On most days, I appreciate the messiness of life and the myriad options available. Other times, I wish there were definitive answers, but there isn’t. I’m labeled a Catholic and consider myself religious, but I certainly can’t quote Scripture nor do I know the names of all the saints or even the books of the Bible. Previously I wrote about my wavering faith in the Catholic church. Since then, I accepted an invitation to attend a different congregation which has resulted in a developing affirmation of the Catholic teachings. Why the change of heart? Basically because the priest’s sermons are not telling me exactly what I should think. Instead, he uses his own life stories to share how he values the Catholic views of the Bible. He shares his sins and validates how difficult life’s decisions can be.
Growing up, I heard the parables Jesus used to enlighten those around him. I grew up learning to be kind-hearted, giving, and grateful for what I had because my family and friends’ families modeled the teachings we heard in Bible and the preachings of our Christian leaders. Yesterday I attended church on Thanksgiving for the first time in years. As I listened to the sermon, I found myself struggling between the word acceptance or tolerance. I’ve read, and continue to read, numerous pieces about why people voted for President-Elect Trump so I can understand their choice. At some point during the sermon, (yes, sometimes my mind wanders during the sermons) I realized that it’s not acceptance or tolerance that is asked of me but empathy. Jesus empathized, and in my basic knowledge of other religions, I believe empathy is a core foundation across all of them.
The idea of having either acceptance or tolerance explains my struggle with having a definitive answer when asked my opinion on abortion or right-to-die legislation or testing of amniotic fluid for genetic disorders or a lengthy list of individual choices. Life is complicated to say the least. I cannot infringe upon other’s rights and beliefs. It is the reason I love America. What I can do is support the people as they make these difficult decisions. I can trust they will make an informed decision because they have been given information, not one-sided propaganda. I can be thankful I do not have to make the choice myself. I can, and should, have empathy for them.