Erase the Lines

We’ve all drawn them, at different times and for particular reasons.

Lines.

Lines we will not cross. Lines we put up as a type of guardrail along our comfort zone. Lines to protect us. Lines to insulate us from influences or more pointedly, insulate our children. Lines to make us fit into a specific social strata. Lines because of innate fears.

Depending on who and where we are, our drawn lines will morph greatly over the course of our lives. Hopefully, they will move for good conscientious reasons, not condescending or contentious ones.

There are well thought out, well-placed lines. Parental boundaries put up for the protection of our children – this is an example of a good line drawn. Then there are ugly ones- the ones drawn because of pride, prejudice, arrogance, ignorance, bigotry, hate, selfishness.

The older I have grown, the more I despise these lines. They sicken me frankly. I want to go over and erase them, but I can’t. They are there to remind me that I “DON’T BELONG” or my kids shouldn’t attempt to cross them or my ideas just don’t mesh. And here is what puts my blood at a simmer level: There are sometimes insane amounts and even uglier lines within the church.

Socio-economic lines are inevitable, but I do declare, around our hoity-toityville town, they have a pronounced presence. Sadly, most people that have drawn them never even realize it. I personally have lived on both sides of the tracks. We have had the big new house. We’ve resided in the low-class all ethnic group neighborhood. Nowadays, some might even call our neighborhood “white trash”. They draw their “I would never live there” line. Let’s face it, we generally like to be with other people who are “like us” and balk against those who are not. These lines are often drawn inadvertently, but must always be looked at with a critical careful eye and erased immediately if done with malicious motives.

Ethnically speaking I’m white, pasty white in fact. But I grew up in Los Angeles- arguably one of the most diverse places in the good ol’ US of A. Besides off-handed comments from a few family members, I grew up color blind. The first time I had a “white” best friend was in seventh grade.Here’s what I knew: God made the world and EVERYONE in it.  Lines drawn because of the color of someone’s skin make the world a small place; a place where the beauty and richness of diverse people groups or cultures are replaced by small-minded bias, by fear of the unknown and an air of superiority.  This line, especially in the church, should never, ever be drawn.

The other lines can be petty, picky and perfunctory. Often times they are unnecessary, unkind and uncouth. These are the how we parent our kids lines or the how we school our kids lines.  There are political lines, eating habit lines, media or music preference lines. They are endless. In and of themselves they are not bad and these differences are what makes the world go around. BUT, when we draw them in permanent marker, they serve to exclude all who are not on the same side as us. We become guilty of group think. We become aggressive defenders of preserving our line instead of being open to the possibility of erasing it. Every once in a while, our hand is forced to erase a line we had so carefully marked and when we do, we suddenly find that we had kept out others that needed us or the line was a stupid idea all along.

My challenge to you dear reader is to think long and hard when lines are drawn. Mark them in chalk if you must. Always be willing to step across them for the sake of abandoning a prejudice or erasing them altogether in order to love someone who is on the other side.