Today I had to go to DCOM. That is what we United Methodists call our group of people that basically get to confirm or deny whether we get to stay pastors. And as United Methodists our official rule book, the Book of Discipline, states that “practicing homosexuals” cannot be pastors.
Every year the committee requires that we write essays to answer some questions about our ministry. Every year the committee requires that we be interviewed. Every year I come up with clever ways to write that I am queer, without actually saying it. Every year I come up with clever ways to answer questions without mentioning how I disagree with the church’s stance on gay marriage and being a gay pastor. Every year I work myself up because being someone I am not and talking carefully is exhausting.
This year I figured I lost enough that I just ought to be honest. I sent them my essays. I told my truth. I said I was queer clearly in black and white type. I did it. My first step in not hiding was stating it at our Annual Conference last June. I made the Church website as the gay pastor who came out at a microphone.This was another step in not lying, in not hiding. It was just as scary. I put it off for months. I finally decided I needed to do it. I needed to send the essays in without censoring them. I held them on the desk top of my computer for days even after deciding to go through with writing them and sending them. It seemed like putting in my file a paper that could be used as evidence in a church trial to have me removed was a final straw that was more scary than I could cope with. I talked with my love about it over and over, and then one morning I looked over at him as he was still asleep, snoring next to me. I decided that I couldn’t live this life in secret. I love him too much. I love us too much. I snuck out of bed. I went to the living room, attached those essays in an email, and sent them out to DCOM. Done.
Today was the interview portion. Admittedly I was anxious. I wasn’t sure how my papers would be received. I wasn’t sure what I would be forced to defend or explain. Turns out they asked me to talk, and I did. I told my story. I told how the local church had hurt me. I told how the larger church didn’t even come when I asked. I cried. Bizarrely enough it was probably the most therapeutic thing I have done to deal with the hurt from the church. I finally told “the church” that I was hurt.
AND… they heard me. They listened. They apologized. They affirmed that I was not at fault. They complimented me on my ability to be so strong in my faith and “wise beyond my years”. They hugged me and told me that I was a child of God. They told me that there was a sure place for me, and that I am and will make a difference in this world… that God has a plan for me.
I needed to hear that. I needed to hear that from something that represents the church. This will probably take a bit to sink in. For now I am just going to breathe. I am just going to be happy that maybe I am not the failure that I have felt like for so long. I am just going to be proud that I am in love and not willing to hide it for anything. God is good. Today was good. The truth really does set you free