You've been waking up at 4:12
You roll the voices over in your head
Then you try to put them neatly on the shelf
You watch the sun rise
You saw the darkness had no choice before the dawn
With your own eyes
And then you broke out laughing from a yawn
You said, "I'm so sorry I've been so down.
I started doubting things could ever turn around.
And I began to believe that all we are is material.
So you walk outside and everything's new
You're looking at the world with new eyes
As if you'd never seen a sky before that's blue
As if you've never seen the sky in your whole life
And then the phone rings
As it turns out you're already late
And now you're wondering
Was peace just a temporary state?
You're waiting tables and parking cars
You've been selling cell phones at the shopping mall
And you begin to believe that all you are is material
I'm so sorry I've been so down
I started doubting things could ever turn around
But I still can't believe that all we are
And that all of our dreams are nothing more than material
Souls aren't built of stone,
Sticks and bones
Last weekend I attended the third annual GayChristian.net conference in Seattle. GCN (and the people I've met through it) has been one of my lifelines throughout the current leg of my journey, so I was very much looking forward to renewing old friendships and building new ones.
And the conference lived up to my expectations. I spent more time in meaningful face-to-face interaction with more people in four days than I normally do in a given month. At the same time, though, it was a bit overwhelming being around that many people, and by halfway through the second day I found that my 'batteries' were already depleted (yet one more disadvantage to being a strong introvert). As a result there were many people I never got around to meeting, as sticking largely to those I already knew became a matter of survival.
Setting aside the dilemma of being constantly exhausted yet wanting it to never end, the conference was exactly what I needed. Although my core faith in the God who has brought me through so many difficult times over the years has remained intact, I've become increasingly cynical about the people who call themselves his followers, and about the value in even bothering with playing church when those who seem to be genuinely striving to follow the example of Christ seem to be the exceptions that prove the rule.
Not that there were any 'parting of the clouds' moments, or that my skepticism was all washed away, but just spending time among so many genuine and, quite frankly, beautiful people (which is not a reference to physical appearance) was enough to restore just a little bit of feeling to parts of me that I'd nearly forgotten about.
From the numerous stories of God's work in other attendees' lives that demonstrated over and over again that 'gay Christian' is not an oxymoron, to the love and acceptance shown to those who feel like outcasts even among other outcasts, to the friendship and unity modeled continually by individuals who disagree on just about everything, to the heterosexual woman who, having recently heard about GCN, came to the conference at the last minute to show her support for those she believes the church has treated unjustly, I was drawn back to Sam Gamgee's conclusion in the movie version of The Two Towers:
That there is some good in this world, Mr. Frodo, and it's worth fighting for.
In the lower moments of my post-mountaintop funk, the entire experience has reminded me just what a lousy Christian I am even by my own standards, and caused me to question what business I think I have considering myself a member of this group, but ultimately I know that to listen to those old insecurities is to miss the point. It's not about me, and God can use even the least of us to accomplish amazing things.
That may be a lesson that much of the church has forgotten, but no matter how dark things seem there's always hope. The body of Christ has been amputating its less seemly members for so long that it's come to interpret the resulting pain and debilitation as validation of its exclusionary policies, but that can change. It must change. The church needs our gifts just as much as we need the church, and with God's help that day of reconciliation may yet come.