Honestly, I don't come to the third chapter of John expecting to find wisdom on my coming out process. It's... just not what I expect. Let me tell you my history with this chapter. When I was a young adolescent a cousin invited me to her Pentecostal, 'bible-believing' church. John 3:16 was the text on which the preacher hung his finely-honed argument that most of us listeners were going down to the pit, but those of us with enough faith in Jesus might-- might-- be saved. It all hinged on this verse, which eventually became a favorite of football-fans everywhere.
In college a church choir in which I was singing did an anthem based on the text in which I was, for the first time, made aware of verse 17: 'For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.' Huh. That verse had a distinctly universalist feel to it that I couldn't shake.
Yesterday I spoke of my love of Jesus' encounters with all sorts of folks in this gospel. That became the main prism through which I read this passage until this morning.
I should set the stage. Yesterday I had an experience of fear-- real fear-- for the first time since embarking on this emotional and mental plan of coming out. I came out of a staff meeting at my church literally shaking. It was the calendar. We were going through the calendar for the next month and a half and I started to take note of good days and bad days to meet with the church council, to send the letter. By the end of the meeting I was so shaken that I retreated to my office to have my lunch and engage in such automatic tasks as I could handle.
I called a few friends. I called Beloved. I eventually centered myself for the rest of the day, which included time spent with the congregation in the context of our Lenten series.
Last night I ate. I had a full-on binge. I haven't spoken much about my food here of late, but fear and anxiety are not helpful to the project of abstinence.
This morning I awoke feeling somewhat ill. I settled myself for my morning prayer, and John 3:16-21 was the lectionary gospel.
And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God. ~ John 3:19-21
Those who do what is true. I believe remaining closeted sends the message-- whether I intend it to or not-- that I believe I am engaging in 'evil deeds'. If I believe that what I do is true... if I believe I have nothing to be ashamed of, in my orientation or in my relationship... my only option is to come into the light. To walk in and say, Here I am: a beloved daughter of God who desires to continue to serve this congregation.
I expect to walk through days and weeks of fear in the coming weeks. But I must get my abstinence in order first. I must have a clear head in order to go into this process strong and confident and bathed in the love of God. I must not, cannot, go into it a wreck.
So... thank you for your presence here. I ask you to pray for me, to pray for the congregation I serve, to pray for Beloved and my family. And... let it be clearly seen that our deeds are done in God.