I heard this song on the radio while browsing through stations on my way to work one morning. I caught it at the very beginning and dug the tune, so I let it play. (Honestly, I thought it was a new Imagine Dragons track or something.) As I listened to the lyrics, I recognized the words. They were based off 1 Corinthians 13, one of my favorite Bible passages. It teaches the importance (necessity, even) of unconditional love, one of the Christian teachings I still cling to tightly. The melody rocked, and the lyrics moved me, so before I knew it, I was a bag of tears and found myself crying all the way into work that morning.
If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.
If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. – 1 Cor. 13:1-7
I was so surprised at the emotional response I had to this song, to liking this song, to singing and worshiping with this song. I don’t hear many songs these days that truly express my spiritual feelings. Singing, worshiping, and praising God was one of my favorite things for many years. I was in praise bands from junior high through college. My soul loves to sing about love. This is actually the second time I’ve been brought to tears by a worship song. One day at work, I walked by my friend Philip’s desk, and an old worship song I used to sing was playing. I caught myself humming along, even throwing in some of the harmonies I remembered, and before I knew it, I was choked up and my eyes were stinging.
Dustin said he thinks I have an identity issue. That I don’t really know who I am or who I want to be.
I guess I just feel like I’m trying to reconcile who I am now with who I used to be. Growing up, I was so strong in my faith. People looked up to me and admired me. Everyone at school knew me as the perfect little Christian girl. I led praise bands, bible studies, children’s church, and community events. I sang my heart out for Jesus, and I lived my life being proof of his love and message.
Now, even though I still feel that unconditional love and I still strive to live my life for Jesus, it’s all different. I use a different lens to view things. I disagree with a lot of the principles I was raised with, and that makes people criticize and judge me. I think there’s a lot the Christian church has gotten wrong over the centuries, and I feel it’s in need of major reform.
But what’s stayed constant this entire time, what hasn’t wavered, what hasn’t faded, is my love and my faith in “God”, whatever that may be. I’ve trusted that voice in my heart that tells me everything is going to be ok, that tells me I am loved and I am worthy, that tells me I am divinely protected. A LOT of other things have changed in me, but not the LOVE I feel in my heart and soul.
That love was founded on the teachings of Christ, so I’ve decided that I am going to stop saying I’m not a Christian anymore. In most ways, your religion is your culture. I was raised a Christian, in the Christian church, and with a Christian family. I still choose to live my life based on the ideals and principles set forth by Jesus Christ. No, I don’t support a lot of what the current Christian church represents. I think there is a lot of corruption and that those in power are purposely trying to oppress us. Simply due to the history of how the canonical Bible was put together, I can’t take any text from it (or any other source) as the true and inerrant word of God. What makes what one of the apostles wrote that was inspired by God any different than what you or I would write today that we would say was inspired by God or the Holy Spirit speaking through us? I believe the word of God is ever-changing, but the message is always the same – love. Just because I have a different perspective and interpretation of Jesus and the Christian Bible doesn’t mean that I have any less claim to it/him. I don’t hate Christianity. I don’t want to destroy it or refute it or see it crumble. I just want the freedom to show my side of it. I want the freedom to let my life and who I am be the proof of my connection with the divine.
I’ve always prayed that I be led in the right way, that God would be in control of my life and use me however I can be used. So through all of these changes, my world being turned upside down, me trying to find my way following my truth, I’ve always trusted that I’m on the right path. God (Life/Spirit/Universe, etc.) has made some major miracles happen in my life over the past few years. Dustin and I have been blessed and blessed and blessed. So even though I doubt myself most of the time, I guess I must be doing something right…
“I’m a Christian” – all that means to me is Jesus is my guru, my spiritual teacher, the example I follow, my leader of Love.
So I will still sing, at the top of my lungs, with my heart wide open, “Let my life be the proof, the proof of Your love.”
Regardless of beliefs, regardless of words and deeds, all that matters is love – feeling love and being love. The rest is just background noise.
When it’s all said and done,
when we sing our final song,
only love remains.
ONLY LOVE REMAINS.
In Love, Light, and Jesus’ name,