Hears voices, fancies ladies, and enjoys cask ales too much: a kind word for this friend of Jesus?

alone-in-a-crowdI just got in the below email. I hope you can find it in your heart to offer our young friend here a kind word and a bit of fellowship, for which she had the courage to ask.

I’m not sure why I ended up on your blog page, but here goes nothing. I’m 19 and I’ve attempted suicide four times. I feel like I’m nothing more than a statistic. I am really struggling with balancing my mental health disorder, my sexuality, my faith and my depression. It’s like I’m trying to juggle and spin plates at the same time. I look at Job and think, “Why can’t I be that guy?”—still thanking God in hardship, still rejoicing and praising, still focusing on God. Instead, I can feel bitterness rising, and I only turn to God when I want to unleash some anger.

Why did God make me gay, chemically imbalanced, and with a bonus personality disorder? I came to Christ because of my depression. In Jesus, I saw hope. Now, I feel that my depression is what is leading me away. My parents aren’t Christian, and neither are the majority of my friends. Indeed, since coming to university even, I haven’t found a community yet, as the Christian Union here was so conservative and fundamental that I left the meeting in a hot sweat. The only church I’ve found that I like is the [church she's at now], but the congregation is so big, I haven’t found anyone I can connect to.

I guess I want fellowship. I’m so scared of reaching out to other Christians because I fear as soon as I say, “Oh, by the way, I hear voices, fancy ladies and enjoy cask ales too much,” I’m going to be flat-out rejected. I know people look at my arm and see my scars, and that’s all they see and that I should, “Stop, just stop, smile, be happy!” Why do some think I chose to be this? You wouldn’t think or say that to a person with a physical illness.

I’m not even sure why I wrote this and decided to write to you, but I may as well swallow my nerves and just ask for a kind word, because honestly, that’d be magical.

If I might real quick:

Dear Young Lady Who Wrote Me This:

The emotional honesty of your letter is nothing less than inspiring: it reminds me of what life really is, rather than what it’s so tempting to pretend that it is. We all have demons we flee. You remind us that the highest and most important endeavor of our lives is to finally stop running, turn, arm ourselves with the truth, and with that weapon, and that weapon alone, slay our demons.

That’s what you’re doing: directly and with great courage, you’re fighting the good, real fight. And—despite how I know it sometimes feels to you—you are winning that fight. And that helps us all to win our fights. By sharing as you have, you’ve made us all a good deal stronger.

Hang in there, girl. You’re going to be all right; no one who can write a letter like this won’t be. (And definitely dismiss, outright and with great confidence, any notion whatsoever that God condemns gay people. Here is proof that literally nothing could be less biblical.)

I know this like I know my own name: out of ten thousand people, Jesus would choose you to hang out with you. Jesus didn’t show up for people who think they’re winners. He showed up for people who know that there’s something terribly suspect, if not outright destructive, about the whole idea of winners and losers. He showed up for people like you, who only want to “win” against the ever present, ever ruinous idea that any person in the world matters less than anyone else.

Print Friendly

About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • Amanda Equality O’Leary

    You’re one of us.

  • DR

    This might be one of my most favorite letters you’ve ever received, what honesty. It’s so refreshing!

    To the lovely one who wrote this? My friend Kim and I often say we live on the island of misfit toys – we’re not the shiny, happy Christians who have all of their sh** together and our rage fest at God is frequent and intense. Despair and depression is like having one’s pilot light go out, that kind of pain is like being burned – you don’t just “get over it” you have to grow new skin. It’s an excruciating process and the new skin simply grows when it grows and it happens under the old stuff. If you’re not in therapy, get into therapy! It’s the most amazing thing in the world. Try meds too, they can help with the therapy. Much love to you, it’s this kind of honesty that is so freeing for other people. xoxo

    • Jill

      “Despair and depression is like having one’s pilot light go out”

      – that is just about the most perfect description I’ve ever heard. You’re so right, and sometimes we need help to re-light that pilot. I pretty much needed to read your words today.

  • DENISE ASHWORTH

    Sending you love and unconditional acceptance. You’re not alone–not in your struggles, and not in your joys. I hope that the former is soon outweighed a thousandfold by the latter; but whatever comes, you’re home here.

  • Susan

    ((hugs)) Dear heart, you are not alone.

    You are not alone in feeling over-burdened and shortchanged by the physical difficulties and social burdens. You are not alone in worrying that you wouldn’t be accepted if people “REALLY” knew who you were. I can’t say it’s going to be easy, but I promisepromisepromise it WILL get better.

    First things first.

    Have you heard of the Icarus project? It’s a nationwide organization that helps people who struggle with mental health management find and form support groups that help them feel less lonely and share ways to improve their quality of life. Here is the link for their growing college campus outreach:

    http://www.theicarusproject.net/campus

    Believe me, you’re not the first LGBT student to suffer from mental health issues. Do you have a LGBT student center at your college? Look them up, or, contact your student activities center director and ask for help starting an Icarus group, and then, when you feel more settled, maybe look around in your larger community for an LGBT group there.

    Another great resource for managing bipolar is Julie A Fast:

    http://www.juliefast.com/

    She suffers from bipolar too, and has developed a method to help herself and others better manage their condition.

    Another woman I know who struggles with her bipolar and living as a gay Christian is blogger Dawn K. Dreyer:

    http://dkdreyer.blogspot.com/

    Take a look, and maybe drop her a line. I’m sure she’d be open to talking with you by email. :-)

    You’re not alone. We are here via this blog and in The Spirit. Hold strong. We’re praying with you and for you, and all of it is in love and celebration of the fact that you are our sister in Christ, just as you are.

  • Elizabeth

    Hey! That’s a mistranslation. I don’t mean to split hairs, but you don’t know the ‘patience of Job’ is a mistranslation until you write a paper on it, your don cuts you off, and you spend the next fifty minutes staring at each other. No one else is in the room. You’re just an idiot.

    Job bitched. Reread it. He asked again and again, Why?

    I only tried to kill myself twice. That beats the other two members of my familial generation. They succeeded. (Forty and one third years. One more year and I win.) I get depression. It sucks.

    But John’s exactly right. We’re the ones Jesus came to hang with. He understood. Please grow old enough to teach others. That’s a beautiful letter. xo

    • Jill

      …Please grow old enough to teach others…

      Yes, yes, and yes. Yes! The wounded healers are ALWAYS more effective, efficient, and accurate. We get it, and we feel it with you. We hold safe space with you so that you can feel safe processing it. We pass that legacy of healing down the line, and we feel (maybe later in life than we’d hope) like our damn misery was actually worth something.

      I didn’t understand back then what the bloody hell was the point of all that madness. Maybe I still don’t, but one thing I’m absolute sure of– if it wasn’t for seeking healing for my pain, I’d have passed by people who have been THE GREATEST BLESSINGS of my life. Our paths would never have crossed, and my life would’ve been that much less.

      So yeah, bring on the pain if that’s what it takes. Through the trajectory of that pain I didn’t just find healing, I created a life worth living.

  • Janey

    You aren’t alone my dear, I too fancy ladies and enjoy the ale. It’s been hard for me to reconcile being gay and being Christian, but at the end of the day, I know my God loves me unconditionally and nothing can separate me from that love unless I choose it. Hang in there, you definitely are not alone.

  • harrisco

    To the Letter Writer:

    You know more at the age of 19 than most people you will ever meet. You just don’t know how much you know–yet. You will…

    There is an honesty in your letter that is rare–and it is the kind of honesty that gets people into the best kind of trouble. It is the kind of honesty that sets complacency and sham on edge. It is the kind that asks for words and deeds to match. It is the kind that expects people who use Christ’s name to act like he did. It is the kind that smells BS from nine miles off. It is the kind that is so deep, so pure, that it cannot be erased.

    Let me tell you: That quality, that deep character of yours that is so evident in your letter–It is, by a bloody far margin, the absolutely most desirable, most magnetic, most precious human trait there is to other people who recognize it. Not everyone can recognize it. For those who can, though. . . They will wade through crocodile swamps to get to it. They know gold. In your life, these people will show up. They will get next to you and stay there. When you show them your scars, they will not ask those scars to go away. Instead, they will get upset–not at you but at the pain you have had to endure. They will feel some of that pain in themselves.

    I am not being cheesily optimistic in saying this: These people will show up in your life. They will–really. There will be seasons in your life like this one, though, where they are not there. It hurts, I know. I have been there. Over time, though, your own life will become more and more like a divining rod: You will be drawn to what is true, repelled by what is not. Along that path, you will meet people who are just the same as you–and that is a beautiful thing. I think that is how you ended up here on this site by the way…

    In your letter, you worry about being rejected. I hear that. I think, though, that you are on your way to some of the best relationships of your life–because of where you have been, because of the pain you have suffered, because of your deep character. Not everyone can comprehend what you can. For those who can, though, you are catnip. You are pure gold.

    I wish you perseverance now–and rich relishing of your beautiful life when the season turns–as it will.

    • Tim Northrup

      Letter Writer,

      Really let that above sink in, and then allow me to extend the remarks in the same vein.

      The pain you feel now probably is unnecessary and unfair, in multiple different ways. I assume that you have a therapy outlet for the depression and the personality disorder. I beg you to pour it all out to that therapist, and if that person doesn’t understand or care, find a new one.

      However, as harrisco has started to scratch at, that pain is also unfair because it is the best teacher out there. Those who are hurting will eventually seek you out for comfort because you will have been there. Those who truly care about making a difference in the world will come to you and ask for your friendship and advice. And you, dear one, will have the wisdom and foresight to make a big difference yourself.

      In the mean time, it may not be worth worrying about something that is flat going to happen–you will be rejected, cast out, hated. It will hurt something fierce. And then, unexplicably quickly, you will be home. I’m 8 years ahead on this track of you, and 3 years ago after being cast out by everyone I cared about all my life I finally opened up to a few people who were right there in front of me, and all of a sudden I had a church that I’m loved in (a small ELCA one), a peer group I could build friends around, and stuff to do when things got slow.

      So, from a guy who fancies guys, has wild mood swings, and whom alcohol drives instantly insane, lean on God, he’ll make you strong. Talk to the pastor or someone you can relate to on your church’s staff, get your bearings in this new church, and see if its truly home. build friendships one at a time and if they fall apart under the weight of your honesty, they aren’t worth it. and keep us posted.

      • harrisco

        Well said, Tim. “Build friendships one at a time and if they fall apart under the weight of your honesty, they aren’t worth it.”

        I also think therapy can be really helpful–and regular visits to an MD for good primary care.

        I do want to add a word of caution about alcohol. When you are feeling lonely and are under high stress, alcohol can be very attractive. . . but it can ultimately make things a lot worse. Be careful with it. Let your therapist know you are drinking and let him/her know how you feel about it. Just be careful–and self-protective about it.

  • http://isitjesusyet.com Jennifer Sandberg

    Hello Darlin’,

    You ain’t crazy, you just you!! God accepts you just as you are, and so does Jesus. So, stop cutting yourself. We also accept you. You were directed to us. You’re among friends. P.S. Some of us who aren’t gay have tried suicide.

  • Martha Jean

    You’re one of us.

    • Helen Bolshaw-Walker

      Yep, you’re in good company here

  • http://fairybearconfessions.wordpress.com Meghan

    Dear, beautiful heart,

    I wish that when I was 19 and crawling through depression and profoundly lonely and internally bent that I had had the courage to write a letter like you just wrote, to reach out and ask for what I needed. You have clarity and wisdom beyond your years. The pain sucks and is utterly, totally unfair, and it’s just fine to be angry at God about that. I’m pretty angry at God currently, and I don’t have anything like your excuse. Don’t feel like you have to go to God happy. God can take it. God always cries with us in our suffering, whether we acknowledge Her or not, and when we cry out and rail at God, it becomes a conversation and communion, and God will delight in the furious communion even as God’s heart breaks for your pain. If that makes no sense to you, then please disregard, but I have found it to be true for me, and I have also found that being loved by God while being furious at God is an amazing grace. A friend of mine was ruminating once on the scripture that tells us to go into a closet (or inner room) and pray, and commented that it’s interesting that Jesus instructs us to find Him in the dark, secret, cluttered spaces where we keep all the stuff we don’t want people to see (especially the kind of people who need us to smile all the time for their own comfort). Your raw honestly is deeply appreciated and loved here, and with God. Welcome, always!

    • http://Fordswords.net David S.

      Dear letter writer,

      What Meghan has written is profoundly true. God may not always line up with our conception of justice or benevolence. But in my life, He has always been faithful through some pretty messy stuff. Question and poke at your faith. It’s really OK. Doubt and faith are inextricably linked.

      As for fellowship, please know you are not alone. You are one of us. There are times when I feel like nothing more than a fat, old sack of damaged goods. There are other times I don’t.

      So even if I’m not in your neighborhood (or even your continent), I’m happy to sit and hang out on the cyber floor with you.

      • Jill

        And LW, David’s really amazing at that, too. Believe me– take him up on his offer. You’ll be glad you did. :)

  • Ting

    I’d like to say that life will get easier as you get older, but I know that is not necessarily true. For some it does; it didn’t for me.

    But please never think that you’re all alone. We’re all wounded inside, even the people who are carefully shellacked and perfect-looking. Perhaps those even more so. We are all wounded by life, and there are people who are wounded in a similar fashion to you. You just need to find them. :)

  • Paula

    So much wisdom and love already here, and I’d like to add to it.

    AND, just a suggestion. Make an appointment to see that pastor, or a campus minister of a mainline/liberal church. Let that pastor know you — and maybe he/she can direct you to a smaller circle of friends. Or maybe that pastor can be the first friend. Nobody becomes a minister just to sit in their office and move piles of paper around.

    Know this: even under the best of circumstances, your young adult years can be full of storm and drang — they are for lots of people. That’s why on many campuses, something approaching half the student body is visiting the campus counseling center. They’re getting help for their loneliness and depression, learning to navigate relationships, deal with stress, figure out who they are. It is not “the happiest time of your life,” for many people. There is just so much to figure out.

    I’m going to pray for you, that you find a little joy in every day, and live to shine the light for others.

  • Cris

    Precious one, Read this letter as if it was from a mother who loves you deeply. And if you do not have one (but you might be surprised) now you do. All of your struggles hurt me so. I know I cannot fully understand them. Thank you for taking the time to try to help me do just that. I would take and enfold all of your cares into myself if I could…but it does not seem to work that way. So I will listen, and love, and listen some more. More than anything, I am happy that you choose to be yourself, with any of the faults that you may think you have intact. I love you so much just that way. Mr. Rogers’ mother had some good advice for him, I will pass it along to you, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” So keep looking for the helpers. It seems there are none, but I know they are out there. And one day you will be one of them. You already are! Much love to you.

    • Anakin McFly

      I’m not the letter writer, but thank you so much for passing on that quote about the helpers. I needed to hear that today.

  • Ingrid Moore

    This young woman’s courage is awesome! I enjoy whiskey too much and most importantly you are not by yourself.

  • http://Www.patsediting.com Patsy-Anne

    Dear one, I work in a university chaplaincy and I regularly see versions of you. One student recently told me how he would rather have cancer than have the business going on in his head. Cancer has walkathons and galas and pink ribbon campaigns and a lot of support and understanding in the community. Cancer has a better PR company.

    I am not trying to say that you are not alone, because clearly you are feeling alone. It is more a challenge to the rest of us to drop our blinders, our preconceived ideas of how people should be, and learn to see the person in all their beauty. Even if their beauty is very different from ours.

    It would also be great if we could drop our masks of fitting in. Years ago I decided to not hide the fact that I was physically and verbally abused by my dad, that I was sexually assaulted by a school janitor, that I was date raped in university, that I went through a bout of depression in my early 20′s, and that I suffer from post traumatic stress and anxiety problems (though hardly at all now that I have seen a fabulous counsellor). We have all been through stuff, but through our silence we do not allow ourselves to empathize, we do not allow others to speak their truths, we create the solitude that the letter writer is experiencing.

  • Cindy Garrard

    So many kind comments. I hope they’re enough to tell you and all who read your letter and hear an echo in their own hearts and minds that you are really, really not alone. Whether that is enough to keep you hanging on is not for me to say. I hope you will. I hope you will find a pastor who will listen and some serenity and peace. Thank you for your courage in sharing.

  • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

    You are so not alone. There are a lot of people who struggle with depression, don’t fit in with the church groups around them and have a disorder that makes life tough.

    I hope you feel welcome here, a safe haven amongst the people who participate in discussions here and at the Facebook outreach Unfundamentalist Christians. I am delighted to meet you.

  • Sara

    Hello. So many other people have already said so many good and wise things. I’m not sure I have anything new to say, but I want to be one more voice, letting you know that you matter. You matter. You are important. God sees you and loves you. And I pray and believe that you will find a community that sees you and loves you as well. You deserve to be loved.

    Also, you are not the only Christian woman who likes beer and loves the ladies. ;)

  • Jos Reyn

    Dear Sister, be of strong heart and good cheer anyway! So you hear voices, well I hope among them you will also hear the ones of friends you make and as to the ladies and cask ales – more power to you! Your road is not an easy one but maybe some of us should help you with that burden by being friends. Travel well no matter what

  • Jennifer

    Sweet girl, you are not alone. Many of us in the body of Christ are LGBT. We love you, and want only the best for you. Ask God to bring forth loving and accepting folks at your new church. Don’t be afraid to reach out when they come forward. Take a look at Unfundamentalist Christian on the web. Another great online resource to add to the ones already mentioned by others. Keep us posted sweetie. We love you, and so does our Heavenly Father!!!!

  • Hall

    I’ve not got the right words beyond anything the others have said. May you find God revealed close and in ways you can understand, and in ways that are astonishing. Try to keep stepping forward. When that fails, try simply to keep your feet. When that fails, sit down but stand back up again. God will be with you – through you and in you – in all of this, and in each of this. There is tremendous love flowing towards you from this collection of folks. It is real. Each of us is EXACTLY the one God loves desperately, and needs unfailingly.

  • Matt

    Nope, you are not alone. Just between you and me (and our friends here), I am definitely LGBT and definitely Christian.

    My arms are also scarred. I know the admonitions to “Just be happy!” and the looks of utter disgust. I also attempted suicide twice at age 18. I was considered a hopelessly chronic case; I remember very vividly sitting in the psychiatrist’s office as he considered whether or not to send me to the state hospital, a place people don’t generally come back from. I had decided that I would be dead no matter what by age 20.

    Well, now I’m 21. I know it can seem so utterly hopeless. I still feel that way sometimes. There are truths about my life that I know I will have to face, and it will be extremely painful. But facing it lets things fall so naturally into place afterward. People who tell the truth (as you do so well here) always win in the end. You tell the truth, and people do what they do. If it doesn’t work, you pick up and move on. The cool part is that the truth never changes, but people do. The world is huge, more beautiful than you can imagine, and there are people who will listen to your truth with the grace and compassion that it deserves. You just have to keep breathing and seek them out, which you have done so fantastically.

    I was personally extremely glad to read your letter! Having so many plates in the air at such a young age–I can so relate! But here’s the best part: we’re getting it all out of the way early. Life is complicated, and as you get older it seems that there are only more plates to spin. So many people our age are still living in a protective bubble, and it’s going to be popped sooner or later. You and I have never had that, and although it sucks sometimes, we’re getting stronger all the time. We’re asking the tough questions, dealing with real life stuff, and doing a really good job. Keep up the fantastic work!

    • Matt

      I would also gently add: try not to think of yourself as having a “personality disorder.” I have a sneaking suspicion that this is something you were told. I was too. It is such a cruelly oppressive label to attach to a young person who still has so much growing to do. Our personalities are some of the deepest layers of ourselves and not even the “experts” fully understand how they develop or what they even are; to call it “disordered” can shut the door on so much potential. Listen to yourself, trust yourself, and take yourself as you are moment by moment. Language is powerful, and the words we use matter. Find out what words best fit you, and use them.

      • Gordon

        Extremely important point, Matt. I’m almost 55 years old and my personality is still growing and evolving. I don’t think it ever stops if you’re open to it. Blessings to you and to this very sweet and brave young woman.

      • Jill

        Sometimes I’ve wondered if the label “disorder” in whatever psychological way is really code for deep, spiritually awake, no-bullshit truth-seeker? Because that would be a disorder I could live with.

  • Mark B.

    I can sort of understand a little of what you are going through, at least the depression part. I too have drawn closer to God to try and have a little hope. Things WILL get better. Blessings!

    Mark

    • Mark B.

      PS: Jesus turned water into good wine for his first reported miracle. A love of cask ales is certainly not a problem and if it were, I would also be in deep trouble.

  • Robin Brann

    Dearest Young and and so very perfect as you are young women,

    Please , please I so pray your are reading and even more able to hear and feel the love for you on this page. So many of us wish we could reach you and hug you and be sure you know. You Are Perfect, just as you are. Please stay please decide to stay and ride through this the voices, the sexual identity, the darkness, the loneliness. Please stay, please wait, you will find the other side and in it you will find how perfect you are.Please write , draw, sing, yell whatever creative outlet you can find, use it.

    I have a daughter that I adore, she o almost killed me, herself , her daughter and all of those that love her with so many days of self doubt and self loathing, risk taking, drugs, voices, running, drinking. So many things, I can not list them all. She is now better and I know you can be too. . You have reminded me how very precious every minute is. Please stay, ride it out, share it with us. I am sending you all the love and hope and light and prayers I have in my heart. When your strength is not to be found come here to this page and remind yourself, how very much you are needed. You have no doubt helped someone that is suffering what you are suffering and maybe it even looks a little different but you have helped someone today just by being you. Please stay. God Bless you and so very much love to you.

    Robin

  • Lymis

    Dear Letter Writer

    My deck wasn’t stacked quite so high against me, but I’m also gay, raised in a military family, and my spirituality never quite matched whatever it was the people around me were doing. I won’t pretend to relate to all you’re going through, but I can deeply empathize.

    One thing I will say is this – as natural as it is to take for granted that the best way to experience Christ through others is to spend time with people who identify as Christian through participation in organized Christian churches, remember that the people who interacted with Jesus while he was alive wouldn’t have found him there, either.

    Jesus spent his time on Earth with the misfits, the outcast, the hurting, the wandering, the rejected, the different, and the damaged, as well as with those who were none of those things but still were willing to give up part or all of what society expected to strike out in pursuit of this amazing Person who spoke in their hearts.

    God has churches full of people who fit neatly into churches, and however well you or I or anyone else things they’re going about it, at the very least, those people have access to the presence of God in their lives, and access to the choice of taking it seriously and allowing God in to transform them.

    But God’s children don’t all fit neatly into churches. Some never will, and never should. Others who might have been rejected and hurt and refuse to consider ever going back. Others have never thought to even consider looking for God in church, because of how they perceive churches to be. But God has no intention of giving up on anyone, and if they won’t come to church or if church is the wrong place for them to find God, God is most certainly going to go out where they are and be with them there.

    And sometimes, that involves people like us, people who might want to be churched, but who can’t, because of who we are, or how we’ve been treated, or simply because of how God chooses to speak to us in our lives and our hearts. Sometimes, that combination of deeply and truly loving God and at the same time, having it made abundantly clear that we aren’t welcome in church is our call to be God’s chosen vessel in the world of the people that churches will never touch.

    I’ve found some of the most deeply spiritual, deeply compassionate, deeply loving, and deeply human people in the gay community, many of the people who are the most vehemently anti-church. And people whose minds don’t work the most common ways, people who live in the world at odd angles or with different insights, are sometimes the most compassionate to others who are different, as well as often needing special compassion themselves.

    In one of his parables, Jesus said that our salvation hinges on how we treat the others around us. That how we treat the sick, the poor, the hungry, and the naked is how we treat Jesus. It’s usually understood as meaning that the other people around us act as Jesus in our lives. But it follows equally that we act as Jesus in the lives of others.

    We don’t have to “speak church” to people to witness the Divine to them in how we interact. If you take Jesus with you into your world, finding the people who accept you AS someone who hears voices, fancies ladies, and enjoys cask ales, then Jesus will be present with them as well, and Jesus will be present to you in them.

    The command is to follow Jesus, not to go to church. Some people find that they follow him into churches. Others find that they follow him right back out of them.

    The command is to spread the Good News to all the people of the world, not to start pop-up franchises of recognized Christian denominations like they were Starbucks. Some people find that they hear the Good News in church. Others hear it in bars, gay clubs, and from people who hear voices.

    Believe me, I can relate to wanting fellowship among fellow believers. Believe me, when I got summarily pitched out on my ass when I came out, it was traumatic, and felt like a huge betrayal.

    But God isn’t Church. God is Love. And wherever there is love, there is God. If God is love, wherever two or more are gathered in the name of love, Jesus is there in the midst of them. If the fellowship of church and believers is closed to you, find fellowship among people who are open to love, and God will be there.

    This may be your call for a lifetime, to be the voice of God to those in exile. It may be your time in the desert, preparing you to take what you’ve learned in exile back to the people who never left, in some future congregation that does welcome you. It may be preparing you with a grounded foundation built on something so deep that you will be able to freely move among the churched and the unchurched with grace and ease, both giving and taking the best of both to and from each of them.

    I absolutely hear you about your fear of reaching out to others with the risk of being rejected by them. At the same time, that fear comes from a sense that they have something you don’t, that they are the source of something you need. Whatever else is true, that isn’t.

    It’s one thing to say to people, “This is who I am. Please, let me in so I can find God.” It’s another thing entirely to say, “This is who I am. I’d love to share with you the way I know God, and to hear from you the way that you know God.” It’s worth considering that God is guiding you to how you can best know God, and that if that isn’t through formal church membership, that there’s a reason you’re finding closed doors just now. You’re a genuinely unique person, and it would not be surprising to find you don’t have an off-the-rack path to God.

    When I was growing up, a sensitive, artistic gay boy in a conservative, Catholic, military family full of engineers and practical people, I used to wonder why God put me in a family where as much as we tried, I didn’t fit. I really related to the story of the Ugly Duckling, and desperately hoped it might turn out that I was some kind of swan after all, because, really, I sucked at being a duck.

    I’ve come to realize how much of a gift not fitting in was for me, because it meant that while “answers” were provided, I had to take each and every “right answer” that was provided me, and carefully examine whether or not it was the right answer for me. Many were. Many weren’t. But I realized relatively young that I’d been forced to ask, and come to terms with my own answers for, questions that never even arose in the lives of some of my siblings until they were in crisis. Their lives are not better nor worse than mine, but I sure as hell wouldn’t trade with them, not even for the ease that some of the things that worked for them might have given me, because I deeply value who I have become as a person.

    And, looking outside my family at some of the people who have never had to question some of the right answers that “normal” people get to take for granted, some of them are, frankly, monsters, and there is nothing you could pay me to exchange places with them. If my challenges made me who I am, then as much as some of them sucked, they are part of the fabric of who I have become. (That’s not to say that there aren’t some truly wonderful normal people out there. I just don’t know if I would have been one of them.)

    God doesn’t live in a box, not even in a pretty church-shaped one. He’s there, certainly, but he’s also out here with us. Call, and God will answer, wherever you are.

  • Hal

    My dear, my youngest children are your age; one of them is gay. I’ve seen the struggle you’re going through now, and I know the toll it takes. It breaks my heart to read that you reached out for community and found only condemnation, but it’s not the first time we’ve heard that story, is it? You’re in the right place now. You’re one of us. You are loved. Try to find peace in the knowledge that your vulnerability make you genuine, unlike those who rejected you. Following Jesus will always involve struggle, bravery, and hardship, blood, sweat and tears. Do not be deterred don’t you dare be ashamed. You are indeed perfectly and wonderfully made. Chin up! God help us all.

  • http://www.havocandshine.wordpress.com Leslie

    I do believe that anything really and truly important I might say has been said already in this supportive and loving community, but I wanted to tell you that every day–Every Single Day–that you get out of bed is magnificent strength. I have curled up in similar holes, broken in half, and crawled back out, blinking at the sunlight. Keep on. Go through. Get by. You can alternate between the three, if you like :), but sometimes life is about remembering to inhale and exhale and that’s okay. It won’t be and isn’t always like that, but, well, sometimes it is. So remember to do it, and you’re free and clear. And blessed. Also, I do believe that if I met you and you said exactly those words about hearing voices and liking ladies etc. etc., I think I would spend the rest of the day listening to you and liking you very much. Typical is *such* a small box, Brave Girl, very highly overrated and with very little decent air conditioning. Keep on and Blessed Be. Regards, Leslie

  • Soulmentor

    Dear letter writer:

    I’m older now, 69, divorced, a father, gay and alone (after divorce and having three lovers that didn’t last). I’ve been thru some painful times and lost all the trappings of formal religion. But one thing I kept with me thru it all is the Spirit of Jesus. I got to where I simply prayed “Just you and me, Jesus. Whoever and whatever you are, it’s just you and me.” I…JUST….HUNG…..ON. And here I am still hanging on, reasonably content, living comfortably if modestly, having learned thru facing the blank walls and keeping on that life does go on.

    PS: Two of those lovers confided in me that my love saved them from suicide and I have a friend now struggling in prison with alcohol and drug and marriage and fatherhood and sexuality and anger and despair issues whom I love deeply and who looks to me as, I think, his only friend. I promised him that I would be his friend always, NO MATTER WHAT. And you know what? I now have the strength of Love to keep that promise. I have learned the truth of the saying, “What doesn’t kill us makes us strong.”

    You WILL get thru it. It DOES get better…..if you hang on.

    • http://kingmaalbert@hotmail.com Al

      Thanks, Soulmentor. All those cliches like, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” and “One day at a time”, as tired and over used as they sometimes seem, still carry a lot of truth. Being gay and depressed and alone might be a heavy load but its not impossible to carry it. It’s important for all of us to remember that life isn’t always hard and difficult. There are good friends to meet along the way and the tough times do come to an end. The important thing is to keep going, even when you don’t want to anymore because things really do have a way of working themselves out.

    • Mary Coleman

      You are truly a beautiful person, Soulmentor! Everyone needs a friend like you!

      • Soulmentor

        You brot tears to my eyes. Thank you. Now if only a handsome younger man would come knocking at my door with those words!!!!!

  • http://www.senordwall.com Shadsie

    Right now, I think the best thing I can say is possibly: You are not alone. I mean, as of now, I am sitting in a hotel in Baltimore because I am at a fan-convention (Otakon – con for fans of Japanese animation/games/etc.) and these things… are pretty much fairlyand for freaks, geeks and outcasts. If you ever feel too weird for the world, come to one of these things. As a bipolar geek, sometimes, they are the only times of year I feel at home.

    There was even a panel last night on autism and fandom… I didn’t go because my issues are a bit different and instead opted for the Anime Mystery Science Theater 3000, but… the fact that I see things like this at every con is pretty much confirmation of what my therapist has been telling me lately: “Crazy” tends to run parallel to CREATIVE. Those of us who feel deeply, or otherwise have gifts… it seems like we have curses, too.

    No one has the right to tell you to “just be happy” when you aren’t. You can tell them that to do so is to be dishonest. It is okay to be honestly angry, honestly hurt, even honestly mad at God. I think the Big Guy can take it. I pretty well trust that if he’s put up with Humanity so far, he can deal with a little honest anger – and probably appreciates the honesty.

    Don’t worry about fitting in too much. It’s not that you’re crazy. You’re going sane in a crazy world. You’re definitely not alone.

    When I step out of this hotel, I’m going to be stepping into a convention center full of folks like you and me. Don’t know if this helps.

  • http://integral-options.blogspot.com/ William Harryman

    So much love and support expressed here – wonderful to see.

    Please allow me to offer support from a different angle – I am a sexual trauma counselor for a non-profit out-patient treatment center, SACASA. You could be any one of my clients. I have seen many people who hear voices or are have multiple parts who have been told they are possessed by demons (nonsense). I have seen many LGBT young people are are told they are an “abomination” (hateful nonsense). And I have seen many people burdened by their church with a “small” view of God find healing and solace in expanding their understanding of God.

    So here are some things to consider:

    * If you are seeing a counselor already, please do so. Look for someone with experience in treating trauma and/or complex PTSD. Ask for a free 30 minute consult – pick the one that feels right to you.

    * God does not make mistakes, therefore you are not a mistake. You are right now always already exactly who God wants you to be. If God did not love and cherish LGBT people, he would not have created them.

    * The voices you hear are only voices, they do not have fists. Rather than fear them, be curious about them, befriend them, argue with them when necessary. They are there for a reason, probably related to your childhood. Over time, they may become allies and teachers. When they are angry or mean to you, visualized them being bathed in the light and love of God – they’ll often settle down.

    * When God sent Jesus, He was rewriting His covenant with humanity. No more of the Old Testament wrath, vengeance, and jealousy – Jesus represented (and still does) the presence of a loving and compassionate God, and an opportunity for a direct relationship with God through Jesus.

    Hang in there – you are stronger, braver, and wiser than you can ever know. Learn to love yourself as God loves you, without conditions, without limits, with a tender and compassionate heart.

    • Mary Coleman

      Thank you, William, for your kind & PRACTICAL words! I’m sure they will be of help to the letter-writer!

    • DR

      WOW. The comments on this post are just incredible.

  • Catherine Shore

    Dear Letter Writer,

    You are not alone. For many years my life was one of utter despair and loneliness. Amid the pain was this little whisper. That whisper was Christ letting me know that he did love me. Your faith is that whisper. He loves you. Absolutely. Just as you are.

    Lots and lots of Christians have felt times of utter despair; that despair is what led many of us to our faith. In no way are you alone. You have perhaps not met them yet, but you have many brothers and sisters. Sometimes it takes a while, but you will find your community.

    The point of Job’s story is not to make us feel unworthy that we are not like Job. (There has only been one Job in 3,000 years, and it will probably be another 3,000 before the next one comes along. None of us can be that perfectly faithful guy.) The point of Job’s story is to tell us that our suffering is NOT caused by God, and it is NOT caused by, or is a result of, any lack of worthiness on our part.

    In your search for community you will sometimes meet with rejection. Some of that rejection will remind you of unkind things that you have heard in your past. They might sound like the awful things we sometimes tell ourselves about ourselves. DO NOT LISTEN! Do not pay any attention. Those are mistakes and lies. Like Job’s “friends,” they are not speaking for God.

    Keep reaching out. Keep listening for God’s voice. His voice is the one telling you are loved.

    P.S. Have you seen the It Gets Better Project website? It’s at http://www.itgetsbetter.org

  • Magoonski

    First, some commentary on homosexuality. God made you gay because God wants you to be gay. The bible? No, that’s wrong, it is. God created many animals that are “gay.” Example, New Mexico Whiptail lizard is an all female species that clones itself after two female lizards have sex. There’s also clown fish (think Finding Nemo), they have a structure where there is an alpha female and if she dies then the alpha male turns into a female fish and takes her place for breeding. Not to mention that humans can be born with chromosomes other than XX and XY. There’s XXYY, XXXY, XXYY…real people neither completely male or female.

    Number 2: As for suicide…don’t do it. You may not be a rock star, doctor, etc. but you are here on this earth and your existence is felt, maybe not the way you wish it was but it is. As for the drinking…stop it, it doesn’t help you and is a waste of money. If it’s hard for you to stop then join a support group.

    Third, give others the benefit of the doubt. Trust that people won’t be as judgmental or as mean as you think they will be if they see the worst parts of you because short of being a murder, rapist and/or child molester, you are not likely to have done something that would make everyone on the planet hate you.

    Finally, you don’t have to be “happy” you don’t have to “fit in” but you have to love you for you and you have to forgive yourself and be kind to yourself. God made you to be you, and no one else. You are supposed to be you.

  • Kerry

    So much love here in the comments already.

    Just wanted to add mine too.

    Hold On – God loves you just the way you are.

    (((Hugs)))

    P.S. This website has a directory of churches (should you ever move or want to look for another one) http://www.gaychurch.org/list-churches-by-country/

  • Josie

    Letter writer, dear girl, thank you for your honesty. I don’t think I can add any new thoughts to all of the love that’s been expressed here–I hope that some small part of you is able to hear and accept it. I’m straight, but I can empathize with the depression piece of what you’re going through. I’ve battled that monster most of my life. I tried twice to commit suicide when I was 19–and I cannot begin to tell you how glad I am that I didn’t succeed. I would have missed becoming who I am today. God put you here to be exactly who you are, because he needed you to fill your unique role in creation. Jesus came to gather in the lost ones and the rejected ones, dear heart, and he is there for you–and in you–no matter what. Love to you.

  • Ally

    Dear Letter Writer: You are not alone!

    Sometimes, the people who outwardly look to have everything together are just the ones who are the best at hiding their problems. I’m the sort of person who gets held up as the “good example” too often, and I tell you I ACHE to tell someone how rejected and lonely I actually feel inside. I’m so tired of people telling me I’m so lucky to be single, to not have outwardly obvious mental or physical issues, that my problems are less than theirs. I admire your honesty. What we all really need is permission to be ourselves. Sometimes, you have to take the risk and open up to someone in order for them to open up to you. And if they reject you, that’s their problem (though it does suck to go through.) Those people have failed the test of love. And they will miss out on knowing someone as wonderful as you.

    When I first got to college, I didn’t find a church right away either. But there was a nature preserve near campus, and so I went on a 3 hour walk every Sunday and just talked to God, or read the Bible on a park bench. It kept me sane sometimes. Going to a big church is hard. I eventually left an otherwise great one because I didn’t know anyone there. If they have events or Bible studies, try to get involved so you can meet people. But it may be that this is a temporary church for you, and that’s ok. There’s a lot of churches in the world; the next one may be better.

    Keep searching. Keep crying out to God, because even if no one else will listen, God hears you. Sometimes you need to scream at God before you can overcome the bitterness. It’s okay. God still cares, and loves you exactly the way you are. You sound like an interesting woman, and I know there are people out there who will love to get to know you. They may be hard to find, but don’t give up.

    And because I know sometimes I need a reminder, here’s a song I love: Remind Me Who I Am by Jason Gray. Because you are God’s Beloved. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKyY8zfjBMQ

    • usingmyvoicewell

      wow. thank you for sharing that, Ally. We all need to be reminded sometimes, don’t we. Hugs.

  • Allie

    I want to address the problem of community in your university. It’s been my experience in college myself many years ago, and in speaking with younger friends in college more recently, that the real Christians aren’t the ones who hang out at the places with Christian in the name. Maybe the real Christians don’t think of themselves as particularly Christian at all. There are just these really nice people who have something in common with you – maybe liking gaming, or a certain author, or even cask beer – and late at night you will be hanging out with these people on a back porch and someone will admit almost shyly that Christ is the biggest part of her life. Me too, says someone else. Hey, me too. I’m not a Christian, says the fourth guy, but a deeply committed seeker. And it turns out you were in the midst of a spiritual Christian fellowship all along.

    Look for those people who will be your friends for the simple reason that you enjoy the same things, and pick the ones who are good and kind, and you will find Christ in the midst of them.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      wonderfully said, Allie–and as true as true gets. Thank you.

    • Mary Coleman

      Truer words were never spoken, Allie! I have found that generally the people who “hang out” at the places with Christian in the name seem to “have all the answers” (when they really don’t), know, with certainty what you should be doing with your life (when they really don’t) and are reluctant to accept someone “different”. (because you scare them). BORING!!! Give me a “real” person with REAL questions & REAL issues to share with.

  • Mike

    Hearing voices? Fondness for spirits? Fancy the ladies?

    I think you sound a lot like Jesus. Honestly. And even he could barely handle it.

    About the voices. I know about the insanity of the voices. How they know things they shouldn’t. How they whisper and laugh. How Death extends its hand and asks, “don’t you think you’d be happier on my side of the veil? Oh, and by the way, my offer’s on the table any time you want to take me up on it.”

    If it that is how you sometimes feel, let me offer some practical advice, advice which, for whatever reason, no Dr. ever offered to me: if there is music you love, surround yourself with it.

    At night, when the voices come, I turn on my iPod and blast them away. It helps me enormously. I hope it does for you too.

    good Travels, and with much love.

  • http://aholyandabrokenhallelujah.wordress.com Kitt

    Hello Friend, I am queer and I have a lived experience of mental trauma. I have found a faith community with Quakers and my Meeting is gay affirming. I have had trouble with Quakers trying to “fix” me – being well-meaning but incredibly unhelpful and evasive in terms of mental health. I am working with a group of people on changing that. It feels really empowering to form a group that is about helping build acceptance. What also helped me was to start to see madness as a gift. I used to identify as “mentally ill” but I do not anymore. There IS something different about my brain, but with prayer and support -which I do get from my current Quaker meeting, I can learn how to best use these differences to meet the needs of the world. I am going to start writing about this on my blog aholyandabrokenhallelujah.wordpress.com, but I likely won’t continue posting until this fall. I am working on a novel about a woman who is outcasted by her community and then she is welcomed to another community who values her gifts and does not judge her trauma. I hope that one day, you will read it, because knowing you exist is a reason to keep writing it. In creating this work, I am becoming closer to the struggles that you have written about here. You are not the only one with these questions and I hope that if we keep reaching out those of us who experience mental trauma can touch each other. A mental health group I have found helpful is The Icarus Project. Blessings to you.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

    I’ve never been prouder or more pleased (or more humbled by) by the readers and commenters on this little corner of the universe. One comment is more gracious, kind, and insightful than the last. Thank you for every last once of them (each of which I’ve read at least twice). And if you haven’t yet sent your kind word to our young friend here, please don’t hesitate to do so. Every note–every little, tiny note–adds to the song that this girl, and all of us, need to hear played.

  • Mindy

    You, my dear, are spectacular. As John said, anyone who writes with such searing honesty can’t help but not only survive, thrive. You have gifts to offer the offer the world. You hold the truth. You hold an open heart and clear eyes. You are gay – so what? That just means that there is probably a woman out there that you haven’t met yet who has love to offer you, and needs you in her life. There are lots of people who walk through this world without ever FEELING as deeply as you do. They do everything to keep the surface polished and not look too deeply into the light or the darkness. It’s ALL too scary. You’ve survived the darkness, and you deserve to show yourself into the light. Know that you are not alone. Know that there is help and there are are friends and there is so much good for you to experience and to do – just don’t give up. Please. Shine your light, because it’s a bright one.

  • Heather

    I love a real mother f’er! And my dear, you’re about as real as it gets!! Thank you for voicing your truth. I’m honored to have heard it.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      We should start a Facebook page: I Love a Real Mother F’er. I would so totally like a page called that.

      • Matt

        A page like that might actually tempt me onto Facebook for once.

        • Elizabeth

          Just what I needed: more Facebook. I’m running out the door to the Outside Lands music festival, but ‘like’ away. I’ll throw some graphics up tomorrow. https://www.facebook.com/realmfchristians

  • Robyn

    Dear wonderful friend who has all those other attributes. Thank you for sharing your heart. That touches mine. You sound like the real type of person I gravitate to and like to surround myself with in an affirming and accepting way. We won’t shortly because I live in Australia but I would be positive that you will find friends who will appreciate you for who you are, your love for our Lover and the honesty and life which you radiate. Lots of love, hugs and a growing awareness of his absolute, unchanging and palpable love.

  • Laurel Hedge

    My heart sits with yours in silent sorrow. As lost and lonely and angry and alien and pain-filled that you feel–you are not alone. I don’t know if I can express this thing that I want to share with you, but I will try. God will have to make sense of it–if sense is to be made.

    Sometimes, knowing you’re not alone can be a harmful thing. I mean–as horrible as I sometimes feel, why would I ever want someone else to feel that way too? I don’t. Ever. But people do. They do–all the time. And they survive. They learn. They live, and they feel, and they keep on feeling, and they reach out to others who might help them not feel so horrid–and sometimes it works.

    Maybe that’s why we keep going. Sometimes, it works. And sometimes that horrible that is inside us is what lets us reach out to someone else and ease their pain. I have no idea how that happens, or why, so I can’t make it happen on cue. But I can hope, and pray, and believe, and know, that it does..

    So that’s why I’m writing. I very much want you to know you are loved. Perhaps my saying so isn’t what you need to hear. Whatever it is you DO need to hear, may it reach you and heal your wounded spirit and broken heart, and bring you peace.

    That last bit was a prayer. I know God heard it. Because He gets it too.

    You are not only loved, your are lovable, and worthy of love.

    Amen.

  • Linda Emens

    My dear, Try the Christian Left website. You will be surprised at how many of us (you) are out here.

  • Mary Coleman

    To all those who have replied to this letter-writer: I have NEVER felt so much love & genuine acceptance in one place before. Certainly NOT in most of the churches I have been part of. You ALL just blow me away with how much you genuinely care for this person. I tell you what….. if I am ever in need, as this letter-writer is, I know where I am going…. right here to this big bunch of REAL folks who genuinely LOVE others. You make me so proud (in a good way) to be part of THIS group of people who call themselves Christians….. and show it by their actions.

  • Kari

    I am sending you big {{{hugs}}}.

    Please hear us as we read and respond to your letter: You are loved. You are important. You are meant to be here even if you do not know why right now. Hold on day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute if you need to. God created you to be you just as you are, and He can handle your bitterness and honesty and doubts and questions. Just keep laying it all out to Him, and at some point you will feel peace.

    When I was 19 and suicidal, I used to listen to this old song by Peter Gabriel called “Don’t Give Up” ( http://amzn.to/14xTPWM ) and I would play it for HOURS. I wrote out the words to the song and read it every day over and over, grasping for anything to give me a reason to stay alive. I am a Christian lesbian with major depression who has struggled for many years to keep it together. Twenty five years and 2 suicide attempts later, I am still here and am so glad I didn’t succeed with those attempts. It gets better. It really does. There are people in your community who care about you, want to be your friend and help support you; you just haven’t met them yet.

    Believe me when I tell you, you are an amazing, strong, courageous survivor, and you are loved.

  • usingmyvoicewell

    Dear Letter Writer,

    When I was 25 and suicidal, I started seeing this wonderful old Jewish psychotherapist who was so kind and understanding, and full of common sense (!), that I found myself pouring out all kinds of “secrets” to him, things I had never shared with another soul. That was the start of me becoming me.

    Find someone to talk to. Someone who knows how to listen. Someone who accepts you just the way you are.

    My dad heard voices… but he was his own worst enemy *because* he thought that made him ‘less than’. You are NOT less than! You are equal to. You are one of. You are one of us. You belong here.

    I’m not gay but I love my friends who are.

    I don’t hear voices but I am sometimes blessed with an extraordinary gift of discernment that I think comes very close to that.

    Remember this: God wants good for you. Period. God wants GOOD for you. God wants good for YOU.

    with love.

  • Julie

    Dear Girl, your honesty is terrifying and wonderful. I hope that you have seen the love for you that is on this page. I’m adding mine to all the rest. Know this, if you happen to need a substitute Mom who will accept and love you as you are, encourage you to follow your dreams and occasionally ask the difficult questions, I would be honored to fill the position.

    You would be a wonderful addition to our tribe.

  • http://www.lambpower.net Steve D

    Dear Friend

    All I can add is this, you are loved so deeply that you cannot even imagine it. God loves you , He created you, and cares very much for you.

    I was not part of the ‘IN’ group when I was in HS and College. I was fat and grossly uncoordinated (I was a failure at sports). I’ve never really told anyone this before, but I really hated myself. It took a long time for me to learn that God’s Love was unconditional and despite the fact the others didn’t like me, God adored me. I have since also learned that God gave me other gifts that more than made up for my shortcomings. I am still overweight and somewhat uncoordinated (some things never change). However, I’ve found strength, love and friendship that I never imagined that I ever had.

    Don’t give up! Just like I know that God adores me, I know that God adores you.

  • Brenda in La.

    Darling and brave letter writer,

    There isn’t anything I can add that the others haven’t already said, but you can rest in the knowledge that every one of these beautiful comments is sincere and that each and every person who commented really does believe in you and accepts you just as you are. We all want more than anything for you to find people who will love you unconditionally, just the way you are, and who will show you the life Jesus means for you to have. You are indeed one of God’s children, and He certainly did make you the way you are intended to be. I hope you will follow the good advice given in these comments.

    You probably don’t realize yet how few people could have or would have written the letter you did at your age. I know I couldn’t have. Please realize that you are special, with talents and gifts you don’t yet see. You have much to live for; it really will get better. Once you find the right people and the right direction, life will open up with possibilities you can’t imagine and would never want to miss.

    Hang on, brave girl (for you have courage in abundance), the best is yet to come. Those who will love you and you will love back are out there. I promise. They will appreciate that which makes you unique. Meanwhile, rest in the knowledge and faith that Jesus loves you, and that’s more than enough to keep going. Hold fast to him, even if you decide to skip church for awhile. He will never let go of you. Blessings to you on your journey of discovery. I so wish I could hug and “mother” you through it.

    Think of John’s blog as a family, and visit often!

  • Elizabeth

    Dear sister,

    I came to God seeking love and solace at age 19. I heard voices and struggled with deep depression when I was sober, and often abused substances to keep the pain and fear associated with my mental illness at bay. I saw the same hope in Jesus that you did — and then quickly traded it in for being approved of by an extremely narrow-minded church and its view of God. For years I didn’t tell almost anyone I was queer — I tried to “stop it” on my own. It has taken me almost a decade to recover from my initial “recovery” by consistently holding to the belief that God loved me and would never abandon me. Never.

    I have slowly found friends — Christian and not — who know of and accept my sexuality and mental health struggles. In my worst hours, I have sometimes felt reached out to and comforted by random events, and seen God at work in those things. And when I felt too weighted down or intimidated to reach out to those around me, I found new friends through internet communities and blogging sites. I also have sought counseling and if your college or community offers free or low-cost services (if you don’t have a trusted counselor already), that may be of help to you.

    Most of all, remember that you came to the Jesus who left the 99 sheep in search of the missing one. His life — the beautiful, constantly moving and changing universe He created and loves — is simply incomplete without you, and you exist because the world needs you here. Heck, sometimes I’m the one that needs someone like you here — someone else who can identify with trying and struggling to reach out to God when my personal world hurts the most.

    You’re still trying. You’re still struggling. And this community of faith loves you. My favorite song to listen to on bad days is Sufjan’s Steven’s “The dress looks nice on you.” It has imagery that’s reminiscent of the bride of Christ (us) if you want to take it that way. I hear it very personally: “I can see a lot of life in you,” he sings, “I can see a lot of bright in you.” Maybe if you like his music you would like that too.

    P.S. If you want to hear Peter Gabriel’s “Don’t Give Up,” look it up here: http://youtu.be/uiCRZLr9oRw because the video is beautiful. Kate Bush sings the chorus about not giving up as she holds the singer through an entire night and day passing in the sky behind them.

    • DR

      Oh those songs are so perfect, what a lovely comment. :D

    • Cori

      Thank you for sharing your story!

  • spinetingler

    “Oh, by the way, I hear voices, fancy ladies and enjoy cask ales too much,”

    A good number of the people that come to parties at my house are known for some combination of those. Welcome to the club.

  • Letter Writer

    Hello everyone,

    I just wanted to say a big thank to you all for your kind words and the love you’ve shown me. I’ve read every comment and it was an emotional but very worthwhile experience. Just thank you all from the bottom of my heart (sometimes cliches say it perfectly well) and I shall be making to sure to listen to the suggested music and visiting the suggested websites tonight!

  • Amy

    Hello dear letter-writer – just wanted to say that you are a gloriously beloved child of God and are worthy of hope, help, and happiness in every area of your life.

  • mk edwards

    Hello Precious Child…

    As the mother of four teenagers, I wish I could hold you and rock you and comfort you from heartbreak. But, like with my own kids, I cannot. Instead, I anoint you with resilience, and enrobe you in peace. I see you as a warrior. You are brave and so strong. I love that when you needed help, you asked. Continue to seek the light. You are worthy and loved.

  • Judy

    Dear letter writer,

    You are a very strong person to have made it this far with the incredible burden you bear. With no one around for support, it’s even harder. My hat is off to you; you are a Survivor.

    First and foremost, you are a child of God. You hear voices, you are a lesbian, you like cask ales a bit too much, and God loves you. I’m sure you have gifts and talents in addition to the other things. While you can’t pretend you’re different (and please don’t!), try to take a holistic view of yourself: You hear voices, you are a lesbian, you like cask ales a bit too much, God loves you, and…? You are musically talented? Artistic? You are intelligent? You love to work with children, adolescents, the elderly? What else is there in you? Never forget that you are more than your mental illness or your sexual orientation. Try not to define yourself by your scars alone, but also by your innate gifts and talents.

    I do understand how hard it is to talk to people when you have mental illness and when you’re gay. You can’t just pretend it isn’t there, but maybe you don’t have to come out in the first few encounters. Establish a relationship first, then bring it up if you need to. Support and friendship are so important.

    I too have lived with depression all my life. I once almost committed suicide by jumping off a bridge, but some people talked me down. I never heard voices, but some people think the spiritual experiences I’ve reported are the same thing as mental illness. Please believe me: it gets better. You may need medication or talk therapy. I have done both. I highly recommend talk therapy, and cautiously recommend meds. Some of the newer ones can make you worse instead of better, so you need to find a psychiatrist who understands your particular kind of illness. A therapist would be able to recommend someone. If you don’t have the money, maybe your church could help? Or your family or friends?

    It really does get better. Life really does get better. If someone had told me this 35 years ago (I’m now 55), I wouldn’t have believed them, but it’s true. Please hang in there.

  • Tina Brauer

    Sweet young lady, you are loved. You are loved by people that you don’t even know yet, they are there. Depression on top of another mental health issue is such a struggle. I know depression. It hurts. It feels hopeless. But there is always hope in Jesus. Always. When you are at your darkest moment, reach out for him. He doesn’t mind your anger, he understands. As for your sexual identity, it is you, it is part of you and never be ashamed of that. Unfortunately, our world has misguided and ignorant people that you have to deal with on a daily basis I am sure. I am so sorry that they have hurt you and will continue to try. Feel the love from everyone here and know that you have a safe haven. I will pray you find a haven close to you physically also. Hugs and prayers and love are sent your way.

  • Lindsay Chance

    Dear Friend,

    You are loved. You are cherished. I am blessed to have heard a small part of your story.

    “Oh, by the way, I hear voices, fancy ladies and enjoy cask ales too much,” is a great line – I think that you should continue to write. I listen to music when I am feeling depressed, but writing is usually the way I come back from that depression. It is therapeutic for me. With your writing ability expressed above I bet you could start a blog and have followers (me for one) who would learn from your experiences and create another type of community and support for you.

    Blessings to you.

  • Cori

    Dear Beautiful Child of God,

    I am just stopping by to tell you that you are made in the wonderful, beautiful, joyous image of God and to encourage you to step into the light and be ALL that God has created.

    When my youngest daughter was a freshman in college, her best friend was a young man who happened to be gay. My daughter was the only one in whom he confided. She was with him as he came out. She was with him as his father disowned him and his mother went through denial. She was with him when other friends turned away. When he was coming to stay overnight with us on his way to his new college, she confided in me ahead of time about his sexual orientation. We had a wonderful evening of fellowship and love. I couldn’t have been more proud of my daughter.

    I had never considered myself prejudice in any way (my kids think I am adopted, because my parents are very much so). But I decided to put myself on a journey to make sure that I was walking the walk and not just talking the talk. I discovered, as I said above, that we are ALL made in the perfect image of God. I believe that it is a fallacy that someone would choose to be gay. What I saw this young man go through, NO ONE would ever CHOOSE! There are many of us out here that would embrace you and tell you that you are not alone in this world. At my daughter’s college, when a new year started, a new freshman wrote F** on a young woman’s door. The result was 400+ kids marching that very night in support of that young woman….. including the President of the college! Both of those students found out the kind of college they were attending!

    My middle daughter is struggling with the church also. She is 34 and unmarried. She wants to marry, but does not date because of many fears in her life. Because of this she was also drawn to the church. She was raised as a Catholic and everyone thought that she would be a nun (Since my divorce, all of my children and myself have left that church). She then went to the Church of God. She was happy there for a while, but she had more issues pertaining to guilt (unfounded) than that church would deal with. When a young man joined the church that had verbally sexually abused her in the back of a bus once and threatened her, she was told if she didn’t or couldn’t forgive him and move on, she couldn’t possibly be saved. SHE left.

    She recently started going to another church. She came back this past Sunday in tears. She has declared that she is no longer a Christian. She believes in an angry, vengeful, judgmental God who is sitting in Heaven just waiting for her to make a mistake (unfortunately, so does her father). The preacher said, “If you are not obedient to God, you are not saved”. She believes that God has been asking her to give up writing (for which she has an amazing talent and true desire) and start to learn the keyboard (NOT do both). I have never had God come down and stand in front of me and speak to me. I don’t know how someone is 100% sure that God is telling them something. I always believed that if God gave me a talent, He expected me to use it. I think sometimes when we get to a fork in the road, we struggle way to much with God’s will. If they are both good choices, God will bless both and use both to accomplish what He will. I believe as Thomas Merton said that the fact that I want to please God, pleases God.

    Please know that life is a struggle… there are down times. But those times are also followed by good times. I remember reading a book once that said that the angels in Heaven look upon us with wonder, because we CHOSE to come here and experience this crazy world – kind of like going to university. I encourage you to find someone to talk to – a friend, a group or even therapy with the right therapist (someone you can really relate to). Or come visit us here. If you choose to stay in an organized religion, find one that is all-inclusive and loving, one that is not trying to change the wonderful child of God that He made! I apologize for the length of this, but God had me write! Gentle hugs!

  • http://fatherlearningtolove.blogspot.com/ Geoff Glenister

    Dear Sister,

    My heart breaks for you. I wish I could be there to pray with you and embrace you and listen for the soft, gentle words of the Holy Spirit together. There is NOTHING wrong with you – you are the beautiful creation of the great mystery that is God, and He/She (I believe that God is both and neither) made you in His image. I pray that you will experience and feel this love, and that it will then flow through you out into the world and shine as a light in the darkness. I know it hurts, and I know it is a temptation for you to feel angry towards the fundamentalist version of Christianity you have come into contact with. But as a personal testimony, I will say that I was once quite fundamentalist. I grew up in that culture, and I was good at it – I had many Bible verses memorized, new my five points of Calvinism by heart, and could argue with the best of them. And I was so empty and lonely. My faith was not something that freed me and made me whole – it was a weight around my neck. When I argued with people who disagreed with me, it was because of this deep hurt; this deep loneliness inside me; this emptiness and deep longing to be whole. So as much as they are hurting you with their words and attitudes – and I hate to think about how they much it must sting – know that they are just as empty inside, and that’s why they do these things. I pray that you will come to know the self-emptying love of Jesus, and through it you will become whole and that this love will then spill out of you like a river wash out over those around you who are empty and alone. Trust me on this: GOD LOVES YOU SO MUCH!

  • Maureen Jones

    Dear letter writer,

    My heart aches for your pain and loneliness. Don’t give up on yourself or God’s plan for you. You may well find the sense of belonging in volunteering a few hours of your time to a charity or civic project that you find meaningful. Tutoring or reading programs through the public library or a youth organization may be for you. Visiting elderly people in retirement homes or care facilities can make a huge difference in a person’s life. Get out there and connect with another human being who is in need also. Animal shelters also need help and animals give so much back when given love.

    My point is that you are special and have been bestowed with gifts you may not have discovered yet. There are people who will value, appreciate, and benefit from your presence in their lives. You will not have to look hard to find them.

    God bless you!

  • http://www.darkforestlight.blogspot.com Helen Ann

    Dear friend,

    You are loved

    You are loved

    You are loved.

    Just. As. You. Are.

    I’m so sorry that you are feeling this way. I understand chemical imbalances – I contended with anxiety and depression for many years and sometimes still have episodes of it. I know that you will find healing for that as I did and I pray that the healing begins right now, today.

    While out walking the dog today, I asked Papa to tune me into Him…While Sketch stopped to check something out, I noticed the minute detail and variety that God put even in a patch of ‘grass’ and he reminded me that the only reason some things are known as ‘weeds’ is because people say they are. Papa reminded me that He doesn’t actually make anything for the purpose of disposal the way that people do…. His ways aren’t ours and he desires for all of us to see ourselves and others with the loving eyes of Christ – valuable to The Creator without reserve, worthy of everything that heaven has to offer, a reflection of the glory of God.

    David Crowder wrote a song called ‘Glorious’ – a kind of prayer that says:

    “You make everything glorious

    You make everything glorious

    You make everything glorious

    And I am Yours.

    What does that make me?”

    Enjoy your gloriousness!

    Helen

    • DR

      Wow this is so powerful.

  • Sophia

    Dear sweet heart,

    It sounds as if you feel very alone, which is so very hard. We all long for community, for a friend, to be heard and loved exactly for who we are. I could say, “you are loved” and you for sure are by God, but I suspect that you long to be loved and heard by a human sitting across from you.

    I noticed that you said, ” I am so scared of reaching out to other Christians because I fear…” To which I say, why Christians then? There are many types of people who would like to love and accept you. It’s not about the label they fall under. It’s about how you feel when you’re with them. Find someone who is not scared to share who they are. Find someone who seems to accept and love himself. And then take a step towards sharing who you are with them. I think you might find that people often return openness with openness. And love, with love.

    Perhaps part of your loneliness is that you are separated from yourself. You have these stories about yourself that you are afraid to share and so you hide them away, afraid that you’re not good enough. You may find one day that it feels good to be accepted by others, but that it’s only a bandaid. What we truly long for I think, is to be loved and accepted by ourselves. So how to get there? begin by standing on a rock facing the ocean and yelling who you are to the world! And declare that it is good. Everything else will look like rejection until you can look at yourself and say, “I love it all. I’m perfect just the way I am”. And sweet heart, you are. So look at your face in the mirror and just allow it in this one moment to all be ok. Just allow it.

    xoxo Sophia

  • Cindy

    Many kind words to you, my anonymous friend. My gay daughter is probably about your age and suffers with anxiety and is attention deficit, inattentive type. Honestly, I’ve framed the same question you’ve asked God, “wasn’t one or two of these enough?” But in the end I trust God to take care of her. He created her the way she is for a reason–(and one reason is her bottomless compassion). Listen to these other people who speak so much more eloquently than I do, and be comforted by the number of people here who support you and will undoubtedly say a prayer for you tonight! You are on the right path and you keep looking. You will find community. Look for a PFLAG group–you might find one associated with a church. Keep reading this blog! And God bless you and keep you. Hope you sleep well tonight :-)

  • Lisa

    Hi, honey –

    I’m a little older than you, old enough to be your mother. And I’m more familiar with what you’re feeling than I’d like to be. Not 100% – the only voice I hear in my head is my own – but the scars, I have. And while there aren’t voices, there are hallucinations, visual and aural. I have landed in the hospital a couple times. No one asks me about the scars. Not even my family. I don’t think they want to know.

    It can be hard in the best of circumstances to find someone who accepts you as you are. When you add more issues, everything gets compounded. Know this – You are loved. You are not alone. You are beautiful just as God made you, voices and all.

    The being loved and not alone? I don’t mean just by God. There are others in your position, others who have your questions and confusion, who have seen what was being taught in some churches and thought “this doesn’t seem right.” As I said, I may not be able to relate to your exact issue, but being different and feeling unacceptable, because of things you have no control over? Yes, that I do understand.

    You are loved.

    You are not junk.

    You are not alone. Promise.

  • Carol B.

    Guess what? I hold fantastic arguments in my own head, I also enjoy the company of women, and I need to buy stock in Natural Light….and guess what else? John was right….God CHOOSES to hang out with me….I am his/hers, I am exactly who I was created to be, and I am loved….one more guess what….SO.ARE.YOU!!!!!!

    There is a family of folks here who love you more than you can imagine…we are here to support you, to laugh with you , and to cry with you…as I did when I read your note….you are definitely NOT alone….and none of us choose when, or where, or how we are born. I am sending out good thoughts, prayers if you will, every hour on the hour, beginning at 7 am on August 13 for you, my friend…”take heart, stand up and follow for the Lord wants to meet you!” (from one of Jesus’ own encounters with a blind man)…

    • Cori

      I would be honored to join you in this prayer. Every hour on the hour, we will hold you up in prayer wherever we are in this world :)

      • mk edwards

        beautiful! I’m in from oklahoma!

  • Karen

    Dear letter writer,

    I don’t know you and yet I feel like you and I could be good friends. I love God, have contended with depression and anxiety, and sometimes still struggle with the anxiety part. I grew up in a very conservative environment and when I started to question, it felt like everything was falling apart and that I was so very alone. The good news is that it can and does get better, and that there are Christians and God followers on the other side of this transition in your faith journey who will love you for who you are, regardless of your mental health, your sexuality, or your love for a cask. They might in fact appreciate all three. Please don’t give up. Reach out to others in the community as the previous posters have suggested. There is a picture that I put on my FB page not long back that says “Don’t go where you are tolerated, go where you are celebrated!” The fact that you reached out here tells me that you are stronger than you give yourself credit for and that you are on your way to finding the community you seek.

  • http://earthbound-spirit.blogspot.com Earthbound Spirit

    Dear Letter Writer,

    You are not alone, not alone in your sexuality, not alone in your pain, not alone in your desire for hope and faith – or fear of rejection. The one thing I know, truly know, about God/the holy/divine mystery/whatever name you give to that creative force that move through and sustains all, is that its essence is love. You are loved beyond your ability to imagine or comprehend. Don’t give up on yourself – or on others. Not everyone wants you to just “smile & be happy.” Some of us have been in similar circumstances, or have dear ones who have. It’s hard to find fellowship sometimes – but I encourage you to keep trying. You will find the right place, eventually.

    I have a candle at my desk that I light when someone I know needs prayer/love/to know someone cares. It’s lit now for you. I hold you in the light, holding you in my thoughts and prayers. When I leave my office tonight, I’ll have to extinguish that flame, but know that I’ll continue to hold you in the light of love. May you feel its warmth and comfort.

  • jmo

    Dear One,

    You are not alone in your struggle. The human condition abounds with loneliness. Many kind and true words have been spoken to you about how much you are loved and your worth, which is more than gold. I have another thought or perspective for your pain. First of all, God never wants us to be completely at ease in this world. This is not our final destination. Jesus, who was rejected by His own people, knows your every sorrow. Continue to search, reach, grow, struggle, learn, fail, succeed, and love. Not all Christians condemn homosexuals. Christ never called us to perfection, but to Him. He knows your inner self, desires, and dreams. He created you and would never judge you for being the product of His own creation. I will pray for your storms to be calmed, just as He commanded the sea to be calm. He can do the same for you. Much love, peace, and light coming your way, sweet girl.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X