Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues, put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. – Colossians 3:12-14.
Can you imagine if this quarantine season were occurring in the 90’s or early 2000’s, when cell phone companies still charged for calls by the minute? My bill would be through the roof from calls between me and my mother alone. One day last month, MommaG and I were gabbing on about something insignificant when, in classic Grant style, she interrupted my tired monologue with something completely unrelated.
“You know, today would have been my father’s 80th birthday,” my mother declared matter-of-factly. We don’t often hear details about her family, but I could hear in her voice that she had more to say and was seeking an invitation to elaborate.
Confused but also slightly intrigued, I murmured, “Okay, cool? …tell me about him.”
And with that, my mom launched into a plethora of fun facts and quirks about my beloved grandfather. Though Grandpa Clayton passed away when I was just a few months old, I had received snippets and snapshots of his life from family members. Unfortunately, through the nature of his choices, I was more familiar with his bloopers than his highlight reels. But today was different. On this day, my mom shared little pearls about Mr. Clayton Murray. She told me about his cheerful and goofy disposition. She shared with me that his favorite song was Mr. Big Stuff, and he was often found bopping down the street to this catchy 1970’s classic soul hit. I pictured a tall, lanky soul man with my mother’s eyes and nose, sauntering in bell bottoms down a sunny street in Barbados. I imagined his white shoes shining, the buckles reflecting an extra glimmer with each step perfectly rhythmic to the beat of the song. I had already been informed of some mistakes my grandpa made that ultimately led to his demise, but today my mom gushed with new information, of his thirty some-odd years working at a local bakery and how much he loved it. My mother also spoke candidly of the whispers and gossip she and her siblings endured at Grandpa Clayton’s funeral, but she spoke more of the Reverend’s words on redemption. Apparently the Reverend was both truthful and loving when he reprimanded those who had “cancelled” my Grandpa Clayton and were trash-talking him, and reminded the funeral attendees quite blatantly of the grace we have received.
This year has been marked with drastic highs and lows. Seemingly under the hot pressure lamp of 2020, endless people and groups have come forth with inflammatory statements and hateful actions have been spit across aisles and loyalty lines. People, brands, and groups have been cancelled left and right. “Cancel culture” has infiltrated our society like a cancer. As someone who is emotionally exhausted from biting my tongue, forcing a smile, and forgiving again and again, I’ve participated more than I’d like to admit. My finger has been hovering over the unfollow button all year, well before election week. I’ve effortlessly fallen into the temptation to cut out everything and everyone who offends me, fails to enrich my life, or is unable love me well. To my humbling, however, I’m often reminded that cancel culture doesn’t match the example we were given by Christ. Jesus was let down by his friends countless times. Remember those guys? The ones who decided to snooze when he needed them to stay awake one more time? The ones who, no matter how many miracles they witnessed, failed to understand they were walking with the One? Jesus was misunderstood and falsely accused by those who claimed to know God better than him, the literal Son of God. One of his best friends denied knowing him three times in a row just to save his own tail! WWRHD (What would Raven have done)? Cancel them immediately. Lose my number, don’t @ me, good luck Chuck. WDJD (What did Jesus do)? He loved them. He corrected, he scolded, he flipped tables, yes. But He also saved a woman who was about to be stoned to death for her mistakes. He also held his nail-pierced hands out for his doubting disciple to feel, even after he had told Thomas exactly what would happen. On the cross, He asked for forgiveness on our behalf, and with big, overwhelming love, breathed His last breath.
We love because He first loved us. - 1 John 4:19
The Lord knew us before we were in our mother’s wombs.He is fully aware of our stumbling blocks, our bad habits, the times we are hypocritical, judgemental, and just plain evil. Isn’t it beautiful to serve a God who has not cancelled us, but instead loves us through our messiness and leads us back to Himself?
Hear me out – Loving big does not mean endorsing all positions or enabling bad behavior. I am NOT advocating for the fostering of toxic relationships. I am NOT encouraging folks to forsake wisdom and allow people to continue abusing your time and mental energy in the name of forgiveness. Everyone’s favorite B word, boundaries, exists for a reason. Sometimes love looks like unfollowing, blocking, or even reporting them (I didn’t stutter). Sometimes love looks like choosing not to watch certain news channels because they’re presenting non-factual information that risks endangering the public or specific people groups. Sometimes love looks like praying from afar and protecting yourself from harm while the other party heals and deals with the consequences of his or her choices and values. God does not encourage, ignore, or dismiss our bad choices. He simply chose, is choosing, and will forever choose to love us with a love that is bigger than anything we could ever do. Paul reminds us, “neither death nor life, neither angels nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38). The consequences of our actions may seemingly endure for generations, but trust that the Lord forgives quickly. As someone who often struggles to forgive herself, I find that absolutely flooring.
The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.- Psalms 103:8-12
I write all of this to say that my Grandpa Clayton wasn’t perfect. I never met him, but the stories shared about him were colorful at best (God rest his soul). I’m not perfect (despite how hard I try to be #enneagram3problems). And I am so, so thankful that God hasn’t cancelled us in our imperfection, but has loved us in spite of it. This year, people have shown their true colors, and many of them have appeared in bold, nauseating patterns. I urge those seeking to follow Jesus (imperfectly, at best) to avoid cancelling, and focus on committing to love in a way that is responsible, bold, and redeeming. That, my friend, is big stuff.
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. – Ephesians 4:32
2 thoughts on “Loving Big”
As always, encouraged by you sister!
On Thu, Dec 10, 2020, 4:15 PM Peanut Butter Faith wrote:
> Raven-Deneice posted: ” Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly > loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, > and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you > has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord for” >
I love this piece! Very thought provoking and encouraging!
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