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Love Your Neighbor: (Fill in the Blank)

love your neighbor

I’m sure, like me, you’ve come across it. You’ve faced it at the grocery store, or in conversations with neighbors. Perhaps it’s come up in your personal relationships, maybe even within the conversations between you and your own spouse. There’s a dangerous trend going around, one which I have witnessed myself over and over again. It’s a trend that equates taking a bias (defined by Wikipedia as a “disproportionate weight in favor of or against an idea or thing, usually in a way that is closed-minded, prejudicial, or unfair”) and using Scripture to support that bias. Love your neighbor, do XYZ is a common one circulating.

I’ve certainly been guilty of this during conversations both on and offline. But God, rich in his mercy and abundant in grace, has stretched me a little thinner, bringing me much more clarity on what HIS love looks like in the midst of a time surrounding so much disagreement.

Love Your Neighbor, Do XYZ.

love your neighbor

“Love your neighbor, vote this way.”
“Love your neighbor, wear a mask.”
“Love your neighbor, vaccinate your children.”
“Love your neighbor, don’t support the police.”
“Love your neighbor, fight for the freedoms entitled to in America.”

For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’

Galatians 5:14 ESV

Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

Romans 13:10 ESV

Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.

Phillipians 4:5 ESV


One look at the word “reasonableness” and I tend to think, “Ok, don’t be a jerk, or temperamental.” At first place, it expresses a certain temperament to me. In the NKJV the word has been translated as “gentleness.” Vines Complete Expository Dictionary of the Old and New Testaments describes this term as:
expresses an active dealing with others; in contrast with meekness, found in 2 Corinthians 10:1, which is more especially a temperament of habit or mind.
My NKJV Study Bible defines gentleness as a noun that:
identifies a person who manifests a calmness and fairness of spirit. A person who is gentle is willing to sacrifice his or her own personal rights to show consideration to others.

Love Your Neighbor: Deny Your Personal Rights

Is it a personal right to be able to vote for the party we believe is the best choice? To decide whether or not to partake in mask wearing? To vaccinate ourselves or our children, or choose not to? Is standing by law enforcement while desiring (and fighting against) racial issues that have lasted throughout too many generations the wrong choice? What about simply having the right to make any of these decisions in the first place, because we live in the land of the free, because of the brave?

All of these things might be personal rights, but they are not God-given rights. Personal rights are granted to us by America and each of these specific topics have a legitimate argument against them. There is an argument supporting why their bias is the “right” one.

It’s also noteworthy to mention that nowhere in Scripture, biblical history, or even of prophecy of what is yet to come is the illusion of freedom being a necessity to Christians. On the contrary, God’s people have suffered persecution for lack of freedom due to their profession of their faith. This doesn’t mean God abandons his people, instead:

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.

2 Peter 1:3 ESV

Examples of this are provided countless times throughout both the old and the new testaments. God provides us with all things. Whether we have freedom granted to us by our governing authorities or not, we have all things in him.

Seeking to Understand the Opposing Viewpoint

If we spend our time falling into one bias, while not seeking out the truth of the opposing view, what happens? We have a one-sided argument. We have a belief that what we decided to do is the absolute only way. Does failing to seek to understand an opposing view show love to that person holding the opposing view? In my experience, it doesn’t. I’m guessing if you’ve ever decided to do something out of the ordinary in your lifetime, that you’d agree.

I’ve been the minority on many issues in my adult life. Most recently, the mask mandates have caused me a lot of conflict within my own heart and convictions. I see the data that expresses that masks have helped keep illnesses from spreading from person to person in close quarters, and I see data that expresses it doesn’t make a lick of difference. The arguments over this subject are endless.

Where does the love of neighbor come into play, here?

Someone with a legitimate medical condition preventing them from being able to breathe with a mask covering their airways encounters someone who would only feel safe around that person if they choose to wear one… what is to be done in a situation like this? The person who struggles to breathe wearing a mask could show them love by wearing one anyways, or the mask-wearer could show love by being clear that it’s ok if that person cannot safely breathe while wearing one.

Love Your Neighbor: Walk in Step With Undeniable Truth

These are the hard realities we are all attempting to cope with. There are so many sides to every story, causing further confusion to ensue. The only thing I’ve found to combat that chaotic confusion, is undeniable truth. Where does one look to find that truth? God’s Word answers that exact question for us.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV

We must, as believers, as professors of Christ, seek Scripture to make sense of the mud of culture. It’s efficient.

For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself.

Romans 14:7 ESV

Our actions, every single one of them, affect others. Our actions always affect someone, but not everyone is affected by our actions.

Therefore let us not pass judgement on one any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.

Romans 14:13 ESV

Judgement. There it is. If I find myself questioning another person either for choosing to wear, or choosing not to wear a mask, I’m already in the position to sin. I’m already disobeying God’s command to love my neighbor. This is the pivotal issue over the argument to choose to decide for someone else what loving their neighbor equates to.

Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.

Romans 14:18-19 ESV

Pursue what makes for peace and mutual upbuilding. Is telling someone they are foolish for a choice they made providing an opportunity to upbuild one another or to make peace?

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

Romans 12:18 ESV

Scripture Does Not Contradict Itself

It’s a comfort to know, as a believer, that Scripture does not contradict itself. The world, full of all of it’s opinions and ideas, is full of contradiction. No matter what we decide on any matter, there’s a contradictory idea that surfaces against that decision. Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation is consistent and tells the same redemptive story over and over again of a God that loves his people and wants them to walk in unity with their Creator.

When we attach a bias, opinion, or idea onto something God-breathed, we are likely going to find that there is something else in Scripture that will contradict our belief and/or stance on that thing. When we do this, as Christians, we also make something appear authoritative that was never intended to be that way. God’s Word cannot be inerrant, but our biases certainly can be.

What Happens When We Use Scripture to Support our Bias

When we use Scripture to support our bias, we are no longer just “spreading truth” but instead, we are (even if unintentionally) causing quarrels within the body of believers. For example, “Love your neighbor, wear a mask,” twists the biblical principle stated in Galatians 5:14 into the bias that wearing a mask is beneficial for all. It completely ignores the love for the neighbor that cannot wear a mask, due to history of trauma or a medical condition preventing them from breathing properly with it on. Does that sound like what God meant when he told us we should love our neighbor as ourselves?

Instead of morphing Scripture with our biases to support our views, let’s choose instead to do what we are commanded to in the Word of God.

But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Matthew 22:34-40 ESV

Choose to Believe the Best About Others

Believing the best about another human being that was created in the image of God is loving that person. This means when we witness someone wearing a mask, we actively choose to believe the best about them (that they are doing what they believe will best love others). When we witness someone wearing a mask with their nose exposed, we choose to believe the best about them (that they are doing what they believe will best love others). When we see someone not wearing a mask at all, we choose to believe the best about them (that they are doing what they believe will best love others).

As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.

Romans 14:1 ESV

So what do we do with all of this, as followers and believers in Jesus Christ?

The answer is quite simple: If someone is doing something that you immediately disagree with at first glance, like wearing a mask, respect their choice. Choose to honor them whether you agree or disagree. If someone is not wearing a mask, respect their choice and choose to honor them whether you agree or disagree.

I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord.

Philippians 4:2 ESV

This was not a plea simply for the sake of avoiding an argument with Euodia and Syntyche. It was a plea to not allow differences to impact our unity with one another in Jesus Christ and his work he did for us on the cross. Let us agree in the Lord, despite our disagreements.

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Miscarriage and Pregnancy Loss: Healing

September of 2015

The weather was a typical California “fall” that September. We were tiny living in our fifth wheel as a family of three with our firstborn and our dog, Gracie. It wasn’t too hot that month, we were still longingly awaiting the cooler weather. Our long pants were still neatly tucked away in storage, waiting for the seasons to change. We prayerfully decided our two year old would make a really great big brother. My husband and I felt ready to grow our family by another sweet baby. It wasn’t hard to become pregnant the first go-around. I was certain it wouldn’t happen again on the first try. Miscarriage and pregnancy loss were the last things on our minds.

Well, as usual, God had different plans than I did. Within weeks, there I was…anxiously waiting the longest three minutes of my life for two pink lines to slowly appear on a dollar store test. Did it really happen that easily, again? Another test confirmed, pregnant.

I took that test very early in my pregnancy, according to my most recent cycle. I had to be 4-5 weeks along, symptoms from rising HCG barely at their beginning stages. My first pregnancy had gone well without complications out of the ordinary. The memories of the same moment with our first pregnancy flashed in my mind.

Soon after the joy of learning there was another precious life growing inside of me, a feeling like a dark cloud began to follow me around. I remember sharing with a handful of people that I was pregnant. Each time I would share, I would attach, “But, it’s really early.” Was I saying that because I knew others who had experienced loss? Miscarriage or pregnancy loss are not things that I had ever personally experienced. The sense that something was off wouldn’t leave me. I was afraid. I couldn’t put my finger on why, but this overwhelming sense of worry was hovering in my mind.

It was a Saturday night when the feeling completely overcame me, this sinking feeling deep inside of me. I was roughly six weeks along by now. I remember saying to my husband, “Something isn’t right,” and I cried in his arms that night. The next day, the start of bleeding would begin. The pink lines would begin to fade on additional tests (signaling the HCG was lessening in my body). I knew for certain that day that I was experiencing a miscarriage or pregnancy loss and miscarrying our baby…

September of 2020

It’s been five years since we experienced our pregnancy loss. While the many tears I cried eventually stopped flowing and I experienced God’s gracious healing with the birth of our rainbow baby the following September, it was difficult to let go of why that happened to me. It can be so frustrating to not understand exactly why God allows these things to happen. I have always said I’m so thankful it was so early. But, the emotional pain was still like nothing I’ve ever felt before.

August of 2018

Fast-forward a few years to late summer when we moved from California to Texas. Over the course of those three years, I never went searching for reasons why we miscarried. Little did I know, the answers somehow found me anyways. I began seeing a new dentist in our new state. I was in the middle of the process of removing my (many) amalgam fillings. Amalgams are those metal looking fillings dentists use(d) to fill cavities, which happen to contain a toxin called mercury. Somewhere along my journey to holistic, natural living, I had come across research that supported the decision to have those removed. For health reasons, I decided I would be better off having them all replaced, reducing the risk of the toxins in my body. However, it never crossed my mind whether those risks involved miscarriage or pregnancy loss.

Spring of 2015

We were still living in California when I got the first half of them removed. The dentist I was seeing at the time wasn’t anything outside of the normal realm of typical dentists. He happened to not take any precautions when removing and replacing the amalgam fillings. I didn’t know any better to advocate for anything different (I doubt he did, either).

October of 2018

So, I sought out this new to me, holistic dentist in Texas. Dr. Teresa Scott made it a priority to promptly remove the remaining amalgams and replace with porcelain like the rest. She was firm that this was of importance before doing any of the rest of the dental work I needed. Taking major precautions to not only protect me during the removal process, but herself and her staff as well she replaced the fillings. (Through this process, I learned there is a legitimate and significant risk of exposing the toxins into the air from the amalgams during this process.) After this was completed, she heavily advised me to detox with something like TRS. The next thing she said is where the wheels in my brain started rolling…she finished her recommendations with, “One more thing…do not get pregnant for a minimum of 6 months from now.”

My heart felt like it had jumped to my throat. Why was she recommending that so strongly? What could happen if I got pregnant after this? When did I miscarry….when did I get my other amalgams removed….was there a connection? My heart sank back down to my the bottom of my stomach. I looked back to when I had the first amalgams removed (remember, with no precautions, no detoxing, nothing). Sure enough, it was within 6 months of getting pregnant that I miscarried what would have been our second baby.

September of 2020

The healing I experienced through the gift of our second-born baby, despite just how hard it was to not live in fear throughout the course of his pregnancy, was complete and full of love. The healing I experienced after having highly probable answers to why I experienced pregnancy loss, was moving. It has now been five years since we experienced the devastation of loss. Four years ago we had our rainbow baby. Two years ago I realized what could have caused our loss.

I share this story in full for the first time, in hopes that it will touch someone else’s pain with a glimpse of hope. In hopes that it will cause less pain by providing the awareness. There are risks we face each and every day with the decisions we make. Our care providers don’t know what they don’t know. None of us know what we don’t know. That is something I’m learning more and more through my walk with Christ. It very much so fits these circumstances I find myself having faced. It allows me to have offer grace up to others.

I still keep those positive pregnancy tests tucked away in a drawer. With those tests are other tangible memories of the life that didn’t remain viable inside of my womb. One of those tangible memories is a card from a sweet friend and sister in Christ who walked me through that difficult season. Having a friend who has been in the shoes you’re currently walking in is a blessing from the caring Father above. I am grateful to this day for the love she showed me. I haven’t been able to bring myself to read that card again since the day she gave it to me.

Miscarriage and pregnancy loss is not an easy topic to write about, to read about, or to think about. If you find yourself wondering what could have caused your loss, I want to be clear that those answers might not ever come full circle this side of heaven. It’s possible you have a story like mine. If you do and feel compelled to share, I’d love to hear your heart. Feel free to email me, or comment below if you feel safe to do so.

To the mamas that have felt the pain of loving a child you never got to hold, you’re not alone. You’re never, ever alone. There’s hope, and grace…for me, and for you.

A Note

I realize there is a common “courtesy” of providing a trigger warning at the start of a text that could potentially elicit uncomfortable feelings in others. I want to be clear that I do not believe this is the best way to counter those triggered emotions. Real life does not come with trigger warnings, and my miscarriage and pregnancy loss experience certainly wasn’t an exception to that. It is my opinion that the more loving thing to do than provide a trigger waring, is to instead weep with those who weep. We can’t walk with one another in our pain if it’s not shared. So here you will find me, heart on my sleeve sharing with you. Will you share with me, too?

Images on this post taken by Nicole Jackson Photography