Monday, June 29, 2015

Agreement is Not a Prerequisite for Love

By now there are probably about a hundred million posts about the landmark ruling by the Supreme Court on Friday, so part of me didn't want to even address it at all because it's easy to think that nothing I have to say will bring anything new or earth-shattering to the conversation. I certainly don't want to pick a fight and I already made my voice heard on Twitter. It might be best not to add to the noise.

So I'm not going to write about my opinions on the ruling.

Instead, I'm going to write about how the Supreme Court's ruling not only opened the flood-gates for marriage licenses for same-sex couples, but it also inadvertently gave many people license to use their words to severely wound people they care about.

I have a good friend I have known since before either of us really had boobs. We survived middle school together, which is an epic feat in and of itself. We suffered through countless broken hearts and friend feuds. We wrapped our arms around on another in our caps and gowns and cried when it was time to head to separate colleges. We fell out of touch quite a bit over the next several years.

This friend went on to marry a man, get divorced, and then start seriously dating a woman.

Going out on a limb here, but I'm guessing that journey wasn't all roses. 

When I was reunited with her at a baby shower for a mutual friend, I expressed how sorry I was when I heard about her divorce and I asked if she was looking to date again. She confessed that she was seeing someone at that time and it was getting pretty serious.

"That's great," I replied. "What's her name?"

I'll never forget how she froze and just stared at me. I could see her mind racing behind her eyes as she scrambled for what to say or do next. What she had forgotten is that in all those years of being friends, I hadn't been blind.

It hurt my feelings that she hadn't trusted me enough to tell me the truth and that she felt like she had to hide her truth from me. 

What was far worse was knowing that my friend had been hurting and struggling alone for far too long, struggling to make sense of how she was feeling and being convinced that those who had claimed to be her friends would abandon her if they knew the truth.

I've been there.

I've had secrets so dark that I knew without a shadow of a doubt that everyone in my life would turn their back on me if they knew the truth.

But at some point, living an authentic life means claiming ownership of who you are and all the stories, choices, mistakes, and struggles that have written chapters in your story. They are part of us, all threads that weave us together as humans. All different stories, all worthy of love.

When you're hiding, it's hard to see anything but darkness and fear.

So when the Supreme Court of the United States passed the ruling on Friday, the Internet pretty much exploded. In 140 characters or less, there were celebrations as well as condemnations. And on Facebook, without the boundary of character limits, many chose to voice their opinions in a manner laced with hate.

And my poor friend, on a day when she and her new fiance were feeling encouraged and validated, suddenly felt attacked, belittled, and ostracized. She texted me about how one of her wedding photographer, who is also a close friend, had posted a tirade on Facebook speaking out again same sex marriage and the court's ruling, in a manner that was not respectful nor understanding. It was hateful.

Did I mention that my friend is remarrying A MAN?

Does it even matter?

I don't think it does. We are all clearly going to have our own opinions on every issue, but I fail to see how disagreement gives license to be hurtful and vindictive.

My friend and I disagree on the issue of same-sex marriage. Pretty significantly, I might add.

Agreement is not a prerequisite for love.

We could disagree about who is the greatest NFL team of all time and still be friends, right? Ok, I admit this one is a bit of a struggle. I have a small handful of friends who aren't Packers fans and our relationship requires an extra dose of grace. I'm still praying that someday they will see the light!

Maybe that was a bad example, but I think you get my point.

When we start with love, all the other stuff becomes secondary. It doesn't mean it will be easy and it certainly doesn't mean that we will reach an consensus, but loving on people - no matter what height, color, sexual orientation, or football team they cheer for - is what makes life matter.

Let's not let that other junk get in the way of love.


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