When I was younger, I was a peanut. Unfortunately, because of my size, I was a target for bullying. There was one girl in particular in my neighborhood that was relentless. When I was 8 or 9 I was so fed up with her picking on me, that I went to my dad and asked him to teach me how to punch. (I am not an advocate of violence in any form. I simply wanted to be able to protect myself if it came to that). I don’t remember if I told my dad the reason, but he not only taught me how to throw a punch, but he also taught me how to block one.
My best friend at the time was also named Lisa. Because we were always together, most people called us by our first and middle name. So, I was known as Lesa Page (yes my parents spelled both of my names wrong). We were out in the neighborhood playing one day and “bully” girl started harassing me. She was always telling me she was going to “kick my butt” so I basically told her to do it and get it over with…I was tired of her threatening me. So she did…or at least she tried. She pulled back and threw a punch. I blocked it with my left arm and bawled up my right hand into a fist and hit her right in the stomach. (again not supporting violence, I was 8 or 9 and at my breaking point). She was shocked and ran home crying.
I few minutes later the “bully” girl and her mom were knocking on my friend Lisa’s front door (they lived across the street from her). Her mom answered the door and “bully” girl’s mom proceeded to yell at her and tell her that she needed to control her daughter. Apparently, “bully” girl ran home telling her mom that Lesa hit her (not using a middle name to distinguish which one). Her mom assumed it was my friend, who was much bigger than me and her daughter. My friend’s mom looked at the other mom and said “it wasn’t my Lisa who hit her, it was this one,” and pointed at me. When “bully” girl’s mom learned that it was me that hit her daughter, she just took her by the arm, walked off the porch, and went home.
So what’s that familiar saying…don’t judge a book by its cover? Well obviously we should do this more often with people…and not just because they might haul off and punch you in the stomach (wink). Unfortunately, the truth is that we do judge others. Even in a place that should be a judge free zone…like the Church. When I was younger, I was judged because of my size. Today I am judged because my son is gay. The judgement I receive, however, is nothing like what he receives. I don’t mean to be crude, but in the eyes of many Christians, gay people are seen as a sexual act…not as human beings. The thought process tends to be about what gay people do…not who they are as people. This is why many of them stay away from church. They feel either invisible or like a “problem” or “situation” that needs to be handled. This is so devastating to them…and their families. When I go to church on Sundays, and the ushers open the doors for me, metaphorically I am hearing church doors slam in the face of my son. How will he ever find his way back to the One who created him if God’s people judge him harshly and unfairly? I think Jesus would want us to be better representatives. Don’t you?
By the way, I grew up to be a whopping 5 foot, half an inch (smile).
Love each other…because love matters.
11 thoughts on “More than just a peanut…”
Great article. Thanks Lesa for sharing your heart with all of us!
Thanks for taking the time to read it :-).
girl, you are 10 feet high. love, D
One thing that really hit home while watching Justin Lee & Christopher Yuan debate Side A and Side B at Malone University was this… While a large percentage of the gay community uses the term “gay” to describe attractions, a corresponding percentage of Christians use it to describe actions. This major discrepancy in language is significant to me because the one is controllable and the other is not. It is an odd definition the church chooses, because it leaves no room for those who consider homosexual acts sinful while still self-identifying as gay. If we applied terminology similarly to all sins/sinners, where would we be? Would it matter if any of us had ever tasted a pie? Just WANTING pie would make us all gluttons. (Never mind that I can’t remember the last time I heard a sermon on the abomination of over-filling our bodies with unclean and forbidden foods to the point of chronic societal illness and obesity… that’s another problem entirely.) I remember Justin saying something to the effect of, “Everyone kept telling me I was sinning, but I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. I’d never been on a date with a boy or even held his hand. I wasn’t DOING anything!” The semantics seem significant here because the common Christian definition of the word “gay” inherently separates the good guys from the bad guys based on desire instead of choice. (Or based on “temptation” instead of “sin” if we put it in Christianese.) I can’t think of another sin that is labeled in this manner. If BEING gay is a sin, then what is Christopher Yuan? He self-identifies as gay based on his attractions, but has chosen a life of celibacy.
Beautifully said Noel. I hope to address this more in future posts. I try to keep things short and simple because my frustration tends to bubble up if I don’t. It’s a frustrating situation…like you said…where would we be if we treated all sin like this? Thanks for your comment. It helps to put things in perspective.
Lesa, (What’s up Peanut?). Well as Noel says before me here, I think the differentiation between acts and attractions is absolutely necessary. Perhaps you could coin a new word that will change the conversation. Vocabulary is a strong thing. Just the meaning of the word “gay” has changed in the past 20 years, from joyful and merry to its present connotations about attraction/actions with the same sex. Maybe we should ask the gay community to come up with terms that would make the distinction rather than superimposing something from the outside. Whatever the terms, I believe the sooner they are invented the sooner the clarity will come to the gay and straight communities and to those struggling with moral questions about sexual activity from Christians and other religions and/or other worldviews.
I think the church community is equally struggling with the surge in living together arrangements among heterosexuals. So whether gay attracted or heterosexually attracted, it seems we need new terms for those who choose virginity/celibacy in their relational lives (for all their lives, or certain sections of it). A majority of those marrying now do so from living together sexually active housing arrangements (and sexually active non-living together relationships) even though this creates significant social stress. According to the latest aggregate research the greater number of sexual partners and/or living together arrangements one has prior to marriage the greater the likelihood of future divorce should one choose to marry (this should concern both gay and straight marital candidates). Sadly there is so much pressure to be sexually active very early in life that the common culture views it as absolutely absurd (See: movies about the hilarious impossibility of 40 days without sex) that anyone choose a lifestyle that places anything over sexual activity as the primary way we express our identity. Virgin isn’t a dirty word, it is just a joke. Yet for thousands of years people have chosen to sublimate their sexual needs to achieve many noble callings for whole life times or significant portions of their lives (ie, from military service apart from their spouses, to religious vows expressed in communally (or nearly solitary) chaste living, to pursuing great inventions, art, world exploration and elite athleticism).
So help us out here with some new terms and start clearing the fog, diminish the polarization, and redirect the conversation towards righteous outcomes….
Oh if only little ole’ me could make such a change :-). I agree that the use of terms is confusing to most people. Maybe I will be led to address that at some point. Right now I feel led to address the heart of the issue in how people are treated. People are dying over this issue. I feel like for the last 5 1/2 years I’ve been fighting to keep my child alive. Of course, over this journey I’ve had to learn to let that go and give it to God.
I also agree that our culture treats sex as a casual thing taken very lightly. And the consequences of this line of thinking is devastating. I’ve taught both of my children, no matter what their orientation, the importance of protecting their purity. It’s a gift. I pray that God leads them to make good choices in that area of their lives.
All of this to say that change needs to happen on many levels. Sometimes I really struggle over my posts…how strong to make them, how much to put in them…and it seems the Holy Spirit always directs me to what I’m supposed to say. Who knows where the conversation will go in the future…
Thanks for your comment…it helps keep the conversation going.
Allan – we just can’t put everyone in a nice neat little Christian box. The Pharisee’s tried that and it didn’t work.
I feel the bottom line to all this is – can straight Christians accept gay Christians being a contributing force for good on planet earth whether single or married? Until we come together and try to answer that question we will always be in this fog of confusion with-in the church. I believe this is the question that people would like answered. There are kids out there that wake up every morning wondering why they should go on living and they’re the ones that need answers.
Any way just another question to be contemplated.
Amen Lesa…where we judge, there is no love.
Lesa, Again I appreciate your honest and open expression of your experiences. I’m actually just a little afraid of you ! LOL! Now I see why Mike has his black belt!
After reading all of this… your thoughts and other comments. I am just a little confused by the whole gay topic. I used to think it was kind of black and white, considering the choice to be gay a sin. I hope that I am not being offensive to anyone as I process this. But as I am reading this, I see that maybe it isn’t a choice to feel different (no matter what the difference is)….it is part of who you are. And as long as you try to honor God’s will within who he made you then you are being obedient in who he created you to be…. Does that make any sense to you or just to me? Anyway thanks for helping me think about this issue in a different way.
Lol…no worries Heidi…my days of punching people are over :-). Thanks for taking the time to read my thoughts. It means a lot to me. The fact that you are thinking about things and processing them is the whole reason why I am writing this blog. I think I understand what you are saying. I hope that people understand that having same sex attractions is not a choice…just like having opposite sex attractions is not a choice. It is how we are wired…for whatever reason. How we act on those feelings is the choice that we have. Anyway…feel free to ask me any questions…I may not have the answers, but I can give my perspective from my experiences.