So many names. So many beliefs. So many practices. So little understanding. I wish it to be known that I adhere to no formal religion, for my religion is one that cannot be contested or questioned. My religion is love. During the most difficult times of my life, God was my only friend. God never judged me. God never criticized me. God never belittled me, and more importantly, God never abandoned me (even when it seemed that I abandoned God). God was always there. Now, God didn’t show up as a mystical being with powers that transcended my understanding. God showed up with the powers of love that transcended my understanding. I saw God everywhere. God sent love to me, and his children were the messengers. His children delivered a message of love to me each time that I felt that the floor was about to break because my heart was too heavy for it to contain the weight. God’s children. You see, God’s children are everywhere. They are all around us everyday, every hour, and every moment. Why can’t we see them? When I lost my mother, I lost my hope. During that time, I lost interest in the maintenance of everything that I previously viewed as important. I allowed my cars to be repossessed, I was evicted, and my bank account closed. I had nothing. For a while, I slept on the street. During that time, as I lay on my back looking at the moon, as clearly as I could hear the night around me, I heard God say, “This is just a stop to get gas. You’re not done yet.” Each night, although uncomfortable, I closed my eyes and I slept. I took a job in a supermarket as a cashier, and I began the process of rebuilding. While I was working, I met a young guy named Jason. Jason was incredible. Through his daily laughter, questions about how I slept (funny right?), and listening to him go on and on about his plans, I found a reason to smile again. I was working so hard that I seemingly forgot to live. Jason saw me. One Wednesday night, a group of my coworkers were going out for drinks, and he asked me if I wanted to go. Initially, I told him no because I was tired. The truth of the matter is that I didn’t have any money. After a successful campaign, Jason convinced me to go. After all, it was karaoke. How could I deny myself the right to enjoy karaoke? When I walked in, I sat at the bar and asked for a glass of water. After my third glass of water, the bartender said, “either you’re really thirsty, or you’re really broke.” We laughed, and sensing the sincerity in his voice, I told him that I was broke. He said, “hell, you need a drink then.” He poured two very potent drinks for me. He told me that the drinks were free, but I had to repay him by helping someone else that needed help when I was able to give it. I never forgot that. A few months later, I was back on my feet. When I was able to stand again, I couldn’t stand the same way that I did before. You see, something changed in me. Like Jason saw me, I began to see others. I grew patient, understanding, empathetic, and compassionate. This is what I learned; the best way to show love for God is to love all of the children of God. All of them. Because we are all part of one enormous family, dysfunction is inevitable. However, that’s the beauty of it. We are all in need of some form of repair. The mere fact that we are willing to repair those things that are broken means that we are all seeking a sense of greatness that exists inside of us. My repairs came in the form of helping to repair others. They may have needed my hammer, and in turn, I may have needed their wrench. I’ve tried to make so many repairs to help others that I didn’t recognize how far my own repairs were coming. I grew. I’m still growing. My love is infinite in a finite existence. We live in a society in which the shepherds for God have molested some of his sheep. We live in a society in which it’s sometimes cheaper to go to a bar and drown your sorrows than it is to go to church and lift your head. We live in a society in which we judge so much that many of us are beginning to redesign our metaphorical closets because we need to make more room for all of the skeletons that we need to remain undiscovered. WE ARE ALL WRONG. NONE OF US ARE RIGHT. The person that you pass on the street who doesn’t look, smell, or behave the best is a child of God. Your enemies are children of God. Your frenemies are children of God. Your brothers and sisters are children of God. Everyone, regardless of race, religion, language, socio-economic status, political affiliation, sexual preference, gender, gender identity, and creed are all children of God. Despite what we may think about one another, God can see something beautiful in everyone. Why can’t we? I wish that we could close our eyes and open our hearts. That is where the truest version of ourselves exists. Perhaps, if we could understand that God is one of us, then maybe, just maybe, we could begin to understand that love is the only way. Love is the Alpha and the Omega. Love is our Genesis, and our seeming lack of it may lead to our Revelations. Love. For those who decide to read this post, I challenge you to look past your faults, the faults of others, and try something different. Do something different. Rather than choosing popular, political, comfortable, or common, choose love. God is love, and love is God. It took a very long time, but I now know God. My prayer is that you do too. Patrick
This week, do something for someone other than yourself for no reason at all other than to make their lives better. As always, if you make it to where you’re going, please don’t forget to leave a map for the rest of us. Who knows, you just might change the world.