It Is Well: Seasons of Doubt

I heard the hymn “It Is Well” a few weeks ago and the words “whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say” have always impacted me. This time in particular, however, the words stuck in my throat as I sang along because it had been a long time since I sang a hymn that went beyond the nice melody and sank deeper into my heart.

For the past couple years, I’ve been in a season of doubt. Not the doubting God exists kind of doubt, but more of the is everything I’ve been taught about the Bible and Christianity true kind of doubt. Some people say that it’s dangerous to even question this. I’ll say it definitely feels dangerous, but I think that knowing why you hold the beliefs you do is important. Blindly following whatever a pastor says is right to believe seems to be more dangerous than challenging and questioning aspects of faith I’m not sure about. As a matter of fact, I feel this has helped strengthen my faith, even though it’s led to more questions I may never have the answers to.

And thus these doubts and questions bring me here. To a place of lots of uncertainty. A place of “Is God really good and why does He allow all this suffering and pain?” I used to think I had good answers to that–that there’s suffering because of sin, and we can’t know all that God’s doing because He’s God and we’re not. I still believe those things to an extent, but in a more nuanced way. More or less my conclusion now is that it’s complicated.

I think this accurately describes my relationship with God right now too. It’s complicated, but I know He loves me. And though the words “whatever my lot” mean something different now when I sing them, I still know Jesus is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. So no matter how much I wrestle with the sovereignty of God and the discrepancies I have with my faith and the church, that keeps me going.

Doubt in life I think is more about being honest with ourselves and God that we’re so not ever going to understand everything. That raw honesty is scary. I’m not sure the world is ready for the honesty it says it wants. This means seeing the dark side of everything. It means taking things as they are and not letting it completely destroy me. It means having room for doubt.

The freedom to doubt–to ask questions and learn to think for oneself–this is something we all need. We need this freedom and not constraint when our discoveries go against the status quo.

So…yes, I struggle a lot with doubt. I’m a Christian, gay, dealing with sexual abuse trauma, and recovering from legalism. And I’m trying to figure out what that all means for me and God. I’ve found Him to be more accepting and understanding than most of the people who claim to follow Him. I have no idea why He’s allowed certain things into my life. But I do know this: “It is well, it is well with my soul.”

What I Wish You (the church) Knew

I don’t want to be angry anymore. I’m tired of being angry. In fact, I’m exhausted—especially every time I get on social media lately, because toxic, downright hostile things have been circulating around the worldwide web ever since the SCOTUS decision on June 30th. I get it. You’re all in an uproar because you feel that marriage is being redefined—traditions in this country are being rewritten, all that jazz.

But I would caution you to think before you post that next Franklin Graham or Jerry Falwell opinion. Think about not only those who agree with you or disagree with you, but think about those you’re hurting with the vitriolic and incredibly insensitive posts. Marriage equality is so much more than a political issue. There are people—real live people involved. Imagine that? People?! Yes, people who are human beings who walk on this earth and breathe the same air you do. People…like me. I am a Christian. I am a part of the LGBT community. And I feel stuck in the middle. I feel like I have to choose between my faith community which is a part of who I am, and my orientation…also part of who I am. Don’t make me choose. I shouldn’t have to choose which group I want to love me.

I don’t want to be bitter because of your lack of love and support. I don’t want to be angry or so weighed down because the people who say they will love me the most might just abandon me when I tell them I’m gay. I want to speak on the behalf of so many closeted gay Christians out there who are struggling and maybe even contemplating suicide just out of the pain Christians (often their own family members) have caused them by saying they hate a part of them. So, here are some things I want you to know:

1. I’m not asking you to accept a “lifestyle.” I’m asking you to love me. Love me like I’m a person. Love me like you would want someone to love you if you were in my shoes. Love us. Support us. Stop judging us for something we. did. not. choose. Yes, I said it. I did not choose this. Believe me, if I had, I would have changed my mind a long time ago. No one wants to be a marginalized people.

2. But I AM asking you to love me like you want to be loved. Of course, you’re probably asking, what does support and love mean if I disagree with you acting on your same-sex attractions? It is actually possible to love someone you don’t agree with. I do it all the time. No one agrees 100% on anything. ever. Even other Christians. If you view it as sin, call me out on it by all means if I choose that life for myself. But…love me. Don’t ever stop loving me.

3. I’m asking you to accept that I. am. gay. Some may be asking, what if I just think you can’t possibly be gay? How then do I proceed? That’s like asking me if you can love me if I have brown hair and brown eyes instead of blonde hair and blue eyes. I’m gay. I’ve tried tirelessly to change that, and had to accept that I couldn’t. Most everyone else who’s LGBT will tell you the same thing.

4. I’m asking you to be courteous. I want to understand what it’s like for you, but in return, please afford me the same courtesy. If the world were majority LGBT and minority heterosexual, would you want me to ask of you the same that you’re asking of me?

5. I’m asking you to consider that celibacy might be an option. Guess what? Some of us who are gay/lesbian/bisexual actually agree with you on the “one man, one woman” thing. But some of us do not. So, instead of forcing us to marry someone of the opposite sex, help us in our singleness.

Even if you can’t understand what I’m going through, will you be there as I’m journeying through life? THIS is the support I need: that you will be there for me in the tough times just as I hope to be there for you regardless of what those tough times may be. I want you to be a community of believers who love Jesus and love like He loved.