I love having friends who aren't Christians.
I have several, and they are each of them amazing people who I wouldn't trade for the world.
I was raised in a very sheltered environment. One that was almost like an oxygen tent for health, yet with downfalls. The older I get the more I see both the positives and the negatives of that atmosphere.
Growing up I never had non-Christian friends. This is not because I shut them out but just because ... I didn't know any. My entire environment was Christian. I am so blessed that my heritage provided such a firm and lasting foundation for me in so many areas, and I wouldn't change all that many things about the way I was raised. But this one area didn't provide me with very much of a capacity to relate to anyone who wasn't a Christian. I've had to learn that on my own in my adult life.
I've worked as a foodserver for the last 12 years. Throughout my life in the service industry, I've had the opportunity to meet so many different kinds of people. I've had problems relating to some of them. They've had problems relating to me. I'd step on toes without knowing I was. I'd come across judgmentally without knowing it. (Yes, some of them had the guts to tell me that.) Mostly there was this wary feeling, probably on both sides, like viewing a tiger in a cage. What are they thinking? What's their world like? Are they going to hate me?
Gradually I've learned that people are people. Every one of us is unique, but we are all human. We're made from the same stuff. Belief structure does not a totally different person make. No one is on the "outside," no one is on the "inside." We learn and live and love together in much the same ways. And you know what?
I love people!
I love them for who they are, not for what they believe. I love them for the genuineness of their hearts, not for some "religious correctness" that Jesus Himself didn't believe in. I love them for being real: for being who they are, and letting me--a member of a highly judgmental class--get close enough to see them. They are beautiful!
Beliefs aren't beautiful. Beliefs are facts. Ideas maybe. Foundational to existing, but not the existence itself. I love talking about ideas and beliefs, theology and ideology, theory and supposition. But I also realize more clearly all the time that these are not the sum total of a human life. And humans are beautiful.
I love non-Christians. And I love that a few of them dare to love me back.
(Dedicated to Molly, Rosa, BJ, and Kat. For daring.)