Only one year ago today, I wrote my first post about LGBTQ issues. Hard to believe so much has come and gone these past twelve months. I have learned more than I can put into words… but for this blog, I will try! So for the next several posts, I’ll share the changes I’ve seen. I invite you to join me as we celebrate and reflect together!
Funny story… Justin Lee, author of Torn and Executive Director of The Gay Christian Network accidentally helped me start this blog. When I first knew I wanted to turn my small, personal blog into a platform for LGBTQ issues, I didn’t know where to start. I had so much to say, and I didn’t want to take those first tentative steps in public. It’s like pushing off into the middle of the rink the first time you put on skates while all your friends – and everyone else in the rink – are watching. I knew I had much to say, from various angles, that was different from what was out there. I knew it wouldn’t make as much sense until I developed a body of work that interrelated. That would take time and some trial and error to catch my groove. (And as I wrote on my About page, I was afraid of the church’s reaction.)
Perhaps I could write under a pseudonym, just to test the waters. Once I gained my sea legs, I would somehow transition to my own name. Instead, it happened like this:
My daughter Annie was preparing to move from New York to Chicago, and I was privileged to spend six weeks with her in New York to help her transition. (Can I just say, how awesome is six weeks in New York City?!?) First thing we did was take the bus for a sightseeing weekend in Washington, DC, because – why not? (Can’t make that quick jaunt from my home in Texas!) We’d packed our itinerary with every fun and educational activity. It happened to be the week of the Supreme Court DOMA case. Turns out the day we went to the Supreme Court, the Plaza was full with LGBTQ people carrying signs. Their beauty, peace and joy took my breath away. Whoever believes this issue is about rules instead of people is not paying attention.
As it happens, I talked with Justin Lee the evening before! His book Torn had impacted me deeply, so I connected with him by email, we scheduled a phone call, and I asked him how to proceed on my blog. 🙂 (Maybe he was a little less busy then!) He was kind and encouraging, and told me I was needed in this conversation. Very nice. He also convinced me that writing two blogs (one under a pseudonym), was much harder than I thought. I figured he was right, and I nixed that idea. Now I had no idea how to move forward.
So there Annie and I were at the Supreme Court Plaza, watching this peaceful and loving demonstration. These were not the church’s enemies. I already knew that, but something about seeing their love, that all they wanted was to live peaceable lives as Paul suggests, moved me to the core. There was a lovely woman with her two homeschooled girls, with their sign: “Straight, married, church-going mom thinks love equals love and discrimination is mean.” She could’ve been me. I’m straight, married and church-going. I took their picture, we finished our sightseeing, and I went home and wrote my first LGBTQ post.
It’s not exactly that God tricked me, but without my realizing it he’d changed the course of my blog! What could I do but continue? I got several abrupt messages from people I knew, friends even, challenging me on what I had written. One said, “I was a little surprised to see your post today…” which was an understatement. I answered them all thoroughly and confidently — somehow the answers just came to me. But my answers did not satisfy them, though writing them drained my time and energy. God made it clear I needed to move on, and he showed me clearly who my audience was and was not. More on that in the next post.
What began as one post became a life-changing journey. I tentatively offered my contribution, afraid I’d be chewed up and spit out on the internet. Instead, God guided me gently and filled my heart with hope. Oh yes, I was chewed up a bit, but I found that God has protected me. (I would not compare myself to the apostles, who risked their very lives to share the gospel, but I have drawn comfort in Jesus’ promise to give them the right word when they needed it.)
Of course the last thing I would want to do is to lead anyone astray, especially in their relationship to God. I kept praying: “God, if I’m wrong here, show me. If I’m ‘condoning sin,’ tell me! I don’t want to do that!” I prayed that a dozen times those first weeks. And every time I did, God would encourage me. One mom called me in tears because she was estranged from her lesbian daughter. We talked at length, and she realized her job is to love her daughter, unconditionally, not do some kind of “tough love”… translated, “reject her daughter until she changes.” She had seen where that road led, and it wasn’t toward Christ. Several things happened like that — messages from gay kids rejected by their families or churches, parents who couldn’t speak up for fear of backlash — and I knew for sure this was exactly what I was supposed to be doing.
I’ve learned much about Christians, LGBTQ, and human nature. I’ve lost friends and family over this battle. Some were exactly the ones I expected would back away, some were out of the blue. On the other hand, I have made new friends, tender-hearted friends, in person and through my blog… and some friends through the blog I have now met in person. How cool is that? In the end, I have opted out of the evangelical circle that so carefully monitors each other’s behavior. It’s been more freeing than you can imagine.
Over this year, I’ve grown a stronger voice, a fuller message, and richer peace in God’s rest. Over the next several posts, I will share with you some of the wisdom I’ve gained along the way.
So, here’s to us, on this journey, together. Happy Anniversary, FreedHearts! It’s been an enriching year.