What does Jesus’ love look like?

It seems like a question we need to reaffirm now more than ever, as we’re flooded with messages of intolerance and outright hatred. I learned what God’s love looks like from watching my mother’s life – her unwavering faith in the face of the many obstacles she had to overcome. But she credits me with opening her eyes to God’s unconditional, overcoming love for her.

In 1971, when I was five years old, our Sunday mornings looked like scrambled eggs and buttered toast, Mass at St. Mary’s, and then maybe a trip to the park. Later that year my mother divorced my Dad and came out. It was a courageous move for a Catholic in the 70s. After that, as a single Mom struggling to raise 3 kids on her own, our Sundays started to look a bit different. Fewer trips to the park if Mom was working. More cold cereal. But we still went to Mass. Mom, however, did not go up for Communion as usual. When I asked her why, she said the priests told her she could no longer participate in the sacrament of Communion as a divorced woman (let alone a lesbian). She said I frowned, looked up at her, and said, “But Jesus wouldn’t care, would he?” Shortly after, we left the Catholic church.

Still, Mom felt ostracized by the Christian community because of her sexuality. 

She got tired of hearing that gays were going to hell, tired of seeing them portrayed as nothing but sexual beings. She knew who she was with God – a person like any other who wanted her life to mean something – wanted family, friendship, love. Not LGBTQ – human. She wanted to give other gays in her community an open, loving place to worship. She wanted to create a place where no one was forced to choose between who they were and what they believed. So she went into the ministry, and by 1985 she was ordained pastor of Akron Metro Christian Church.

And she served her community lovingly for over 20 years.

So what does Jesus’ love look like? It seems like us humans have trouble changing, but that never does. My mother dedicated her life to sharing it. “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.” Titus 2:11

Vicki Speegle is the producer of a documentary film about her mother Joyce’s struggle with Alzheimer’s. You can join her community of supporters by clicking HERE.

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