So obviously the process of coming out to one’s friends and family isn’t an easy one. Everyone has an opinion. Some people keep it to themselves, and some people let me know what they think. Sometimes I’m blown away by the love and acceptance I see coming from some people, and of course, on the other side, I can become very drained by negative responses. I know that being a gay christian is controversial issue, but being a gay christian doesn’t mean I want to debate the issue. It’s interesting how because some people think you’ve “chosen” this, they also think it is your duty to debate the issue and defend yourself. I don’t think this is true. I believe it is up to each individual to take this issue and bring it before God and do the sorting out of it on their own. This includes the people in their lives with whom they don’t agree. You know that whole angle of trusting things to God? I really think that this is the only way that christians who don’t agree with me and other gay christians can stay in relationship with me and others. We have to believe that God is bigger than our interpretations of the Bible and our beliefs about theology. We have to believe that God will do what He says He will do, which is covering us with His righteousness, never giving up on us, and leading us into the truth by His Holy Spirit and love.
I hold on to that daily. I hold on to the fact that I have been seeking the Lord my whole life and that He knows my heart better than anyone. I hold on to the fact that His love is the greatest thing of all. I hold on to the fact that Jesus is who saves me. I hold on to the fact that He will continue to work in my life and lead me according to His will because He always has and the Bible says He always will until I go to meet Him in heaven.
So, I had a moment where I thought, what messages have Lindsey and I received that have meant a lot to us, that have let us know that the person believes in our individual relationships with the Lord (or just the bigness of God period!), that made us actually feel loved? What does that actually look like? I decided it would be a good idea to post some snippets of them here in my blog, not only to honor those people who have really communicated love to us, but also to look at (for myself and anyone reading this) some really great ways to communicate love to someone you may not agree with. (and no, this blog is not about a passive aggressive way to tell people in my life how I would prefer to be messaged….I’ve already responded at some point to every message I’ve received (whether negative or positive)…so I don’t need to do it here in this blog) This is all part of my journey right now and part of me living this journey with authenticity!
Why does it matter so much? Because you can’t change me (and I can’t change you), only God can. You can weigh me down and stifle me, but that won’t change who I am. We have to believe that God is bigger. We have to believe that He is in control. That He understands the people we don’t agree with and that He has a plan for them too. This goes for me as well. It’s so easy to become exhausted by the messages that tear me down, but I have to believe that God is bigger than those, that He will continue working in the lives of the people who don’t agree with me. It’s hard, yes, but, as I read in Mark today, everything is possible with God.
So what does a truly loving message look like? Here are a few examples…
(from an extended family member) “...who am I to judge? I will always love you no matter what , because you are my sweetheart of a niece. I know it was hard to admit it , especially in a family like ours. I’m sure you will get some flack for it, but I hope you know that you will always be loved.”
(from Lindsey’s friend, Heather) “…the more that I have learned and seen some gay Christians and their pursuit of the Lord, the more it’s made me question the black and white belief that simply says you can’t be gay and Christian-end of story.
But I’ve become really convicted recently that it’s not okay for me to read scriptures or to tell those who ask me about my views on this topic, but just re-gurgetating what I’ve heard. The Lord has begin to show me that in general, I have become apathetic and lazy with my pursuit of Him. Because He WANTS me to search His word and search His heart, and not settle for just an easy answer. But so often, I settle for what’s the popular answer to hard questions, because it’s easier that way. It requires no discomfort, no tears, no late nights, no extensive praying. And God’s not okay with that.
Basically, I don’t think it’s coincidence that you sent me that message last week. Because it’s something that I can no longer confidently say “the Bible is clear about”…because the Bible isn’t as clear as I thought it was. But it’s also not totally ambiguous either. I have recently realized that it is arrogant of me to think that I can speak truth into somebody’s life about something that it really between them and the Lord. Period. I’m prideful to think I have all the answers.
The only thing that covers all is Him and His grace and love. And I have to hang on to that. ….That’s just been on my heart recently, and when you messaged me, I felt like it was affirmation from the Lord that I need to humble myself and recognize that He is God and the only one with answers. He is not surprised by anything we do. He knows us.
I want you to know that you are someone that I have always admired and valued. And your sexual orientation does not change that. Your heart for the Lord and your pursuit of His love have impacted me dramatically, over the past several years that I’ve known you. I love you, and you being gay does not put fear in my heart. I don’t have clear understanding about it, but it doesn’t change who are to me, at all.”
(from a long-time friend and mentor of mine) “….All I want you to hear me say is “I love you”. You will always be Stephanie to me…the young girl sitting on my back porch in GA learning to trust…the young woman beautifully fighting through incredibly difficult seasons of life…the one I’ve laughed with and cried with. Whether or not I agree or disagree is not the issue for me. What matters most is that you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I love you and that you will always, always, always hold an incredibly special place in my heart. We have been through so much together. I can’t imagine life without you, even if we don’t get to spend time together like we used to.”
What amazing messages to receive! None of these people said once that they agree with Lindsey or I, but the messages weren’t about agreement or disagreement. None of the messages were about changing either one of us. None of the messages implied a desire to debate or involved questions that asked us to defend. Each message was at the bottom line loving. Each message put emphasis on the people that Lindsey and I truly are….real people, God-loving people, special people, people worth loving. Each message left Lindsey and I feeling loved no matter what. Each message didn’t make us feel like gay people who the Lord is not with. We are a lot more than our sexual orientation. Our life is a heck of a lot more than all about our sexual orientation. Each of these messages treated us like that is true. These messages didn’t focus on the fact that we’re gay, but that fact that we are people who are loved by God and worth the time it takes to know us, to understand us, and to show us love.
I can’t begin to describe what a difference you can make in a person’s life by reassuring them of the presence of love and the fact that God’s love can reach anywhere. (gay or not!) This is how we make an impact in a person’s life. This is how we continue in relationship with them. It doesn’t matter whether you agree with their theology or not. Love is still greater and will still make a difference.
I don’t claim to have all the answers. I’m not a debater. I know this issue splits churches, friendships, and families. But I believe in the power of love. I believe in it’s power in my life, and I believe in the power fearless love can have in any person’s life and heart. I believe that God’s love is the biggest force out there. I’m going to keep trying my very best to live in this love. Thank you to all the people who have been voices of love to us during this process. I’m learning to let go of the messages that don’t make me feel loved because that’s what God’s love is doing inside of me. God’s love is taking me from a place of anxiety to a place of hope, understanding, surrender, and trust.
Though you can’t see it from where you’re reading, I just smiled. And that is good.