LaQualla Holland – #tiredofhate

 I often tell stories of how I grew up in an extremely conservative church. The theology was centered around sin, hell, fire, and brimstone. Everything that one did seemed to be linked to pleasing God or inciting God’s rage! There are so many stories I could tell about the hatred that spewed from the mouths of pastors, but I will tell one in particular that has truly affected me throughout my life. Once I was in church and the pastor was preaching on accepting Jesus as our personal savior. At first hearing, that sounds like a wonderful, loving, kind, and accepting topic. However, the direction of the sermon took a wild turn. The pastor then begin to name different religious groups and why they would be going to Hell. The pastor literally said, “I don’t care how good they are, how nice they are, how much they help other people, if they are Muslin, Buddhist, Hindu, or anything else, and have not accepted Jesus, they will go to Hell!” Unfortunately, I was young and accepted the words from the revered pastor. Throughout my life, and throughout college, I preached that same type of message; condemning people if they had not committed their life to Christ fully! The craziest thing was that my own life didn’t even reflect the teachings that I was attempting to force onto other. But I had accepted Jesus, so I was an exception, Jesus would forgive ME!
It was not until I was about 27 years old, working as a Chaplain in a hospital that I truly had a change of mind and heart on many theological and moral topics I had preached against. I met a Buddhist Doctor. A wonderful Buddhist doctor. One of the most kind and loving, kind, and giving people I have ever met. She possessed the fruits of the Spirit that God charges us to attain. She asked me to pray with her for her patient that was dying. In that moment, holding that Buddhist doctor’s hand, I believe God spoke to me. God seemed to say, “this is how I desire humanity to be, loving of one another, accepting, non-judgmental. Do you actually think that this woman who you have come to know as one of the most amazing people, is going to a burning hell?” My answer was a strong “NO”. I cried for days, for weeks even because I realized how awfully wrong I had been to condemn so many others like her. I begged God for forgiveness for my own hatred, my own blindness, my own rejection of His creation. And from that moment on, I was committed, determined to love and accept ALL those that I met on this journey. Not that people are perfect, no, but we are ALL  on a journey and none of us are on the same path. But one thing IS the same, we are ALL  created in love and we are all filled with the same breath of life, no matter where our journey began. From that moment on to love!