What makes you special?

One of my daughter’s favorite DVD’s ends with a Tomato smiling and saying, “now remember, kids: God made YOU special, and he loves you VERY MUCH!”

I chuckle every time I hear that.  Kids tend to want details.  “How?” They will ask.  “How am I more special?  How am I different?”  Parents usually are at a loss for words and give replies like, “well, there is only one you, no one else is like you…”

But that question haunts us all on some level, doesn’t it?  I know that I’ve spent a lot of time wondering what exactly it is about me that God made different.  What is special?  This question has been deeply tied to my search to know how I should spend my life.  What about me is special?  What are those dreams that God has given me?  What drives me?  How did God equip me to do what I need to do?  I thought if I could only answer all of these questions, I would know what I was supposed to do.

A pastor once told me, “If there is only one thing in life that you could imagine doing for the rest of your life, every day, no vacations, and this thing would never bore you, what would it be?”

Without thinking for a second I said, “telling stories.”

I think any time we keep coming back to a single question, it’s because God really WANTS us to look for the answer.  I’m not the kind of cynic that believes that everything in human nature is evil- God made us, after all, and God wouldn’t have made us evil.  He made us good.  No, not just good, very good.  We are the crowning glory of his creation.

So, what drives you?  What could you do every day without growing tired?  What is the one thing in your life that moves you and shakes you?  What makes you special is more than a sum of your experiences, it’s more than the things you enjoy and the things you dislike, it’s more than the way others percieve you, it’s more than your physical looks and certainly more than how much money you’ve got in the bank.

What makes you special is that you were given to this world for a reason.  Your life makes a difference.

Never forget that.

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Awkward Questions

  1. How long have you known you’re heterosexual?
  2. Why do you feel the need to behave in ways that reinforce negative heterosexual stereotypes?
  3. Why do you allow your heterosexuality to affect so much of your life?
  4. Did you choose _this hobby_ or _that kind of music_ because of your sexuality?
  5. Must you really behave(or dress) in a way that flaunts your heterosexuality(or makes it so hard to ignore)?
  6. How did the people in your life react when they realized you are attracted to the opposite sex?
  7. Does the fact you’re a heterosexual make family events awkward?
  8. Does your church know that you’re heterosexual?
  9. Have you ever been in a socially awkward situation because of your heterosexuality?
  10. Are you ever attracted to the same sex, maybe just a little?
  11. Don’t you ever wonder if you might be mistaken about your sexuality?

Of course most of these questions seem a little awkward when they are phrased around “heterosexuality”.  Change them to suit the word homosexuality, and you find a lot of questions that a gay person is expected to answer when they tell someone unacquainted with homosexuality that they are, in fact, attracted to people of the same sex.  It’s the awkward truth that all that is taken for granted about someone who is heterosexual is questioned in someone who is homosexual.  For me, life comes easily.  The fact that I am a wife, a stay at home mother, an active member of my church is not solely about my sexual orientation and goes unquestioned.  Change my orientation and my choice of life partner, and suddenly everything may be questioned.

Sometimes I just imagine the shoe being on the other foot.  It seems like it might be a tad uncomfortable.

The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

If you want to know you have faith, my father says, that means you have to question it.  Faith is only faith when tested.  Otherwise it’s blind trust.  Not faith like that of a child, faith that is complete and whole, but childish faith, faith that happens not because there is reason to have it, but simply because one believes whatever one is told with absolute trust, because one is not wise enough to ask good questions.

Asking questions can lead one to a dark, dark place.  A place where one waits restlessly, is agitated, disturbed, depressed even, where one feels that one’s grip on the world is evaporating.  It is a hard place, a place won with sweat and tears.

A lot of Christians feel regret and remorse when they enter this place.  They ask if they are somehow wrong, if there is a problem with them, if God hates them or doubts their sincerity.  They sometimes feel cheap, like hypocrites.  They ask, “do other Christians go here?”  They ask, “am I the only one?”  They ask, “why would God allow me to go down this road?”

The answer is, “A lot of Christians go there.”  The truth is, most Christians who are strong in their faith are strong because they go there.  So if you’re having a long, dark tea-time of the soul, you aren’t alone.  I’ve been there, as have been my brothers, my husband, my father and mother, my grandfather and grandmother (on both sides).  If you are in that place, that place of late-afternoon restlessness, far from the morning and the evening stars, you are in a room with many others.

The third question is the one I am most loathe to answer, because I know how this answer can sound.  But here it is regardless:  God allows you to go down that path precisely because of how much he loves you. Because of how much he wants you to be assured of your faith.  Because he wants you to be strong and vibrant, and that kind of strength and vibrancy only comes from being tested.  Consider the first blossoms of spring and how they are killed off in a single frost.  Young faith is like that.  It is bright and beautiful and easily smothered.  True faith, the strong faith of a summer rose, the passionate and much envied faith of a tall oak, that faith only comes through time and testing, through surviving many a frost and winter, through harrowing times of drought and still surviving.

Hold on to the memory of the morning of your faith, hold on to the hopes of seeing the evening stars, and remember that all phases of life come to an end and most of them are replaced with something better.  You can bear the restlessness of an afternoon’s doubting, even if it lasts for years.  You can bear it and hold on to hope, hold on the the desire for faith, hold on to the need for love, and rediscover all things in a greater depth on the other side.

Many of us go there.  Most of us end up glad that we did.

Can someone be Homosexual and Religious?

In a recent comment on another post, someone who is Christian and questioning their sexuality asked the million dollar question:

“Can someone be Homosexual and Religious?”

Oh, that hurts me.  Right in my gut, I feel it.  If someone can be addicted to Porn and religious, a gossip and religious, be cheating on their spouse Saturday night and still preach with conviction Sunday morning- how is homosexuality different?  “But wait, Lindsey”, I can just hear someone say.  “Those people are clearly not all that religious, or they wouldn’t be guilty of such obvious sin.”

Oh, Really?

As long as there has been faith, there have been flawed people of faith.  As long as there has been sin, there has been sinners.  And as long as there has been Jesus, there has been God’s love poured out on a weak and undeserving people.  Who was it that said that thing about healthy people needing no doctor?  Who was it that said, “he who has not sinned…”  When we start to put prerequisites on faith we abolish the need for it entirely.  Broken and hopelessly flawed people have to be able to live out religion, it’s they that need it!

Now, to continue on to some of Renegade’s other questions, we will go on a journey together.  It starts with conception and birth.  God is weaving together all of the fine strands that make the potential for who a person is.  He weaves A with B even though A and B mean “gay”.  Do you think he meant to?  I think he probably did.  Now we can argue about whether or not this is “unnatural” or whether God meant it as permission or a test all day long.  Some people contest that Homosexuality is not found in nature- they are wrong.  I’ve seen very nice, cuddly, obviously gay dogs that prefer to sniff the underparts of other boy dogs more than girls.  (Whether or not that is a fair comparison to human sexuality is another post entirely.)

Is the act of homosexual sex inherently sinful?  I’m not a scholar, so I will refer you to a wonderful page on SisterFriends-Together.org, which discusses in depth the meaning and intent of passages used to describe homosexuality as sinful.  This page, “The Bible and Homosexuality“, makes a far better argument than I would expect to on my own.  I will repeat the words of that site’s founder and simply say, “Christian and Gay?  It’s not a contradiction, and neither are you.”

I realize that not everyone agrees.  Some Christians will say that homosexual feelings are not sinful, but acting them out is.  Or they would say that the feelings are sinful.  They would say that we must “unbend” our sinful nature and return to the straight and narrow that God intended.  Perhaps this is what you, oh commenter, feel.  Perhaps it is not.

This is what I would suggest:

Find a quiet place.  Sit down, and center yourself with God.  Pray.  Ask these questions:

  1. God, do you see me struggling with this?
  2. What was your intent in giving me this burden?
  3. Who do you want me to be?
  4. Should I be gay, straight?  Stranded in between?
  5. Am I sinning?

You may not hear an audible answer right away.  You may spend days, weeks, months, even years continuing to ask these questions of God over and over.  But trust in the fact that when we ask in sincerity God always answers.  It may not be the answer you expect, I expect, anyone expects, and it may not come in a form that is easily recognized.  But the answer is out there.

In the meantime, rest in Christ’s love for you.  Rest in the people who love you.  Rest in the knowledge that you will be cared for, and your needs will be met.

You will find love.

God is love.

You will be held by God.