The date of my coming out is fast approaching. I have already come out to several people as part of my process of preparing for the date.
I came out to a fellow minister in my local judicatory last summer.
I came out to a local clergy colleague (from another denomination) during Lent. This minister and the one mentioned above are part of my "A-Team," friends/ colleagues/ supporters.
I came out to my dad Easter week. I had a tender and somewhat difficult follow up conversation with him yesterday.
I haven't been sleeping well, he said.
Oh dad, why not? I asked him.
Because, he said, of what you told me. I just don't understand.
Well, I began slowly, What do you want to know?
Well, he said, How did it happen?
Oh dad, I said. Love is love, I guess that's my first explanation. (Then I went on to tell him of seeing Beloved at an art show and asking her for coffee, and then dinner.)
So, he said, it just unfolded naturally?
Yes, I said. (What a perfect word: naturally.)
And then what?
Well, dad, I said, I guess I just fall in love with the person, you know?
Yes, he said, of course. I understand that. You know, I've wanted to ask you if you were dating her. But I just never did. I don't know why.
Well, I think you were respecting my privacy dad. You know, the only reason I didn't tell you before was, I didn't want you to worry. (Not entirely true. But partially true.)
I love you. You're my daughter and I'll always love you.
I love you too dad.
Today I came out to a retired minister who attends my church. I was nervous, talking to Beloved on the phone just before he and I met. We ordered. He prayed. We had our soup. Then my salad and his wrap came. In the middle of my salad I began my story.
He was wonderful. He was better than wonderful. He is willing to do everything he can to help. Everything. He said, I want you to know you have my complete support in every way.
Tonight I was driving between a meeting and dropping my daughter at a lesson, when a strange feeling came over me. I couldn't identify it at first. But gradually I came to recognize it: it was excitement. Excitement is beginning-- beginning, mind you-- to edge out the fear.
I am getting excited by the thought that everyone will know, at last, that I have a lover and she is a woman.
I am getting excited at the prospect of no longer having to hide.
I am getting excited that soon the thing I've been sort of dreading will soon be over. 'Dreading' isn't quite the word... but the fear has weighed down my anticipation of this whole event with something like dread.
I am getting excited. I'm no Pollyanna. I know that the outcome of all this is hidden in a kind of mist. But here are the facts:
I am pastoring a congregation that is bouncing back from several years of decline, and is experiencing life and growth.
I preach the gospel to them. I am trying every day to share with them the good news of God's saving and liberating love for us.
I am engaging in genuine relationships with the members of the congregation.
I am acting as head of a large-ish staff, and doing it well.
I am engaging the congregation in conversations about how to respond to the needs of our community.
I am a leader in our community in other capacities.
I have been gifted and called by God to this ministry, and I still feel the weight of that call. I still want to be their pastor.
I am getting excited.