“Love is the opposite of control.”Glennon Doyle
My first big roller coaster ride was terrifying. Are you a hand in the air screaming with delight kind of person? I am not! If you’re like me, you might have a white-knuckled grip on life. Loving people will require that we give up our illusions of control, safety, and sameness. We can love people better by giving up control, but we have to learn to let go.
We live in a world that is becoming increasingly polarized by religion, politics, ideologies, race, and sexual orientation.
Is it even possible to stop the bleeding?
This side, that side, left, right, us, them, in, out.
The rhetoric has become all too exhausting on social media and in our everyday interactions with one another. How on earth do we love people well.
Only two things are said to have been God-breathed. One is the Bible. The other is us. Why have we revered the Bible so highly, all while treating the very humans that have been created in God’s image so poorly over doctrine, theology, and politics?
The answer is fear.
Fear fuels the fire for control.
DO YOU HAVE FAITH OR RELIGION
After I left a life of drug addiction behind, the church was the first place I had ever felt safe, loved, accepted, and cared for. I had finally found a sense of family that I’d spent half my life longing for. I belonged somewhere. Now, I feel like I don’t belong anywhere, rejected by the church for my wily ideas and my risky ways.
I’m fearless, curious, and just crazy enough to believe that I don’t have all the answers. These things are all required if we are going to truly love people rather than seeking to control them.
I’ve also learned to listen, which wasn’t something I was naturally good at. Different perspectives always felt like opposition and rejection because the person wasn’t opposing me necessarily but rejecting the Bible.
I couldn’t understand how two people could read the same Bible and arrive in two different places. There was only one interpretation of the scriptures. A disagreement meant that someone else must be reading their Bible wrong, right?
I am an insatiable reader. The number of books piled high in my room might shock you. I know, I know, it’s a problem.
My new favorite genre of books to read are historical fiction. Reading history has radically changed my perspective on so many deep levels.
Much of where I now stand in my faith came with a new understanding of Colonized Christianity. I had never heard the term until just recently.
The Invention of Wings, a fictional book written about the Grimke Sisters, who were pioneers in the abolishment of slavery and women’s equality was the book that began my journey. You can learn more about them by clicking here.
I read each page with a growing sense of heartbreak. Then anger. Suddenly understanding that people, Christians, invoked the name of Jesus to inflict harm and punishment on other humans in an effort to control them.
I began to understand the way people of color related to God and the Bible as a lifeline for hope, freedom, and justice.
The stories in the Bible were a freedom song for slaves from the systems of oppression.
Those very same scriptures that were meant to bring life and freedom were being used by white slaveholders as a weapon against the slaves they believed they “owned.”
I soon discovered that the church has not always been a safe place for ALL people. I remembered my time in Africa, the very real tension that existed between white colonizers and native South Africans. Looking to our nearby reservation, still seeing the lingering effects of oppression. People being stripped of their dignity, agency, and their cultural histories. I began reading everything I could about different cultures.
DO YOU USE THE BIBLE AS A WEAPON?
Rather than integrating ourselves and immersing ourselves in becoming learners of one another, we’ve gone in and obliterated other cultures, requiring them to believe the way we believe, and to worship the way we worship, as if our way is the only right way.
Religion seeks to control while faith seeks freedom.
There is a smoldering fire burning inside of me. A plea and groaning for equality among all people, for all people. I find myself having far more questions than definitive answers these days.
People often ask me now, “do you have scriptures to back that up?”
Of course I do. We all do. Every single one of us has our pocket full of scriptures that we can pull out at any given moment to reinforce and prove our point. To win our theological disagreements.
I no longer engage in these kinds of conversations, because the temptation of Jesus in the desert has a much deeper meaning lurking beyond the surface.
I believe that the deeper meaning was to show us not to get into scripture wars. Satan says, it is written… Jesus replies with, it is also written…
Don’t you see it? If we are using the Bible as a weapon to win theological wars we’ve already lost. This is the reason we have so many different denominations and factions. It’s time to rid ourselves of all that divides and finds that which unites.
OH NO NOT POLITICS!
The world feels like it’s on fire, doesn’t it? Any time someone appears to be opposing us or our ideas the whole thing blows up and I notice that nobody on either side of the debate is really listening to the other person. We can’t get our responses out quickly enough to prove that the other person is wrong.
Opposing ideas do not have to mean against. It just means different. Neither is wrong or right. I see it every day in my own marriage. Never have two people been more opposite, but yet we learn from one another because we love each other.
The same rule can be true for politics. Neither side is wrong or right. Our culture is very binary, meaning we perceive everything as black and white, right or wrong.
We seek to control that which we don’t understand.
If we are going to love people well, we must get rid of this side that side mentality. Social media has become bat shit crazy. I can’t stand to see people ripping one another to shreds over race, religion, and politics.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Imagine a world where we are able to disagree on things and still find unity. Now imagine a world where you don’t have to imagine it.
the secret to loving others who are different
Love: Since love starts in the home let’s start there. Love is the opposite of control.
For so many years I attempted to control who my husband was and everything he did. I also did the same with my kids through fear and punishment.
Acceptance and love now rule in our home. I needed to learn how to let others be exactly who they are, not who I believe they should be. You can read more about my journey here.
Ego: Guys, our egos are designed to defend and protect, to keep us safe from perceived threats.
Whenever someone elicits a strong defensive posture in us it’s generally our ego taking over. Notice this, welcome it, and thank your ego for keeping you safe. Say “thanks old friend, but I’ve got this one.” Reassure yourself that you are not under attack, no need to defend.
For resources on ego work and healing click here.
Control: Whenever we notice ourselves trying to change or control how someone else believes or behaves, we need to ask ourselves what the underlying fear is. Our feeble attempts to control others becomes a distraction from ourselves and often short circuits our own healing instead.
Love desires connection and relationship.
Control creates divisions and walls.
If we are going to live in this world together without destroying one another, change begins with us.
It’s time to lay down our swords.
If you are a reader like me, drop a comment below for the list of books that have transformed my life for the better!