I Will Stand Beside You- Steph Spencer [Love Letter Series]

medium_3002607644Stephanie Spencer is my friend IN REAL LIFE- and she’s also incredible. She has been a strong and steady source of support for me in my journey and I’m indebted to her for it. The psalm posts that I have done are with her link up “Journey through the Psalms” (join us tomorrow!). I am always grateful for her writing, the encouraging message she shares and her insight into scripture which always reveals something new and inspiring to me.

 

If you know what’s good for you, you’ll head to her site, Everyday Awe, and subscribe!. 

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Empty Boxing Ring

I almost didn’t write this letter. Writing an open love letter to the LGBT community is outside my comfort zone.

 

I usually shy away from controversial topics when I write. I leave them to the people I deem better equipped than myself to handle criticism. I thought about the contentious nature of these discussions, about how a letter like this could blow up in my face or get people angry with me, and I wondered if it would be worth it.

 

And then, I thought again. Love should not be controversial.

 

So, I want to start with an apology. On behalf of myself and anyone else who has ever placed you in a category. You are not an issue; you are a person. You are a person who is loved and worthy of love. I am sorry that I almost said no to writing to you.

 

But, still, I’m scared. I am anxious about what I’m going to say next. Will you bear with me please? If I stumble over my words as I attempt to express my thoughts, will you read along until I get to the end?

 

I want to write to you about wrestling.

 

If you are gay, follow Christ, and believe that the Bible is the Word of God, there will likely be wrestling for you. There are verses in the Bible that talk about homosexuality, and those verses are difficult. They may already be triggers for you because of the many times these verses have been misused and abused to make you feel unworthy or unloved.

 

I am so, so sorry for that.

 

But, we can’t pretend those verses aren’t there. They are imbedded in culture and language and history. They are difficult to interpret and frustrating to read. But they are there, in the Bible. (They are along side many other challenging verses, by the way.)

 

In a deep way no one else can understand, you will have to decide what to do about these verses that talk about homosexuality. They are words that will push you to think, not about what you believe about an issue, but about what you believe about your life and your God, about your choices and your doctrine. As you decide where you fall on the spectrum of interpretation of not only these verses, but the Bible as a whole, you will end up agreeing with some and disagreeing with others.

 

The wrestling match between you and God will likely be unavoidable for you.

 

What is frustrating is how many Christians have put themselves in the ring. They have positioned themselves between you and God, and forced you to wrestle with them. Some have done this by making you think you have to have it all figured out before you approach the Lord. Others have stood as gatekeepers, acting as if you have to agree with them before you can pass through to God’s kingdom.

 

But it is not the role of Christians to stand-between. It is our role to stand-beside.  

 

We are called to bear each other’s burdens. If you are wrestling with God, then it is my job to be there with you, offering you strength. To be a listening ear as you sort things through. To voice concerns, and share encouragements, and be there with you no matter what you decide, now or in the future.

 

In the midst of this stand-between culture, there has also been another barrier built. It has been built upon the idea that there is something wrong with wrestling.

 

As we struggle to interpret the Bible, we should remember the characters it displays. There is Jacob, who, after an all-night wrestling match, is renamed “Israel” which means “he struggles with God.” There is David, who fights with God over and over again in the Psalms, asking why he has been abandoned, wondering why God isn’t acting differently. And then there are the disciples, who over and over again told Jesus that what He was saying was difficult and confusing.

 

If you wrestle with God, you are in good company. Wrestling does not show a weak faith, but a strong one. Wrestling moves towards instead of walking away.

 

Whatever you decide to do about these particular verses, there is a much bigger narrative that happens in the Scriptures. It is the narrative of a God who loves us. Who pursues us. Who pours his grace upon us. Who shares His presence with us through His Son and His Spirit.

 

The Bible is the story of a God who lets nothing come between He and His people.

 

So please, don’t let anyone position themselves between you and God. If you get frustrated, please don’t walk away. Chose to get into the ring. That is what gets you into close proximity to the God who loves you.

 

And please, find Christians who will stand-beside instead of stand-between. I will be there among them, outside the ring, ready with water when you need it.

 

With love,

Steph

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~ be sure to check out more over at Everyday Awe~

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  • Yes! I love this, and definitely agree with the “standing beside” thing, rather than telling everyone we have the answers. Since I’m straight, I don’t think I’m in a place to tell gay Christians what they should and shouldn’t do- and why would I even need to have an opinion about gay people’s personal lives? Instead, I want to support gay Christians with whatever they decide. And love people. You know, like Jesus said. 🙂

    • Yes, as simple as it seems, I do think we need to remember that we are straight, and therefore there is a piece of this we can never understand. Our role is to love.

  • Sbarganz

    Steph, these are my thought exactly!!! Nicely written.

    • Thanks for reading and for leaving a comment, Stacy. I’m glad you resonated with these thoughts. I think more people need to express them. It’s a little scary, but important.

  • Thank you for writing this, Steph, It’s something I need to hear every day, because it’s something I live through every day. I forgive you and am still in the process of forgiving my brothers and sisters, my friends even, and learning how to fit in, or at least believe I fit in, even when I don’t feel like it. Even when I feel like the weight of what I carry around in me will crush me someday. This is something I have never spoken of online, yet. I guess I just did. The Lord and I are wrestling through that one right now.

    • Thank you for commenting and for opening up here, Tammy! If this is something you relate to, I encourage you to work your way around RR’s site, and some of the network he has developed. You are not alone. I’m so sorry that you are carrying a weight that feels crushing.

  • Julie

    God bless you for engaging with love, Steph.

  • I think the church does not do a good job interacting with those that makes it uncomfortable for whatever reason. Instead of being an avenue we become a roadblock; instead of being an encouragement to consider we become a reason to reject; instead of loving like Jesus we set up restraints born of ignorance; and instead of showing people grace we want to show them the door. We tend to promote our agenda not focusing on our beliefs but on bashing someone else’s. In our rush to condemn that which we do not believe we insult and demean others instead of putting our beliefs up for consideration.

    We should not be gatekeepers… that is not our job…. we should be lighthouses.