Thursday, July 2, 2015

Dear LGBT Friends...

First off, I don’t think you should write a “Dear Friends in the LGBT Community” letter to post on-line unless you actually have friends in the LGBT community. The word “friends” just sounds so superficial and condescending when it’s followed by a lecture of extreme disapproval.  

That being said:
Dear Friends in the LGBT community,

For the past few days I’ve been trying to figure out what to say to you in light of the reactions by many to the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize gay marriage last Friday. I felt a rush of emotion that bordered between mortified and embarrassed because of what I was hearing and seeing. I honestly couldn't believe that people who love to think of themselves as Christians could be so rude and hateful. I was also drowning in posts and open letters from Pastors who wanted to make it clear that they love you but not your lifestyle. I can only imagine what it felt like to see all of this verbiage come your way and still try to hold your head up anyway. I’m sorry for the offense and hurt that this has caused you. I’m sorry that people use the name of Jesus to be rude and insulting. I know what it’s like to be judged and I hate the feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt that comes along with it.

You and I don’t share the same lifestyles, but I truly believe that we share the same needs. In fact, the human race shares the same need, it’s just buried beneath the rubble of life’s chaos and we fail to dig deep enough to find it and give it the attention that it deserves. The need to be loved and accepted can be so overwhelming within the human experience at times, that it causes people who feel like outcasts to become severely depressed and sometimes suicidal. This despair is not limited to race, sexual orientation, gender or economic background. Everyone needs to be loved…absolutely everyone. We were born that way.

I spent the bulk of my formative years believing that I was a mistake and unlovable. I struggled with low self-esteem and depression my whole life. I’ve walked away from more misjudged friendships than I can imagine…hell, sometimes I limped away badly bruised and broken. But on the upside, I’ve encounter one particular relationship that has changed the course of my life forever. I cannot use enough words to describe how adored I feel on a daily basis. The validation is overpowering at times and I need to step back and ask myself: “Can someone actually be this loving and accepting of me 100% of the time?” I even walked away from religion because of this love and have not regretted it one bit.

I’m sharing this for one specific reason. Last night a friend posted on fb that the first trans-gender suicide hot-line is now up and running in the US. It’s called Trans Lifeline 877-565-8860. I want you to use it and any other resource like this that comes your way for the LGBT community if you feel that you can’t go on living with so much pain. Please, don’t end your life, when it can be turned around with love and compassion.

My intervention came in the way of what I might call a spiritual resuscitation. I was alone in my tiny apartment in my early 20’s and I had a major panic attack come over me one evening. I was still reeling from being ousted from a religious/cult community that I had known practically my whole life. I moved to a different state because I had lost almost all of my friends and some of my family members including siblings, which has lasted until this very day. This night, I remember collapsing to the floor and begging God for help. I did it despite the fact that I was led to believe that He was not there for me anymore.

Despite being told that I had sinned too much for God to hear me, I took a chance anyway and spoke out loud through tears and fear and asked for help. I didn’t know what help meant then. I didn’t know if I was going to have to join a religion or worse go back to my old one. All I knew is that I was tired of feeling unloved and alone.

I don’t remember much else about that night, accept that I finally stopped crying and calmed down and by some strange series of spiritual occurrences, God began to send loving people my way. It was something new to me. I was usually embarrassed about not having family and friends. I didn’t like my own back story, so I just pretended to be okay as much as I could. But these friends cared and listened. One person in particular asked to pray with me at work when I was having another breakdown in the ladies room. (Yes, I was a mess.) She stayed there with me and talked me through it. Despite how bad a person I thought I was, she kept inviting me to church and being my friend even when I said NO WAY!

God reached into my life in a unique way to show me love. He used the very same creation that was used to reject me, he used people. I still remember the moment that I decided to go to church with my friend some 23 years ago. I was just as amazed as she was. That day I publicly accepted Christ’s love and got baptized and for many years belonged to many different churches. But recently, I’ve felt a pull away from church life and its conventional ways, so I no longer belong to organized church. I do however still belong to the greatest love of my life, Christ. My relationship with Jesus has been strengthened more because of this change and I can sense His presence with me always, no matter where I am, which is why I’m writing this letter to you.

If you are in a place in your life where you have experienced all the rejection you can take and you've been told or led to believe that God is not there for you, I’m here to tell you that it’s a bold face lie.  If you've had to leave home, run away or been ousted by your religious community, please know that you can still cry out to God and He will hear you. God was not behind such hurtful behavior. If you have been smiling and pretending for everyone else around you but inside you feel pain because of how you’ve been labeled and treated, I want you to know that God has no labels. He only has love.
There are a lot of blood thirsty people in the world parading around as God fearing Christians. They use the Bible as a tool of wrath and judgment but through hypocrisy excuse their own vile behavior. You don’t have to answer to them. In fact, you don’t have to engage them at all. If they are constantly condemning you to hell and telling you that you are all that’s wrong with the world, it’s because they haven’t gotten to know the true love of God, they know their religious traditions but that doesn’t always equal God.

Many have been wounded by these people and they will have to answer for that someday. But I want you to know that there is a remnant of people in the world who love God and have been down enough to have compassion and love for the hurting. Most won’t claim to be evangelical experts and really don’t care to be. Most of us are just people who never forgot that moment when we couldn’t take it anymore and cried out for help. I hope you come to know more of those people throughout your lifetime. I hope you come to know how incredible and loved you are so that you can spread that same love to someone who’s been hurting like you. I hope that you find joy and peace if it’s missing from your life like it was mine.

I leave you with one thing, if you can remember nothing else, remember this: God.Is.Love. Any other message is counterfeit...