A Letter: Over a Decade Ago
Author’s Note: In 2001 I was part of a small group of TEN who were members and supporters of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF), who met on numerous occasions to dialogue with one another on issues of homosexuality and what CBF and CBF churches might want to do to become more supportive of LGBT members and families of LGBT persons. We wanted to offer educational and informational sessions for church leaders and encourage dialogue within and among church members. We met with very little success in 2001. (See the Endnote!) The following is a letter I wrote to the group leader in August 2001. I believe it still rings true in many ways and reveals an important part of my spiritual journey.
I am writing in response to your asking for dialogue regarding homosexuality. Honestly, I struggle with writing this. There is a part of me that is weary of the debate that has raged for years. Denominations, churches, families, and individual souls have been splintered and shattered. We have built walls from the foundations of our differences to protect and promote ourselves and our individual and congregational beliefs. We have dissected and reexamined scripture. We have studied anew the Hebrew and Greek lexicons. We have devised “answers and cures” when in actuality there are none. And, still the debate rages and the schism remains. Yes, I am weary.
The part of me that writes today is urged to do so out of encouragement and hope in dialogue as opposed to debate. Can we at long last seek to relate and build bridges from the foundations of our similarities, primarily our atonement, our “at-one-ment” in and through Jesus Christ. Only Christ can bring us into true fellowship with Him and one another – and only if we are willing. So today, Susanne, I subjugate my weariness to my willingness and seek to dialogue.
We all have a story. Claiming and reclaiming, telling and retelling our stories heals us, affirms and confirms us, and connects us to one another. Regardless of the individual and unique experiences in our lives, these experiences evoke emotions common to all, though varied in levels of intensity and expression. It is in these common emotions and the shared experience of them that we can come to know and accept one another and ourselves more fully. I will share a bit of my story, where I am today and how I came to this place in my life.
I am a 51 year old homosexual woman. I struggled with attraction to girls from the time I was 12 or 13. Even before this I felt different. I was the little girl who wore the worn, dirty jeans in the heat of a Texas August. I treasured the pocket knife, rocks, and pieces of string that weighted my pockets. I was incensed that I couldn’t play baseball or football with the boys. I couldn’t go to work with my father as my brother did. I was told, “The farm tractor and dirty truck cab full of hired hands is not a place for a little girl.”
When the other girls were looking at, talking about, and giggling about the boys, I was looking at and thinking about the other girls. I felt alone and on the outside. I had no close friends. I harbored my thoughts and my fears about myself. As a freshman in high school I recall hearing such words as “fairy” and “queer” and looking them up in that large unabridged dictionary in the library. I did this, of course, with as much subtlety and discreetness as possible for a fourteen year old.
I felt that something was terribly wrong with me. I was so ashamed of my thoughts and feelings about the girls. Of course, I never acted on these. I busied myself doing all the good, right, and seemingly expected things – church activities, outstanding academic achievement, extracurricular activities, obeing my parents and being the “good” girl. On the outside I was the model student and daughter. On the inside I was miserable, lonely, and terribly ashamed of myself.
Suffice it to say that I struggled for many years with these feelings. It was a struggle that numerous times took me to the depths of depression, the brink of suicide and the doors of insanity. I can share more of my story at some other time, if you like, but after years of struggle, thinking I was “healed,” and considering myself as ex-gay, I have come to accept the reality that I am homosexual, and I am loved and accepted by my heavenly Father just as I am. Having arrived at this point in my life, I know more peace—the absence of conflict and unity with Christ—than I ever imagined possible.
I recently was introduced to a quote from Boris Pasternak’s “Dr. Zhivago”
Your health is bound to be affected if, day after day, you say the opposite
of what you feel,…Our nervous system isn’t just fiction; it’s part of our
physical body, and our soul exists in space, and is inside us, like the teeth
in our mouth. It can’t be forever violated with impunity.
This observation rings true for me. I know the years of struggle and falseness certainly took a toll on my physical, mental and spiritual health. I have been in a time of healing, renewal, and growth for several years now. I seek only to live in truth, integrity (my outside matching my inside), and commitment in every aspect of my life.
Well, Susanne, I have gone on far too long. There is more story and my heart yearns to share more of how Christ has worked in my life to bring about reconciliation among my soul, my spirit in union with His, and my sexuality.
God bless you in your work to bring dialogue and reconciliation to this heretofore debate.
Endnote: In April 2012 the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship along with The Center for Theology and Public Life at Mercer University sponsored a three day conference, The Baptist Conference on Sexuality & Covenant. The conference convened in Decatur, Georgia, and was attended by well over 400 people. Lou Anne and I attended the conference. It was both humbling and refreshing to be a part of such a dialogue even if it did come over a decade after our first small group of TEN. You can read more about the conference here.