Over the last few months I have been very carefully “coming out” to friends and colleagues and to my family, family being my children, were among the first I told, though a few trusted friends had known for months…
As for me I was unmasking a self that had been pushed down, hidden and lain dormant for years, many years, I am 57, and as one friend reflected to me ,such hiding and dormancy would carry a lot of grief with it, and it does and will continue to do so for a while I suspect.
To my amazing adult children who received my news with grace, love and humour, I can only say thank you, to the unsurprised one, well you have shown wisdom to your mother before now, so keep being wise for me. To all of you, I am sorry if I have hurt you, and I pray for your healing, mine and ours together.
To my trusted friends old and new, thank you for your grace, long phone calls, messages, and understanding.
Coming out however has many guises, and as we come to consult on the “God in Love Unites Us” report in the Methodist Church, I think that I am going to offer myself to be its “poster girl”. God in Love Unites Us deals with all kinds of human relating, it looks at co-habitation- I have done that, single parenting- done that too, marriage: yes, divorce; yes, same sex relationships; well I have been waking up to that one,but yes! Life is gloriously complex, we are gloriously complex.
I have been challenged of course, but I am far from alone in discovering my true sexuality late (r) in life, maybe it has changed, maybe my drive to have children was a factor in my hiddenness, maybe… who knows, but now I can say I am who I am, I am a queer woman, and proud of that, and I will not deny that, and NO it is not a phase!
Today I presented the need for consultation on the “God in Love Unites Us” report to two different groups and received mixed reactions in both, and to both, and to the others that I will introduce this to over the next few weeks and months, and for those I will consult with over the coming year, I can only ask one thing; please be kind, well maybe two, please be kind and please be gentle.
Be kind to others and to yourself, be gentle with others and with yourself, because you are probably going to find that people that you sit alongside day by day, week by week, hold different views to you, we read the Bible differently, we interpret the Bible differently, and that is okay. What is not okay is that we hurt one another. It is not okay to get into slanging matches, it is not okay to be hateful we need to walk together in love, with grace.
I have experienced grace this week from colleagues who I know profoundly disagree with me, and because I know that, it is all the more powerful. I am reminded of Max who I trained with, he thought women should not be Ministers, and that Methodists were beyond the pale, and yet in grace he held the possibility that he was wrong, there is of course the possibility that we are all wrong, and yet will find ourselves caught up in the infinite love and mercy, transformed by the one who holds the end from the beginning.
God, in the Spirit hovers over all of our possibilities brooding us into life, wooing us with love into a fullness where there is neither Jew nor Gentile, male nor female, and all are held and loved as one, yet unique, each displaying a glorious multi-coloured, multi-faceted, impression/ image of our creator.
Yes I believe I am a created being, thought of and thought through, fearfully and wonderfully made, the faults and flaws that I see, and don’t see are shot through with divine possibilities as I am transformed from glory into glory, hidden in Christ with God. This is my fullness, this is our fullness together, the path we are called to walk, to be hidden in Christ we have to come out of our own hiddenness, whatever that is, be it of hidden sexuality, guilt, pain, fear, dis-ease with who we are. Be it not meeting up to cultural norms, false demands, anxiety, un-ease….. the list goes on, and our individual stories are unique and important.
We are all broken, and we are all being made whole, masks do not help, hate of the other is destructive, so let’s be kind, let’s be gentle, let’s live in love, remembering that we can only love, because God loved us first.
Just to add; while I have not encountered outright abuse, I have encountered much tutting, eye-rolling, and head-shaking. I am unsurprised, but it is costly. In this Circuit we are choosing to support one another as we have these consultations, so that no-one is left exposed. Any actual hate incidents will be treated as such and reported as such.