Friday, June 25, 2010

Rummage Sale: canceled

Today I'm not having a rummage sale, and I'm not working at my "new" job (I'm off nearly every Friday).  What I AM doing is resting my aching back and painful sciatica.  What I WANTED to do was prepare for the employee Parking Lot Sale, get rid of the stacks of extra (non-fitting) clothes in my closet (as well as a bunch of "Miscellaneous" as it is referred to in Garage Sale language) and make a few dollars all at the same time.  My wonderful co-workers had even volunteered to help me, but even so, I decided last night that I should cancel.  It just isn't worth it to further hurt myself in an effort to make a hundred bucks. Too bad, since I have a lot of stuff already stickered and ready to go. 

Self-preservaton.  I wonder, when does that kick in on a more intense level than our willingness to persevere and DO things that we want or need to do?  I probably could do the sale, but would it be in my own best interest?  Even with all the work involved, the actual SALE time would be fun, with socializing with co-workers, meeting new co-workers, and sharing the satisfaction of a job achieved and well-done.  I LIKE meeting rummage-salers.  I WANTED to make some extra cash.  I WISH I could clear out some of the clutter that I seem to collect without trying.  All these intended goals meant that a big ol' RUMMAGE SALE could achieve what I wanted to do!

BUT, when it got to last night, the time when I needed to load the tables, carry all the boxes, and pack the vehicle to be ready for Saturday, I just really, really hurt, and I couldn't see following through.  Maybe later, maybe with some family input (hint, hint), but not tomorrow. 

Something about working hard feels good.  There is disappointment in not getting to do the sale.  I even tried to do a sale last week in my garage, but the heat was a setback.  I mean, the weatherperson said it was supposed to feel like 100*!  Who wants to have or GO to a rummage when it's that hot?  Yesterday I decided to run an ad in the paper (so that I could run it today, get rid of some stuff prior to the employee rummage, and I would have less to lug over there).  I submitted the information as soon as I got home from work, but I got a call an hour later that I'd missed the deadline.  All these things have been roadblocks to me and my RUMMAGE sale efforts! 

And so I ask you:  What is up in the meaning of LIFE that I can't get a crummy garage sale going? 

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Hillary Clinton: Gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.

I am so pleased to know the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (whom I supported in the primary 2008) not only participated in Pride Week 2010, but made this very public statement in supporting rights for ALL LGBT people. 

She also encourages straight people to stand up for those who cannot stand for themselves.  I'm so very pleased to be standing with her, and encourage you to listen to her speech.  It matters to us all - in the name of equal rights.  Toward the end of her speech, she speaks of the doing all we can to create safe spaces, and to look for those who need to be mentored.  Let's follow Hillary's example, and be a part of history!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Telling our stories: Jonathan, by Lisa

It is not just for myself that I write this blog. Sometimes it seems too hard, not just emotionally, but because of the time involved and the effort it takes to type out and compose what I want to say, to keep it up. Then, I get an e-mail like this one from Lisa. She shared about her friend, Jonathan, a young gay man. Through knowing him, she learned to accept him for himself, and it changed her life.

Like Lisa and how she was changed, when I needed to gather information, I was touched by stories that others put on blogs and websites and by personal sharing. I found out, to my shock, that there were gay Christians, and that there was no such thing as only one "gay lifestyle."

Now I believe in blogging, and in sharing our stories in person as well. It starts with telling the truth, despite what others may think or say. Lisa has granted me permission to share the way she knew and loved Jonathan, and I offer it to you here.

When I met Jonathan, we were instant friends. We connected on so many levels and our friendship lasted for many year. After I had known him about a year, he confided in me that he was gay. He was only 16 years old at the time. I was in my 20's. I was a little shocked at first, but I already loved and cared about him, and his revelation was not going to change that. It was something that I watched him struggle with for years. He was afraid his parents would find out and shun him. He played piano for several local churches and worried that he was going to be punished by God for playing for a church and being gay.
He went to college on a scholarship because he didn't want to take his parents money, for fear of their reaction if they ever found out. He ended up working 3 jobs while in college, to cover what the scholarship didn't. He was leading a double life, being himself at school and and being the dutiful son when he came home. It was tearing him apart. Finally in his senior year of college, he closed his bank accounts, maxed out all his credit cards and came home with a gun, planning to kill himself. But for some reason, at the last minute, he reached out to his mom for help. He finally told her everything that he had been hiding.
His mother loved him. I don't doubt that. But she couldn't accept that he was gay and she got him into cousleing with someone who kept telling him it was just a phase, and that he could change. That was 5 years ago, and she never stopped trying to change him. He dropped out of college and moved back home. He was just going through the motions really. Two years ago, a job came open in South Carolina, within the company he worked at, so he moved. I thought things were better, since he could be himself there. Of course he still had to pretend when he came home.
We used to joke around and say we should get married, just as a cover. He was so tired of pretending to be someone he was not. But he knew his parents would never ever accept him for who really was. And he was so worried about what God and other Christians thought. I guess I thought he was doing better, but I missed something along the way. He killed himself on May 10, 2010. He just couldn't take the pressures of life anymore.
I am feeling so guilty because I missed the signs. I am so anger that this world makes it so hard for gay people. I really just want to shout at people when they say such hurtful things, like gay people choose their lifestyles. If it were just a choice, Jonathan would not have killed himself. He would have chosen the easier path. I have to say that Jonathan is the reason that my heart was changed. He made me a better person. And now he is gone. I feel so alone, so hurt, so many emotions. I am flooded with memories and regrets.
Reading your blog has been good for me. I just needed to write to you and tell you what Ray's coming out meant to Jonathan. I think it gave him a brief bit of hope. I think the pain he was in was just too much. I read a quote on a suicide survivors forum that I joined. It said " the time came when the pain it took to stay was greater than the pain it took to go"
Please tell Ray thank you and I thank you for sharing your story and for letting me share Jonathan's. The more I can write this down and get it out of my head the better. Please keep me and his family in your prayers and I will keep you in mine.

 Jonathan's story is important, and Lisa has offered to share it with us.  ALL of our stories matter, and I hope I can honor others' stories as well.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Sex, God's way (and you know it has to be missionary)

Someone identified as "Love you" on Wednesday at 5:28p.m. in the comments on "Sunday morning sermon topic:  Marriage" wrote this: 

Do you suppose in your efforts to help others, you end up hurting still others? Do you think that your stole would be offensive to friends of Jesse Dirkhising? Is what you feel more important than the feelings of others? Do the rules and demands that you impose on others apply to you? You say that you are not patient with those who disagree with your feelings...yet you demand that others be patient with your disagreement. Is that right?

There are people who truly, really, LOVE children and have "always" lusted for them. These people try to live a normal life; they do not want to be physically attracted to children; and they grieve because they are. But, they can not change. Would you say that "God made them this way"? How about those who really, truly are attracted to dead bodies; to animals; desire bondage and rape; or only find pleasure in pornography? Is that the way God made them? Why would homosexual deviancy be different in the eyes of God than the others I mentioned? Why would God limit his love and understanding to only the deviancy of homosexuality? Many people feel that they were not "made" to be monogamous. They can not be faithful. They NEED many sexual partners. They were "made that way". Yet God clearly says Adultery is a sin. Why? Is God really glorified in homosexual and other "preferences"? Really? Prov.14:14 and 16:25. The truth is; "For all that is of the world---the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life--is NOT of the Father, but is of the world." 1Jn2:16 God made man perfect and good, and provided him with a wife/a woman as the perfect companion. Lust is a part of our fallen nature--not good. I ran a daycare. You are a mother; you and I know that naturally we are sinners. I never had to teach a child to BE selfish--TO hit; TO grab toys or TO throw a fit when they want thing their way! Their natural nature was NOT good. As a loving parent, we must guide them away from these natural ways. Just as God does not want us to steal, kill or lie to get our own way; he doesn't want us to commit sexual sin either. You may get all the world to agree and participate in your sin; but in the end, God says you will pay in your soul..Romans 1:27. It isn't cruel punishment, but truth that if you stick your hand in a flame, you will hurt and be burned. A loving father warns and puts a barrier around the flame to protect his children. Our society has been the barrier. You are trying to remove that barrier, to your hurt, and to burn all our children.

 To which I replied: 

What a tragic story of Jesse Dirkhising, and I’m so sorry if this was a friend of yours.  I presume, rather, that you are offended by the coverage that was lacking when he died, and you think that because he was murdered by two gay men, that it was BECAUSE they were gay.  No, they were violent rapists, murderers.  How awful.

It seems to me that you confuse sexuality, violence, and lust toward other objects, and even non-consensual sex acts, with ADULT, CONSENTING, individuals, legally pursuing relationships of their choice.  The important part is the relationships, and not the sex act, even though that IS the end result of sexuality.  I have said before that I do not understand sex without love, even though I know, of course, that it happens between both straight and gay people.  I also believe in commitment, even though there are situations where that does not enter into sexual relationships, either.  Sex just happens to be part of how we are put together, and yes, there are ways that we disrespect others as well as the way our Maker intended us to use this gift. 

You will not find anywhere on my blog that I condone pedophilia.  I repeat often that God DOES love us all, and no one is judged except by God, nor is God’s love measured by how we make love or with whom.  Rather than bring up various sexual preferences, I repeat that I’m not talking about how people “do it.”  My emphasis is that ALL of us need love, respect, and acceptance. 

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sunday morning sermon topic: Marriage

Happily wearing my "rainbow stole" today for church, I wanted attention.  The stole is about 30" long, and it drapes around one's neck like a minister's "stole" - a seasonal decoration that is part of a Methodist minister's garb.   I received it in 2008 at the General Conference of the United Methodist Church, and was made by members of the Reconciling Ministries. 

I was complimented two times.  First, by my divorce lawyer and her husband (also an attorney), who are two folks that are not only friendly, but have let me know that they are supportive of gay and lesbian people.  I told them my pretty neck-piece was given to me by the Reconciling Ministries.  They were happily surprised when I told them it actually IS a part of Methodism. 

Next, another friend said, "What a colorful...thing you have."  And to this friend I answered, "It means I'm gay-affirming, and I'm wearing it because this week was the Indiana Conference here in Muncie."  My friend was taken aback, and said, "You aren't kidding, are you?"  To which I said no, I was not, as I smiled and explained again about getting it at General Conference. I was kind of proud to be wearing my "sign" of affirmation, and I was happy that I could express the reason I wore it.  As surprised as this 2nd friend was, she knows how I think and feel, so we smiled and went to our seats - and I chose to sit with the lawyer friends.

As I enjoyed the music, singing with a full heart, my friend Lisa, came to sit with us.  After the usual announcements and so forth, the pastor, Matt, began with the first of a series on MARRIAGE.  I'd been feeling pretty good up to that point - and wrote a secret note that I showed my two friends:  Here we sit, two divorcees and a divorce lawyer!  Oh, the irony. 

Examples of true love followed:  slides of old married folks, witnesses of a lifetime of commitment.  A video from the Marriage Ref, showing silly arguments.  And then to show how couples can grow apart, a geometric object lesson: as an angle stays constant, the points on the arms move further from the vertex (all math terms I had to look up to add here) as well as further from each other. 

Wow, what a way to build up our little back row.

It took full concentration AND some good-hearted humor for both Lisa and myself to sit quietly and to keep a receptive attitude, since we each divorced for different reasons.  But since we (and others who divorce) still hold marriage in high regard, we decided we would not make a mass exodus.  However, about 15 minutes into the sermon/message, I had a "potty emergency" and had to excuse myself.

In the restroom, I was concerned to hear quiet sniffles - and I worried that someone needed help.  My call from nature must have been a meant-to-be, because in asking, and all I could see was feet, and all I could hear was crying. When this small woman appeared, I found someone who was in much more serious shape because of this "marriage" sermon.  She had just filed for divorce, and she was very, very upset.

Little did I know how much others would be suffering, and this particular woman couldn't bear to stay inside the main hall.    I was so glad I got to talk and interact with her, and when she asked, I went inside and found her purse and things so she wouldn't have to.

Because I went inside and gathered the belongings of this woman, I also grabbed my own, and I didn't hear how the message ended.  I wondered though, how many of us were there who were affected.  I wondered, and still do, if Matt realizes that when he encourages some, even many, that some of us either have to remove ourselves from the impact of the message, or absolutely can't stand to hear how things "ought to be."

Getting back to my rainbow stole, I thought about why I wear it and what I stand for.  I am part of many groups.  There are the closeted gay Christians that I KNOW are part of our little congregation, and I want to be a visible support for them.  The out gay Christians who are not there - since the United Methodists are slow to accept them as equals in our congregation.  I also stand for the non-Christian gay and lesbian people, because we all are God's children. 

I'm also part of the divorced people.  Ten years ago I would NEVER have expected to be one of "THEM."  Now that I AM divorced, messages like today's that assume marriage is part of everyone's life find me sarcastic and a little jaded.  While divorce is no longer as stigmatized in the church as it was in the past, we who experience it still hurt, a lot.   

So is there a sign I can wear that shows my care for these groups?  Is there anything I can do?  Is wearing a rainbow stole enough?  Is it even appropriate? 

I think it is not my rainbow stole that will show how much I care or display my willingness to stand with those who can't stand for themselves.  I think it's my question in the bathroom stall asking, "Do you need help?  Can I do something for you?"  Even though I was initially afraid to intrude, it was a moment that passed quickly.  And it takes just a moment longer to offer to help someone know they aren't alone. 

I'm not sure how to sum this up - suffice it to say that I want to help. It isn't wearing an outside rainbow that shows my support, even though it can easily show that I'm supportive.  It's the caring question, "Do you need help?  Can I do anything for you?"  It's offering myself, even when I can't do much more than get someone's things and give a hug.  That's what I can do.


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Busy days of June

Hi friends and readers! I have not had time to write lately, even though I have some entries that desperately need to be edited before I post them. There is interesting stuff all around in the news:

1) Ted Haggard is starting a new church. I just hope he welcomes gay people who are out and honest. If he and Gayle are happy with their lives, great. While I don't believe that he's been made into a straight man, I can accept his spiritual gifts as a leader. I do object when he refers to others who are "out" as sinful, and these honest ones shouldn't be oppressed or criticized.

2) "Don't ask, Don't tell" was passed by the House on May 27. This will soon allow gay and lesbian Americans to serve openly in the Armed Forces, and will provide opportunities for ALL. A couple of years ago I talked with a young girl who had been "outed" by others in her unit, and was discharged because she was lesbian. In all other regards this young girl was full of merit, but her career was terminated, her future was changed because she dated another female.

3) I got a new job! I'm now a gift shop manager! Although I started about 6 weeks ago, working outside and for someone else is a new challenge, and I'm busy, busy, busy. Even though it is part-time, I still have lots of work here at home that keeps me busy, and I sometimes don't get it all done.

4) Daughter Liz and her baby were just here to visit! They live out of state, and were here for a family gathering that we call the "Brammer Family get-together." It's become an annual event, always at my house each June. I took advantage in the past week to hold my wonderful grandkids, and it was great. See the picture here? Now, I bet you'd hold babies rather than blog if it were you, don't you think?

I hope to still have time to keep blogging, because I have some personal stories that others have shared with me.

Sharing my own story on this blog has been a great experience for me. Not only have I put it in black and white, I've gone through emotions and sorted out some of my thoughts along the way. As I have done this, I have gained encouragement, support and new friends. Thank you! Because of that, and how others' personal stories have been so important to my growth, I want to be able to share more of these.

Meantime, have patience as I adjust to my new schedule. I have a ton of work to do, and still only 24 hours in a day (like everyone else). :) Have a good week!