August 8, 2008

Crossroads: Where I Am Now

How I Got Here

In December 2005 I experienced a catharsis that I may someday be willing to write about here. Suffice it to say that in a stunning moment of self-awareness, I realized that fear had been running my life; and that if I didn’t do something about it, I will have wasted an opportunity to make things right—in my life and in my world.

In trying to figure out what was happening to me, I went online, where I was befriended by some sweet and caring gay men who gave me a swift kick in the seat and challenged me to change and grow.

I had been unhappy in my marriage for a long time. I made arrangements to see a counselor. We had seen counselors before, but this time was different: we were ready; he had us talking to each other instead of him, asking the right questions; and for the first time I was not hiding away from the hurt. I faced it with the question that has become my mantra for making difficult decisions:

“What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”

By moving past the fear—that still sometimes presents itself until I step through it—I have found purpose and energy. I have fallen in love again with my husband and he with me. (We celebrated our 30th anniversary this week, and honey, let me tell you we had a wonderful time. I mean, wonderful.) Our renewed commitment to each other has given us the strength to deal with the turmoil of our home life this past year.

At the same time, I needed change in my career as well. After having done the job I was hired to do—write a five-year curriculum for our church’s elementary Sunday School—I was restless. I was feeling a pull but I wasn’t sure the direction it should take. I was looking for the peace that comes with fulfilling one’s purpose. I’d realized that inner tranquility when I was plucked from the congregation for this job. I have come to know that of all the wonderful and exciting pleasures in this world, there is none greater or more lasting than doing what is right and good in service to others. I knew that an even greater joy of service waited for me again in some other form. I had to find it.

During all this, I was in conversation with my gay buds online. And with their friendship I was reminded again of the injustice engendered by the hatefulness spewed in public in the name of Christianity. Because most Christians are not publicity hounds, the feelings of the majority stay silent. But silence is exacting a high price in the gay community.

Eventually I understood that I am in a unique position to be a bridge between the Christian and gay communities, two groups who—while not mutually exclusive—believe they have reason to distrust each other. I can do this; moreover, I am being pulled inexorably, and it gives me great peace to act on it. Slowly, slowly, it has become part of my consciousness: it is my call.

In my conversations online, one of the guys included a link to a post on a blog. Sure, I’d heard of blogs, but I’d never read a personal one. This blog was written by some guy who called himself “Joe.My.God.” I looked it over, a little squinty-eyed in assessment, and found it smart, funny, moving, sexy, informative, and really really angry at Christians. If I am to be a bridge, then I need to know what I’m talking about. While I continued to read Joe’s posts, I investigated the links on the side column. Links led to more links. (Oh my—not that one.) I gravitated toward those which were open, literate, and moving.

So here I am today, running a Sunday School while aiming for so much more. I have made friends online; and while I recognize the imperfect perfection of the online persona, I believe I have begun genuine friendships that I hope to deepen.

Where will this take me? I’m not at all sure, but I will tell you what I hope for.

Next: Where I Am Going


Greg said...

Birdie, Happy Anniversary to you and Abe!! 30 years is definitely something to celebrate...I'm glad it was wonderful!

Thanks for sharing your story here. I had no idea (so brave to follow all those links from JMG!)just how lucky the world is to have you in it, even when I said so last week!!

I'm glad to know you, or at least, for now, your online You.

Y | O | Y said...

You hit the nail on the head with the relationship between the gay and religious communities. Whenever I hear someone is a Christian, I think "Uh oh, here we go again!"

I have a unique perspective since my bff is very spiritual and I'm not. She is a congregant of Saddleback Church out in CA (you know...Rick Warren...A Purpose Driven Life). We have settled into a great relationship since we are exactly alike except that she believes in Christ and I don't. I respect her faith and she respects my need for more proof.

This relationship has allowed me to view Christians in a different way. Once I thing, Uh oh, I remind myself that not all religious folks are the same. That is something that you will be able to do, too.

Regarding the blogs, I found JMG as my first, too, and I worked by way through his blog roll. Like anything in life, we bookmark "the best" and discard the rest.

Do you follow Alan over at "titled: some amusing blog pun"? (I have a link to him on my blog roll.) He and I have been having a good high-level conversation about religion this past week. He's an ordained elder in his Presbyterian church and frequently writes about what's going on within the wider church.

And congrats on 30 years! That is an achievement to be proud of...counseling is hard work if done right but the rewards even greater.

Paul said...

That's a great mantra.

I'm afraid that my fears paralyze me far too often.

- - -

It's very interesting to me that so many churches are based on homogeneous groups meeting to validate and isolate themselves.

I'm often reminded of MLK's comment that "the church is still the most segregated major institution in America. At 11:00 on Sunday morning when we stand and sing and Christ has no east or west, we stand at the most segregated hour in this nation."

And this doesn't just apply to race.

bigislandjeepguy said...

mark me in the "started at site", too.

and i found your blog thru a comment you left on his site, and damn glad i did.

congrats on the anniversary! i always look forward to your posts: how you got here, where you are, and everything in between.

David said...

So glad I've been included in this adventure!

David said...

Now I'm embarrassed. I'm reading the comments and realizing I fixated on the issues connected to me and totally forgot about your anniversary. 30 years, what an accomplishment!

Sooo-this-is-me said...

Congrats on the 30 years together and congrats on the re-loving, I love it when couples eyes are opened and they actually see, admit and understand how much they care about each other. Often I notice they become closer than ever.

I feel now that most christians are against me. I also feel, no actually I should say "I know" they don't understand because they don't want to understand. They will never change if they refuse to see that this is who we are.

Jess said...

Happy Anniversary!

Regarding online friends, we actually have a number of friends who started as online friends and now are good friends in the flesh! Actually, I believe you met one of our "real life" friends in the past few days. We haven't known him in real life as long as some others, but we treasure him. He's a sweetheart.

Bear Me Out said...

Happy Anniversary, and thanks for having the courage that brought it about.

And thanks for your courage to follow the Truth. We can't have enough straight allies. I'm glad you're one.

somewhere joe said...

“What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”

That's a wonderful question, B. Fear is sometimes a valuable response, and often an ensnaring one. How we answer that question can point to the right path.

Thank you for that. It's going in my little suede pouch where I keep my choicest reagents.

Dantallion said...

Funny - I missed the fact that you'd posted part two of your story.

I think this is a remarkable evolution you've experienced - positive, constructive, and really very affirming. We need more like you - and by "we", I mean the general population, not just the members of one particular group or another.

Father Tony of the Farmboyz said...

Some people will try to tell you that you are deluded about your sense of your "calling/mission/vocation". They will call it presumptuous, futile and even narcissistic. Ignore all that, and run with the ball that is in your hands. Great good will come of it. Your brother will be proud.