I last wrote about “My Friend.” I’m safe and secure in that relationship. He is not a threat to my well-being. I’ve known him for a very long time and he has earned my trust and respect. He has proven himself as the kind of friend that I require in my life to live a vibrant, healthy, and free life. The only risk in our relationship is that I will push him away or shut down…not play my role in a healthy way. And, I’ve been known to do that (one of the millions of things I’m trying to fix in me).
But now I’m into “risky business” territory.
My wife and I regularly attend church together. (Well…my wife attends more regularly than me, but I’m working on changing that, too) We have attended this church for quite some time. She is involved in a few different activities and ministries. I basically just show up and skedaddle out the door as soon as possible…the least amount of human contact in that setting, the best. But now, that’s all gonna change. I contacted the pastoral staff and volunteered to help with some “behind the scenes” stuff. That’s relatively safe…I’ll be unseen and unnoticed, at least as long as I do my job well. The risky part comes into play with the more intimate contact I had with the main pastor. I shared this blog with him and told him we needed to talk about it. It’s a huge risk. I don’t really know him. We’ve really only just greeted one another coming and going in the church building. So, I wonder – Will he keep it confidential like I asked him to? Will he accept me as a friend? Or will he shun me? Will he accept me as a brother in Christ? Or will he condemn me? Will he allow me to do the work I’ve volunteered for? Or am I unfit for any kind of ministry role in the church? He recently led the church in broaching the subject of ministering to the LGBTQ community. Does he really mean that? I guess I’ll find out, based upon his response to me.
There is a reason why the volunteering and relationship with the pastor is important to me. Those are two important facets of my faith expression that have been in play for most of my life. I want, I need to have that connection again. Not in the negative ways that it played out in years past, but in a new and dynamic way. You might say that it is a part of the weaving of the safety net around my life’s journey from this point on. Can my faith community, and it’s leaders, prove to be a safe place for me to worship and serve? As a gay man, living in a chaste mixed-orientation marriage, can I have the wonderful experience of a faith community that embraces me and allows me to bloom? Although nearly everyone in the church will be ignorant of the facts about “who” I am, the pastor will lead the way in how the congregation responds to me and my perceived value to the body.
This is a risky experiment.
I hope it doesn’t blow up in my face.