.
I see Him in you. Talking slow and certain, calming me down as I’m freaking out in the corner of the sanctuary. Answering the phone at three in the morning and listening as someone cries on the other end. Making casseroles when the right words aren’t immediately obvious. Sometimes I see Him so clearly.
It’s different when you’re in love, and I am.
I am in chick flick, sappy tv love. The kind that fights and argues and yells and seethes, but also the kind that gets off the plane in last episode. Every time. I’m so in love with Him, and He’s so in love with us. And it’s *different*. It bears all things and believes all things and…quite frankly sometimes it’s annoying. It keeps me coming back, week after week. Keeps me walking in this same direction. But it calms my heart. It makes me brave and kind. Not all of the time, but in those moments I need it most. It makes me want, so much, to be faithful instead of faithless.
It’s just different when you’re in love. And I hope we don’t forget that.