We get there and all eyes are on us kind of thing. I smile, because I love people, whether they are biker looking, prim and proper or somewhere in between. I can't help however thinking they probably think I am going to hell. Sorry, just a little honesty. I notice no one has a wedding ring on. I ask my husband's bosses' wife about it. She says they don't believe in Jewelry. I said, "oh". I look over at my husband's hands. He has a ring on every finger except one thumb! I have my wedding ring on. I give her a cringed, eyebrow raised smile and she pats me on the shoulder. I respect their ways, but I don't like it when religion strips life and beauty away. Isn't the ring a symbol of love and commitment in the Bible? And in the old testament, they even wore nose rings! The rules take away any expression of self. You know, God likes our individuality, He made us each unique. I don't think He has a problem with us expressing it. The Amish are only allowed to wear brown, black, or blue...depending on which order they belong to. I don't understand it. God made colors, why not be able to wear them? Anyway, back to the dinner party.
It was wonderful food and I really enjoyed the way they came together as a community. Lots of kids. I mean lots, like over 8 a family. It was nice. They were nice to us, we did get some looks, but they were nice to us. I think they were in there minds going to convert us to Christianity, not knowing we were already Christians.
I asked the boss's wife how many kids she had. She gave me a number. I forget how many she said, maybe 10? Then she said she used to have one more and she looked down while she said it. Her expression got instantly hard. I was taken back at the change. She said they had written him off because he wanted to listen to Contemporary Christian music. She admitted he loved the Lord but that he was not allowed in their home. He was kicked out and banned. Over music. Not even bad music. Not that that matters, we should love beyond all things, I don't care what is going on, you love, you pray, you encourage, you stick with your kids! It killed me to hear her talking. MY HEART HURT. She said he was not allowed back since he refused to stop listening. And she cut him cruelly out of their lives. There was no kindness in her words to him at all. Only her sticking strongly to her religious standpoint. What good is a religious standpoint if there is not love in it?
I was feeling a little shocked. I didn't know what to say. I encouraged her that he could not outrun the love of God. And that God loved him very much and would look after him. She softened a little with those words and I hoped that a seed of love and acceptance was planted. It came to the end of dinner and the Pastor prayed after giving a good message on community and helping one another. But when he prayed, he prayed God convict the kids not to listen to Contemporary Christian music so they did not go to hell and to help the parents keep their kids pure from the world, from the devil. I don't remember all of the prayer, but that part stung. It was controlling and it lacked love, in my opinion. I can still feel the sting in my heart. The prayer for protection was good, I pray for protection all the time for my kids. But to link it to not do this so they don't go to hell? Jesus is the only reason we don't go to hell, not us not listening to Contemporary Christian music or any music for that matter. Yeah, I'm being a little harsh, but seriously! God says praise Him with the harp, the string, the drum...help me out here, all kinds of things right? I don't think I ever read once, praise me only with a church organ and piano and don't ever sing anything unless it came from a church Hymn book. OHHH really!? Ok, rant over. My apologies. Couldn't help myself.
When I got home, I did not go in right away. I sat in the car alone for about a half and hour and cried. I was so weighed down in my heart for what I had seen and heard. I was hurt for that kid that was banned from his home. He was probably hungry for the Lord. He wanted more and since he did not conform to the religious expectations, he was booted out. I just cried. My words expressing the mother's contempt did not do what actually happened justice. I can't even explain it. And the Pastor praying like he did. I just had to sit and cry it out and pray for them. They know God. They believe in Jesus, but where does all that other stuff come from. Religion sucks. Excuse my words. But it does. It strips grace, it demands, it says I only love you if you get it right. It says if you follow these rules, I will love you. If not, you are out. God's love is unconditional, His laws are written on our heart. His Holy Spirit convicts and leads each of our hearts closer to Him and we weed stuff out of our own heart as He makes it known to us. I just sat there in that car and cried because I did not know what to do with the pain of having heard a mom just unlove her kid. How do you do that? Religion has a very strong hand.
I had to share that story while I spoke on love. After sharing Bryan's heart on love. Our kids really need love. Of course they need boundaries, especially while younger, and need training. But all that can be done in love. When our kids are older, we did our job training. At that time more than any other, they need love. God will convict their hearts if they get off a little. He will never leave them or forsake them. All the days of their life! They can't outrun God's love.
Ok, I hope I shared the beauty of Grace compared to the harsh taskmaster of religion. When I say religion, I mean all the man made rules and expectations put on the hearts of men to earn God's love. IT IS FREELY GIVEN AND POURED OUT AND YOU CAN NEVER EARN IT, IT JUST IS, IT WILL NEVER CHANGE, YOU CAN'T OUT RUN IT, YOU CAN'T LOOSE IT. YOU ARE LOVED WITH AN EVERLASTING LOVE. NO MATTER WHAT! PERIOD! That love will lead your heart where it needs to go, will protect you, will forgive you, will help you to forgive. EVERYTHING YOU NEED IS IN THAT LOVE, THE LOVE OF GOD FOR THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD. How big is that LOVE? He sent JESUS to die for all sin so the world could have GOD'S LOVE, NOTHING HINDERING IT. There is absolutely nothing that can separate you from the love of GOD, including listening to Contemporary Christian Music. In Charlie Browns words, good grief!