My Lesbian Experience

“Diana’s a lesbian and we’re moving out.” I literally dropped the laundry I was putting away and turned to look at two of my roommates. Diana had almost instantly become my best friend during my freshman year of college. We were inseparable. We were soul sisters. Gay?  No way. We were in a Christian sorority together for Pete’s sake. And, we shared a bathroom together. If Diana was gay, I would be the first to know. I told my roommates that I was sure that they were mistaken yet they both moved out a few days later.

Two more roommates moved into our apartment and I tried to continue life as normal. However, I was no longer comfortable with the easy closeness that Diana and I once shared. I was paranoid about sharing a bathroom with her and so I moved to the other side of the apartment. I was completely terrified by the idea that my best friend might be gay.

I had grown up Southern Baptist where I was taught that homosexuality undermines God’s creation. God created Adam and Eve to procreate, to “be fruitful and multiply.” Although the church taught that we all sin, homosexuality was seen as a sin that carries a heavy judgment. Practicing homosexuals live a life of sin and therefore have to face God’s holy condemnation. Although there are only 7 Bible verses that address homosexuality (and none of these coming directly from the teaching of Christ) I knew them all well. And these verses, according to my Southern Baptist preachers, did not paint homosexuals in a positive light.

As a 19 year old, I was torn. Here was my best friend that I loved dearly and on the other hand was my church, which was very important to me at the time, telling me that my friend’s sexual preference, which I still wasn’t positive about, was an abomination. I wish I had talked to Diana about what was going on. I wish that I had been there for her as she was struggling to find her identity. I wish I had been there to root her on and to tell her that I loved her no matter what. I did none of these things. I was a coward. I ran away. I refused to face the uncomfortable. I was a horrible friend that was not there when my best friend needed me the most. We graduated from college and moved on. I barely remember telling her goodbye.

About two years went by when I received a random phone call from Diana. In the call, Diana told me that she was indeed a lesbian and had met someone wonderful. I told her that I wasn’t surprised, that I was happy for her, and that I loved her no matter what. And I meant it. But, I was still struggling with the whole issue of what my church was teaching me about homosexuality. I was beginning to feel like the church preached that God is love out of one side of its mouth and then preached about judgement and condemnation out of the other side. I was afraid to question the church’s teachings. What if I found out that they were wrong? Would the foundation of my religious upbringing come tumbling down?

I was afraid to discover the truth for myself and terrified not to. I was beginning to strongly believe that anybody, including a church, that treats another human being like a pariah is wrong. How is it right for a religious body to make anyone doubt that they are a child of God? Thus began my own spiritual search for the truth. I won’t bore you with all that I read and found, but just know that for every preacher that claims that homosexuality is a sin, there is another pastor preaching that the scripture has been misinterpreted and misused. I came to the conclusion that I must form my own conclusions after doing my own research. If I never question why I believe the way that I do, I will never grow.

I know a lot of Christians that practice “tolerance” towards homosexuality. They believe that while homosexuality is a sin, it is not their place to judge. I struggle with the idea of tolerance. To me, tolerance is something we choose to put up with. I tolerate the disgusting heat and humidity of Houston in the summer. I tolerate my husband leaving his shoes all over the house. We are forced to tolerate things that bother us because we live on this planet and there are things that are out of our control. Yet, as people, I think freedom is moving from just tolerating one another to being more open and accepting of one another.  For me to be able to move to a place of acceptance, I had to determine for myself what the Bible was actually saying. I ultimately came to the conclusion that the God that I have loved since I was a little girl is not likely to vilify any one of us. We are all His creation. God just doesn’t “tolerate” some of us… He loves every single one of us.

I believe that if God truly is love and requires us to love one another, I must be open-hearted and accepting of others. No exceptions. When I come from a place of having to be “right”, making the other person’s views “wrong”, I am coming from my own ego. True love does not come from ego. It moves beyond having to be right. It moves beyond having to have things my own way. True love does not dishonor others.

For these reasons, I refuse to be a part of any organized group, my old church included, that refuses to practice love. We are all children of God. We are all worthy. Thankfully, there are many religious bodies that are accepting of all people.

And to my dear friend, Diana, thank you for coming into my life and teaching me the true meaning of love. Love knows no boundaries, no race, no gender, no religion, no country, no sexual preference. Thank you also for teaching me that I didn’t have to stop believing in God to be accepting of you. I just had to stop going to churches that didn’t fully understand the meaning of God’s love. I had to learn that because God is accepting of all others, that means that He is truly accepting of me.  I’m sorry that I was unable to see this as my 19 year old self, but I hope you know that you have had a lasting impression on me. I believe that you came into my life to bring me something that I needed to learn. It was not an easy lesson. It was one that took hours of researching and studying, one that required me to question a deep-rooted part of myself, one that went down into my very core. But, because of you, I am a better person.

~ala

The Slide

When Hadley first began to crawl I couldn’t wait for her to begin walking. It wasn’t so much that I was looking forward to the actual, you know, walking. It was more of a desire to be able to take her to a park and see her chubby little legs walk up the steps and the pure look of joy as she came down the slide for the first time by herself. The park, to me, symbolized the time when I could officially begin to have “We’re out of the house having play dates with our kids not completely attached to our hips AND we’re not sitting on the floor of someone else’s living room watching our kids roll around like a bunch of inflatable ‘Fisher-Price Bat and Wobble Penguins'” days.  I was pretty sure that fireworks would go off the first day I got to take my kid to the park and she would actually play instead of just crawl around eating wood chips. Glory day!

Soon after Hadley first crawled around the house I began scouting out children that were walking. I’d make my way over to the mother of the walking toddler and begin by smiling and giving her an understanding look. “How old is he?” I’d ask. She’d tell me and I’d mentally start doing the math in my head. “Alright. Hadley has 6 months until she’s behind this kid.” “Aren’t kids fun?” I’d tell the mother with a smirk. She’d smile and walk off, never knowing that her child would forever be a mark on my mental ruler of comparison.

I didn’t realize that I was making comparisons. I was just being a good mother making sure that Hadley was meeting her benchmarks on time, or even better, earlier than expected. “She’s a genius!” I’d think each time she accomplished something a few months ahead of schedule. I didn’t realize that I was making comparisons until one day, one slipped out:  “Hadley. Grace isn’t afraid to say hello to the nice lady. Don’t you want to be friendly like Grace?” As soon as the words came out of my mouth I wished that I could suck them back in. Why in the world would I ever want to teach Hadley that her value is based on how she compares to others?

I know she’s going to screw up. I know she may suck her thumb until she officially starts to look like a chipmunk. I know that she is shy. I know that she is timid to try new things.  I also know that these characteristics stick out to me because they are the exact things that I wish that I could change about myself. I wish that I was more outgoing. I wish that I was more adventurous. I have spent most of my life wishing to be these two things that I am not. And, to spare Hadley this pain, I sometimes wish that I could somehow help her to become more  extroverted.

I also know that Hadley is kind, that she has a huge, tender heart. She is very philosophical, already asking the deep, tough questions. She likes to play with others but is content to play with herself. She has a very active imagination. She is gentle. She is quiet. She loves deeply. She picks up new learning easily. She asks good questions. She plays well with others. She is able to sense the needs of others. She is unselfish. She has the power to change the world. She is a child of God. She has unlimited potential. Her strengths are very much tied to her introverted personality. I wouldn’t change one of them and I definitely wouldn’t change her personality, that part of her that makes her who she is.

As a mother, I have the power to encourage Hadley’s strengths, to help her to become the best version of herself that she can be.  I can teach her to always be true to herself. Or, I can constantly worry and fret, trying to turn Hadley into something that she is not because I am still insecure in who I am.

What I realized was the person I had a difficult time loving was myself. Why? Because at some point in my life, I started comparing myself to others. Am I faster, smarter, taller, richer, prettier, more popular? Sometimes I came out on top, often I did not. And the parts of myself that I found lacking are the parts that I still dislike. But, I’ve learned that my “unlikeable parts” are essential to who I am. Without them, I am not me.

Having realized this faulty thinking, I am now trying to turn off thoughts and feelings of comparison. It isn’t easy. Comparison made up a huge percentage of my everyday internal chatter. Each day I make a little bit more progress and what I’m finding is that when I stop wasting energy worrying about how I am going to compare in any given situation,  I have more freedom to just be myself. It’s kind of like being able to go down the slide by myself for the first time again.

I have the power to change the world. I am a child of God. I am full of potential. It’s time I start embracing who I am and living that truth.

~ala

For a great article about introverts, please read the following article from the Huffington Post.