Tuesday, June 16, 2015

My Friend, "the Lesbian", and the Lessons She Taught Me

I picked up a book someone lent me a few years ago  (I know.. I will return it!)  I had been sharing with them about my new lesbian friends at work and the horror of "Christians" at work response to them.  That I couldn't understand how being a Christian meant you were supposed to be mean to, ignore, refuse to help, and talk behind someone's back.  I loved these girls - at first simply because I chose to, and then because I got to know them and they were lovely, kind, respectful, funny, warm-hearted friends.  As I loved them, laughed with them, stuck up for them, and befriended them, we began to have some serious talks about what we believed... late nights at the nurse's desk.  We also had a great sense of humor.  My closest friend of them is also a fan of "The Amazing Race" and would love to be on it.  We thought we should apply together; they could dub us "The Missionary and the Lesbian" and we could blow a few people's minds.  Through this friend, I was able to ask questions and listen.  We started with the small things, "What do you prefer I call you?  How do I address your spouse?  Who does the dishes?" and moved on to deeper subjects.  I learned what it is like to be discriminated against.  To be on a honeymoon and want nothing more than peace with your spouse and get nasty looks.  To go for dinner and hear rude comments about you made in the earshot of your kids.

Excuse me, followers of Jesus, the same Jesus who hung out with prostitutes and cheaters,..

However much we may disagree with another person's choice or be sad about the sin in the world, that give us no right to hurt people.  To see my friend's face when she grimaced after one of the old people said a rude comment, and she told me, "That isn't as bad as it gets; try dealing with Christians telling you you are an abomination."  We need to get past our "religious right" and see broken hearts.

THESE COMMENTS HURT MY FRIEND.  As in hurt - real pain, real tears.

To my given knowledge, no one yet has been hated to Christ.

As I got to know my friend "K" more, I learned that she believed in God.  She struggled in her faith due to trauma in her background, but she believed God and was seeking to know Him better and follow him.  Now before you get your panties in a wad, pause a minute and think - can you be a Christian and still have a sin you are failing in?  Yes.  So, let's give her (and God) the benefit of the doubt.  If she is His, her sin will be something He speaks to her about and deals with.  If she isn't, then her biggest need is not "to become straight", but to know God.  Me hating her will not draw her to God.

To be clear, she knew what I believed about homosexuality.  But I made sure she knew that AFTER she knew that I loved her, would befriend her, would defend her from attacks, and enjoyed being with her.  Nothing about my faith was against her.

The hardest day for me?  To watch my friend's shoulders slump and tears come to her eyes.  She was on a private facebook account for gay and lesbians discussing their faith in God and wrestling with spiritual questions.  A "Christian" had lied about who he was to gain access to that account and then posted long, rude, vile comments about these people harshly judging them.  Her question:  "Why would anyone go through so much trouble just to throw hate at us?  We are trying to talk with each other and talk about God... why?"  I had no answer besides that I was angry for her and that I loved her.

I enjoyed my friendship with K.  We laughed and discussed parenting, relationships with our spouses, housework, working with the elderly.  We talked about our pasts, our dreams, our hopes.  I watched as she defended my faith to someone who was rude to me.  I got criticized by other believers at work who told me that I was wrong for befriending K and that they "would pray for me".  I thanked them for their prayers.

And my friend at church gave me this book.  The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert.  About a lesbian who became a believer.  I didn't read it all then.  Actually, I read the end of the book, and then it got lost when I cleaned my room.  Too much was going on in our lives, and I put it down.  Today, I picked it up.  K has moved on to a new job, and I miss her.  We are moving on to a new place.  But my life is enriched by her friendship.  And I picked up this book to read again because my heart is still burdened for the response of God's people towards gays and lesbians.  But my heart is also deeply hurt by the actions of some of God's people towards us.  I hadn't expected this book to speak deeply to my heart, but it did. ( I will write about that later.)

I still find it funny that we work among a people who some would fear and hate.  We teach, "We can not hate (this group) to Christ.  We have to love them, and when we love them, they will see Christ, and come to Him."  And yet, the same people teaching this about (this group) will fight tooth and nail against all gays and lesbians and shudder in horror at them.  (I even had a Bible study leader saying she won't let her daughter in her house anymore since she became a lesbian!)  

I promised my friend K that I would listen to her, learn, and speak up.  We will do more damage than we can even imagine by hating.  We need to love, to befriend, to have honest discussions, to have coffee together, to love.  People say we need to "defend" marriage or God or... you name it.  Really?  Since when does God need me to defend Him?  And if marriage is the image of God and the church, I think God is quite capable of defending His image.  I see no where in the Bible where God asks me to defend Him.  I do see where He calls me to love, to get involved in the messiness of the world...  to do what He did by befriending and loving those who the "religious" drew in their robes in horror at.

To my friend K, T, and G - I love you girls and will remain thankful to all you taught me, to the compassion you showed to the weak and elderly, and for the patience you had with me and my endless questions.  I respect your quiet courage in the face of rudeness and your strength in not answering back in kind.  That was and is an inspiration to me.  I still pray for you - that you would find that relationship with God in a satisfying depth that you are searching for.  You left a mark on my life and made me a better person for my time with you.  Thanks.

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