Saturday, February 28, 2009

Give Me One Moment in Time

I have to admit that, in spite of myself, I do wonder from time to time what I’m doing in this country, away from my family and things that are familiar to me. I’ve resisted fantasies of relocating because a) voluntarily making numerous life changes all at once is never a good idea and b) I’m unsure what shape my life would take if I did move closer to my family. So with all this uncertainty running amok through my head, I feel like Jennifer Coolidge’s character in “Best in Show.” She’s backstage, eating popcorn by the handful and isn’t sure what to do, so she just continues to stand there stuffing her mouth until her instincts tell her otherwise.

Sometimes, however, I get a small sign that I’m exactly where I'm supposed to be. And when I get one of those signs, I am so grateful. One such sign happened yesterday when a frightened, nervous student met me for coffee only to reveal that she had fallen in love with a woman she had been friends with for years. Even better, this love has been returned. She didn’t know who to talk to about this and I was someone she knew she could trust. She asked me if it was wrong to love someone that way and if God was angry with her. Not only was I able to reassure her that God loved her very much but I was also able to share how much my faith has helped me in loving myself and showing love to my family and friends. It was a very memorable conversation and I was touched she felt she could talk to me about her fears about an unimaginable future as well as her joys over emails, phone calls and a future visit.

My life has these moments and I treasure them. A phone call in the middle of the night telling me of a positive test result. A heart-to-heart over things our fathers did to us. An email venting frustration about the discovery of an ex’s true orientation. A friend telling me he doesn’t want to go on living. Holding the hand of a dying person and not saying anything at all. I’m thankful that God has put in the position to be there to share these moments and I just hope (and pray) that I can listen without judgment and respond with discernment, wisdom and most of all, love.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Bless The Beasts and the Children

I recently finished the novel “The Unbearable Lightness of Being.” I might be the only person in the world that found this book neither enjoyable nor profound. However, there was one part though that I thought was interesting:

"True human goodness, in all its purity and freedom, can come to the fore only when its recipient has no power. Mankind’s true moral test, its fundamental test, consists of its attitude toward those who are at its mercy: animals.”

I agree completely. It seems to me the best part of humanity is revealed in our charity to others weaker than we are. It’s when we have nothing to gain from helping the other person, except of course for the affirmative feeling of having done something good. (This reminds me of this Friends episode where Phoebe tries to do selfless acts of charity without receiving anything in return. In the end she fails because she feels good about being the cause of another person’s happiness.)

Ego aside, most of the acts of kindnesses we do are because we expect something nice in return. I send Christmas cards to people I either would like to receive cards from or have already received one from them. I write emails for the same reason.

The beauty of loving child or pet is that they really can’t do much in return for all that we give them. The vast disparity in ability, power and social standing truly places them on the lowest rung of society.

You may recall Jesus’ thoughts on the subject; “Blessed are the beasts and the children for they shall inherit the kingdom of God.” I believe, with his many statements concerning the poor and helpless, the disenfranchised, he would be less interested in the “trickle-down economics” and tax breaks and he’d be all over directly helping those are in need. This is yet another reason I agree with Obama's hopeful, optimistic call to try to turn the world around.

So if you feel that in your life you aren’t being “spiritually fed,” I suggest you do what my pastor said recently. “Take off the bib and put on the apron!” There’s a world out there in need of what only you can do! Let’s each do our part to make the world a better place.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Walk Like a Man

The other day I came across this clip from the comic Michael Buckley from the What the Buck Show? In it he answers a variety of questions about his sexual orientation based on his mannerisms, way of dress and style of delivery. All of these factors supposedly equal the big G-A-Y.

This got me thinking: What does it mean to act gay? Does this mean to cross your legs and wildly fan your wrists in the air? I have numerous queer friends who don’t fit this stereotype. Clearly an attraction to the same gender on some level would be a shared common behaviour but beyond this they are what I guess would be termed “straight-acting.” This means that instead of tipping off anyone’s “gaydar,” they could easy pass as heterosexual.

I have no problems with these “manly” men. As long as this is who they truly are, then I love and accept them for it. I become conflicted though when these same “straight-acting” gay men make it clear they are only interested in the same. Furthermore, they use the exact same lingo that has ironically been used against us in the past. “No Nellys, pansies, fems or queens.” Do they have issues with women when they go on and on about the draw of the “real man.”

I was in a clothing store with some friends and we were trying on clothes (I know, pretty gay huh?). “Does this make me look gay?” one asked me. I really didn’t know how to respond to that question. Snug tee-shirt or no, he’s still gay as the day is long. But he doesn’t want to been perceived as gay? He’s hardly a closet case as he’s openly married to a man (someone I incidentally used to date). Is this what people demonstrated for in the past? The fear of “looking gay?” Is there perhaps some kind of internalized homophobia that makes him reluctant to be seen “that way?”

Let me be clear. I’m not advocating that gay people self-identify every second breath nor wear rainbow/triangle laden clothes. That’s not what I’m saying at all. Rather, I’d like to see some people get over themselves and their ego. You don’t have to act “like a man” if you already are a man. You just have to be yourself. By the same token, allow and affirm others to be themselves as well. If they flame, let their flames burn brightly bless ‘em! If they can’t dance to save their souls, be kind. We haven’t come all this way to trade in old closets for new (albeit much more fabulous) ones!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Spread Your Wings and Prepare to Fly

In a movie I just watched called “Happy Go Lucky,” there was a scene (seen here in the trailer) where the sister of the main character charged her with not taking life “seriously enough.” The main character protested, saying she had an amazing life and really felt lucky that she had it. She was enjoying and treasuring every minute of it. The sister responded by referencing the future and how one had to prepare for it. A classic Mary/Martha scenario.

What occurred to me here is that the first sister was exhibiting fear and timidity. And the whole point of Jesus spending time on Earth was not just to give us life, but a life more abundant. (John 10:10 "I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly.") So many of us are not living an abundant life but live in fear of the future. I really don’t believe that is what God intended for us when we were created.

About this time last year I asked myself, what patterns need to change in me to have this abundant life? This question caused a powerful but painful transformation. What gave me inspiration was the butterfly.

Inside the caterpillar there already exists the DNA to transform into a butterfly. God put it there- it was part of the design. Much like Dorothy’s ruby red slippers, the caterpillar has the power all along. The same could be said for us. God has instilled in us the power to live life more abundantly. Jesus came to show us how to do that.

Have you ever watched a butterfly emerge from its cocoon? It takes a really long time. And it isn’t easy. And if you try to help the butterfly along by removing the cocoon yourself, it actually cripples it. The painful struggle actually exercises muscles allowing the butterfly to spread its wings and fly. No one can do this for him.

What we can learn here is that it takes time to transform. We need to grieve our loss. We will struggle and probably have difficulties, make mistakes, get messy. No one can do this for us though, it’s our responsibility.

The silver lining is that transformation does occur and we will be able to soar to new heights, seeing and experiencing things we never imagined or thought possible before.

I’ve had people often tell me how strong or lucky I am. Truth be told I’m not. God gave me this potential from the very moment I was created. And He put this same potential in you as well. I’ve seen this ability to transform in so many of my friends and it is truly inspiring to me. You will be shocked and amazed at what you are able to do when you choose to live your life abundantly!

*Thanks to Reverend Brent Hawkes for inspiring me with a recent sermon on the topic of butterflies!