Love is My Religion: This Year I Have Been a Hypocrite.

Love is My Religion: This Year I Have Been a Hypocrite.

Confession: I am a hypocrite. This year specifically I have violated my first and foremost belief, one that I have been preaching my entire life:
To love my neighbor as myself.

I’ve spent a lifetime pushing back against Christianity. I’ve fought to expose the blatant hypocrisy and incongruence to Jesus’ core values. My life has been lived out in the open, no secrets, all sins laid bare. I’ve drunk and abused alcohol, smoked cigarettes, lived with boyfriends, bartended, advocated for medical marijuana, have been divorced, advocated for choice, allied with LGBTQ, the list goes on and on in the ways I have lived on display to the church, being everything it’s against.

Since I was a child, I’ve always fought for the underdog. It’s been so easy to preach “love your enemies” and “love your neighbor”  in church culture when my focus was on the underdogs, LGBTQ, the addicted, the sinners, etc. It has been where I naturally have fit in, among the misfits, because I was one. I am one. I was trying to be understood and loved anyway, even through my misfitery. I spent my life in one mess after the next, never being able to rise because I never felt loved, just as I was, sins and all, heretic and all, wayward and all.

Whenever I was confronted by a Christian “in love” for my sinful ways, I would preach Matthew 7:1-5, call them out on ways they’re sinning and be on my way to crash and burn again. As I look back at my series of life monstrosities, I can only wonder if I, perhaps, was a test for the church. Living authentically was my only sin, however. I was purely acting and living from exactly who I was at that moment with my current, available resources, and lack of self-love.

However, living authentically has a price. I paid the cost by being a focus. As long as Kimberly was such a “lost one”, no one had any need to look in the mirror. The church could focus on me because I was willing to just be myself, train-wreck and all. The more stones that were cast, the deeper I dug in my hole of self-destruction. I didn’t know how to love myself. The church did not teach me how. Other misfits taught me how. It wasn’t until this election, when I finally saw the church’s sins laid bare, that I finally could rise. Just like they were focused on me in my mess, I was too focused on the church for redemption.

And just like them, I have cast more stones than a gravel truck this year.

Currently, this political climate is causing so much upheaval in all of our lives. People on both sides of the aisle have been exposed to the “real” versions of friends and family we once thought we knew so well. We’ve been surprised, hurt, angry, bewildered, confused, and exhausted. This strange reality we have all been forced to comprehend and endure has not been easy. I know I’ve failed. I’ve failed by hurting back. I’ve failed by laying the church out flat. I’ve failed by being passive aggressive. I’ve failed by ghosting, unfriending, unfollowing, and limiting contact. It isn’t just me that is failing, it’s most of us, on both sides.

The election of Donald Trump by 80% of evangelicals stung some of us. Deep. Just like I didn’t have the moral high ground back during my many episodes of self-destructive crisis’, they don’t have the moral high ground now. None of us have ever had any moral high ground. None of us ever will, which was the point Jesus tried to make. None of us are perfect. All of us are guilty. All of us forgiven. Even if you think homosexuality is a sin, everyone is redeemed from the law. An adulteress doesn’t deserve stoning anymore than an LGBTQ deserves bigotry. None of us can cast stones. The law has been winning over love for generations.

This year gave me the opportunity to finally show that my “watered down gospel” is the way. And yet, I’ve been so angry, I’ve been judging left and right, because how dare they support the immorality displayed by this president? How dare the church that now lives in a glass house, still continue to cast stones at others, and still cling on to the most immoral person I’ve ever witnessed? The church didn’t love me at my worst. Yet, the church loves this president, a man who in word and deed is in direct opposition to any value Jesus Christ ever spoke.

It’s been the biggest test of my life, this year, to love my enemies. A test I have overwhelmingly flopped, not once, but daily, sometimes hourly, for almost a year. I’m not proud of the way I’ve handled it, however, I also have grace for myself for my mistakes, and I now see a better way. We need to try and love them anyway. This year has been a time of breakdown. Foundations have crumbled. Lies exposed. Hypocrisy in the spotlight. However, no longer do we need to feel like we are the immoral ones begging for redemption. This year proves without a doubt that none of us are behaving from Love. But with breakdown, comes a time to rebuild a new foundation, and destroy what never was meant to stand anyway…RELIGIOUS LAW.

I’m willing to try. With that being said, I need to treat myself from Love, showing myself unconditional love, grace, and acceptance for my daily failure. If I would’ve known how to do that years ago, perhaps I never would’ve hit rock bottom. I only knew the love that wasn’t shown. I only knew judgement. I only knew not measuring up. It took this election for me to realize that I wasn’t so stained after all. We can’t love others until we truly love ourselves. We cannot love ourselves until we know what love is. It’s a cycle that is never-ending. People need to know what love is. It isn’t controlling someone, it isn’t damning someone, it isn’t judging, it isn’t insisting on our own way. It is patience. It is kindness. People can only be who they are with their current level of experience, knowledge, and worldview.

We can only be ourselves, and that just has to be enough. It just must be. It is the way Jesus taught us to love one another. The church has failed in that regard. Now, the resistance is failing.

I will continue to love the underdog because I’ve been one. I will continue to speak out and fight for the oppressed, and pray that the church sees it’s hypocrisy. I can try my best to speak from understanding and confidence instead of hurt, anger, and frustration. I no longer need to feel that way, as I believe whole-heartedly in my inherent values. Nothing and no one can press those down anymore.

May everyone in this nation look deep inside of their heart, and see their lack of love and hypocrisy. Only then can this nation begin to heal. I see mine. Love is my religion, and I have been a hypocrite, and I most likely will fail again, perhaps with this very blog post,  but at least I see it, and am willing to try.

May we all just try.

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