Are You There God? It’s Me, Liz.

The ache in my jaw told me they were coming. It always cramps when BIG tears are threatening. People walked to and fro outside of my office door, so I had to hold the body-wracking sobs at bay. My jaw ached more. My throat tightened. I used the pain to focus and push through what I needed to do. Kids are counting on me and I was just reminded that I’ve failed another.

I made it two more hours, working to ensure that LGBTQ students feel safe in schools. (And let’s be real, hoping to change society at the same time.) Then I posted the following to FaceBook before leaving my office for home:

Art used with permission from David Hayward, nakedpastor.com

I just got a call today asking for resources for a middle school kid who expects to be kicked out of their home tonight after coming out to their parents this morning.

Literally at the same time, churches, politicians, schools just keep telling these kids to wait while they get it figured out.

WHAT IS THERE TO FIGURE OUT?! People are hurting and dying. CHILDREN are being tossed out like garbage. And the grownups with the power are failing to protect them, because they’re afraid.

Of course people are afraid to have conversations about a taboo topic. That’s why it’s called “taboo”. But for the Love of all that is good and right in this world… be afraid, and then do it anyway.

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

I closed my car door and started my car, and the BIG tears started.

Perhaps driving while tears stream down your face isn’t ideal, but this wasn’t the first time and it won’t be the last. As I entered the highway and headed home, I wondered which of my friends would think it least weird if I just stopped at their house so I could curl up with my head in their lap while they stroked my hair and I let out all of the empath-level pain I’d been stuffing for weeks. My husband was out of town or he’d get that job by default. (Bless him.)

While I drove, my heartbreak continued to pour out of my eyes as I thought about all of the trauma LGBTQ folks are enduring as of late… The very public dissension of the United Methodist Church over LGBTQ inclusion… The increase in reports I take of students being bullied and harrassed, sometimes even by the teachers who are supposed to help them learn… The hateful legislation meant to erase or oppress them. I thought about a child – about children* – returning home from school to discover that their family has disowned them. The heartbreak took my breath away. The weight of how much still needs to change and the sense that in the big picture I am failing these children felt too heavy at that moment.

Not for the first time nor the last, I felt utterly alone on this journey to which I’m called.

I remembered the beginning of this journey. Every time I felt alone I would challenge God to give me a sign that the Universe had my back… that I was just a part in a bigger plan. This typically happened by me silently requesting a specific song that I found empowering, and without fail, before my drive was over, the song would play on the radio. This became a sort of affirmational game. Sometimes I would challenge God with a seemingly impossible request, but I always received an answer. And so my faith remained steady and I stopped being surprised that God was bigger than the impossible.

Eventually I stopped asking for proof that I was on the right path, with the Universe on my side. It was just so very clear that I was part of a bigger plan and I just needed to show up in order for God to use me. I didn’t need the affirmation anymore, until… all of a sudden, I did. So once again, I silently looked at my radio. With a feeling of utter despair I hesitantly asked, “Am I alone? Are we alone? Have you left us?”

“Of course I’m alone,” I thought to myself. My radio wasn’t on a channel that could possibly play any of my “Hope, Love, and Courage” playlist songs, and I was too exhausted at that moment to find a new station.

Then the impossible happened. One of the songs that soothes my weary heart came on the radio. I have never heard it on the radio before. I first heard it on the soundtrack of a TV show and added it to my playlist. As the lyrics of The Alternate Route’s “Nothing More” sank into my soul, my sobbing increased, but for a new reason.

I am not alone. We are not alone.

We may not be able to see the bigger picture. It may often feel like too much to bear. However, I feel in my soul that the Universe is on our side and that it desperately wants Love to win. If we just continue to show up, God will use us to make the impossible possible.

*Note: It is a commonly known statistic that forty percent of homeless youth are LGBTQ. Local homeless youth advocates say that is accurate even for areas like Wichita, KS. If this makes you as heartbroken and angry as it makes me, might I suggest you channel that fiery pain into action.

2 thoughts on “Are You There God? It’s Me, Liz.”

  1. Me impacto mucho la estadística de la juventud LGBTQ ️‍ sin casa. Es terrible. Gracias por tu trabajo y sigue apoyando a la juventud no importando color, sexo o raza. Estoy muy orgulloso. Sigue adelante

  2. Liz,
    My clergy person sent me this article and perhaps it can be of use to s kid who needs to know God loves them exactly as they are. Written to be used with a rosary, these prayers can be mantra prayers without a rosary. The point is to speak the truth of God’s love for each of us, just as we are. Maybe you can make them available to kids in need.

    Meg Rice [email protected]

    ROSARY PRAYERS FOR LGBTQ CHILDREN OF GOD
    SPIRITUALITY AND PRACTICE
    SEP 23 WRITTEN BY KATY-ANNE BINSTEAD

    Introduction
    The first time around, on all of the weeks beads, you would pray the first set of weeks prayers. The second time around, on all the weeks beads, you would pray the second, etc. The same cruciform prayer is used without the entire three rounds.

    These prayers are also designed to be able to be prayed in a group, exchanging the singular for the plural, for example, trading the word “me” for “us.”

    Crucifix God, who is love.
    The Name of Love
    The Glory of Love
    The Power of Love
    Amen.

    Invitatory (beginning) God, the very essence of you is Love.
    You have created me in your own image.
    When you created me, you declared me to be very good.
    You designed me to be unique.

    Cruciform God, help me to live authentically as the person you created me to be,
    Even when doing so may be difficult or unpopular.

    Weeks (1st) You have accepted me as your beloved,
    help me to accept others as your beloved,
    and help others accept me as your beloved.

    Weeks (2nd) You blessed me with my own unique identity,
    help me to affirm and accept the identity of others,
    and help others to affirm and accept my identity.

    Weeks (3rd) You lovingly created me with purpose,
    help me to accept and fulfill that purpose,
    and to use that purpose for the blessing of others.

    Invitatory (closing) Your creativity is beautiful and holy.
    I affirm and accept your creation of me.
    I affirm and accept your creation of others.
    You created me and all of humanity in your holy image.
    The image of the divine, residing in all.
    To bear witness of your love and beauty.

    Crucifix (closing) God, you are love.
    You are the source of life.
    Amen.

    (The opening invocation is taken from Beyond a Binary God: A Theology for Trans* Allies by Tara K. Soughers.)

    SEPTEMBER 2020

    Katy-Anne Binstead has lived her life in a horror novel, except that the horror was not in any way fictional. Her main contribution to the church is her ability to make priests facepalm or swear, depending on the day and context. She enjoys flaunting her gay lifestyle by reading, writing, and making prayer beads, and raising her four children. She has an M.A. in Creative Writing, and writes about the intersection of the monstrous and the sacred at katy-anne.com.

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