That Rainbow

Forgive me for not writing sooner. Some weeks, it is difficult because of physical pain or because of a hectic schedule; sometimes I simply am wrapped up in the busyness and the goodness and forget to write on here. Last week, the post I wrote didn’t get published because it seemed more suited for the book I have been slowly working on writing and took a break from. I guess this means the break is over and I am resuming writing my spiritual memoir/call to action.

One thing that I have been thinking about a lot lately and wanting to share is related to a question I get from friends and from people who get referred to talk to me. I am often asked how I do reconcile my faith and my sexuality. I see friends and people I barely know alike struggle to accept themselves and struggle to find their place in the church and the place for faith in their life while longing for knowing love and wondering if it is “okay.”

Rewind a few years ago, and you will see the following scene:

I am standing in the kitchen with my friend Jessica at her apartment. We are making dinner together, probably rice and beans cooked in a Nicaraguan style. We are having one of our many deep conversations, and I am pouring out my heart telling her that I am getting to where I think is “okay” for me to be in a relationship with another woman, but that I am not fully there. Jessica, in her patient yet firm and loving way, let’s me know that that isn’t good enough. She tells me that she doesn’t want me to be in a relationship with anyone – female or male – unless I believe that it isn’t just ok, but that it is good.

This conversation really affected me, and it would be some time before I reached that point. Those reasons are too intensive and personal to communicate on a brief blog, and I am still unsure if I even want to discuss them in a book or not, mostly because I am no theology expert or even an amateur theologian – but I am a person and person with a story… Still thinking that one through. (Your thoughts on that are welcome as I am deciding whether to write on that or not.)

There is a passage where Jesus is talking about asking and believing and he asks a question that I had the hardest time believing for a while. He talks about the goodness of God and the gifts of God, and says something to the effect of “If you asked for a piece of bread, what kind of lunatic parent would give you a stone instead? Or if you asked for a fish, what horrible excuse for a provider would give you a snake? Isn’t God greater than that?”

I wasn’t so sure.

I just knew I had been handed a rock – but not just any rock – the gay rock.

The one with a big rainbow painted on it so that everyone would see and know. The one that didn’t seem to be good for anything except to draw unwanted attention and shame. The one that I tried to hide… but that rainbow. That damn rainbow.

I thought I had a snake too. I had to… right? The venomous kind, that injected a poison into me that made me want to do things that weren’t Godly. Things like loving someone… (??) But also venom that coursed in my veins, telling me I was worthless, unlovable, and that I would ultimately be abandoned and condemned. A snake that bit me often, reminding me of the pain and the loneliness and the hopelessness. The snake of shame.

Even once I began accepting myself and started believing that a relationship with a woman was a good which God intended for my life, I still couldn’t let go of this mindset, feeling that God would somehow still give me a rock or snake again, instead of something wonderful.

Now I am in a much different place, and it’s the place I hope all gay and lesbian people of faith will reach.

One of resting in goodness.

I know now, that I have been given a gift. My life as a lesbian growing up in the South, and growing up in the Church and attending a Christian college has given me great insight and empathy for others. I easily relate to people who are “different” or who feel oppressed for a variety of reasons. I have a knack for multiculturalism and an edge in understanding. (Even though all of that comes with the pain and anguish experienced when people are stubborn, non-affirming, or worse – hateful.)

More than that though, I am experiencing the beautiful gift and goodness of marriage. The theology of marriage and how it increases our love for God and neighbor has been captivating me. I am experiencing love in a new way each day with my amazing wife.

This is no rock.

It is bread.

Not just any bread – like the white sliced stuff that disappears off the shelves when snow is in the forecast.

This is homemade, kneaded sourdough – made with care and love and prepared with a loved one in mind. It’s the stuff dreams are made of for this gluten sensitive girl.

I have not been given a snake; rather it is a sweet tasting nourishing fish, caught then cleaned then cooked over a fire of trial and sanctification. Meant to revive and call the senses.

It is a trout.

Rainbow, of course.

That beautiful rainbow.

And I hope for all to see it, believe it, know it. And be thankful for it.

I know I sure am.

Love,

C.

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9 thoughts on “That Rainbow

  1. Followed you over here from a comment you made on Rachel Held Evan’s site. What a beautiful story you have written here! As a straight married woman who grew up in a conservative church and went to a semi-conservative Christian college, I agree with A New Horizon- reading theology is one thing (a helpful, important part of the process), but hearing the personal story of someone such as yourself is what really changes minds and hearts. And although this feels ugly to admit, hearing that you once thought you’d “been handed a rock . . the gay rock” is powerful, in part because it says “I used to think I was wrong, just like you think/thought I’m wrong but now I know different.” I don’t know if that makes sense- reading that you struggled against a homophobic theology that you once “embraced” means you didn’t grow up thinking “anything goes”, rather you had to accept your sexuality and a different idea of how God loves you than the one you grew up with. Its a common ground that many conservative types can understand and then learn from. (I hope this came across as lovingly and appreciatively as I meant it- unfortunately I haven’t had enough practice in these conversations to hone my skills.) I look forward to reading more!

    • Thank you for your kind words. They were, indeed, received well. It makes so much sense, and it’s what I hope people “get.” I certainly did grow up thinking very differently than I do now, and had so much to learn about love. Thank you for the encouragement! I hope you enjoy the other posts, too.

  2. In my opinion, it would be really beneficial for you to share in your book your story of growing to see your future relationships as not just okay but good. While yes, it’s helpful to have that theological expertise, there are already a lot of places and texts where people can find deep theological consideration of this issue. What there’s less of are laymen–real flesh and blood queer Christians without theological expertise like us–sharing their stories. I know for me personally the first major chink in the homophobia I half-internalized due to my Christian high schools was having gay friends and hearing stories of other queer people, not theology. Personal stories just speak to a part of people that I think deep theology alone could never do. Plus, I believe the more we share our personal processes, the more we can help other people who are in the middle of questioning and processing their sexuality and their faith.

    In the past couple of months a post I wrote to process my feelings of being queer at Christian college got shared with a lot of people connected to my university. I was so surprised to see that many people were thankful that I wrote that post and that many people used that opportunity to share with me their own stories. I believe that in sharing your process, you would get a similar response.

    In the end, of course, you know better than me what’s best for your book, but there’s my opinion. (Also, I’ll confess, I’d love to read your process for myself. It’s becoming increasingly interesting to me to see all the different ways people come to terms with their sexuality.)

    • This is very helpful. I am feeling more and more that it is necessary, and will be beneficial to others. In all honesty, I think I am afraid of backlash. It’s kind of the whole “pearl before swine” thing I guess… I know I have been given this beautiful gift, but I am afraid it will be “trampled on” to use an image from Scripture. But I am still thinking it will be worth that risk – if I find a way to deal with hateful comments and hate-mail. Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries… 🙂

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