Where Do You Start?
Where do you start a love story? Not the typical love on where boy meets girl, girl meets girl, or boy meets boy. Not the love story of boy meets Abba or girl meets Abba either. Although that story is part of it. But this love story is about meeting you. That generic word we have all come to love and hate. It is the love story of finding the authentic you.
Do I start with the first girl I kissed and the first time I heard the word gay? Do I talk about being married and the moment I met a woman who pierced through something I hide very well? To do that I want to justify. I want to delve into that my marriage had problems and ones that included verbal and emotional abuse. That even seems to send the wrong message. So here is my love story. One that is unfinished and not tied up pretty in a bow.
I always felt different from everyone else, as though I was a part of another dance or the same dance, but with a complete other song playing. If you ever found my journals and read my private thoughts you would see prayer after prayer begging God to show my why I wasn’t normal. To just break whatever is inside me that kept me fully from him. On the outside I seem to have it all, spiritually speaking. I had a missional focus and a charismatic personality to boot. It was rare for someone to know my inner turmoil.
I married at the age of 30. Although I knew I didn’t love him like I thought I should the one thing I did know he was the first man to not repulse me. Guys before, I would crush on, but then I would literally get sick at the thought of a date, a kiss or whatever I thought would happen. Girls, now that was another story and I never really connected it all together. The reason for this was because of the first girl I kissed. I had been told by some other friends that she was gay. I didn’t know what that word meant at the time, but what I gathered was that what she and I had done was bad, very bad. So with that I quickly pushed her away and those feelings as deep inside me as I could. I did such a great job of this that it never occurred to me why I would felt destroyed when I lost a close friendship with a girl. So, I ignored a lot of warning signs about him and myself. I thought getting married would solve my inner turmoil. It didn’t, of course. Then I met “her.” Four years into trying to hold a marriage together she came. I knew she was a lesbian and I knew I was at risk. At risk of what I had denied for so long would be found out. She, for all my fighting, pierced right through it all. She found my hidden secret and ripped it open. So much so I was left reeling. I was left with a question. Was I gay? Was I bi-sexual? Or was I just insane? At times it felt like I was insane. I was depressed. I was married, yes, things weren’t great, but I was married. I was wanting to die and no one to speak to. Too scared to talk to anyone in my church, too scared to go to a LGBT affirming (they might convert me), and when I tried to tell my husband at the time it turned ugly. I needed to know what to do. In my heart I knew the answer. I was gay, but where was God? I decided to delve deep, even with my therapist I put strict “rules” on this journey. I told him I would not do anything till I knew where God stood. He asked me how I would know. I told him I would know. I always know when Abba was speaking to me. Little did I know a week later Abba had an appointment with me.
The opportunity came to me as a trip to Florida for two weeks. Those two weeks saved me. Little did I know God’s grace was on me as I was too depressed to even know it was there the whole time. At the time I was reading Don Miller’s book, Searching For God Knows What. The title it’s self sums up where I was at the time so well. I got to the chapter titled, “Feet Of Trees” and in the last two pages of this chapter God spoke to me. Miller states: “I realized that. Jesus was always and I mean always, talking about love, about people, about relationships, and he never once broke anything into steps or formulas. What if, because we were constantly trying to dissect his message, we were missing a blatant invitation?……Now I have to tell you all of this frightened me a bit because I had always assumed a kind of anonymity with God. When I saw myself in heaven, I didn’t imagine sitting at the right hand of God, as scripture says……But if the gospel of Jesus is relational; that is, if our brokenness will be fixed, not by our understanding of theology, but by God telling us who we are, then this would require a kind of intimacy of which only heaven knows. Imagine, a Being with a mind as great as God’s, with feet like trees and a voice like rushing wind, telling you that your are His cherished creation. It’s kind of exciting if you think about it…..God’s voice and presence, would instill our souls with such affirmation we would need nothing more and would cause us to love people so much we would be willing to die for them. Perhaps this what the apostles stumbled upon.” The moment I read that it was as though God opened the door for me. He spoke right through Don Miller in that moment. That is when peace came. You see, that is where God introduced me to me. That is the moment he showed me no amount of knowledge or theology would bring me peace. What would was the full knowledge that he, Abba, liked me, he LIKED me. He knew who I was. All of me. I went back home from that a bit lighter and yet so scared. I had a husband waiting for me and feeling so unsure of so much. One thing I knew I had found something that day I couldn’t turn off.
Candace Chellew-Hodge quotes in her book Bulletproof Faith:A Spiritual Survival Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians Bagger Vance, “each of us possesses, inside ourselves, one true Authentic Swing that is ours alone.” That is what I started seeing that day in Florida. I started realizing part of my authentic swing and that moment I started fighting for myself. I had never done that before. I had always just gone with the tide and let everything else around me define who I was so that I could feel normal. When I got home I still didn’t know how to tell my husband. I was just so scared and I knew I still needed to dig. My therapist had been harping on me to join an LGBTQ support group he wanted to start and when I got back I told him I would. It was shortly after I was able to say to him and with a smile, “Dave, I’m gay and I know God is more than ok with it. I know he loves me and even more, he likes me.” I’ll never forget the first group. As some in that group later attested to, I cried, I cried some more and then I cried even more. They were tears of fear. Fear of hurting my husband, but admitting there were things that weren’t right even without my sexuality. I cried because I was happy and confident in myself. I cried because there were men and women in my same place and it blew my mind away to see the same “worn” look on them too. As I dug into that group I tore myself open to them. I opened myself to a process that I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. They held mirrors up to me that continued to show me love and acceptance no matter how many masks I tried to put on. The biggest moment for me was letting go of my anger. I was letting go of anger at the “why now” question, anger at “her” for entering my life, then leaving, and anger at myself. As I shed all of that I began to open myself up to me and embracing all these things I had come to hate. As I laid back, accepted God’s love for myself, I realized how awesome I was. I realized I had strengths. I was funny, supportive, an activist and so many more things. These things were my authentic swing. These were things people said I was before, but I couldn’t see them because I had no self-esteem. I had took on so many other personalities to cover up the fact I had no clue who I was. For once, I knew who I was, I knew what my strum was, my piece of art God had created me to be. I could celebrate it. Dave even had me make a play list of songs that celebrated or were known to celebrate the LGBTQ community. This allowed me to celebrate myself and allowed me to laugh. I’m still celebrating it. It spills over into so many parts of my life now. For once in my life I am chasing my dreams and playing my strum my Abba gave me. I now am back in college and doing a job I love. I am now with a woman that supports me beyond belief. She teaches me lessons daily on how to believe in myself, how to never give up and how to stay true to my authentic self. She is one of my biggest cheerleaders when I feel I’m losing footing. I can only give Abba credit for any of this.
If anything I could say to a woman that is married and she is coming awake to a truth inside her or trying to come to terms with it, it is this. You are not alone. Please don’t think you have to sit in the dark alone. There are options for you. I know how hard it is. I don’t want to present my story as only one option or package it as though it’s easy. It was the option that was best for me and in the end for my ex-husband. I want you to know that God is waiting and he is waiting in love. He loves you beyond measure. He loves the person you present to the world and he loves the one you are in the dark. There is an authentic swing waiting for you and Abba is right there to help you be the best you, you never knew was there. I guess it could be stated and ended like this, as Don Miller writes: “I have to believe the sooner we find this truth beautiful, the sooner we will fall in love with the God who keeps shaking things up, keeps changing the paths, keeps rocking the boat to test our faith in Him, teaching us to not rely on easy answers, bullet points, magic mantras, or genies in lamps, but rather in His guidance, His existence, His mercy, and His love.”
Jules currently lives in a small town in the bootheel of Missouri. She is currently a student at Southeast Missouri University and studying Exceptional Children/Elementary Education with hopes to work with children who are on the autistic spectrum and earn a Masters degree as a Board Certified Behavioral Analyst. Julie was raised in a strong Christian home that taught her the strong value of community and in some ways is your typical PK. She has always been in a dance with her Abba from a young age and will continue the turns, twist, and beauty of it.