Upon graduation, I began reading a book given to me by my oldest brother, Blue Like Jazz, by Donald Miller. In this book Miller gives his “nonreligious thoughts on Christian spirituality.” In my own experiences the past 17 years, I have already learned that we all have our baggage. As a result of this baggage, life is going to be messy. Miller, who attended Reed, a liberal college in Portland, talks about the importance of loving all people regardless of their sexual orientation, race, etc. Contrary to fundamentalist Christian views, Miller stresses there will be Conservative, Republican Christians and there also will be Liberal, Democrat Christians. When my generation thinks of church, we often picture a stuffy room where a self-righteous preacher stands before the congregation and condemns everyone and everything, a type of Pharisee, if you will. This perception is not too far from the truth, even in a classroom environment. My experience in high school taught me many things, but one of the most important was the lesson of acceptance. I had an amazing group of culturally diverse friends made up of liberals, conservatives, Christians, agnostics, etc. I loved my school because it was an environment where everyone was welcomed and accepted; I was never judged or criticized for being a Christian. While my non-Christian friends never condemned me for my beliefs, I heard some of my Christian classmates talk harshly about peers who had differing opinions on religion. When this “holier-than-thou” attitude carried over into these friends “checking me” on innocent actions I made, I knew something had to change. In AP Literature, the common occurrence in all of the classic stories we read was an awakening/enlightenment/epiphany. I guess you could say I had a sort of awakening this year. No longer did I sit and listen to this group talk, I got up and started meeting other friends…different friends…incredible people. This decision was probably the best decision of my high school career. I didn’t stay away from people who were different, I embraced them. To my once close friends, I was turning down a path to “The Dark Side.” I’m sure they half expected to see Darth Vader walking with me to and from class. In my new state of mind, though, I was doing just as Jesus would’ve done. He truly loved, befriended, and hung out with everyone. Blue Like Jazz reminded me of the importance of my church’s motto: “Everyone’s welcome. Nobody’s perfect. Anything is possible.” In my life post high school, my main goal is to pursue God and the life He has for me wholeheartedly and with a fiery passion. I will make mistakes, I will have doubt, I will sin, and I will face failure because I am not perfect and I never will be. But I am also saved by His grace. No matter the size of my mistake, the lack of faith, the depth of my sin, or the extent of my failure, His beautiful love will always be real in every aspect of my life.
“I think Christian spirituality is like jazz music. I think loving Jesus is something you feel. I think it is something very difficult to get on paper. But it is no less real, no less meaningful, no less beautiful.”-Blue Like Jazz