I have an assignment to write about what God is telling me, what God is saying to me right now. Honestly, more often than not, I have no idea. Probably because I listen to myself more than I listen to God. I have a constant narrative of selfish chaos running on loop in my brain.
For those who don’t speak Christianese, there’s this prayer saying that you hear a lot among Christ followers. “Break my heart for what breaks Yours.” Basically, we want to know what breaks God’s heart. We want to know how things going on in the world feel to God. I have prayed that prayer often.
See, sometimes people say “God hates ________.” This drives me crazy. I adamantly believe that God cannot, will not, does not hate. At all. God is love. Love can’t hate. Hate is a very strong word, and doesn’t belong in the same sentence with the word “God” unless there is a negative between the two. But sure, there is a lot in our world that HURTS God. How can there not be? God loves us so, and yet we do many awful things, the worst of which are done in the name of God.
I think a lot of “Christians” listen to themselves when it comes down to the truth about homosexuality. They’ve read the bible, and whatever trivial rules they overlook, they always highlight what it says about the issue. But when it really comes down to it, they don’t see LGBT people as human beings. They think it is a sin, and instead of seeing a human being, they see a sin. Nevermind the fact that if we were going to be going around calling people out by their sin, they wouldn’t be human beings either.
I try to understand it, but I believe I can’t. I believe that God has placed an ache in my heart for the matter. I believe the way people treat LGBT in the name of God breaks God’s heart. We are ALL God’s children. Yes, of course, that means our LGBT brothers and sisters, but it also means the bigoted haters too.
I don’t know what God wants me to do with this knowledge. Feels quite useless, and quite frankly painful. I can’t handle the state of our world right now. In the U.S. we are quickly reverting back to the pre-civil rights movement days. And in the world as a whole, we are seeing treatment of gays that is reminiscent of the ways Jews were treated in the beginning of the holocaust. Why would any of us want to go back to that?
I’ll tell you why, because people make assumptions too much about what God is telling them. People listen to what they are told, or what comes up in their brains, and they honor it. No matter how it makes others feel, they honor it.
I want you to know that there are a large number of God’s children hurting on this planet, and there are a great many of God’s “followers” perpetuating that pain. And as much as either side sees the other as not being human beings, the fact is that they are. The fact is that both sides are just following their hearts.
I do not believe that it is okay, for any reason, to make someone feel, or to treat someone as though they are less than you. You do not know when the day will come when the shoe is on the other foot, when that will be you being thought of as less-than. As long as we’re quoting the bible, remember that it says, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'” (Matthew 25:40)
So, as long as your making any human being feel less than, you best heed their concerns of maltreatment. For however you treat them, is how you are treating your God.
And quit telling yourself that you are treating them with love. You are not. They do not feel loved by you. I can guarantee you, that is the last thing they feel.
So, what is God telling me right now? What God is telling me right now, is that God is hurting. That these things hurt God. And I believe that the magnitude of God’s pain far exceeds mine, but this pain is breaking me.
Now, what is He telling me to do about that? I have no idea. Because the situation feels, quite frankly, hopeless. I don’t feel like there’s anything I can do about it. Surely, there is something God could do about it, but short of intervening upon free-will, I haven’t a clue. So, I’ll just keep going on in my daily life, waiting for some great revelation about how to fix the world’s problems.
You take that whatever way you will. I’m pretty sure that this post will piss off either side in one way or another, so I actually hope no one reads it.
These past couple of weeks have not been the best for me, but today was the pinnacle of that theme. I won’t go into details, but it was the darkest day I have seen in almost two years. My recovery almost slipped from my grasp, and I became once again certain that the good is all over and my life is more work than I am capable of. For a few moments, I believed that my loved ones would be better unburdened by my presence in their lives.
The moment was overwhelming, and I am still reeling from the whole event. I was feeling quite hopeless, but as I was driving home tonight, a thought hit me. My sister and I had been pondering what could possibly the cause of my troubles. Do my meds need adjusting? Is it because I’m supposed to start doing trauma work with my therapist? Am I going too long between meals?
The main question being: What could be wrong?
The thought that hit me on the way home tonight was this: What could I be doing right?
It is a common belief among those who share my faith that if you’re going through hard times, you must be doing something right. The idea being, you are on the right path, you’re about to accomplish something big for God, and the devil is trying to bring you down, or stop you in any way he can. Maybe, I thought, I’m doing something right, and the devil is trying to keep me from proceeding. I had been looking at the problem all wrong.
So, I will tell you what I am moving forward with, now more confidently than ever.
I am applying to seminary. I feel called to work in ministry with the LGBTQ population. I believe there is a whole wealth of experience and spiritual growth for both the LGBTQ population and the Christian population, as they relate to LGBTQ people. I definitely think the devil is, and has been for years, coming between a lot of people and their relationship with God. The church has always been unwelcoming and unsympathetic toward the LGBTQ population. And I resolve to be a part of changing that.
Also, I’m definitely going to address the traumas I have experienced. Obviously, I can do great things once I move past these issues, and the devil is trying to keep that from happening. I now have more resolve than ever about addressing my trauma. I know I can accomplish great things on the other side of the work I need to do.
So, suck that, satan!
This is a powerful post about the things that really matter!
And a video to put things into perspective!
Take it from someone who has been there, it really does get better.
For those of you who don’t know the It Gets Better Project all started in 2010 when Dan Savage, in response to a rising number of suicides linked to bullying, made a youtube video with his partner to inspire hope for young people facing harassment.
The It Gets Better Project’s website says: “The It Gets Better Project’s mission is to communicate to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth around the world that it gets better, and to create and inspire the changes needed to make it better for them.”
The idea is great, but I also believe it is universal.
It doesn’t just apply to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth, nor victims of bullying or high school students.
Whoever finds this post and is struggling: It really DOES get better. I promise.
I’ve recently been following the heartbreaking story of Rehtaeh Parsons, a young woman who was raped, then bullied until she decided to take her own life. I wish this message had found her. Because it does get better, even for those of us who have lived through the most devastating, terrifying, and degrading form of violence there is. Even for Rehtaeh, it could’ve gotten better.
I’m in tears as I write this, because I didn’t make it to this conclusion for lack of trying to kill myself. I had two life-threatening attempts, but somehow lived to know that these things come out on the other side.
Life isn’t as hopeless and painful as it can, at times, feel. I know there is plenty of pain to be felt, and despair to be trudged through, but I know something else too. I know that as dark as it can get, it can get that much brighter. I know that these feelings that consume, even they will fade away and make place for new ways of feeling.
I used to be so certain that the darkness would last forever. For me, it was a good 28 years or so before the clouds started to part and make way for light. I can look at that time now and understand what growth came from it. I know that I am that much stronger because I went through it. And I see now how my experience can benefit others.
That’s everything this blog is about.
Sometimes, in my darkest moments, I had a twinge of hope that kept me alive, even when I wanted so badly to die. My hope plagued me, because it seemed to work against all the hurt I knew in my life. I just wanted to let go, and sometimes, I did. But I know something about that nagging particle of hope still imbedded somewhere deep within. It was a glimpse. It was a glimpse at what could be. And for me, what now is.
I wish Rehtaeh could’ve known this. There are so many people out there right now, who I wish could know this. I don’t even know your names. I didn’t even know Rehtaeh, but right now, I cry for her like she was a dear friend.
If you’re looking for some shred of hope, a reason to stay alive, I pray the words of this stranger can be that for you.
I don’t believe suicide is selfish or wrong, because I know it is not an act entered into lightly. I know the despair it takes to bring you to that decision. But it cannot be an option, because your life has worth, and meaning, even if you don’t believe it. The anguish doesn’t become extinct through your death, it is simply passed on to others. To those you loved most. No, the anguish is defeated only through living a meaningful life. Through sharing your struggles with others. Through finding your joy.
None of us are as alone as we sometimes feel.
It may feel like it is taking to forever to get there. But you WILL get there. It may feel like more than you can bear. But you CAN bear it. You may think no one understands, but I do. You may think this darkness is all you will ever know, but you will live your fair share of joy as well.
It really DOES get better. I promise.
IF YOU ARE IN CRISIS, CALL: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Yesterday was a sad day for many of my loved ones in North Carolina. They went to the polls and stood for what they believed, and many glimpsed at defeat. It is heartbreaking for me to see the words of so many who I hold dear, as I peruse through a flurry of Facebook statuses. And still, for others, who would have remained unaffected by the outcome, no matter what it was, it feels like success.
I guess I am sort of in shock. I have so much going on in my own life right now. I haven’t been in NC for 6 months now. I’ve been in Chicago, and am now hoping to settle down in San Diego. Because of my distance at this moment, I feel helpless to do anything on the matter. I was unable to vote, because I looked into getting an absentee ballot a week too late. I feel immense guilt for that now. Where was I when my brothers and sisters needed me? I am unable to comfort, because I am on the other side of the country. I was so certain that Amendment 1 would not pass. Yesterday’s outcome was a blow to my naivety.
I look at the results of yesterday’s election with a careful eye. Honestly, I have many friends on both sides of the vote. I consider myself a follower of Christ. My goal is to live my life as God’s love leads, and I humbly acknowledge that I am capable of very little without Christ as my foundation. Jesus Christ is the only thing that was capable of turning my life around completely. For that I am grateful, and my heart is for my God who saved my life.
Looking at the election yesterday, from a distance, I felt two distinct things from both sides. From the side that was defeated, I sensed undying hope and the painful twinge of heartache. From the side that won, I felt spite. At the end of the day, I understand why people vote according to religious beliefs, but I do not understand why legislation is proposed from religious beliefs. Suggesting we pass legislation based on the beliefs of some, is to assume that we should all believe the same. I refuse to become a person who points a finger in someone’s direction and insist I know more than they. I am no better and no worse than anyone else. Was Christ the thing that changed my life? Absolutely. Is He the thing that will change yours? Well, as long as He is represented as a hateful, judgmental God, I fear that any change Christians bring to the lives of others will be negative. The point of evangelism, whether some realize it or not, is to bring people closer to Christ, NOT push them away.
How can I look at my loved ones, and tell them that I love this God that supposedly disdains them for loving differently? This God that so many are misrepresenting? Right now, I will stand up for what I believe. When I looked around and saw people representing an hateful God, I refused to know that God. What my final change of heart came down to was finally meeting people who put all judgments aside, and wanted to show me Christ’s love. They welcomed me with open arms and assured me that in God’s embrace, I would be safe and loved UNCONDITIONALLY. They assured me that even when people let me down, God would have my back. That has been my experience of God. That is the God that I have fallen in love with and put all of my faith in.
I feel a sense of anguish permeating across state lines, and into my own heart. This decision affects me, because it affects so many that love. It affects us in so many ways. When they get angry at the false representation of God, I get defensive. I want them to know that I worship a loving God. When their hearts are breaking from the invalidation of a state of over 9 million people, who assume to know more about love than they, my heart also breaks. I’ve called North Carolina my home for 28 years, and I can no longer defend it.
From my more religiously fervent friends, I sense a war-like pride for the outcome. I know that the matter was important to their beliefs, but I don’t understand how it affects them either way. If their side had lost, their lives would move forward, unaffected.
For the rest of my friends, this matter is deeply personal. It is a blow to everything they were ever taught about this country. I remember the adamant lesson in school, that this was the land of the free. Today, I want to ask, “free for who?” Free for the Christians, but only the Christians? Free for the straight people, but only the straight people? How is freedom free, if it only applies to certain groups? True freedom allows all to be free to enjoy the same rights to loving and living. True freedom makes room for believing differently, and allowing those differences, not making decisions for all based on the beliefs of some. Freedom does not impede on the rights of others. Freedom leaves everyone in victory. No one should lose from freedom. All should gain. If ever freedom is acted on, to the detriment of others, it is not truly freedom. It is masquerade of freedom. It is a facade.
The same can be said of those who hide behind the cross, hurling judgments from behind the name of Christ. Christ did not judge. Christ sat with the outcasts, the people thought most low, and shared meals with them. He got to know them, and loved them. When their hearts ached, His heart ached. It was in His love that they found true freedom. It was through that love that they drew closer to Him. Anything that drives people from Christ’s love is simply a masquerade, a misrepresentation of all that Christ was and still is.
This isn’t an issue of sex, who is sleeping with who. This is an issue of love. You’re not tearing apart humping animals with this decision, NC. You’re trying to force a division between people whose hearts are fragile and full of love. You’re trying to pull apart people who have been lovingly devoted to each other for years. You’re trying to destroy bonds that have lasted longer than most heterosexual marriages ever make it. You’re deciding that someone else’s personal matters do not live up to your expectations. Well, maybe your’s don’t live up to mine, but I don’t try to intervene. I will not propose legislation that says you cannot live your life that way anymore. I simply look at you, smile, pray for you, and offer you my love. I offer you the unconditional love that I now know through Christ. I will not shake my finger at you for judging, but my heart hurts for you. How lonely of a place it must be to think you know Christ without knowing His unconditional love. It must be really empty there. If your God has no room for gay people, what on earth makes you think that same God has room for you?
I am not perfect, but as I am starting to live my life out in recovery and in Christ, I am better able to clearly see my imperfections. I see the parts of my life where I fell short. In faith, I believe that admitting my shortcomings and mistakes is all I that I can do. The rest is in God’s hands. Whether you call it “repenting your sins” or “becoming willing to make amends” I am doing that work constantly. I can look back over my life and know that if God has room in his heart for me, then he has room in his heart for all of us.
From both sides, there is a lesson. If you think that being gay is wrong, you have to keep in mind that we are ALL God’s children even despite our flaws. And keep loving. If you think that being hateful and judgmental is wrong, keep in mind the words of Christ as he was dying, “Forgive them father, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34), and keep loving.
For my friends out there, who are aching from yesterday’s decision, press on. In Genesis, when Moses was trying to win a battle against the Amalekites, Aaron and Hur held up his arms, so he could keep going. If all I can do from California, is to offer encouragement, then I hope my words will lift your arms a little higher. When you take to the streets to protest, please know that even in my absence, I am there with you.
In Mark 12:3o-31, Jesus sums up all he had set out to teach with this message: Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. The second message was: love your neighbor as yourself. He said that there was “NO OTHER COMMANDMENT greater than these.” Just as important as loving your God, is loving your fellow human beings. Ask yourself if you would put the same restrictions on yourself. Remind yourself that there are NO commandments greater than loving God and His people.
I am sending my love to North Carolina today, because I cannot think of a day when they have needed to more. For those suffering and those judging, I offer my prayers and my love. For those who are loving, keep on loving. Maybe eventually, the haters will learn a thing or two from you.