My church is moving, and since I’m on staff I’m pretty involved. Moving is one of my least favorite things. I don’t like the stress of the timing of everything. The whole process also messes with the perfectionist part of my personality. So, things have been a bit crazy. I’ve been thinking about this post for some time now. I’ve briefly mentioned it before, but my pastor did a whole series on it recently so it’s been on my mind again. It’s allowed me to look back on my journey to see how far I’ve come. It’s good timing as I’m growing weary of the journey lately. The series that we just did was “Letting God Out of Your Box.” It’s funny because I had a dream last night that reminded me of the incident I’m going to write about. I hadn’t thought of it in a long time, but my dream brought it back to life. I haven’t really talked about my dreams here, but oh lordy do I have some doozies. I almost never feel like I sleep because my dreams are so vivid. Now I’m rambling…which I warn you now may happen again as I mentioned…my church is moving…stress, busy, brain overload. I just need to get these thoughts out of me so I can stop thinking about them (smile). Oh, and the events below are real life…not a dream.
When I was 16, I started dating a boy in my neighborhood. He had just gotten out of a pretty long relationship, but they had broken up and the girl was actually dating someone else as well. It was a warm summer day and there was a little league baseball parade followed by a game down at our neighborhood park. My friend and I were at High’s (our neighborhood store) getting some supplies for our picnic at the park to watch the game. As I was leaving the store, a pickup truck filled with people pulled into the back of the parking lot. My boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend got out of the truck (her current boyfriend’s) and called my name. She told me that she had something for me to give to my boyfriend and was holding out her hand. I was carrying a six-pack of glass Coca Cola bottles in my one arm so I held out my free hand. When she got up to me, her hand that was once outstretched like she was carrying something turned into a balled up fist. Before I knew what was happening, she was wailing on me. I was getting punched in the head, the face, and upper body. I was trying my best to fend her off while holding the glass bottles, but as you can imagine it wasn’t easy. I had two thoughts…I didn’t want to drop the glass bottles because it would make an awful mess, and more importantly I was concerned about my contacts. I was getting hit in the eyes and I didn’t want my contacts to get damaged. I know…but if you’ve read my other posts you know how much I hated those glasses and how long I had waited for my contacts. They were really expensive back then and I knew if I lost them or they got ruined I wouldn’t be getting another pair. As these thoughts were going through my mind, I was trying to use my free arm to push her away. I eventually was able to step back enough to kick her off of me. That was enough to stop her and some words were exchanged, but that was the end of it. She basically didn’t want her ex with anyone else. My friend who was with me…she was still in the store…afraid to come out.
I’m not sure why, but when I remembered this incident from my childhood it reminded me of this journey I’ve been on these past almost eight years. I didn’t put my safety first. My first thought was to protect things….the bottles and my contacts. I was holding onto those bottles for dear life because I didn’t want them to shatter. In the beginning of my journey, I was holding onto my faith for dear life so it didn’t shatter. They say hind sight is 20/20, but man I wish I would have gone about things differently.
I had God in a box…neatly packed away…out of sight. I thought I was doing all the right things. In fact, I would have told you that I had sprung God from the box in a big way. I was asking for BIG things…out of the box things. I remember walking my dog Lucy begging God for a “do over.” Apparently I had screwed up royally and I wanted a chance to make things right. I wholeheartedly believed that God could give me a “do over.” I knew that He could make that happen just for me. That somehow I could relive the last 16 years my child had been on this planet. I knew God was big enough to do that…and I asked Him to…and I was dead serious. God can do anything…right? Of course He didn’t answer that plea…He didn’t need to…He knew it wasn’t necessary. I however had not gotten to that point yet. I went to three Christian resources for information about homosexuality. I didn’t stray from those resources. Anything else would be from the world…right? That would be bad. These resources were full of stories of change. I had found the answers I so desperately was searching for all this time. So, I rearranged my God box with the things I was learning from these resources. I packed them up and neatly tied a bow of hope on them.
For five years I carried that box around. I would peak into it wondering why the stories I had read about weren’t happening for my son. I prayed everyday for the change that I had read about in others for my son. There wasn’t one day that I didn’t say those prayers. Not one. For five years. Why God? Why, why, why??? And then it happened. A friend gave me a book. A book that was outside of the “Christian” world that I had created for myself. The author stated that they too were a Christian…and they were gay. This went against what was in my box. I unwrapped the bow, but I put the box down. Could this be what I’m supposed to do? Am I supposed to expand my resource list that I had so carefully selected. I picked the box back up and gently lifted the lid…just a little bit. I peaked inside afraid to disturb the contents. Am I doing the right thing? I carefully lifted the lid off of the box and instead of telling God what I thought He should do, I instead asked Him what I should do. Imagine that. I was so busy bossing God around and hiding Him in my box that I neglected to ask Him what HE thought about this subject.
The book that sprung God from the box was Torn by Justin Lee. I will be forever thankful to Larry Dennis who gave me that book. I had to take a hard look at my theology…or lack of it. I realized that I was just repeating what I was taught or what I had read without any thought. I never looked into it myself, or more importantly hadn’t asked God what He thought. Now I don’t for a minute think I know what God thinks. He is too big for that thank goodness. But I do feel that the Holy Spirit has led me through this process. Going along with what I thought I was supposed to be doing hurt me and it hurt my son. I’ve had conversations with him that I desperately wish I could take back. I have to move forward from that and thankfully he has accepted my apologies. The resources I had put so much faith in later turned out to be lies. I don’t at all think that they were being malicious. I don’t think they meant all the hurt that they caused. They were trying their best to do what they thought they were supposed to do. When they couldn’t pretend any longer, and when they saw all the hurt they were causing they finally came out with the truth. Public apologies were made by some which I think is really important.
I said I wish I would have done things differently. I wish I wouldn’t have been so afraid to go straight to God with my questions. I was so afraid. Fear isn’t from God. I would have looked at those resources differently. Not the be all and end all. I should have put my trust in God. In the end, He surprised me and my faith is so much stronger because of it. It’s definitely a balance. One that I continue to learn. I haven’t discarded all that I’ve learned about God in my lifetime, but I hold it loosely. I instead rely on the Holy Spirit to guide me to a greater understanding of who God is and what He wants from me.
And with that I remind you that love matters….but how we love matters even more.