I Want To Become Someone Who Loves Sinners

I Want To Become Someone Who Loves Sinners

It is difficult to love yourself if you do not love others.

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I know people who have done awful things. I am a person who has awful things. I have often heard the phrase "love the sinner, hate the sin," but it has recently come to my attention that a big mission and next step in my life is to be someone who loves sinners, no matter how bad the sin. I say this because I come from a family with a lot of emotionally charged sin, but I am also a person who is no more or less a sinner than anyone else. Recently, it has come to my attention that I am certainly no saint, and for many people, it's hard to love others when they make horrible mistakes, mistakes that tend to hurt people.

The simple answer for why I want to become someone who loves sinners is because I have a natural propensity to stick up for the downtrodden and those other people give up on. In high school, I was always the kid that reached out to the person the rest of my friends ostracized, and in college, I've done my best to prioritize the art of reaching out to people, regardless of their situation or whatever I hear about them. Only I can make my opinion about someone else. Other people can influence it, but only I control how to regard and treat others, and most of the time I'll give the benefit of the doubt. That part of my personality has always served me well when I'm the person in a bad situation, the person people are saying terrible things about.

The professional answer for why I want to become someone who loves sinners is because Jesus did. In a parable I like to use often, the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, two men walk into a temple, a religious figure, the Pharisee, and a tax collector. The Pharisee prays "God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get." The tax collector prays "God, be merciful to me, a sinner!" According to Jesus, the tax collector who prays for forgiveness goes home justified at the end of the day, not the Pharisee.

The parable ends with Luke 15:14, which states that "for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted." Again, there are some recent unfortunate events in my life that have led me to be humbled, and I can say this definitively: there is absolutely nothing that makes you a more compassionate and empathetic person than being in need of compassion and empathy. When people reach out to you and extend kindness and compassion even when few think you deserve it are the times when you realize how virtues of grace and reaching out are in times of need for others. That is how you can get other people to believe in themselves.

Neediness is something people in my environment, particularly, scoff at. Being in an elite, highly competitive academic institution like Emory University, neediness is most often seen as a sign of weakness. But weakness often turns itself into strength, and there is better no way to improve a shortcoming than humbling yourself and admitting that you need help.

I have often heard that it's difficult to love others if you do not love yourself. I don't know if this is completely true, but I do believe the teaching has some truth to it. I would like to reverse the statement and say, instead, that it is difficult to love yourself if you do not love others. Say you spend your entire life condemning people close to you who do bad things and condemning the very people you regard as sinners. What happens when you perform the very same sin? Who's going to forgive you? Not yourself. Who is going to condemn you? That's right - yourself.

To love myself is the selfish reason why I want to become someone who loves sinners. Very often in my life, I used to stand on a moral high ground of righteousness, calling people out whenever they did things I disapproved of, like lying, cheating, or talking shit about others behind their back. What did it mean, later, when I did those very same things? It meant that I was a hypocrite, and that that same moral high ground meant that other people had the right to chastise me.

I've written before about how trying to be perfect is trying to be God. I believe we condemn people who do wrong in our eyes from a place of vanity, because we don't want to believe we can make the same mistakes. Those people. including myself at times, want to believe that they're not human; they want to believe they're God. According to crime writer, Zach Fortier, "anyone is capable of anything given the right set of circumstances." The now highly unethical Milgram experiment found that the vast majority of men would obey instructions to administer deadly shocks to observers and perform acts against their personal conscience. I wholeheartedly believe that if I were a citizen of Nazi Germany, I would have perpetuated the very same acts of evil that were performed in the war and Holocaust.

Romans 5:8 tells us that "God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." So, I want to move forward being someone who loves sinners for all these reasons, but above all because other people loved me when I myself sinned greatly.

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An Open Letter To My Unexpected Best Friend

You came out of nowhere and changed my life for the better.
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“It’s so amazing when someone comes to your life and you expect nothing out of it but suddenly there right in front of you is everything you ever need.”

-Unknown

Dear Unexpected Best Friend,

You were the person I never thought I would speak to and now you are my very best friend. You came out of nowhere and changed my life for the better. I can’t thank you enough for everything you have done to shape me into the person I am today. You’ve taught me what it means to be selfless, caring, patient, and more importantly adventurous.

You don’t realize how much better my life has become and all because you came out of nowhere. I didn’t see you coming. I just saw you on occasion, and now I can’t see my life without you in it. It’s funny how life works itself out like that. Our unexpected friendship filled a hole in my life that I didn’t know existed.

I don’t even remember what life was like before you came along; it most likely had a lot less laughter and spontaneity than it does today. I can call you about anything and you would drop whatever you're doing to help me in any situation. You know when I need encouragement. You know when I am at my best and when I am at my worst. You always know exactly what to say.

SEE ALSO: 8 Tiny Lies Every Young Woman Has Told Their Best Friend

I couldn’t have found a better friend than you if I tried. We balance each other out in the best way possible. You are most definitely the ying to my yang, and I don’t care how cliché that sounds. Because of you, I’ve learned to stop caring what people think and to do my own thing regardless of any backlash I might receive. You are my very favorite part of what makes me who I am to this day.

It’s as if I wished up a best friend, and poof—you appeared right in front of me. I am so beyond blessed to have you and I wouldn’t trade the world for all our memories. Thanks for coming out of nowhere.

Love you forever and a day.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Medders

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As Girls, We'll Talk About Our Ex-Boyfriends — But Never Our Ex-Best Girl Friend

Growing up means constantly changing. As a result, the best friend we understood better than anyone else can slowly become a stranger.

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As girls, it is rare we discuss ending a friendship with the girl we consider a sister. How exactly do we end a friendship with the girl who truly understands and appreciates us? What causes us to break the bond we share with her? The answers are what cause us to not express our feelings on this.

Rarely do we think about "the why" behind this decision. Yet, breaking up with her feels more devastating than saying it's over to a boyfriend.

I'm still young but noticed that this is something we as girls just do. While speaking to multiple friends this year, there was a good number of girls who either called-it-a-wrap or experienced a girlfriend breaking up with them instead. If any apparent traces of a conversation surfaced, then it usually came far after the initial breakup or happened with everyone but this girl.

However, us girls are a friend of the drama and will end these friendships in a few different ways. I explain them in a different POV because I kept thinking about: how would I feel if someone I care about just decided to drop off the face of the planet without at least a warning? Like, okay bet.

We're all too familiar with ghosting

This happens without any warning. One day you will be laughing together at a party, kickback, or while going out for drinks and then, poof! All of a sudden their existence becomes a myth. The adopted sister who you spoke to every day becomes nonexistent and doesn't grant the opportunity for closure.

Ghosting can occur because of multiple reasons. Maybe she was harboring some long-time resentments that caused her to say no more. Maybe it was jealousy (which causes us to make some ugly decisions and not enjoy the people who remind us of our insecurities), misunderstandings, or just not-clicking. This act screams drama and "I'm done." (Roll curtains). Perhaps, she felt you would be too immature to respect an emotional conversation. Maybe she just couldn't admit that you hurt her.

Don't be so quick to blame yourself though. Being "ghosted" doesn't automatically mean you've done something wrong. A girlfriend who ghosts you instead of just being upfront is also an immature person. She might believe that a discussion is not necessary because confrontation is too intimidating. She's not planning to tell you "the why," either. At this point, all she's doing is opening the door for you to enjoy last-minute shopping with another girl.

Sometimes it's a painful withdrawal

Different from ghosting, withdrawal does not happen as abruptly. It is a slow depart from the friendship in which this girl will progressively begin to ignore you. This can be more bothersome than ghosting because it's ripping the band-aid off slowly. The first sign of her looking for an 'out' from being your friend is minimal effort to keep in touch.

If she is not interested in speaking to you, then it's clear she wants to leave this friendship behind. Obvious signs are no longer responding to phone calls, rarely replying to texts (their messages will also be quite dry), engaging with you less on social media, and always being "busy, sorry." A girl who slowly pulls away from a friendship instead of expressing herself or even ghosting is definitely more comfortable with being passive. She might think you won't allow the friendship to end well.

This breakup tactic gives you enough time to ask her to open up. Ask in person, because their response will be more honest than over text. If bestie decides she won't be telling you the truth and is extremely rude during that conversation then it would be best to just keep it moving.

When it's upfront and personal

This girl does not have a problem expressing her feelings to you. She will let you know exactly what's on her mind. Our besties often range between being the type of girl who asks to speak in private or start a scene.

Moderating this discussion is always possible. If she feels the need to deliver her message in a way that's loud and hurtful rather than helpful... issa "no" from me champ. Unless you were intentionally hurting your friend, you don't need to be treated as a criminal. There is not a need for her to put you on trial and attempt to condemn every single one of your missteps. Everyone messes up and if she feels speaking down to you is the answer then it's an obviously wrong one.

However, maybe the jury says there is evidence of you being a b****. Whether it was accepting the conditions of a one-sided friendship or putting up with your selfish behavior this girl has had enough. An apology may be appreciated, too.

After she's done expressing everything on her mind, the friendship might be over. Or, this conversation can lead to a better friendship for both of you.

Or just general disconnect

This isn't so much a breakup, but just life. Growing up means constantly changing. As a result, the best friend we understood better than anyone else can slowly become a stranger. Regardless if she's held the title of "sister" for years, drifting away from each other happens. You'll notice this because her new intrigues will no longer align with yours. Ultimately, the past will become the only thing you two have in common.

Signs that your friendship is losing its spark are running out of things to talk about, you're both too busy for each other, and haven't really cared to connect in awhile. You'll always have love in your heart for her if it ended well. All of those fun times are stored away as the memories for a laugh on a bad day. After enough time has passed you two will begin sharing hugs instead of awkward glances. After a million, "OMG we should definitely meet up for lunch one day," are exchanged you might actually meet-up next week, too.

Basically, the girls we invite into the more personal aspects of, well, "who we are" matter. They matter as much as knowing why we would want to end it and stop gassing each other up while throwing it back.

None of us are perfect. There are many reasons (underlying or obvious) a friendship ends. Personally, I feel talking about anything that's bothering us is valid. If you're able to resuscitate a friendship, then why not try to make its lifeline bounce back? If she's a real friend, then she'll listen and try to understand where you're coming from.

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