This happened yesterday on Facebook, and I found it so amazing and wonderful and healthy and uncomfortable and challenging that I just had to share it with all of you. I hope you will join the conversation. I need you—we all need each other’s grace and truth.

From an old and dear friend (we’ll call her Virginia since I love Virginia Woolf and my friend wishes to remain anonymous):

Gwen,

I was excited to read your blog because you always have such great insight to offer, but I was a little sad about some of the negative comments. While I don’t agree with all that Mike Huckabee or James Dobson says, I do believe that they have the best of intentions, love the Lord, and are trying to make a positive difference in the world. I thought your assessment of both of them was kind of harsh and demeaning. What about grace for both of them? Perhaps disagreeing about the specific issue or action they have done, and not a derisive summation of the person. It just seems that in every arena, such critical language is used to disgrace those we disagree with. I feel this does more to incite the “up in arms” mentality of those who already share our views than to lovingly open dialogue about differences and point to the real truth. At any rate, I love and respect you always and forever.

Respectfully yours, Virginia

My reply:

My dearest Virginia,

Thanks for taking the time to write this. You have given me a migraine but probably one I needed to have. I wish we could sit and talk about this–and everything else–over coffee. I miss you. I can hear your loving, graceful, wise voice through your writing. It makes me feel warm and happy because I love you and I know you love me and we both love Jesus. I am hesitant to try to explain because I don’t want to defend myself; I know I don’t have to. First let me say you may be right and I’m going to think and pray about it because what you think matters to me. A lot. I agree with you totally about critical language being used to divide people and that being wrong. I don’t want to do that. I honestly thought I wasn’t doing that with either guy. I was trying to reference two cultural icons and be critical like critical thinking, not critical like I hate you for thinking differently than I do. It resonated with a lot of people but offended you and I’m sure others who haven’t told me so.

Something hard about this blog is that my biggest aim–and it took me a long time to define this–is just to be real. Not to write to please an audience. To walk the line between “I don’t have all of the answers” and yet “here is where I am right now in my process of becoming and I’m willing to invite people into it.” I’m going to be right about some things and wrong about some things. I may look back on these first entries one day and think what an idiot I was. Probably will. Most days I do find out what an idiot I was the day before. But again my aim is not really to be right, but to be real. Click To Tweet

It is freeing to me right now to say that Mike Huckabee is the antithesis of what it means to me to be a Christian. I wish more Christians would say it. Not to bash him, but to have a voice in a culture of people who think the stuff he stands for is what we’re all about, so they want no part of it. I don’t know whether he has the best of intentions because I don’t know his heart but I can give him the benefit of the doubt and say maybe he does, maybe he’s misguided. I can do that and I should. I don’t want to be cynical. I do want to be realistic. You’ve made me think about how to do that better, and I hope I can. It’s a challenge to be both honest and loving sometimes but that’s really what I want to be–both things–at all times. Like this message you wrote me. Like you just ARE. Maybe you could take over this blog?

What I see when I honestly examine Mike Huckabee’s record is not much positive he’s contributing to the world. I see pain he causes people Jesus loves. I see a quest for power. And I see Christianity associated with a brand of politics that I think would make Jesus sick and sad and mad. To me Dobson seems much the same but at least he’s not running for office. Is it unloving to say that? Is there a kinder way to say it and still be honest? If so I want to find it. I want to be full of grace and truth, like Jesus. The two go together, or should. I wish more Christians would have this conversation we’re having. I’d like to have it with Huckabee and Dobson. I’d tell them both in a loving way that they don’t represent all Christians and ask them to please clarify that in public so the rest of the world would know there are other options. But I don’t believe they’d listen, because they both repeatedly say that there aren’t other options for the true believer. I don’t see either one of these guys having loving, open dialogue with anyone who disagrees with their views. I’m afraid what you’re saying is that I’ve done the same thing in my posts, and that is definitely NOT what I want to do. So please know I’m listening and I will prayerfully consider what you’ve said and try to do better.

Thank you. I love and respect you forever too,

Gwen

Virginia:

Thank you for taking the time to reply. I know you’re very busy. I do tend to be hypersensitive to the issue. I have a dear husband who loves Mike Huckabee and Glen Beck and that other loud radio guy, whose name I can’t remember right now. I so often can agree with what they are saying, but not the spirit in which they say it. Everyone wants to justify the tone by saying that’s the same tone their opponent uses. It just sounds like hateful talking heads to me.

Me:

Yes. That is no justification for one who is called to imitate Jesus.

Virginia:

My heart ached when you said you would love to talk about these things over coffee, because I would love that, too. It’s so hard to find someone to talk about issues without anger, oversimplification, self-righteousness, etc. That may be what some people think about trying to talk to me. I don’t think you sound like an idiot by any means; I’m just over sensitive to the issue and truly find myself disengaged. I must say that this conversation has emboldened me a bit. Perhaps I will get more involved, open my ears a little more–that’s probably your goal anyway. That wasn’t meant to be the end. I hit enter too soon. I love you.

Ps. Sorry I gave you a migraine

Me:

One of my goals with this blog is to create a safe space to do just that. It does require vulnerability and openness–two hard things. But so worth it I believe. I get spiritually and intellectually lonely sometimes and I’m hoping this could be a good place for people like us to meet more often. Still, there’s no substitute for face to face! Would love to see you and your sweet wonderful husband and meet your little one!

Haha! Probably my own fault on the migraine. Hope I didn’t give you one.

Love you forever

Virginia:

So, I would say mission accomplished! Thank you for making me a little mad. I wouldn’t take the time to comment in such a way to most people, but I know you have an open loving heart and that is what has given you a broad sphere of influence. I love you forever, too, and would love to spend some time face to face.

 

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