Thinking Out Loud

May 6, 2016

When You’re Overly Concerned About What Others Think

Filed under: Christianity, writing — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:18 am

John Wesley quotation

When going through old blog posts here, I sometimes find a graphic that I decide to re-use on Twitter. That was the case yesterday when later in the morning I posted the above quotation from John Wesley. It had been used here on the blog just the one time before.

And then I noticed something I hadn’t seen before, which was the source of the image printed in the bottom right corner.

For several minutes I stared at the screen trying to decide if I should immediately delete it. Thoughts of:

  • Am I appearing to endorse something?
  • Would people think I am part of a particular cause?
  • Do I want people to interpret the quotation in that context?
  • Is it not easier to crop the image and remove the credit?

were countered by thoughts of:

  • If you’re borrowing the graphic you should really give proper credit.
  • The statement, “Jesus Loves Gays” is not untrue.
  • How did you miss the rainbow and the attribution two years ago?

So four hours of agonizing over this later, I checked out the actual Facebook page. The content there is written by someone (or several) who see their gay-ness as completely compatible with their Christ-following. This isn’t a new development. We’ve written enough before about ministries such as the Gay Christian Network and New Direction to know that opinions on this subject cover a wide spectrum. (To see all the coverage here on this issue, check out the first 3 pages or so at this link.)

But what matters most for our discussion today is that I was concerned about my image than I was about the quotation. Would I lose Twitter followers? Start rumors? Be pigeon-holed into a certain category?

…Oh, so now you want clarification where I stand? If you’ve ever heard me speak on this, you’ve heard me speak of The Good, The Better and The Best. Basically, God has a best and once you are convinced of that, you realize that anything else falls short of that. Several blog posts touch on this, but I’ve never really written one which presents this succinctly…

Alas, here I am now trying to defend myself. What follows is a general letter I wrote five years ago following the suicide of one (or several, I can no longer remember) gay teen. It’s already appeared here twice before today. I think this is a clear picture of where I’m coming from, though it’s not as clear as many would like.

Oh, and by the way, I left the Tweet in place.

Dear __________,

Somehow I found your blog today. I’m from a different part of the world, and a different generation, but I want you to know that there is no mistaking your pain, and I could feel that pain in your writing and I care very deeply for you.

High School can be a terrible environment. People commit verbal and physical abuse easily, and even the kid with the greatest degree of conformity can unwittingly become the target of the week. The bullies act out on their own insecurities, perhaps even insecurities as to their own sexual identity, though you don’t dare suggest that out loud.

Your life is a story that’s being written page-by-page, day-by-day. Only you get to choose the ending. I know you’re going through a period of depression, but your story doesn’t have to have a tragic ending. It doesn’t have to go the way you think it does. Your story can have an ending where you conquer, where you rise above the circumstances and perhaps even get to change some of the circumstances. You can write new chapters where things move in a different direction, where you can look back and say, ‘It didn’t get better overnight, but here’s a scene that was the beginning of where it got better.’

You should also know there are now alternative high schools where people are more accepting of your present sexual orientation. You might want to seriously look into that. Your parents would have probably helped you with college and university costs, they just need to be convinced that in your case you need that help sooner. But you might be able to find something closer to home if you live in a larger city. There are many ways to get that high school diploma.

I said present sexual orientation, not because I want to get into that discussion, but because you’re still fairly young, and like I said, there are always new chapters being written. On the one hand, I recognize that you know your feelings better than anyone, so the people who say, ‘This is just a phase he’s going through,’ aren’t being honest about how things are. But on the other hand, I wouldn’t want you to believe the lie that says, ‘This is who I am.’ Your sexual identity isn’t 100% of who you are, what you can accomplish and the person you can become. If you write on a piece of paper, ‘I am gay;’ write it in pencil, not in pen. You might actually some day need the eraser. I say that not because I’m doubting the reality of who you are now, but simply because, as a young teen, you are still a work in progress.

I should probably end by telling you that part of the reason I’m taking the time to write this is because I believe in a God that loves all people and therefore doesn’t hate anyone. I’ve seen other blogs written by young teens who are gay but have a deep faith, and are trying to follow Jesus in every aspect of their life. They pray, they read the Bible, and they try to find ways to serve others in Christ’s name. They are making a difference in their world. I have no doubt about that, but of course, also being gay, they remain a bit of a mystery to some of my Christian friends. I think God’s capable of sorting that, and I invite you to reach out to him in prayer, because I believe that He alone is the only source capable of helping you through the pain. I believe if you take one step toward him, he will come running to you.

Paul.


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