What I learned from my first PRIDE Parade

When I was a young parent, the beach we frequented hosted a Pride Festival once a year. On that day we would go to a different beach. I can’t remember all that we were afraid of, but the answer is probably somewhere close to everything. We didn’t know what our young child might be exposed to, so it was avoided. (To be fair, it also wrecked the parking)

As that very child came of age, the ineffectiveness of protectiveness was revealed. She is attracted to other women, and covering her young eyes would not change that. And so, twenty years later, I found myself volunteering alongside her at that very same Pride Festival. How did I get over myself?

Continue reading “What I learned from my first PRIDE Parade”

Paying Attention

I’ve been on a journey into a new world of people and thinking, a group that I previously thought of as “others”.  It’s the LGBTQ community, of which my daughter has become a part of since she came out. The good news is that I’ve found plenty of Love in God’s storehouse that overflows for all.  The bad news is that I’ve had to confront a lot of things in myself to get there.

Well, actually both of those news stories are good.

There’s a special kind of challenge for a kid who grows up suppressing something they discover inside themselves, with few role models.  I’ve had to ask myself how I’ve been a part of Continue reading “Paying Attention”

The Haircut

When my daughter came home from college this year in boyish clothes, she asked me to cut her hair.  Short.

Stomach knots.

I’ve been cutting hair since a high school friend taught me to shape his boxy flat top fade.  Taking the clippers to college, short-haired friends flourished and I started charging $4 a trim.  And I’ve been my sons’ garage barber since they had hair.

But this felt different.  She was beginning to look more like a boy, Continue reading “The Haircut”

Wedding Legos

“It may be working, just not for everyone.”

What a strong narrative of marriage and family life is woven into the local church.  It’s surprising given that both Jesus and the apostle Paul were single.

A community wedding under the shade of century old oaks yielded a new “Mr. & Mrs.” this week, in a hillside amphitheater above the town.  Blessed by the pastor, who was already talking about them having kids, the future looks bright for these two who are joining the narrative right on time.

Can I celebrate this marriage while also critiquing how much we celebrate marriage?

At least in one church I can speak about, there are many and often references to the greatness of marriage including sermons titled by it.  Many long-time single folks appreciate a warning before these Sundays, which one or the other friend passes along if we are thinking ahead.  (But this warning system also gets activated on Mother’s Day, pro-life Sunday, same-sex sermon callouts, “God gives and takes away” sermons… should we really have so many Sundays where one part or another of our body needs a warning?)

I confess I do not know how to do this well. Brett Trapp does a fantastic job in his blog and podcast, Blue Babies Pink of applauding the church’s marriages and families while exposing how lonely it is to be around, but not in, them.  “Love is not for you, Brett”, he keeps telling himself, and we feel his pain at attending wedding after wedding, happy for the couple but being poked in the eye with the “you’re single” stick.

Weddings could be accomplished by signing a license in a closet, but weddings are made for community

“Weddings could be accomplished by signing a license in a closet, but weddings are made for community,” we were told at the hillside wedding.  An interesting choice of words for our LGBTQ friends, because if you’re trying to hold together the evangelical doctrines of your youth – but are not attracted to the accepted gender – you will either not be getting married, or getting married in the closet.

It’s different to watch a wedding in your church community before, and then after, realizing your daughter will never be the one wearing the white dress in this setting. To marry the woman of her dreams, should they be fortunate enough to find each other, we’ll need to find a new community – surely joined by parts of the former – to gather under the oak trees and bless the union.

“We’ve prayed for your spouse since you were born,” was the parental toast to the newlyweds.   I confess I don’t understand how prayer works, persistently reminding God of what we want, with God sometimes granting it and sometimes not.  But I know enough about human psychology to know that rehearsing a desire everyday for 20 years skyrockets both expectations and potential disappointment.

Not everyone will get married, not everyone will get married in the way the church wants, not every marriage will last.  Not everyone will follow the overall narrative we’ve laid out and rehearsed week after week.  As I step from year to year, I see more narratives broken, leaving loved ones kneeling like a kid on the playroom’s oval-rugged floor, trying to reconcile the glossy picture on the box with a bunch of emotional lego pieces scattered everywhere.

How free they would be to throw the box away and build the legos into something new. blurryLegos

I am celebrating marriage, knowing that for others to follow a different path does not take away the joy I’ve found in mine.  In many ways, I am living the glossy picture on the box, and maybe that’s why all this has worked for so long without questioning.

At the same time, watching so many legos get scattered after not matching the picture, I’m turning toward the church and asking if the box really needs to be so glossy.  Which part of this is our culture, and which part does dusty-sandaled, single, motley-disciple-choosing Jesus require?

Like the toy instruction’s dozen languages, maybe there are a dozen pictures on the box for how life gets lived, all of them in the company and enjoyment of the creator and their Creator.

♦ weekendswell ♦

You might also enjoy Act Justly and The Haircut

(I trust the wedding family will understand this post is not particular to them or their wedding, as the above is common to weddings in churches anywhere.)

By the way, apparently wedding legos are a huge hit, but that has nothing to do with this post : )

Act Justly

Should we shout for change or quietly be the change?

I could intentionally build friendships across race lines in a culture with overt and residual racism.

I could live out empathy in a church that is not as empathetic as I’d hoped.

I could listen and learn what it’s like to be queer in a straight society.

And none of this requires yelling or fighting the people and systems in power.

But don’t some things require trying to change others too? If we think the train is speeding toward injustice, should we only act justly toward other coach passengers, or use the fire axe to hack into the locomotive’s cockpit, so the whole train can be redirected?

More questions:

What if Martin Luther King Jr. had simply and quietly loved his white neighbor, without also challenging the systems holding racism in place?

Instead of quenching thirst with cups of water from the river, what would it take to engineer a river branch that diverts water directly to the thirsty?

If justice requires working on behalf of those who may be marginalized or just plain hurting, in what ways do we work?

Even as we act in small ways, should we not also dream big?

“To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”¹

So lofty – “with your God” and yet so earthy – “walk humbly”.

Spoiler Alert

This question came up in two separate conversations this week and spoiler alert, we did not solve the dilemma. We each find ourselves in different power grids, systems in place that seem impossible to change.

Someone in the medical field, with its for-profit bureaucracies, only wants to care for their patients face to face, but that often requires looking up and away, using a machete to cut through red tape (Yes, that is a Cake reference).  Unfortunately, freedom fighter and compassionate caregiver are rarely on the same business card.

This could be one of those “use your strengths” things.  If we are diverting the river, we might keep someone running cups between the river and the thirsty mouths, even while others architect and build the wooden trough down the hillside for direct delivery.

Nearly everywhere we find power systems – businesses, charities, churches, schools.

It’s a battle between doing what I can control – loving my neighbor – and fighting for change beyond my control – turning entire organizations or communities a new direction.

It’s a battle of voices:  living between the whisper that says things will never change and the shouting that demands all things must change.  Each voice has its dangers: the shout sets me up for disappointment in others (or offending others) and the whisper finds me sitting on the couch unmoved.

Somewhere in between is an active living that is at least walking forward.  Loving mercy and therefore acting justly.  Now to go find out what that means.

————

¹From the book of Micah 6:8

Studies or Stories

I had some assumptions about being gay. One simple google could have filled a day with studies to back them up – but I didn’t, probably because no one was questioning them in my (mostly) church community. The information sat well because it surrounded and protected a core belief that “homosexuality” was just another behavior – not an identity – that the Bible spoke against. These assumptions filled the castle moat I described in a prior post, protecting core beliefs.

Our loved-one broke those assumptions: her very being went against every one of them, breaking my mental map of how things work. It sent my GPS into a “recalculating” loop, as if my car took a wrong turn and was trying to find a new route to the original destination. True enough, but if the destination was, “protecting my assumptions and beliefs at all costs” then I actually have a bigger problem and need a new destination altogether. Continue reading “Studies or Stories”

Castle Walls

How high are your castle walls?

When you find something that clears your muddy brain water, you do all you can to hold onto it.  You find a truth so you protect the truth.

Soon the truth is a castle wall being surrounded by other “truths” that act like a moat.  Now the truth inside can’t even be questioned without first crossing the moat.

This past year my moat was seriously breached by one particular topic, but now that I’m inside I’m examining the entire castle wall.  It’s scary and exhilarating.

The topic was the church’s views towards sexual orientation.   A view that took a handful of scriptures, unchallenged history, and scientific studies from the 1960’s about how people became gay, and built a moated castle.

That moat was drained when our bible believing loved-one – who was not abused, did not have a poor relationship with her parents, did not choose this path (and in fact fought against it for years) – came out.  One beautiful person who we’d known since birth challenged all the teachings around the teaching.  The moat of misinformation had served to protect not just the doctrine, but the questioning of the doctrine.

Maybe I will have more thoughts on the scripture, but currently it’s the moat of misinformation that concerns me most because it affects how the church treats gays in and out of the church.  (Imagine the anxiety of realizing you’re different from the majority, and having that majority conclude that you chose this path and need to change.)

But this is one issue among many.

We might start with the easy-to-carry good news of who God is and how much He loves us, but over time it becomes a heavy load when we pile on church doctrine and community expectation.  When it becomes an all-or-nothing package, the moat is wide and the barrier has been made bigger than it needs be.  The perception of us vs. them increases, and it is a bigger leap for others to come in.

I’m looking outward to discern what other moats I’ve hidden behind.  It’s vulnerable to be honest – to stand out in the sun with no moat and only half a wall, after years of fearing ‘the outside’.

But the air is fresh.

And I’m catching glimpses of the difference between doctrine and doctor, the Great Physician who is surrounding and healing me in the process.  And with the walls down, I can see so many others who were nearby all along, ready to show and receive mercy with me.

I’m catching glimpses of the difference between doctrine and doctor

♦ weekendswell ♦

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