How We Met

Of all the questions we receive via email and Twitter, “How did you two meet?” and “How did you become a couple?” are probably the most common. Because so many of our readers have asked, today we would like to tell you that story.

Our relationship began as a friendship that arose organically. We met unexpectedly via our participation in the Gay Christian Network’s online community. When Sarah first joined GCN, Sarah was experiencing a great deal of loneliness and was seeking new friendships. Sarah was in a relationship that would unravel over the next few months and was having trouble coping with that reality. Lindsey had been a member of GCN for several years by the time Sarah joined, and happened to say hello after Sarah had made an introduction to the community. We had a few brief interactions, and Lindsey introduced Sarah to one of Lindsey’s gay male friends who was local in Sarah’s city.

Eventually, an incident on the message boards involving another member in need of help brought Sarah and Lindsey into more intentional conversation with one another. We realized that we had many common interests and enjoyed discussing a variety of topics together. We talked about our doctoral dissertations, our students, the interest we shared in using our very different types of academic training to address issues of poverty and social justice, our spiritualities, and our shared woes associated with being graduate students. We were astonished at how naturally and easily we were able to support each other during difficult times. Sarah offered to wake up extra early and listen to a trial run the morning of Lindsey’s dissertation proposal defense, and Lindsey offered a listening ear and a great deal of helpful advice when Sarah was scrambling to save the aforementioned long-term relationship. When Sarah’s relationship did come to an end, Lindsey was there to listen when Sarah needed to cry, vent, or just have someone on the other end of the phone line while indulging in some Ben and Jerry’s.

Sarah was not anticipating entering a committed relationship again so soon, but within a few weeks after the breakup, it became clear that Sarah’s and Lindsey’s friendship was deepening. Lindsey came to Sarah’s city for a weekend to visit another friend, and the two of us were able to spend some time together in person.  While acknowledging that Sarah would still need more time, we decided that when it felt right to move forward, we wanted to explore the possibility of doing life together more purposefully. We had no idea what this was going to look like, but we thought it sounded like an adventure.

Because we had such a positive experience with a long-distance friendship, we continued discerning how living four states apart would affect our relationship as it developed, and we met each other’s families and friends. In the weeks and months that followed, we came into regular patterns of being there for one another, experiencing an ever-growing sense of emotional intimacy. We started to recall our previous explorations of celibacy as individuals, and soon saw that we felt mutually drawn to cultivating a celibate vocation within the context of a shared life. In late spring, Lindsey received a job offer in Sarah’s city totally out of the blue. We discussed the idea of living together and whether we were ready for that. After a great deal of prayer, planning, and searching for living quarters that would be sufficient for two humans and two mischievous felines, we moved into our first apartment. Since then, God has continued to reveal to us new and meaningful ways of helping each other as we work out our salvation with fear and trembling. We find ourselves absolutely loving sharing life together, and we look forward to many more years.

Comment Policy: Please remember that we, and all others commenting on this blog, are people. Practice kindness. Practice generosity. Practice asking questions. Practice showing love. Practice being human. If your comment is rude, it will be deleted. If you are constantly negative, argumentative, or bullish, you will not be able to comment anymore. We are the sole moderators of the combox.

Encountering the Mirror of Erised

A reflection by Sarah

This is the second of two reflections Lindsey and I are sharing in honor of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. You can read Lindsey’s reflection here.

“Now, can you think what the Mirror of Erised shows us all?” Harry shook his head. “Let me explain. The happiest man on earth would be able to use the Mirror of Erised like a normal mirror, that is, he would look into it and see himself exactly as he is. Does that help?”

Harry thought. Then he said slowly, “It shows us what we want… whatever we want…”

“Yes and no,” said Dumbledore quietly. “It shows us nothing more or less than the deepest, most desperate desire of our hearts. You, who have never known your family, see them standing around you. Ronald Weasley, who has always been overshadowed by his brothers, sees himself standing alone, the best of all of them. However, this mirror will give us neither knowledge nor truth. Men have wasted away before it, entranced by what they have seen, or been driven mad, not knowing if what it shows is real or even possible.”

—J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Of all the magical objects in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, I’ve always found the Mirror of Erised most fascinating. Invisibility cloaks are interesting, yet don’t serve much purpose unless you want to hide from the world or go snooping around in places you’re not supposed to be. The Marauder’s Map is pretty awesome too; however, it will not do you much good if you aren’t actually at Hogwarts. But a mirror that shows you the deepest desire of your heart…in times of uncertainty, there’s a lot to be said for the utility of such an object, especially if you’re a teenager and have absolutely no idea what you want in life. Upon reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone at age fifteen, I remember wondering, “If I could look into this mirror, what might I see?” I hadn’t given this any thought at the time, but I had caught my first glimpse of the Mirror of Erised three years prior and was already beginning to do exactly what Dumbledore had warned Harry against—wasting away before the Mirror, not knowing whether its reflection was real or even possible.

Over the years, I’ve come to see that managing recovery from an eating disorder can be a lot like gazing into the Mirror of Erised and learning how not to be mesmerized and enticed by the vision it offers. This lesson is a lot more difficult than most people realize. To clarify, I’m not talking about the way I see my body. I’m one of the (possibly) rare people in the eating disorder recovery community who does not experience body image disturbances beyond the occasional bad hair day or frustration with dry skin during winter. Instead, what I mean is that the eating disorder’s voice, if you will, can manifest in eerily convincing ways, holding my greatest needs and deepest desires before my eyes and subtly suggesting that it has the key for opening the door to all of them.

The first time I ever purged, I was twelve. I had just begun to experience a repetitive traumatic event that would continue for a few more years. I grew up in a household that was probably stricter than most, and I wasn’t very confident that disclosure of the trauma would be taken well. I longed for the courage to discuss what was going on and the ability to sense when it would be safe to come forward, but neither ever came to me…until bulimia entered the picture. After eating something that didn’t agree with me and becoming ill during the holidays that year, I discovered that vomiting could function as an emotional release. When I felt well again a couple of days later, I found myself drawn to replicating the sense of relief that had come as a side effect…so I did replicate it. And I saw that with each instance, I felt safer, more courageous, even more powerful. It wasn’t long before I had acquired my own internal Mirror of Erised, readily displaying visions of freedom found exclusively in a box of Oreos and a stimulated gag reflex.

About two years later, I worked up the strength to tell someone about the traumatic occurrences that were still persisting. These revelations were met with disbelief, punishment, and broken trust. Though I cannot remember a single moment in my life when I did not believe in God, in my estimation he seemed absent and disinterested in the pain of a fourteen-year-old kid, so I turned my gaze almost completely to the Mirror of Erised. I had been praying that one day the truth would out, but this didn’t seem likely. I could look into the Mirror and view images of myself as an adult…strong, independent, successful, able to care for myself, never needing to trust, and consequently, never being let down by anyone ever again. Though the truth did eventually burst forth and become undeniable, by this time apologies were too little, too late. I was convinced that the Mirror held all the answers. If only I would keep staring at it intently, it could show me the path to fulfilling my wildest dreams.

I continued along this way through high school, college, and into graduate school. Over time I began experiencing symptoms of what I now know to be post-traumatic stress disorder. Engaging in bulimic behavior became my regular means for ridding myself of anxiety and flashbacks. If I had trouble focusing on a reading assignment that I didn’t enjoy, got stuck with the majority of the work on a group project, or had no idea how I could possibly maintain my grade point average while ensuring that I had enough income to finish a semester in the first place, I didn’t have time to worry about all my “nonsense” from the past…so I numbed it instead. Fixating so strongly on how I envisioned my desires for the future left me unable to see the harm I was causing in the present. “This will only be temporary,” I would tell myself. “I’ll have plenty of time to deal with this mess once I’m finished with school.” But things didn’t work out exactly as planned. Grave medical consequences eventually led me to seek treatment, rather unwillingly at first. That was seven years ago…possibly a story for another time.

I don’t like to measure the amount of recovery I’ve attained solely by my number of behavior-free days, but until this past October, by the grace of God I had been without bulimic behaviors for just over five years. A brief blip on the radar that month served as a needed reminder that the Mirror can change according to my circumstances, and it behooves me to be prepared. My internal Mirror of Erised has been part of my life for seventeen years now, and I imagine it will always be with me at some level. Everyone has to eat. It’s unavoidable. And if I can’t abstain from food, it’s all too easy to misuse it in attempt to alter realities that make me uncomfortable. Maybe that’s why getting a handle on recovery from other addictions has always been much easier for me.

Confronting the Mirror has never been straightforward or simple, and even after years of practice I’m not always sure of how to acknowledge its reflection healthily and realistically. Now when I peer into its glass I try asking myself, “Is this an ordered desire or a disordered desire? Are there healthier ways to manage it?” Sometimes, I can glance at the Mirror’s reflection, accept it as it is, and continue with life as usual. Other times, the gears begin turning inside my head and before I know it, I’m in the midst of a brawl with a voice that whispers, “I can make you feel powerful. I can provide you with safety, calmness, assurance, confidence, anything you want.” Maybe this incessant struggle with the Mirror of Erised is to be expected. But perhaps one day, God will grant me the grace to view its reflection and see only Him.

Mirror of ErisedComment Policy: Please remember that we, and all others commenting on this blog, are people. Practice kindness. Practice generosity. Practice asking questions. Practice showing love. Practice being human. If your comment is rude, it will be deleted. If you are constantly negative, argumentative, or bullish, you will not be able to comment anymore. We are the sole moderators of the combox.

It’s Hump Day…with camel cupcakes (and links too)

We’ve made it halfway to the weekend. If you’re feeling like we are this week, Saturday can’t come quickly enough. But for now…Happy Hump Day, readers!

Since sharing the story of how we acquired our stuffed camel, Cleopas, we’ve been hearing about camels from friends and readers on a regular basis. One of our friends sent us a photo of a camel marionette named Navidad. Another took a photo of a stuffed camel he saw at a garage sale. Several others sent us video recordings of Geico’s Hump Day commercial. But one friend sent us a gift that (quite literally) takes the cake. We present to you…camel cupcakes!

One dromedary camel and one bactrian camel, both missing their right ears

One dromedary camel and one Bactrian camel, both missing their right ears and sitting atop chocolate cupcakes with vanilla frosting

We are unsure of how both camels ended up with their right ears missing, but we think it gives them character. They’re actually small trinket boxes that look like cupcakes. We’ve decided that at some point, we will buy caramels to put inside and serve to our house guests because honestly, who wouldn’t enjoy choosing a couple of caramel candies from cupcake containers crowned with congenial camels (or trying to say that five times fast)?

We hope you find our cupcakes as amusing as we do. (They made us happier than a camel on Wednesday :-p ). We’re looking forward to more illuminating conversation with all of you, but for now we would like to share some articles we’ve been reading within the past couple of weeks. (And by way of reminder, our linking to an article does not mean that we necessarily agree with its argument or endorse other content by its author.)

  • Donald Miller published Five Principles of Civil Dialogue at Storyline last week. This article contains a few helpful points to keep in mind when engaging in conversation with others, especially during times of disagreement.
  • We first found Rachel Smith’s blog, Food, Faith, and Fools, after she linked to one of Lindsey’s personal reflections. Sarah read Rachel’s post titled, Food Spirituality: The Path to Mindful Eating and found some immensely helpful tips in it. If you’re interested in learning more about mindful eating, this post has some great takeaways.
  • Speaking of food and eating, if you’re interested in learning some new information for National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, take this quiz.
  • Against Heterosexuality, Michael W. Hannon’s recent article at First Things, raises some interesting points about the concept of sexual orientation, arguing that sexual orientation labels “inhibit Christian witness.”
  • Anna Magdalena at The Catholic Transgender offers a different perspective on claiming one’s sexual orientation or gender identity in an insightful piece titled, Out of the Closet for Jesus?
  • In the aforementioned piece, Anna quotes heavily from Gabriel Blanchard at Mudblood Catholic, which is another blog you should definitely check out if you haven’t already. This week, Gabriel has written a post on the response many conservative Christians have had to Uganda’s anti-gay legislation: The Least of These, My Brethren.
  • Charlotte Norton at Middle Ground offers a heartfelt reflection on her relationship with her partner. Our Story: Just Friends (2) is one post in a series that Charlotte hopes to continue. You can find the link to Part 1 at her blog as well.
  • Last week, Facebook made a significant change to its options for identifying one’s gender. If you’re unsure about some or all of the new gender options, read The Complete Glossary of Facebook’s 51 Gender Options at The Daily Beast.
  • Yesterday, the editors of America Magazine published an excellent editorial titled, When the Law Is a Crime on why Christian supporters of a traditional definition of marriage should not also be supporting the criminalization of homosexuality.

That’s all for today, folks. Happy reading, and Happy Hump Day!

Comment Policy: Please remember that we, and all others commenting on this blog, are people. Practice kindness. Practice generosity. Practice asking questions. Practice showing love. Practice being human. If your comment is rude, it will be deleted. If you are constantly negative, argumentative, or bullish, you will not be able to comment anymore. We are the sole moderators of the combox.

Battling a Regenerating Hydra

A reflection by Lindsey

This week is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. Recognizing that it’s important for those who live with the effects of an eating disorder to share their stories, we wanted to use our individual reflection pieces this week to talk about our experiences with eating disorders. Sarah first developed bulimia at 12 and has been living with its effects even as Sarah has achieved a solid amount of recovery. I began supporting Sarah in recovery almost immediately after our friendship began. In today’s post, I share a reflection about supporting someone recovering from an eating disorder.

Update: you can read Sarah’s reflection here.


Sarah and I began our friendship talking on the phone. We were incredibly nerdy Ph.D. students intrigued by one another’s work, incurably capable of geeking out regarding various academic and spiritual topics, and immensely grateful to be able to talk with another person who seemed to “get” why various tough issues we faced in life were legitimate struggles. And really, you can strike “were” out of that last sentence because every aspect of it holds true to this day. As we started to settle into a conversational routine, eventually we migrated toward G-Chat so we could communicate as we worked on our academic projects. Online chatting with a friend can open up a new degree of vulnerability. In our first G-Chat together, Sarah opened up about being in recovery from bulimia.

Offering a listening ear is the first step of supporting someone in recovery from an eating disorder. Everyone’s experience of an eating disorder is different. While people with eating disorders might share a common set of symptoms, the reasons why they have developed the symptoms in the first place are as varied as the world’s ecosystems. Though there are many and varied types of eating disorders, most people understand these in three broad categories: anorexia (restricting food), bulimia (binge eating and purging), and binge eating disorder (binge eating without purging). Generally, I’ve learned to think of eating disorders as being characterized by disordered eating in the extreme. The broad eating disorder categories clue me in on what sort of patterns I might want to watch out for on a reasonably regular basis. It has been essential that I learn to listen when Sarah tells me how specific symptoms have manifested over the course of Sarah’s life. Just when I think I’m able to predict why something may have happened, I realize that there is even more nuance to Sarah’s story.

From my limited experience, eating disorder symptoms appear to emerge from two main roots–at least where Sarah is concerned. I’m offering my perspective because I think there’s a popular perception that the genesis of an eating disorder is easily explained. As I’ve gotten to know people seeking recovery, it seems that many can move between addressing two different kinds of root concerns. Again, what I’m about to describe needs to be interpreted in light of my initial point that listening is essential when you’re trying to support someone in recovery from an eating disorder–no two people are exactly alike. I’m also trying to discuss this issue from my perspective as a person providing support. When you don’t deal with an issue firsthand, it’s easy to say things that are incredibly hurtful and ignorant. I hope that sharing my perception of the roots of Sarah’s eating disorder will help other support people on their journeys.

In the beginning of my efforts at supporting Sarah, one key thing for me to realize was that trauma can lie at the root of an eating disorder. Towards this end, an individual develops eating disorder symptoms as maladaptive coping strategies for managing something distressing that is going on in his or her universe. Eating disorder symptoms may make a person feel powerful, in control, hidden, intelligent, skilled, resourceful, or any number of other positive attributes. Trauma can throw everything off-balance because a person is desperately trying to regain some sense of normal. For some trauma survivors, using eating disorder symptoms offers a way to make the trauma more bearable. I think it’s essential for support people to realize that the kinds of trauma that might lie underneath a person’s eating disorder can be incredibly varied. I have had to learn that I know nothing about Sarah’s trauma except what Sarah chooses to share with me. I cannot guess, I cannot assume, and when Sarah does feel like sharing I cannot make demands that Sarah disclose all details at once. I regularly ask for God’s help in being a safe person with whom Sarah can be vulnerable and a prayerful person as I try to intercede for Christ to aid Sarah in the midst of recovery.

Another thing I’ve had to learn to cope with is that sometimes it seems there is no easy way for a support person to describe why person might be likely to engage in eating disorder symptoms. My personal shorthand for this absolutely confounding nature of an eating disorder is “boredom” and I know there are a lot of problems with trying to suggest that word as a root cause for eating disorder behaviors. What I’m trying to capture is that I’ve observed eating disorder behaviors can produce their own sort of thrill, present their own sort of risks, and take advantage of a person’s fantastic ability to strategize and problem-solve. As an engineer, I know I personally take an odd sense of pride in being able to discuss the physics of any random object at the drop of the hat. I envisage some sort of similar pride if a person has managed to figure out which foods produce the best highs when purging. Behaviors themselves can produce a thrill. Purging and other means of manipulating one’s body can affect a person’s brain chemistry. Sometimes the thrill might be figuring out how to continue in behaviors after normal routes to those behaviors have closed or the body starts showing signs that it can no longer keep up with the symptoms. When an eating disorder develops a mind of its own, sufferers need to be connected with an appropriate level of care by trained professionals. There’s only so much a support person can do.

But I’d also like to note that Sarah’s working on recovery has helped me with my own relationship with food. It’s never been exceptionally problematic, but like most young adults, I can sometimes forget that Sour Patch Kids and Diet Coke are not the healthiest of snacks. I’ve learned how to pack my lunch as Sarah has shared meal planning resources from different dieticians. I have developed a taste for fish as Sarah’s high protein need means we eat protein in virtually every meal and snack. Sarah has even managed to turn me on to the idea of “Breakfast” and I have no idea how that happened. We can laugh about our various food quirks, appreciating them as a part of being human. We have decided that fish tastes better when the sauce is baked on, peas can only be tackled successfully with a spoon, and it’s totally okay to use your tongue to get the last bit of hummus still on the plate. Eating together is a great joy. I honestly look forward to every meal. We have restaurants we love, cupcakeries that are “our” cupcakeries, and a multiplicity of late night dinner options.

I’ve come to see recovery from an eating disorder as battling a constantly regenerating hydra. Just when you think that you’ve cut off one head, it can spurt afresh from a new spot. If I can be so bold, I think the only way to slay an eating disorder effectively is to slash off the heads and then try to address the root issues as expediently as possible. The existence of ever-regenerating heads means that you often have to “rinse and repeat.” It can be easy to get bogged down. Even if a person has had a very long time free from engaging in behaviors, he or she can still be staring the hydra in the face minute-by-minute. You can’t look only at the externals when you want to declare victory.

As a support person, I’m struck by the persistent nature of the regenerating hydra heads. I know Sarah works hard to address the roots and to resist any symptoms. I regard myself as Sarah’s biggest cheerleader while knowing full well it is Sarah’s recovery, not mine. Nonetheless, the eating disorder can throw curveballs. During a meal, Sarah might grab my hand in a way that says, “I need your support right now.” When we’re in a grocery store, Sarah might ask me to pick up some items that are down a surprisingly hard aisle. I might get a phone call where Sarah says, “Please talk to me so I can stay present on my drive home.” I never know exactly what Sarah might need at a given moment, but we’ve talked at length about what I’m willing to do in order to support Sarah. We’ve also identified other “go-to” folks when Sarah needs the kind of support that someone else is better suited to provide.

Helping someone beat an eating disorder means listening, encouraging him or her as he or she does the hard work to slay the hydra, knowing your own boundaries for supporting him or her in stopping active behaviors, being patient, and continuing in hope. Eventually, the hydric nemesis will be no more. Freedom is possible, but gosh, it’s a really, really, really hard fight.

Comment Policy: Please remember that we, and all others commenting on this blog, are people. Practice kindness. Practice generosity. Practice asking questions. Practice showing love. Practice being human. If your comment is rude, it will be deleted. If you are constantly negative, argumentative, or bullish, you will not be able to comment anymore. We are the sole moderators of the combox.

Beyond Right and Wrong

The question of LGBT people in the Church is often framed as a “culture war” issue with two definitive sides. On one side, “progressive” groups advocate for greater acceptance of gay marriage and allowing for sexually active LGBT people to serve at all levels of Church leadership. On the other side, “conservative” groups exhort LGBT people to grow in holiness by resisting all manner of sexual sin, bearing their sexual orientations (and gender dysphoria) as a cross, and struggling to conform to normative expectations of the cisgender, heterosexual majority. Both sides are quick to pronounce their side “right” and the other side “wrong.” Needless to say, we find that the “culture war” approach does little more than wound a lot of LGBT Christians (and their allies) in the crossfire.

Here at A Queer Calling, we have tried to advocate for a different approach that moves beyond right and wrong. We focus on how LGBT people likely have queer callings that need to be actively discerned in the light of Christ. For us, the dominant question is “Where do we see good fruit sprouting as God guides and directs individual LGBT Christians?” We recognize that LGBT people are people above all other descriptors. We believe that God, who is rich in mercy, always wants all people to grow in holiness but does not ask people to address each and every issue in their lives at the same time.

The culture wars have a profoundly negative effect when they dichotomize spiritual direction. Mention your LGB status to a person strongly aligned with the “progressive” camp and he or she just may offer to officiate your wedding. Oh, you’re transgender? No problem, let’s connect you with the nearest trans-friendly physician to help you get started with gender confirmation therapies. Breathe a word about your LGBT status amid “conservative” groups and you’ll likely be issued a celibacy mandate and be cautioned against identifying with your sin. We’d contend that none of these automatic responses adequately conveys the nuances found in authentic spiritual direction where spiritual directors help individuals grow towards Christ in ways that are appropriate for particular people’s unique circumstances.

When time in spiritual direction becomes engulfed by questions of rightness and wrongness, little room is left for discussing, “What is God asking of me at this time in my life? At the present moment, what is God calling me to do or change so that I might draw closer to Him?” This can create a false sense that gay people need the strictest of guidance regarding sexual morality and straight people do not. In reality, virtually every Christian will grapple with questions of sexuality at one time or another. For bisexual Christians, this approach can oversimplify experiencing attraction to both sexes: “Just marry someone of the opposite sex, because heterosexual, married sex is right and gay sex is wrong.” Concerns related to sexual orientation may be conflated with uncertainty about gender identity, and vice versa. Focusing solely on which sexual activities are right and wrong can be painfully alienating to Christians with gender identity questions. Especially in conservative Christian circles, any kind of gender identity question can be viewed as a cause of forbidden same-sex sexual desire. Beliefs about the rightness or wrongness of gay sex do little to help, guide, or comfort a person who is coping with gender dysphoria.

Regularly, we have experienced pressure to make a public declaration either that “Gay sex is a sin” or that “Gay sex is not a sin.” It has been suggested more than once by readers that because we have chosen not to make such a statement, we are, at best, unable to make up our minds about our convictions, or at worst, secretive about them for some sinister purpose. Such theories about our motives leave us wondering why reaching a theologically correct belief about the rightness or wrongness of same-sex sexual activity has become the endpoint for discussion about LGBT issues in many Christian traditions. Often in Christian communities, one’s willingness to offer an apologetic for either a liberal or conservative sexual ethic becomes the litmus test for one’s faithfulness. We find that exceptionally problematic, so we ask: what might it look like to move beyond right and wrong, and into a space where the central concern is helping our brothers and sisters to grow in Christ-likeness? How might the discussion be different if we focused on vocations rather than mandates?

At times, we have caught a glimpse of what this kind of approach might look like. We have been blessed by spiritual directors who can see and affirm our willingness to do our best to live our entire lives fully informed by Christ and our Christian tradition. They understand that we are human and entirely fallible, and when we fall in any way they are ready to give us wise counsel that takes into account our desire to live as Christ calls us. Their recognizing that Christ-likeness is a goal for all Christians has leveled the proverbial playing field and helped us see that every person who seeks Christ needs help along the journey. We find ourselves growing in compassion towards people who would otherwise easily anger, frustrate, or disappoint us. Our spiritual directors have been able to see how Christ has used our relationship to help one another grow in holiness and trust that our primary spiritual struggles are not sexual. Both of us have had spiritual directors in the past who have constantly exhorted us to focus our entire spiritual energies on reigning in our sexual appetites, a focus that is not only inappropriate for our specific circumstances but is significantly alienating. Keeping Christ at the absolute center of spiritual direction creates a space for the Holy Spirit to exhort us to holy living while also giving us time to grow towards Christ. As one prayer from our tradition reminds us, we pray for the grace to “make a good beginning” because our earthly days barely make a dent when viewed against eternity.

We find it critical to speak about the need to offer all LGBT Christians authentic spiritual direction because the vast majority of LGBT Christians have exceptionally limited access to compassionate spiritual directors. While we are absolutely grateful to be able to receive authentic spiritual direction at this time, we are all too aware that our present situation is completely contingent on our current mash-up of local church community, spiritual directors, geography, and even the political climate within our Christian tradition. As evidenced by Maria McDowell’s reflection entitled “Fragile Repentances,” many LGBT Christians find themselves dependent on pastoral whim and on a few friends willing to vouch for their faithfulness. Our vocation to celibacy does not render us immune to the effects of poor spiritual direction. Many past spiritual directors have discounted our experience by stating singleness is the only appropriate form of celibacy for LGBT Christians. From our perspective, several other demographics (teenagers, divorced, widows, single, married) present in the Church do not have to worry as much as being judged by their spiritual directors as “good” or “bad” based on their behavioral track records.

One main function of a spiritual director is to be present as a human who can prayerfully carry the burdens of another person to God. We pray constantly that spiritual directors would realize the profoundly damaging effect that constant clangs of “RIGHT” and “WRONG” can have on a person. Beyond right and wrong, we find ourselves in a place where we can appreciate one another’s humanity, where all vocations are fragile, and where everyone must be nurtured with love.

Comment Policy: Please remember that we, and all others commenting on this blog, are people. Practice kindness. Practice generosity. Practice asking questions. Practice showing love. Practice being human. If your comment is rude, it will be deleted. If you are constantly negative, argumentative, or bullish, you will not be able to comment anymore. We are the sole moderators of the combox.