It wasn’t someone shouting at me that my beliefs were wrong that drew me to The Lord. It wasn’t someone screaming at me that I was ‘going to hell’ that drew me to The Lord. It wasn’t someone quoting Bible verses at me that drew me to The Lord. It was kindness that first drew me to the Lord. I have noticed that throughout my nearly 24 years of being a Christian the times of deep persistent repentance that I have had, aka metanoia aka ‘turning aside’ aka ‘changing direction’ aka ‘thinking anew’ and all the other ways it is described, have consistently been brought about by kindness, God’s kindness through others and when I have noticed it myself, in events and circumstances. What I am about to say maybe to my detriment in terms of my perception of being a Christian to others but, as ever, in my blog, I am always honest and open; I can only think of a couple of times where Bible verses have ever brought about repentance from me, and the occasions that they have, although sincere, haven’t lasted very long. In contrast to that my repentance brought about through kindness has lasted. It has withstood time and circumstances.
I even remember a time when kindness from my Mum drew a form of repentance from me and it was at a seriously low point in our relationship, one of the lowest. I had a complicated relationship with my mum due to her drinking and ashamedly our relationship was often strained, and I am still sad about that. She had been harassing me at work for a few months. And I mean harassing. Following me to and from work, ringing the store repeatedly to try to speak to me. One day (somehow) she managed to get through to me, and I began with a barrage of ‘Mum. Please, leave me alone, you can’t be ringing me up like this when I’m at work.’ There was silence on the phone. I was a little taken aback as I thought she would start her normal monologue about how I must return back home and live with her immediately. But she didn’t. She started to cry. At which point my reflex reaction (to my shame now) was to jump in ‘Mum don’t cry it’s not going to get you what you want, I’m not coming home.’ and then she sobbed, ‘I was only ringing to tell you the last time you were here you left your purse.’ And with that, she put down the phone. Her kindness led me to repent of my awful reflex defensiveness towards her. It made me see that actually, she was, at the end of the day, still a mother to me, even if alcohol clouded and robbed that frequently/daily from her and me. Our relationship continued to be stormy right up until she passed away, but thankfully the week before we had been on good terms and I’m grateful for that. But I shall never forget the repentance her kindness brought about in me and continues to, as I give people the benefit of the doubt more often than not now.
Yesterday I posted a status on my Facebook that was highly controversial. I did it on purpose I’m not gonna lie. I genuinely wanted to know people’s reactions and who would bite and how. I’ve been thinking a lot about how I am probably not Evangelical anymore. Some would say I definitely am not. But I know some people who are Liberal Evangelicals and even though the Evangelical Alliance totally would not embrace them, at all, they remain committed to keeping that label/identity. I must say at this point I know the word Evangelical and the word Liberal both have a vast array of meanings, but to help nuance that I’m talking about British Christian leanings. (Does that help? Maybe not!) Over the past 3 years, I have come to recognise the damage that some evangelical teaching does to people, myself very much included. I believe some evangelical teachings only teach you to be kind to other Christians who are like yourself. What I learnt from it was that anyone who differed from me was to be discarded and (although unspoken) disrespected, meaning I didn’t have an ounce of respect for them the moment I realised they were different to me in some way…ESPECIALLY the way they thought about the world and the Bible. I see the damage it does to people frequently, especially when people do not hold to Evangelical views. I’ve been guilty of causing some of the harm to others and to my very self. It has taken more therapy sessions than I can count to try and heal someone of the harm I have done inwardly to myself because of the teachings I held. I literally screwed myself internally, almost to the point of no return, and as someone bereaved by suicide I do not say that lightly. Believe. There is however something in me that can’t quite publically renounce evangelicalism because although recently I have seen the damage it does, I also know the good it does, it kept me a Christian for most of my Christian life, I love how it takes the Bible seriously, I love the fervour and zeal for the Lord evangelicalism has that honestly liberal Christianity just doesn’t have in the same manner. I totally understand how Evangelicals feel that Liberal Christianity is just wishy-washy. But this is all like anything else is it not? Everything needs balance. Yes, Evangelicalism can be so cruel and harsh and harmful, but equally Liberal Christianity can be so watered down Jesus can get thrown out with the bathwater, often I’m left wondering ‘Do these people even have a faith?’. There’s a balance. I know there is, cause I know people who have it. And the people who do have it, have such a beautiful faith that shines through to me and funnily enough through kindness. And it’s kindness that brought this blog about. Someone who I was fairly certain would ‘take me down’ and ‘whip me’ with Bible verse because of my opinion didn’t but was kind to me. So leave a light on for me Evangelicals, I may one day reclaim the label, just not now, and not yet, for me being Liberal is saving my faith, and ultimately my life. Love you all regardless of your opinions, beliefs and leanings. I’ll leave you with a Bible verse Romans 2:4. Peace out.