Monday, March 13, 2006

The Awkwardness Between Us

It's hard feeling less loved by those I love and care about.

There are several special ladies in the city that I consider my spiritual mothers. These are the ladies who express such awesome love and affection for me, perhaps because I am young and single, and they hug me every time they see me and sometimes even pinch my cheeks. Yeah, i'll admit, I play into it alot of the times. I love it! These are my spiritual moms and grandmas from several churches throughout the city. They encourage me for the work I'm doing to bring unity in the Church throughout the city and to call people to prayer - regardless of denomination.

Making the transition from a Side X perspective ('thou shalt be straight') to a Side A perspective ('thou shalt love properly' - at least, that's the way I see it) regarding faith and homosexuality has been difficult. It's been especially challenging emotionally since I made the decision to step away from the non-profit that I co-founded (which built bridges within the majority Side X community), then afterwards felt led to start another non-profit (which will be focussing on building bridges within the minority inclusive community).

A fear of mine has always been of being disowned by my spiritual mothers because of this change in perspective that I have. Am I disappointing them? Am I breaking their hearts? Am I causing them to worry for me? Has their love for me diminished? I love them. I really do. But I feel compelled in my spirit to continue following Jesus even if they don't understand that it's Him that I'm following . . . .

After my parents' divorce, my biological family became emotionally distant and I eventually turned to the Church as my surrogate family. I felt like my real family divorced me and so I stayed in the closet about my sexuality with my church family because I didn't want to lose them too. Now that I'm no longer in the closet, it feels like many members of my Side X church family are beginning to divorce me as well. It's kind of like - we're still a family but we're emotionally distant. (The irony is that my biological family completely supports me now).

I ran into one of my spiritual mothers twice last week. Two Sundays ago, I was with a large group of friends from one of the inclusive churches that I've been building relationships with. We were all at a restaurant for lunch after a service. I saw her sitting with a group of her friends at a nearby table. My first thought was, "oh no!" Usually I'd be super excited to see her. But she's very involved with the administration of the church who's pastor was also one of the highly vocal and condescending ones on the Advisory Board that I mentioned in "One Thing I Am Sure Of". Naturally my assumption is that she would share her pastor's view regarding the decisions that I've made.

So after seeing her, I looked down our table of 15 people (I was on the end) and wondered how she might be viewing us. Do we all look gay? Are we having too much fun? Do we all look like heathens? Are we all acting like we're going to hell? Are we proud of our own deception and compromise? Has she seen me?

First thing we did when our meals arrived was hold hands in prayer and thanksgiving.

No, I wasn't going to disown my friends. But I also wasn't going to jump up and approach my spiritual mom either. I was having a good time but the kill-joy was wondering to what degree of condemnation she was thinking towards me. Yes, I realize that all of my thoughts are simply my own assumptions of her thoughts. I don't know how she feels until I talk to her about it. But why in the world would I intentionally want to enter into a situation where both our hearts could break? Sure it's fear. But I'm not exactly looking forward to hearing disapproval from a spiritual mom of mine. I love her.

She spotted me.

We made eye contact and I knew she saw me. She had a look of joy on her face and so I knew that I had to get up and say hello. I gave her a hug and greeted her friends. We spoke with affection and generalities about me leaving the non-profit and about her helping my ministry partner to help out in the transition. I returned to my seat.

It was weird. I know she knows I'm gay. I know she knows I've switched "Sides". I know she loves me. I don't doubt that. But it's feeling like I've disappointed her that makes it so difficult.

I saw her again last Friday night. My buddy and I went to see "Sweeney Todd" (a musical) at a college campus and my spiritual mom was there. I was surprised to see her and it was again pretty uncomfortable. Of course, it was good to see her. It's just that there's this awkwardness between us through the smiles and hugs and 'good-to-see-you's'.

I think the awkward thing is feeling less loved just because of the decisions I've made and the shift in beliefs that I have. Did she love me before because of what I believed? Did she love me before because I was Side X? Is it possible to love a person the same way even though you disapprove of the decisions they've made? I should hope so. But the "I still love you" words that I hear are betrayed by the "I'm so disappointed in you" eyes that I see.

I'm more likely to believe the eyes. No wonder "Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin" has always seemed like a bunch of bunk to me.

I'm not ashamed of the decisions I've made. I've honestly wrestled through all of this and I have a peace in my heart that I am indeed acceptable before the Lord. I think the fruit speaks for itself - the Lord is with me. My spiritual moms and all of my Side X friends will have to wrestle with the Lord too to figure out how they ought to interact with me. I know that the Lord loves me. They will have to figure out if they do too - and further, how that looks.

Either way, it's still tough to feel judged for something that I have a peace about. It's tough feeling pity from others when I don't feel like I need it. I'm not lost. I'm not confused. I'm not deceived. I'm not defective. But it's not as simple as just saying that I don't care what people think about me. That's not true. I do care about what people think because I love them. I know that they have the right to disagree and even be disappointed in me - and still love me. It's just that living through the awkwardness is heavy on the heart - for all of us.

P.S. Be sure to check in! Thx!


grace said...

Hi Eric! I appreciate the link to my blog on your sidebar....but....I'm not so sure you can't be gay and Christian. You can leave me wherever you want me on your listing because, being your blog, you need to label me as you perceive me to be. Just sayin, though...personally, I'd not make a statement such as, "you can't be gay and Christian." I'm just not sure about that.
But thanks again for adding me! :)
love in Christ,

Juliabohemian said...

I don't think you should be concerned about disappointing these women. No one should have to worry about disappointing a parent -in that way. You haven't lost a soccer game or failed a math test. This relates to who you are as a person. If someone close to you is disappointed with that, I would reevaluate the relationship.

Vic Mansfield said...

She may be your "spiritual mom," but you are no longer a "spiritual child." You've made some very adult decisions. It can't be about pleasing her or anyone. You have absolutely NO control over what folk will think. But she may think you've rejected her!

Never confuse being Christian with being Nice. Sure, we hope we are "nice" but it is more important to speak the Truth in love.

You cannot control how she may feel. But you can show her your Christian love by being the one to initiate the conversation.

The line of a hymn: "we strain to reach your mercy seat, and find you kneeling at our feet."

Be the servant, but be the adult. You can do it. He is with us always, and he says "Fear Not."

Grace & Peace, Joe.

The Rainbow Zebra said...

If I can play "devil's advocate" for a minute ;)

Maybe some of the people you run into show discomfort, not because of who *you* are, but because they have one of those lightbulb moments, and are now questioning what they've been taught to believe.

It's hard to be faced with the fact that all your life, you've been told one thing by people, ministers, whom you've trusted. But your heart tells you quite another.

You are now a face to a "stereotype" that some of them have had built up in their minds, but haven't walked alongside, at least not knowingly.

I can't imagine anyone who has known and cared for you for any length of time could turn their back on you.

I'm not going to say "don't let it get to you" because I know it hurts. But keep the faith that some of them will come around. I will pray that they see you and the work that God is doing in your life, and that God works on their hearts.


Eric said...

Grace- you are a blessing!

Julia, Joe, and Angel- wow! I found each of your comments regarding this post to be absolutely encouraging to me. Thank you soooo much!

((((GROUP HUG))))