I’m writing this for the closet LGBTQs, but in a way, I’m writing this for myself. When I was where you are, alone in agony, I wish someone would’ve written to me. Just a word from a world where there were others. A red flare far out in the dark.
And maybe your story is a lot like mine. Maybe you need these words more than I need to write them…
Maybe you heard it first at age nine from the front row pew. Your pastor said it in ten seconds and it felt like hell and hate hurling down upon you. Maybe you heard it in the car with James Dobson declaring to the nation, to your family, that perverts like you don’t get to have God. Maybe you heard it in everything that went unsaid.
Maybe you opened the Book and saw six or so verses with their crushing words, leaving your soul cracked wide open. Maybe you read them with a lump in your throat and tears down your face and trembling hands. Maybe a part of you died.
And the message was received, loud and clear. You cannot be known, because you cannot be loved. You will not be welcomed. You will not be saved. You will lose everyone you care about. You will be thrown away.
So you ran backwards. You receded down deep, laid thick bricks all around you to keep everyone out. You believed it all was true and you believed that hiding was protection.
For me, for a long time, I believed them too. I believed God could care less. I believed that the only way I would be loved and get my pardon from Hell was to be straight. I believed that sometime, long before memory, maybe as a toddler, I chose to be gay, because that’s what the Church folk said. This is merely a matter of choice.
I believed it fully in my decaying heart, until late one night, at my lowest point, He told me something different.
It was 1 am and I was below the stars wrapped up in the backyard hammock. I was hyperventilating- violently. Cries were choked out and breath was cut short and I was all past hope.
I asked Him how His people, His followers, His body, could be so cruel and tough and severe. Why are you like that? I spat. Why do they say You’re on their side? Why am I even here? Why can’t I be your child? Why won’t you take me?
I threw wild swings in the dark, imagining His face was right in front of me. I knew He was there, I believed it, but I was completely convinced that He didn’t care a bit about me.
He hated me and I was all past hope.
But in the middle of the madness, in the swinging and the cursing, a sudden seam was stitched. A bridge built between my before and my after. A moment that changed everything forever.
It came quietly, like the first drops of rain, gentle and cool. It was five words and they were the sweetest ones ever spoken to me.
“I am not like them.”
I was struck and lulled and captivated all at once. I lost my breath and my arms fell limp to the grass below. I placed my hand over my heart. I squeezed my eyes shut. I listened to it echo through my soul. Reverberating. Over and over, again and again, until it matched the rhythm of my returning heartbeat. I am not like them. I am not like them. I am not like them.
The great I Am heard me. Saw me. Spoke to me. Came to me.
The great I Am is not like them.
The cries and moans didn’t cease, but they came from a different place. A source of pure joy and adoration and peace and I hang onto this memory with all that I have because it is all that I need. I am His love, I am His joy, He likes me and He loves me and He saved me.
He reached out and wrapped His big arms around me and it was like He had waited forever for this.
He Loves me… and He loves you too whether you believe or not.
I know how that word sounds. Love. Every time someone said it to you, it never felt real because they didn’t know that part of you. If they did, they would have never said it.
Listen, if you’re going to hear anything from me, hear this.
That’s the monster in the closet talking. The enemy will tell you anything and everything to keep you there. To keep you ashamed. To keep you afraid. Away.
But God loves you. He loves you. He loves you. Say it. Out loud. He loves you. He loves me.
When God formed you, he named you Masterpiece. Did you know that? Not just another work of art, but the very best thing he ever did. When He came to dwell, he made his bed in the margins. In the closet.
The very ones despised by the religious order were the ones He identified with most. Those were His brothers and sisters. Those were His friends. Those were the ones that got Him. He is with the beaten beside the road. He is with the hurting. He is with the accused. He is with the LGBT soul drowning behind the closet door.
He has carved your name in His palms. He has counted the number of hairs on your head. He thought of you first. He loved you first. He made you on purpose. He gave you a heart and a soul and a mind and breathed life into all that you are.
You are the best thing He has done. He has so much pride in you that it borders on embarrassing affection. He is fond of you. He fawns over you. He loves and He likes you.
And I believe, more than anything, he wants you to know that..
God is not straight and God is not gay,
He is above all the labels, He is only Love.
The head over heels, can’t shut up about it kind of love. He feels this for me. He feels this for you. He’s waiting, desperate and still, for you to grasp that, and then maybe, to grasp Him.