For my Friend Who’s Gay

I don’t read many blogs regularly.  Maybe three.  One of them is written by a friend I haven’t met in real life yet.  He is raw and wounded, confused and self-absorbed, and a little narcissistic just like the rest of us.  He is an incredibly gifted writer.  And he’s gay.

I read his brave, anguished posts and I want to give him a hug and say “I’m so sorry.” and “I can’t possibly understand your pain, just like you can’t possibly understand mine, but I want to try.  I’m listening.  I want to be better at loving you and others well.”

I want to be friends, but there are a couple hurdles.  There’s a caution and a question I’d like to raise with him as gently as possible.  But I fear his wounds are too raw.  Still scraped and bloody and in danger of infection.  I fear even soft, well-meaning inquiries may be interpreted as attacks.  That’s not at all what I want.

Here’s what I’d like to say to this gay friend I’ve never met (Even as I write that I’m nervous that I should say “friend who is gay” instead of “gay friend”):

1.  A Caution.  I want to be friends, but I will always disappoint you. The church will always let you down.  So will secular gay friends.  So will your mom.  And your boss.

Sure, we’ll try.  We’re a well-meaning lot, most of us, but we’re not wired to be constantly attentive, perfectly sensitive, ever-loyal.  You may have us confused with God.  Nope, we’re definitely not.  We’re fearful and proud and self-centered just like you, so we’ll mess up.  And you’ll get hurt.  Again. So will we all.  Even as victims of friendly-fire perhaps.  I know.  I too have the scars.  There was a time, for a year I felt so rejected and discarded I couldn’t enter the church I once loved.IMG_0991

The church, and your gay friends, and even your mom, or your boss or I may have thought or said or done insensitive or unkind things that need to be repented of.  I don’t want to minimize that.

But just because we’re hypocritical let-you-down-ers don’t write God off.  Please.  He IS the One who will never leave or forsake you.  He IS the One who knows you inside and out and loves you fiercely.  You are His beloved riffraff.  And so are the rest of us, hot messes one and all.

2. A Question. (This one is hard, so you might want to sit down and breathe).  Do I have to agree with you to love you?  Do I have to believe what you believe for you to feel accepted by me?  I have to be honest.  Although sometimes you say it’s ok to differ, it doesn’t seem like you feel it’s ok.

I know it’s hard.  We all want others to agree with us, support every decision, cheer our choices.  That sure describes me.  I want to feel included, invited, inside, and indisputably right.

I also want to be inclusive, and inviting with others.  I want to have conversations not diatribes.  I want to love God and you, my neighbor, well – with both grace and truth.

So I start by saying I think you are gifted, broken, and beloved just like me.  Just like all children of God everywhere.

Gay describes only your orientation, and I accept that with all its challenges, just like you accept the fact that I’m blonde and blue-eyed.

Beloved, chosen, redeemed describes your identity and I celebrate that.  I celebrate the God in you.

I also affirm that you have the right to choose your own path.  Everyone, everywhere, has civil rights we must defend vigorously.  But that doesn’t mean I believe those rights are what God desires most for you.  We may disagree there, and if that pains you, I’m sorry.

3.  A wish.  I wish I could see something different in Scripture that would enable me to endorse the lifestyle decisions that most gay Christians long for.  But I can’t avoid what seems to be God’s design for us to thrive, either as single celibate people or in the marriage of a man and woman.  This is not a position I’ve come to lightly or without a ton of reading and conversations and humbly listening to brothers and sisters in the community of faith.  I want to keep listening.

Does this mean we can’t be friends?  I hope not.

Jesus was friends with a heck of a lot of people he didn’t agree with.  The “lifestyle choices” He condemned even while loving others, ranged from greed to hypocrisy to adultery, idolatry, and self-righteousness.  You may disagree with my politics or think I’m addicted to comfort, or that I don’t sacrifice enough for others.  I still wish we could be friends.

We’re all of us “plank in the eye” people.  We’re all stumbling along, many of us trying to do so by grasping the Hand much larger than ours.  My prayer is that we can go together, and receive God’s great love for both of us.

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“First Step” #1001
C 1992 Jonathan Rogers

To All Those Who Didn’t Show

I wrote yesterday about the waiting on the Fool’s Bench at Easter.

As it turned out, I didn’t sit.  I stood near the door to church in the Great Room, craning my neck, looking over the shoulder of anyone I was talking to, hoping to see the shaved bald head of my next-door-neighbor and his blond wife walk in.

I prayed and prayed.  I saved seats at two (count ’em, two!) services, which did NOT endear me to those who did come and were tackling others for a spot, practically paying hard cash money so they could sit inside the sanctuary instead of in the overflow rooms.

It didn’t happen.  Yes, the other friend did show at an earlier service and I pray that she felt totally hogswaggled by the enormity of God’s love for her, but it’s hard not to focus on the ones who didn’t come.  photo-109

I’ve been thinking about them…All the friends and neighbors and co-workers and prodigal family members you invited to church this Sunday.  Or last.  Or any one of a bazillion times. Continue reading

What Really Breaks God’s Heart?

I hate it when people go on mission trips and come home all “Oooh, you couldn’t possibly understand it, but we went to Abracadabra and Bibbidybobbityboo and that’s in the southeastern corner of the district of Allacazam in the country of Boolaboola (don’tcha know) and it was AMAZING!  The poor people there need so much but are so full of joy!  We need to help them and you should have been there!” 

And those who haven’t been think, “Well, I wasn’t there.” And eyes glaze over and they think “No, I couldn’t possibly understand, and what could I do even if I did understand and you’re being a little obnoxious right now.” 

All that to say that as I post from Africa I’m going to try not to do that and I pray you find these thoughts relevant for you.  

There is a much repeated prayer in World Vision, “Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.”  There’s a lot that I know breaks God’s heart around the world.  Obvious stuff like poverty, injustice, violence, corruption…

Whenever we travel in the developing world and we pray that prayer, our go-to response is to be sad and compassionate and prayerful about what we’re seeing.  We want to know how we can partner with God to bring His kingdom to every corner of the world.  And that’s a good thing mostly, I think.

But poverty isn’t just “out there” or “over there”.

It’s here too. In me.  Poverty of spirit, of humility, of understanding, of awareness. Continue reading

Hungry for More Than Christmas Cookies

Today I was supposed to go to Weight Watchers.  Instead I made Christmas cookies.

And by that I mean I made Jeans Bars, so named because they’re guaranteed to make your jeans tight.  Yeah.  I know, I know…

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But, it got me to thinking about the food I need far more than Christmas cookies.

And the God who has given to all of us who are hungry and thirsty for that “more”…

Continue reading

“That” Person

I’m taking a little August sabbatical, so I’m reposting some entries that you’ve seemed to like from awhile back.  If you’re newer to the blog and know others who might be encouraged, I’d love it if you’d pass along the link.  

I’ve thought a lot about this.

If I ever become an actress (Don’t laugh.  It could happen!), and I have a scene where I have to cry on cue, no sweat.  I’ve got this one covered.  Not because I’m particularly weepy (I’m really not at all, you know).  But because all I’ll have to do is think of “that person.”

You know.  “That person”.

Continue reading

That Person

I’ve thought a lot about this.

If I ever become an actress (Don’t laugh.  It could happen!), and I have a scene where I have to cry on cue, no sweat.  I’ve got this one covered.  Not because I’m particularly weepy (I’m really not at all, you know).  But because all I’ll have to do is think of “that person.”

You know.  “That person”.

I’m betting you have one too.  The person who won’t forgive you.

Or the one you thought loved you, but then betrayed, or rejected, or ignored, or walked away from you.  Or the one who pronounced a judgment that you’ve let define you.

Or the child you love who is making destructive choices, far from Jesus and you can’t control them or fix it and your heart is breaking.

And all it takes is for you to hear a certain song that brings back memories, or drive by a place where you used to feel welcome, or to accidentally see them.  Or not at all.

Broken, broken, broken.

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.  Romans 12:18

You’ve tried the Elmer’s glue of apologies, and prayer, and grace to mend things but they’re still unmoved.  Unresponsive.  They still don’t like you.  Or they don’t like Jesus.  Or they don’t like either of you.

Here’s my advice.  To myself.  And you if you want to try it.  A spiritual practice if you will.

Give up.  Give them up.  Give yourself up.

Hand them over.

Let go.

And breathe.

Breathe in.  “Abba Father.”

Breathe out.  “Do what only You can do…”

Heal.  Restore.  Illumine.  Woo.  Correct.

Give up.  Over and over again.

Who’s “that person” for you?  Who do you need to hand over?