loving all our neighbors.

About six weeks ago in my psychology & culture class, we were assigned our groups for a project that we would be doing which focused on topics relating to social justice. For this project, each group would need to partner up with an organization either in our local community or on our university’s campus, in order to fulfill the project’s goal of helping spread awareness & education on these various topics.

My group of six partnered with our university’s Muslim Student Association, and the topic we chose to focus in on was religion, specifically, religious minorities and the stereotypes & misconceptions associated with Islam. Through out the course of this project, we attended meetings, as well as a couple of events during Islam Awareness Week, which occurred this past Tuesday through Friday. The events my group attended included a hijab workshop, as well as a talk given by a professor about the Shia and Sunni Muslims.

Yesterday, my group visited a local mosque to attend & observe a service consisting of prayer and a sermon, or, “Khutbah,”  followed by a Q&A.

This psych & culture class in and of itself has opened my eyes so wide & taken me out of my comfort zone all semester in ways I never expected a class to, and yesterday was no exception. As much as I would love to sit here and write that my decision to go to this mosque was one that I came to easily, that would be a lie. I wrestled a lot with my decision to go or not to go, mainly because, honestly, it made me uncomfortable. I was uncomfortable with the idea of wearing a headscarf, feeling as though doing so would be conforming to an aspect of a religion I don’t personally believe in. I was uncomfortable with the idea of going & being in a house of worship that I was so unfamiliar with. I was uncomfortable getting so up close & personal with a religion that I don’t practice & know so little about. These thoughts and feelings made me feel like a horrible person, but I’m not going to invalidate those thoughts & feelings or leave them out of this post, because it was all part of the process of me deciding to go. Though I understood all along that wearing the headscarf would be out of respect for their faith & that I would never even begin to think to be a guest in somebody else’s house of worship only to be disrespectful by not wearing the appropriate attire, and I knew that going wouldn’t somehow make me stop believing in Jesus or make Jesus mad at me. etc, the idea of going to a mosque simply just made me a little nervous. My initial thought was “I’m Christian – why would I go?” And that very question was the one I wrestled with the most, along with “why wouldn’t I go?” Something in me would not let me just say no or yes without first wrestling with the possibility of both. And so, I prayed, I talked with a couple friends, & I reached out to a pastor of mine. Because going would be pretty far out of my comfort zone, something I had on repeat in my head was a saying he told me, which was to, “get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

Welp, that was exactly what I did yesterday. And honestly? There was not one ounce of comfort involved, so, aI simply chose to bask in the discomfort, and I am glad I did.

While my anxiety was vicious & I wish I could say I felt peace which surpassed my understanding as my pastor graciously prayed for me to have, I didn’t feel much peace, but that’s okay, and the reason I think that’s okay is because I realized, the whole time I was waiting to feel peace and comfort about going or not going, I was neglecting to remember that that is not at all what the Christian walk is about. It’s not comfortable. In fact it is seldom comfortable. I look down everyday and I see this bracelet that has not left my wrist since making it back in January, and its purpose is literally to remind me to ask God to take me and use me, whether it’s comfortable or not. Therefore, I have no business getting upset when he does just that. I’m allowed to be scared, but I need to try to do it scared. And so, I did.

 

cubablogg

I kept my nerves and my hesitancy to myself around my group members, but before we got out of the car upon arriving at the mosque, one of them expressed to me that he himself was nervous, in which I simply replied, “same” (while I, of course, was internally jumping for joy at the fact that someone else was feeling what I was feeling).

We walked into the mosque together as a group and were warmly welcomed and told how their Friday services usually go. We then placed our shoes on the shelf and entered the room where the prayer & sermon would take place. Upon entering that room, the women were directed to the back right of the room, behind a tall curtain, and the men were directed to the front of the room. We, the women, were then given headscarves to put on, and those of us not participating in the prayer were asked to sit towards the corner, so as not to get in the way as they carried out their prayer(s).

Was I comfortable? No. But I went & stayed through the service, through that not so fun feeling of discomfort, and left the mosque feeling glad to have gone, and eager to process it.

See up until an hour or two before we left for the mosque, I still was not sure I wanted to go, so, it goes without saying that I definitely wished that I had had somebody there to tell me Ashley, just go or Ashley, just don’t go, but I’m smart enough to know that none of my friends or mentors are dumb enough to tell me that & make it that easy for me, no matter how much I want them to. However, I think God did nudge me a little to go, through one of my group members. Our group met up before the service to go over our PowerPoint presentation for Monday, and during our meeting, we got to talking about the religions that we each individually belong to. After talking about that for a bit, one of my group members looked at me and said, “You are the only open minded Christian I have ever met.”

I thought to myself, “Alright God, I see you.” Also, “No pressure or anything.”

By this group members words, I was reminded of my call as a Christian, let alone as a future pastor, to be a witness for Jesus and who he is. I can’t effectively do that if I am around people who are similar to me all the time. I can’t do that if I reject people who belong to various different religions and I cannot love all my neighbors if I dismiss a select few of them for what they believe or don’t believe. If God put me in this group in which I am the only Christian, and in this class in which I am 1 of 2 Christians, that’s an opportunity to be a witness for Jesus by being like Jesus and showering them with the love of God — not an opportunity to add to the hypocrisy or hate or close mindedness that they have already experienced enough of from Christians. I know full well that I am no perfect embodiment of what a Christian is supposed to be like & I probably makes God roll his eyes at least 5 times a day, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t strive to imitate Jesus around everyone I encounter, but especially in the presence of people who have lost hope that such a Christian exists. I took this group members comment seriously, even knowing that I am not as open-minded as I should be or as I want to be someday. I also took it as a reminder of my responsibility to imitate Jesus more than I try to imitate a religious person who shoves a set of rules down people’s throats to follow.

So yesterday, I went, & I went for a lot of different reasons. I went to educate myself, to see with my own eyes how those of Islamic faith worship. I went in hopes of maybe helping to eradicate this belief that all Christian’s are intolerant of hearing beliefs different from their own. I went to face my feeling of discomfort for the sake of growing & having my mind opened. I went to show as much kindness as I could to those there, whether they worshiped Allah, Jesus, or no god at all.

I am not going to sit here and try to act as though my faith is really not all that different from that of my Muslim brothers & sisters, and I do not know everything there is to know about their faith, or my own faith for that matter, but I do know that my faith teaches me to love my neighbors – that means my Muslim neighbors, my atheist neighbors, my Christian neighbors, my neighbors of all races, ethnicities, genders, and socioeconomic status’. If I can get just one thing right in my walk with Christ, I pray that it would be that – loving other people unconditionally just as Christ himself did.

I am finding that the more I learn, the more questions I have. And I like to think that’s a good thing. I’m so lucky as to have people in my life who are willing to either answer those questions that I have, or simply wrestle through them with me, and I really urge you reading this today to find people in your life who can do the same for you, because it’s really nice to know you’re not alone in the confusions, frustrations, and questions you have.

I could definitely write more about this experience, but I am still processing my visit and am still processing this project and class as a whole, so that is all of the writing I’ll leave you with (for now). My hope & my prayer would be that as a society & as a world that consists of different cultures, individuals, and religions with similarities and with differences, that we would be able to reach a place of seeing one another for who we are, differences and all, and being okay with embracing just that, understanding that differences do not have to equal division. I am as guilty as the next person for allowing differences and my discomfort with unfamiliarity to stand in the way of embracing all people the way I should. We’re all imperfect & are going to mess up, but that’s no excuse not to try. So I’m preaching to myself just as much as I am to you when I say, go out of your way to learn about someone different from you. Educate yourself. Do your research. Expand your knowledge. And get comfortable being uncomfortable.

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If God doesn’t calm your storm, He will calm your heart

Don’t get me wrong- this is tough.

It’s hard when you’re struggling and God seems to be nowhere near you. It’s hard when you’re going through something and just can’t seem to catch a break.

This quote about God calming your heart came to life for me the past couple weeks.

The adversity I’ve been faced with since I came to college regarding being a woman pursuing ministry, is no secret. I’ve written about it, I’ve talked about it, I’ve complained about it.

It’s been tough. But thanks be to God, it’s NOT tough anymore!

I see what God was trying to do. I see why he allowed these people to make these comments. I see why he placed me at Liberty. I see why he made things happen the way they did.

Being discouraged and degraded for my passion left me upset, confused, and distraught, but I know why this all happened.

Saying this trial I endured was a storm would be an understatement. It had me feeling and thinking all kinds of things. It made me want to give up, break down, and it made me angry. When I say angry, I mean angry.. think, smoke blowing out of a cartoon characters ears, angry.

It’s funny though, because out of all the anger, frustration, and tears that stemmed from this particular situation, I never once thought about transferring. I even had people, adults, ask me if it was worth it. They asked me if I thought I should find another school. But those things never crossed my mind. That’s how I knew there had to be a reason.

There was a reason.

Through all the tears, the conversations, the prayers, the meetings, the scripture, and me trying to understand, God calmed my heart.

I finally got to the point where it didn’t bother me anymore.

I know the people who believe women shouldn’t preach, be pastors, or teach. But I also know God.

I know what He’s calling me to do and I’m going to do it, regardless of the storms I face.

This whole trial went on from the very first week I was here at school, up until now- my second month here.

God didn’t calm the storm.

He calmed my heart.

Because I do not respond with anger, hatred, or fear when I hear discouraging comments about women preaching and being pastors, I am able to instead gain understanding. I’m able to learn what these people believe and why. I’m able to dive into scripture and learn more about Jesus (and the fact that Mary Magdalene was the one to go and tell the news of Jesus rising from the grave) (cough cough GIRL POWER)

As we talked about in my biblical worldview class this past week, two Christians can disagree and both be right, and they can also disagree and both still be Christians.

We are not always going to agree on these things. That doesn’t matter, and that doesn’t give anyone the right to be rude or attack another person for not having the same beliefs as them. I’ve experienced that, and while it is not a good feeling, I know that’s also not how God would want me or anyone else to react.

God didn’t calm the storm, and I’m not sure how long it will be before he does- who knows, maybe I’ll be faced with this storm through out my whole time in ministry, but that’s okay, because I’m only 18, and I’ve already learned and experienced all of this. I’m mentally stronger because of it. I’m prepared because of it. I’m familiar with more scripture because of it. And I’m even more confident about my decision to pursue ministry because of it.

God didn’t calm the storm. He calmed my heart. And I have to say, I think I’m more thankful for that than I would have been if he had calmed the storm.

If he had simply calmed the storm right when it came, I don’t think I’d be able to sit and listen to someone completely dismiss the Church I grew up in without getting angry. I don’t think I’d be able to have someone tell me straight to my face that they don’t think women should preach, without responding in a spiteful way. I don’t think I’d know half the scripture I do now.

But because God did decide to calm my heart, instead, I’ve been able to have genuine conversations with professors about this issue, even if we have different views. We’re able to agree to disagree. I am able to turn to the Word and what HE says, instead of turning toward anger or someone who’s just going to tell me those people are wrong, or “don’t know what they’re talking about.” They do know what they’re talking about, they’re professors. They’re just simply more familiar with a denomination that I am not. And we interpret scripture differently. Everyone does.

I’m thankful God allowed me to encounter this storm, but I’m even more thankful he calmed my heart, so that I could open this heart of mine and gain knowledge, understanding, and strength from it.

So. if you’re in the midst of a storm, any type of storm, and you feel as though God has abandoned you, or he’s not hearing your prayers, try looking for signs that he’s trying to calm your heart, instead.

He’s not going to leave you hanging. He’s not going to abandon you (there are so many scriptures on that)

God won’t leave you alone during a storm. He will be by your side, and I know sometimes that doesn’t feel like enough, and you just want Him to calm the storm, but remember he is Almighty and he knows what he’s doing- he is enough.

Trust him and trust that he is going to calm that storm that you are facing- it may not be right away (in fact, it probably won’t be) but he’s going to help you and heal you and strengthen you and maybe he’ll calm your heart, instead of your storm.

all of my days are held in Your hand, crafted into Your perfect plan

I love this. I saw it while scrolling through Tumblr last night (as I do every night) and I couldn’t help but smile, because that’s just such a cute quote. It’s so comforting.
Last night, before I saw those words on my timeline, I had just finished helping a friend talk through some worries they had about the future, and about life in general. This person was so concerned about making a wrong move, going down the wrong path in life, and they were really just questioning God and where he was.

It’s so easy to forget, especially on the harder days, that God has US in the palms of his hands. Every single morning when we wake up in bed, with goop in our eyes wanting to shatter the alarm clock into a million pieces, it’s God’s doing. He’s the reason we wake up each morning. It’s a huge blessing, and sometimes we forget that. We forget that waking up every morning isn’t a must. It’s not something we are entitled to. It’s not something we even deserve. It’s something that is given to us. God gifts us with a brand new day, each morning when we wake up.
And just think- during every single one of those days we are given, we are being held by God. God is in control of each day. HE is the one who determines how that day goes. HE is the One who holds the day.

Each day we encounter, is part of God’s divine plan for us. God has made this incredible plan for each person here on earth, and each day we are here breathing He is crafting that plan and perfecting it. He is the author and perfector of our faith and of our LIVES.

No, that doesn’t mean life should be perfect. You’re still going to struggle. You’re still going to be discouraged. You’re still going to stray away from God. You’re still going to fear. You’re still going to face obstacles. You’re still going to question and be confused. But you have to remember, God is the one who holds you. Who holds each day you live. Who has divinely crafted this incredible, wonderful plan for your life.

We’re not always going to know what exactly God is doing. We’re not always going to feel comfortable- God is going to throw you completely out of your comfort zone sometimes. That’s his way of getting you to grow, and strengthen your faith in Him.

You’re not always going to understand what God is doing, but that’s okay. That’s where trust comes into play. You have to trust God, even when it’s hard. Even when it doesn’t make sense. Even when you want to use your free will and go against what God is trying to tell you. You have to trust that He knows best, and that he will do what is actually best for you. A lot of the time we may think we know what’s best for ourselves, but we don’t. That sucks to hear, but it’s true. God (and your mother 9 times out of 10) knows what’s best for you.

So the next time you start to worry, or become anxious because you don’t have all the answers, remember God.
What about God’ you ask?

Just remember Him.
Remember the promises he has made to you- the work he has created in you will be carried out until the day of completion. Remember how he promises to love you and care for you always. Remember that HE has a plan for you that is far greater than the plans you have for yourself. Remember how many times he tells you to not be anxious, because HE is in control. Remember how many times he tells you to NOT be afraid, because HE is with you.

Remember God.

He holds each day you live. He has crafted the extraordinary plans for you which He has created entirely for you.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we are not to be afraid, and we are not to be ashamed.

I’m sure by now, you all have heard the devastating news of yet another mass shooting which occurred in Oregon this past week. As it has been reported, a man went into a community college in Oregon, made students lie down on the floor, and asked them to stand up if they were Christian. When the students who were Christian stood up, he shot them.

This makes me sick. It makes me question what this world has come to. It makes me question where God is, and why he allows these things to happen. It disgusts me. Shootings in general are horrifying, tragic, and saddening for the communities, and especially for the loved ones of the victims. Hearing about this particular shooting, however, hit a weak spot in my heart.

This country’s FIRST amendment in our constitution includes the FREEDOM of RELIGION, yet religion is something that continues to divide this country. People are supposed to have the right and freedom to exercise any religion they want- but because this world seems to be on a continuous downward spiral, people are afraid to express their faith, or share their religion, because of events such as this, in Oregon, or the church shooting in South Carolina.

The students who stood up when asked if they were Christian- they inspire me, and they inspired so many of their brothers and sisters in Christ as well. I bet God was looking down on them with a big smile on his face for #1, seeing how confident they were in Him, and #2, knowing he was just about to meet them. They were not afraid to say they were Christian. They were not ashamed. They were brave. They were doing exactly what God would have wanted, and they did exactly what Christ did. Those brave students knew what was coming- when they stood up, they knew they’d be shot, because they saw it happen to the students killed right before them. They knew, and they still owned up to being followers of Christ. That’s incredible, and that’s inspiring.

God tells us over and over again through out the Bible that we must not be afraid, for HE is with us wherever we go. We must NOT fear, because HE is with us. And we are told by God and by our mentors and role models that we are not to be ashamed of our faith, but we are to be bold, brave, and STRONG in our faith. The students in that community college that day, they were bold. They were brave. And they were strong. I bet they’re up in heaven with God right now feeling super proud of their decision, because now, they get to live for eternity up in paradise with Jesus. That sounds pretty incredible.

When I saw the headline of that current, tragic, event, I was sad. I was angry, but I was not in shock, because Christians- Christian’s seem to be targeted a lot in our society, and that’s awful and so sad that our world is that way, but it’s evident. However, I certainly won’t let that take away from all the incredible, empowering ministries and people out there who are completely on fire for God, and who are constantly at work to make this world a better place, whether it be through missions, church, worship, or simply helping feed the homeless every other weekend. Those people give me hope for this world.

I attend the largest Christian Univeristy in the world, and when this shooting occurred and word traveled, a lot of people at Liberty were talking about it. Being at a large Christian college that so many people know about, you can’t help but worry about whether or not your school will ever be a target. It’s scary, and it’s sad to think about people being scared to be open about their faith. It’s sad that people worry about being harmed because of their faith. That’s awful. There’s really no other way to describe it.

With all of this being said, through the fear and sadness, my brothers and sisters, we are not to be afraid, and we are not to be ashamed.

I read a really incredible article earlier today, that was basically a girl writing a letter to the students who said “yes,” that day at the site of the shooting. (it was really great, here it is https://onmogul.com/articles/an-open-letter-to-the-christian-students-who-said-yes )

I’m in the same boat as this young woman who wrote that article is- I had (still really don’t have) any idea how I would respond to a situation like that, if I were in the position those students were in. I had no idea if I would stand up, or stay on the ground if asked if I were a Christian. That’s something that’s really hard to determine unless you’re actually in that situation, but when you think about it, shouldn’t it be easy?
Shouldn’t we be so on fire for God and so strong in our faith that we don’t even have to think about it? We would just stand up and suffer the consequences for being Christian, even if that meant death?
Of course that’s how it should be.
But we are not perfect. We are not perfect people. How are we supposed to be perfect Christians? God sent his perfect Son down here to die for us because we are not perfect. You can be the strongest Christian in the world and still struggle with the question of, “if you were asked if you were Christian with a gun pointed to your head, would you say yes?”
That’s something I’ve pondered, and it’s something I am still pondering.
I want to get to the point where I can say “yes” without even thinking about it. I want to be able to settle in being able to say “yes” in that situation, without hesitation.
I will work every single day at that. I will strive to be the strong, faithful, Christian that God has called me to be, every day. I will never be perfect, but I will always be God’s child.
I will never be ashamed of Christ- the one who saved me from myself. The one who saved me from my sins. The one who continues to save me every single day. And I will not be ashamed that I go to the largest Christian school in the world. (who would ever be ashamed of that?! That’s SO awesome to me)
And as for my fears, I will strive to let them go- the fear I have of not being a “good enough” Christian, and the fear of being displeasing to him. I’ll work every day to become better, and please him in all that I do, but I will not be perfect, and he knows that.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, I want US to stand TOGETHER. I want us to NOT be afraid to stand UP for our faith. I want us to NOT be ashamed of it either. I want us to never be ashamed of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
And we really do need to be in prayer for the friends and families of the victims who were killed in that massacre. Despite what political authorities may say, prayer IS enough. Prayer is what this country NEEDS.

We should not be afraid to be open and honest about our faith, especially when we live in a country where we’re supposed to have the FREEDOM to express our beliefs and faith.

Do not be afraid, do not be ashamed.

Because of Jesus, all negative things that we encounter have lost their power.

As I was sitting on my bedroom floor this evening, reading through my copy of, The Message, I stumbled across a notecard that I had written during one of my pastor’s sermons at church, titled, “We Do Not Lose Heart.”

As I read through the notes I had taken on this sermon, I saw the words, “because of Jesus, all the negative things that we encounter have lost their power.”

Isn’t that a wonderful feeling? To know that anything negative we face in life, has no power over us, all thanks to Jesus.

The past few days, I have been feeling an overwhelming amount of anxiety- I have a big, long trip coming up, I leave for college in less than a month, and my life is just one big change right now. I have a lot going on in my personal life and sometimes it can get overwhelming and stressful.

As I opened The Message, however, and came across this notecard, I was reminded that while yes, anxiety is a very negative thing, Jesus is more.
Jesus is more than the anxiety I face every day. Jesus is more than the fears I have in life. Jesus is more than a religion. Jesus is more than any obstacle we may face in life.

My heart may be filled with anxiety right now in this moment, but it will all work out. And I know that because Jesus was crucified and died on that cross. He died on that cross so that we would know and believe that with God, all things are possible. He died on the cross to show us how much we are loved.

Anxiety can make you feel like there’s no way out. It can make you feel like you should just give up. It can make you feel miserable and in pain and depressed, but it will all be okay. Jesus will make it all okay.

Right now in my life, anxiety is the negative thing I am fighting. But it’s a negative thing which Jesus has already overcome.

This anxiety that I am feeling has no power over me.
It will not kill me.
It will not overcome me.
I will overcome it. Because I have Jesus.

So whatever it is you’ve encountered or are currently encountering, know that you are not facing it alone. And know that it has absolutely no power over you.

Jesus can handle any and every trial you face in life.

You will not be defeated. God has got you. He is all-powerful. He will overcome your trials. He will turn your negatives into positives.
Just trust him, don’t give up, don’t lose hope, and do not forget that Jesus is always there with you.

The most important thing the Bible teaches is love.

I’m beginning a new series of posts which I will refer to as, “What I Believe.” You will know when I post one of these because I will make sure to include it in either the title, or in the post before I continue writing.
So that you have a little background and understanding as to why I am doing this- in case it wasn’t obvious, not everyone has the same beliefs and opinions. We are all different human beings and therefore have very different views on certain things.
I want the people reading my blog to know what I believe, so that there is no wondering or assuming. I want to be completely open and honest with you all about myself and where I stand on certain matters. I will also remind you, I created this blog as an outlet and way to express myself, and also to help people in anyway I can, whether that be on their faith journey or their recovery journey. I am NOT a perfect person, so of course I’m going to accidentally say or write things every once in a while that aren’t going to be pleasing to everyone’s ears (or eyes). I’m not going to have the most popular opinion all the time, but that doesn’t mean I won’t defend what I believe or stand up for myself, so please just be respectful and I will do the same!
With that being said, I also will refrain always from saying anything that is hateful, ungodly, negative, or judgmental. Just know that like I said, I am not perfect, and I do make mistakes just like everyone else.

So without further ado, my first post of “what I believe-”

I believe the most important thing the Bible teaches is love.

Christ died on the cross so that we would know His Fathers great love for us.
He endured immense pain, suffering, and mocking because he knew our sins were to be forgiven, because we are loved.
God sent his ONLY son down here to earth to be crucified because he loves us so much, and wanted us to know that.

The Bible tells us over and over again to love our neighbor, to love one another, to love without envy, resentful, judgment, or jealousy.

1 Corinthians 13:13 tells us, “and now these three remain; faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

Love is powerful and it’s stronger than any other emotion, feeling, or act there is.

I believe in love because I believe in God, who is love. (See 1 John 4:8)

God’s love is there for us when we are in the midst of hatred, anger, rage, sadness, depression, and temptation.
God’s love is there for us when we are fighting life’s battles, and when we are at the highest, happiest, peak of our lives.

The Bible teaches us how to love, it teaches us how to show love, and most importantly it shows and tells us how great God’s love for us is.

When it comes to the controversy between homosexuality and Christianity, all differences and arguments aside, it all comes down to one thing- love.
Maybe not for the people who believe homosexuality is a sin and not morally right, but still, with all of that put aside, if two people love each other, nothing else matters to them, certainly not other people’s opinions of their love.
All disagreements aside when it comes to homosexuality, we are supposed to love one another, no matter what.
If you don’t agree with two men or two women being in a relationship or marrying, that should not affect the way you treat them. They still deserve to be treated with love.

Love is also not something that can be taken away from you.
God’s love is not something that can ever be taken away from you.

In the worship song, “One Thing Remains,” the chorus tells us, Your love (God’s love) never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me.”
It is not possible for us to do anything that will make God love us less.

As I said before, the Bible teaches us numerous times to love our neighbors and to always be kind, just as Jesus was.

The Bible teaches us a lot of things, but because God is love, I believe the most important thing the Bible teaches, is love.

We all have different beliefs and opinions- that doesn’t give you an excuse to be hateful.

11178264_10152994958506700_3069161845243485365_nI’m sure by now we all have heard about Bruce Jenner’s transition into a woman, so I will not go any further into that topic. But since I have refrained from posting anything about this issue thus far, I felt inclined to do so now.

Yesterday, I shared the picture posted above on Facebook, and also on Twitter, with the caption, “Tim Tebow should have gotten the same response as Caitlyn Jenner.”

It was as simple and harmless as that (well, at least I thought it was harmless), however, I ended up receiving some rather hateful and negative comments back for posting this picture. (Comments from people who I, by the way, have never met in my life)

For starters, I’d like to say, regardless of what you believe or what you think, you need to be kind. I don’t care if you’re Christian or atheist, pro gay rights or against it, I do not care. Your beliefs should not affect how you treat other people.

I would also like to say, if you’re browsing the internet and social media just looking for arguments to chime in on, you need to find something better to do with your time, and I truly feel sorry for you. Commenting on random strangers posts and saying very hateful things to them, just because their beliefs are different from yours, is about the lowest, most pathetic thing one can do.

Not everyone is going to agree on everything. As hard as it may be for some of you to believe, you’re going to encounter people through out your life, who do not look at things the same way as you do, and as hard as it may be for you, cussing people out, tearing them down, and bashing their beliefs isn’t going to get you very far- not as far as being a civil, accepting human being will get you.

Reading the comments I got for posting this picture made me feel and think a lot of different things, but they never made me feel hatred.

First, it made me angry because I didn’t mean to offend anyone, I was simply posting something I agreed with, as people do all of the time on social media. (But then again, it seems you can’t post anything in this day and age without someone taking offense to it)

Part of me also wanted to delete the post when I got the first comment, but after thinking about it, why would I give the rude commenter that power? So I kept it up.

Instead of feeling hate towards the people who were sending me hate for this post, I felt sorry for them. They feel so insecure in what they believe, they feel the need to resort to hate.

PEOPLE, IT IS POSSIBLE TO DEFEND YOUR BELIEFS WITHOUT BEING RUDE ABOUT IT.

Speaking of beliefs, as far as mine go, I’m a Christian. I believe in love, because I believe in God, Who is Love.

I believe no matter who you are, where you come from, what you’ve done or do, or what your beliefs are, you should be treated with love and kindness.

One of my best friends from high school, whom I love, is gay, and some of the nicest people I’ve ever met are gay- I have nothing against anyone who is homosexual or who supports homosexuality.

With that being said, because I do believe everyone has been created in God’s perfect image, and because God doesn’t make mistakes, I do not believe anyone is “born in the wrong body.”

I think Caitlyn Jenner is beautiful, and I know she’s helping a lot of people in the LGBT community, however it is just simply harder for me to love the idea of someone changing genders, because I don’t believe anyone is born in the wrong body.

I have no idea what it’s like to be confused about your gender, I’m a girl and I’ve always known that and been perfectly okay with that. I don’t know the challenges one faces when struggling with gender confusion, I’m sure it’s very confusing!

I do not want people to think I have any hate in my heart toward the LGBT community, because I don’t.

Even if I don’t 100% agree with it all, that gives me no right to be hateful or judgmental.

I believe we are all God’s children and Christ died on that cross so we would know how great the power of love is.

Both Tim Tebow and Caitlyn Jenner have gotten hate that they do not deserve, and both Christians and people in the transgender community have had unnecessary bullying, name calling, and hate thrown at them.

Nobody deserves that.

Regardless of what you believe, it’s not as hard as you’re making it to be kind to one another.

Everyone deserves to be treated with kindness, and no one belief is more ‘right’ or superior than another.

Everyone has the right to believe what they want, and we all have the right express those beliefs.

Don’t think you have to be hateful in order to defend those beliefs!

You don’t ever have to let anyone’s opinions of your beliefs interfere with your outlook on things. I know reading people’s comments on my post made me want to remain strong and firm in what I believe.

We all just have to remember to keep an open mind, and fill your heart with understanding, confidence, strength, and LOVE.