This has all been painful in ways I did not expect it to be painful… and yet, it has also been beautiful in ways I could never have anticipated. Take, for example, the night before last when I led A out to the grassy knoll, or perhaps it would be better named, the “gay grassy knoll” (to clarify, this is not my neighbor A, but another A, fighting his own brilliantly loving war at a nearby Christian institution). I have jokingly labeled it such because this grassy knoll, a few apartment complexes down, is where I go to have the conversations that I will not have in my own home, or in the courtyard of my apartment complex with its many open windows. Conversations about God, and faith, and rewriting our story. Conversations laced with underlying, unvoiced questions in countless hidden forms, all asking, essentially, can God really still love me? Can I really still, after all of this, find my way back to God? What if I am wrong? Not just, what if my ideas are wrong, but what if I, the person, am simply wrong?

The night before last on the knoll with A was no exception. Different conversation, same questions. He was grasping at every coincidental straw he could come up with to avoid believing that God was actually working through him and his sexuality to minister to others in similar situations. And it is heartbreaking to be faced, as I so often am, with these kinds of reminders that you could preach all day on the hypothetical level about how people should be more open-minded and understanding about diverse sexualities, but when push comes to shove, you just can’t believe that after all of this, God still loves you, works through you… not even just in spite of your sexuality, but actually even through it. Talking with A, I was reminded of my own “coincidences” in which I stubbornly refuse to see God. Take, for example, the fact that while I was half-way around the world this summer, I formed friendships with both A and B through mutual friends, and while A and B have become two of my primary sources of support in all this questioning/struggling/searching these past few months, none of us are even in touch with the people who introduced us any more. Why is it easier for me to believe that this is some bizarre kind of international coincidence, than to believe that God might actually be trying to create a support system for me in all of this?

Out on the grassy knoll, A and I did our best to help each other look for ways that God might still possibly, just maybe, be working in our lives…and where we couldn’t find any answers, at least there is always plenty of understanding to go around. On our way back to my apartment, under the cover of the 2 a.m witching hour (a time in which I have been known to voice things I would never otherwise voice), I confessed that I haven’t been praying much at all anymore- that I can’t, no matter how hard I try, seem to get past unspoken accusations thrown in God’s general direction: “This is Your fault, or infinitely worse, if this isn’t Your fault, then it has to be mine.”

I hadn’t even known I was thinking this until I said it, but it resonated within me as soon as I spoke the words. I know that I am scared of finding out that this is really God’s plan for me- all of this uncertainty and isolation, questioning and self-loathing…. But what paralyzes me, what consumes me so completely that lately I have been forgetting how to breathe whenever I show up in church or try to read my Bible, is that maybe this wasn’t God’s plan at all, and somewhere along the line I went horribly, deplorably wrong. Am, at my very core, horribly, deplorably wrong.

When I was trying to explain some of this to B, she asked me, “you mean, you think it’s wrong to be gay?” “No, no, not for you, not for anyone else, just for me.” Even as I said this, I could hear how utterly illogical it was, but knowing that it’s a double standard doesn’t actually do very much to erase it. I’m trying though… I think we’re all trying, the best that we know how. In the meantime, I’ll keep heading back to the grassy knoll, whether with friends in person or friends on the phone thousands of miles away, and we’ll do our best to hold up a mirror to each other and point out the ways that God is at work at the very places in which we are blind.