Beliefs and Love
I thought I’d been making some real progress. I thought that when I looked at people who hold beliefs that differ from mine, I saw people before I saw ideas. I thought I saw that other people can love as fully and selflessly as I can even though we don’t agree about particular things.
I thought I was beginning to see people the way Jesus sees them.
But now I think I just thought that because nobody was challenging my beliefs. And last week, someone did, and I instantly painted this person with an ugly caricature and asked myself, “How could this person possibly know how to love with the love of Jesus? His beliefs are so poisonous, so far from the heart of the Lord that I have come to know. I don’t understand how this person can love.” And I decided he couldn’t, that his beliefs were too toxic.
The problem is, this person has been my mentor for a long time. Like, more than a decade. He was there during the darkest time of my life when I was fresh out of college and jobless and depressed. He is the only person I’ve ever known who has looked me in the eye and told me I am a worthy woman and deserve a righteous man. It was a beautiful moment, a demonstration of love that I will never, ever forget for as long as I live.
So I am at a loss. I’ve always thought that tolerance for others’ beliefs makes you a more loving person. I’ve always thought that being willing to be wrong about a particular theological belief makes you a more loving person. But this person beliefs don’t fit either category, not even a little. Yet he knows how to love. He knew how to reach down into the most insecure, vulnerable parts of me and make me feel valued.
I thought our beliefs feed into our capability to love selflessly. I thought our ability to love selflessly pushes us to more closely to beliefs that line up with the heart of God. Yet I cannot, cannot believe that this man’s beliefs line up with the heart of God. In fact they seem to me to run contrary to so much that Jesus preached.
Yet this man knows how to love.
And I don’t know what to do with that except to freak out and wonder if our beliefs really have anything at all to do with how well we love.