I’ve decided… I’m on a mission to change the world. All of us are. What we all desire is a purpose—an assignment—to somehow positively affect our little corner of the world. As a Christian lesbian attempting to build bridges, I do a lot of jabbering about love. But do I carry it out? Sometimes, the answer is no. What are some reasons we fail to practice the love that we preach? Perhaps fear, laziness, hurt feelings (a big one for me)… the reasons can be endless. We’ve all heard the saying, “Those who are the most difficult to love are the ones who need it the most”. I think there’s a lot of truth to that. I wrote a blog a couple months back called “Homophobic Homosexuals: Do It For Them”. Many times, it is these internally homophobic people who are the most difficult to like. But though they have an irritating knack for raising my blood pressure, I am called to not only like them, but to love them.
I’ve shared with you before that I used to be a homophobic homosexual. Let me share a story from my past to illustrate that point. During the 2004 Presidential Campaign, I wrote a letter to the editor of our local newspaper. [Before I tell you the content of that letter, let me say that I am not a political person. I never discuss politics on this blog (and with good reason)! In fact, I’m now a registered Libertarian, so I’m quite apathetic when it comes to debates between the G.O.P. and the Dems.] When I registered to vote at 18, I registered as a Republican. My mother’s entire side of the family was registered to that party, so it just seemed like the thing to do. When I began to realize there was nothing I could do about my sexuality, it sort of threw a wrench in my plans. I had this picture in my head of who and what I was supposed to be. Determined to fling myself straight into heterosexuality (pun intended), I wrote a letter to the editor in which I took the classic, right-wing, conservative stance. I’ve since burned the newspaper clipping, but it went something like this:
“I cannot fathom how Christians justify their endorsement for John Kerry. His support for same-sex marriage is absolutely un-Christian! Homosexuality is not normal, and if we continue to tolerate it in this country, we will head down a path of destruction.”…. blah, blah, blah….
I continued on for at least two paragraphs, spouting off the same opinions in a variety of ways. I was proud. I knew what I stood for, and I wasn’t going to budge. One problem, though… I was making out with someone practically every weekend (you guessed it… a girl). That’s right… I knew the way to act and the words to say. But the shell of a person that everyone saw was a big fat lie.
This story is embarrassing to recount. Looking back, I wonder how I could have been so hypocritical! But by writing that letter, I did two things: 1) I got “attagirl’s” and pats on the back from my circle of friends, and 2) I made sure that no one could “wonder if I was gay”. Hadn’t I made it clear in my rant? I was certainly a man-lovin’ lady… a definitive heterosexual.
My inbox was flooded with emails the day my letter to the editor was published. Some affirmed my tirade, some were flat-out mean, and some were thoughtful letters written to me from gay pastors, trying to tell their side of the homosexual debate. I’m ashamed to admit that I discounted them all. Because their views were way out of the realm of my personal comfort, I dismissed them. Retrospectively, I wish with all my heart that I could have let go of my pride and opened the door to communication. Maybe I would have learned a thing or two. Maybe my heart could have been softened. Maybe I could have learned to love a little harder.
Why do I tell you this story? Well, because while I get angry and hurt by those who refuse to engage in conversations about this issue … I have to remember that I used to be one such person. We have to admit to ourselves—however painful it is—that there will always be people who just simply don’t want to have that conversation. They can’t see us as children of God… just people with problems. How do we love those people?—I mean, truly love them?
We must remind ourselves that loving people does not mean that we allow ourselves to stay in abusive situations. Living a life of love requires that we have good emotional and spiritual health. Therefore, if we do not take care of ourselves, we cannot take care of others. There will be some people you must learn to love from a distance. What does that mean? Is that possible? I believe it is. If someone is manipulating you, gaslighting you, or making you feel less than… then it’s time to say goodbye. You can love that person by praying for them and hoping that good things come to them, rather than wishing they would “get what they deserve”. You can love them by releasing that hurt and animosity that exists in your heart. You can, in fact, love authentically from a distance.
In closing, I want to apologize for my past behavior toward the LGBT community. I wish I had saved those emails I received in response to my letter to the editor. Perhaps I could offer some words to undo the damage I did. I’m ashamed of the steps I was willing to take in order to ensure my safety and secrecy deep inside the closet. Now, as a Christian lesbian, I can truly say I’ve seen both sides of the story. Living my life openly and honestly is the best decision I’ve ever made. My relationship with God is stronger, my friendships are real, and my life is chock-full of love. So, my present-day self would like to give my past self a message: Be willing to listen, be willing to let go of your pride, and be willing to live a Godly life of honesty and love.