Thirteen Years To Become Inappropriate And Disappointing. And This Is Why...


 I have always cared deeply about what people think of me. I don’t know why, because if you know me, I cause lots of trouble because of the way I think. One would assume that if I truly cared about others opinions, I would tamper my thoughts and ideas to become more “normal”, but for some reason, I can’t seem to do that either.

Last night my FB inbox was flooded with messages all of which let me know that I had disappointed the person writing me. They explained that my ideas of how American Christianity being partly to blame for the events in Orlando was inappropriate (I also blamed all religion, but...).

Maybe it was…

But it doesn’t make the idea false.

I imagine it's easier to put all the blame on the actual man holding the weapons, rather than reflect on how our society and religions and broken systems have failed even the shooter.



It’s easy for us to become upset with someone when we don’t know their story—when we don’t understand why they think the way they do. So I will explain my story.

I’ve had 13 years to become inappropriate to my Christian counterparts. I have had 13 years of struggle and pain to think deeply about homosexuality and how God may or may not feel about it. Why? Because 13 years ago, in my parent’s house, I found my baby brother strung out on drugs. We were alone. My mother and father were in the hospital where she had just had a major surgery. My husband was deployed in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and I had flown home to help my family. Standing in that bedroom with tears streaming down both our faces, I screamed at the top of my lungs a question to my brother that I already knew the answer to. “Are you gay?”

He crumbled. He gave up. He let it all fall away because the self-loathing was too much. The pain was too heavy. The fear was overwhelming. He whimpered and sobbed and nodded his head.

I remember calling my female friends back in California that were part of a family readiness network within the Marine Corps. I know I called them because I was sitting in my car outside in the dark and that pain and confusion in that moment has burned itself into my memory. I was crying. I don’t even remember why I called. I think I desperately needed to talk to my husband…I can’t remember…

But I was very much alone and scared to death.

I drove to the hospital and walked into the room where my parents were still awake. I cried. I told them what Matthew had said. They already knew. They loved him. It was just going to take a long time to convince Matthew of that…and to help him begin to love himself.

I still believed that homosexuality would send my bother to hell. I grew up in a very religious conservative environment. I researched Christian conversion programs and asked my brother if would consider attending, for me. I am so glad he never did because those programs are evil. When I finally got back to California, I remember being prostrate on the living room floor and sobbing uncontrollably. I was grieving the loss of my brother. I was begging God to save him and not send him to hell. I begged, I pleaded…

And then sudden silence came over me.

As clear as if someone had been standing in the room, I felt as if God told me, “Stop it. How could you possibly believe your love for your family is stronger than my love for them? Matthew is my creation. He will always be mine. Now stop.”

And I had incredible peace.

But notice God didn’t give me any answers. He didn’t tell me a word about homosexuality. He didn’t clear any of my questions up. He just told me that His love was strong and capable and would never go away. There was no condemnation. There was no shame. There was no promise that He would “heal” my brother…

Christians, I don’t think homosexuals are separated from God. They are not condemned to hell. They are not living a “lifestyle” that you can pray away. And you are destroying their self-worth by continuing to peddle these ideas that you have no positive proof of.

I need you to stop.

I need you to let it go.

I need you to truly seek the Lord with as much skin in the game as I did that day alone in my living room.

But you won’t.

So you will keep telling people like me that we are wrong. You will keep repeating, “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” Or, "I don't have to accept a lifestyle to love a person,"



That's garbage. No one says that about you--equally loved and accepted by God.

YOU will be the one to keep heaping shame upon their heads with your counterfeit grace and fake compassion. You are the one belittling God's sons and daughters, the beautiful humans HE created with as much love, tenderness, and rapture as He did you.

You have no idea what you are talking about.

Take thirteen years to seek God’s face on his matter.

Take thirteen years to be in relationship with a gay person who, because of self-loathing, has tried to kill themselves multiple times.

Put a little of yourself into the conversation.

Risk something.

Actually study and learn and hear and listen…

And maybe…

Just maybe, ask yourself if there is more to all of this than what your bible says.

Because I know you’re not sending the women in your home to sleep in the backyard when they’re menstruating.

I know you’re not offering animals up on an alter to redeem yourself of your own ugly sin.

I know you’re not stoning folks or gouging out your eyes when you lust…



There is absolutely nothing about you that has made you right with God. Nothing. You are the exact same as they are, and you need to begin to truly treat them that way.

 Last night, I had one nice and encouraging message from a dear friend. This is what she sent me:

There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.
Proverbs 6:16-19

It has to be okay to hate what God hates.

This is the only complete list I know of though.

So if you don't see it on this list, and you believe there is a God, then you might want to mind your manners about things like flags or skin colors or legal statuses or immigrants or homosexuals or vegetables or cats or anything that you want to hate. Funny thing about hate; it tends to lead you into doing the things on this short list of things God hates.


Friends, what exactly is your motive? Are you bringing healing and unity? Are you letting people into your “club” how they are? Or are you expecting that their supposed “sin” defines them, but yours doesn’t define you? Are you separating them from God?

I think you are.

And it’s inappropriate.

It’s disappointing.

And I really wish you’d stop.

Thirteen years.

I know what I’m talking about.

~Gia
1

When Your Tears Are Not Your Own


 I am not sure how to tell Eddie's story. There is a big part of me that is selfishly keeping his pictures all to myself. Why? Because I'm not sure you will understand what went "unsaid" between us in the alley. There is no way to accurately express how our hearts collided into one another without it sounding incredibly bizarre.

And it was bizarre. The emotion, the joy, the pain...

But I suppose it is time to try.

Eddie was almost the last man I was able to talk to in the alley. I hadn't really enjoyed being there as much as usual. Everyone felt a little cranky. I was a little cranky. People weren't smiling or chatting. I had been standing awkwardly next to one man and suddenly thrust out my hand to shake his and said, "Hi! I'm Gia!" He was a tall man and he didn't move his head to look at me, just cut his eyes down through the corners of his eyes. One end of his mouth curled up with disdain and he didn't make a move to shake my hand. Truly, I think he snarled at me like a lion. No joke. Stupidly, I thrust my hand forward a little bit more, indicating that he was indeed going to shake my hand or this challenge was going to end with a kick in the shins.

He shook my hand.

"I'm snapping portraits--" I barely got out.

"I don't want my picture taken. I don't like what you're doing."

I blinked. "Oh?"

"You're promoting homelessness. That's what you're doing. It's wrong."

A million different things leaped up in my brain to say to the man, but instead I just patted his shoulder and said brightly, "Well, that's not what I'm doing. You have a great morning."

Thankfully, a friend told me that I should talk to Eddie. I sat down on the curb next to the older man and he asked, "What part of my story do you want me to tell you?"

I was pulling out my phone to take notes and simply answered with, "Just tell me whichever part you think would speak to people's hearts."

He looked up, staring off at nothing, his eyes narrowing as he thought. "Kindness," he said, voice thick with sudden emotion. "People need to be kinder to one another."

Eddie began to tell me his story but many of his sentences were left hanging in the air. I think that parts off it caused too much grief in his heart and he just cut the words off, letting them hang on their own before falling empty into the alley. He told me that he had plenty of money one time and lived in a beautiful house with a nice yard. He had a beautiful wife once. Children. I'm not sure how it unraveled for him. I think money went missing and the whole Jenga tower just started to collapse.

"People need to realize that not everyone is self-sufficient," he said. He was staring back down at the alley at some of the other men that were still mulling about. He motioned with his cigarette to a few of them. He told me that some of them were not mentally capable of taking care of themselves. "They're not whole up there, you know?" He pointed at his own head and I nodded. I understood what he met. "How can people expect that they can manage without help?"

By this point, I notice that tears are in Eddie's eyes but they fall from the inside corners and pool in the creases underneath. The tears don't roll down his cheeks like I would expect. For some reason, I can't stop looking at this. My heart starts to roll over and find itself in my throat. The hot burn of my own tears is stinging the backs of my eyes...



I'm going to cry.

Dangit.

I'm going to cry right here in the alley like a little girl.

I look over Eddie's head as he tells me that people with money walk by and look at them like they're nothing. I'm blinking fast, breathing in deep, trying to quell the dam that's about to break lose. "Money doesn't make you better," he says. "Money doesn't make you perfect. There's only one person that's perfect. And He died for us."

Tears are running down my cheeks now and I look back at Eddie's face. "Isn't that something?" I say. "He was perfect and good...and yet He died for us."

Eddie nods.

Friends, I don't even think I grasped a small portion of Eddie's story. Not all of it made sense. But there was this deep sadness and brokenness that I felt. At the same time, I felt a depth of love and compassion that I often feel when I am seeking the face of God. This man felt fatherly to me. He was a father. He shared a photo with me of his three children. They were young in the photo, and the clothing dated it as having been taken in the 80's. But there was something else...

Suddenly, I told Eddie, "I'm going to just move this coffee out of the way, and I'm going to scoot close, and I'm going to hug you."

He didn't think it was odd at all. As soon as my arms were around his neck, we both began to sob. Not lightly, either...

"It's okay, honey," I heard him whispering to me through his tears. "It's going to be okay."

I had this sense that Eddie wasn't crying for himself, or for me.

 
I think Eddie's tears were simply for all the pain and anguish that was poured out on the beauty of this world. It was as if his tears were not his own, but everyone's. His grief wasn't just his own, but belonged to countless others who's pain he had felt and tried in vain to shoulder. When I pulled away, Eddie was smiling through his tears at me. He had cried with me. Not for me. Not for himself. Just...with me. And I understood this man's heart that was so much like my own. I saw the pain in his eyes and the anger we feel when we want to fix all the injustices of the world but simply cannot. I knew that he had a wealth of kindness and compassion that few would ever notice because they couldn't see past his circumstances...they couldn't see him. Wouldn't see him. I understood that. I felt that.

Kindness.

Be kind. 

Be kind. 

Be kind....

"Thank you for your service, Eddie."

There was a man standing over us with his hand held out. I blinked in confusion and the man repeated, "Thank you for your service in Vietnam."

"Vietnam?" I choked out. He hadn't breathed a word of it.

Eddie was nodding at the man. "Yeah...I was with the MPs in '71-'72...I volunteered for the draft." With that last part, he chuckles to himself and shakes his head, sucking in a long, slow drag from his cigarette he'd forgotten about. He looked off again and said softly, "There was a kid I had to leave behind." His voice caught off, broken from emotion and pain. "Couldn't do a thing to save him. Just couldn't."

And I sat there and stared.

How in the world had I found Eddie? I felt like he was part of me. How strange is that? I felt like he was someone I wanted to sit beside all day long and let him cloak me with an arm across my shoulders. I'd sit in his haze of cigarette smoke and the smell of stale booze, but I would be okay. I would be somewhere that was kind...and safe...and compassionate.

But maybe I am wrong.

Maybe I have Eddie all wrong.

I doubt it, though.


For that twenty minutes or so that I sat on the curb with him, I felt God sitting beside us too. Eddie is one of those few humans that you come across that you can see the image of God shining through and notice the thumbprint of the Maker still upon him. It didn't seem to matter that life had chipped away at Eddie and roughed up his corners. It didn't matter that his hair was long and his hands were dirty...or that we were sitting on a curb in an alley with other homeless men. God's handiwork was still evident all over Eddie. I could see Him, feel His presence, and smell that sweet fragrance of roses and oil...

And that was Eddie.

Full of kindness.

Compassionate.

Warm.

A hero...

Be kind, friends. We all bear His image. All of us.

Be kind.

Oh, dear hearts, please be kind. You do not know the stories and the tears and the pain of those you can't stand to look at. See them. Notice them. Love them...and be kind. 

~Gia







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When My Truth Looks Like Heresy :: Always His



I grew up hearing many people recount their salvation story as the moment they “gave their life” to Christ. I never thought a thing about it. But now, I’m wondering if we could change the way we communicate this beautiful moment.

God is the creator of all things on earth and in heaven. He is the image in Who our very being emulates. On us, in our flesh, upon our hearts, is the thumbprint of our Father. Isn’t that amazing? Isn’t that powerful?

And it doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done. You were still, and are still, made in His image. His handiwork doesn’t get chipped away because of our own personal darkness and wrong choices. It is still there. It’s just a little dusty. Or perhaps it is buried under a pile of mess. But it is still there…

So I have this question that screams within my heart:

Is our life ever so much our own that we have to give it back to God? Especially since his thumbprint if always upon us…?


I’m not sure it is. We have free will, yes. But does that change the truth of Who we belong to?

Here is an idea I propose:

Instead of saying that someone gave their life to God, can we try out the expression, “They were awakened to the love and grace of their Creator?”

I like that more.

We woke up.

We discovered the truth of His love.

We realized who we are in Him…

We discovered our identity.

I don’t think we are ever truly lost from God. I don’t think we are ever completely separated from Him because of our own darkness or sin. I think He is always there, always ready, always filled with a depth of love and compassion for us that we could never fathom or try to comprehend. Our life was never ours to give back. It was always His. We were always His. His eyes were always watchful of us and His love was always freely accessible. Did we have free will to choose or reject it? Absolutely. But it was there.

In my overly simplistic eyes, I picture this faulty expression as a child approaching it’s biological parents and saying, “I believe you love me now. I want to be your child.” And the parents taking the child up in their arms and answering, “I’m glad you finally believe that I love you, dear one, but you were always my child.”

No matter what, try as we might, we cannot remove the fact that God is our Father. We simply get to choose if we live believing that, or live rejecting that. But truth is still truth.  In the same way we cannot change who our biological parents are, we cannot change who our Creator is. We can change our last name. We can be adopted. But the DNA is still within us. We cannot remove that. We cannot hide it. We cannot run from it.


And before anyone beings to tell me that “giving your lives to God” is scriptural, I am aware. I just think we can translate it in a different way. I like this better. And I am a rebel…and can appear heretical. I’m okay with that. But isn't there more beauty in this idea? Isn't is such a loving, compassionate picture...a Heavenly Father that is always there and available to sweep us up in His arms the moment we stretch our arms to Him? Our arms aren't full with our lives, but empty and receiving. We are coming awake to His love and ready to accept it. There is nothing to give, only everything to accept.

~Gia
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Congrats! Now Let Me Sucker Punch You!



Do you all know what a sucker punch is? Not a physical one. Just a spiritual one. Or emotional one.

Picture holding a newborn baby in your arms and your heart is melting from the love and the fresh baby smell. Your entire body is overcome with warm love that is really hard to describe. Everything, in that moment, is just perfect.

But then, a white explosion of half digested milk erupts out of that beautiful bundle and hits you square in the face. You close your eyes in shock and you just sit there, lips clamped tight in a vain attempt to keep the vomit from getting in. Or getting out.

That’s a sucker punch.

This week, I launched a dang book.

Folks…

I LAUNCHED A DANG BOOK!

And I expected to be on some sort of adrenaline high and just…

I don’t know.

But I didn’t expect this week to hurt so bad.

I didn’t expect to fall asleep sobbing.

I didn’t expect to be rejected.

And none of that had a thing to do with my book.

Why are humans so hard to love? Or…why is it so hard to be LOVED by other humans? What is happening to our idea of community? Are we only in community with one another when we have the same ideas or the same goals or the same basic beliefs? Is that community?

Are we only a community when we are working together for the same goals and outcome? Can we still not be friends and family if our roads split and we walk towards different dreams? Does community end then? Are we on our own? Are we forced to set out and find a new community, burning the last one to ash behind us?

That’s not how I thought it was supposed to go.

And this week has been painful. Lonely. Heartbreaking. Disappointing. Wounding…

It’s a sucker punch.

There was a moment of absolute joy…then an eruption of barf.

I guess I just wipe the drippy mascara off my face.

And build a community again.

Write another book.

Launch something else.

Because you keep moving forward. You don’t stand still…and you don’t go backward.

Just.

Punch.

Back.

~Gia
0

Hair Talk And Gender Roles


My daughter has always hated having long hair. In her younger years (she is nine, now) I thought it was because I often wore a pixie cut and she simply wanted to be like me. At about six years-old, it started with a bob. Two years ago, the bob got shorter. A few months ago, she came home with an asymmetrical bob that was pixie on one side and longer on the other. Today she started begging me to let her cut it all off. Super short. The pixie of all pixies.

I was reluctant.

“I won’t step on my hair during gymnastics, Mommy!” She pleads.

“But it would be very short.”

“I know!”

"I'm not so sure I want it to be so short."

She whines a little and says, "It will be like Ellen on TV. She's nice!"

That doesn't make me feel better. Growing up, I was under the mistaken impression that girls that wore their hair super short WERE like Ellen. What if people thought such things about my daughter. 

“Aren’t you…aren’t you…” I hesitate to say what was on the tip of my tongue and finally just spit it out. “Aren’t you afraid people will mistake you for a boy.”

She blinks, as if what I have just said is the most absurd thing in the world. “Wouldn’t they know I'm a girl because of my voice?” she asks. “Or because I like to wear dresses? The polish on my nails?”

I shrug a shoulder and realize she has a point, but what she says next is a punch in my gut. She screws up her nose in confusion and asks me, “Besides, what in the world is so bad about being mistaken for a boy?”

And that was it.

She can have her hair short if she wants. She can wear dresses. She can paint her nails. She is a girl. Clearly. She is courageous. She is different. She doesn't like to be like everyone else and she likes to be a little wild and crazy. Doesn't a pixie cut suit her?

Actually, it does...

And there’s nothing wrong with being mistaken for a boy.

Boys kick butt, too.

They’re pretty awesome, even. 

Who in the world knew it would be my children to teach me the absurdity of traditional gender roles.

Weird.


~Gia
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