I actually don’t remember how Micah and I became friends, but yet, here we are. I do remember, at first, being skeptical of him. It goes without saying, he’s a very talented writer, an honest one, a voice that brings out the freshness of following Christ in the aftershock of a shifted from childhood worldview. But as I often am regarding straight white writers that enter the LGBTQ conversation, I was skeptical of him.
Thing is, Micah has shown me, time and time again, that this is something strapped to his heart. We’ve had wonderful, fruitful dialogues about current happenings, how the faith is changing, what love really looks like, and through our friendship, I’ve seen that this matters in such a real deep way to him. It’s quite moving.
Today Micah brings us a story and a reflection of a time when this became very true in his life. I am so honored to have him share here today.
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Before I even read between the lines, I knew what you were really saying.
Angry. Struggling. Confused. Alone.
We had been friends for a while, in the very loose sense that people our age use that word. Friends. We passed each other from time to time on the internet. We have never met in “real life”.
But you wanted to know if you could talk to me.
Pacing in my backyard with they phone pressed to my ear, the first time I heard your voice you were saying “I’m gay.”
I had already told you that I wouldn’t have any answers, no easy fixes for how to reconcile being gay and being a Christian. So I listened.
And then I was angry.
I was angry that you had to call me, a stranger from the internet.
I was angry at everyone in your life that should have been there to listen face-to-face, across the table from you.
I was angry at your parents, your Christian friends, your church. For abandoning you in the shadows. For pushing you away. For condemning “people like you” so many times that you couldn’t even speak.
I had already told you that I wouldn’t have any answers, so I listened. That’s all I had to offer. (I wish there was more I could do.)
I listened as you talked about living your teen years so desperately dedicated to loving and serving Jesus.
I listened as you told me about leading Bible studies in college.
I listened as you recounted your struggle to stay sexually pure, and your desire to save yourself for the wife you prayed God would bring you someday.
And I realized you were just like me.
Just. Like. Me.
But there was a part of me that wanted to dismiss you anyway. To lable you as “other”. To call you “them” instead of “us”.
To think of you as a “sinner”, not a brother.
In that moment, I realized the arrogance of my own system. How I thought I knew everything I needed to know about you with that one word – “gay”. How quickly my mind raced to draw a circle in the sand around myself, with you on the outside. How naturally the word “them” rolled of my tongue when I spoke of you, to you.
And I was angry at myself.
Even as I said “them”, I apologized. I didn’t know what else to do.
But something changed in me as your story spilled out and I paced in the back yard listening.
For me, “gay” can never again simply be an “issue”, an “argument”, a “culture war.”
It has a story. It has a face. Yours.
The next day I sat down and wrote, “I’m done with saying ‘love the sinner, hate the sin.’ I’m done with speaking as if I’m different, better than you.”
I don’t know what else to do. I’m still here to listen. It’s still all I have to offer, but it’s yours.
And if you’re reading this today, I want you to know three things:
I’m sorry I drew that circle in the sand with you on the outside. I was wrong.
I’m grateful that you were brave enough to tell me your story.
And I love you. Not as a “sinner”, but as a brother. As a friend.
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Be sure to check out Micah’s blog here!
And, if anything, follow him on twitter @micahjmurray. He’s always bringing out great conversations!