Wednesday, July 1, 2015

My Grey Area

As I write this blog post please understand that regardless of the views expressed, the point I'd like to emphasize MOST is that I'm 21. I'm young. People tell me I'm a young adult, but most of the time I feel like a baby. I'm still growing in my life, my walk, and most of all my faith. So please understand when I say that I'm coming at this so cautiously & humbly, that my stomach gets a little knot in it when I think of hitting 'publish'. I know the importance of this topic. But for what it's is my heart. 

The world for the past 6ish days has been up in arms because the Supreme Court finally decided to declare the ban on gay marriage unconstitutional. Now, I know there's many "could they even do that?" and "that wasn't legal!" viewpoints to be considered, but for the first few days that wasn't what I saw or understood. What I DID understand was the people it affected....on both sides. I understand the pain {and the subsequent panic} of Christians who feel the need to make sure their beliefs are heard & not misrepresented. And I understand the absolute elation of people who essentially just won something they've been fighting for, for so long. What I don't understand, is as a Christian who falls somewhere in the middle, how I'm supposed to feel. 

Because I'm not yelling. I'm not one of the people who are depressed because SCOTUS passed gay marriage, but doesn't care that there are LGBT & transgender kids committing suicide because they feel so alone & hurt so badly. I break, cry, hurt, and way too often question God, over BOTH. The fact that there are people THAT alone & experiencing so much pain that death seems not only acceptable but preferable, infuriates me & absolutely breaks my heart. I'm somewhere amazingly, annoyingly in the middle. The Facebook battle isn't about me, my beliefs on this particular issue are, I think, ok....I'm just trying to learn to somehow, someway, love people WELL while they're hurting and try to make it hurt less, and right now I'm not sure how to. 

This is made even more difficult by the fact that the LGBT people I've encountered in my life aren't who I've seen the media depicting...they're some of my favorite people I've met ever. They're beautiful & wonderful & encouraging & intelligent & understanding & willing to listen & have time and time again picked me up when life got too heavy, even if they didn't know they were doing it. Almost all of them claim Christ, and do their absolute best to follow him & seek his truth. And yet, some of them are still figuring out if this "same-sex marriage" decision can be done in a God-glorifying, Christ honoring way. They're not trying to stick it to the church, destroy marriage, or put the Christians back in their place. They're part of the church, and just want to be told that their feelings, hearts, and loved ones fit into God's plan somehow. They feel the weight of what they're being asked to sacrifice and it's unbelievably hard, and so often I think we forget. I know that there is nothing that should be counted more important than Christ, and that includes ANY sexuality or future relationship that ANYONE might have or hold, but so often that's not a future we as Christians are asked to lay down. They're not (truly) who all the yelling & hatred & disgust is about either. I realize they may be the minority here, but they're the ones I encounter. And I'd like to love them well. 

I think here I should say: personally, I believe homosexuality is wrong. I believe it is not what the Lord intended, and I believe the Bible provides evidence that yields that belief its foundation. But I think I should also say: this is the hardest, most painful belief I have ever had to admit to holding. And I have never, ever, ever in my life wanted so badly to be wrong about something. EVER. But as of right now, June of 2015, it is what I believe. 

That being said, I would like to believe there's a world where I get to believe that, and still be with my hurting friends while they are in pain. The world seems to have answers for how to deal with Christians who seem to hurt more people than they help, and the Church seems to have answers for unsaved LGBT members who attack Christians for being close-minded & hateful. But for those who fall into both circles, both the ones figuring it out & the ones that have, I've largely experienced confusion. 

So I suppose my blog post at this point has served two objectives: one, to say that in the midst of epic culture shift & the confusion of much of what has been considered "normal", I am just as confused as everyone else. But two, to offer my (probably not very valuable) two cents and careful. And I hesitate to say that, because I am young & still in college & so amazingly inexperienced at dealing with the world & standing up for Christ. So I say this humbly & open handed....but please. There are so many people that aren't trying to ruin America or destroy the institution of marriage or rip apart truth or come for the church or any of the other accusations I've watched be thrown. They're just trying to feel like they matter, that they're humans & they count for something. That they're valued & seen & have a place within humanity to make their mark & offer their gifts. They are looking for who they are. What better place for people, also sinners whom Christ have chosen and who are also STILL LOOKING FOR ANSWERS (because identity is literally something we all deal with) to come alongside so we can all figure it out together? 

And thirdly ("oh my gosh I thought you said two? Just hush already!" I know, I know so sorry), a wonderful (new) friend reminded me this week, that God doesn't need me to fight His battles for Him. I don't say that as an excuse to never share my beliefs or opinions (clearly), or to ignore or run away from our cultural conflict. But I do say it as a comfort. It's important to stand for truth....but if that stance ever causes me to act unloving or un-Christlike it's nice to know that I can step down & trust that God has this situation truly, absolutely under control. That He is sovereign. That He is loving but also just. That He sees, understands, and hurts for people more than I could ever imagine or begin to. That He will be glorified, REGARDLESS. And that ultimately, my calling as His child is to love people, and do my best in my broken attempts to cause people to look past me & up to see matter what conversation we're having. 

And now, I'm going back to my life. Excited, confused....and kind of okay. I don't have all the answers....I don't really feel like I have any of them. And that's why it's such an unbelievable honor & blessing to be able to walk with people as we find them together. Yes, there will be hurt in the future. But there will also be joy. And ultimately, as cliche as it sounds (and I've seen this flying around too....), this earth is so temporary, and not going to last forever. I don't say that as an escape or a consolation, like "yeah, they passed same-sex marriage, but it's okay cuz heaven", I say it as.....well, as peace. Like my pastor said on Sunday, as the eternal validation that every moment of pain felt on earth will be everlastingly worth it, when we all finally look on Jesus face.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Almost A Year Later

The last time I sat down to type out a blog post was last August, a few weeks before I headed back to South Carolina for weddings, reunions, and my junior year of college. I remember sitting in front of my computer, hands poised over the keyboard, waiting for some sort of inspiration. As the minutes ticked by I shifted from waiting for inspiration, to waiting for any sort of traceable or write-about-able feelings (welcome back to the words that aren't actually words). Eventually I just sat and waited for ANY sort of thought that would actually allow itself to be voiced or communicated, before finally having to admit that the only thought running circles in my head was: I miss Daniel.

It was Junior Year, and I missed Daniel.
I was on my way back to South Carolina, and I missed Daniel.
Classes were starting, and I missed Daniel. And on it went.

Then we got back & the school year took off & I started to lose myself in new memories and new friends and old friendships that felt new again. And it was good. I lost myself in the theater program and our theater babies and so many wonderful things and thought "this is where I want to be".

But after a few months, my world started to numb down. The highs weren't so high, and the lows weren't so low, and eventually everything evened out in a kind of mundane, lukewarm, repetitive form of existence. I got up and I went to class and I saw my friends and I was happy and sometimes sad, but not much seemed to matter. I started to realize that I had questions & doubts & deep issues at the very heart of who I was about God & goodness & hope & what it meant to cling to Christ in a world where it seemed like nothing was certain and everyone faded in and out. And I got scared. So I retreated back into the now several months old, painful but simple mantra: I missed Daniel.

I was sad because I missed him. I was hurting because I missed him. I was upset and doubting and restless and seeking peace because I missed him. And eventually it just became something I defensively went to when life was hard: this awful thing had happened, so of course I wasn't okay. After a while I stopped feeling altogether.

But God, because He's God, was insanely persistent....and eventually I had to admit that there was a lot going on that actually had nothing to do with Daniel, and everything to do with me. I didn't know where to start, so I just never did. And God, again because He's God, was insanely good and handed me a lot of people who, all this past semester, loved me an insane amount & never stopped. Ever. They still do it on an almost daily basis. And I started to feel things again.

So there it is. The reason I haven't written anything in almost a year, is because for almost a year I've had nothing to say. I had no answers, and I had no fixes, and I had absolutely nothing to contribute past "life hurts right now, and that's rough". But after a year of what I believe was the Lord giving me an insane amount of space & loving me like crazy from far away through wonderful beautiful people I never expected, I'm finally starting to think about some of the things I've learned. The most important of which I've found is:

The church is insanely important. And I don't mean the church in the building down the street that meets on Sundays....I mean the body of Christ. Christians, doing life together, Monday through Saturday. People who walk up and ask "are you okay" and legitimately want you to tell them if you're not. Friends who sit up with you until 4 AM because you cried for an hour, then laughed hysterically at things that weren't that funny for two, and appreciated it when they said nothing & kind of made fun of you before they sent you to bed :p Family that aren't family because blood, but are because Gospel. And clearly I should be more eloquent with this, and probably will be at some point, but there it is.

As always (it seems like every blog post I come back to this) I am beyond grateful for a God that lets me go nowhere, while also still somehow letting me think I'm running away. I am thankful for a God who watches me & an El Roi who sees me when I think I'm hiding. I am thankful for the way He loves me through my friends, my theater family, my ACTUAL family, and the close circle of beautifuls that have seen & taken care of me every single day. And I'm thankful for grace, because this year has shown me more than anything that I don't even know the questions to ask, much less the answers to look for.

So here's to my blog taking on a slightly new twist. I probably won't write as much, and it might not be as "easily wrapped up in a bow" as previously. Life has become significantly more complicated, or at least it seems like it right now. But I suppose that's essentially what growing up but trying not to grow old means. And we'll see how it goes.