Jan 302013

     Sometime you’re the windshield
     Sometime you’re the bug
     Sometime it all comes together baby
     Sometime you’re a fool in love
     Sometime you’re the louisville slugger
     Sometime you’re the ball
     Sometime it all come together baby
     Sometime you’re gonna lose it all.
– Mark Knopfler, “The Bug”

I’d be willing to bet that when Mark Knopfler wrote this song, it was in the midst of a “bug” kind of day.  (I mean, really – who, when having a great day thinks, “Gosh – life is great right now!! I feel like. . .  I feel like a WINDSHIELD!  Bugs in my teeth, cracked by a flyaway pebble on the highway.  Life is good!!”)  Only in those times when I feel like the bug in this idiom does the idea of being a windshield sound attractive.

These lyrics have been going through my head quite a bit over the last few months.  Which is to say that the recent past has been particularly “buggy” for me.  Without going into a whole lot of unnecessary details, I’ve had several moments where I’ve wondered if any notions I’ve had about life or my sense of call, have been misguided.  My partner and friends have heard me say, numerous times, that perhaps I should have gone into another line of work – that any ideas I’d had about feeling called to the church, or toward doing a PhD, had been illusory – figments of my overactive imagination.  I have this idea about how my life should look, and even though I can be pretty patient with how things unfold, there are times when I just get tired.  I want some momentum, to see some progress – to get a “yes” in a world that only seems to say “no.”

My friends are, on the whole, pretty patient with me, but there have been a couple of times lately when I’ve been struck by their replies to my flashes of self-pity.  One just gave me a stare.  Another told me that her unconditional care for me only comes into question when I seem determined to refuse it, or to give myself any slack in the process of it (and then gracefully continued to offer care even as I wrestled with pervasive questions of self-doubt).  All told me, in very kind words, that I need to get used to checking my expectations at the door.  To them I say now, “touché, my friends. And thank you. Your kindness and the grace you’ve continued to show have helped in more ways than I can say.”

The thing is, there are just some days when life is . . . well, hard – when people seem cruel, or rejections seem to come one after another, when loneliness is the only rhythm my feet can find.  Rationality has no place in such times as these – I can see and know that my feelings are irrational, but it doesn’t make them any less potent.

I’m posting this video, by “Kid President” in large part as a reminder to myself in the future – a sort of pep talk that I can go back to when it’s made its way off of my Facebook timeline, and I am feeling glum and overwhelmed by the world.  I hope it does the same for you.




Jul 182012

I’m working on the order of worship for Sunday, and just came across this prayer of confession (in the Worship Sourcebook) – felt like it might work nicely in tangent with my most recent post.  Gotta love those Holy Spirit moments…

     Merciful God,
     for the things we have done that we regret,
     forgive us;
     for the things we have failed to do that we regret,
     forgive us;
     for all the times we have acted without love,
     forgive us;
     for all the times we have reacted without thought,
     forgive us;
     for all the times we have withdrawn care,
     forgive us;
     for all the times we have failed to forgive,
     forgive us.
     For hurtful words said and helpful words unsaid,
     for unfinished tasks
     and unfulfilled hopes,
     God of all time,
     forgive us and help us
     to lay down our burden of regret.

Amen. May it be so.

Jul 182012

Quindlen quote

I came across this image on Facebook today, and it’s been kind of boring a hole into my brain ever since.  I found myself thinking, after posting it, about all of the stories I’ve heard about parents whose kid’s coming out completely changed the way they understood gender identity and sexual orientation.  For instance, just recently I read this powerful story about a Southern Baptist minister’s experience at the realization that his son had AIDS.  Though there are a good number of stories about homeless teens whose parents kicked them out when the youth came out, more and more it seems we are hearing stories of parents who’ve become advocates upon hearing that their child is gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.

After re-posting the image to my Facebook wall, I found myself trying to write a caption on the image, or comment on it – to somehow clarify that I know that parents will say things that their children will take to heart, to acknowledge that I’ve unintentionally hurt someone by making a short-sighted comment about a particular group, without realizing the offended person was a part of said group.  I then thought maybe I should just not post the image, or give a longer explanation about why I posted it, for fear of unintentionally alienating someone who may feel some residual guilt for whatever they may have said at some point in time.  My caption then seemed like it would be a better blog post…

The reason I decided to go ahead and post it is because it points out the particularities associated with GLBT people, particularly with GLBT youth.  Because the development of identity and self-recognition is an evolving process, many GLBT people may not realize they are queer until they are into their teenage years, or even older – many who do realize it at a younger age often don’t come out until they are older.  By that time, they’ve already soaked up a lot of the values of their parents and their environment (school, church, tv, etc).  Coming out is scary enough in itself – it can be downright terrifying if you’ve heard only negative associations with queer people.  Though the world is changing, there is still an overwhelming amount of negative talk around GLBT people – that kind of talk can weigh on a person after a while, and that weight can add up.  Ideally, children will be born into a world and brought up in homes where they know it’s safe to be who they are.

But . . . well, children are human, and are raised by humans; as such, it is inevitable that they will come out of childhood with some baggage – it’s all part of the complexity of being in relationship.  Life and love are complicated – they just are.

Words matter.  It is important that parents know that, when they say hurtful things about LGBT people, they may be saying hurtful things about their children.

Words matter.  Just as they can hurt, they can also heal; and, there is a whole lot to be said for a parent’s willingness to say “I’m sorry.  I’m sorry that my words hurt you, or if anything I’ve said has in any way implied that I do not fully love you as you are.”

I have a good friend who once told me that she found a tremendous amount of freedom in recognizing that she could apologize to her children – that in being able to genuinely say “I’m sorry” for something she had done, she acknowledged to her child, and to herself, that she didn’t have to be perfect – that adults (parents even!) could mess up, too.  In that willingness, she was also telling her children that they didn’t have to be perfect, that they would make mistakes, they would hurt one another, and be hurt by one another – and that grace and forgiveness would abound even in those moments.

Grace and forgiveness abound, even in those moments when we fear we have said something that cannot be taken back, even when our shame or fear or pain make it hard to forgive ourselves – grace and forgiveness abound.