Finding Harmony Amongst Dissonance
Today was the day. It seemed Andrew’s whole life had been building up to this one, possibly fantastic but probably catastrophic conversation. A year ago today, he had almost revealed himself amongst some friends. It would have been too early, too unexpected. But today was different. Today was his sixteenth birthday, and he was going to come out. It’s not that he had only recently become aware of his attraction towards males, or that he had wanted to keep it a secret till now. He wanted to be himself, but he was scared. He was waiting for the right moment. But every time a “good” moment would come along, he’d start to think of everything that would need to happen after, and he’d chicken out. So he set a “best before” date. His whole life was going to change tonight. He hadn’t been able to fall asleep the night before because he kept imagining the hundreds of ways the day could go wrong, and today he rolled out of bed thinking about what would happen if his parents rejected him. Would they kick him out of the house? What if they told him that he didn’t belong at their church anymore?
“Guys, we need to get going or we’ll be late for church!” called his mother from her bedroom, distracting him from his fretting.
“Yep!” replied he and his dad simultaneously.
His parents had always been very loving and encouraging, especially when it came to hockey and school, and they seemed to be generally accepting of homosexual people. But how close is too close for comfort? Andrew wasn’t sure if they’d react differently to their own son coming out, if they’d distance themselves from him emotionally; even if it only lasted a few months. He didn’t want being gay to be good or bad, he just wanted it to be normal.
The three waited impatiently by the door while his sister fixed her hair, and Andrew almost blurted out his secret, just to get it over with. Just as he was began to open his mouth, Kate came running down the stairs, yelling “ok, I’m ready!”
“Finally” groaned Andrew, wondering if they’d have the same sibling interactions when she found out who he really was.
They got to church just as the congregation was being welcomed, and like most Sundays they sat near the front with their family friends. Looking in the bulletin, he saw that the sermon for today was about love, but first they would sing together. As the congregation started singing, the harmonies swirled round the sanctuary, complimenting each other and flirting with dissonance before resolving in accord. The music breathed life into the vibrant stained glass windows, and Andrew was filled with a tremendous feeling of peace and belonging.
“He is jealous for me” sang the congregation. “Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree. Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy”.
How could others claim that God rejects homosexual people, when they sang about His profound love? How could they sing about His beauty and mercy, but then turn around and say that he could never belong? Andrew felt God’s love from his church family and his friends at school, so why were some Mennonites treating gay people as sinners? He could practically hear his grandparents asking him if it was because he’d been abused, or if social media had made him decide to be gay. He knew they believed homosexuals went to hell, and he was sure he’d break their hearts when he told them. Unless of course having a gay grandson changed their perspective, but he knew the chances of that happening were slim.
The hymn ended, and their pastor made his way up to the pulpit for the sermon.
“Three things will last forever – faith, hope and love – and the greatest of these is love” he said, quoting first Corinthians 13:8
“God’s love enfolds you and embraces you in all the mixed-upness of your humanity. Because it is after all, God’s love that we’re talking about. “Continued the pastor. Realizing the power of God’s unconditional love, Andrew knew that even if he was rejected by part of his community, or even his grandparents, he would still have a place of belonging and relationship with God.
“Pursue love. To pursue love is to open ourselves up to the love of God, and choosing to act for the good of others.” concluded the preacher. It didn’t matter if others were reluctant to show him love and acceptance, he needed to open himself to God and his family, and he needed to continue to pursue love in new and existing relationships. His whole body felt like it was humming, his bones were elated. He was ready.
That night at the quiet dinner table, he looked trustingly at his mother’s soft eyes, his father’s steady hands, and his sister’s gentle smile; and he knew that at least for now, he was surrounded by love. As Andrew was about to ask Kate to pass the bread he paused, and deciding to take a leap of faith, said instead: “Guys, I’m gay.