I’m 27 years old and I don’t know how to love completely. This
is a public confession from me to you. Please read it as a confession and not
as a political stance, official position of Trietsch or a marketing ploy.
This is me, Alyssa Robinson.
When I was a teenager, I knew everything. Just ask my
parents (shout out to the real MVPs – Denise & Chris Robinson). I knew what
I believed. I knew where I was going in life. I knew I didn’t need advice
because I could figure everything out on my own.
This is the part of the story where I’m supposed to tell you
how I spiraled out of control, crashed and burned and the world chewed me up
and spit me out. Nope. I did pretty well when I went off to college.
I studied hard, stayed active in church, DJ’d at the school
radio station, became the President of the Wesley Foundation and graduated with
honors. I knew what I believed. I knew where I was going. I knew I didn’t need
It wasn’t until after college, at 21 years old, when I
started to see the flaws in the church. Until then, it was always the warm,
fuzzy, feel-good place of my childhood.
I saw people who nodded their heads when love, mercy,
forgiveness, compassion and hope were preached from the altar, and maybe even threw
out an enthusiastic, “AMEN!” from time to time.
I would overhear disheartening conversations from those same
people. Here are some of the sound bytes I heard:
“We need to be careful about giving too many handouts in
South Dallas. We should teach a man to fish, not give him fish.”
“Why are we focusing on people in [NAME LOCATION] when so
many people need help in our own backyard?”
“If we start welcoming active gays in the church, it
contradicts our Christian values. We should love the sinner, but hate the sin.”
“I get that the church welcomes all people, but that doesn’t
mean they get to act however they want when they walk in the doors. Have some
respect for the house of God.”
These conversations made my skin crawl. I heard CONDITIONAL
love statements from Christians every week, whether from people at church,
social media feeds or news reports.
Everything I thought I knew about what church should be was
coming unraveled, and I panicked. I was accustomed to being sure of what I knew
and of myself. Seeing the church as flawed people was new territory for me.
I quickly grew tired of Christians picking and choosing who
deserved their love. During this time, I clung to these Bible verses:
“Dear friends, let’s love each other, because love is from
God, and everyone who loves is born from God and knows God. The person who
doesn’t love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:7-8 (CEB)
So what did I do with all the frustrations and unknowns? I
Looking back, I wish I had the courage to work through these
disagreements with my fellow Christians, but I didn’t. I decided that Christians
If they can’t love everybody unconditionally, then I can’t
love them. (Do you hear how stupid I am? I do.)
I didn’t go to church for 5 years. My parents would ask me
if I’d found a church I liked, and I would make excuses. I’m church hunting or
hopping right now. I have water polo practice on Sundays, and it’s too hard to
do both. I have to go into the office on Sundays.
About 4 years into my church strike, I finally told my dad,
“I love God, but I’m done with church and church people.” He just nodded and
said, “Okay. It sounds like you’ve made up your mind.”
Obviously, I am now a staff member at Trietsch, heavily
involved in church and heavily involved in ministry and missions. My journey
back to the church has lots of twists and turns that I won’t address in this
post, but I’d be happy to talk to you about it sometime if you’re interested.
After I made my way back to church, it was the WE worship
series about inclusion that actually revealed to me how stupid I am. Remember
this from last Fall?
When Daniel Humbert told us about the upcoming WE series, my
first thought was, “YES! It’s about time.” I thought this was the awakening the
church needed. It’s about loving ALL people, and they’re all doing it wrong!
I was ready to sit in my ivory tower, cross my arms, prop my
feet up and wag my finger. I’d look at people in church and think, “I’m so glad
he’s here…he REALLY needed to hear this one.”
Through the WE series, God revealed to me that I don’t know
how to love completely. Looking back, I see the pattern and I know you see it,
too. But it was a complete shock to me at the time. I was mirroring the CONDITIONAL
love of the people I condemned, but in the opposite direction.
I went back and read through 1 John 4, the scripture that I
had clung to, hoping that it would comfort and encourage me. It didn’t. It
broke me. For the first time, I read the entire chapter.
“If anyone says, I love God, and hates a brother or sister,
he is a liar, because the person who doesn’t love a brother or sister who can
be seen can’t love God, who can’t be seen. This commandment we have from him:
Those who claim to love God ought to love their brother and sister also.” 1
Even typing those words now pains me because I know they
were written about me and for me.
I’m convicted and found guilty. I hold hate in my heart for
those with opposing social views. I piously spew messages of love, inclusion,
tolerance and acceptance, but have no compassion or empathy for those who
struggle with the concepts I hold dear.
I confess that I don’t love completely. I am broken. I am
stupid. I am one of the flaws in the church.
But now I know it. My eyes have been opened. Now I can work
on it, and I’m really trying. It’s okay to disagree with each other, but love
should always win.
Thanks to this church, I am beginning to see myself for who
I am. I’m a sinner saved by grace everyday.
God, thank you for having mercy on idiots like me. Teach me
to love completely and send me the discernment and wisdom to recognize when I’m
not getting it right.