James over the past several months has become a very dear friend of mine and I am extremely thankful for this guest post he has done here on the The Whiskey Preacher! You can listen to James’ podcast interview he did with me some months back entitled, Gay Conversations With God. Be sure to also checkout James’ website, Gay Conversations!
A Bridge to Impossible Shores
By James Langteaux
Today I have been thinking a lot about shapeshifting.
For those of you who haven’t been schooled in the dark arts, shapeshifting is that unique spiritual gift (usually a gift employed by witches, warlocks and the occasional Greek god or Disney character) whereby a person can change his identity or gender, or even species if the need arises.
Earlier this morning I was reading a post by a good friend, Chad Estes, who had quoted something I had said recently in the L.A. Weekly about living in congruence – the idea where you may live authentically in every area of your life, where you can live the way you were meant to – right out in the open and in the light. To live a life of love and a life that is fully free.
Chad went on to say that if I had spoken this from a pulpit most Christians would stand and applaud and shout ‘amen’ but because I had written it for an L.A. Weekly story during Gay Pride week, it will go unnoticed from the church going crowd.
It was then that my yearning for the gift of shapeshifting took full form.
I had lived in the Christian world hiding the gay card up my sleeve for many years. I’m not foolish enough (or maybe butch enough) to believe that I had anyone really fooled. I just employed the, “Don’t ask don’t tell” strategy to my advantage – enabling me to move in and out of gay and Christian circles without too much trouble. I was doing a little modified shape shifting – maybe being a little more Christian sounding in some circles and a little more gay in others. Rarely would the worlds collide – and I worked really hard on making that game a reality. Often with good results, taking a little Jesus to people who hated that name and taking a little love and compassion to the people who hated the gays.
But after busting out of the stuffy closet on April Fools Day – with an obnoxious little book called Gay Conversations with God – I realized that now its impossible for me to do the gay-straight two step. I’m now all decked out in a gay ball gown and I can’t really go back. At first, I was thrilled by this idea. To never have to deal with narrow minded Christians ever again! I win!!
But that isn’t what Jesus did. He experienced no end of frustration with the religious bigots and judgmental goons who surrounded him. I’m sure there was even a small child singing “ain’t no homo gonna make it in to heaven” from the temple steps, way back then.
But Jesus didn’t toss this difficult lot to the wind.
He continued to love. And He worked really hard at being a bridge to impossible shores – modeling authentic love to the religious, by loving outcasts, sinners and whores.
He even did His own share of shapeshifting – when the religious crowds were ready to stone him or knock him off a cliff, he just shifted shape and eluded their attack. How amazingly cool is that?
So, today I wish I had the shapeshifting gift. Not because I’m being backed to the edge of a giant ravine, but because I have a message of love for the religious, the haters and the flamboyant drag queens.
I want to reach them all, but I feel limited by my new gay label and that label makes me feel small. Oh to be able to be all things to all men – living incongruently when needed so I could make my enemies my friends.
Then it hit me.
There is no need for a pity party. We all are limited by our current shapes. When an amazing corpulent pastor tries to share the love of God with a fitness bastard – he is judged. “How can you tell me how to live when you can’t even control your weight?” Dismissed in an instant because of his shape.
Or tattoos, piercings and unusual attire. Dismissed. Ignored or even fired.
Judgment extends well beyond being gay. And shape shifting is a gift that I just don’t have today. And you probably don’t either.
So as much as I wish I could stand in front of a church filled with haters and fools – a group of people who ignore the great command to love – while embracing all of their rules –
I know that I must do my part with the tribe I have been called to reach. I must live congruently in my new shape – and authentically love from my core –the group of people God has placed in my care. Even if many of us are just outcasts and whores.
And I will call on my brothers and sisters who have a more acceptable shape – one that is welcomed in churches with judgmental pastors and mean old gay bashers, to carry Jesus’ message of authentic love for ALL of his kids.
No matter their shape.
Will you help me be a bridge to impossible shores? We have a giant chasm that lies between judgment and grace and so little time to live outside of our authentic shapes.
Whatever those shapes may happen to be – our authentic love, HIS authentic love – flowing through our crazy, current shape – will help set captives free.