Today, thousands of people will march through the streets of my city. Some will march for equality, others for the right to be acknowledged and some simply for the community found in the love poured out during NYC Pride. You will find as many reasons as people but for me Pride has a special place in my heart because it is the anniversary of the day God broke my heart and caused me to come undone.
A year ago today, I went to my first march and volunteered at the closing event to Pride. I didn’t understand why I felt so compelled to go but I knew walking in there was something God wanted to accomplish in my serving. I saw and experienced things that day that showed me so much about myself, how people in the LGBT are seen and treated and how my heart needed to change because I was guilty of treating members of that community without the love God calls us all to.
One of my favorite scriptures is John 13:34-35:
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
This last year has been one tempered by me gauging if I’ve been living that verse out with all people; am I loving someone else like Jesus loves me? The love Christ offers is without condition and permits no condemnation so I am never ashamed to come to God. I know the God loves me without limit and so I am learning to be limitless is my confession and try to be honest so that he can fortify my strengths and walk with me in my weakness.
I confess that is not the love I possessed for other people a year ago. I was very “love the sinner, hate the sin” in my thinking. I have challenges with that sentiment because I now feel it reduces beautiful, complex, broken people who need grace to the sum of their wrong or our perceptions of such. We seem to have forgotten Romans 3:23-24 which reminds us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus”. We all do things that could keep us from God but that very love Jesus spoke of is what changes all that for us and if we allow it, could change the lives of others.
Possessing that “love the sinner…” mentality creates a distance between those who offer that statement and those seen as sinners. I’m ever learning that love is not distant, it is close, it is personal and can even be uncomfortable because it’s challenging. Over this last year I have prayed with strangers, offered things beyond what was comfortable for me and spoken with people who just need someone to listen and receive their story, all in my journey to love more like Jesus.
So today I celebrate Pride because God used it to change me. I’m so grateful for the Holy Spirit opening up my eyes and my heart so that I can receive the gift of fellowship with a whole new community. I’m not saying I’ve got this whole love thing together but I’m thankful that a year ago today, God used people to touch and break my heart so it can be recast in a way that better reflects his.