I love LOVE LOVE the experience of GCN Conference. I absolutely love all the people there. I loved connecting with people one-on-one. I loved all the hugs of dozens of moms in our moms groups. I loved meeting their husbands. And kids. I loved reaching people’s hearts through my healing workshop and their minds through my advocacy workshop. I loved the feedback I heard from Rob’s Dads workshop. I loved deep and intimate connections, and I love thought-provoking conversations. I love that I am part of a deeply loving, embracing, spiritual community.
As a card-carrying extravert, I had more energy at the end than the beginning. I loved every single minute!
As I looked back over the weekend, I realized why I loved it: it was all about community.
Here are my top 5 takeaways from yet another spectacular conference.
- We NEED safe community.
Joshua flew 5000 miles to attend, so he could have a place to be himself. He poured his heart out in this safe place, he had heart-rending conversations, and he had countless hugs. I know—I gave him probably a dozen myself!
Community is not just a want or a nice thing, and certainly not a reward for good behavior. While life—and love—is full of risk, community is meant to be a respite from physical, emotional, and spiritual battering, not the cause of it. Community is the way we are designed to live.
- We can make our own community.
This GCN Conference has become a family reunion for those who come year after year to relax, to connect with friends, to get a Mom hug or Dad hug. And they make connections that go on during the rest of the year.
When family has forsaken you, or you’ve had to leave them for your own wellbeing, you still get to have family. You get to put it together from the people in your life who love and embrace you as you do for them.
- Community is all about inclusion.
The GCN Conference includes gays, lesbians, transgenders, bisexuals, straights, allies, moms, dads, siblings, and others. We are liberal, conservative, apolitical, introverts, extraverts, Christians of countless denominations, and non-Christians. And we all get along just fine. Really.
In addition to the male and female restrooms, there were all-gender restrooms. And not a single person was threatened or hurt.
Even in Houston.Everyone has value, and we have no right to exclude certain types of people, based on our preconceived ideas. We need not agree on our theology or our biology or on how we live out our lives. We can disagree and remain in loving community anyway. Not just at GCN but in life.
- And, we have choice.
When someone has hurt us or rejected us, we have no obligation to go back for more. We talked in my healing workshop about the micro-aggressions and larger aggression we experience daily on this topic.
Human beings have the right to recognize and reject verbal and physical assault from others. We get to draw boundaries from hurtful relationships, and we get to move into loving community and stay there.
- ALL are created in God’s image.
However hurt—or hurtful—someone may be, they carry God’s image. I love the trans man who poured out his heart about his pastor father who simply will not understand. I love the trans woman who has had to struggle with an ex-wife (from before the transition) and children. I love the pastor who has moved his congregation along a God-directed journey toward full inclusion.
I love the parents out en masse to love and affirm the hundreds of LGBTQ whose parents will not or cannot do it. I even love the nonaffirming Christians who simply don’t see what they don’t see, also made in God’s image… though when people use God as a weapon, I will protect those they condemn and dehumanize, just as Jesus did and calls us to do.
It’s all about community, people, real community. With people in it. And conversation. And love.
Yep, this is happening.
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