• Dana L. Butler

Love Covers {in which I breathe deep and get honest with my fellow Jesus-followers}

Image by Jennifer Upton

My dearly adored friends,

Please hear the quiet tremble of my voice and know how profoundly I treasure each of you, your presence here as you read these words today.

I’m sitting on the couch with my littlest love this afternoon when I glance at my Facebook newsfeed–

And I’m grieved.

This isn’t an entirely unusual experience for me, but what is abnormal is the clarity with which the grief hits my heart. And with it, this gut-level knowing:

I have to write this.

Really?  Really.

Oh, no.

::stomach flips::


I’m not sure if the internal conversation is more with the Holy Spirit, or more between me and my own commitment to personal authenticity, to no longer allowing fear to make me shrink back from saying things I need to say.

Either way, I get my girl down for her nap, grab my laptop, take some deep breaths, and place fingers to keys.

Holy God…


What grieved me today was a joke of some kind and the crazy thing is that I can’t even remember which joke or who posted it because there are so many these days, but I’m pretty sure it was political in nature.

In fact, I just spent the last 20 minutes scrolling back through my feed in search of it, but it was nowhere to be found. What I did find, ironically, was this article, and I snagged a screenshot to share with you:

Full article here: http://www.christianpost.com/news/hillary-clinton-questions-christian-compassion-of-rivals-did-they-not-go-and-hear-the-same-lessons-i-did-in-sunday-school-140425/

While I only briefly skimmed the article, these timely-for-me words from Hillary Clinton from this past Sunday stuck out to me. Painfully.

“While Clinton did not specifically call out any candidate or person by name she bewailed the lack of compassion and “mean spiritedness” of others in politics.

“Did they not go and hear the same lessons I did in Sunday school,” asked Clinton. “Did they not sing the same hymns?” She continued questioning their morality and Christian theology by wondering, “Did they never hear, ‘there but for the grace of God go I?'”

There, but for the grace of God, go I.

Did we never hear it?

If I could lay aside my fear of speaking bold truth-in-love for just a moment — if I were brave enough to be completely honest with you — this is what the burning in my bones would have me say:

My precious fellow lovers of Jesus:

It is so unfunny when we are unkind to those with whom we disagree and call it a joke.

It is not funny when we write and publish satire in order to make a humorous or outrageously overstated point about those whose life stories, experiences, and challenges are impossible for us to fully understand.

It is not funny when we write or perpetuate the sharing of sarcasm about white-on-black violence or black-on-black violence or Caitlyn Jenner or homosexuality, or even about Rachel whatever-her-last-name-is who has posed as a biracial woman for however many years but is, in actuality, white. {White, and most likely very mentally disturbed, which is kind of beside my point, but not really.}

It is not funny when we rejoice in or otherwise make light of the newly (or oldly) uncovered moral failure of celebrities or politicians with views to which we don’t subscribe.

It is not funny when we are flippant about Obama or Hillary or Huckabee or Miley or the Duggar family or whoever else unwittingly causes the next insanely-sensationalized social media failure-feeding frenzy.

I write all these things with a profound heaviness in my pounding heart and I keep catching myself with this accidentally-anguished expression on my face as I write, because Christians, my so-deeply-treasured friends, where is our love?

When will we stop all our looking around and our pointing and our jeering, close our gaping jaws, press our faces into our carpeted floors, and desperately ask Jesus to bathe our souls in His adoration of us, so that His affection for us can overcome our own broken, love-starved need to perpetuate the transformation of these desperate, aching, ashamed, socially-exposed ones into mere amusing one-liners or critiques so we feel better about ourselves?

Because they’re showing, y’allall these places where we’ve not yet been perfected in Love.

We can only love well those with whom we differ to the degree that our own undeserving roots have gone deep into His love.

To the degree that we’ve sat before Him and been remade inside by His scandalous acceptance of us in our utter depravity.

This is scary for me, y’all, but I can say this I think.

Because I know. I’ve been there. Not all that long ago. My own not-yet-perfected-in-love places — they were gaping and glaring, too. And I’m quite sure, actually, that they still are at times.

But I’m learning, you guys. I’m learning that from that position of face-pressed-into-carpet, out of that place of being undone by His love for me in all my own brokenness and failure and need —

From the place of but for the grace of God — 

I can sit with those whose experiences, values, and beliefs differ greatly from my own.

I can ask questions. I can choose to be curious, to deeply hear hearts and stories and hold them with compassion and care. To learn from them.

To love. them.

And if I’m not able to physically sit with them (a la Rachel or Hillary or Jenner or whatever other personality accidentally becomes infamous on any given day), then I can look at their situation through a lens of kind curiosity.

I can suspend my assumptions about scenarios and stories and sin.

I can allow Jesus to break my heart with the brokenness that shatters His.

And I can avoid the temptation to sensationalize and dehumanize and make light of their horrifically exposed lives or choices in cahoots with the media that I think often wants us to do just that.

Y’all? This is true even if my goal is to prove a valid point, not simply to be cruel. Points proven with a lack of love only add to the problem.

Truth without love brings death.

To be clear, I am certainly not advocating a need to shift our beliefs, our perspectives, or our interpretation of scripture. I am not even necessarily advocating that we keep our views quiet, though occasionally I find there’s wisdom in doing so, for a season.

am advocating that we listen, that we’re present, that we’re curious about differing stories and perspectives, that we love well.

And dear ones? Love covers.

It covers.

And it is kind.

{I love you guys so much. Thank you for grace in your receiving of these words.}

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