“Nothing to hide, nothing to prove, nothing to lose.” The first time I heard this phrase, several years ago, I was drawn to the freedom that living by it would entail. I never considered myself as someone who tried to hide who I really was: I used to joke that my friends and acquaintances all knew I was a spiritual and emotional mess. And by the grace of God, I was placed in a church setting filled with people who did not make me prove my worth. They just loved me anyway, recognizing that I was growing as a person and a Christ-follower. And as far as “nothing to lose” goes, I really didn’t see much to lose. My friends were Christians, my job was in a Christian environment among people I loved, and I was confident that God wouldn’t take that away from me. Why would He? It was all positive stuff that honored Him and where I could serve Him.
And then in June 2016, my husband and I felt that God was leading him to step down from his position as pastor at our church. After 30 years. This was not only our calling, but our jobs; our friends; our family; our social life; our place to grow spiritually and to serve. It was a painful process that culminated in our last Sunday at the church we love on October 1, 2017.
In the middle of this transition, we also learned that one of our adult children identified as LGBT. Still nothing to hide?
Because we have always championed authenticity in our fellowship of believers, hiding our daughter’s “coming out” was not an option we even considered. We were, and are, proud of the person she is and we have refused to act as though she doesn’t exist when talking to friends and family. We stand by her, without apology.
During this time I read a post by John Pavlovitz, a fellow blogger, that helped me tremendously. Entitled, If I Have Gay Children, he states, “If I have gay children, you’ll all know it. My children won’t be our family’s best kept secret unless they choose that. I won’t talk around them in conversations with others. I won’t speak in code or vague language. I won’t try to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes, and I won’t try to spare the feelings of those who may be older, or easily offended, or uncomfortable. Childhood is difficult enough, and most LGBT kids spend their entire existence being horribly, excruciatingly uncomfortable. I’m not going to put mine through any more unnecessary discomfort, just to make Thanksgiving dinner a little easier for a third cousin with misplaced anger issues. If my children come out, we’ll be out as a family.”
So, no, nothing to hide. I’ve got this one wired.
Nothing to prove is a little tougher for me. Although God has done a great work in my life over the last year and a half, and I have finally been able to accept that His grace in my life is all I need to be in right standing with Him, I realize there are things I still have an unhealthy need to prove to my fellow believers. The biggest one in the past year has been the need to convince fellow believers that my daughter, and others like her, are still accepted by God and welcomed into relationship with Him. I’ll admit that some of this comes from being the mom of an awesome person and wanting everyone else to agree with me that she’s awesome, that she is following God, and that He has great plans for her. (As I said, “I’m the mom!” What do you expect?)
As time goes by, though, I realize I don’t have the power to make people agree with me. God is showing me that that’s okay. There will always be people who disagree over scriptural interpretation. What He calls me to do is to love everyone, including both the marginalized and those doing the marginalizing. (Do you know how hard that is to even write? God’s still got work to do in me.) I don’t have to prove to others that someone they personally condemn can still have a relationship with God. I am, first and foremost, called to love the marginalized in such a way that none of them will ever take my reaction to them as God’s rejection of them.
Nothing to prove. I don’t have this one down, but God and I are working on it.
And now, nothing to lose. God certainly has a sense of humor, doesn’t He?
Although I’ve always known that the time of leadership at our church would end, there was no way to prepare for the sense of displacement. God has wiped out the comfort zone that let me take for granted my future, my place in the Body of Christ, and the people with whom I would journey. However, He has replaced all this with a trust in Him I haven’t had before. I know we have followed what He wills for us and I know He’s “got” us during this time in our lives. That’s not to say that there aren’t days where faith is harder than others.
One of the more difficult things for me to risk losing is the approval of others, but I’m getting there. God is giving me the assurance that His call on my life is far more important than my fellow Christians’ approval. His desire that everyone would know His love for them trumps my desire that fellow Christians will think I’ve got it all together spiritually. I am instead trying to live the blessing that states, “Send me anywhere you would have me go, only go there with me. Place upon me any burden you desire, only stand by me to sustain me. Break any tie that binds me, except the tie that binds me to you…”
And whatever I lose, it will be worth it.