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I’m coming up on a full 24 hours here at Exodus and I’m so glad to say that a lot of the anxiety has gone and been replaced with a desire to soak everything in. I’ve had no expectations for what the next moment is to bring and it’s been solidly good. I say solidly good because I don’t feel like I’ve had this mountaintop awe-inspiring experience but it hasn’t been the emotional roller coaster I’ve been on leading up to the conference.
I’m still struggling with finding how to match my head and my heart. This isn’t a new struggle. It’s been ever-present since I began this journey. I feel myself being critical of the worship instead of focusing on resting in the company of God and praising Him. It takes so much intentional effort for me to praise Him and I feel like that is being spotlighted in my heart so far. I think I struggle with knowing exactly why that disconnect/wall exists and that frustrates me. I hope that a continued focus on my relationship with God this week will push me to dig deeper with Him.
This experience so far has been so unique. It’s so different to sit down at a table with different women from different backgrounds and feel free to share and hear stories about lesbian relationships and how we got to where we are now. There is a refreshing absence of shame or hushed voices and I love it. It’s actually quite moving for me to think about it because it’s exactly what I was wanting…a place where people just TALK about it. There’s a community of authenticity and safety that I’m really appreciating.
The speakers have been really interesting and I’m having a hard time digesting it all. I hope that comes with time to reflect and rehash what I’ve heard and learned. I do want to say a quick something about the speaker today. Her name is Kathy Koch and she isn’t a lesbian or a speaker to just homosexual groups. Something about that made me respect her a little more. I’m not sure why. She was a great speaker and super smart. I think her teachings and principles can relate to anyone but she had a certain knack for relating to her audience today. She also did a breakout session on change and I can’t wait to really sink my teeth into my notes from that.
Oh, and on an interesting note, Lisa Ling is here. As in the correspondent for Oprah. I know, right? Apparently she’s doing some sort of a piece for the new O Network. I don’t have any commentary on that….just thought is was interesting. Ok…maybe a little commentary…it’s weird how being here for only a day makes you forget there is a whole world out there with a different opinion and misunderstanding. Anyhow, thank you for your thoughts and prayers. I still covet them but they are being felt and appreciated.
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In the past 3 months, my city flooded, I took on extra responsibility at work because my “manager” left for a new job, I helped plan and work one of the biggest events I’m responsible for at work, we got new interns (and there was a cute one…why does there always have to be a cute one…), I watched a ridiculous number of episodes of Gilmore Girls, two “major celebrities” have come out as lesbians, I found out I’m having another niece, a friend of mine went into the hospital on mandatory bed rest and had a healthy baby boy about 8 weeks later and I spent a great deal of time thinking about, stressing about and hoping for this day.
I’m on a plane right this second on my way to the Exodus Freedom conference in Irvine, CA (random fact…Kelly Clarkson is my favorite artist and she wrote a very emotional song in Irvine. I have to admit I especially relate today). I don’t think I have ever been more anxious about something in my life. I woke up this morning physically shaken. My biggest questions to myself over the past few days have been “what should I expect?” “what happens if temptation is abundant?” “am I really ready for this?” “if I’m really ready for this, why do I feel like I’m doing everything possible to keep a grip on the ‘lesbian’ side of me?”
I’m assuming this anxiety is normal. I’m going into a completely unknown situation completely by myself…not to mention the fact that it’s a highly emotionally charged situation. Still, I’m a ticking time bomb of emotional basketcase proportions at the moment.
My whole life, I’ve done everything in my power to be the one holding it together. Finding out a dark secret about my family and keeping it to myself, being strong for my girlfriend at a time when we were both confused and scared, being at a church and not acting like just sitting in the pew made me feel like a dirty worthless person while the preacher went off on a rant about how being gay is a worse sin than others (yeah that was fun and come to think of it, it was in the past 3 months too).
As this conference approached, I felt myself begin to completely unravel. 3 weeks ago, I would have told you 100% that I was ready and prepared and even looking forward to Exodus and then the closer it got, the more unstable and perhaps even desperate I got to somehow stake claim on my homosexuality. I think I feel like it’s being threatened by going to this conference. As much work as I’ve done and changes I’ve made, I still hold on to this tiny pocket of my life where it’s ok to ignore what I believe and give in to how I’m feeling at that moment.
Selfishly, I don’t want to give that up. It feels good to give in – regardless of what you happen to be giving into. Genuinely, though, and very deep down, I’m glad it’s being threatened. If I’m holding back even a tiny piece of my life from God, I might as well keep the whole thing. I’m not interested in being a “fair-weather follower.” I want to give everything I have to Him, regardless of how uncomfortable or inconvenient it is. I’m sure watching His Son hang on a cross that day was not comfortable or convenient for God…just a guess.
Even with pretty spiritual talk like that, though, I’m still freaking out inside today – struggling to keep it together for the sake of the nice man sleeping in the seat next to me or the little lady in the overly priced snack shop at the airport and I would greatly appreciate your prayers and thoughts. I plan to try and document how each day goes on here but I’m not sure what the schedule will allow. Being able to get this out in print has been therapeutic already so thank you all for taking time to read.
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This is super delayed. Shocker right? I went to write this several weeks ago and ended up not finishing it. I don’t know if you know, but about a month ago, Nashville (where I live) was severely flooded and several hundred people or more were affected. Fortunately, my house was safe and didn’t have any damage but several people from my church lost their homes.
The Sunday after the flood, I was driving to church thinking about the Exodus conference (which I’m going to, by the way) and what I was expecting it to be like. Every time I think about it, all kinds of anxiety build up and I feel like I could possibly lose it at any moment. Mostly because of the element of the unknown…but more on that later. Anyhow, having this on my mind, I got to church a little late and came in during worship. I ended up sitting right in front of one our staff members leading worship whose home had been completely flooded. She had lost just about everything she owned from a house her and her husband had bought and moved into not long before.
As I stood there, getting situated, it hit me that she was singing about how nobody can provide like God can and how He is mighty. I wish so much that I could remember what song it was that we were singing. It might have been “Mighty To Save.” It felt like a slap across the face to see someone who had literally lost everything still praising God with all of her heart with a huge smile on her face. Because she knew that God is still God even if she has nothing.
This hit me because it made me feel so bratty. It reminded me of all the times I refused to sing about how wonderful God was because I wasn’t sure I believed it. I realized I still blame God for so much of what I struggle with and I love/worship Him conditionally rather than unapologetically. I think I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, I 100% believe it’s okay and a good thing to tell God you’re angry. But I think there’s a difference between saying you’re angry and taking your anger out on Him or blaming Him for your circumstances.
What I learned that day is that God is who He is all the time. He is worthy of praise all the time. He is with me all the time. And even if I have nothing or feel like I have nothing or just don’t have what I feel entitled to, He is still who He is and that is worthy to be praised. There are days when I feel like I have lost everything like our worship leader had and I know there will be more days like that. My prayer is that I remember the picture in my head of her worshipping with everything she had and learn how to do the same.
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I missed church last week so I listened to the message while at work and amidst the half-listening while a million other things were going on, a specific part stuck out to me. My pastor is speaking about shattered dreams over the next few weeks and what happens “when God doesn’t show up the way you thought He would.”
If you have 30 minutes, listen/watch this message. If not, fast forward to about 26 minutes. I think this message is pretty universal but it hits me deeply in relation to what I’ve struggled with for the past 10 years now.
There’s a point where he says he knows that God could basically snap his fingers and make his unborn baby’s heart beat. That he knew it wouldn’t even make God sweat to breathe life into that child…but He didn’t. In the same way, I’ve had so many fights and screaming matches with God knowing that – in an instant – He could make these feelings, these thoughts, these dreams, these addicting highs just go away. He could completely change my heart and my mind so I wouldn’t have to deal with this anymore.
But He didn’t. And when he didn’t, I assumed He didn’t care. That’s because I put my faith in God’s ACTIVITY instead of His IDENTITY. Pete says your response in a moment like that matters. I think this idea sums up a lot of why I’ve made the decisions I have over the past 2 years. I’ve decided to put my faith in who God says He is – in the promise that He has not left me and will never forsake me. I am learning to “trust that You are God and I am not.”
I’ve been holding this tightly over the past week and it has given me a little more confidence. As if maybe I’m hearing God speak to me more clearly and continuing to lead me in my journey. My thinking now is not that He didn’t show up the way I wanted Him to because He didn’t care, but because He had a better plan all along. Because, really, how strong would my faith be now if I treated God like the vending machine I sometimes act like He is – push the right buttons and get what I want?
I think we all have our “one thing” that we know God could fix in an instant but he doesn’t. My encouragement to you (and myself) is to focu56s on God’s identity and rest in the fact that He’s God and you are not. 🙂 If you want to share, what’s your one thing?
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For some reason or another, today has been a busy day in the way of conversations and thinking about this. I think it was sparked by the Jennifer Knapp buzz. (If you haven’t seen, she’s a popular Christian artist from several years ago who has confirmed rumors that she’s in a same-sex relationship.) I’ve read several comments about her coming out and it’s unsurprising but still amazing to me how much people go back and forth on this topic.
I had a very good conversation with a friend who has the same beliefs that Jennifer Knapp does – that he feels like he’s finally being who he really is now that he’s freed himself to be in a same-sex relationship. I also had a good conversation with a friend who believes the complete opposite – that God says its wrong and He did not make us to be this way but it’s a choice (however subconscious) that we can change. Having conversations like this and responding to comments on this blog (sometimes I just reply in my head) somehow continues to strengthen my convictions and add more swirling questions at the same time.
Because it’s been a busy day of this type of conversation, I’m about ready to take a break but I felt like something needed to be said. I started this blog to document my struggle through this incredibly complicated, confusing and gray area of my life. I started this blog because I felt (and still do feel) incredibly alone and thought surely someone else felt the same way I did. And if my writing this blog could help one person not feel so alone, then it would be worthy of something. I am still tired of it being unspoken of in church and I hope, in my own little way, I’m helping change that. Regardless of how I feel about Jennifer Knapp’s choices, etc., I do think she’s made a big step in closing that bridge and I am thankful for that.
I did not, however, start this blog to defend my choices or prove anything to anybody. I say this because some of the comments I’ve read have bred a lot of insecurity in posting my struggles. I’m afraid if I post that I’ve had a hard day or am questioning if this is right for me, you will see the crack in my convictions and pounce. Hell, even if you don’t see a crack, you’re still pouncing and attacking. So if I haven’t felt strong or solid, I haven’t posted. Surely, by seeing my lack of posts, you’ll see I haven’t felt very strong or solid this year. I’ve decided that trying to be strong and invincible isn’t going to do me or anyone left who may be getting something out of this any good.
So my message to those of you who like to pounce and attack (shall we call you tigers or kittens?), please stick around if you’d like but I’m not here to hear your negative feedback. I’m all for being fair and seeing the other side. I’ve learned lately that spirited conversation is one way we learn and grow. But I will not be intimidated by your critiques anymore and I hope that I do come across as flawed and imperfect and weak. Because in my weakness, He is strong and it’s a good thing I feel out of control…because I am. He is in control and I’m resting soundly in that.
Stepping off my soapbox now… 🙂
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My church is doing a series right now that has really gotten me thinking. If I had to sum up my journey over the past few months or so I’d say that my heart hasn’t really changed (meaning the same-sex attraction hasn’t magically disappeared) but I stand by the fact that God said marriage is between a man and a woman. And while I still feel the same way I always have, I’ve chosen to change the way I react to those feelings.
I still agree with that wholeheartedly and stand beside it. But a theme in the past few messages from my pastor has hit me pretty hard.
God is not glorified by you reluctantly submitting to rules but rather by joyfully submitting to him.
I’ve had to ask myself if this is what I’ve been doing…reluctantly submitting to rules? My answer is yes. I’ve been quietly struggling with the fact that I continue to feel a “spiritual disconnect” in this journey and I think this has something to do with it. I’ve been saying “Here, God. I know the rules and I’m going to abide by them but I’m reserve the joy for myself when I can secretly think of how life would be if you would just let me be gay.”
Problem is, I don’t know where to find the spiritual direction/discipleship to get to the point where I “joyfully submit to him.” The issue of homosexuality feels answerless some days and anything I’ve seen that seeks to offer help comes across incredibly cheesy to a guarded cynic like me. I’m not looking for anybody to “pray away the gay.” I’m looking for somebody to show me how to fall in love with a God who I, quite honestly, resent a little for not showing up how I thought He would show up.
As a result of all of this thinking, I’ve…well…been doing some more thinking. Ha! I’m looking into going to the Exodus Freedom conference in June. I haven’t made up my mind yet but if I register before the end of March, it’s cheaper. I’m not fully convinced I believe in the work of Exodus but at the same time, I wonder what a week of focused attention to the disconnect I feel would do.
So, somewhat against my better judgment, I’m wondering what you (what’s left of my readers) think. Has anybody been to an Exodus conference before? Are there any non-cheesy stories of positive experiences with Exodus? I’d love to hear if so.
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I’m still here. I’ve been majorly distracted from this blog because of other issues I’ve been working through. But I’m here. And I’m working on getting back to the purpose of this blog. Back on track. Talk soon…