I sat in the student commons across the white round table and tried not to grimace as the girl I was dating recited to me part of her seemingly endless list of my personal flaws. Every negative comment I made about a teacher or rule was discontentment. Every tiredness I felt showed sloth. My attitude was severely lacking. It stung but I sat and listened and took it all to heart because I loved her as only a guileless fundy freshman can. She was helping me to be a better person. She only cut me down because she cared. Finally her words slowed and I asked:
“If all those things are true then why do you still care about me at all?”
She didn’t skip a beat. “I love the potential of what you could be.”
And that, my friends, is the truest picture of love in fundamentalism.
Fundy love does not cover a multitude of sins. It flogs the sinner and then tells them that their pain is what true love feels like.
Fundy love is not unfailing. It comes with costly conditions and the ever-present threat of being ripped away.
Fundy love does not hope or believe the best. It schemes to manipulate others into being better.
It is only since leaving fundamentalism that I have been possessed by the wild and crazy notion that I can put my arms around the flawed and imperfect, the unworthy broken soul and love them without the need to change them at all and humbled in the knowledge that their arms are around an imperfect and broken soul too.
Love your neighbor.
Love them without precondition. Love them without disclaimers.
Love them without a prideful need to pardon or condemn them.
Love them without threat. Love them without mental reservations.
Love them fearlessly. Love them foolishly.