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Archive for the ‘My Truth’ Category

once upon a time I knew

Child of God

Created in His image

Christian

Believer

 

or at least

I acted like I knew

 

I did believe

I wanted to believe

I was scared if I didn’t believe

 

The GLBG

“Good Little Baptist Girl”

was what I knew

all I knew how to be

all I thought

I should be

 

but The GLBG

was always afraid

what if someone finds out?

 

what if someone realizes

The GLBG doesn’t

read her Bible

or pray

everyday

or even

every week

 

what if someone discovers

The GLBG would rather do

anything other than

pray out loud

in a group

 

what if someone discerns

The GLBG doesn’t believe quite

as hard as they do

or that the GLBG can’t

just take it on faith

because the bible

or the church

or the pastor

says it is so

 

The GLBG always knew

if she were known

she would be cast out

adrift

cut off

unwanted

unloved

because she was never

enough

 

Not good enough

Not spiritual enough

Not … something she didn’t even have words for …

enough

 

The GLBG knew if anyone

God included

looked deep enough

she would be found out

 

The GLBG hung on to faith

for as long as she could

she hid her GLBG heritage

and tried to live into

the faith she claimed

with freedom

and compassion

and grace

 

but eventually

she failed

 

even freedom

compassion

and grace are not enough

when you don’t actually believe

they could ever apply

to you

 

so I left

I wandered

I explored

I listened

 

eventually

I found words

for what was deep inside

 

I cried

I raged

I hated

I loved

I listened some more

 

The GLBG

slipped away

I learned

not to be afraid

not to hide

 

Goodbye GLBG

I don’t need you anymore

I am enough

 

unexpectedly

my path wandered back

I didn’t plan it

I tried to avoid it

but I found myself

at home in a church

where I am not afraid

where I hear words from the pulpit

that assure me of

unconditional love

grace

acceptance

as I am

 

a queer person

of faith

who doesn’t really know

what she believes

but does know

that if god

by whatever name you call

is to be found

they

 

(singular or plural

you choose

but definitely

non-gender specific)

 

they will be found

in the depths

in the darkness

in the margins

in the hopeless

in the lost

in the wanderers

 


This post is my entry in this year’s Queer Theology Synchroblog on the theme of “Identity”.

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It’s Time

It’s time

 

Time for me to make clear

Something I thought

Was obvious when I wrote

The Price of Hate

 

Most understood

Some asked questions

To clarify rather

Than make assumptions

 

On that day

And on the days since

I have felt

Unconditional support

And love

Overwhelming love

Healing love

Soaking in to places broken

For far too long

 

But today

In the midst of

Bathroom bills

In the aftermath of

Orlando

In the facebook posts

Run rampant

It is apparent

Some of you missed

What I said

Or ignored

What I said

Or forgot

What I said

Or didn’t care

What I said

 

So let me be

Perfectly

Crystally

Entirely

Explicitly

Proudly

Clear

 

I am not straight.

 

I. Am. Queer.

 

Perfectly

Crystally

Entirely

Explicitly

Proudly

Queer

 

It is not your business

To know why I claim

That particular word

I am a private person

My sex life

My love life

My romantic desires

Are none of your concern

 

It is enough for you to know

 

I am queer

 

And have always been

Even when I didn’t

Acknowledge or

Understand or

Speak that truth

 

So when I say

What I need to say

In this moment

Today

I hope your ears

Are open to hear

 

You are someone who

Matters to me

Whose friendship

I value

A relationship

I hope

Can continue

 

But …

 

When you speak hate

When share hate

When you keep silent

In the face of hate

Toward anyone

Who is

 

Lesbian

Gay

Bisexual

Transgender

Asexual

Aromatic

Pansexual

Intersex

Gender Fluid

Gender Neutral

Two Spirit

Non-Binary

Queer

And any other letter

In the gloriously

Rainbow coloured alphabet

That makes up

The people I claim as siblings

 

When you tolerate hate

Against my family

You are speaking hate

Against me

 

It is not

Against an unknown evil

With an agenda

Contrary to God’s will

You are spewing hate

At someone you

Have known for years

Someone you once called

Family

Classmate

Student

Colleague

Youth Leader

Mentor

Pastor

Friend

Or whatever other label

You choose to apply to

What we shared

What connected us

 

And yes

Sharing posts

Making comments

Supporting political movements

In the name of religious belief that

Vilify

Misgender

Stigmatize

Deny rights to

Denigrate

Dehumanize

Is speaking hate

 

You are entitled to

Your theology

Your belief

Your point of view

Your fear

Your emotional reaction

To something you

Don’t understand or

Don’t experience or

Don’t acknowledge

 

You are not entitled

To use any of

Those reasons

To lessen

The innate value

Of another human being

To take away rights

To block protections to

Ensure safety

To make someone else’s life

Harder to live

 

Be grateful

For the privilege

You have never needed

To realize you have

 

Use that privilege

Make the world

Safer for all people

Do what the God

You claim commanded

Act justly

Love mercy

Walk humbly with your God

Defend the oppressed

Love your neighbor as yourself

 

If you can’t

If you won’t

Don’t be surprised

When I decide to

Prioritize the well-being of

My rainbow family

Over your need to

Prove you are

Righteous and faithful

At the cost of

Our mental health

Our dignity

Our lives

 


 

I’ve never recorded me speaking one of my poems before, but it is too easy for people, especially within the Christian community, to share and make what they think are “innocent comments” without realizing the impact it has on real people that they actually know. I read one too many of those posts recently and decided it was time to make clear where I stand.

 

For those who are prepared to engage in respectful dialogue, I welcome your thoughts and am prepared to engage in that conversation with you. However, please be aware that your “theological questions” are my day-to-day life.  As such, I retain the right to disengage from the discussion and/or block your involvement, if the conversation turns from respectful engagement and generous spaciousness.  (Thank you to Wendy VanderWal-Gritter for encouraging healthy dialogue!)

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I wanted to do this
In my own time
To wait until I was ready
Until I had the answers
Rather than questions
I’m still asking myself

I wanted to do this
When I felt secure
To wait until I’d talked
With those I owe
Deep levels of trust
To share face to face
Or at least Skype to Skype

I wanted to do this
After I’d told my family
To wait until the perfect moment
Had revealed itself
And I was ready for
Every potential response

I wanted to do this
When I knew how to explain
Forty years of truth
Buried so deep
All I knew was brokenness

There is an awkwardness in
Maintaining silence
My safety net of procrastination
Wrapped tightly
Trying to contain the
Chaos of rediscovery

But something happened

Ten thousand children
Thrown away
And my silence feels like complicity
My safety net of waiting
Feels wrapped around my throat
Taking away my breath
Cutting off the words I ache to speak

There is no right time
I may never be ready
I may never be able to explain
There is only the moment now
And in this moment
My safety net must unravel
Else I lose the ability to speak

Heart broken

Ten thousand children
That’s how much some people hate
People who also claim belief in a god
Whose very scriptures teach
Love your neighbour as yourself
Care for orphans and widows
In their distress

Ten thousand children
Starving and in need
Support ripped out from
Under their precious lives
An act of hate
Called righteousness
In the name of protecting
Orthodoxy
From the scourge
Of homosexuality

How can people
Called to be like the god they claim
Who has named himself Love
Hate us at such a price to
Ten thousand children

Tears fall as words flow
Years of learning
Straight was right
Queer was sin
My heart breaks
Am I the only one
Who feels the stab of
Soul-crushing guilt
As if my existence
Is somehow to blame for
Ten thousand children
Dropped in a heartbeat of hatred
When one organization
Makes the tiniest movement
Towards acknowledging our rights
As human beings
Created in the image
Of the divine

This is also the price of hate
But unlike ten thousand children
I have a choice
I will not pay their price
I will not take on that guilt
Being queer does not
Equal broken
Nor does it mean excluded
From the faith of my childhood

I will stand up
I will proudly claim my truth
I will meet their fear
With love
For myself
For the world around me
Even for those who hate
Together may we stand in the gap
For ten thousand innocent children

—–

If you haven’t heard about what happened that caused ten thousand children to lose their sponsors through World Vision in the United States because a powerful group of people who call themselves Christians decided fighting against gay rights was more important than caring for the most vulnerable among us, you can read the details here, here or here, just to point you to a few.

I already sponsor a child through Compassion Canada whom I plan to continue sponsoring until she ages out of the program. I am pondering sponsoring another child through World Vision Canada which follows Canadian laws regarding non-discrimination.

You’re also welcome to visit my other online home at Poeming Out where this will also be posted.

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“I want to ask you a question.”

“Sure,” I replied. Seemed only fair since we were meeting for tea because I was curious about the master’s program in Spiritual Psychology my colleague was taking.

“How do you feel about mirrors?”

“How do I feel about … what?” I hesitated, sure the noise in the coffee shop had garbled his words.

“Mirrors. What do you see when you look into one?”

It seemed unrelated to our conversation. The response on the tip of my tongue “Fine. I feel fine about mirrors.” But it wasn’t the kind of conversation where fine was a sufficient answer to everything.
I paused and chose honesty.

“They’re not my favourite thing in the world, but it’s improving from the ‘avoid-really-looking’ place it used to be. I’m slowly learning to look and really see myself.”

That was September 23rd.

I’ve been thinking about mirrors ever since and what I see has been changing. In good ways. In ways I never imagined were possible. In ways that are allowing me to see myself with kindness and acceptance.

As part of that journey, I decided to take Vivienne McMaster‘s 10 day Beloved Beginnings course. It’s an easy, dip your tip-toes in kind of introduction to the life-changing and powerful gift that Vivienne is bringing to the world by teaching people to use self-portraits as a way to see yourself with compassion.

It started with a simple exercise. Put one hand over my heart and whisper a little love to the woman I am today. And then use the other hand to take a photo. Late one night after I was ready for bed, I tried out the suggestions that Vivienne had given. Words like “You’re enough” and “It’s all going to be okay” but I realized that those weren’t the words I needed to hear in that moment. What I needed was to speak three small words out loud and hear them quietly ring in my ears.

I needed to say out loud the words that had become true to me in a moment of surprising clarity a few days before as I’d continued to ponder why I felt the way I did about mirrors.

With my hand on my heart, I whispered the words quietly, hesitantly, questioningly at first. Trying them out to see if their truth still held up in the light of day.

I’m not broken?

I clicked the shutter button on my camera phone. I grimaced at what I saw reflected back on the screen, but the words, while unfamiliar, still felt true.

I whispered the words again, just as quietly but with a little more confidence. If they still felt true when I saw myself with eyes half closed, hidden behind glasses obviously thick even when they’re made with “thin” lenses, maybe they really were true. The shutter clicked again.

I’m not sure how many photos I took that night. Each time, I pressed the camera button, I said the same words over again. Soon there was no hesitation. The love I needed to hear from myself that night was a strong declaration of truth that was in stark contrast to the lie I’ve believed about myself for as many of my 44 years as I can remember.

I’m not broken.

Each repetition of the words allowed the truth it sink a little deeper into a wound so old I don’t remember when I first began to believe the lie.

As I continued to take photos, the words took on a new tone.

Beloved Beginnings Day 1No longer were they simply a declaration of truth.

They became a celebration of truth that I could now hear and claim as my own.

I’M
NOT
BROKEN!

So many of us have breathed in that lie. That we are broken, damaged, not good enough no matter what we do, no matter how hard we strive. But it’s not true. Even if you learned it in childhood, in Sunday School, it’s still not true.

Yes, you may do broken things. There may be parts of you that have been broken and damaged by whatever life has thrown in your path. And it may even be true that we have all “sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”, but there is a truth deeper than that, a … deeper magic, if you will. We are all created in the image of the divine. At our core, we’re not broken.

I’m not broken.

You’re not broken.

At our core, we are beautiful and whole and we reflect the divine.

—–

So what about you? How do you feel about mirrors?

I’d love to her your story in the comments or over on the facebook page.

P.S. Getting to meet Vivienne, hang out with her, give her a great big in-person hug and say thank you was definitely one of the many things I loved about Soulsisters!

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