Her knee-jerk reaction was to write an email to the pastor. One of words laced in barb-wire to do-back what had been done to her son. That’s every mom’s knee-jerk reaction when her kid gets hurt. To get even.
But out of respect for herself, respect for him and respect for the God of reconciliation, she decided to call and set up a meeting. His secretary took down the message.
She received a response- from his secretary- one that couldn’t have been more clear. He’s just too busy. He has too much on his plate to bother with this. The secretary had given him the message and he outright refused a meeting, BUT- there is this book in the church store about homosexuality and he would like to invite her to purchase it. He tells her it’s what he bases all of his beliefs on. It’s good stuff.
Needless to say, she hit the keys. She punched out an upset, but respectful email, explaining exactly why we are running from his church. How hurt we were by what he said. How hurt she is that he will not meet with her. She pressed Send.
After a week we received a response that was pretty typical Christian, and I don’t mean that in praise. I could point to many adjectives but none of them are of virtue.
When I got home, my mom had the letter printed out on the counter and as I read it, I fell back in my chair. Pulling out a pen, we began picking through the words, looking at what he meant, keep ourselves in check- keeping ourselves from reading into subtext, but unable to deny that there were thick strokes of it.
I grew so angry so quickly. More angry than hurt. And as I reach my boiling point I slapped a hand to my forehead and said, I am done. This is too tiring, I can’t do this anymore.
And can I tell you what my mom said?
Imagine if MLK said that, if Rosa Parks did. Imagine all the oppressed, all the least of these that sat back and said they were too tired. Too beaten down to get back up.
She held up the letter close to my face. She flicked it as she spoke.
In your life, you are going to get a hundred of these. A thousand. It’s not right, but it’s reality and I worry that every time it’s going to tear you apart like this. You have to grow stronger.
Truth in freaking love. (I use that pejoratively because it’s something my pastor said in the email.) But if there ever was someone to successfully tell the truth in love, it was my mom, right there at the kitchen counter.
And right now I’d like to end this post. I’d like to tell you that I will respond to every word in that email. Noun to verb. Cliché to Cliché. I want to respond not out of a sense of getting even or publicly shaming this pastor (he will be anonymous as am I), but out of my conviction that unless I speak up, unless I advocate for myself and every other person hurt by church, nothing will ever change.
Because unless we speak up,
Pastors will continue to hurt people, without even the decency to meet with them in private.
Emails will continue to be thrown like grenades, ones that literally put words in the mouth of Jesus (not kidding. I’ll explain later.)
The closeted will curl up in the corner and hope will be all but extinguished.
And I’ll be regretting the fact that the whole time, I stayed silent.
So I’m speaking up.
With absolute decision.