HB and I met over twitter, as most friendships these days, and honestly, she has been one of the most engaging people to talk with over the hard questions. She stands stubbornly in the middle, trying with a kind of Kingdom effort to bring opposing worldviews together in love. Ya, some may say that is idealistic, but guess what- that’s how change happens! I am so proud of her and the work she does over on her blog!
Take in her story, with all of its beauty and truth, and maybe leave a few thoughts in the comments section. I promise this post will move and challenge you to consider how you have handled your own shame. It certainly did that for me.
When I finally embraced my sexuality in my late 30s, I didn’t have it out with God. I braced myself for it, but the onslaught never happened. I was like a little girl afraid to look up at my big, tall, strong father, expecting to see his face red with anger or white with disappointment. But what I saw instead was a delighted and toothy grin. It was disorienting at first.
When you carry shame around for that long, it’s not just something you’re wearing anymore. Your shame becomes your skin. So when I showed God my skin, I feared he might get wolf-eyes and bare his teeth and tear my flesh, or at least come at me with a scouring pad ready to scrub my skin clean off down to the bone.
That’s what it feels like, you know, when Christians talk about curing our unholy choice. The rhetoric turns who we are into shame, and getting healed from ourselves is akin to scrubbing off our skin. It’s like death. Is that what they mean when they say, “die to yourself”? Because I’ve never seen a single one of them willing to take the holy Brillo pad to their own design, but they’re ready to rub us raw for the sake of their (small g) gospel.
Maybe that’s why it took me so long. I never saw God through that harsh lens (the way many of those around me did), and I was afraid that being disillusioned like that would shake me out of relationship with him. But I couldn’t keep hiding. And I couldn’t keep pretending I wasn’t hiding, not with God. I had to know if he had his own Brillo pad. So I bared my skin to him, my naked gayness and skintight shame. And the steel wool other Christians held in their hands? The material they used to teach me I’m Wrong. Sin. Abomination. Depraved. Unrepentant. Selfish. Deceived. Perverted. Willful. Rebel? God wasn’t holding that same scratchy, caustic material in his Hand. He didn’t have wolf-eyes or fangs. He didn’t even shed tears of disappointment with a sigh.
When I looked up at God through my scared and ashamed little girl eyes, you know, the way your face stays downcast and only your eyes look up? I saw that grin of delight, that gleam in his eyes. I lifted my head in bewilderment as he grabbed me under my arms and launched me up, up, up into the air with a laugh, then caught me in his gentle strong embrace and spun me round, round, round, my legs floating on the force of his twirl, until I was laughing and squealing too.
That’s when I knew everything I knew with God was no illusion. My experience of him, my relationship with him was true. He IS good and trustworthy and gentle.
And my skin of shame?
He washed that shame clean away like a gentle spring rain. I was left standing before him naked, still gay, and unashamed. And he covered me with his garment of Love. Joy. Peace.
And I realize all that hiding I was doing . . . I wasn’t hiding from God. I was hiding from Christians. The shame I wore like skin wasn’t from God. Other Christians dressed me in that shame. And this is the tragedy and travesty of the evangelical church. They believe they have the mind of Christ and speak the word of God, and we tend to believe it too. To the devastating detriment to our relationship with God. To the point that we question our own experience and trust the other Christians instead of God.
And I realized when I wanted to go to him that I was, many times, hearing the echoes of their loud voices instead of his still small gentle voice. And when I finally mustered the faith and courage to stop hiding from God, I saw that he’s seen me all along. He made me, for God’s sake, so he knows who I am. He made me this way and never once lost pleasure, never once regretted his choice for my orientation.
Much Love & Respect,