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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What I’m Reading Today: Matthew 24:1-22

On most days, I am an extremely positive upbeat person. I’m the kind of person who can typically find a silver lining in any grey cloud. “Bring on those gray clouds, baby,” is my usual response.

This morning, that ability is seriously being called into question. Let me tell you why that is.

You see my partner Mike and I have been on an emotional roller coaster for the past 10 days. Ten days ago we got excited when a federal judge lifted the ban on same gender weddings by declaring Proposition 8 unconstitutional.

For the first time in our 9 years together, we thought we would have the opportunity to get married. A week later, things got frustrating when the same judge who lifted the ban decided not to immediately allow same-gender marriages to resume in California; he gave opponents a week to make their case.

“That’s okay, it’s for the best,” we told ourselves. “It will allow opponents to be heard so that marriage can really resume on August 18.” We started making plans to file the paperwork for our marriage on Mike’s birthday (August 27).

Then, just yesterday, the Federal Appeals court decided to suspend the decision indefinitely. This means the earliest any action can be taken will be next year. There’s a chance that it might take longer as the case works its way to the Supreme Court. Ugh!

As someone who has been out for 18 years, I have lived through many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many frustrations and setbacks in the struggle for basic human rights. Sadly, I’ve had to get use to the fact that while members of the LGBT community are expected to contribute to society in the same ways everyone else is expected to contribute (i.e. jobs, taxes, and civic responsibilities/duties) we get a fraction of the legal rights. I don’t like that reality, but it’s one I’ve learned to live with. And yet no matter how patient I try to be, I – like everyone – have a breaking point. I felt like I was teetering very close to that breaking point last night when I first heard the news.

And what words lay before me this morning as I brought my anger and frustration to my time of devotion?

Words from the 24th chapter of Matthew that point its audience toward the culmination of days. The culmination of times won’t be pretty, the author(s) of Matthew suggest. “It will be dog-eat-dog, everyone at each other’s throat…” As one of the dogs who has felt attacked, I can certainly relate. And expressions of love? There will be “nothing left of their love but a mound of ashes.” This morning I know all too well how that must feel.

Just as I was about to lose myself into the darkness of the clouds, along came the very words I most needed to hear. “Staying with it – that’s what God requires. Stay with it to the end. You won’t be sorry…”

While a part of me could have used warmer, fuzzier language that reminded me of the depths of God’s love for all of God’s children, I realized those words are enough. That’s because those words are grounded in the sort of stark reality I (and tens of thousands of other Californians) are feeling this morning. The words are not Pollyannaish words that would overlook our pain or frustration. Not at all! In fact, they recognize the presence of that pain – and yet tell us to hang on through the pain. Something better is ahead.

Perhaps you have been facing your own experience of debilitating pain. The pain could be emanating from any number of directions (i.e. the recent loss of a loved one, a broken relationship, economic frustrations, etc.) If that’s the case, hold on to those culminating words from the passage: “stay with it to the end. You won’t be sorry.” By enduring the pain and setbacks, you will find a way to let something else besides the pain and suffering be the end of your story: hope and love!

Til next time …

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