April. It’s April. It’s April?!
I’ve been rather quiet lately and I promise, it’s not for lack of dedication. Working full-time, doing school half-time and trying to be somewhat of a semblance of a normal, well-adjusted person just doesn’t leave a lot of time for the things I love to do – like blog. I’ve been wanting to write posts, itching to write them, but over the past few months I have sensed God calling me to focus more on some things developing “behind the scenes” so to speak. But alas, I have been far too absent. I decided today that even if I don’t have time to come up with brilliant, provocative, encouraging, inspiring posts, I must post nonetheless and tell you what things are happening. And so, the “What’s Happening” post strikes again.
First, readership is growing. Weird, seeing as how I haven’t been writing. But hey, I’ll take it. I’m glad you are all reading, and I’m glad you’re telling your friends to read too. Keep doing that! I hope that somehow my words encourage you, bring you hope, or inspire you to reach to someone you didn’t know how to reach to before, or open your heart to someone who is worthy of your trust.
Second, though I haven’t been writing on here very much, I have been writing. I am in the throes of developing seminars for churches and faith organizations (especially traditional evangelical organizations with a traditional view of the Scriptures that address homosexuality). The topic would be basic training and education on how to go about engaging the LGBT community in a way that is loving and serving, without feeling the need to sacrifice convictions. I’m not sure what this is going to look like in the end. I’ve completed a very rough draft at this point and it looks to be somewhere around 2.5 hours of teaching and I’m still filling in the holes. There’s still much work to do and I am considering creating a much smaller version (perhaps an hour-ish in length) to share with some churches first. Then, everyone who says, “Hey that chick has something worthwhile to share and I wanna know more” can come to the super-awesome half-day seminar (or, the way it’s going, it may end up being a whole-day seminar) that will be more in depth. Or something like that. Who knows? It is my hope though, to start teaching this stuff within the next month or two. So, if you know a church or faith organization that wants some training on how to engage the LGBT community, well, tell them wonderful things about me. And then contact me and give me their information.
Third, I have been reading and researching, as always. Right now I am reading Andrew Marin’s “Love is an Orientation” book for the second time. The first time I read it, I was getting educated. That was 2 years ago. This second time that I’m working through it is different. I find myself relating to the stories he shares and saying, “Yeah, I’ve met people like this with similar stories.” I find myself relating to his story more personally as well, having now personally encountered some of the same challenges and obstacles that he mentions. It really is a must-read for any evangelical Christian who wants to understand how to build friendships with those in the LGBT community. A warning though – it will break your heart and change you forever. Beware.
I’ve also been reading lots of other books and articles on the therapy options available for those who are experiencing difficulty coming to terms with their same-sex attraction. This has been…interesting. The range of emotions that I experience while reading about the options available is, well…diverse. I travel from totally infuriated to totally hopeful in a matter of minutes sometimes. I can’t help but get really “mama-bear-ish” when I read about the ways people have suffered spiritual abuse at the hands of well-intentioned, poorly qualified/educated Christians who have not dealt with the issue ethically, appropriately, or compassionately. And yes, by “mama-bear-ish” I mean, “I will growl at you and destroy you if you try that again on someone I love. (Growl growl. Bare my teeth!)”
The good news is that there are some good things out there and I have particularly been enjoying reading about Sexual Identity Therapy, which is actual therapy (counseling by a mental health professional) and is gaining some endorsement by key members of the American Psychological Association. Rather than seeking to change orientation, it provides a supportive and encouraging environment for clients who are experiencing difficulty integrating their religious values with their sexual identity. It creates space for the client to determine their values, and for the therapist to assist the client in reaching congruence between his/her values and his/her sexuality. If you want to know more, you can read more here: http://tinyurl.com/3qwe6f2. Ideally, I’d really like to write an article (or perhaps a book someday) on the implications (ethical, moral, spiritual, and social) of the various forms of therapy available for those encountering same-sex attraction, and offer critique of the various organizations offering the different models, their measures of efficacy, etc. But, that’s for another day, or probably, another year. Oh pipe dreams!
One other thing I have been doing is intentionally building relationships. I’ve been meeting with people at my Seminary and the University across the street, in hopes of garnering support for some of the events I have in the works. One of the things I’m working towards is starting a small-group to discuss topics of faith and sexual orientation in a non-threatening way. I want to get this started asap but we are still seeking the right venue to hold it at – a place where people from the college, the seminary, and the community at large can all feel comfortable coming somewhat anonymously. Additionally, I’m hoping that I can advertise the event on both campuses, but will need to go through the proper channels to get that approved, which could take some time.
I’ve also been immersing myself in the LGBT community, attending LGBT events, etc. here in Lexington to build new relationships. I went to a drag show a few weeks ago with my husband and a friend of his from work. It was not my first time seeing drag, but it was my first time sitting through an entire show, which was a good experience. We went because one of our friends was performing. I know it meant a lot to him that we came. I also was thrilled to have the opportunity to visit the local LGBT support group in Lexington. I got to make some new friends, which is always wonderful. I was grateful for how welcoming and friendly they were to the one straight girl in the room!
Lastly, I am working towards a presence at the Lexington Pride festival. I am going outside of my skin with excitement. I’d really like to have a booth where we offer apologies for how the church has hurt the LGBT community and hand out free food/drinks to bless and serve those that are at the event. My goal is to show them that, despite the ugly signs and protesters, God doesn’t hate them, he actually thinks they’re pretty amazing.
So, that is what is UP. Whew, I’m worn out just re-counting all of that. Please be praying! There is much that is ‘in the works’ right now and my prayer is that God would bring it all to fruition in His timing. It has been really neat to see how God is bringing together a group of people around me who are equally excited and dedicated to building these safe environments to discuss faith and sexual orientation. I can’t wait to see what happens next! Until next time….LOVE BOLDLY.