Today is my daughter's birthday! I wrote this blog when she was about 2 and now she is going to be 5! She still beats to her own drum and I love her for her vibrate personality that I do hope never changes. I encourage this read for through her I have been invited by God to really ask the church some hard questions about how we accept differences. How can we be a church for all if we still don't accept the 'all'. How can we truly show our Christian love if we still find it hard to accept and love the differences.
As we enjoy the world around us. My daughter often points out the people who are "different" - big rings in their ears, purple hair, ect... when she asks why they are like that I always respond "because they are expressing their personality to us. Isn't it nice that they show us who they are?" She thinks about it and always answers "yes" I hope that she can feel that it is OK to express herself however she wants to.
On her left foot she proudly parades a pink fuzzy boat with a pretty flower attached to the side. On her right foot she happily dons a plain black and purple boat. From there up she is her "own" style. Complete with a gypsy skirt that makes noise and a handmade head band keeping her long hair out of her eyes. When you ask this lovely little girl who beats to her own drum how she is she exclaims with a point to her tummy "I'm me!"
And yet her mother knows that as soon as she starts school this wonderful free spirit is going to change - slowly just as it happened once before and happens all the time, children begin to conform. No longer is it acceptable for them to wear different shoes or crazy tights. No longer is it acceptable for them to have their own personality or persona, but instead they need to not only get along with the rest of society they need not stand out.
But why? Why can't we stand out? Why can't we accept ourselves for who we are and accept others for who they are? Allowing and embracing the differences?
It is this dissonance that keeps us from fully being open to the Spirit around us - to the Holy that wants a relationship. If we can't accept ourselves, our own pain and sins and celebrate in our own joys then how can we expect ourselves to fully experience the divine in our lives?
If we are living our lives to please others or to prove to others something, the how do we expect our relationship with the holy to truly be divine. Or for the divine to dwell within and shine in our lives - how can we accept Jesus if we don't accept ourselves?
But the bigger question here is how can we as churches encourage and strive to lift up people and their personalities? In our current system of church - we expect a lot from our worshipers: we expect that they can read, we expect that they can sing, we expect them to rejoice in old hymns and to connect with organ music. We expect that people know the Lord's Prayer or the words to the gloria or the doxology. We expect that people who come know that they and their children should be quiet (and especially if we are a white protestant church, we expect that people will be still keeping comments to a min.) We expect that people will enter and exit with respect and without disruption. We expect that people know how to take communion and how "we" pass the peace.
We expect so much from worshipers and so much conformity. We don't allow for personality to come out in our worshiping of God and thus, even without trying, we discourage differences, we discourage creativity and most importantly free spirits. And yet scripture proclaims that God knew us in our mothers wombs and that we are specially made.
If we are uniquely made and God knew us in our mothers wombs - then God knew and knows each of us and our true personality - God knows the beat to which our drum beats and God knows the loves of our hearts. Let us remember that, and within our worship, within our lives and within our hearts let us accept ourselves and others not for our similarities cause that is easy but instead for our differences and let us worship God in light of that...knowing and trusting that God is offering GRACE to all of us not for our conformity but instead for our uniqueness.