I wrote this post a couple of days ago, but waited to share it. I was focused on how much I might lose by “coming out”. Friends, family, fellow church members, co workers, readers of my books may disagree with where I stand. But, I decided that it was more important to publicly state what’s been rolling around in my heart for several years now. And to be true to the ones who have inspired me. This is for all those who I once failed to recognize, who I was blind to for a long time. With apologies that it took me so long to see.
Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment. James 12-13
I’ve been reposting a lot on Facebook. As I have questioned teachings I’ve heard for more than a half century, my religion is no longer a comfortable fit. Like a pair of shoes you’ve outgrown, trying to walk the same way is not an option. In fact, it is easier to go barefoot, to strip off all the trappings of the past and start anew. Even though rocks and weeds hurt my bare feet once protected by my old beliefs. After my most recent repost, a friend called. She said, “I want to know what you think.” And she listened without interrupting as I articulated for the first time, the dramatic leap I have taken. Then, she helped me to realize that the leap which feels so different started a long time ago. She reminded me of a Bible class I taught many years ago where I wrote on the whiteboard, MERCY TRIUMPHS OVER JUDGEMENT. Even then, I was learning to think and believe a different way. My changing heart continued on my first trip to Guatemala where I fell in love with first, a boy, and then, a nanny. and then, two interpreters and finally, a people and a country so different from my home that I might as well have travelled to the moon. I learned so much about love and compassion as my heart was broken and then, reassembled in a completely new way. When you fall in love with an “alien”, all aliens are not scary anymore and you understand why someone would desperately want to come and live in the country of the “free and the brave”. For the first time, I thought about immigration with the faces of people I know shaping my opinions. Likewise, my friendship with a gay man and his husband caused me to rethink my long-taught beliefs about homosexuality. They are people who have the most reason to hate, but face the world with love, grace and acceptance. My mind again shifted. From there, I studied the civil rights movement learning that the very denomination I belonged to was created to uphold slavery and racism and found myself embarrassed to identify with my church home. Uncomfortableness with the treatment of women in the evangelical church that I had stuffed upon learning that my well qualified college roommate could not get a job leading music in my denomination again rose to the surface. I began to wonder every time I entered my church’s doors if the people I loved would be welcome there. And when I realized that they would not, I made the decision that neither would I go there. So, what did I tell my friend that I believe? I told her I believe in Jesus. And that I stand where He stood. With the immigrant. With the abused and marginalized. With people of color. With gays and lesbians. Bisexuals and transgender. With children. With the poor. I stand on the side of love. With Jesus.