I’ve written versions of this letter several times; in my head, while brushing my teeth, even on my computer on occasion. I’ve never sent it for a few reasons; I didn’t want to supersede all the good you’ve provided me in my life, I didn’t want to stir the pot, and I didn’t want to hurt you. So why am I doing this now, on this bog? I am not entirely sure, actually. Maybe I am a coward. Maybe I’m vindictive. Or maybe I am just……tired. But, in all cases, I am fighting to see where you truly love me. And that is hard for me.
I have often idolized you during my 50+ years on this earth. I have modeled so many aspects of my life around you. I try to think critically. I try to stay calm in stressful situations. I try to to be nurturing and consistent. I try to verbalize the love I feel for others and make an effort to show that love in meaningful ways. SOOOO many things I do are because you modeled it first for me. And for many, many years of my life I felt your pride in my actions. In fact, much of my confidence, joy, and determination is derived from the truth I always followed like a beacon in the storm – you are the one person who loved me completely and unconditionally. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about you in some way, almost always in a positive manner, and that often makes me smile.
However, we both know there are pieces in this picture that are harder to deal with. How you’ve never wanted to meet Zack and Sophia, two individuals made in the image of God who did nothing to you except be adopted by two lesbians. The anger and hatred you apparently still carry against my mom. How you feel about Deana, who by the way I persued. How you virtually have no active relationship with my brother, his kids, or my kids, and probably blame them and exonerate yourself completely. How you feel about my life. I have always ignored these shortfalls with you as I felt it was more important to just love you. And all I am asking for is the same from you.
I’m over 50 years old and my heart is breaking because I was wrong about one thing for sure – you love is not unconditional. You see me through a lens that hones into one aspect of my life – my sexuality. And that is just wrong.
For months, I have been having recurring dreams where you are the central figure. In them, I am almost always a teenager, most of the time high school age, and living with you. The dreams often change circumstances, but always you are the hero that you were – my main hero, the one that protected me, the one who met all my needs, the person I remember at that time who was the only person I KNEW loved me no matter what. Ah, I missed that person. You see, I have known I was gay since about 12. Maybe 13. Puberty and all that. I hated myself because of that. There were times, even then, when I thought that dying would probably be easier than to admit I was a broken, filthy lesbian. But even on my darkest days, I’d look at you and realize that you loved me. SOOOOO much. And that was enough. I held on because of YOU. I knew that, even when I hated myself so much, you carried enough love to hold me over and that created enough for me to face one more day. Sure, other people loved me too…..I admit that……but YOUR love was my reason to not quit.
It was in that envelope of love that I started going to church on my own. In meeting the reality of Jesus in my own heart, I realized that you had already prepared my heart for the miracle that Christ is. He loves me, just like you did. He cares for me, just like you did. He will do anything for me, just like you would. While those teenage years were hard in so many ways, accepting Christ took the beacon you had provided for me and expanded so much as I grew closer to Jesus. And, as far as my sexuality, I was SO RELIEVED that now I had the means to be changed from it! The only thing that held me back a bit during those first years as a born again Christian was my concern for your own faith and related religiosity. While my church didn’t say those in your faith were not saved, I was so sure that you did not have the connection to Christ that I was having because of the dogma of the religion you were raised in. I struggled so much for that and often prayed that you would experience what I was experiencing. I tried now and then back in the day to bridge that gap with you, but it was hard…….it was weird to even suggest that you were lacking anything, and to push too much seemed disrespectful and even intimidating. I held a burden in my heart about this for many, many years, but I also had peace in my heart that you knew Christ. It wasn’t that I thought you were not saved, but that you were missing out on so many things with Jesus that I yearned for you to experience. I am very glad your faith now seems to be an answer to all my years of praying for you.
Anyway, you lived through the years that followed, but you probably don’t know the efforts I made through the church, through hours of prayer, through basically reparative therapy I went through to not be gay. I was determined to be straight. In addition, I had plenty of guys after me and could have gone down the path of being sexually active with them to build that “straight lifestyle”, but I was also determined to not diminish Christ’s directive to avoid the “sins of the flesh”. My husband fit that area well for many reasons, and I perceived him as a godly man. I know now in retrospect that I married him for all the wrong reasons, and apart from the beautiful children we had together, I regret putting him and myself through 16 years of marriage based mostly on my desire to avoid being gay and focus onbeing a “good Christian”, Okay, full disclosure – of also not disappointing you…..right after not disappointing Jesus. And even though back then I found the idea ludicrous, I was afraid that you’d condemn me. And you HAVE! I should probably add, throughout those years with my husband, I continued through several means to work with Jesus, the church, etc in removing my attraction to women. Including a suicide attempt, which was done in San Antonio when I was about 25, the first time the two of us separated.
Back to my dreams. I found it curious that they kept happening, always with you being the focus. I would wake and feel so warm, picturing your love in those dreams, but was always confused about why I kept having them. I mean, let’s face it, I am now over 50 and those years were a long time ago. Week after week, I pondered this, but then realized I miss that person in my life. The person that I KNEW loved me just as I was…..mistakes and all. Am I saying you don’t love me now? No, not at all. But whether that love I felt as a kid/teenager was based on a fantasy because back then I was “straight”, it was real to me and I never sensed any withholding of it. And I miss it. I haven’t felt that from you in years.
Today, I insist to myself that you love me. You reassure that you will be there for me, and I try to trust that. But I also know clearly that out of love, or concern, or whatever the word is – you don’t love the piece of me that is a lesbian. And you’ve refused to partake in very important pieces of my life – MY FAMILY – because of it. I also suspect you may think that I am not a “real Christian” because I am with Deana and am in this lifestyle, based on the things that your spouse posts on Facebook and your own comments directly to me. You even say you are worried that I will go to hell because of it. While all of this is exceedingly hard for me to admit, I want to assure you that I understand that your pastor tells you, and you believe the Bible is clear about this condemnation. However, I must candidly say that MY faith believes the Bible when it says that no one can know the heart of man, that our sins are completely covered by the blood of Christ, and our own efforts have nothing to add to it. That, when we accept Christ, we bring nothing to the table and Christ assures us that we cannot be snatched from His hand. Also, I will NEVER suggest to you through statements that I am “praying for you (to change)”, “praying for you (to accept me)”, etc. Even when our faith differed and some suggested yours was not “true”, I never considered you were heading to hell nor did I pray that you be saved from the first. When I pray for you, I pray for you to be blessed, period.
On that note, I hope you accept that I love Jesus, that He loves me, that we interact daily (really, in the moments throughout the day), and I completely trust that He will not forsake me – even now. I didn’t just “decide” to be a lesbian, nor did I “decide” to ignore Jesus. I hope you can trust that I have peace that Jesus loves me, period. I don’t say that lightly, nor am I trying to justify my marriage or anything else. I am saying I trust Jesus. And whether you or anyone else defines my marriage as a sin does not diminish the saving grace that we all receive in Christ. I am not trying to perpetuate a “license to sin” mentality, but I hope you know that after almost 25 years of attempting to abolish my attraction to women, I have accepted that I am who I am and have peace that Jesus will not forsake me. Admittedly, you and I have different views regarding this about my life, but I hope we can move past it. We should both trust in Jesus and His saving grace, because we BOTH have sinned and continue to do so (iyes, I have more things to work on besides “my sexuality”) and the Bible is clear that His death and resurrection covers those sins. But if we don’t believe his blood covers those sins, then the whole Gospel is a lie. There is no in between – there is no mixing the two and insisting we have to do some intervention with our own actions for SOME sins. But again, if you don’t see it that way, I am not here to change your mind. But I would never say you or your spouse are disqualified from heaven due to sin, because in MY belief system, doing so diminishes the power of Christ and the fact that He conquered the grave.
Also, as much as it hurts my heart, I have to share that I am no longer secure that you love me as Jesus does and maybe that is okay. Maybe it is better that I don’t look to you in the same way as I did, because you’re not perfect. Wow, it’s weird that I wrote that. You’ve always been my measuring stick for perfection. But anyhow, the sad truth is your love has clearly been communicated as conditional, that I am not worthy of it, and while I appreciate your concern and stated love, I mostly feel your dislike for me. Your DISLIKE of me. Can you picture being in my position, of acknowledging that fact? You make it abundantly clear, in every conversion – even the most mundane – that I don’t measure up. That I am at risk. And that I you have no pride in my life.
Even at my age, I wish you’d give me enough credit to treat me as a person that was created in the image of God. Even apart from my role in our relationship, because I have worth. A few years ago, you told me a story about how you gave an old man that had lost his Bible a new one. Your eyes teared up as you recounted the tale. I sense no tears or such emotion for me, even as you also share that when I was born you were floating on the clouds. I have no reason to feel that lack of emotion except for one reason – I am a lesbian. And that just really sucks.
Look, I need to calibrate this. It was not my intention to knock you. I don’t want you to feel as if I am saying you’re in this mean space or that you’re meaning or trying to hurt me. But it DOES hurt, and that sucks badly. It’s like getting a grade of A- and being told I am a loser. I guess I am saying I want to acknowledge the “elephant in the room” and say – I know we see things differently. I don’t condemn you for your beliefs, but I won’t hide the fact that they are hurtful and seem more important to you than “loving your neighbor and enemies”. It seems self-righteous, especially since you’ve had a lot of sin in your life which I don’t even focus on. Sometimes I wish and pray so hard it was not this way, but I love you so much NOW that I don’t want to change you. And I am writing this to acknowledge this and to tell you in my own words that I don’t want to have this separation because of your negative view of me, or the damage that view has caused me. I don’t want to feel both an urgent desire to call you just to hear your voice, but hesitate (and ultimately, not call) because of not wanting to dance around the truth of this difference. I don’t want to feel like calling you just allows you to point out how disappointed you feel, or that your constant prayers for me are because you believe I am going to hell. I don’t mean to suggest that you stop having these concerns, but it does nothing for our relationship or even the truth of Christ by doing that. To summarize, stop throwing stones at me.
I also want to add that you should have plenty of things to be proud about in regards to me, even if now you no longer see or acknowledge them. While I will try very hard to no longer focus on the fact that my sexuality is a negative for you, I hope you can see that I am not the sum of that sexuality exclusively. You should have pride in my life, because I am abundantly blessed. I have been in a stable, loving, and encouraging marriage for over 17 years (something that I could never say about my first marriage). All five of my kids are thriving in their own way and have the foundation of Christ to build upon. I work very hard to not be ruled by my emotions, though I leave room for understanding and empathy. I have overcome some pretty big obstacles and am thriving. I have an amazing career where I am (now) appreciated and valued. I am mentoring a few people, in their career and also spiritually, and hope that blesses them. I am financially sound, which includes helping others who are not as fortunate. I am introspective, constantly praying and seeking to grow – to have my heart and mind corrected or altered by Christ as He leads. I hope, by going through this process each day, I can become a better person towards you as well, in that I can at least interact with you without the residue that has permeated me because of this situation.
Finally, I challenge you to think about why you follow your faith. Does it feed your soul and remove anger, condemnation, and judgment from your heart? Or is it so that you can look at others and measure their sin? Do you spend your days worrying about all of the people that are going to hell? Do you DECIDE for yourself, based on what you read and are being taught, that there are so many that DESERVE hell? Do you compare yourself (I assume you believe you’re going to heaven) to others and in that comparison determine others are NOT going to heaven? None of these things describe the Gospel that I follow.
Ephesians 2:4-9 says, “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. “
John 13:34-35 says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
And just in case you feel warning me about hell and what you’re concerned about is love, here is 1 Cor 13:4-6, defining love:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
Finally, despite the harder words I’ve written here, I do love you and wish things were better between us.