Whoever you are, I’m writing to you about a thing called life. A word that seems so simple, yet carries the weight of the world. Life is made up of many beautiful things, but also a lot of broken things. And sometimes it’s the broken things, the broken memories and the broken hearts that produce the most beautiful lives. Why is that? There seems to always be hundreds of questions flooding my brain. I don’t think my brain ever really rests. I just question a lot of things. Especially now. I am in a huge season of questioning what does friendship mean? What does love mean? What is the function of the church? A little over two months ago, I came out as gay. It’s been something I’ve contemplated for years and finally just got so fed up with trying to fight something that was so natural. So right. So me. I tried and tried to like guys. I’d date them for a month or two and find a reason to break up. I never really accepted myself as gay until I met Jess. I fell in love with her the moment I saw her on August 12th, 2017. Prior to this interaction, love at first sight seemed like a myth to me. But that day it became a reality. I fell in love instantly. And in that moment, and the following 72 hours with her, nothing else in the world mattered to me. Because I felt 100% comfortable with her. I felt happiness and attraction but more than that, I felt like me. Truly me. The me I’ve been hiding for years. The me I’ve been praying away. The real me. I felt alive. For the first time in my life really. I don’t mean a spiritual life, I mean physically. I felt like I was breathing my first breath and really and truly living. And for the first time in my life, I accepted myself. The hardest part about this whole process was my friends. Most of my family, took it pretty well. I don’t think it was a huge shocker to anyone. No one was shocked by any means. They weren’t exactly supportive or excited, but they didn’t push me away or condemn me and that meant the world to me. My “friends” on the other hand, well most of them, didn’t exactly respond in the way that I had hoped or thought they would. Several in particular said some things that really hurt me. Things I may never be able to forget about. In no way am I saying I hate these people or wish bad things for them, but I will never choose to spend my time with someone who only seeks me out when they see me taking a path in which they do not agree with. That is not friendship in any way, shape, or form. This happened more than once. Time and time again, after coming out publicly, my “friends” would text me and want to meet up or grab coffee or catch up. When I haven’t heard a word from most of these people in months but now that I’m gay, somehow I become a priority in their lives. No thank you. I am not asking for or expecting to gain the approval of Christians nor am I asking them to clap their hands and rejoice. But I do expect them to be the church, and act like Jesus. And as far as I know, Jesus loved people where they were at. Period. He did not look at someone and tell them how disappointed he was in their decisions nor was He shocked by the things that they did. He did not continually tell them that the choices they were making were wrong and sinful and fleshly. But instead do you know what He DID do? He went to their house for dinner. He was active in their lives. He washed their feet. He served them. He treated them as people. He laughed with them and he did life with them. He listened to them and He. Loved. Them. The past couple months I have been reading the gospels and really studying how Jesus reacted to situations, what he said, how he acted and how he responded. Because as a follower of Jesus, I want to imitate that. Story after story and parable after parable, Jesus welcomes people. All people to the table. One specific verse in Luke chapter 10. Peter asks Jesus, “Lord, how do we inherit eternal life?” and Jesus responds, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might. and Love your neighbor as yourself. Do this and you will live.” If this doesn’t make you take a step back and evaluate your motives and your actions, I believe it should. Do THIS and you will live. Jesus doesn’t list off a bunch of rules or laws. He says to love. And what is love? By Biblical definition, Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. That is what true love is.
While I do understand that the motive behind many of these people’s texts or calls is pure, the delivery sure does not feel that way. When I haven’t heard from most of these people in months and all the sudden everyone wants to hang out and be friends? Where were you guys this summer? Six months ago? Where were you during the fight? And why would I give you any say in my life if you haven’t played a role consistently ever? I’ve made a decision and you can stay or you can go. But quit standing idly in the hallway calling me to come there when I have already made a decision. I am not saying I don’t want these people in my life or as friends, but when the basis of our friendship is contingent on my sexuality, that is not a friendship at all. I don’t really have a point with all of this except to say that I am truly shocked at the amount of people who have walked out of my life due to this decision. Now I understand why there are so few LGBT members in the church today. No one wants to be surrounded by a sea of people who feel the need to correct their lives and tell them how to live. We are adults and fully capable of making our own decisions. However, we could use some friends and if we don’t find them in the church, we will find them elsewhere.
So, like I said at the beginning. Life is made up of a lot of beautiful things, but also a lot of broken things. Your role as a human being and as a follower of Jesus is to love people where they’re at. Period. If someone asks for your thoughts on something, then by all means, share. But if not, please don’t. I cannot tell you how many individuals have reached out to me, only to tell me that they were worried for my soul. But where are these people in the day to day journey? If you are truly interested in my life and concerned for my decision and my heart, invest in my life. Come to the gym with me. Come make dinner with me. Come have coffee with me and have a normal conversation about something other than my sexuality because I can assure you, there is much more to me than that. Through this whole process, I have found so much love and grace at the foot of the Cross. I have spent more time with Jesus in these past two months than ever before in my life. Because I am so crushed by the rejection I’ve experienced from so many believers, that I need Jesus now more than I ever have. And through this process, I have discovered that I had a lot of convenience friends. A lot of people who were in my life when I was believing what they believed. But the day that changed, people walked out in the blink of an eye. No matter what the world says, whoever you are, you are loved. You are valued. You are cherished. You are known. You are chosen. You are wanted. Your feelings are valid. And you are treasured by the King of Kings.
Let me finish with this, if you have stuck around and continued to be my friend through this season of my life, thank you. From the bottom of my heart. Because friendship is one of the sweetest gifts that The Lord gives. So, to the few that have stuck around and the ones that have stepped up and just reminded me of their love for me despite my actions, thank you. I appreciate you. And to the ones who have offered to sit down and hear my position with no intention of correcting me or condemning me, but simply to learn, thank you. And to those who still disagree with my decision but choose to treat me the same way, thank you. And if you have decided to walk out, that’s okay too. I forgive you, and I’m moving forward. I release the bitterness and the anger and I am letting go. I will continue to pursue Jesus every day of my life. One final thought, before you open your mouth, think about the power and the impact of your words. You have the power of life and death in your tongue (Prov. 18:21) so choose your words carefully. It could prevent someone from taking their life. My friend Lacie took her life 11 months ago today. There were many reasons, but I remember one day having a conversation about how she felt so misunderstood and so rejected by the church. So next time you feel The Lord asking you to “correct” someone, simply try being present in their life. They might just need a hug and a friend. And maybe you could be that person.