Last week there was a knock on my door. It was my neighbor. “Hey could you come out here? There’s a sink hole forming next to your house.” It turned out to be our main sewer line. The 100 year old pipe was disintegrating, and our driveway would have to be dug up and the old pipe replaced. It would cost thousands of dollars and lots of inconvenience.
I kept thinking over the last couple of weeks, I wish I’d never gotten that knock on my door.
Which was so silly because it was there with or without the knock. Right in my very foundation, creating fumes and backups for months on end. It was so obvious, but I wanted to ignore the work, the very raw gut wrenching work that was needed to clean out the deep recesses of my home.
A few years ago my sister started dating a woman. She took me on a walk with a view of the shining sea and told me she was in love. I hugged her and told her I was SO happy for her, and was genuinely overjoyed to see my little sister happy. I got to know her girlfriend bit by bit and adored her too. It’s gotten to the point that I am bummed when my sister hangs out with the family without her…bothered when they are apart. I want them together forever. My boys already call them aunties. When my sister asked her girlfriend to marry her it was exactly the right thing. They are family.
So when I found out that people wouldn’t come to the wedding because my sister is gay my heart sank. The best way to describe the feeling I had is like when you’re a little child and you get in trouble, but you didn’t know what you did was wrong. My heart pounded, I couldn’t breathe. These were some of the most loyal, loving aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.. People I had spent every holiday with, grown up going to church with every Sunday, loved ones who had driven miles to celebrate me when I had accomplished something, written me notes of encouragement or gifted me when I was going through hard times. And they had come to my wedding. But they wouldn’t do the same for my baby sister.
I could write paragraphs telling you how much my sister deserves to be celebrated. A girl who has seriously done so much for others I don’t even know HOW. She would do ANYTHING for another person. And does! She’s chosen a life of service to the marginalized. She’s been a light to anyone who has crossed her path. And so have my parents! Whether hosting dinners, gifting money to those in need, or being an ear when friends are going through hard times. When they invited family to come to their daughter’s beautiful wedding I could not believe the answer could ever possibly be no.
And it was so hard to see the grief it caused.
It was like the knock on my door. I didn’t want to believe that my foundation, my roots, were disintegrating. I didn’t want to dig down and find that so much was broken. I’ve ignored the fact that I was raised in an environment that hates the other. In my head I can hear the responses to that last statement. “no, no…hate the sin, not the sinner. You can still love gays…be in the world, but not of it.” All the while never brushing shoulders with those they supposedly loved, causing damage by trying to convert them to something they weren’t born as, or being repulsed by gender fluidity. This day and age’s Samaritans.
But all of this was hidden deep beneath niceties and passive comments. Nobody had to talk about their beliefs or make statements until my sister’s wedding invitation went out. And then the real work of understanding what love for another really meant came about. Everything backed up and my foundation was shaken.
There was a very clear moment in my youth when I thought, I don’t have to think about this because it’s not close to me…Then I said to myself, “I don’t want that to be the case. If I have a child that is gay, I want them to know that I will love them no matter what before they come out.” It ended up being my sister. But it could be one of my sons. It could be a grandchild. 10% of the population is gay. You do the math. Imagine being a teen who hasn’t come out. Imagine your grandparents decide not to go to your aunts wedding because she’s gay. Or your parents. Or a sibling. Would you feel comfortable being who you really are around them?
If you refuse to go to a gay wedding you’re making a statement not just to that couple, but to anybody close to you who might be gay. “I love you…except not that part of you. I love you, but not enough to try to understand how hard the world is to your people, and how my lack of love is contributing to the problem. I love you, but I refuse to see you in a wedding dress walking down the aisle. I love you, but I want jewels in my heavenly crown and you’re not part of my heaven.” Do you really love them?
Heaven starts here and now. Be present. And if it isn’t one of your own, help support those whose family are gay. They want to love their son or daughter and see them walk down the aisle without the shame and guilt of half their family and close friends shunning their child. Silence is hurtful.
Love is showing up. Whether your own personal beliefs are in alignment or not. Religious people may say I don’t know wrong from right, but I do know what is right in front of me: I saw God in each dear, precious soul who DID come to my sister’s wedding. Friends and family came even though siblings, parents, and spouses would not. My sister in law’s father wouldn’t come, so an entourage of friends walked her down the aisle. The beauty of that moment was like no other. They loved those girls with all their hearts. Not despite, but because love knows no judgement. It knows no bounds. It doesn’t even consider, “Hey what do I really think about this?” When it comes to two people pledging faithful love for one another, it shouldn’t matter what you think. It’s between them and God. And then my dad, who patiently took time to unravel his upbringing and understand and know my sister when she first came out, proudly walked his daughter down the aisle. With her long curly hair, fairy princess dress, and pink vans. He was a part of his little girl’s most special day.
I was thanking one of our closest friends from childhood during the reception, who I know has different beliefs, saying how much it meant to me personally that he came to my sisters’ wedding and he said, “Hey…It’s family, right?”
That’s. my. family.
The waters have never run more clear.