My favorite author Brenè brown talks about integration being key. She shares about facing our stories and embracing them being courage, not shame. She shares that shame derives its power from being unspeakable. I always have loved words on paper; I have so many letters written yet never sent of words helping me to set myself and others free. And so here is my attempt to offer my broken self to the world, that others may say me too, and that my story may be integrated. May I own it so that no one can define it for me, and so that I can truly give God the pen to write the ending of my story, for He already is. Truth is unchanging no matter who I believe is in control and whether I believe in it, but it just might make all the difference to sweetly surrender.
When I was in elementary and middle school, I cannot really remember how I felt. I think I remember thinking boys had cooties. But I will always remember my first crush. His name was David and I thought he was pretty cute; my little kindergarten self. Needless to say, it never really worked out; indeed I never had a little girl relationship or silly pretend wedding or first kiss, I’m still waiting for that, maybe.
In middle school, people began dating, but I was in love with another: my Jesus. I didn’t really think much of boys at the time until high school, when cooties faded away, and my longing to be desired and adored; chased began to flood over me. And then I began to hear about the word lesbian. It made me cringe at first, and then it made me fear. I knew enough and had been in the church long enough to know that wasn’t right. But I think that this mentality is dangerous. We hear of things like pornography, masturbation, homosexuality, and we turn away. Unlike Jesus, who turns towards people and away from sin, we see both as one and the same; we define people as their sin. It leads to silencing people from sharing their struggles and causes us to hide.
Pregnant young women turn to abortion and people with homosexual desires, rightfully so, run away from the hate and condemnation they receive as the self and sin are intertwined, looking for in other communities love we can only find in Jesus. And I am guilty of the same thing. I remember struggling in high school with liking a girl, something shameful to share and publish, yet trying not to run away from my story but to own it without shame. I was very ashamed and forced this down. I knew what wasn’t right, but just like mindfulness, maybe the problem is that I didn’t allow myself to feel and recognize my own emotions, then bring them to the Lord. I want to be able to bring things to the Lord without shame or fear, and ask him to help me follow Him well. I want to trust what he says when it isn’t easy and bring difficult things to him as they are, entrusting Him fully with my desires and brokenness knowing that resting in His love gives me the freedom to become the fullest me, alive in Him.
Now I don’t like labels very much. I don’t like to call myself or others gay or lesbian, because I do not think that those are my identity. As someone who has studied special education, we talk a lot about person first language: putting people before their disabilities. In the same way, I think that is the way that I want to see people; as more than their sexual tendencies and what they do, but as human beings and as people. I am afraid and it is easy to hide, but I think that God calls us out of a life of hiding.
He already knows my struggle with homosexual tendencies and the shame I felt around them, he knows the way that I long for a man to love me one day despite these, and he knows how scary it is for me to share these things. But he loves me and he loves you too.
Since those days in high school that plagued me, it hasn’t been easy. I don’t know where those desires came from. They came for awhile, then left me, but that is just my experience. And there ought to be no shame. I don’t know everything about switching genders or feeling like I was born in a different body, but I do know a lot about shame, and the core feelings that we in our shared humanity struggle with; and I can say to those: me too, and Jesus loves us in those. Whether these are a momentary or fleeting questioning, or a long-term struggle, or a choice that we choose, I pray that there would be the freedom to explore and ask questions, and to be fully ourselves; my hope is that there would be freedom to struggle and become fully ourselves. I long for real conversations to happen, for genuineness and love beyond assumptions, and for us to see people as such, beyond our actions.
Today, I struggle with so many things. Mental illness, disordered eating, lust and a longing to be pursued, and owning my story, and it isn’t perfect. It’s messy, and I am ashamed of so very many things, but I hope that by taking a new route, one out of hiding and shame, there will be grace and that in some little ways, I can say me too.
May there be no shame in my associations, but grace upon grace for others. May others be able to come to me and I pray I would love them the way that Jesus does, and has loved me: he doesn’t turn away. He is strong enough to bear the weight of my sins and brokenness. He doesn’t turn away. Like the naked women caught in adultery, he turns towards us and says he loves us. May we bring our questions, our doubts, our uncertainties and sexualities, our shame and every broken piece and part of our story to Him, and know He loves us.