I wrote this as a journal entry this past October as I was finally putting words to the tension I had been feeling as I tried to reconcile my faith and sexuality. And in the struggle, I experienced the heart of Jesus like never before. I will share more of my story soon. But for now, I hope these revelations encourage you in some way, dear reader.
I started believing the Bible wasn’t for me because I felt disqualified. I felt disqualified as a reader because I felt disqualified as an ambassador. I felt disqualified as an ambassador because I felt disqualified as a saint. And I felt disqualified as a saint because I was certain that giving voice to my story was the mechanism by which I traded in my title of “redeemed” for the title of “sinner.”
The condemnation I felt from those who feared my process led to a shame which kept me from believing in my worthiness to read the Greatest Love Letter ever written. Feeling condemned and disqualified made me believe I was unloved, because it seemed I had only been loved conditionally. So I was determined to keep myself apart from those who didn’t love me by keeping my distance from the God in whose name they revoked their love. I went from being on the inner circle and feasting with the righteous to begging for scraps on the margins with all of the other outcasts. But then, when I looked around, I realized Jesus was wandering on the margins too. He was among the outcasts.
And my deconstructed faith began to be rebuilt, piece by piece, taking on a different form than before. Because once I realized that Jesus was never in the inner circle, the entire construct and conduit through which I had practiced my faith for nearly two decades began to crumble. And in its place arose a raw, unpolished vessel for my faith called Love.
I had heard of Love before. How it summoned tax collectors out of their criminal lifestyles and compelled them to give back what had been taken, beckoned fishermen to abandon their trade and wander as nomads through new towns, rescued prostitutes from lives of secrecy and shame, inspired friends to carve a hole in someone else’s roof to lower down their sick friend to be healed. I had heard how Love had sustained a man who lost everything he ever cared about, strengthened prisoners who were tortured to near death, and awakened cold and murderous hearts of stone and transformed them into compassionate hearts of flesh.
But I hadn’t felt love from the pulpit or pews after coming out as gay. I felt fear, loathing, condemnation, pity, and shame.
Yet there on the margins, hungering for acceptance and worthiness, I found Love in the person of a falsely accused criminal – a radical teacher whose ideas were mocked and ridiculed by religious leaders. I found Love in the person of a King in rags – with the rough hands of a carpenter and the fiery eyes of a revolutionary. I found Love in the weathered face of a Middle-Eastern Jew who remained silent when beaten, falsely accused, and murdered.
I found comfort in the presence of a man who lived simply and without much fanfare so that I could live wholly. And I knew I could trust him. Because he wasn’t like those on the inside who declared me unworthy. He was a friend of the outcasts and he invited himself to my home for dinner, not to change me, but to show me that Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
And Love is not afraid of being misunderstood. Because Love knows no fear. And Love has nothing to prove. And Love whispers while fear shouts. And Love enters into our story and breaks bread at our table and shows us that we are worthy, even when we feel unseen. Because Love cares less about conforming to systems and more about what is within us.
Love never speaks death but always Life. Love heals instead of wounding. Love builds bridges instead of walls. Love speaks with authority and humility rather than self-righteousness and pride. Love is gentle, love is kind. Love is patient and does not boast. Love binds up the broken-hearted and encircles the forgotten and whispers, “You are remembered. You are found. You are seen.”
So now I am learning to lean into Love instead of letting fear keep me from Love. We are safe on the margins. We are seen, we are accepted, we are made to feel welcome. And home is in our midst because Love is here to stay.