A Love Letter from Bethany Suckrow

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Much has happened to the gay community the past couple years that has been both uplifting and heart-wrenching, but mostly- exhausting. World Vision encapsulated perfectly the way things have gone. Beautiful affirming moment. Crushing defeat. Anger. Resilience. Restoration. Phil RobertsonMichael Sam! Chick-Fil-A. Rob Bell!

 

It’s been A LOT these past couple of years and I’ve been longing a return to the roots of this blog. Look above this post and see the Love Letters tab. Look through there and you will see the saving grace of this site.

 

It is everything I wanted to find on the internet when I was in the closet. When I felt the whole world growling all around me and I didn’t know where to turn. There was It Gets Better but I doubted it would for the Christian. There were theological treatises, but those went over my head, and after all, the collapsing was happening in my heart. I needed words for my wounds.

 

And I am now restarting the series- well, sort of. I began soliciting requests for more letters, but then life kicked into warp speed and I lost track of it. So this will be more of a rolling basis as they come in. (feel free to send me yours!)

 

AND TODAY we have the incredible, the wonderful, the unbelievably talented Bethany Suckrow publishing a powerful letter to LGBTQ people everywhere. I am so thankful to her for her grace, compassion and encouragement. I am so thankful for her voice. Please, please go check out her site hereYou’ll thank me later.

 

(Also, a Trigger Warning for this post: discussion of suicide.)

Orange slice in the shape of a heart 

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Dear Friend,

 

A few nights ago I was fiddling around on my phone as I waited for my husband to get home from work when I found a message. It was from a friend I haven’t seen in a long time. We don’t know each other well anymore, but we catch glimpses of one another’s lives through links and statuses and photos. I was surprised to see she had contacted me directly, and even more surprised by what she said.

 

“I just want you to know that as a Christian who is also a lesbian, sometimes reading your posts is the only time I feel a glimpse of love from a brother or sister in Christ. Just wanted to say thank you.” 

 

As I sat in the silence of my living room and let her message sink in, a bittersweetness welled up inside of me. My heart aches for her. I feel honored by her words, but I also feel profoundly undeserving. The things I share on social media these days reflect my changing opinions on many things, not the least of which is my growing conviction that the faith culture I’ve participated in has deeply wounded the LGBTQ community.

 

I haven’t always understood this, though. Like so many raised in conservative evangelicalism, I was a teenaged Jesus Freak, deeply committed to my youth group, zealous in my attempts to convert people, and profoundly naive about what it meant to love others as Christ loved me.

 

When I was tenth grade, a girl from my freshman softball team committed suicide. She was a star athlete, a naval cadet, a good student with a kind heart and a quiet spirit. And she was gay. The issue I’d been taught to oppose “because the Bible clearly condemns it” suddenly had a face, a name, a story that ended in tragedy. I went home from school the day we learned of her death, laid myself face down on my bed and wept. All I could think about were all those moments when I looked back at her on the bus ride to and from our softball games and saw her sitting alone. I didn’t go and sit with her.

 

It was the beginning of so many questions for me about how to love you, my neighbor. Still, it took a long time for me to get past my prejudices and preconceptions. In the years ahead, as people from high school and college came out, I realized over and over again that in my devout religiousness I had never been a safe person for my friends to be themselves.

 

I was a clanging symbol of ideology instead of a voice of love.

 

And I am so sorry.

 

These last few years I’ve been working to connect the dots and discover ways to be an active participant in reconciliation for Christians and the LGBTQ community. I’m deeply thankful for people like Ben Moberg, who have bravely shared their stories. The scales are falling off my eyes and I’m finally learning to see my privilege.

 

Today as I write this letter to you, I have this vision in my head. It’s bittersweet, but also hopeful. I’m standing up from my seat on the bus and I’m walking back to where you sit.

 

May I sit next to you? I would understand if you didn’t want me here, if you need more space and time to heal. But if you’re willing, I’ll sit down and loop my arm through yours and say the words I wish I would have said all along:

 

Your story and your being matters to me.

 

I’m listening now. Please forgive me for all the times that I haven’t.

 

I want you here.

 

I want you here.

 

I want you here.

 

 

With all of my love,

 

Bethany

 

  • Roo James Wilson

    Another wonderful post. It is great to see this movement happening, where Christians realize the hurt that has been caused to the LGBTQ community and are actively doing something about it. I grew up being told to love others as Christ loved me, sadly that seemed to exclude people which I could never understand but Praise Jesus that He showed me what that truly meant. I’m not perfect at it but it’s great to know others too are trying…just to simply love.

  • This is beautiful, and I can relate to every word of it. I’m so grateful for the grace to change.

  • I love you, Bethany, and I love your heart here.
    I get this, and I relate to a lot of it. So happy that you’re embracing this new season.

  • Sheri

    Thank you for sharing this. I love it! I also went & checked out Bethany’s blog. It was good to read that someone else declared themselves “post-evangelical” after the WV debacle, as I did. I am currently in a state of transition in my faith thanks to the guts & courage of you, Benjamin. This is a good thing! Don’t worry. The things I used to believe & support are just plain wrong. I can’t go back there where the religion of conservative Christians hurt my friends & people I love who are gay. What does my faith look like right now? Beats me, but I know I can’t go back. So in that respect I’m ok. I’ve also started to meet with a counselor. The WV thing, arguments with “friends” about it, & previous church experiences, sent me over the edge of my already shaky relationship with the Church as I knew it. Again. A good thing. As I reflect back a few months, I am much more at peace with the whole thing. Words of encouragement like this from Bethany help me know, yep, it’s the right decision to leave my childhood faith for something that is more loving to those whom I well… love. Thanks Ben for being an inspiration to many, including me. I am a much better person for stumbling across your blog one day in March.

  • Aidan Bird

    “I want you here.”

    Considering how many people in our society seem to want me gone or dead, hearing that makes me want to cry.

    I’ve got nothing else to say at the moment. Just a bit overwhelmed by those words.

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