This I Believe

Tanya - Findlay, Ohio
Entered on October 9, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50

I believe in healing.

Not the miraculous laying on of hands kind of healing. Not the TV preacher kind of healing.

The kind of healing that I believe in happens in a magical moment when people finally get comfortable in their own skin.

I am the lesbian daughter of a Southern Baptist preacher. I know all about the need for personal healing. It was, and conitues to be, hard work. But I’ll never forget the moment in which I finally told the truth – in spite of the fear.

In that instant, the skin I had walked around in all of my life finally felt like my own.

That was a while ago.

Now I am the pastor of a small church in a conservative Midwestern town. Some of the people in our congregation of 75 or so are gay and lesbian.

We have felt the pain of being on the margins. And every day I talk with people who’s lives are spent waiting for permission to heal.

We’ve waited for parents to tell us that we’re OK.

We’ve waited on churches and bishops and pastors and popes to tell us whether or not we can stay.

We’ve waited on politicians and teachers and leaders to tell us that we’ve finally earned the right to be here.

We, who are gay and lesbian people, have waited on those who are not to feel comfortable enough with us that we don’t do anything that might offend them.

We are wasting precious time.

The Bible verse that we claim for our church’s vision says that all of us need to live a life worthy of our calling, for indeed we have been called by God.

If we are going to do that, as gay and lesbian Christians, as Buddhists, as Muslims, as Jews, as spiritualists, as anyone who acknowledges a higher power – if we are going to do that gay and lesbian citizens of the world – then we need to get on with the healing so we can get on with the calling.

I’m probably not a very good pastor. Making and keeping people comfortable isn’t my strong suite. I would rather make them uncomfortable because uncomfortable people get up and move. God knows the world has more than enough people just sitting around.

So does the gay and lesbian community.

In my congregation there is a woman who struggles with an eating disorder. She used to believe that she was not worth a thousand calories a day.

She used to believe that her life wasn’t worth the junk food that most of us eat without thinking about it.

She used to wait for someone to tell her that her life was worth keeping.

Not anymore.

Today, she ate.

Today, she quit waiting.

Today, she started one more time, getting comfortable in her own skin.

It’s time we all quit waiting. We are worth so much more than that.

This, I believe.