Stumbling toward Easter, falling toward grace

Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep.  If my faith should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my blog to take…

In the past 24 hours I have had a few unfortunate run-ins with some of my Christian sisters and brothers that have left me spiraling in a whirlpool of tears, just nigh of giving up. I even briefly fantasized that this would be the last Easter I would celebrate as part of a tribe that wields spiritual abuse with such calculating deftness. Praise be for other sisters and brothers (Mike and R. Jay) who lifted their voices in crystal clear support, offering solid theology of compassion and love in the conversations where my very humanity was stripped to the bone. This afternoon I received a private message on Facebook from Joanna that I can only understand as the in-breaking of the radical grace I blather on about. She has given me permission to share her words – not as a self-congratulatory, self-righteous post but as one that I hope will resonate with others as we stumble toward Easter.

Joanna, your message is most definitely a replenishing drink of grace for the parched heart of this Christian.  You cannot possibly know how very much I appreciate hearing from you.  The holy spirit certainly rushes in when we most need her presence. You are incredibly generous to share glimpses of your journey with me and to allow me to share that with others.  I am grateful to know how my own journey of falling toward grace has impacted your own.

Hi Kim,

I doubt that you remember me, but I graduated from Agnes Scott three years ago. I attended a few of your services there and even tried to attend your online church, but I am hopeless at Second Life.

I just wanted to send you a message to tell you how much your posts and blogs over the past several years have meant to me. I try not to be a “blog-stalker” and comment or repost everything you say, so it occurred to me that you may have no idea of the profound impact you have had on my life.

I grew up in the Southern Baptist Church, and I’ve struggled my whole life with the fact that, because of my sexual orientation, I was clearly flawed, perverted, evil, demented (you name it, I’ve heard it said). As a teenager, I railed the other way; knowing that I couldn’t change who I was, I decided that Christianity and religion must be wrong.

It took a lot of time, soul-searching, and reading to realize that I could be both a Christian and a lesbian. It’s still something I struggle with, especially when I see the vitriolic hate that comes from sects of the Christian faith, but I know what God has put into my heart, and I know that I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

I know this is trite and cliche, and I’m not trying to take up all your time, but this is where you come in. Your blogs and posts opened my eyes up to possibilities I did not know existed — that I could not only be tolerated in the Christian faith, but that denying my identity was to say that God has somehow made a mistake. The profundity of your writing often leaves me in grateful tears or quiet comfort.

Your writing not only opened up and healed a wounded, damaged heart, but your writing has been one of the sustaining forces over the past three years. After college, I moved to Birmingham for law school. Law school is a psychological torture all on its own, let alone being away from my girlfriend for the past three years, meeting all new people, fearfully re-closeting myself for fear of the consequences of being out in a conservative city, and then slowly and painfully coming out to all of them. If I didn’t have such a strong online community reminding me that love is out there, I don’t know that I would have had the courage to stick with it.

Anyway, I didn’t mean to make this an all-about-me letter. What I really wanted to tell you is that I appreciate what you are doing, and I hope that you will continue for many years to come.

By the way, I’ll be moving back to the Atlanta area in May (after graduation!). Any recommendations on churches?

Thank you!

Joanna

 

We really never know all the ways we to touch the lives of others but this day Joanna has blessed me beyond my measure.

Please forgive me if I can’t wait  - Christ is risen, Christ is risen indeed!

 

About Kimberly Knight

Kimberly has a long history of back-pew sitting, Wednesday night supper eatin' and generally trying God’s patience since 1969. She's lucky enough to have made her technology addiction a career and serves as both the Director of Digital Strategy as a southern liberal arts college and Minister of Digital community with Extravagance UCC.

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  • Seth

    Kimberly, I hope you are feeling more encouraged now, and I really hope that you continue blogging. It seems apparent that there are others besides myself who are from the conservative wing of the church. All Christians need thoughtful, kind dialogue on tough issues. Your blog is one of the few that are like this. It’s really needed.

  • http://steveauthieratheisehill.blogspot.ca/ Steve Authier

    Kimberly,
    My heart aches knowing of the troubles you’ve been through in the past few days. I’m glad to read of the encouragement and support you’ve received. You deserve the encouragement. Your heart to love and serve God, as well as others is inspiring. Let me add my words of encouragement to those you’ve received.
    I read most of your posts. I’ve even left a comment once, maybe twice. I’m not sure. I’m a pastor who’s in a faith tradition that does not support the same interpretation of Scriture regarding same gender unions as you do. About a decade ago I moved away from the Catholic Church because of some differences in theology and other issues. Having been a lifelong devout Catholic it was a tough decision to make. However, from it I learned the importance of trying to understand what Scripture teaches, or doesn’t teach. I’ve been doing some research and praying in the past year or so trying to come to terms with where my heart’s at and on what the Bible says or doesn’t say about homosexual unions like yours. I follow your blog because it’s helping me gain a better understanding of what Scritpure says. Don’t give up the fight. Keep on doing what you’re doing. Eventually we will all step into God’s light. I love how you love God, your partner, your children, and how you’re trying so hard to helps those of us who aren’t quite there yet. Please be patient with us. It’s hard to go against years of teaching. Some things are so deeply ingrained into who we are. I pray God will continue to use beautiful people like you to bring us into his light.

  • http://www.rjaypearson.com R. Jay Pearson

    Kimberly . . . you do touch lives. Believe that. You certainly touched mine that day I confessed to how much your words from our “Emergent” Twitter chat later impacted me in a way I would not have anticipated.

    And it’s wonderful to now read Joanna’s words. You’re a blessing for many of us.

    What do you get for being a blessing? The same thing Jesus did: you’ll get abandoned, ridiculed, unfairly prosecuted by theological Traditionalists, beaten, flogged, and treated pretty much like a religious criminal. And all that BEFORE you get a crown of thorns and a couple nails through your hands and feet.

    So consider yourself in good company. And remember that people like me and a lot of others love you (even if many of us have yet to meet you in person). You have a lot of “Simon of Cyrenes” with you to help you carry your cross, Kimberly.

    And all the more fitting, since today is Good Friday.

    So, as you weep and sweat with grief in your own personal Garden of Gethsemane, always be mindful that God’s gracious character is way bigger than many of his children’s graceless theology.

    Love, prayers, and blessings,

    R JAY

  • Joanna Bell

    Hang in there Kim and keep fighting the good fight, you rock :) I’ve been in SL less because of a busy work schedule and family stuff, but I hope to catch up soon.

    JJ (Lucian D)

  • http://akintsugilife.com Kenetha

    Dear Kimberly,

    Thank you for keeping on despite the wounds of fellow believers. I know you must face this so much more often than I do because you and your message are out there so publicly. But as one who, like Joanna, grew up Southern Baptist and has struggled to reconcile being both Christian and lesbian, your words are so very often a light in the darkness that encourages me that it can be done, that not all Christians are hateful, that I can be loved and cherished by God exactly as I am (and not despite it). Thank you for putting yourself out there as a witness to those of us who need it. You are a source of God’s healing grace!

    I’m praying for comfort, strength, and healing for you in the wake of this unfortunate attack.

    Blessings,
    Kenetha

    • Kimberly Knight

      Kenetha,

      Thank YOU so much for your words of support and encouragement. Thank you too for your willingness, just now, to lift your own light so that others may see how much God loves us, love you, loves them. I am humbled by your affirmations and grateful for your presence at the table.

      Grace & Peace,
      Kimberly

  • Steffi

    Kimberly,
    I am so sorry to hear about those hurtful encounters with other Christians you’ve had in the past days (and, no doubt, many times before that). I just want to use this opportunity to say that I, too, enjoy your posts.
    I think your blog will always have the deepest and most meaningful impact on those who are on a journey similar to your own (like Joanna). But I follow your blog precisely BECAUSE my background is so very different from yours: I am a straight European single woman living in the middle of Africa, theologically quite a bit more conservative than you, I don’t know anyone personally who is openly gay, and I don’t even know many Christians who are not evangelical. Reading your blog broadens my horizon and challenges me to see life and God from a different perspective. “People like me” need “people like you”.
    Have a blessed Easter!

    • Kimberly Knight

      Steffi,

      You have blessed me this day more than you can know – tears of humble joy are rolling down my face. Please know that people like ME need people like YOU.

      May your Easter be filled with the grace that knows no end.

      Peace my sister,
      Kimberly

    • Ron

      Amen Steffi, we all do need someone like Kimberly in our lives. Kimberly, do you know why my comments in answer to a commenter on yesterdays entry, is still “in moderation”?

      • Kimberly Knight

        Ooo, Ron I don’t – have not looked at that but will check right now.

      • Kimberly Knight

        Ah, you had a couple of vocabulary words that I have flagged to allow me to check the context before going live. I am trying to be a little more careful in maintaining a safe space for LGBT folks who are tiptoeing up to faith again…but your comment is live now over on that post.

  • http://www.upsidedowngrace.com Carol Vinson

    Oh my, this is beautiful. I just want to say also that I hope you continue to do this.

    My best friend of 30+ years came out to me in August and I know God lead me to your writing just after that. I’ve gone back and read almost everything! Truly it is helping me to understand what she is going through.

    Thank you!!

    • Kimberly Knight

      Thank you Carol, we really are all in this together and I am grateful you are a part of my journey! Please give your best friend a big ole Easter hug for me!

  • http://patheos Lynette Vann

    I can never express to you Kimberly just how much I enjoy your posts ! I love to see & hear the escapades of your life ! You’re real ! Human ! God bless you ! Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you’re anything less than spectacular! Keep on keeping on !

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight Kimberly

      Thank you so much Lynette! It is because of and with online community that i am able to keep on keepin on. Happy Easter weekend :)

  • Ian Lynch

    Just like Jesus is already born when we celebrate Advent, Chist is already risen while we observe Lent. So it is quite appropriate for you to celebrate the resurrection “early”. It is never too soon to leave the tomb. And while I am sorry you were there, it does provide a front row seat to resurrection!

    And to Joanna, you are not “tolerated” in the church, you are fully welcomed and celebrated. Plus, God has always loved you (and always will) beyond your wildest imagination!

    God bless you both my sisters. Christ is risen indeed!

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight Kimberly

      Your wise words never fail to enrich my faith pastor Ian!

  • Nancy Fowler

    Dropping seeds along the way have a way of growing .

    • Kimberly Knight

      Indeed my friend and I know you drop many grace filled seeds along me way as well.

  • Cath Hollywell

    Dear Kimberly,
    I am SO sorry to read that you’ve been on the verge of nigh giving up. It will never cease to astonish me what we Christians are capable of in attacking and harming others. It’s the eve of Good Friday and if ever there was a day which embodies this, it’s this day.
    I’m sat here in theological college and sometimes this week I’ve wanted to scream. The level of ignorance and childlike adherance to doctrines has been deeply depressing and I’ve wanted to leave and take my ball and bat home. Possibly slamming some doors behind me on the way… you know? Of course you do!
    So why do you or I or anyone else of sound mind and heart wish to be alongside those who behave so unkindly?
    Well its because of the Joannas and the Joes and its to these people you speak Kimberly. They are your church, they are your people and those poor wounded souls who seek to judge you simply can’t and will not understand your voice.
    But do you know what? Many do understand and give thanks for you.
    Tomorrow in the chapel of the The Queens Foundation Theological College, Birmingham, UK, I will pray at the foot of the cross and ask God to surround, guide, strengthen and protect you. God bless you Kimberly for all that you are and for all that you do. Cath xx

    • Kimberly Knight

      Cath,

      Thank you so much for your prayers, your support and love. Thank you too for your witness and ministry across the pond from my little corner of creation.

      Grace and peace sister.

  • Bill Sahlman

    awesome…. AWESOME!

    • Kimberly Knight

      Thanks Bill – thanks from both of us!


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