An Open Letter

November 9, 2012

{posted with permission, after reading each other’s words and deciding to post together. Vikki is co-directing LTYM Minneapolis with yours truly, and it’s a crazy good thing to be working with her.}

Dear Vikki,

I know there are a lot of political issues and I care about those issues, but yesterday (election day) you were heaviest on my heart. Maybe because we had lunch this week. Maybe because you shouldn’t have to be an issue. Isn’t that such a big part of it? People were voting about you, not just marriage, even if they don’t see that. That’s how it must feel. That’s how it feels to me. I try to imagine what it would be like if I were you, and I think I’d feel like a puppet and not a person–a stereotype, a label, a cardboard cut-out signage version of the all of me.

All these months, while ads blared and signs were put out on lawns and bumpers, it’s like you have been standing on a big stage, waiting to see if more people love you than hate you. All the while people are pointing at you and arguing with each other, about whether or not you count. About whether or not your family should really be called a family, in this state, in this country. And then, it seems impossible, but we tried to finish all the fighting by casting ballots over your life.

Fill in a circle. Yes. Or no.

I can’t even begin to fathom your pain.

I don’t think any kind of faith, any belief system and its believers has the right to inflict pain in the name of God. Because even if the intention is not meant to harm, it does. I want my faith to mean that I sit in the quiet with my God and I don’t concern myself with right and wrong in others, only in me, to be sure that I’m loving as radically as He does.

But as it is, people get to insert their religious beliefs into politics. It’s always been this way but what confuses me about that is this–in the end, our morals and values, whatever they are, are ours. No government or Constitution or political party or President or State Rep. can take my heart and soul away. Our country will always be changing, and that’s okay. It is not a threat. It just is.

So I want you to know that I think you belong here, where you are and you have love in your life and you tell really great stories. We’ve only just recently met and what I know about you is that you’re my kind of person. Witty, kind and talented, and when you talk about your kids, what shows is that you love them but you aren’t pretending you don’t get tired and you aren’t pretending to have all the answers. There’s a humility about you that I don’t see often at all. You have no idea how good you are for those kids, despite any of the times it hasn’t felt like that’s true. All I needed to hear to know that is their dialog in your stories. They are secure enough to say it like it is, and they are loved so unconditionally, they don’t fear being exactly themselves.

They’re going to need these gifts of confidence you’re giving them. They’re going to need what you’ve instilled more than my kids are going to need the same gifts that are coming from me. That’s not fair or right, it’s just the truth.

:::::

In August, simply and beautifully, you described clothing, a ritual, and years and years of having what you look like matter too much. You told a tale of insecurity turning to something that feels like home. A shirt, a belt; the things you put on after pulling them from your laundry baskets or your closet or dresser. In your home. All the things that make up home. Your kitchen and your couch, how the floor creaks there and the door catches there. Home. Those three people under that roof that give you what we all need: People to talk to, cry with, fight with, eat with and stay with. Home is a place where we belong.

Maybe I’m telling you this because I just finally wanted to say it: That yes I’m a Christian but I’m not going to hurt you. I mean, maybe it’s not obvious at all that not every Christian has this mentality that sets them apart in ways that are exactly not what Jesus was trying to say. I mean, I just want you to know that I don’t have that mentality that shouts that I have the truth and therefore I’m better. Come in and be just like us, clean up your act in the ways we see fit, or go out and go to hell. 

I’m not ever going to do that. It would go against all of my truths, those whispered by a loving God over my seriously messed up drunken history and my ongoing battles with pride and selfishness, etc, infinity… And the truth I don’t get to share often enough, maybe because I’m scared of fellow Christians, is that I don’t even think about sin and sexual preference when I meet someone who happens to be gay. I don’t put you in a category or in my political beliefs or my faith. It simply is not my job, even if I thought you were wrong. It is not my job and it doesn’t fit in my heart because I’m not here to decide anything for anyone else. I really believe I’m here to know stories and love the people behind them no matter what, always.

People say things like, Well, it’s obvious. It’s just biblical. Homosexuality is wrong. And then the other side says, Well, the Bible also says that women should have their heads covered and we shouldn’t be eating unclean things like meat, so you’re just picking and choosing. 

I just don’t know why we’re focusing on this. Is that so bad? Why is it up to us? I mean, in a paragraph or so I’m about to lay out why it’s confusing in the first place. We don’t even know what we’re talking about! So I’m just heart-broken and truly sorry that Christians are shouting and shaking their heads and making fun of you. I hate it because it is right to hate hate. Because no matter what a person believes and no matter how sure they are of those beliefs, I don’t understand why it would ever be okay for anyone to govern the personal lives of others while vehemently throwing around self-righteous judgment. I guess since I’m a Christian I’m supposed to go over there and stand at the front of the line with Christians that behave that way, but I just can’t. I can try to forgive them, but I cannot stand with them. I will not.

Oh, that the those who are always considered last would be first.

:::::

You know what’s always tricky for me? I’m in the middle, right? I mean, I grew up with Christians and I have Christian friends and I believe in the foundational powerful gospel of Christ. But if I say what I think, I’m attacked by them. And if I don’t say what I think, I’m not serving you (and so many others) like I think I should. I guess I’m kind of screaming, finally, by writing this to you. When I imagine Christians directing their arguments toward me in response to the beliefs I’m writing about here, I want to tell them, first of all, this:

The Greek word that we now read as “homosexualilty” is “Arsenokoitai“. But this word did not refer to same sex relationships of any kind. In fact, the word referred to promiscuity, of any kind. As well, in the New Testament, as Paul was writing about sexual relationships, he did not use the word “paiderasste”which actually does translate to homosexuality.

I wanted you to know that too, in case you didn’t. It’s just kind of interesting. I mean, I’m sure other people would read it all differently, that’s the thing. They’ll throw their research back at me and that’s just it. We can’t even figure it out. I wonder if it’s because God is smart and we’re not supposed to because it comes back to shut up and just love everyone. It’s so simple and it sounds so trite, but it’s just truth.

Many Christians have been translating the Bible to fit their comfort level for all of history and then doing their best to implement that into the lives of others. It’s not working for anyone, but relationships are, you know? I don’t want to know you so I can change you. I don’t want to take part in trying to enforce laws on you I want to know you because I like you. You are not a puppet or a project, you are you.  Vikki.  I just wanted you to know that I see the wrong of hate and I’m here with you, at the end of the line. I don’t get much of anything right, and all I really want is to know a God of love more and more so I can love well.

I just wanted you to know. We’re the same. I know that. Writers, mothers, co-directors and and sisters and daughters and all of those roles in life and we are both, just as we messy-and-beautiful are, so wholly loved. You know how in Lutheran church (and I think in Catholic church) they share the peace of Christ by shaking hands? When I visit those churches I always like that part. If you weren’t two hours away right now, I’d want to come over for sharing the peace right now, which is sort of a humorous mental picture while it’s also totally moving. Jesus is my bridge to peace, and I really appreciate it when my friends end up somehow seeing HIS love and peace instead of seeing me.  If THAT makes any sense at all…

Also. Can we have lunch again in the next couple of weeks? I need to laugh that hard again. You acting out your children fighting will never ever get old.

{you can read Vikki’s response to me on her blog, Up Popped a Fox}

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