31 Oct Gentle
That’s what this picture picture spoke to me, deeply, the moment I saw it. It reminded me of the the word on my heart for the church this day; the day many celebrate as Halloween. Be “gentle”.
With one another, that is.
This season has become increasingly contested among those in the church. I’d like to go on record as saying I understand the arguments of those on each side of the aisles. I understand that people feel the need to stand up for times that, to them, represent some of the most sweetly sentimental times their families will celebrate together, before the blink of childhood is forever gone. There is something about the image of a chubby toddler, hand-in-hand with Mom and Dad, happily stumbling along in an over-sized Tigger costume, that still warms my heart – just like you.
The other side of the aisle is made up of people like me. People who know that there truly exists a darker side to the holiday that I once loved. It’s how I was raised too. And I loved putting on the spookiest makeup and costumes I could find, and scaring the adorable little witches and hobgoblins that came to the door in search of candy out of their little witchy-poo shoes.
I’ve learned a few things since then. I now realize that the celebration of Halloween not only reinforces the pervasive lie that evil spirits aren’t real, it also paints those that would maintain their existence as legalists and crackpots. Sadly, one of the worst places this smear campaign takes places is within the church.
I remember a fun, last minute, freelance job I picked up last year as a production assistant on a national commercial shoot. One of the producers had just returned from a stint working on a show for The Discovery Channel called “The Haunted”. While the group consensus was that it had to have been one of “the coolest gigs ever”, she quickly corrected the group. She said, “it wouldn’t have been so bad if that sh*t wasn’t real.”
She explained that it had gotten so bad, that she chose to leave the assignment early. Even after leaving the job, she needed to take extra time off to recover from the stress of the experience. That day, she was still feeling strongly affected by it. Her verdict? “Never again.”
One thing really struck me about her testimony. She, a person vehemently opposed to the concept of Christianity, had no trouble sharing her discovery. She now knew that dark powers in the spirit realm are real. She also had no trouble determining, once she’d made her discovery, that she was going to make it a point to stay far, far away. And yet, so many in the church have no trouble suiting themselves and their children up in elaborate costumes resembling these very same things.
Just for the record, I’m not trying to rain on anyone’s fun parade. Parenting choices and lifestyle decisions are very personal, as are spiritual convictions. I admit, I have been known to get a little slack-jawed at the sight of those committed to daily espousing the veracity of the word, who then proceed to show off their favorite horns, cloven hoofs and-pitchfork ensembles, this time of year. But our choices are our own. I mean, let’s be honest: do you generally feel compelled to make a change when someone yells at you? Me either.
Here’s the thing: I have since learned some things that I can’t unlearn. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished I could. But we are responsible for what we know. And I know the truth, is that the spirit realm is real. Angels, demons, all of it. I also know about something so insidiously evil, it’s hard to fathom that it could be real too. It’s called satanic ritual abuse. And it’s also real. Every year at this time, people are kidnapped, brutally tortured, or worse.
I don’t blame anyone for not knowing it exists. Our society has become incredibly desensitized to the reality of genuine cultural atrocities. Somehow, their authenticity tends to get offered up for a vote. It’s also not news that many people who purport belief in Jesus are less than convinced that angels and demons are real. And you know what? The freedom to choose what we believe is one of the best things about Christianity – not to mention our nation.
In short, you don’t have to believe me. If you’re my friend, and you celebrate Halloween, know that I used to celebrate it too. I’ve stopped, and there’s a reason.
Believe it or not, I’m not even asking you to stop. As much as I loved it, you may love it that much, or more. All I’m asking is for you to be gentle with one another, to be kind. Disagreements happen all the time. Please don’t assume those on my side of the aisle are humor-less, judgmental, or worse. If we all wore our stories on the outside, I think we’d be quick to change our approach.
Instead of criticizing or vilifying those with whom we don’t agree, why not love one another into the Truth? Until anyone has a personal revelation of it, loving one another is the best we can do. In fact, I’m pretty confident that’s always the best route. I suspect you know that too. 😉
Blessings, Beloveds. ♥