Four years ago today, I loaded up my shiny new Subaru with all that would fit, and made the long drive from Nashville to Denver.
I was a scared, shell of myself and I felt so alone. But I could taste the sweet freedom that God had waiting for me in the land of the Rockies.
After living in Africa for 6 months, I returned to Tennessee – rocked by reverse culture shock – with a seeming inability to relate to the world I had left before. My faith had been stretched, my theology of doctrine above all else had been eroded by the movement of the Spirit that I had no tidy explanation for. My understanding of Church and my place in it had been shaken and my entire worldview was uprooted.
I came back changed. And resolved to lean into a season of brutal honesty, whatever that might look like.
Four years ago today, I never could have imagined the loneliness, heartbreak, devastation, or agony that awaited me. I never would have imagined that I would barely talk to my family for a year after coming out and living half my life in secret, afraid of being completely cast off.
But I also never would have imagined how much my honesty with myself would completely transform life as I knew it. I never knew how deep friendships could go and how steadfast they would remain, even in the most brutal of storms.
Four years ago today, I didn’t know that I would despair of life completely in 2014. That I almost wouldn’t make it through a year of living in Colorado. That I almost wouldn’t make it at all.
But I also didn’t know that my love for Jesus would grow as my faith in institutionalized religion would fade. And I didn’t know that friends could become so much like family and that family could grow back to a place of love and reconciliation, even if not built on a foundation of agreement.
I didn’t know that I would go to a bunch of faith-based LGBT conferences in 2015, embark on a three week silent retreat in 2016, or launch my coaching business in 2017.
I didn’t know that I would one day feel at home in myself – no longer a stranger to my deepest fears and deepest desires. I didn’t know that one day I would feel free. That my wholeheartedness would sometimes feel devastating, because I was finally allowing myself to feel all my honesty for the first time.
Just as I could not comprehend the agony of my own dying, I could not begin to imagine the beauty and life of my own resurrection.
More and more, I believe there is really something to that radical Jesus. And I’m so grateful that, in my darkest and brightest of days, I never had to walk through it alone.
So here’s to growth. To being brutally honest with yourself. To learning to live in pure authenticity with others. To embracing the hard, the messy, the heartbreaking, the divine, the beautiful.
I hope you find your way out of death and into resurrection.
Those tomb days feel as if they will never end.
But they will. And they do.
Hold onto hoping.