Thursday, March 5, 2009

Lent Day 8: Those Who Do What Is True

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.


Josephine- said...

Cecilia you are definitely in my prayers.

August said...

Wow. The most powerful Lenten post yet, I think. Which, given the excellence of the others, is really, really saying something.

Thank you so much for sharing this. I'm sorry you binged, and so hopeful that you woke up the next morning to such profound insights from John. It's incredibly powerful seeing the scriptures through your eyes lately.

Suzer said...

Many, many prayers headed your way, Cecilia. And if there's anything at all I can do beyond that, I trust you will let me know.

Abstinence may be one thing that can help you feel grounded throughout this, so I hope you will be able to re-embrace that for the gift it is. Recovery is never perfect, and we often falter, but there is a comfort in regaining one's sanity (so to speak) around food. I pray that this will become easier, even as the stress and anxiety may grow.

Anonymous said...

Dear Cecilia,
I will certainly pray for you and your loved ones. I can't speak to your unique experience but I can tell you that in my experience, despite the fear and uncertainty of the process, once it was over, I never felt freer in my life! I have never felt more true, more whole. I, too, was very worried about losing my ministry. It didn't happen. Looking back, I can see the terrible cost to me of not being open about who I am: high blood pressure, overweight, stress, all manner of problems. I am much happier and healthier now. My best to you and yours. Blessings.

Sophia said...

Oh, dear one, thank you so very much for sharing yourself with us here. I will indeed pray for you even more than ever. Asking Perpetua and Felicitas to as well--their feast is in a couple days and their story has so many resonances with yours (and mine, which is one reason I love them so).

Please be very gentle with yourself about the food struggle...I honor your desire to stay with your program, and your instinct that that can help you stay grounded and centered as you undertake this brave and important work. But judging yourself harshly for slips, especially during such a stressful time, could also weaken your confidence in God's love and your own goodness. And those are two essential things you are claiming by coming out as the Spirit leads.


Songbird said...

Hugs and prayers, C.

Kate said...

Oh, bless you, and you are always in my prayers! You inspire me, do you know that?


AJ said...

I pray for you and yours. That you might feel God with you. And if not the feeling the faith to know God does not leave us.

jsd said...

In times of stress and distress, I fall back on this prayer - this version is meant to be said with an anglican rosary:
Lord, you know well what I desire, if it be your will that I have it - or if it benot your will - Good Lord, do not be angry, for I want nothing save what is your will.

God, of your goodness, give me yourself; for you are enough for me.

Thy will be done.

I pray that I may be healthy in body, mind, and spirit.
I pray that I may love and be oved.
I pray that I may triumph over temptation.
I pray that I may live in peace and harmony with all your creation.
I pray that I may be your faithful servant.
I pray that I may live in you in this life and with you in the life to come.

And all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.

Peace and discernment to you.

Anonymous said...

Looking ahead to preaching on March 22, I googled "do what is true and come to the light" because it is part of the Gospel for March 22. Your Closeted Pastor site was the first hit, and it is indeed a blessing. I am out, but have just gone through trememdous changes as I have left a relationship of 25 years to seek a new life, and I have not yet told the congregation I serve as a priest. So I feel like I am "in the closet" once more. It seems there is never a good time to share my journey with my flock. Be assured you will be in my prayers in the weeks ahead. What can this passage say to us -- Those who do what is true come to the light? I think it is that as we continue to love mercy, seek justice and to walk humbly, God will provide strength, blessings and abundant love. So, take courage! A Sister in Christ....