How do I let them go?
I’m going to let you in on a conversation I was having with God the other day.
I was frustrated. I had enough. I’m was tired of what I refer to and call “crappy” Christians, because I didn’t know what else to call them – people who claim the label of Christian, but seem to have absolutely no intention of actually following Jesus as far as I can tell. Let me take that a bit farther – these folks whose concept of Jesus is about as foreign to me as Finnish is to most people in that it is unrecognizable when spoken to the average English speaker. Yes, I’m being judgmental Lord. Yes, I’m having a moment.
I’m a bit sick of “Christians” finding loopholes for why they can be jerks to people in the name of Jesus. I’m really tired of “Christians” having a business doing whatever it is the business does, but not for certain people because certain potential customers offend said business owners. Meanwhile other practices that counter the faith are ignored all together conveniently. This is the essence of what it means to be a crappy Christian as far as I’m concerned. That’s just one example. And I’m really tired of it.
I’m tired of politicians who love to use their Christian label for their political and partisan advantage, all the while advancing policies that hurt the poor and marginalized. Do they even have any idea that Scripture is loaded with the theme of care for the poor and marginalized? Or is actually reading Scripture too inconvenient? Never mind, I’m expecting far too much, aren’t I?
I was having a good old rant with God. I am done them God! Done I say! How do I let go of trying to change them? Or even having any impact at all on them? That’s not my job anyway, so help me to let go of that. I have to let go of that for my own sanity and peace. I have to let go of these people because they will never change no matter what I say or do. They aren’t listening anyway. And if they did listen, they wouldn’t change anyway. They are convinced they are right. I have to let them go. How do I do that? I should I know, I’ve got this same “I know I’m right” attitude within me, which is why I’m so frustrated by these people. Yeah, I know it’s projection Lord.
How do I let go of these people? How?
God listened, as God always does. Patiently. Quietly. Waiting for it all to come out. Waiting to get to the heart of it all. The frustration.
Was I ready to listen?
God began to speak. First God spoke to me through a LGBTQ+ woman proclaiming the Gospel clearly. What I heard was that we are called to love all people. Yes even those people we are frustrated by. Maybe I’m pissed off by these people because I care about them so damn much. Maybe that’s the frustration. Maybe the frustration is that the anger and fear they hold onto like a blanket surrounding them with warmth and safety is unnecessary – I know. And I want them to know it too. I want it for them so badly. It is freeing to not be afraid of others, to not hate other because of who they are. That blanket isn’t providing safety. It’s actually a safety jacket imprisoning them. I want them to be set free. So very badly. Why is it that I want freedom from their fear and anger for them more than the do? Why is this so frustrating? How do I let go of this? What do I do?
God kept speaking. God spoke to me in a quiet drive on the interstate in the rain. There were vehicles all around. Vehicles of all shapes and sizes, going at all different speeds. Getting on and off the Interstate. They were different colors. They all had different stories – so many stories that I would never even know. I would pass by so many of these vehicles without knowing them at all, and they me. God asked in that moment – what was my job? Not to change anyone else on the road, but to drive. To drive with care and concern for the other drivers, with hospitality for the other drivers. To drive with intention in a way that it would be evident that there was Good News. How does one drive that way I asked? The answer was simple – by what you do and what you don’t do.
It’s not about letting people go when they are a frustration. It’s about listening to the frustration and what it is about, what it is teaching. It’s about letting go of having to change someone else – we can’t ever do that. We can only ever change ourselves. It does help to explore what is the desire to see change in someone else is really about. Is it about freeing someone from something or is it about giving ourselves more power over them? One is good and the other is not.
My question of how do I let them go changed. It was no longer about letting them go – as in pushing them away from me because they were a frustration. Now it was how do I let them go – as in let them go on with their lives, much like the cars on the Interstate. I can only drive my vehicle. It’s a matter of what I do with it and what I don’t do with it in relation with the other vehicles on the road. Some vehicles are going to drive erratic, some like jerks, some way too slow, some way too fast, and many just not to my liking. I have to let go of all of that. They will drive how they will drive. They will live how they will live. The better question is how will I live. And how will I live in relation to others. I have a calling – a calling to follow Jesus as I understand him. A calling to love my neighbor. In loving my neighbor I am loving God. A calling to live out that love in acts of mercy and kindness and hospitality similar to what we hear Jesus say – feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, care for the sick, and visit those in prison. A calling to stand with those who are marginalized by the crappy Christians and the mean people and the abusers, etc. A calling to proclaim and invite others into a new way of being – to make disciples. To be in community with those who are willing to do likewise. It’s not complicated.
And maybe that’s the frustration. We make it far too complicated when we don’t have to. It’s simple really. Let go of all the other stuff. We don’t need it. Others will tell you that you do. Others will tell you that there are rules, and they will have fancy words and terms for those rules. That’s nice. It comes down to this – are we loving our neighbor, or are we erecting walls to separate ourselves from them and push them away? It’s really that simple. Don’t complicate it. That’s how you let go – you let go of the complication. Just let it all go.