Praying for Jen…..

(Before diving into today’s post, I want to reiterate my goal here at grace and a safe place is for people to have a spot to work through a difficult journey.  It is not my desire to push a certain theology, though mine is shared in today’s post.  It is still my mission to provide resources and perspectives for those who are personally affected, and those who hope to gain insights for their own growth and transformation in this community of beloved souls.)

I have been silent for quite a while. It’s hard to explain why. I’m not sure that I fully understand, or can easily express this latest part of the journey. I think one catalyst to speak now is the Jen Hatmaker interview and the result, even though the result can easily be predicted. I was immediately drawn to pray for her, hoping that she realized the cost before proceeding. I suspect she did, and chose to go forth. Praying is something that had been quite a rarity for me lately. So it felt very precious, to be prompted. I have spoke of the “loneliness”, and it has been very intense lately. I think partly due to me walking away from church mostly, and partly feeling that God has been silent. I feared that He had either walked away, or had been taken from me. I strongly suspected the second reason. The “script” that has been embedded in me in my corner of christianity has been playing into the silence with great intensity.  Because I support same sex marriage, and I embrace the full inclusion of LGBTQ people into faith communities, I have felt the growing distance with my faith as I have known it, and with my faith community. That old script has kept playing in my head. “You have caved in to culture.””You are on a slippery slope.””You don’t value scripture anymore,” and because “scripture is unchanging.””God only hears the prayers of righteous people, so He won’t hear yours.” This underlying current of hostility, or mistrust, of “science.”The very common answer,”it’s a choice to live that ‘lifestyle’.” The idea that this is just a spiritual issue (while ignoring that God’s WHOLE world is spirit, mind, heart, physical, relational). The idea that people need to believe the same theology in order to belong. And I could go on, but you get the picture. (Disclaimer: I always want people to know that our local church that we had been in was very supportive of us.  We were not asked to leave, or anything even close to that.)

I think the one that makes me so angry (and quite frankly turns me into someone I do not want to be), is that we (who support full inclusion and SS marriage) are assumed to “not value scripture.”I think this is a common response to people like Jen. That we just “cave in to culture.” Or for us parents, that we choose our children over God.  No.  I choose God and my child over my religion (because my religion may, or may not, be correct).  It’s probably the one response that makes me want to head slap someone!  Just being deeply honest here. You see, when someone begins to respond in this way, it hurts way deeper, than them just having a different theology on this.  I think that most of us can deal with having a respectful difference in theology.  It’s when we are reduced to “not valuing scripture” and so on…that it hurts and fractures relationships. Is my faith journey not equally as valid as yours? Is the result of my intense wrestling not respected and valued because it looks different than yours?  Well, let me inform you. We have studied it with such deep intensity, investment (it is our children and others we deeply love), and sometimes until we are blue in the face. We have prayed. We have pleaded, we have begged, bargained, and so on. We have prayed with groans and cries from our deepest core. And all from a deeply vested interest in eternity. Most of us will always do some of this until we die. And some of us come through that initial firestorm in support of our children, and other LGBTQ people that we love deeply. And feeling no condemnation from the Holy Spirit, but only condemnation from some of His children. You see, we also have the “God” piece of “relationship” with our beloved LGBTQ people. And that changes perspective in a profound way.

One of the ways things that Jen Hatmaker verbalized so well for us, is that we want all of our children to live full, whole lives; to be given the same spiritual support for their marriages and their families. I have recently had two of my three children get engaged, (one same sex and one opposite sex).  I am so excited for both of them, and I will celebrate fully with both marriage ceremonies. I pray that both have a good, deep, rich, and yes, holy marriage. I will do anything in my power to help each of them succeed. And it is my prayer, my greatest hope, that they will both find churches that will fully embrace them, and assist in this lifelong commitment as well.

I have found a good counselor whom I was recently discussing this very thing. I was telling her that I don’t regularly attend church anymore, I don’t pray very much, and do not feel that I have much in the way of a faith community. ( I do have a few very cherished people and you know who you are! I am deeply grateful!) I have felt great loss due to this. I shared how I had this feeling that my God, my faith, and my faith community had been taken from me; all due to this running “script” in my head. Her observations were that faith has always been so important to me; as well as a faith community (in the truest sense, not just attending the same functions), and service had been part of my life. She said that it sounds like my faith needs healing.  I may even need a new community where I am not “on guard,” where I can truly celebrate and seek God and find Him in this season.  Her advice was for me to seek a pastor to come alongside me with a different script than the one running through my head, the one I learned. Maybe that would be a start in healing my faith. And so, this is where I am currently. I’m in the beginning stages of this and I hope you’ll stay tuned. I’ll keep sharing with you.

(p.s. See the Resource page has been updated and there is more information from “all the pieces of God’s world.” There are spiritual resources, but also resources from a science background, one book that looks at not only religion, but culture, politics and how we have gotten to the point we are today. A couple of videos, and some very sad Statistics, etc.)

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