I’m a recovering fundamentalist.
If you had met me in college or high school, you would not have liked me because I had all the judgmental, black and white thinking that comes with fundamentalism. You know the kind that tried to convert Catholics and Methodist as though they aren’t Christian because they attend the church across the street.
It’s hard for me to talk about how I thought and how I saw the world because the realization that there were Christians who did not label or group or try to counsel people out of who they were was so foreign to me. I read my Bible consistently growing up, and I prayed a lot, so how could I have so completely missed Jesus’ call to see those in need and love them as they were and where they were rather than seeing people as just another possible convert?
But I have to describe the way I used to think and they way I was so certain that I was right, the way I knew for sure what the Bible said and what the Bible didn’t say because at times I hear it creeping back into my rhetoric. On those Sunday mornings when the baby’s been especially hungry and wants to eat through the night, I hear my prayers return to Father God, when Creator God, Holy God, River of Life, or Still, Small Voice might have fit better.
I find myself in our Baby and Me class at the library talking to little girls and telling them how pretty they are when I could also describe how alert they are or strong their heads or legs or arms are. These stereotypes and assumptions that fill our words before we can filter them through what we want to say and what we mean to say rather than what we’ve always heard.
And now as I see Ben’s eyes focusing on me and can tell he is listening, I want to be ever more mindful of the words he hears me say to him, to those we meet, and especially when I am referring to the Divine.
Thanks be to God for grace and forgiveness even when it is God’s own name we use to oppress, label, and exclude. Thanks be to Creator God that I am a new creation being formed in the image of the Divine with the Divine’s breath in my lungs. May that breath of life fall on those I encounter rather than stereotypes, judgements, and labels.