The search is over…

Would you be willing to save a life?

Have you ever lost something and had to search for it?  The older I get the more often this happens (smile).  How about losing something precious to you?  Ever have that happen?

When my dog Lucy was a puppy, we called her the Houdini dog.  She could escape through the smallest hole in the fence.  In fact, she could escape even when there wasn’t a hole in the fence…she would just dig her way under it!  There were times when I would let her out and moments later find her in my neighbor’s yard “asking” if her doggie friend could come out to play.  She loves their dog.  Sure enough I would see a fresh hole dug under the fence.  Then there was the time when I thought I lost her forever.  She wanted to go out and just as I let her out the phone rang.  I stepped back inside to grab the phone and when I went back out…she was gone.  And she wasn’t in the neighbor’s yard this time. My heart sunk.  I always hate seeing the “lost dog/cat” posters on the street light poles in the neighborhood.  Makes me so sad, and I didn’t want to see my Lucy girls face on one of those posters.  I immediately ran out to try to find her, but she was no where in sight.  I grabbed her leash and made my way around the neighborhood calling her name.  I walked the same streets looking for her as I did when we would go out on our nightly strolls together.

It was a very stressful time when we got her, but she was a good distraction.  Training classes and the homework we were given kept my mind off of things.   We got Lucy about a year after I found out my son was gay, and I didn’t know anyone else with a gay child…it was very isolating.  The people I once felt safe with I was no longer sure I could trust with this piece of news.  Walking Lucy each night, I would look at the houses and wonder if the people living there had a gay child.  I would walk her in the evening so no one would see my tears as I pleaded with God to change him.  It wasn’t just that I didn’t want him to be gay…I didn’t want him to suffer…and he was suffering badly.  As strange as it may seem to those who aren’t dog people, Lucy kept me sane back then. She could make me smile no matter what the circumstances were because she just simply loved me no matter what.  I could tell her my secret and she didn’t care.

Halfway through the neighborhood, my phone buzzed with a text message.  It was my daughter McKensie telling me that she found Lucy.  Relief!  I thanked God the whole way home.  I just couldn’t imagine losing what felt like part of my lifeline back then.

June is Pride month and this time of year seems to be a common time for kids to come out.  They are going to be searching for someone safe to share this truth about themselves.  If you are chosen, how you respond is important.  I invite you to read Brett Trapp’s words about what it’s like for them to tell you.  He wrote his coming out story in “Blue Babies Pinkand this is an excerpt from it about a child coming out to a parent…but kids (or adults for that matter) don’t always choose to come out to a parent so the person they choose may be you. Here are Brett’s words:

I think a lot of really good parents act really terribly towards their gay kids because they’re reacting out of their own pain.

The news has a victimizing effect on parents I think. And victims don’t empathize well with other victims. This is tragic because a child never feels more like a victim than they do in that very vulnerable moment. And victims need help. They need someone to listen and ask them what they need. They need long, enduring empathy and tears from someone who is trying—albeit imperfectly—to understand their pain.

I wish I could find every parent who will eventually have a child come out to them, look them in the eye, and tell them:

When you least expect it, a battered child who’s been lost at sea will show up on your doorstep. This is your child, but it’s a version of them you’ve never met.

They will be haggard—long tangled hair, skinny, ragged clothes, dirty feet. They look like this because they’re worn out—exhausted—from many years at sea, alone in a lifeboat with no water, no map, and no paddle. You had no idea, but that’s not your fault. 

Next, welcome them inside. Offer them a drink.

After a few moments, they’re going to swallow hard and tell you they’ve been on a journey. Know that by the time they get to your doorstep, they will have had to muster every last ounce of courage and energy. In fact, getting to your doorstep may have been the hardest part of their journey. 

Your next job is to listen. And believe what they tell you. 

When they tell you they were on this journey for all those years, alone and scared, believe them. 

When they tell you they never asked to be on that boat believe them. 

When they tell you they tried to get off that boat many times and swim to shore, for God’s sake, believe them. 

If they feel like talking, ask them what it was like out on those seas . . .

Ask them about the storms. Ask them about the wind and the rain and the swells. Ask them if they were scared. Ask them what they did to survive. (Remember, this child of yours is very strong, otherwise they wouldn’t have survived this journey.)

Ask them about sleeping in a raft alone under midnight skies.

Ask them if God was there—if they felt him, if they talked to them. (They might have, but you must remember that God feels very distant for people in lifeboats alone at sea. They might even be mad at God or think he doesn’t exist at all. That’s okay.

Remember that theology lessons aren’t helpful when their clothes are still wet with seawater.)

Regardless, remind them that God loves his little lost sailors very much, and that he never stopped loving them, even on those nights when it was just them and no moon and big shadows circling in black water. Remind them. 

And dear parent, whatever you do, don’t lecture them.

Don’t shame them for being in that boat. Don’t tell them that God hates people in lifeboats. Tell them that God loves those few souls in rafts just like he loves the rest on land. And remember, that you aren’t the survivor here. They—THEY—are the ones that have been on a long, lonely journey. Remember this.

Ask them if they ever saw land in the distance.

Ask them if they ever saw land-dwellers on the horizon and if they ever screamed for help. Apologize for those people that didn’t hear them or the ones who held up giant signs saying, “GOD HATES PEOPLE IN LIFEBOATS.” Tell them you’re sorry they had to see that and that you would have ripped up those signs if you could. 

Ask them if they ever put a message in a bottle and tossed it into the sea, hoping it might reach someone on land.

Tell them you wished you’d found that message. In fact, grab them by the shoulders, look them right in the eye, and tell them you would have done anything to find it if that meant getting to you sooner. Tell them you would have drowned yourself to get to them. Then tell them you wished we didn’t live in a world where scared kids had to put messages in bottles. Tell them that’s unjust. 

And finally, tell them they’re no longer alone, no longer out on those high seas.

Tell them they’re on land now and land has homes. And homes are filled with love, and love is the thing that makes the boat stop rocking. Love is the thing that calms those storms. Love is the thing that scares off black shadows in black waters. And that as long as they are breathing, they will have a home, and they will never ever be alone. 

I wish everyone would read Brett’s story.  I encourage you to do so…even if you don’t have a gay child.  It is a quick summer read (way shorter than a book)….just 44 of what he calls episodes.  You can also listen to it as a podcast.  Many people ask me for resources, or ask how they can get involved in helping the LGBTQ community.  I say start here.  Read his story.  And if you do…let me know what you think.  I would love to chat about it with you.

Losing my dog for that brief time was hard, but I can’t even begin to imagine losing the very people who are supposed to love me.  As you can see, this coming out process is a tough one.  And the people coming out are searching for a safety net or life-preserver to cling to.  Some will lose the very people they love and trust the most in this world.  They will search for a community that they feel comfortable in…somewhere they can be their true authentic selves.  Something precious to them.  Be that person.

How you respond can save their life.  Will you be their life-preserver?  Can they step out of the lifeboat into your loving, caring arms?  I hope so. They are searching to be understood…and most of all loved.

Because love matters.

*If you find yourself without a safe place to land, please know that you are not alone.  In this world of modern technology, there are ways to communicate that are more personal than a letter in the mail, or a text message on your phone.  Contact me via my contact page.  I would love to chat with you.

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Cha cha cha changes….

Change.  For some people this is a four letter word.  Me…sometimes change is easy for me and other times not so much.

When I was younger, I changed schools several times.  This was hard for me.  I made friends at each school and it was really hard to say goodbye to those friendships.  Then there were the houses.  Yes houses.  I get attached to the memories in places.  I grew up in a two bedroom row home in Baltimore City until I was 10 years old.  It was hard to leave that little house.  We moved into a four bedroom house with a big yard not too far from our other house.  I felt like we were rich because it seemed SO big.  So although it was sad leaving the only house I had know, this new house seemed like an adventure, AND almost all of my cousins lived in the same neighborhood.  I eventually got married and left that house when I was 22 years old.  We moved to a three bedroom town home in Harford County. Coming from the city, it seemed like the country.  Well back then it was the country (smile).

Although it was fun to have my own house, it was hard when my parents sold my second childhood home.  Even though it was no longer the house I lived in, it had so many memories from my childhood and teen years.  Birthday parties, sunbathing by the pool, first kisses on the front porch swing, family and friends gathered at the holidays.  Some really good times.

We lived in our town home for nine years.  Leaving that house was REALLY hard.  We started our family in that house.  Firsts for the kids like crawling and walking were worn into the carpets.  First days of pre-school and kindergarten were recorded by the front door.  But the hardest part of saying goodbye to this house was the fact that it was the last place I had where I could sit and visually see memories of my mom.  By this time, she had been gone for three years (you can read what happened in my post “I will see you again”), and my dad had sold their house and moved to Florida.  May seem strange, but again, I get attached to memories in places.  Changes.

I’ve had some job changes over the years too.  Some were easy to leave and some not so much.  I got my first full time office job at a moving company right after graduating from high school.  I didn’t last long there.  One of my bosses would curse at me if I asked a question.  It was not a good first job experience.  The second job I got wasn’t much better. I was hired to work at the front desk of an orthodontist.  I never dreamed they would have me working on patients!  It was doing simple things like removing bans and putting in wires…but still…I was a secretary!  Didn’t last long there either. Change…change is good! My third job was with a security company.  I worked there for 3 years.  My boss was wonderful, but the pay was crappy.  Hardly above minimum wage.  I was about to be married and I needed to make more money so we could buy a house (the town house I mention above).  Leaving that job was hard because my boss was so caring…he cried when I quit.  Then there was Price Club (which is now called Costco).  I started out as a data entry person there, moved to sales auditor, took on payroll and office lead before I left four years later.  Price Club could be a pain (when it was busy I had to go out to the register which made it hard to get my work done), but it was a lot of fun too.  We were one big family there and it was the first time that I got to work with people more my age. In fact, I met one of my very best friends there (smile). I still keep in touch with a lot of people that I worked with there.  I left that job for my fifth and in my opinion most important job…motherhood.  Talk about changes!

I stayed home with my kids for 10 years.  It was hard, but I wouldn’t have traded it for anything else.  My son was 10 years old and my daughter 8 when I decided I wanted to go back to work.  This change was exciting.  They were in school all day and I looked for something I could do while they were there.  Do you know how much happened in technology from 1992 to 2002??  When I left my office job in 1992, there was no email, there was no Windows, there was no internet. I was like a fish out of water.  I got a job at a dance studio where a friend of mine taught. I didn’t know anything about all this new technology.  I literally learned by trial and error.  Word, Publisher, Excel, Power Point…far cry from the shorthand and typewriter days!  Changes!

I started my current job back in 2007.  I am an administrative assistant at my church.  It was kind of weird at first.  Even though it’s kind of like a business…at the same time it isn’t.  We do business types of things, but our relationships are much deeper than any other place that I’ve worked.  When you carry the burdens, trials, victories, heartache, etc. of a congregation, it knits you together.  There were four of us in the beginning, but a few years ago my co-worker retired so it’s just me and our two pastors now.

It was 2008 when we found out our son is gay…one year after starting my job.  I held the secret from my co-workers for about two weeks until I couldn’t take it anymore. Our kids have a coming out of the closet story, but we as parents have our own journeys out of the closet too.  I remember being afraid to tell them.  Back then I couldn’t say the words without crying.  It took a long time for that to stop.  Part of the reason for that was the shame I felt for believing that somehow I had done my kid wrong and the other part was wondering how the person I was telling was going to react.  They didn’t bat an eye.  They didn’t fire me either.  Sadly that’s not the case for a lot of people.  Crazy isn’t it?  I have been nothing but supported.  We are able to talk about it, express our opinions (which don’t always line up with each other), pray about it, cry about it…and remain the closest of friends through all of it.  We have a lot of fun together too.  Probably more fun than you should at work at times (smile).  I blame them for the extra laugh lines that I have around my eyes.   That’s why this next change is so hard…

A few months ago I gave my notice.  I had been feeling a “nudging” from God for some time, but wanted to make sure it was really from Him.  I did lots of praying.  And when I felt that it was God telling me it was time to move on, I went in the very next day and told them.  I about went into full panic mode when I left that day. “What did you just do??” I asked myself.  “Are you sure this is what you are supposed to do?”  A peace came over me. Yes, this is what I’m supposed to do.  We’ve had some time to process through it together…and times when we are in denial like it’s not really happening.  It’s hard.

We announced on Sunday that I will be transitioning out of my job and will be finished at the end of June.  I’ve had a few people email me since then asking what I’m going to do next.  So, I figured I would let everyone know this way.  One of the hard parts of this transition is that usually you are transitioning into something else.  This isn’t the case for me this time around.  I’m not sure what God is going to have me do.  I don’t have anything lined up, and I’m not looking for anything right now.  I’m just trying to listen to His leading.  What I do know is that my heart has been elsewhere these last couple of years.  Even though I love my church, and I love the people I work with…my heart is with the LGBTQ community.  And let’s face it…they aren’t knocking down our church door.  I want to find ways that I can plug in more and help the community.  One thing that makes this a little easier is that I know my replacement will be great.  She is excited to start and I think she will fit in just fine.

I hope I’ve loved my church community well.  And I don’t plan on going anywhere so I will continue to do so.  But I want to expand out into the world more to let the LGBTQ community they are loved.

Because love matters…

Down to the river…

A few weeks ago we sang a song called The River by Jordan Feliz.  I haven’t been able to stop listening to it.  It gripped me.  I’ve been feeling down lately and the song just grabbed my heart.  I think one reason is that it reminds me of the day I got baptized.

I was baptized as a baby, but in the church I attend now we baptize people when they can make the decision to follow Jesus.  I had been a Christian for many years, but decided to get baptized as an outward profession of my faith.  The really cool part was back then we did baptisms in a large stream a few miles from our church.  It wasn’t quite a river, but that’s what I think of when I hear that song.  The weather was perfect…clear and sunny.  The water was cold and refreshing.  I remember keeping my eyes open when my pastor lowered me into the water.  I could see the sun, the bright blue sky, and the green trees hovering over the water.  It was beautiful, and it felt like a fresh start.  What made the day extra special was the fact that my husband and son were baptized that same day.

The song opens with these lyrics:

I know a place where we can go
To lay the troubles down eating your soul
I know a place where mercy flows
Take the stains make you whiter than snow
Like a tide, it is rising up deep inside
A current that moves and makes it come alive
Living water that brings the dead to life, oh-oh-oh-oh
We’re going down to the river
Down to the river, down to the river to pray
Let’s get washed by the water
Washed by the water and rise up in amazing grace
Let’s go down, down, down to the river (You will leave changed)
Let’s go down, down, down to the river (Never the same)

I like to visualize nature when I pray and water is something that I find soothing so I visualize that a lot.  This song reminds me of when I go to God with my heartache over what’s happening with the LGBTQ community.  And the river represents the tears I’ve cried because of it.  I go to God and I lay down the troubles eating my soul.  My tears wash over me and it’s a release that gives me strength to continue.  I stepped into this journey and God gave me a passion that has left me changed…never the same.  And although at times it is exhausting, and frustrating, I wouldn’t trade it.  At times I feel like the troubles I see are leading me to death, but God sustains me and brings me back to life.  “Living water that brings the dead to life.”

That all may sound dramatic if you aren’t living it every day.  It looks like we dodged a bullet with the Executive Order that President Trump signed today.  Some of the language that was in the order originally back in February was taken out.  Things like allowing people to discriminate on the basis of their faith for things like housing for LGBTQ individuals, jobs, services, etc.  Do you know what it’s like to worry that your basic human needs and rights can be taken away by the stroke of a pen?   Do you know what it’s like to fight for affection and not be condemned because of it?  Do you know what it’s like to see the double standards and be judged harshly for something you aren’t even doing?  It causes people to go back into closets that are just as damaging…if not deadly.

Since I had never heard of Jordan Feliz and liked his song The River so much I decided to look for some of his other songs.  It didn’t take me long before I found his song Beloved. I will close with the lyrics…

Head full of questions, how can you measure up?
To deserve afftection to ever be enough
For this existance
When did it get so hard?
Your heart is beating, alive and breathing
And there´s a reason why
You are essential, not accidental
And you should realize
You are beloved
I wanted you to know
You are beloved
Let it soak into your soul
Oh, forget the lies you heard
Rise above the hurt
And listen to these words
You are beloved
I wanted you to know
You are beloved
You are beloved
Sometimes a heart can feel like a heavy weight
It pulls you under and you just fall away
Is anybody gonna hear you call?
Oh, oh
But there´s a purpose
Under the surface
And you don´t have to drown
Let me remind you
That love will find you
Let it lift you out
You are beloved
I wanted you to know
You are beloved
Don´t be afraid
Don´t let hope, faith keep your eyes fixed on the light above
In the heartbreak, in your mistakes, nothing can separate you from love
Don´t be afraid
Don´t let hope, fait keep you eyes fixed on the light above
In the heartbreak, in your mistakes, nothing can separate you from love
You are beloved
I wanted you to know
You are beloved
Let it soak into your soul
Forget the lies you heard
Rise above the hurt
And listen to these words
You are beloved
I wanted you to know that you are beloved…and you matter.

 

 

It’s all about the poop…wait…what?!

Last October Mike and I went to Cape May, NJ for our 28th wedding anniversary.  It was the first time we had ever been there and we LOVED it.  I may have loved it a little more because I would move there tomorrow if the opportunity presented itself.  It has a beautiful beach, cute shops, and amazing Victorian houses.    I could walk around and look at those houses everyday.

We did a lot of walking while we were there which is what we typically do.  We park our car and try to leave it put while we are on vacation.  It’s the best way to really take in the sights.  One of the spots we enjoyed was a 3 block outdoor shopping mall with brick laden sidewalks, cute little shops, and restaurants.  One day, when we were tired from walking, we decided to get a coffee and sit on one of the benches to rest.  We chose our spot and sat to enjoy some people watching.  Sitting right across from us was an older gentleman. He was dressed in a button down long-sleeved shirt with pants pulled much higher than they needed to be.  He was wearing a newsboy style hat and had a cane resting next to him.  Sitting by his side was a younger version of himself that we later found out was his son. He caught my eye because he kept giggling.  It was contagious.  I looked around to see what caused his amusement and that’s when I saw it.  The POOP!

Now don’t worry…it wasn’t real poop.  Right behind him was a store called “Just for Laughs,” and he had gotten his gag poop from there.  He had tossed it into the middle of the walking area and watched as people kicked it, stepped on it, or jumped out of the way to avoid it.  It was believable because many people brought their dogs with them.  Once I saw what he was up to, I couldn’t help getting pulled into the joke.  His eyes would squeeze tight and his shoulders would shake with laughter.  It got to the point that I stopped watching the people and just watched his reaction.  I laughed right along with him…like I said…it was contagious.  And when he realized that Mike and I had caught on, his joy seemed to increase and his laughter more boisterous.

This went on for some time, but he just wasn’t satisfied.  He got up from the bench, grabbed his cane, and slowly made his way back into the store.  He came out with some brand new poop that he felt was a little more convincing.  He tore it out of the package, threw it down on the ground, and a dog ran over right away to sniff it.  The man loved it. It was more realistic and he got some better reactions from it.  I’m not sure how long we sat there and watched this scenario.  It caught some attention and some other people stopped and enjoyed his joke with him.  There were some ladies sitting on the bench next to Mike and I and at one point they yelled over to him, “Pop…I can’t believe this is what you want to do on your 80th birthday!”  His birthday?  Well that just made the whole situation even better.  For his birthday, he wanted to trick some people with fake poop. And he got a big kick out of it…and we got a big kick out of him.  We eventually wished him a happy birthday and parted ways.

We went back to Cape May this past March and I took a picture of the store sign.  I told Mike I wanted it to be a reminder to me of that cute little old man.  He really made my day.  Pure joy in such a simple act. Sometimes I need that kind of reminder.  I haven’t been feeling so good lately and it’s really frustrating.  It’s hard when your brain is all “gung-ho” to do stuff and your body says “nope!”  I have a hard time not beating myself up about that when it happens.  And unfortunately it happens more often than I would like. This man was a reminder to me that sometimes you just need to sit back and enjoy the simple, silly things in life.  The stuff I want to get done isn’t going anywhere.  It will be there tomorrow and the next day.  Maybe if I’m not so hard on myself I will bounce back quicker and enjoy getting stuff accomplished.

Today I’m going to focus on rest.  I’m going to listen to a podcast I’m enjoying…and I’m going to remember a man’s birthday and his fake poop joke.  While I’m at it, I will let someone know I love them today.

Because love matters…

 

Hidden entrance…

I would often see these “Hidden Entrance” signs while driving in the car with my parents when I was young.  For the longest time I thought it meant that spies lived there.  I mean why else would there be a hidden entrance right??  If you are a spy, you don’t want people discovering you. So funny.

There’s a different kind of hidden that isn’t so funny.  I’ve been reading about it a lot today.  As you know, the Easter holiday was yesterday.  A day to celebrate our Risen Lord. A day to spend with family and friends.  And for some…a day to hide.

I’ve seen post after post on FB from friends that didn’t have a church family to celebrate with yesterday.  Post after post of family arguments because a child was too “friendly” with the person they love.  And post after post from friends who simply can’t share that they love someone.  Can you imagine that?  How did you feel when you fell in love?  Did you want to shout it from the rooftops?  Did you want to hold their hand? Did you want to give a quick peck hello?  Imagine not being able to do any of those things.

One of the most heart wrenching parts of my journey was when my son sobbed in my arms lamenting that he just wanted to be “allowed” to fall in love with someone.  He just wanted someone to love him the way that his dad and I had been able to experience love.  It’s been several years now and he has found someone.  It makes me sad that they don’t feel safe to show affection when in public. And by that I mean just a simple gesture of holding hands.  (I think we can all agree we don’t want to see people making out in public no matter who they are or who they love.)  I have made sure they know that they don’t have to “hide” when they are in our home.  I want them to have a safe place to be themselves.

Yesterday we celebrated one of the most sacrificial expressions of love.  Jesus’ death and resurrection.  No hidden entrance to God’s love.  Love not hidden, but proclaimed. I hope you had a chance to experience His love in some way on Easter.  I get choked up every time we sing a song in church that speaks of love.  Yesterday it was the song “Forevermore” by Jesus Culture.  The first part of the song goes like this…

Hope, hope is alive in me
For all the world to see
That You are good
Love, love changes everything
Your love has rescued me
Now I am Yours
You took hold of my life
Now all of my love is Yours
All that I have is Yours
My soul will praise
Forevermore, forevermore

Let’s remember God’s love for us.  Let’s think of that love when we ask someone to do something that we as straight people would never consider doing…hiding our love. “Love, love changes everything”

Because love matters…

Messy faith…

One of my favorite shows when my kids were little was America’s Funniest Videos (AFV). I really shouldn’t find some of the videos as funny as I do.  When they do a montage of people falling down…I’m done.  My kids used to say, “Breathe mom, breathe!” I would be laughing so hard.

One video that really stuck with me was of a boy and his dad.  They placed an egg in their microwave.  They got close to the microwave window and you could see the egg in its’ shell rotating round and round.  The timer went off and the boy carefully took the egg out. It was in a little glass dish and the camera zoomed in to see that the egg was cracked a little and then…BOOM!  The egg literally exploded.  It was all over the boy’s face, on the ceiling, the walls…basically everywhere.  It was such a shock, and it was surprising how big of a mess one little egg made. Luckily the boy wasn’t hurt…he thought it was funny.

Life can be messy.  Let’s face it…it not only can be messy…it is messy.  But what happens when your faith gets messy?  We just finished a series at my church called “Messy Faith.” It was a great series that went through a lot of the things that can make our faith a little more complicated than we may have bargained for in the beginning of our faith journey.  I’ve mentioned before how my faith got turned upside down 9 years ago when I found out my son was gay. There are times when I long for those days when everything fit neatly into a box.  It was comfortable.  But that longing doesn’t last because my faith is so much deeper now. Back then I thought I had all of the answers…today I hardly have any answers.  Isn’t it crazy that I prefer to be here rather then where I was years ago?  As strange as it may sound it is very freeing.

I’ve deconstructed my faith…and it doesn’t all fit back together the way it did before.  I look at it like a puzzle.   You start out with the pieces scattered about and little by little you fit together the pieces to complete a picture.  Suppose the pieces don’t complete the picture?   Have you ever put together a puzzle only to get to the very end and realize you were missing a piece or heaven forbid more than one piece?!  That can be so frustrating! That’s how I see my faith and the missing piece or pieces are all of my questions.  Now some people would throw the puzzle away if it was missing pieces.  But I wouldn’t do that…something drew me to that puzzle.  There’s beauty in the puzzle and I can get satisfaction from it even if it isn’t complete.  Would it drive me crazy at times?  Yes!  But I would remind myself of what drew me to the puzzle in the first place and this is what’s gotten me through those messy faith times.  Something drew me to God. And through this messy faith journey I have discovered a deeper sense of love that really can only be explained as super natural.  I wouldn’t trade that for anything.  In my own way, I feel like I am part of the mystery of God.  I think we can all find ourselves there if we let go and let our faith get a little messy.

Now there is something that I have to remind myself of often.  When life gets messy and especially when faith gets messy, there are emotions that are involved.  Sometimes it’s frustration.  Sometimes anger, fear, anguish…a whole variety.  I need to be mindful of my actions and reactions during these times.  I need to try my best to not let those emotions explode onto others around me like the egg that was microwaved for too long.  To be an ally to the LGBTQ community, I need to interact with people who aren’t always going to believe what I believe, act the way I would act, respond the way I would respond.  Am I going to let that hinder my message of love?  I try really hard not to let that happen.  It gets messy, but that’s when that super natural love I talked about comes into play.  God is pretty darn amazing (smile).

How’s your messy life?  Better yet…how’s your messy faith?  Not messy yet?  Just wait…it will be at some point.  Remember what drew you to the One who can bring you through the mess.  His love will get you through, and then share that love…

Because love matters…

Sometimes a bark comes without a bite…

Lucy and I went for our walk this morning like we do every morning.  We had a little run in with another dog that left me sweating and my heart beating out of my chest.  I love dogs.  I really do.  If you saw me with my Lucy, you would understand how much I love dogs.  But…I’m also afraid of them…here’s why…

When I was 15 years old, I was hanging out with some of my friends.  We were outside of my friend’s house when her neighbor came pulling out of his driveway with his German Shepherd tied up in the back of his pickup truck. The guys we were with teased the dog.  Not physically…but they were barking at it and yelling at it…being obnoxious boys basically. You could tell it agitated the dog.  It was a short errand and we were still out front when he came back.  The boys again did their best to aggravate the dog.  We told them to stop, but they didn’t.  When the owner put the dog in the backyard, he didn’t realize that the gate wasn’t completely latched.  He went in the house, and the dog came tearing around to the front.  There was a block retaining wall that everyone jumped up on to get away from the dog…except for me. Being vertically challenged…I couldn’t physically get up there.  And although I wasn’t mean to the dog, he took his aggression out on me.  I didn’t run because I knew he would only chase me.  He jumped up on his hind legs and put his front paws on my shoulders.  Yes the dog was as tall as me.  I tried to push him off of me and that’s when he grabbed my right arm.  Have you ever seen one of those police videos where they show someone with protective gear getting attacked by the police dog?  Well that was me…except no protective gear.  My friends were yelling for the dog to get off of me, but he was shaking my arm like I was a rag doll.  The owner heard the commotion and came running out the front door calling for the dog.  It wasn’t listening.  As much as I hated to do it, because I would never intentionally hurt an animal, I punched the dog in the face.  That got him to stop long enough to hear his owner calling him and he went running to him. The owner came out to check on me.  I had a wind breaker on and it wasn’t ripped so he thought the dog must not have bitten me very badly.  The weird thing is that when I got home and took my jacket off, my shirt underneath was ripped.  You could see the imprint of the dogs teeth on my arm.  His whole mouth.  There was some blood and lots of bruising and the next day my arm was swollen as all get out.

So…this experience has made me very suspect of dogs.  Again, I love them, but I need to get to know them before I trust them.  Once they show me they aren’t going to try to rip my arm off, I’m usually good friends with them (smile).

There are times my Christian friends will ask me, “Why are gay people so angry all the time?  What do they have against Christians…they seem to hate us!”  Well that can be complicated, but the simple answer is…they’ve been “bitten.”  And what you see as anger or sometimes even hate comes from a place of self-preservation.  They may not understand that not all Christians “bite.”  I didn’t do anything to that dog, but he saw me as part of the group that did and he took it out on me.

Similar to a dog owner telling you, “Don’t worry.  My dog is friendly,” then uncharacteristic of the dog they try to bite you.  Christians should be people who others shouldn’t have to be afraid of, but sometimes they lash out in unfriendly and hurtful ways.  The good news is…they aren’t all like that.   I have some very supportive Christians in my life…even if we don’t see eye to eye on the LGBTQ community.  Now some have “barked” a few times…but it never resulted in a “bite.”  I have been hurt, but I knew it came from a place of ignorance.  Like I’ve said before…you don’t know what you don’t know.  Some of the people who have hurt me are now trying to be allies.  They want to learn.  If I had retreated and believed that all Christians would hurt me, maybe God would have never had the opportunity to grab hold of their hearts in this area.

I was attacked by that dog 34 years ago and I can still see it vividly in my mind as if I’m watching a movie. I know that not all dogs are mean, but it doesn’t change the fact that they scare me.  And as far as my fellow Christians go…I’m wary of them too sometimes.  I think it just comes with the territory.  When you’ve been hurt, it’s hard to let your guard down. I have shared some horrendous things that have happened to the LGBTQ community at the hands of people who call themselves Christians.  On the flip side, I want to tell you that I know many eager Christians that want to help, want to love, want to embrace the LGBTQ community and just don’t know how.  If we shut them down, they will never learn.

Once you learn what the LGBTQ community has gone through, you become really sensitive to the things that hurt them.  If I were in a Star Wars movie, Darth Vader would say, “The cringe factor is strong with this one,” about me.  If I’m that sensitive, how much more sensitive is that community?  I don’t want you to feel like you can’t talk to them…or allies…because you are afraid of saying something wrong.  I’m just asking that we be sensitive of each other.  We may “bark” at each other from time to time…but let’s not “bite.”  We will never get anywhere if that happens.  Let’s walk together and remember to have grace, mercy, and most of all love…

Because love matters…

(This post is meant to have us each think of what the “other side” might be going through as we navigate these waters.  I am in no way suggesting that if you are being abused you should remain in that situation, or allow it to continue.)