Twenty-Five. The Ache In Achor.

Oh, Indulgence
what I gave to satiate you!

All for silver, gold, and a cloak of brilliance

I coveted and took
witheld and hid
stood indignant, covered myself with pride and fear.

Oh, Israel
What I did to trouble you!

Lies, shame, and a crime of proportion
I earned my stones
invoked judgment
offended counsel, tainted the nation with ashes and crimson.

Oh, Hosea
what You’ve done and given to restore me!

Romance, vineyards, and a gateway of hope
You persuaded and promised
torn and healed
revived tenderly, dressed wounds with dignity and white.

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Nineteen. In, Mostly ‘Out,’ & The Spaces Between. Part III

The first step in all of this meant admitting my total helplessness to restore myself or to be this awkward super Christian thing I formerly let people and even myself believe I was. As Brennan Manning or Donald Miller would both echo in their books, (Ragamuffin Gospel and Blue Like Jazz respectively) it is better to be a beggar at the door of God’s mercy than to live in rich man’s delusion.

I had been the “pharisee,” I had been the “sinner,” and now I was coming into an understanding of myself as a child of God in a way totally unexperienced up until that point. As it turns out I think we’re all a bit self-righteous at times, a bit rebellious at times, weird at times (most of the time) but all the more immeasurably loved by the Father. Amazing grace they call it and more than just saying that, singing that, or accepting that just as an idea it was becoming more and more of a transformative reality. I had been asleep and God came and woke me up. He woke me up and laid out the next steps of the path.

So after all this wooing and all the milage made I had the opportunity to transfer to Columbia International University which in its conservative approach to the Bible and lifestyle choices made me incredibly nervous… but I was just compelled that this was where I needed to be to start grappling with what I was finally able to reference as “same sex attraction.”

[…Which I’d like to just pause and laugh at because , well, that’s a really formal and impersonal phrase for something that hasbien (don’t act like you didn’t know that was going to get thrown in here)…and is incredibly informal and deeply personal. ]

August of 2010 rolled around and it marked my first exposure to group therapy and accountability partnership. I was received by a school and a congregation that made it clear that this fight was not my own. I was shown that God’s primary vehicle for waging war against my struggles, doubts, and insecurities was going to be His people…His Church and this was just as alarming as it was enchanting. 

There was room for me at the Table. And I became acquainted with the strangest and most beautiful sense of belonging .

Since this time I have stumbled along this funky …but very narrow path of sanctification, experienced defeat, known triumph, and been delivered of so much the confusion and shame that characterized the days of this former life. I’ve learned that there are no unique or ‘worse’ ways that we fall short but rather we’re all these peculiar hypocrites in transition…people who are no longer who they used to…but aren’t quite yet who they are going to be. I’ve learned that whether or not my impatience, my indulgence, my pride, or my ‘gay’ gets prayed away …I am nevertheless empowered to live a life free of the chains and identifying powers those things used to have on me.

I am learning what Philip Yancey calls “God’s alchemy of Redemption,” that God’s power is precisely in and through weakness, NOT in the absence of it. I am a daughter, a rascally one I’ll say though…of the Father and through all of life’s questions I am being  sustained by His promises. So whether ‘healing’ means that my ‘orientation’ changes, I form one specific attraction for a male spouse, or I live my life in celibacy, I am not my sexuality & neither are you, and  I count it privilege to be a part of the depth, height, and width of God’s true love. 

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” – Jim Elliot

Seventeen. In, Mostly ‘Out,’ & The Spaces Between. Part I

Ambiguity aside, this is the story [most names omitted.]

When I was 14 I became persuaded that the meta-narrative Christianity asserted to describe the nature of reality was absolutely true. From early childhood I had been really captivated by humanitarianism (thank you Oprah) and was discontent with the notion that there was nothing to account for that. Science had told me ‘how’ things in the universe happened but the resolve for ‘why’ seemed quite insufficient. I thought other world religions were appealing, sexy (if you will) but when exposed to the faithful and loving witness of a small  faith community and the biblical account for where we came from, why we are here, and where we are going something started to happen. Intuitively, or so it would seem, I knew this had to be true, and more than simply having to be true I was driven to a sense of responsibility. Responsibility for operating independently and autonomously of a divine Creator’s purposes, responsibility for my selfishness, my impatience, my pride, and ultimately my brokenness. I wasn’t really sure what to call this at the time but it was like all at once I was overwhelmed with the notion that no matter how squeaky clean my life appeared to be, this was all wrong. I was wrong about God. I was wrong with God…and the deepest parts of me began to crave change in that in a way beyond my own capacity. Under the crushing weight of sin and this personal responsibility broke the light of the gospel. For the first time the whole Jesus thing made sense. It was amazing, groundbreaking, and because it is impossible to avoid Christianese in posts like this, I was what the Scriptures call reborn.

So everything started changing. And I was infatuated. I dove head first into church activities, retreats, conferences, music, movies, youth rallies, and the ministry opportunities within the previously mentioned faith community as well as the ‘Church’ at large within my public high school. I really was growing in love with God, the person….not the ideology,philosophy, or system of belief and experienced affirmation and acceptance at a place inside me beyond cognition.

But

as you would guess, some frustrations both personal and intellectual began to develop.

You see, I was shuffled quickly into a number of leadership positions within these believing groups and there was sort of this expectation that I had to have all my s together. Whether that came from my adult mentors, the peers around me, or my own prideful habits I can’t be sure, but nevertheless it was a very real and pervasive complex. Somewhere in the midst of learning how to articulate the message of life in Jesus to others I lost sight of my own neediness for the gospel in my own day-to-day living. I can’t explain the specifics of how that happened either… but it was a huge problem and I believe it is something every person trying to follow Jesus goes through.

It’s kind of weird though…because you never really have those thoughts out loud or even to yourself for that matter. You always tell people how desperate you are for God’s unmerited goodness but your life and your heart just exists  “above” that charity. It just feels really ugly to know the same power that conquered the grave lives in you but

you.are.still.just.so.human.

So you run from your helplessness. You try to lie to God. You try to lie to yourself. And unfortunately you successfully lie to other people.

So there I am going through high school doing what I can to try and learn how to interact and worship my savior but yet what He asks of me– a broken and contrite spirit– I just refuse to yield. So I internalized.

My doubts, my questions, the thinking struggles, and the feeling struggles as well.

You see, as sure as I was that Jesus was the Son of God and totally worth my life’s complete devotion I was also pretty sure that what seemed natural and attractive to me in terms of sexuality and gender were condemned at least 8 times in the Scriptures. What I am trying to say is that I found superior intimacy with other females and I did not know how to keep that exclusive from physical attraction. There seemed to be no choice in the matter and in the same way that I had come to understand my salvation as simply “happening” to me…in so also was all this gay stuff. Based on the notorious reputation of the Church in responding to homosexuality I was miles from being able to deal with it and so I responded with this idea that I would “just not act on it.”

Such a notion worked quite effectively until I met someone who really captivated both my heart and mind

…and from there the flood-gates burst forth.