Tag Archives: Faith

Anxiety, My Old Friend

Recently, though I thought it was relatively conquered, my anxiety has been rather high. As per usual, I have been giving myself a terrible time about it. Thoughts of self-condemnation and ceaseless internal berating only fuel the embers of fear and depression.

Last night, I was awaken with shock like symptoms: cool clammy skin, dizziness, rapid breathing and intense nausea. I do not and did not have the flu or food poisoning. This physical reaction is a direct effect of my anxiety.

When one lives with generalized anxiety disorder day-to-day activities are clouded with worries and agitation. In light of the local and international violence, my anxiety has been on high alert for the last while and it is taking a toll on my sleeping and emotional well-being.

Orlando–this was a huge trigger for me. I recently came out publicly and had been receiving mixed reactions, some compassionate, some hurtful and some hateful. Orlando hit me hard.

Within a week of that shooting, there was a shooting near my home. Shootings in Canada are substantially less common and more remote in small cities like mine. This compounded my fear, and I started to hide away in my home.

Once I had recovered some from those traumas, a body was found in a culvert near where I used to live. I saw the area, next to a church, taped off while riding the bus home from work. My fear of the unknown, it’s still not been released as to what happened with that incident, caused me to further isolate myself. I began to be afraid to walk down the street in the middle of the day. I closed my blinds so strangers couldn’t see if I was home or not if they knocked on the door. All while painting a smile on my face and working everyday at a local daycare.

The daycare I work for is connected with a local church. The people are lovely, this kids are energetic and rambunctious, and it was only a matter of time before local church staff tried to recruit me for their kids program. Unfortunately, I am not out at work. They don’t know that I am not heterosexual. I am not sure I would lose my job, but I am not sure that I would keep it either. When the Pastor asked me if I would be interested in kids or youth ministry, I had to fumble around for reasons (that are true, but flimsy) for not joining. I am terrified as I make new Christian friends in the community that they will find out I am queer.

I am afraid I will lose my job, I am afraid of gossip, I am afraid of losing my credibility as a theologian, I am afraid.

This constant state of fear has worked its way into my other activities. I am afraid to go places alone in the event that I might run into someone who I know disapproves of my sexuality. I am afraid to tell people I am getting to know someone because they will invalidate and pervert that relationship. I am afraid that I will not be able to do what I love–working with God’s people–because I am queer. I am afraid.

Fear is quickly taking over my life, with each tragedy, each conversation between peers condemning LGBTQ people I avoid commenting on, each church event that will actively preach against people like me, each letter from concerned former friends–each of these magnifies the fear.

What’s a person to do? It’s easy to offer glib responses like “who cares what other people think?”, truth is, we all care. We get lonely when we don’t have like-minded people in our corner. We become afraid to try new things because of how events went in the past.

I will strive to be a safe place for LGBTQ people of faith (and people in general). I never want someone to become physically ill because of the fear they have in being themselves.

You are loved. You are precious. Fear not.

Fan Friday: About Sex

I had a great conversation with a friend last night about the place for sex in a relationship. At the risk of ruffling some feathers, I’d like to take the time to address what I believe on this sensitive subject.

In a culture that is sex positive, and belonging to the LGBTQ culture which is dramatically sex positive, I come across as archaic and old-fashioned IMG_1658in my beliefs. I believe that sex was designed by God to take place
within a committed covenant that over the centuries has evolved into what we now recognize as marriage. I word it this way on purpose. Marriage wasn’t always a state recognized union, and is some places it still isn’t.

In North American culture, our covenant unions are surrounded by  ceremonies and paperwork. In other cultures, if you sleep together you’re married. One thing h
olds true along this spectrum, sex is sacred and our culture has lost that.

IMG_1386I’m not here to shame anyone, I can only speak from my experience and my convictions. I believe the Bible is true, which is why coming to terms with my sexuality as “other than
straight” and Christian doctrine was so hard—is so hard—in the first place. There are more verses about covenant, marriage and faithfulness in scripture than I can count. Marriage is so important to God and to the LGBTQ community.

What are we gaining by promising to be with someone we haven’t really treated any different from the last person we were with?

We gave the last person(s) our heart, our mind, our body…we probably thought we’d be with them longterm too (unless it was casual sex—which I’ll leave for another discussion). What makes sexual intimacy intimate is that it’s sacredness isn’t for everyone to enjoy. It’s a promise to be vulnerable and fully open to another person. If you wouldn’t trust someone with your life, your heart and your future, why would you trust them with the most tender parts of yourself?

Ultimately, if you’re a Christian, you need to figure out where your convictions are in light of the Bible. Do you believe it has authority or is it a nice book to you? No judgement. My sincerest heartfelt hope is that you learn what your convictions are and live a life of integrity. Don’t feel pressured to feign someone’s idea of holiness and don’t feel pressured to be sex positive simply because the people you identify with most are doing it. there’s glorious freedom in knowing who you are in Christ and living accordingly.

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Cheryl

Truth Telling: Canadian Edition

I never really thought about how much my Canadian culture effects what I do in uncomfortable situations. This past Saturday, our local PRIDE Association hosted a vigil to IMG_1018show solidarity and pay respects to those lost and effected by the mass shooting in Orlando at The Pulse nightclub.

Standing in the circle, listening to each of the speakers share from the heart, I felt uncomfortable. I wasn’t uncomfortable because of the loss, I wasn’t uncomfortable because of the pain of losing people who are just like me, I wasn’t even uncomfortable that this was the first time I attended something as a fully out person–I was uncomfortable because I spent 29 years of my life contributing to this type of hateIMG_1026.

 

 

In Canadian culture, it’s abhorrent to be rude intentionally to someone else. To contradict them or correct them publicly is a kin to assault. People are encouraged to “mind their own business” and gossip about it in hushed whispers to their neighbours or friends sitting beside them. We whisper and point, roll our eyes in disgust or move to another spot on the bus. Very rarely does one hear someone publicly call out another for inappropriate behaviour–because that would go against Canada’s Tolerance. When does being polite pour gasoline on a silent and raging fire?

Every single time I allow someone to cause others pain, I am fueling the type of hate and homophobia that led to this and many other violent tragedies. One of the speakers’ words echoes in my heart: “now is the time to refuse to let our friends and families say something is so gay. Now is the time to audibly say ‘no, that is not acceptable’ when we see anyone being bullied or put down. Now is the time to fight harder than ever for equal rights. Above all, now is the time to stop making those same mistakes with other minorities.”

Together is the only way forward. Prejudice, homophobia and blind hatred is going to tear this world apart unless people who are remaining silent start to speak. The next time one of your friends tells a racist joke, tell them that’s not acceptable. When they tell you to lighten up, remind them how many people died because of that attitude.

The next time you hear a stranger say something cruel in the mall, don’t just ignore it. Call them out or comfort the person being targeted. Kindness is another weapon against hatred. If you’re afraid of speaking out, imagine how afraid that person being verbally and emotionally assaulted is every time they need to go to the mall for new clothes.

Stand up for the humane treatment of all people. Every single person deserves to live their life with dignity. We are all created in the image of God. There are no caveats in scripture for what constitutes a human, so there’s no need for it in culture.

What to Say to Your LGBT Friend

IMG_0993You’re a conservative Christian, or at the very least, you’re old school. Maybe you don’t have a particular religion that you ascribe to. Regardless of affiliations, you hold to traditional beliefs about marriage and family.

You want to reach out to your LGBT friends and co-workers, but you don’t know how. Maybe you’re afraid that somehow you would compromise your own convictions. Perhaps you believe that sitting silently is better than accidentally offending someone.

You’re wrong.

Silence only adds to the trauma. In the past two days, I can count the number of people outside of the LGBT community that have reached out to me on one hand. No one knows what to say or do, so they say nothing.

If you love someone whom you know is likely shaken by Orlando’s tragic shooting–tell them. Call, email, text, Tweet, Facebook, SnapChat, whatever….take 25 seconds to tell them that you love them. Let them know that you care, that you’re thinking of them and that you too are horrified by what has happened.

Right now, what we need as a community is to be reminded of all those who love us. We don’t need sermons, admonishing, or silence. We need love, listening and camaraderie.

I was reading on BBC of a young man who walked out of an interview when the reporters tried to minimize the importance of LGBT people as a target. He said something that I’ll paraphrase : “If this had happened to Jews, it would be deemed an anti-semetic hate crime”, he has a point. People everywhere are trying to make it about gun control, they’re trying to make it about “all humanity”, they’re trying to focus on the ISIS side of things (fueling an already pandemic amount of Islamaphobia) and are failing to call it for what it is. A hate crime.

This wasn’t just the largest mass shooting in the USA. It was the largest hate crime involving a shooting in the USA. I’ve seen editorials of people being upset that there wasn’t the same level of outrage for the attacks in Paris. There was, heavens there was. It took less than 24 hours for #Orlando to cease being a trending topic on Twitter. It was replaced by the usual celebrity gossip. Paris was trending much longer.

The reason the outpouring seems louder is because voices that have long been silenced will no longer be silenced. We’ve been afraid to be controversial. We’ve been afraid to speak out against what’s considered politically correct. We’ve had our fears labeled “the gay agenda” and now, we’ve lost incredible and valuable members of our community. We feel it deeply. It cannot continue.

I believe that this event has triggered a change in the way advocates will engage. It starts with you. If you haven’t yet spoken your heart. Do it now. We don’t know how much time we have.

~Cheryl

Casualties of Authenticity

When I counted the cost of coming out, I was rather naive thinking that reactions from my loved ones would be black and white. Though I am the same person to myself, I am not the same person to those around me.

Keeping so much of myself hidden, my questions, concerns and deepest struggles–I kept others out and need to allow them the space and the time to find their new normal in this journey.

It’s easy to point the finger at others. To get upset for a lack of empathy and understanding. It’s easy to  expect immediate acceptance or immediate abandonment-what I wasn’t ready for was the awkward tense moments.

I wasn’t ready for feeling like it’s inappropriate to discuss my plans for the summer as I will be taking part in the city’s Pride festival as a volunteer, attending a Gay Christian Retreat on the mainland and most likely heading to Pride in Vancouver to meet up with some friends.

I wasn’t ready to feel uncomfortable about asking my straight Christian friends to come with me to some of these things because I’m nervous about going alone, and I certainly wasn’t ready to feel childish for asking my LGBT friends who don’t profess Jesus if they’re going.

Before coming out, I knew that the social norms were. I knew what was expected of me–even though I felt caged and like I was a double agent for the losing team. Now it’s a whole new ball game. I don’t know when I am being “too much”, I don’t know if there is a “too much” and I certainly don’t want to go around pushing people out of my life by throwing myself in their faces.

What I want is genuine space to figure all of this out. I’ve been spending a lot of time reading, reflecting and just on my own. I’m missing connection. I feel ready to get back out in the social scene but I am completely unsure where I fit.

Sincerely,

An LGBT Christian.