Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~Admitting Ignorance and Seeking Forgiveness~ July 11, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:58 am
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“She and Molly are about as opposite as it is possible to be, which would be fine if Dina didn’t take Molly’s choices as a personal affront.”

It’s been a couple months now since I finished reading Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline that my friend, Julia, sent to me. I remember reading the above excerpt and feeling an immediate check in my spirit. With the recent events in the news, I was reminded once again of this line. 
Being polar opposites would not be an issue if we weren’t so quick to take offense to one another’s choices. When I peruse social media, that’s exactly what I see. People on opposing sides berating each other in attempts to defend “their side.” I’m all for a good debate, the problem is when it gets personal and turns into a name-calling show down. Just because someone doesn’t agree with you doesn’t make them an idiot. You see this in response to all manner of topics: politics, religious beliefs, parenting styles, lifestyle choices…I could go on but I’m sure you get the picture. 
We live in a diverse nation. We have an opportunity to learn & grow from our differences or we can segregate ourselves, choosing to shut out anyone who doesn’t fit the same mold. 
I will be the first to admit that I’ve lived a relatively sheltered life. I grew up in a small, Southern town. I am NOT knocking that, I loved my small town life! However, the minority population was small and not particularly diverse as was the LGBTQ community. So it’s fair to say I’m pretty uneducated when it comes to the issues they face because I’ve not experienced it firsthand. I’m going to admit something that’s really hard to say, my lack of knowledge has at times come across as fear. Allow me to elaborate. When you grow up being the majority and having no real exposure to different cultures, all you “know” is what you watch or read. Unfortunately, there haven’t been many positive stories about Muslims, African-Americans or the LGBTQ community. I want to change that perception by doing my part to see people for who they are, not their skin tone, religious coverings, whose hand they choose to hold or any other “book covers” that would cause me to make unfair categorizations. 
I hope that my willingness to admit my own ignorance will open others to the same. I know I can never truly understand the level of discrimination others face. I can do better at being a friend to all and not making assumptions based on preconceived notions that have no real basis other than my irrational fears derived from biased news coverage.  

 For those who have been on the receiving end of my ignorance, I ask for your forgiveness & the opportunity to show I can be a better version of myself. Let’s all look for ways to love one another today BECAUSE of our differences. 

 

~Stop The Labeling~ June 29, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:13 am
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Labels, you see them every which way you turn.labels

  • Heterosexual
  • Homosexual
  • Black
  • White
  • Democrat
  • Republican
  • Christian
  • Conservative
  • Liberal

Labels that place us into a specified group that cause others to dislike us…and vice versa…based solely on the fact that our group ain’t their group. Why is it that we’ve made it impossible to belong to a society where there is no need for such labeling which leads to dissension?

What purpose do labels serve other than to bring division and sow discord amongst brothers and sisters? Yes, that’s what we are, brothers & sisters in Christ. We are all descendants of the Lord and He loves us equally. I do not believe it was ever the Lord’s intentions to see us tearing each other to shreds over our differences.

“For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal 3:26-28 NLT)

We are ONE nation under God. Why are we allowing all of these unnecessary classifications to divide us? Even if we fit into the same “grouping”, we are NOT always going to agree on every aspect of life! It’s ridiculous to assume that we can walk this life without disagreements but why are we so quick to blame our arguments on a label? “It’s because I’m ___________.” Discrimination is, unfortunately, still prevalent in this nation so sometimes it may very well be true that a disagreement stems solely from that. However, it could be that someone just disagrees with your opinion, plain and simple.

To be clear, I have friends that fall under every category I named above. But when I look at their faces, I see who they are and what I love about them, not some scrolling list of adjectives.

A little advice from my husband: “Love each other and pray for understanding. Don’t assume to know someone based solely on what you see. Embrace the differences. Something that totally changed my life not too long ago was my prayer to see people as God does. Try it…it will reconfigure your thought process.”

 

~Love before you speak~ December 23, 2013

When faced with adversity, how differently do you suppose the outcome would be if we stopped to ask ourselves, “is what I’m about to say coming from a place of love or condemnation?”

Oftentimes we don’t take the time to think before we speak.  We are so consumed by believing that we are right and they are wrong that we spat out our message with little to no regard to how it’s going to be received.  What is the point of speaking your mind if it falls on deaf ears?  What good does it do ramble on and on if the person you are trying to reach has built a wall between you and them so as to protect themselves from your unfiltered message?

Everyone has heard that the Bible stresses the importance of loving your neighbor as yourself.  How loving are you being when you’ve become so closed minded that you refuse to hear the other person’s feelings?  Just as you feel justified in your opinions, so does the one on the other side of the disagreement.  Why are you entitled to share your stance while you cut them off at the knees when they take theirs?

Love, people.  It’s an action word.  Loving others is the only thing that keeps people from diverse backgrounds living in harmony when society tells them that their differences should drive them apart.  Love puts the focus on the person and nothing more.

I remember when I was a bratty teenager my mom looked at me one day and said, “Valerie, I love you but right now I don’t like you very much.”  I learned a very valuable lesson from that statement.  Just because I love you doesn’t mean that I have to approve of or like everything you do and say.  Love, real love, should be free from contingencies.  My love for people is not based on what they do for me in order to deserve my affection.  It is based solely on my desire to extend the same grace that I receive on a daily basis, even in spite of my shortcomings that would dictate just how unlovable I am.worty

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.

Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, Doesn’t have a swelled head, Doesn’t force itself on others, Isn’t always “me first,” Doesn’t fly off the handle, Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, Doesn’t revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end.

(1 Corinthians 13:1-7 The Message)