By: Hilde Raastad
Hilde Raastad is a native of Oslo, Norway. She worked as an ordained minister and has been an LGBTQ activist in many European countries. Hilde is a member of the Wednesday memoir writing group at First Cong.
Country music is not really a typical Norwegian thing. But, living in Colorado, I sometimes turn my car radio to a country music station. I like the sentimental and often sad stories. And sometimes a real gem shows up that even inspires my spiritual ponderings. One such song is Martina McBride’s “Anyway.” Some of you may know it, or you might be like most of my friends, considering that country music is slightly “low culture” and you have no idea. It doesn’t matter; just let this quote from the song spin around for a moment:
“You can love someone with all your heart
For all the right reasons
And in a moment they might choose to walk away
Love ‘em anyway”.
It’s sweet, isn’t it? Too sweet? I find this text empowering, because it dares us to love, even when we risk getting hurt or rejected. It dares us to love although we might not know if we can trust our own hearts. Will our love last? Is my love strong enough? Can I be trusted, and can I trust you? To love is always about being vulnerable. And always about being courageous. We risk everything when we love with all our heart. And sometimes taking that risk might seem too costly, and fearfully, we protect our hearts from loving wholeheartedly. “Do it anyway!” sings Martina McBride. “Love ‘em anyway!”
To love must be life’s most scary challenge and most fundamental calling; for love is not just that sweet “falling in love” thing. It is that passionate, tender and overwhelming commitment to each other; that one person and those close to us, might they be friends, children, grandparents or whatever. But the calling to love stretches much wider than that. It calls us to love our neighbors; the homeless, the refugees, the many people in Norway, the U.S. and across the world who are isolated, oppressed, persecuted and violated.
As a lesbian activist, I work with LGBTQ people from many countries; Russia, Armenia, Romania and other places. They share heartbreaking and brave stories about being LGBTQ where they live. They tell about abuse and rejection, about closed church doors and hate crimes, but also about daring to love against all odds, and about the struggle to love themselves. They speak about passion and justice and grace. They love “anyway,” and through their words and lives bear witness to what “daring to love” means.
“Love ‘em anyway!” I bet this is one of God’s favorite lines as well! For this is how God loves; vulnerably, wholeheartedly, passionately and gently. We might try to protect our hearts, but God goes all in, loving us unconditionally, whispering: “I love you with all my heart. Even if you walk away. Even if you don’t love me back. I love you with all your scars and brokenness. In my eyes you are always beautiful and wonderful. Treasured just as you are. I will always love you.”
“You can love someone with all your heart for all the right reasons
And in a moment they can choose to walk away. Love ‘em anyway!”
I don’t know if God sings country songs. But I know this; God loves us “with all God’s heart, for all the right and all the wrong reasons. Loves us anyway!”