I have another guest post for you today, for the 2014 Queer Theology Synchroblog! This post is by Jamie S Hill. Be sure to check out the other posts in this synchroblog over at the Queer Theology website!
A recently publicly outed Bisexual (God made me do it on Facebook) who is happily married and mother of three and a daughter-in-law, and grandmother of one. Raised a pastor’s kid, I’ve been in this battle a long time.
“If you want to learn how to box, then good footwork is the beginning, the middle and the end.
Footwork is the word used to describe how we move around a boxing ring, being able to change position and approach depending upon what is needed to overcome a particular type of opponent. All of this whilst remaining perfectly balanced. This is not a simple and straightforward thing to do.Footwork, side-stepping and moving in and out , is a primary element of controlling the opponent inside a boxing ring. The side step is a key tactical skill that must become second nature. The move should combine speed and control and be carried out with efficiency. ” –Francis Sands
I realize that the majority of my life has been spent in the fighting ring. Not in competitive boxing. Nothing so glamorous or primal. No; I’ve been perfecting my boxing footwork. Shadowboxing is defined by Mariarm Webster’s Dictionary as “to box with an imaginary opponent especially as a form of training”.
My shadow boxing has been a bit different. From an early age I learned that in church there are accepted behavior and character traits and there are some that are “bad”, “sinful”, “the old man”, “sin nature”. This is not an exhausted list. I’m sure that if you have been in the church long you have your own words you use to describe that part of yourself you try to ignore, especially on Sunday morning. But it doesn’t take much time outside of the church doors before it reemerges.
We spend our energy; not telling others about the love of God, but trying to silence that darker side, that “shadow side”. We find ourselves in a boxing ring; shadowboxing. How many times have I danced around that recurrent sin in my life, trying desperately to land the knock out blow. But I failed. Maybe it was my stance, my technique, or endurance, no matter, the result was always the same. Inevitable failure.
One would like to think that victory can be achieved. It has to be; the scripture says so right?
1Tim. 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
2 Tim 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; 8 in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.
And yet there are verses that cause us concern. Verses that talk about those who were passionate for the cause of Christ struggling in this area.
Romans 7:14 For we know that the law is spiritual; but I am of the flesh, sold into slavery under sin.[c] 15 I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. 17 But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.
21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, 23 but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Just reading that passage gives me a visceral reaction. I’m ring side watching this Godly man shadowboxing and losing. His last phrase sums his battle and mine up perfectly; “but with my flesh I am a slave to the law of sin.” So then, with my mind I am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh I am a slave to the law of sin. I am a contradiction. I am a bisexual believer. I am and have been battling with myself. Will I always be?
Why are we so battered by this shadow side? Why does it seem like growth or victory occurs so seldom? Why can’t we land that knock out punch?
Could it be…just maybe…that we continue to dance in the ring with our opponent for one reason. Could it be that we are to be reminded everyday, at every failure, at every slip and fall on our face, that the trainer in the corner is there. He’s there because he loves us. He sees the potential in us. Not in what we can do with our own skill and strength, but what he can teach us through training and conditioning. But with every failure; when our face is bloody from the battle, while we lay face down gasping to draw air into our lungs, after the finishing blow from the victor–he dances around the ring with his arms in the air. We are to look up at our trainer and see that he’s not finished yet. He has more to teach. More to drill. More to hone. He’s the master, he could knock out the opponent, and in reality, already has, he’s the undefeated title holder but now he coaches us.
See, I simply want him to enter my ring and destroy my opponent. But he tells me no, and then yells, “Get up. Take your stance. Protect the head. Weave. Block. And swing one more time.”
The thing is…it’s not my shadow side I’m fighting with. It’s the enemy of my soul who wants me to categorize myself as ” good” or “bad”. He wants me to believe that if my trainer knew my struggles he would leave me in the middle of a fight, disgusted by what he saw.
The truth is…are you ready to hear this…when he looked on me with love, sacrificed himself, giving his life for my life…he saw my ugly side. The side I try to pray away. He didn’t see the dressed for church, mask well in place to cover any hint of the darkness, depravity, and shame. He saw and loved both sides. The “church lady” and the “strung out hooker”. No, I haven’t used drugs or walked the streets of a city but my heart is defiled. My shadow side wars with my religious side.
But lately I have been thinking that maybe I have it all wrong. Maybe the dance we are to do is a waltz. Watching our frame and hold, staying connected, rising and falling together. The truth is, my shadow side is where my passion resides. Not simply passion, lust, sinful desires, but also my passion, beauty, vitality, and life. If I divorce myself from passion, I lose the part of me that people find winsome, becoming, lovely. It draws attention. Without it I am flat. One dimensional. Life-less. Boring. What about that draws the lost to me? Can anyone even see Jesus in me if I have bottled up the beauty God has given me and hidden it in the basement of my soul.
Isn’t the best commercial for Christ a credible story from a Christian on fire for their savior who remembers that they have not arrived at perfection yet. That God is still in the process of training them, molding them, refining them. The Christian that remembers their brokenness and shares the one who bound up their broken heart; now that is someone that those battered by the world want to spend time with. I know my brokenness, it’s ever before me.
I want to find a new vocabulary for my shadow side. That implies dark, bad, sin. So from now on I’m dancing with my twin. She is not identical but she is blood of my blood, filled with passion, and in many ways the best part of me. She is spontaneous, loyal, daring, and fresh, like the first warm breeze in spring, filled with the scent of life bursting forth from under a thawing winter snow. My faithful follower of Christ dances through life with my bisexual and together, being completely true to themselves, I dance as the music flows from a romantic ballad, to a war cry, to heart breaking melody. I dance on the floor of life circling the floor with others who, like me are joining their Christ follower with their twin. Let’s get out and dance because the music won’t last forever. Let’s get out and dance because there is nothing quite so enthralling as a person lost in the music and lost in the beauty of the dance.