When I was a kid, my super power of choice was invisibility. It was a good way to perhaps, find out what you were getting for Christmas, or see what so-and-so wanted for their birthday. Of course, in those early years, there was always the occasional need for a spy… so rather than contract one out from an espionage service, I could do it myself—if only I were invisible. It doesn’t take many years of living to realize there would undoubtedly be a downside to this super power. If, by being invisible, you could hear everything you wanted to, you would also inevitably hear some things you didn’t want to know. As an adult, I reminisce about my childhood, and even find myself selfishly wishing for that same super power every now and then. After all, don’t you ever wonder what is said about you when you’re not around? If you’re a Christian LGBT, put one toe out of the closet, and I guarantee you… you’ll get a taste. No, you won’t miraculously know everything all at once. But sooner or later… word will get around. You’ll get a pretty good idea of who knows what, and who told them. That guy in your small group? He knows. The lady at the local grocery’s checkout counter? She knows. Your old college roomie? Yeah… she’s known for awhile now. Coming out on your own terms is usually too far gone at this point. So what is one to do?
I wish I had a cut and dry answer… but here’s a healing process that’s really worked well for me:
1)seek a circle of acceptance
2)allow yourself to be honest
3)extend love to others
Seek a circle of acceptance. Before discussing the good that can come from this, let’s first take a look at the harm that can be done by alienating yourself. Your beliefs and values tend to change over time… not just with LGBT issues, but with everything in life. It’s important to know that you have a refuge—a safe haven—where expressing those views will be accepted, even by those who do not agree with you. This is not about choosing sides. This is about respecting all sides (ex: the Chick-fil-A debacle. For Pete’s sake, people… eat whatever you want to eat, and believe what you want to believe. Just check your hate at the door. That’s all I’ll say about that. There certainly isn’t a need for another article on that topic in the blogosphere). In other words, a circle of acceptance doesn’t mean that all people agree on every point. It’s saying, “Hey… I really don’t know how I feel about that. We may have different points of view, but I love you unconditionally, just the way you are.” That’s the whole point of unconditional love… it’s without condition.
Allow yourself to be honest. This can be tough at first. Years of denying your true self, and lying to yourself and others sets a trend. Dishonesty can become a defense mechanism. Once you’ve found your safe circle, give yourself permission to tell your story. The truth is healing. While coming out may be one of the most difficult things you’ll ever face, a life of honesty is a profound, glorious, and welcome reward. You will find that there is, indeed, a mountaintop after the valley. I am so thankful for the path that God has placed before me—full of purpose, discovery, and love… and I could never fathom the blessings that would come my way by being honest with myself and others.
However, remember to never come out unless you are in a position where it is safe to do so. Your safety and well-being is the first priority. If you need/want to tell your truth anonymously, you can always submit your story to our website here. If you’re looking for encouragement, and need to hear it from someone who’s been there, you can read our growing collection of coming out stories here.
Extend love to others. Learning to love profoundly is oftentimes the fruit of a difficult journey. Once we’ve reached our own place of peace with God regarding our sexuality, where do we go? As we’ve previously discussed, loving others isn’t always easy. We are living in a world where hate abounds. In the past week alone, a gay couple was attacked in D.C., A Nebraska lesbian was mutilated, and a gay homeless man in LA was beaten. Sure, we could protest anti-gay groups and picket their organizations. (And there are times when that is appropriate.) But people generally don’t change their mind because they lost an argument. It takes more than that; it takes real conversation. If people turn a deaf ear to your point of view, then go where your efforts will be received. Act out in love. Find others who are silently suffering because of their sexual identity. Tell them they are loved. Make sure they know they don’t have to hang themselves, cut themselves, or overdose on pills to escape their depression and loneliness. Love them fiercely.
There is so much that each of us can do in our little corner of creation. It’s easy to feel unwanted, useless, and less than. But God has given you gifts—talents that are custom-made to encourage and inspire another soul. Heck, He’s even given you that secret desire for your own personal super power. If you could choose one, what would it be?