This post brought to you by ZzzzQuil Nighttime Sleep-Aid, which apparently will not help much with the time change in Australia!  🙂

For the majority of my life, I considered myself broken.  Wow.  That sentence was so short, so to the point, it almost seems mundane.  Simple.  Factual, but not that powerful.  And yet, the truth hidden behind its simplicity was such a huge part of my life, I almost feel sad that it isn’t getting the acclaim it deserves.  It’s like I want to scream “Here’s Broken Minard, she is a celebrity!  You should be asking for her autograph!”

Anyway……..this piece of me was rooted in many things; mostly the fact that I felt different most of my life, and this difference was revealed to my mind as my sexuality which clarified as I grew older.  But it didn’t JUST relate to that – I always felt like I wasn’t good enough.  I wasn’t smart enough.  I wasn’t pretty enough.  I didn’t weigh enough (ah, to have that concern again!).  There were many ideas of “not enough” throughout the years and it all boiled down to the fact that someday, someone was going to find out I was a total fake.  That I would not be able to pull it off forever, and the truth would come out and the world would know I was nothing better than a broken, horrible person.  That my life amounted to nothing but smoke and mirrors.

I dealt with this part of my existence by being Broken Minard, though I am not sure when she arrived.  Truthfully, she always seemed to have existed.  My earliest memory of this person was in kindergarten.  I remember consciously thinking I was probably the dumbest kid in the class, but I was fortunate enough to be very, very polite (something I had heard a grown-up say about me) so I would use that to “hide” my lack of intelligence.  Over the years other ideas would come forward – I was funny, I was athletic… get the drift – and I’d factor those things in to build upon the facade to hide the “real me”.  And the cycle continued quite well as I grew.

Before I continue, the above was not all bad.  I’d have to say many of the things in my life today came out of this weird structure called my life.  I am a hard worker.  I have perfectionist qualities in some areas that help me succeed, although I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to others.  I naturally am “a fixer”; within my family, with my friends, and at work.  People like to come to me because I react quickly and such.  I embrace those things now, but they are rooted in the fact that I learned early on to be many things to people to hide the fact, at the root I was Broken.  Broken Minard.

Jump to when I was 16.  I was very confused because, by this time, I kind of “knew” I was gay and yet back then it wasn’t like it is today.  Gosh, did I just sound old?  But seriously, “gay” definitely existed back in the 80’s, but I will certainly say that it wasn’t prevalent and it certainly wasn’t overtly accepted.  More progressive or tolerant people didn’t “reject” gays, but I’d say it was more “look the other way”.  My own Uncle was gay, had been with his partner my whole 16 years of life, but NO ONE said the word “gay”.  He was just Uncle and his partner was Uncle.  And to put this in context of that time……a girl won a contest on the radio and said something about, “My boyfriend and I have a baby.” and that was considered scandalous.  I mean, she ADMITTED ON THE RADIO that she had a baby out of wedlock???  By today’s standards, that ain’t no big deal.  (Note:  I am not suggestion “back then” was better or today worse or better, just sharing contextual references.)

So here I was, realizing I was an unmentionable.  And the realization made me panic, mostly because by then I had become pretty darn good at this whole “hide the fact you’re broken” technique and I knew I would have a lifetime of hard work ahead of me.  It was under this weight that I went to a friend’s church and accepted Christ.  Ah, the weight of the world of perfectionism and hiding were OVER!!!!  I had a real moment of peace and release and wow…….that moment changed my life.

However, it would appear that Broken Minard, who so ardently surrounded my being, wasn’t ready to let go.

Sheesh, I am spending too much time in the past.  I apologize, but this is not the intent of my main topic.  So now I am going to go fast forward to milestones in my life after accepting Christ at 16:

  • Knew I was gay and Christian and figured, well heck.  That can’t happen.
  • Prayed and prayed and prayed that God would heal me of my sexuality
  • To help Him, I married a godly man in my church 1 month after my 20th birthday
  • Also decided I was pretty broken and worth not much to the world, but a girl has got to make money so applied for jobs I was so not qualified for.  Broken doesn’t necessarily mean risk was not worth it.  And I suppose it paid off as I seemed to figure things out easily.
  • Had three great kids, one separation, expanded career, a divorce, and through it all I’d stare at my face in the mirror and see myself as now a liar as well as Broken Minard.
  • Fell in love with a woman, we got together, but we were not out even to family.  I was happy and ashamed at the same time.  Broken Minard was at her height.  Her zenith.  Her peak.
  • Five years into said relationship, I was “found out”.  Lost pretty much everything.  My job (which was my main positive identity), friends, and so much more.  For the first time in my life, Broken Minard was exposed.  And it was much worse than I could have ever, ever imagined.

Wow.  This is turning into a huge downer.  It wasn’t my intent, but I feel it’s important to share the reality of myself in order to better frame the message I DID want to share.  So, why DID I just rehash all of that?  Why now?

A couple days ago I referred to myself as Broken to Deana.  For the record, she is the first person I ever, ever introduced Broken to.  She was the first I shared everything with, that I allowed to see the “real me”.  In any case, I said something like, “Yeah, you know me…..Broken.” and she was like……”Wait, do you really think Broken still exists?”  And I really had to stop.  I realized for maybe the first time consciously, wow…….I haven’t even THOUGHT about Broken in YEARS.  I haven’t mentioned her in YEARS.  And then, with bells ringing and mental applause exploding in my head, I replied, “Well, wow!  I think Broken is gone!”

You see, the Most Horrible Time, when I lost everything, was like a birth for me.  And since I had Kirstie “naturally”, I can attest that birth is a very arduous, painful thing.  Honestly, I hope I never, ever have to go through anything close to the Most Horrible Time again in my life.  But, even when admitting the excessive discontent and pain of that period, at the end I really think Gina was born.  And Gina, without Broken tagging along, is a very different human.

  • There is no longer this separation from Christ that I had built.  The mote is gone.  The walls have tumbled.  And the Peace of the Lord abides.  I rest in Him now, in truth, and it rocks.  And I am glad He waited for me to realize He never, every meant for me to keep the distance between us as I did.
  • I may not be the smartest, the prettiest, the whatever, but I am this amazing creature, hand crafted by God and heck, I appreciate the gifts He’s provided for me to succeed.  And there are parts of me, formerly attributed to Broken, that are really quite cool.  Really.
  • I am out, as a lesbian.  That is not as easy to say “yeah, booya, in ya face.”  Nor does that mean I have an agenda or that this is some political stance.  I realize this whole area has become so politicized and is a huge debate platform for Evangelicals especially.  Heck, I still have some anger in this area.  I do react from rejection and certainly from perceived condemnation, which happens occasionally.  But overall, I can stand tall and be authentic and no longer feel as if I need to hide, or that this truth in my life is clear evidence of brokenness.
  • Almost as if I am mirroring the story of Job, God has restored so much to my life that, in comparison, the things that “I lost” seem almost pathetic.  Almost as if to say “really, you were upset about THAT? ”  I am exceedingly grateful for all that exists in my life.
  • I am much more empathetic.  I mean, when I was Broken, to be so would admit that there was something in me that could resonate with someone else’s pain or failure.  So, a byproduct of Broken was that I was very, very judgmental and harsh.  Oh, I am still those things now and then – don’t you think otherwise because hey, I really am NOT perfect even if sometimes I still pretend to be – but overall, as I’ve moved into this stage I am not afraid to share Gina, who is insecure, sensitive, great at mistakes and downright failures, and such. And it feels great to say “Hey, it will be okay” or share “I understand Broken, and it really, truly gets better.”  I especially love to support others coming out as LGBT, ESPECIALLY Christians, as I appreciate the tug between the two and the related pains and fears that exist in that realm.
  • I can admit I made a mistake or even say I am wrong without hyperventilating.  For reals.  It almost feels great.  Almost.
  • I do miss many people who I “lost” or that felt the need to leave my life when Broken was exposed.  I miss many very much, with a melancholy at times that borders unhealthy.  But, with each day, I smile more when I think of them.  I pray more sincerely for them and actually mean the good things I am sending to heaven.  And as I pondered this point, I can’t help but share without hesitation we have TONS more friends who are the most loving there is!

I could be wrong, but I think more people have bits of Broken in their lives.  Maybe not.  I admit my world view is most likely skewed or dysfunctional due to the aspects of my life I shared above.  But if ANY of the above has touched your life, don’t give up.  I pray that you can find at least one person to share Broken with.  I hope one day you can get to a point where Broken is no longer needed, or at least no longer powerful.  I pray that you realize that YOU, yes YOU, are an amazing human with much to bring to the table and are worthy of love from others.  That, in a nutshell, you rock.

RIP Broken Minard.  It was a good ride, though I won’t miss you!

Condemnation is a Four Letter Word

If you talk to any of my 2.78 regular readers, you may learn that the topic of condemnation is prevalent on this blog.  Oh, I might not use that specific word, but it threads its way throughout many of the themes and stories that I’ve shared over the years.  And that got me to thinking……why is that?  So, for several weeks that has been rumbling through the recesses of my mind, popping up here and there with epiphanies, to the point I decided I MUST write something about it TODAY.

So here I am.  Welcome to the recreation of my mini-journey, at least in part.  Sit back, grab your coffee, and let’s roll.

You may remember my post A Response to “A Friend in Christ” last year.  This situation still slightly haunts me today, as I have no clear evidence (though plenty of speculation) as to who sent me the letter and DVD.  I still have varying emotions (anger, sadness, and such) when I think of the words that exist in the letter I received.  More often than not, I feel the need to write additional responses – at least mentally – throwing out my detailed thoughts about how wrong it was to send that letter to me and how it was, at best, worthless condemnation on my life.  The amount of anger that is involved in my emotions at the time is directly related to how biting the words I mentally create in my response are.  And really, if I’m honest with you, the more biting they become, the more justified and happy I feel.  And that was my first realization.

Condemnation breeds condemnation.

The most satisfying feeling related to this situation – when I am living in my flesh at least – is when I lay down condemnation toward the person that wrote that letter.  Even though, when I first received it, I believe with my whole heart Jesus taught me I was doing this and that it was a mirror of the person’s letter.  That I was guilty of the same sin of condemnation towards them as they were towards me.

“But Lord,” I thought, clinging to my anger…….”they were wrong!”  As if my condemnation was somehow…….okay.  Righteous even.

So that got me to look around my life beyond this scenario, even to others around me, both those I know and those I know of.  And it became pretty clear very quickly…..

Condemnation breeds condemnation.

Don’t believe me?  Check out just a few examples:

  1. Fred Phillips, founder of Westboro Baptist Church, famous for the “God Hates Fags” message and for picketing numerous events including military funerals, was nearing death.  SO MANY rejoiced when hearing of this news, saying he would burn in hell, that his funeral should be picketed, etc.
  2. Read anything online about the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) and you will read a rainbow of views, across the board, many of which just spew hate – more towards the people who share their views than anything else.
  3. Spend more than 5 minutes on Facebook, and probably see extreme political memes such as these.  And they do nothing but encourage those who are condemning, or giving the other side reason to retaliate with their own condemnation.
  4. Religous actions and debates in thousands of online chat rooms, Facebook feeds, or online news comments filled with hate in the name of Christ (for and against topics).  Here is but one sample article and extracts of comments (more mild ones, too!).  In fact, there were over 175 comments on this article alone and most were arguments between commenters.

So far I have offered examples outside of myself.  But I must be real with you – I am the Queen of Condemnation.  It should not be so, as I often decry the condemnation that is often directed at me for my “lifestyle”.  As I stand proud, ready to fight themes like “Lordship Salvation vs Grace” and other seemingly holy interactions.  And yet, the last few weeks have revealed that, alas, I am no better than those who contact me.  If someone is in my face about a topic (political, religious, or otherwise) I have NO PROBLEM getting right back in their face.  In fact, if I’m honest, I will say I rather enjoy it.  And at some point, it even becomes a competition – who can be the best at condemning the other?  Oh, we are usually VERY good and veiling our words in polite discourse, even spiritual vernacular or via holy scripture.  We feel justified in our personal doctrines, the dogma we adhere to, or in the developed belief system we encircle ourselves in.  But the fact remains, we are going for the kill and usually feel completely righteous in our stance, even if there are no survivors when it is all said and done.

And, to make this clear about how painful this revelation was to me……I claim in word and “deed” that my dogma, my world view, my Christian Walk, is centered in Grace.  In Love.

And yet – condemnation was the root.  The focus.  The action.  The idol.  I cannot deny it any longer.

That got me to realizing a lesson I’ve learned before, I have even taught it!  We humans, we Christians filled with the Holy Spirit, too often walk in our own fleshly nature and not that of God.

OUR nature says that it is right and good to act out based on the actions of those around me.  You are good to me, I am good to you.  You are bad to me, I am bad to you.  You agree with me, we are good.  You don’t agree with me, it’s okay to annihilate each other.  Even in the name of God.  That’s even in the SCRIPTURE!

Exodus 21:24-25 ESV, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.”

Leviticus 24:17-22 ESV, Whoever takes a human life shall surely be put to death. Whoever takes an animal’s life shall make it good, life for life. If anyone injures his neighbor, as he has done it shall be done to him, fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; whatever injury he has given a person shall be given to him. Whoever kills an animal shall make it good, and whoever kills a person shall be put to death.”

Deut. 19:21 ESV, “Your eye shall not pity. It shall be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.”

See?  We obviously know these words so well as I have shown we function in this cycle very well in our society!

And yet…….as Jesus so lovingly reminds me almost daily and which I think I learn before stepping back into the law (flesh) and away from Grace……there is a Better way.  Because, time and again, He pointed out that we TOTALLY MISUNDERSTOOD THE CONTEXT OF SCRIPTURE!  If you don’t think that’s the case, then why did Jesus have to say so often “you have heard it said, but I have said” and then corrected our understanding?  And so He did……..

Matthew 5:38-41 ESV, You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.”

Jesus then ups the auntie by saying this:

Matthew 5:43-48 ESV (I often quote this… attention Gina), You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

And to just be clear what I believe Jesus meant to model the “Christian World View” on, let’s review this.  We should NOT base our actions on the old way (the law) as IT BREEDS CONDEMNATION.  In fact, the Apostle Paul himself referred to it as such and then turned around and refers to the New Covenant brought by Jesus Christ as the ministry of righteousness.

2 Cor. 3:4-11 ESV (emphasis mine), Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it.  For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory.”

So the letter (old covenant), which I seem to use in my life most often as I feel justified in “fighting back” or retaliating with those I choose to fight with, is clearly a ministry.  A ministry of death.  A ministry of condemnation.  It has “no glory at all”.  And Jesus meant for it to end.

And yet, here I am.

Instead, I want to live and walk in the spirit of Matthew 5.  If someone doesn’t agree with me – heck, call them my enemy – I will turn my other cheek.  IT SHOULDN’T MATTER.  In fact, I think Jesus was radical enough to say I SHOULD NOT RESIST THEM!  Okay, you want to say I am going to hell?  I don’t agree but you have that right and it is not my job to fight with you.  To convince you.  You have your political views?  Amen.  But my point is, we as humans/Americans/Christians/Name here spend far too much time condemning others.  And we should stop.  We should disagree, sure.  We should hold our beliefs and probably even hold them to heart, but that has NO bearing on how we interact with each other.  Vote for whom you vote, donate to whom you donate, but our hearts should be open and love should be our first thought. Empathy our second.  Respect our third.  But not condemnation.  Ever.

So, to sum it up, the HEAVENLY WAY of acting has no room for condemnation.  No more living in my flesh, of condemning others in the name of God or otherwise.  I want to live in the Spirit, where love reigns.  I will leave the rest of this summary to the Apostle Paul.  Peace to you!

Romans 8:1-11 ESV, There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”