Erin and I both grew up in West Texas. With that comes many shared values. These foundations gave us a world view that leans conservative and has a pick yourself up from your bootstraps way of life. This is why it was surprising for us to find three different friends from high school who had chosen separately to live in the PNW, or Pacific Northwest to the rest of us.
Why would some good Texans move to Portland? They love it here. I think they like it even may like it more than Texas?!?!!
The PNW is beautiful. It does rain a good bit and was fairly dark and cloudy while we were in town. But there is something more than just the beauty. Portland is a community that is quite welcoming and shows compassion to people from all walks of life.
One family we had dinner with said they have felt more accepted and welcomed in Portland than they ever did in West Texas. They felt that their skin color often made their personal and professional life more challenging. I asked, how do you explain the difference in the way you were treated in our homeland of West Texas compared to the northwest. The individual responded that the difference was the church. West Texas is filled with churches and church-going folk. Up in Portland, they hardly knew anyone who went to church.
What they were telling me is that this family of color feels more compassion and acceptance from the liberal, irreligious folks in the northwest than they do around good conservative church-going folk in West Texas. Less church – more love.
That is one of the more damning things I have heard about the church, my church, in a long time. In this individual’s experience, and I am sure they are not the only one, they did not receive love from the people who go to church.
Jesus once said, “All people will know that you are my followers if you love each other.”
Somehow many of us in the church going community have missed the boat. I want my life to be known by my love. Today, the church is best known by many outsiders to be hypocritical, anti-homosexual, judgmental, and too political according to recent research. May this lead me to always consider how I can love others better, give greater honor, and to walk it out to my neighbors in my actions.
This interaction has changed the way I see people in the liberal, unchurched northwest. In this case, they are out-loving the church-going folk where I come from.