During the week before Easter I found it to be quite fitting that Passion & Passover Week coincided with SCOTUS and Prop 8 and DOMA. Jews were remembering their liberation from Pharaoh’s oppression. Christians were reflecting on the path Jesus traveled from palms at his feet . . . to nails in his palms . . . to resurrected palms holding scars. LGBTs were feeling the weight of oppression lift and were bearing witness on an intensely personal level as our nation nears another milestone in equality and freedom.
I get choked up when I realize historic events are unfolding before me. At such times I feel two distinctly opposite sensations. I’m floating high above the evergreens reaching toward a future of promise and hope. And I’m also being ever more grounded by solid, deep roots that push down into the soil of generations past. The product of both sensations brings a certain expansion of the heart that’s unique to these times of national significance. Maybe it’s what we call feeling patriotic.
And so, I was feeling patriotic on the day the DOMA case was argued before the US Supreme Court. I noted the historic nature of the day with a post on my Facebook wall and then found myself in an argument of my own that was less lofty and more painful. My post included a photo of Edie Windsor, and I said that our grandchildren would learn about her, that she is the Rosa Parks of our generation.
This elicited an immediate response from two of my Christian friends. They were both incredulous and furious. How could I stand up for something that is clearly sinful? How could I compare Rosa Parks to that homosexual? And then came the Bible verses, the righteous anger, even the mention of Nazis. It was all quite predictable and unsettling.
These “friends” demanded to know my “stance” on homosexuality and made thinly veiled accusations that I must not believe the Bible and I may not even be a true Christian. I could feel their anger. I could hear their teeth gnashing. I could picture the stones in their hands. And they don’t even know I’m gay. They only think I might be a gay ally.
As I walk along my path of coming out, I’ve been quite intentional in counting the cost, and this exchange made me acutely aware of the cost that’s coming. On Good Friday I literally counted how many Facebook friends I might lose if I come out on my profile. It added up to about half of them. HALF. I know a few of them will surprise me (one already has), but I also know most of them won’t. Some of them will show their “concern” by sending me Bible verses or telling me it’s sin or a lie I’m believing. Some will just silently disappear. And I’m betting nearly all will be “saddened” by my “lifestyle choice” and will be praying for my “unrepentant heart.”
But there will also be that tiny minority who will continue to listen and walk with me. They will choose love over judgment, grace over condemnation. They will wrestle mightily with their beliefs that they now see are contrary to my experience. They will question God and themselves and what they’ve been taught, and they’ll make the leap to trust and love in the midst of uncertainty. These are the friends worth keeping.
I’ve spent over a week processing that ugly exchange with my Christian friend “Joan.” I’ve noted the pain I felt after reading her comments, the pain that lingered for days. But I also noticed something much more profound than the pain.
In one of her comments, Joan said I must be gay or at least accepting of homosexuality, either of which would be proof that I wasn’t a Bible-believing Christian. I think she said it to rile me up, never anticipating that I was actually gay. Whatever her motivation, I was struck by my internal reaction. My heart didn’t race. I didn’t want to jump out of my skin. I didn’t feel exposed or try to figure out a way to cover over or deflect the comment. And I didn’t want to delete the comment or deny her accusation. I also didn’t feel the need to admit it or out myself then and there.
The only thing I felt in response to her comment about me being gay was . . . peace. Or more accurately . . . REST. My heart was at rest.
Joan didn’t know what she said was true, nor did anyone else, but I knew. And it didn’t make me want to hide. As I re-read and re-read her comment, I felt nothing but rest, and that showed me the other side of the cost I’ve been so carefully counting.
As I’ve walked this path, from being aware of . . . to admitting . . . to embracing my lesbian identity, I’ve gained a whole lot more than it will ever cost me. I’m walking this path with God Almighty, and we’re closer than we’ve ever been. I feel his Presence with every step. I’m stepping toward who he designed, and I feel his delight deepen as I get closer to me. And his deep delight registers in my heart as rest.
That rest in my heart is kind of like the simultaneous floating and grounding I feel during historic milestones. Maybe it’s a kind of patriotism for God. I suppose we call that glory. And I guess the expansion of rest I’m feeling in my heart is what shone on Moses’ face and what Paul talked about in 2 Corinthians 3:17,18.
The week of Passover reminds us of our liberation, and Easter reminds us of God’s glory. In Exodus 33, God told Moses that his glory is his goodness and mercy. As I walk this path of coming out and cost, I am mindful of the rest that comes with God’s Presence. And I realize it’s his rest that expands our hearts and it’s his goodness and mercy that makes our faces shine.