When my family planned a trip to New England a few years ago, my friend from Vermont taught me a few of the sayings that are from there. Her family was traveling with us so it was really fun to have our very own tour guide. We visited Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine both times that we vacationed together up there. The saying, “I’ve had the radish” was the funniest to me. I mean…what do New Englanders have against radishes (smile). She explained to me that when her mom was at her wit’s end with her and her brothers she would let them know that she’d had the radish. They knew then that they better settle down or they were going to get it. They would also say it when something was worn out or ready for the trash. Pretty funny, but then again being from Baltimore has its own little world of sayings as well.
This is how I’m feeling right now…I’ve had the radish. I’m wondering seriously if this is even real life. Am I living in one of my crazy dreams? It feels like it. My chest physically hurts, and the only thing that keeps going through my mind is what breaks God’s heart is breaking mine.
A young man who I met about a little over a year ago took his life yesterday. I remember hearing his story. I remember sitting with his mom as she tearfully told my group that her church refused to baptize her son. How distraught she and her husband and her son were about that….rightfully so. I can’t get his face out of my mind. His shy demeanor, his intelligence, his compassion. The church was going to meet with them to discuss this with them further. After many attempts to do so…and simply just being blown off…I guess they waited too long. I wonder if these leaders will sit down with this family now. (he suffered from depression, but I promise you the church’s response did not help)
The church and their statements…their policies…I wonder as they sit in their meetings if they consider the consequences of their decisions. Do they know any LGBTQ people? Have they learned their stories? Asked what they needed? I am often asked, “Why don’t the LGBTQ people who aren’t happy with their churches find an affirming church?” The answer is simple…in many areas of our country…there aren’t any affirming churches. There are the churches that will say they are welcoming, but they don’t have anyone LGBTQ attending. If you were truly a welcoming congregation, you would have them attending because they would know that you were welcoming. In many cases, churches tolerate the LGBTQ community and then pat themselves on the back that they let them attend.
The Mormon church recently introduced a policy in November regarding the LGBT community. Since then there have been 32 LGBTQ suicides in the last 81 days. Let that sink in… While it’s impossible to know whether the new policy triggered the reaction of these suicides, the circumstantial evidence can’t be ignored. The church was asked about this and they replied, “they do not reject LGBT members.” Really? Have you asked them how they feel about your new policy? Clearly there is a disconnect.
I gotta be honest. I feel sick…I feel hopeless…and I feel helpless. It makes me want to have NOTHING to do with the church. I know that’s harsh. I know there is a good possibility that we all may never agree, but making people feel as if they are unworthy of love…thrown away…is not how we should handle that disagreement.
If you have a conversation with someone about God, Christianity, the Gospel…whatever the topic regarding faith…and they leave feeling less than, unloved, belittled, etc…you are DOING IT WRONG. As Christians we are to bear good fruit. What kind of fruit are you bearing? How many lives must we lose?
For now I will remind myself of Isaiah 61:1-3
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion– to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.
Lord bring us beauty from ashes. Love each other…love matters…and how we love matters even more.