Pride Month

“I’m not looking to change your mind. I’m not trying to convert you to my way of thinking. I just want to know that you love me.”

The other day a dear friend of mine came out to me as gay. It’s obviously not my story to tell, nor is this the first time I’ve had this experience with a friend, but it is the most recent and the first time I’ve had a friend tell me they’re gay since I became Catholic. 

We had a really beautiful talk. I cannot fathom the bravery and vulnerability and trauma and confusion my friend carries. Except that I can because I’ve been on the giving end of it. Growing up in Bible Belt culture made me guilty by association and complicit in the commission of many sins, I’m sorry to say. And for that I ask forgiveness. 

“I’m not looking to change your mind. I’m not trying to convert you to my way of thinking. I just want to know that you love me.”

I am a Catholic, faithful to the teachings of the Church and loyal to the Pope. I accept the Church’s teaching on sexuality, but I reject the methods in which Her children carry out those teachings. 

It’s Gay Pride Month. Do you know what the queer community wants? They just want you to love them. You don’t have to accept or condone every action or decision a community makes in order to love people. You don’t have to agree in order to love people. 

Alienation and isolation and hate and hurt are not part of the Gospel of Christ. In my experience, “love the sinner, hate the sin” looks an awful lot like shaming and repressing. Only specific sinners are left walking away from church feeling unwanted while those of us with “more acceptable” sins sit in the cat bird’s seat. 

Every person is fearfully and wonderfully made. Every person. I believe that the queer community has so much to offer the church, so much to offer the world. I know there’s a wide spectrum of belief on this, that we affirm and support our gay brothers and sisters in different ways. This is a conversation that’s hard for all of us because we’re all in different places. That’s okay. 

But, guys, it’s time to get past the rhetoric and just simply love God’s people. That’s it. You don’t need to worry about micromanaging their salvation. God’s got that. I’m not saying you’re required to attend a pride parade this month. But what I am saying is that our best witness to Christ’s love is simply accepting people and loving them. It is vital to people’s very lives that we in the church show up and love them right here in the present, in the hard, confusing, uncomfortable moment right where they are. Unconditionally. The way the Father loves us all. 

I honestly don’t know the best way for that to all play out on a practical level. I know I’ll screw it up and make a mess of things. But I also know that I won’t hurt me to try to understand the experience of others. Even in my failures, it won’t hurt me to listen – just listen – to the story and experience of someone who believes differently than I do.

I am called by Christ to love my brother. I am capable of listening and reading and learning. I am a recipient of God’s grace through the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist and that grace allows me to follow the Church while simultaneously loving the queer community. Grace does the impossible, after all.

Water into wine, deniers into popes, bread into the Body.

If He can do all that, then surely He can soften our hearts to do this, too.

Everything We Thought It’d Be

Around one this morning we were awakened by Maggie’s cries of, “Mommy? Mooooommmy??? Where aaaare you??” coming from the stairs. After the aimless wanderer was fetched, her only explanation being, “I just love you,” the teething 13 month old woke up and could not be pacified. After finally getting Lils back in bed and catching a few hours ourselves we were again awakened by Mags calling, “Mommy!!” from her room, again waking up the baby and eventually ending in all of us sleeping in one bed together, a sight I’m sure was glorious to behold.

 

So, this morning when we got simultaneous “Happy Anniversary” text messages right as Lily woke us up with with demanding shrieks, presumably for “food, and NOW,” Vin rolled over and said, “Oh, hey! Happy Anniversary!” To which I replied, “Is it everything you though it’d be?”

 

And we laughed, because that’s probably the most important thing we’ve learned to do in four years of marriage. Sometimes you just have to laugh at the situation.

 

And sometimes you have to laugh at The Situation.

 

Seriously, this is a thing we do. When we’re having an argument or serious discussion and the phrase “the situation” comes up, the other person is obligated to say, “I don’t know what he has to do with this.” Cracks us up every time. 🙂

 

These things are necessities.

 

So is forgiveness. Before we got married I randomly read an article in Guideposts magazine about a couple who had been married for something like sixty years. They were, of course, asked what was the secret to their marital success and I’ll never forget what the wife said. She said you have to forgive each other for a thousand things every day. That is an absolute truth.

 

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We’ve learned so much in the past four years. We’ve been places I don’t think either of us ever imagined, some of them places we don’t necessarily want to return to. We’ve struggled. We’ve fought. We’ve learned and are still learning to communicate. We’ve taken gambles and completely flopped. We’ve seen those flops transform into really exciting and joyous beginnings.

 

We have witnessed firsthand the miracle of landing on our feet, however long the fall might take.

 

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We’ve realized that a successful marriage isn’t something two people do alone. They need a community of supporters to remind them that a marriage is something worth fighting for. They need the example of friends and family who are in it for the long haul, too. They need to know that it’s possible to get past all of the garbage that both husband and wife bring to the picture.

 

Tomorrow morning, Vin is whisking me off to Chicago for the first trip we have ever taken away from the kids. I’ve only ever been away from Maggie for three days and Lily and I have never been apart. My mama heart gets a little weepy over this, but I’m reminded of a discussion Vin and I had shortly before we married. I maintained that the husband/wife relationship had to be the first priority in a family so the children would be well taken care of. Vin said the kids had to be first. Ironically, the moment I became a mother my ideals shifted. I’ve put the children first since the first moment I heard Maggie cry. And while being a deeply devoted mother is an incredible thing, I know I’ve neglected my best friend in a lot of ways.

 

And yet, here we are.

 

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That’s why today, I’m so grateful for my husband. I’m grateful for his patience, his friendship, his stupid fart jokes. I’m so thankful for his encouragement of all my endeavors. He really believes in me, which is the greatest gift ever. He’s challenged me and called me out when I needed it. He’s held me when I’ve sobbed over heavy things and trivial things. He’s tried valiantly to fix girls’ hair and learned all the words to princess songs. He’s made me a mother and a better woman. And I know that none of this happened by accident, that God has put us together for a purpose.

 

Thanks for marrying me, Vin. Four years and 3.5 kids later, you’re still the man of my dreams. I love you.

 

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All of these photos were taken by Nicole Gatling at nwdphotography.com. Check her out, she’s wooonderful and a good friend from college. 🙂