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Personal Culture Wars

October 8, 2014

Lil’ man just started kindergarten. He spent almost three years going to a Montessori preschool. He loved it. We loved it. The school and staff were great. He made friends. We made friends with parents. Most days he loved going to school. We recently moved and were unable to find a Montessori school around us. The closest one was more than forty-five minutes away. The local public school has a good rating. Parents seem to love it. So with great hesitation and reluctance we chose to enroll him in the public kindergarten. And his teacher is great. He still seems to enjoy school. He definitely seems to be learning a lot. The teacher is pretty good about keeping parents informed about what is going on at school. But something has changed. Something I don’t know how to deal with. Something that probably has more to do with where we have moved than the public school environment. Kids are making comments that lil’ man takes to heart and now we are faced with fighting against a tidal wave of opinions we are not okay with.

When we paint our nails lil’ man likes to get his painted. Almost always orange, his favorite color. He had his nails painted at school and another kid told him only girls paint their nails. We’ve faced this before. In our old state. And he responded “my uncle paints his nails, and he’s not a girl”. Which is true, and was enough. This time his teacher told us his response was “I’m not a girl, I’m a grown-ass man” (which is something we tell him regularly). But now he won’t paint his nails because he doesn’t want the kids to think he’s a girl.

On the walk to school one day he saw a little girl riding a blue bike. He asked me why the girl was riding a boy colored bike. I was floored. We have always taught there are no such things as boy colors and girl colors. We talked about it again. Where is he learning this?

This morning I pulled out a shirt he hasn’t worn for several weeks. A shirt he had picked out and loved over the summer. He didn’t want to wear it. When I asked him why he answered “what if the kids don’t want to be my friend anymore?” We talked with him and ended saying “If someone doesn’t want to be your friend because of the shirt you are wearing then you don’t want to be friends with them”.

It’s frustrating. It’s heart-breaking. He is such a sensitive soul. He takes everything personally. He is legitimately hurt by things that most people shrug off. How can we help him stay true to himself amidst such things? How do I teach him to let these things roll off his shoulders without making him callous and causing him to lose such a vital part of who he is? How do I help ensure he doesn’t turn into one of those kids causing hurt to another? I feel so inadequate, so limited, so unable to help him be himself in a world that is determined to make him think a certain way and act a certain way. I don’t want to see his spirit damaged by others and at the same time I can’t bear the thought of seeing his spirit damaged by compromising who he is to fit in with the world.

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Resuming My Journey

October 7, 2014

I have had this blog for years. I used to post frequently. And then I stopped. But now I feel a need, a desire, a prompting, to write again. I considered starting a new blog. The things I wish to write about are so different than what I had written it would make sense.

But I realized something as I started to set up a new blog. I realized that I am still the same person. The person who wrote those posts was me, struggling. The person who will write future posts will still be me, struggling. My struggles are different now, but they are still part of my journey. I think anyone who chooses to take the time to read several posts from the past and now will get a much better picture of who I am than if I were to simply start a new blog. And so, I will resume this blog. This blog with some posts that perhaps feel untrue to who I am now, perhaps even some posts that I now disagree with.

At one time that was how I thought. At one time those were me. We all change, we all evolve. Please don’t hold me to past standards, and please don’t dismiss the person I am today because of something I wrote years ago. That WAS me, but this is me NOW. We are the same but we are different.

Welcome to my journey. Thank you for joining me.

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Truly Unconditional Love

August 19, 2014

Hello friends,

It’s been a while. As in more than 3 years a while. If anyone bothers to visit when I publish this post I’ll be amazed. But I have something to say. I might have several somethings to say, we’ll have to see. Today it comes from the story of Vicky Beeching’s coming out. Yup, I’m going there.

There has been a lot of discussion around this. I think it shakes people in ways other Christians who have come out didn’t because she has been a part of so many different people’s regular worship. And this means that her coming out is personal for a lot of people because worship is so personal for so many people.

The backlash is incredible. So much hate masquerading as concern for her soul, her relationship with God. It hurts me. It hurts me more than if it were directed at me, I think. My cousin, who I will say is a liberal conservative Christian responded to a rather disheartening post with an incredibly profound comment. She said:

         “I have been wrong about so many things i was convinced i was right on in my life. Then i felt like God spoke to me pretty clearly that He really didn’t care too much about all the things i was wrong about, because more than likely, I’m still way off. He told me that He loved that i spent time being with Him and talking to Him; that relationship is the ENTIRE reason he sent Jesus. At this point, I would rather be wrong about what the Bible says on homosexuality, knowing that I have put every ounce of my effort into loving people with no strings attached. So if I felt that God spoke that to me, why would His desire for relationship with Vicky Beeching be any different? I think maybe He is a little less concerned about what she is getting right, and more rejoicing over her continued relationship with Him. I realize many opinions differ from mine, that is just where I am currently at.”

I love this. It’s exactly where I am at, although at the end of the day we may end up with different theologies the premise is identical. I can only speak to the relationship I know I have with God. I value the Bible. I value God’s Word. When I came out to myself, a weird idea to be sure, my relationship with God became stronger, better, more intimate than it had ever been before. I truly believe my realizing I am gay, my accepting my sexuality, was the direct result of God interceding on my behalf. I was blind, I was in such deep denial that he had to push his way through. And when he got through he wrapped me up in such intense love, such insane acceptance, that there wasn’t room for me to doubt myself. There was so much love from God for me that I could not have hated myself, nor could anyone else’s hate pierce that love. 

Over the years I have grown to truly believe that homosexuality does not go against God’s will. But more importantly because of the journey I took I am absolutely, positively, certain that God does not call us to judge for him. Our job, no matter what the “sin” may be, is to love. Love without question. Love without hesitation. Love with everything we have, even if we are utterly convinced that a person is wrong. 

God loves us all. Yes, God desires we grow closer to him. He desires that we do our best to live in such a way that we are living according to his will. But God desires relationship with us above all else. Who am I to judge another person and what relationship they have with God? I cannot know what is going on between you and God. I cannot know how the supposed “sin” in your life is affecting that relationship. It isn’t my place. It’s God’s. This doesn’t mean that we are changing what we view as sin. It doesn’t mean I am compromising on any of the things I believe. It means that I am loving. It means that I am letting God do his job, and I will do mine. It means that I refuse to be the person who tries to get in the way of the relationship another person has with God.

If there is one thing I can ask of a Christian it is this. I don’t ask, nor do I want, you to change your theology. I ask that you trust your relationship with God. I ask that you trust my relationship with God. He’s a good guy. He knows what he’s doing. If someday he convicts me that I am wrong, I hope that I will listen. But until that day I know that he loves and accepts me for who I am. You cannot change this, and I am certain he does not want you to. Love. It isn’t compromising your beliefs, it is trusting your almighty God to do his part and you do yours. 

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2 Years of Blessing

October 30, 2011

2 years ago I sat on my living room couch crying my eyes out and at the same time feeling the faintest glimmer of hope. It was a day I may sometime forget, but it was a day that will live with me forever. The day I finally realized that I am gay, and that it was okay, and that I needed to stop pretending, stop hiding, stop running, and learn how to accept this piece of who I am so I could be a complete and whole person. It was at this point that my relationship with God grew and grew at exponential and unprecedented rates. It was at this time that I realized that I was completely alone and began to realize that God was all I had to help me through the process. A little less than a year later I took the final step in truly trusting God and accepting and embracing who it is God made me to be. I couldn’t even begin to imagine where it was going to take me.

When I left my secure job with a community of support and friends- all be it perhaps not true friends, still people I considered, and for many still consider, friends- I had no idea what amazing things God had in store for me.

He provided every step of the way. I was never without an income, even though it wasn’t enough to cover all my bills, it was enough to get close. I discovered a new love, and had fun working in a bookstore, which lead to a job working at a book publisher, a job I love. A job, I think, I honestly enjoy more than my old one.

What’s more, I’m still working with you. I’m still a youth leader at my new church, which is as close to my picture perfect idea of church as I think it is possible to find. I still can’t believe there actually is a church out there that fit into my idea of what church was supposed to be. I have found a new family of friends at church, and I have found a new family too.

My family isn’t thrilled, but they have supported me every step of the way as much as they can. And God has blessed me with the one thing I honestly didn’t know if I would ever get- a family of my own. My girlfriend and her son have become the center of my world. I had no idea what it would be like. And while it’s not always a walk in the park having people with which I share my life- the good, the bad, the boring, and the exciting, and everything in between is the most amazing thing ever.

Am I living a life that God approves of? I think so, but I don’t know for sure. What I do know is that I have never before in my life felt so blessed, so loved, and so accepted. I believe that God will provide no matter what, but I also feel that the blessings that have been showered down have to be God’s way of saying to me, “Lisa, I love you. You, not who you are going to be, not who you “should” be, but you. Exactly as you are right here and right now.”

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I Love You

March 15, 2011

What is love? How do you know when you are in love? When do you know it’s more than just physical desire and initial chemistry?

I don’t know. I wish I knew. It would make things so much easier. Everyone offers cute quips and romantic suggestions, and while I think all of these things play into love none of these, even when grouped together can be considered love.

I’ve wanted to say it. I’ve come close so many times but I always pull back. One time it was because of fear- what if she doesn’t love me? What if I put too much pressure on her? What if by telling her how I fell I lose her? It was too much.

But then I realized that I would rather lose her with her knowing how I feel than lose her because I kept quiet. But then I got to thinking about it too much. How do I know I love her?

I want to be with her, always. I love to hear about her day, watch her cook (and then clean up the dishes 🙂 ). I have had the desire, the urge, the need to tell her I love her, and yet here I sit wondering if I do.

If I think I do, is that enough? If the desire to say the three simple words “I love you” are so strong that they almost slip out without even thinking, is that enough? I don’t know. But I think it’s going to have to be. There are too many times that I forget to catch myself, and that is enough reason to just tell her. Why should I hold such words and feelings inside?

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Lunch With Fred Phelps

February 23, 2011

On Sunday our sermon was titled “Lunch With Fred Phelps”. I go to a church that proudly proclaims that we are a liberal, Christian, church. The exact opposite of anything that Fred Phelps is. In fact, I think the people at my church are more likely to hate Mr. Phelps than the average American. The point was that it isn’t our job to change people. It is not our job to tell people they are wrong and make them change. It is our job, our responsibility as Christ-followers to love people exactly as the are. We should have lunch with Fred Phelps and not tell him how wrong he is or condemn him, but just to enjoy a meal together. Putting “love your enemies” into this context makes it even more obvious how difficult this command from Jesus really is.

After church L. and I were talking about love and I made the observation that I can totally be respectful and caring toward my enemies, but the true agape love- the love that comes from someplace that has nothing to do with worth or earning it- that I don’t know how to do. I can be the nicest person in the world, but being nice is not the same as loving someone. Love affects our actions, but our actions can be loving without the reason being love. I am completely and utterly incapable of true agape love on my own. But that’s the point. That’s the beauty of it. We can’t. We aren’t expected to. Our role is to allow God to work in our lives to create that love for others inside us. My job is to make room for God to take over until I start to see everyone through God’s eyes and not my own. Because the only being capable of true agape love is God. And the only way we can even begin to experience it is by allowing ourselves to be transformed by God. On my own the best I can do is show respect and kindness. But this is not what God has called me to. God has called me, and you, to a standard that requires submitting ourselves fully to him.

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Infantile Romance

February 12, 2011

It’s Valentine’s Weekend- the “official” weekend to celebrate love and that significant other you have found (or for those who until this year were in the same position I was, a weekend to grumble and complain about all the lovey dovey stuff going on around you). Today marks exactly 2 weeks that my girlfriend and I have been dating. It’s crazy to look back and realize it’s only been two weeks, it feels like a different lifetime. But as I rev up for our “big” celebration I realize that while I’m not big on Valentine’s day, or any of the commercialization surrounding it, I do want to show L. how I feel, and so there’s a lot of pressure. But, what’s more I am realizing how major a change this is in my life.

I used to talk with my other “single” friends about how frustrating and irritating it was that once someone started dating they suddenly disappeared. I always swore that would never be me, and yet, it is incredibly hard to not be that person. I don’t really want to give up a night with L. to go have dinner with friends. I don’t want to give up an afternoon with L. to have coffee. I don’t want to give up a single second that could be spent with her to spend time with my friends- who I still like a lot, but who just can’t fill the desires that L. does.

I feel safe. I feel comfortable. I feel challenged. I find myself expanding. I am becoming more aware of what I want, and at the same time becoming more aware of what she wants. I love the feel of her hand in mine, the smell of her as we sit watching a movie, the sound of her laughter, and the way her face looks when I say or do something that she finds humerus. I feel pain when she is sad, I worry when she worries, my heart breaks a little when I see her hurting.

So why say this here? Why do I feel the need to share this with you all? It’s because to me this is the point of celebrating Valentine’s day. It’s a silly holiday, it should be completely unnecessary. But when a relationship is no longer new I think we forget about celebrating these remarkable things. When time has passed we become comfortable and complacent and we need to have occasions that remind us of the joy and beauty to be found in a relationship. Much like we have holidays in the church calendar to remind us of what’s important, we need holidays and momentous occasions to remind us what’s important in a relationship.

Get past the cheesiness of this holiday and remember the joy you first had in your relationship. Remind yourself and your loved one just what a treasure your relationship is. And if you can’t do that, take the time to figure out how you can get that back.

Happy Valentine’s Day!