When I was 22 my brother committed suicide. My brother and I were not close, he had been out of the house for a while and even when we had lived together in the same house, his mental illness prevented me from being in a true brotherly/sisterly relationship. All that being said, I still cared about him. I still loved him. When he died, I went into a sort of free fall. I didn't know how to grieve because I am such a tightly closed off person. I didn't even know if I was grieving because I couldn't see the trees for the forest.
I have never been the type of person to have a lot of friends. If I have 4 in my circle at any given time, I am doing well. People don't like me. I am not saying that in a "woe is me" kind of way. It's just the truth.
“She had a talent for looking at a person with no expression - you filled in whatever you felt guiltiest about.”
― Louise Erdrich, The Plague of Doves
I think Louise Erdrich knows me personally because this is my talent, or curse. You have to be a very strong person to want to call me a friend. So when my brother died, I had friends, I had acquaintances, but my inner circle, my tribe, just happened to be all gay people.
About a month after my brother's death I sat in my car next to a bridge on River Road in Columbus. The bridge was somewhere close to the O'Shaughnessy Dam. It was October and a gray, dreary kind of day. Rush hour was over but the sun hadn't completely set and I was alone with my thoughts. I am not now nor have I ever been suicidal, but at that one moment, as I thought about my brother, I wondered what it was like. How does it feel to just let go? And I seriously started contemplating just driving my car right off the embankment. It took me months to understand that this too was a form of grief. Many people who have family members who commit suicide also attempt suicide, even if they were not suicidal before.
Truly, and I say this with all my heart and honesty I possess, the only reason I did not die that day is that I was supposed to meet a gay friend that night and I knew she would be pissed if I not only didn't show up, but I didn't have enough respect for her to wait until after we spent time together to commit suicide. I could feel her love for me pulling me back from the water's edge. She was there for me every single day as I fought through this hard to define grief.
I also had two gay male friends who lived together who made sure one of them spent the evening with me every night until I started to come back to my self. I spent many nights sleeping in their apartment because I couldn't go home to my parent's pain-filled eyes. When people would question my weird behavior, they just drew me in closer and offered me unconditional love. We walked and walked every night, everywhere, as I spoke the same words over and over, trying to understand what my brother had done, and they just listened and comforted me, never judging.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
Maybe I am taking liberties with this verse, but these 3 people, these 3 "sinners" offered me more love and compassion than I had ever experienced before or would ever experience again. I learned more about God and faith from them than I have from any of our churches.
When Hubby was at his first church and E was 10 months old, Hubby developed pneumonia. Antibiotics cured him, but a month later, in the middle of the night, he started experiencing heart attack symptoms. We called the ambulance and they agreed something was going on and advised me to find someone to watch E so I could go with him to the hospital. I had to call three church members before I could find ONE to watch her. They all turned me down.
That same church had members who refused to shake my hand during the passing of the peace because I worked for a Montessori school that prided itself in diversity. When Hubby and I were talking about adopting, they insisted we not adopt because we didn't know what "blood" we would get.
I won't rehash CountryTime stories, but you know just how horrible and bigoted they are if you have read the previous posts. I struggle every day as a pastor's wife to understand the Christian faith and to understand how people can be so angry about homosexuality. I walk this fine line between honoring my friends who showed me true examples of God (even if one was pagan), and honoring the church members who provide me with a pretty comfortable life and nice home, even though many of them have damaged my faith in humanity.
Looking at my Facebook page makes me sick to my stomach. To see both sides just attacking each other and throwing hateful comments back and forth upsets me. I can feel the anger in people when I go out into the real world. There is so much hate right now. I just want to scream. I want the LGBTQ community to know that there are Christians in this country who are trying to make a difference for them. There are pastors willing to take a stand to help them be treated, not as sinners, but equals and righteous in the eyes of God. Don't give up on us. We are here.
Hubby is a pastor who believes in marriage equality. Our church is a Welcoming church. Our church even has a ministry devoted to helping bring gay people back into the fold. But even at our church there are hateful zealots who Hubby must minister to. He must, because he believes in the commandment to love your neighbor as yourself.
Just know, we are here.