Part 1: My Christian Friends
My Christian friends are having a hard time with life right now. So many of them are living the loving and inclusive life that Jesus lived. They just want to welcome anyone into their faith and they don’t want to be part of conversations about who is allowed in heaven or not because in their hearts, their God welcomes good people into Heaven and that’s all that matters. But these friends are listening to their Faith be equated with hate and ignorance and intolerance and all they know is that Jesus’ love has given them purpose and they have Faith in a God that is Good. They don’t want to debate verses in the bible. They just want to open their arms like Jesus did. They don’t know all of the answers, but they have Faith in love and in goodness and in kindness.
And they’re getting the shit kicked out of them every day.
Yet they continue to be the voice in lives like mine reminding those of us that have been persecuted, “Not all Christians…” They speak up and defend themselves when it is assumed that everyone of their same Faith thinks Gay Marriage isn’t right. They jokingly point out that they have complete Faith that the two men in their Church married and raising kids will have a better seat in heaven than they do because they don’t curse. They see the story about the Transgender Woman who committed suicide and they wish they could have met her. Not because they think her soul needed saving, but because they wish they could have shown them the love of Jesus.
These friends send me emails when I write about being worried that my Christians friends don’t think I’m going to heaven. They lovingly say, “If there is a heaven. You belong. No matter what.” They quietly remind us again and again, “Not all of us…” when we group Christians into categories representing judgement or hate. They keep fighting for their voices to be heard in hope that some day the word Christian is not so easily equated with bigotry or ignorance.
Part 2: My Smart Socially Liberal Friends In The Bible Belt
I have a lot of friends on my side of the aisle who are good with words and try to use those words to debate respectfully on Facebook when controversial subjects come up. I love seeing their activity on Facebook because, in a Red state, it’s nice to know that you have smart and kind people on your side who can intellectually and lovingly fight for your causes. Because a lot of times I’m too chicken to do it.
I’m really good at spending hours crafting the perfect status explaining why Transgender and Cisgender people should all be on the same side AGAINST the perverts and predators (since Trans people get targeted too) instead of waging the war against each other. I post on MY wall, my beliefs and my thoughts all the time. But if you post something contrary on your wall? I just don’t even try. In part because I am apathetic because I just believe there are some minds I can’t change.
But mostly I’m chicken.
But so many of my smarter friends will open discussions about the trials facing the LGBTQ community and I proudly read as they respectfully debate the points I wish I was smart enough and brave enough to debate. They speak for my people and they do it beautifully. It’s hard to defend the rights of LGBTQ people in the bible belt yet so many of my friends do time and time again and it just makes me proud.
And to my socially liberal friends who vote conservative because they are conservative in every other way, you impress me the most. It proves so many of these issues are bigger than politics. They’re human issues and if you proudly vote Republican because of economics or military policy, but you LOUDLY support the LGBTQ community? You are proving that. You are proving that human rights go beyond politics.
Part 3: My Undying Gratitude
It’s hard to be in either of the groups I mentioned. Whether you’re a loving and non-judging Christian who thinks Jesus loves everyone and all good people go to heaven regardless of Church attendance, or you’re a socially liberal person in a blue state in the Bible belt – Life is hard. It’s so easy to get discouraged because sometimes you just can’t win. You just can’t make someone see things the way you see them. You just can’t open hearts or minds to your side. No matter how kind you are or how respectful. No matter how logical your arguments are or no matter how full of love your voice is, you are still sometimes going to meet walls of hate or disagreement that will never budge. Some people are just going to always believe all religion is terrible. Some people are going to always believe Transgender Men and Women are faking or freaks. Some people are never going to think Christians can support Gay Marriage because of the Bible. Some people are never going to believe Gay Marriage should be allowed. (Usually because of the Bible.)
But know that I thank you, not for ME, but for the people reading your words. You might have a Facebook friend who has a child that is just slowly coming out as Transgender, and you don’t know it. Or maybe a coworker whose Sister was assigned the gender of Male at birth. Maybe your neighbor is gay. Or maybe that girl in that running group that you friended has a gay child. (Hi! *waves*) That friend sees your words debating rights, or maybe your words proclaiming the love of Jesus no matter your gender or sexual orientation, and that friend’s heart feels full. That friend will never tell you what your words did, but take it from me…they read your words.
Whether you’re trying to remind people about the all-encompassing love of Jesus, or you’re trying to defend Gay Marriage in the bible belt…your words are being read by people who need them. Please, keep writing. Many of us are too scared, or not good with words, and we need you to speak for us. I know it’s discouraging and sometimes you think, Maybe I should just keep my mouth shut and live my life. But please don’t. There are Christians struggling to find church homes that will not judge their gay marriage or their Trans brother. There are Trans people in your community worried about coming out and your words remind them they have friends they can trust. Your words matter. Don’t be discouraged.
The political discourse in this country is filled with soundbites and rage. We need kind and respectful voices in the crowd. We need people who can arrive at, “We can agree to disagree,” but have gotten there without angering the other person. We need voices that are calm and ones willing to say, “I’ve never thought of it that way before.” We need people will to say, “I was wrong,” and most importantly of all, “I do not know.” But most importantly we need voices of love to counter the fear. “I love you. I respect you. I am not afraid of you.”
Thanks to all of you. I try to be brave and see opportunities where maybe I can share wisdom or insight but it’s hard because I’m a fragile little flower. So to you strong saplings who will to speak for your people even when you are surrounded by ancient Redwoods, Thank you.