Last night my daughter said, “Remember my friend May? She was so sweet wasn’t she? Too bad her mom told you you were going to hell!” (Followed by shaking of the head). Apparently, if you didn’t go to her church you were going to hell. And what a shame that I was going to hell. So years ago when this mom said this I replied, “I’m confused, you are a Christian, and you think me, another Christian, is going to hell because I don’t go to your church?” The answer was yes. Cue picture of my nativity scene that stays up YEAR ROUND.
Part of my family is Jewish. My dad’s side of the family are Jewish. My cousin Randy was one of my favorite people who was part of my Jewish family. He loved me unconditionally. He knew about my abuse, knew my family abandoned me, and it broke his heart and made him love me even more. Randy loved me JUST as Jesus instructed us to love. But a Christian informed Randy he was going to hell because he was Jewish. Around a similar time my daughter had a friend, who,upon learning my family was also Jewish, informed me very bluntly that they’d all be going to hell.
Jesus is my buddy. He and I are best buds. I talk to Him as if He were right here in front of me. I imagine Him holding my hand on days that I feel hopeless and helpless. I have his picture hanging on my wall. He and I have a relationship (you know the whole…my own personal relationship with God). I feel Him in my heart. That is just how it is with me. I don’t go to church. I haven’t in years. But according to my daughter’s friend’s mom it wouldn’t have been her church anyway so to hell I’d go either way. Being a Chaplain I learned, studied and respected all religions and each person’s personal choice. Discrimination is not part of my being. Loving is. In my 8 years of being a chaplain I prayed for everyone and whatever their religion, I respected their beliefs. In fact, I honored their beliefs. I listened to them. I found beautiful parts of each and every religion that I was exposed to and the people that practiced them.
My writing tonight is not about religion though, believe it or not, it is about people and the things that they say. What does one gain by telling someone else they are going to hell? What does one gain by judging others? What does one gain by feeling superior, acting superior, pompous, and damning someone? What does one gain by telling someone their entire family is going to hell? NOTHING> nothing is gained. It is a direct reflection of the person who is speaking these things and how they are doing the opposite of what their religion has taught. They are those who turn people away from religion and even the idea of a relationship with God or Jesus, or whoever.
Randy was Jewish. Randy was a good man who stood by me when no one else did. Whether someone thought he was going to hell for being Jewish or not were only hateful, hurtful, discrimatory words that caused pain. Whether my daughter’s friend’s mom thought I was going to hell for not going to her church were words that caused separation, isolation, and an end to a long friendship. I can’t really be friends with someone who is constantly damning me to hell now can I. She gained nothing. She lost a friend. And I go back to Randy. A little 16 year old twit who thought it was appropriate to tell me he was going to hell, in the name of Jesus, disgusts me.
There is no room for hate in my life. Which is why this isn’t about religion. This is about hateful hurtful words that don’t need to be spoken. If you feel it, keep it to yourself. If you really think someone is going to hell then that is a judgment that can stay locked behind your lips. If you want to hate someone, hate the man who molested me. Otherwise if you feel so inclined to vocalize damning someone to hell why don’t you put a rapist in those words (although I don’t even really want to hear that either). I’ve had enough negative to last me a life time. The world is in GREAT need of kind words, kind people, and those who can show true unconditional love. I implore you to be a person of kindness and use your words to build and not break. I’m not going to hell. But if someone really feels like I am, they can keep it to themself.