I am not a political person. This is not a political post!
I hate conflict, quarreling, and controversy. This is not a invitation to fight!
This post is way outside my comfort zone, especially in light of current events.
However, as a Christian woman who appreciates and has a presence (albeit small) on social media, when I prayed about how to respond to the SCOTUS Same-Sex Marriage Ruling, the Lord reminded me of the people He has brought into my life who are gay. People who I love and care about deeply.
Those precious friendships, I can write about. Their stories, I can tell.
Allow me to start at the beginning. I was eleven. Halfway through sixth grade, I found myself uprooted from the shelter of a small town elementary school and thrust into the reality of a big city junior high. Thankfully, I found myself fast friends with a neighbor girl, my age and grade in school. She taught me the ropes of changing classes and maneuvering a large, crowded campus.
We were in that teetering-place between little girl and young woman. At school we tried to act cool and grown up, but after school we giggled over secret crushes, shared stories of classroom pranks, and skipped along, while holding hands, all the way home.
Until, the name calling began. "Lesies," other students taunted. I didn't understand. I didn't even now what gay or homosexual or lesbian was. How quickly I learned. Suddenly, because of the meanness of others, my little girl days were over. No more skipping. No more holding hands with my friend. No more innocent childhood.
Many years passed before I was impacted again by the topic of homosexuality. It happened when I heard the story of my first true Christian friend. As she wooed me, a lost and rebellious soul, to Jesus with her sincere faith and contagious joy-filled-love, she openly shared about the pain of her own failed marriage and devastating divorce. She confided how her dreams of "happily-ever-after" had ended, after her Christian husband confessed to her that he was gay and could no longer stay in their marriage.
A few years later, after I had finally surrendered my own life to Jesus, it was my turn. Before my husband appeared on the scene, I met another handsome and kind Christian man. He was raised in a godly home. He loved the Lord. We had deep and meaningful conversations. He treated me with respect and gentleness I had rarely known. "Word on the street" had it, he was planning to ask me to marry him. Instead, he began to withdraw. Finally, he broke off our relationship, leaving me confused and devastated.
Months later, a mutual friend suggested we talk about our break-up. That's when I learned the truth. The great guy, who I dated and had been falling-in-love with, was gay. Because of his faith and upbringing, he tried to make it work between us. But, in the end, he chose another man. I hoped we would remain friends. However, I never heard from him again.
It would be several years before I had another gay friend. (At least, that I knew of). This friendship began with a note, slipped into my hand at the end of a church service. Scribbled on the back of the bulletin, I read, "I have been watching you for a long time." (Shudder). "I feel you are a safe person, who I can trust. Would you be willing to mentor me? I am very shy. So for now, could we do it through letters?"
The young, married woman and I exchanged many letters. She was struggling in her faith, in her relationship with other people, and in her marriage. My friend loved Jesus. She loved and sang all the old time hymns. She was talented and brilliant. Yet, she felt different, unacceptable, an outcast, because she was attracted to women, not men. And, despite her marriage to a great guy, who loved her and accepted her struggle, she didn't know where to turn for answers or help.
Our friendship grew over the weeks and months. We even went from letters to in-person visits. The whole time, all I knew to do was to pray for my friend, to love her, and to point her to the only One I knew who held hope, healing, and answers. It was the place where I, myself, finally found answers and peace from my own questions, struggles, and fears.
More recently, another friend asked me to meet with her. She confessed to me how she wrestled with her sexual identity. She shared how her battle began as an adolescent. While the other girls were starting to go boy crazy, she found herself attracted to girls.
My friend was and is one of the most joyful and caring people I know. Yet, her battle was real. She felt lonely and alone, especially in the church. She sought out counsel. But, she also needed a friend. We talked and prayed together. I shared my stories with her. However, once again, all I knew to do was to bring her to Jesus, to the Bible (which I believe is God's Word), and to continue to talk, love and pray with one another.
I have many more stories I could share, but as I close this post, please remember, I am not a politician!
I am not a fighter! In fact, it would be my heartfelt prayer this post would be a bridge-builder and a peace-maker. Yet, I fear, I will make enemies instead. Please be kind! It is not my intent to hurt or anger anyone.
Most importantly, I am woman who loves Jesus and who loves others! I am someone who desperately needs the love and grace of God every single day. I am a woman who has been supported, challenged and encouraged through the prayers, love and friendship of other Christians along the way.
I have not wrestled with sexual identity issues personally. However, I have and do wrestle with other issues the Bible teaches will keep us from the freedom, fullness and fruitfulness that God desires for each of us to experience through His Son, Jesus.
As I have fought my own battles with lust, lying, anger, gossip, slander, idolatry, pride, selfishness, (just to name a few) I have ALWAYS found answers, help, freedom, victory, and supernatural peace as I've sought God's Word and, eventually, surrendered to His will and best plan for my life.
My hope today is that when I am invited and welcome that I will share with others (gay or straight) the love and grace that, over and over again, have been extended and expressed to me.