Heat radiated from my face and tears welled up in my eyes. Anger and sorrow filled my heart. My friend sent me a message telling me that she couldn’t buy my book. She felt like my chapter was in conflict with her religious beliefs. She told me that she had prayed and talked with her pastor to make sure she was doing what Jesus would have done.
Was she serious? Does she think Jesus wouldn’t want to hear my story? Didn’t Jesus have dinner with sinners and tax collectors? Didn’t Jesus talk to the woman at the well? Jesus didn’t walk away from people; He walked toward people. His message was not to stay away from those you don’t think are “Godly” enough; His message was to love everybody. All of the feelings of condemnation and judgment came rolling over me like a tidal wave. I’ve known her for 16 years, and she considers me to be her friend. Yet she doesn’t think Jesus would approve of her reading my story! My heartache weakened my resolve. I sat in the chair and sobbed into my hands.
My book, The Call to Soar, is an Amazon Best Seller featuring eight other writers. I wrote about learning to love and accept myself through my struggles as a gay Christian. The story is not explicit in sharing a “gay lifestyle” or anything unacceptable to God. It was fear that created my friend’s unmerited concerns.
A week later, still tender from the pains of rejection, I opened an email from my 90-year old aunt. I knew she must have received the autographed book she preordered, and I was eager to hear her reaction to my story.
Here’s her words:
Your book arrived about three days ago. I congratulate you. Your story is beautifully written. Some parts were hard to read, as I suddenly realized how terribly difficult your life has been. How stoic and determined you have had to be, just to keep yourself together emotionally. My daughter was here for the weekend and read it also. In fact, she wants you to send her the book and I insisted I wanted to pay for it, so I shall send you a check.
Both of us think you would make an invaluable Christian counselor, dealing particularly with sexuality issues. Really, Sue, you are remarkable in many ways, and have so much to give in the way of experience, guidance, and positive approaches… how to accept oneself however one has been created.
CONGRATULATIONS AGAIN. You surely are on your way to whatever goal you wish to achieve… just keep your faith and determination.
Much, much love.
Everyone loves compliment words
Excitement overwhelmed me. I read the letter twice just to take in her compliments. With joyful tears in my eyes, I sat up in the chair with pride. The favor that resonated from my aunt’s response produced good feelings. I was grateful. Her beautiful note arrived at the perfect time.
One statement, “…just to keep yourself together emotionally,” surprised me as I never saw myself as emotionally put-together. I am usually a basket-case. Later I understood her perspective. She was never aware of this part of my life. A heavy mask covered my truth for many years. Shame would not allow me to share my struggle with those that loved me.
The honesty of spending a year out of the closet makes me feel like a flower ready to bloom again. Each compliment waters my spirit, and I am accepting them with open arms. It’s the feel good moments of life.
Everyone wants to know they are loved and accepted.
Staying in a positive light, I know that I can have a greater impact by setting the example of how to treat others. And, yes, I believe Jesus would agree with me!
Writing your words is risky
I wonder how others might view my story. Will people disagree with me or acknowledge what I have to share? What will they think about me? How will they treat me after reading it? If people are willing to read just the back cover, they will see that it is worth picking up and reading. “In The Call to Soar, you will discover how to remain hopeful in the midst of uncertainty, how to walk through any obstacle to find joy in life again, and how to rise up stronger than before and find true healing.”
I am learning not to expect everyone to agree. However, I am encouraged by friends who share comments like this:
“Sue, wanted you to know I sat down and read your story. Glad you finally shared what had been hidden all these years, and while I do believe only GOD can judge our hearts and souls; I’m thankful that it is HIS job and that HIS love and mercy covers us.”
I often wondered why I was experiencing these struggles between my faith and my flesh. What could I have done differently to avoid all of the shame and pain? Why did God allow me to have a same-sex attraction? We all question and try to make sense of who we are. With patience the answers will come. I knew God had me walk this path for a reason the moment I learned a young Sunday School student, who was gay, had taken her life. He wants me to love and support others who are gay Christians and the family and friends who love them.
Words can connect us or divide us
I am thankful for the unconditional support of my family and friends. Several have read books they never imagined would even be on their shelf. All to better understand my experience. I appreciate their willingness to be informed about the LGBTQ community.
My wish is that gay Christians and straight Christians will engage in conversations that connect us together. It’s okay to disagree, but we don’t have to be dismissive of each other. We need the opportunity to discover what it is we are all trying to strive for, and how we can help each other reach our goals.
I have no magic genie lamp. I do have resources which include several friends and acquaintances who are willing to join the conversation. All it takes is a little effort on everyone’s part.
How can we as Christians demonstrate love and acceptance to those in the gay community? Share your ideas in the comments below.