My favorite Christmas present didn’t have to be unwrapped. It wasn’t left under the tree and I’m pretty sure the giver didn’t even realize what a gift it was.
But it’s a gift I won’t ever forget.
After we opened presents Christmas morning, and ate a late lunch, we started watching old home videos of past Christmases. Videos with loved ones who’ve passed. Videos that were really sweet to see.
My cousin got up in the middle of watching and went to the kitchen to make some coffee for all of us and I followed him, to thank him for showing those videos. I reached up and hugged him and as he always does, he said ‘I love you.’
And then he added something that I’d never heard before.
Not from him.
Not from anybody, ever.
He said, ‘just the way you are.’
In that moment I knew that he knew.
I knew that he knew what I’d wanted to tell him – to tell all my family – for so long, but had been too afraid to tell. That I was attracted to women.
Knowing how we’d all been raised, knowing the jokes that had been made, the names called in times past, I feared their reaction to me. I knew how my friends’ families had responded to them years ago – and the things some families still say in 2012. I couldn’t bear the thought of not being wanted – of not being treated the same – by these people who are a part of me.
But here stood the little boy I’ve loved all my life – inside the body of this man who’s like a brother to me – now telling me that he loved me just as I am.
The way God loves me.
No matter what I think or feel or say or do.
Very few people have ever loved me like that.
But that kind of unconditional love changes everything.
I talk to a lot of people who experience same-sex attraction, some who have embraced a gay identity, some who believe that acting on those feelings would be against God’s will for their lives. The one thing we all have in common is a lot of pain and confusion in coming to terms with those feelings – and fearing the people we love would walk away.
I wonder what would happen if everybody had a place to experience that kind of unconditional love?
Family needs to be that kind of place.
Church needs to be that kind of place.
But unfortunately we haven’t talked enough about this to understand the real need.
To have a place to belong and feel safe to express thoughts and feelings without being judged. Without being alienated.
The purpose of this blog is to create such a place for conversation. For asking all the questions we’ve wanted to ask about homosexuality but haven’t felt free to, for whatever reason. For those of us who seek to live as followers of Christ. And for those who don’t.
Sometimes we’ll agree and sometimes we won’t. Sometimes you’ll read thinking, ‘I can’t believe she thinks that!’ I’ll try to keep the posts brief so that it doesn’t take all day to read, but because of that, you may leave with more questions than answers, feeling confused as to where I may stand on an issue. But the thing is, it really doesn’t matter what I think. All that matters is that we create a safe place for conversation together.
Being respectful of where people are in their own journey.
Listening, not judging.
And always loving. Unconditionally.
Just the way we are.