In preparing for the blessed opportunity to be with PFLAG-Chicago on July 15, I was so mindful of the long journey I’ve taken. It feels more like concentric rings on a tree than a journey through strangely disparate lands, though.
A fundamentalist Baptist childhood
a graced evangelical college chapter (laced with the pain of the closet)
the finding of sanctuary and healing as a young adult lesbian in an intimate LGBT-welcoming church (Grace Baptist Church)
the journey of ministry call and the fires of social justice awakening at Chicago Theological Seminary
a season of pastoral leadership that brought new rhythms of wellness and passion for personal and community health
(including spiritual paths and places!)
new paradigm shifts that make peace and prosperity a reality, and call me to build yet more bridges.
What is the impact of all of this?
More than ever, I know that my part to play in justice-making is more of a healing and bridge-building role than an activist’s battle strategy.
I look around at the volatility of our times and the fervent opponents to diversity and solidarity. What I see and feel is the brokenness we all share in the web of the Ego: fear, insecurity, anger, aversion, enmity. No prejudice which would withhold safety or equality from other groups is VALID, and must be challenged and overturned. But I trust more than ever this Knowing: ALL EMOTIONS ARE VALID. (By valid, I simply mean that people are having whatever experience they are choosing to have, and it is not my place to judge these difficult feelings.) While we do the necessary work to persuade, and to “lobby” and to convince minds and to gain votes for the sake of more just laws, we can either hold a transcendent and redemptive hope for all (New Creation) or simply replay the unsustainable script Winner Takes All with its short-term gains.
The social and political opponents of LGBT diversity, or transracial solidarity, are caught in the grips of age-old fears of difference and projections of blame and anger that the New Testament might call “the flesh.” But I am letting go of the battle mindset that “spirit” opposes “flesh. The Rainbow Journey has taught me that this idea does great internal damage to our personal spirituality and integrity. And, how often do we make our group out to be the ones who need to battle those “Others!”
Time and time again, when I’ve set a different course and nurtured a different energy, I’ve found that hearts and minds of opponents open up to new encounters and relationships. People long for a little respect and dignity; our brothers and sisters who are most afraid and angry, who are most caught up in emotional and social barriers or violence, need the healing presence of bridge-builders who genuinely care for their pain and can honor their authentic desires for Good. It is only then that ideas about the Good, or how to live out the Good, can be reexamined and let go where they are found to be limiting our God.
I most certainly have not “arrived” in my own struggles to occupy such a place. But I am a product of these multiple communities and hold them all, somehow, inside me. I have made peace with that. And I am more convinced than ever that spiritually speaking this is the KEY to “living well.” In my living, coaching and teaching I am focusing on personal transformation and healing. As LGBT folks and allies work on forgiveness, coming our, self-care or faith transitions, they find that the more self-compassion and acceptance we experience the less enmeshed in enmity we need to feel. It is only from this place of spiritual freedom and equanimity that we can truly be the creative change agents that our world so desperately needs.