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 until I was alone. 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:
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 bullied and harassed students, sometimes even by the teachers who should 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 in this Calling.
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. 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 feeling 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 became so clear that I was part of a bigger plan and I simply 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. I was too exhausted at that moment to find a new station. I resigned myself to being alone.
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: A commonly known statistic is that LGBTQ youth make up forty percent of the homeless youth population. 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.