I sat at my dining room table with a nasty stomachache. I was anxious! I had just been interviewed from our local newspaper about being an open and affirming counseling practice. I am ashamed to say that my initial instinct was “what will people think when they know that I am a straight ally?” I was quick to think about how those in my conservative evangelical community might judge me.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about congruence. In counseling, we encourage our clients to live congruently! This means that our internal thoughts and opinions match our outward expression. Easier said than done when your internal thoughts and opinions may not match the majority around you.
I flipped back to a meeting with pastors I attended at this time last year. They peppered me with questions about my theology. It was wildly uncomfortable, and I felt woefully inadequate even though I am a licensed therapist and seminary educated. I consider myself well read and well versed in theology. I wondered if the onslaught of questions would have occurred if I wasn’t female (another blog for another day). It does seem that females have to “prove” their legitimacy a heck of a lot more than our male counterparts.
I admit I faked it! I smiled, nodded, and agreed when they applauded certain authors that they recommend. “Oh yes,” I cringed, “I have read that author. Truthfully, one of the authors they spoke of I LOATHED. His beliefs about gender and gender roles made and make me crawl out of my skin. However, I sat and dutifully pretended that I was in agreement with the theological premises laid out in the book about women needing to be rescued and men being the knight to do the rescuing.
I was not being congruent and this eventually takes it toll. You can only pretend for so long before you collapse into exhaustion saying “I just wish I could be honest.” I left the meeting feeling empty thinking “if they only knew how I thought TRULY about so many things.”
My journey from being raised in purity culture to being an open and affirming LGBTQIA ally has been long and winding. It has been filled with years of dialogue, books, but most importantly-it was solidified through relationships. The pain of people I love ripped apart from feeling like they had to choose their spirituality or their sexuality. Friends, whatever your belief on this topic is-can we agree that this isn’t how we are called to live?
I have made the decision to be vocal and live congruently about my ally-ship. However, I would be lying if this doesn’t come with anxiety. I am embarrassed to type this because it reeks of my privilege as a cis-gendered white woman. However, I can longer be incongruent. I will no longer sit dutifully while being peppered about my theology and pretend that I am something I am not. I am a progressive therapist who LONGS to create the space for those who have been told that who they are makes the divine love them less.
Beloveds, I will end with this-
The divine lives and breathes in you as it does us all!
Pull up a chair and I’ll pour us some coffee or tea. I have no clue as a straight, married white lady what it is like to navigate being marginalized in a rural conservative community!