Sunday, June 28, 2009

Anniversary Post: Every Word Heard

Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name.

                        Malachi 3.16

One Year Ago Today…

I clicked on and spent the better part of six hours figuring out how it worked and if I could transfer what I saw in my head and felt in my heart to a computer screen. Availability of the blog’s name was the first of many surprises, since Googling “straight-friendly” rang up more than 35 million results. This seemed to confirm the blog was headed down the right path. The next hour went to finding a header photo and learning to upload it and lay text against it. Once I got that down, the description flew off the keyboard, because I already knew what Straight-Friendly wanted to be: “a daily devotional for GLBT and other alienated Christians—with occasional personal observations.”

That’s all I knew, though. I had no idea what it would require in terms of personal commitment and time to hammer out a few paragraphs a day. Indeed, little ahead was visible, let alone imaginable. I didn’t see and never dreamed Straight-Friendly would gain the encouragement of far-flung pastors, congregations, and individuals from nearly every denomination. Nor did I see or dream it would bless me with dozens of relationships I will cherish for life. I never saw or imagined how much I would learn and grow from so many who offered so much simply because that’s what Christians do.

When You Showed Up

For six weeks, I cranked out posts with not a comment from anyone other than friends I invited to drop by. Those days in limbo frustrated me, naturally, but in hindsight I understand what was happening. I needed time to develop discipline to pray, meditate, and study, to write day-in and day-out, to learn not to expect responses (to this day, I’m always delighted when one comes in), to go with what I believed instead of anything I saw. The blog needed time to get up on its feet and assume a life of its own. Then, starting in mid-August, you appeared, one by one, many on the recommendation of John Shuck, the amazing pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton, Tennessee. John was S-F’s first new friend, has remained a true friend, and I’ll ever be grateful for his inspiring support, in both word and example.

When you showed up, you held out your hands and opened your hearts and Straight-Friendly suddenly became something far richer. Its mission didn’t change. It still centered on Christ’s doctrine of love. It still urged disenfranchised believers—particularly GLBT ones—to overcome rejection from other Christians. It still searched the Scripture for guidance as we strive to express God’s love and acceptance to others. But once you came, you transformed this echo chamber into a resonant garden. Faith, hope, and love thrived. Joy broke through dark clouds of worry, despair, and intolerance. You made this place safe for all with your gentle humanity and spiritual candor. All it is, and all God blesses it to become, is because of who you are. I love you immensely for that.

Written In His Presence

In this very short year, I’ve discovered when people who love and honor God find one another, we drop everything—differences, inhibitions, and assumptions—to celebrate what ties us together. Like those whom Malachi mentions, we talk with each other. We speak of God’s love and forgiveness, His power and healing, our joy and pain, our hope and confidence. We encourage one another. We rejoice together. We pray side-by-side at the cross. We sing at the empty tomb. We learn and we laugh. The Lord listens closely. Every comment is noted, every emotion felt, every word heard.

What began as a cheerleading site for ostracized believers blossomed into “a scroll of remembrance written in His presence concerning those who fear the Lord and honor Him name.” Straight-Friendly is a very precious thing to me, a living record of friendship and fellowship, of blind love and bold kindness, of earnest searches and thrilling discoveries, of lessons and longing. It astounds me more than I can say but doesn’t surprise me in the least because, as Ephesians 3.20 says, God does “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”

I’ve seen God's power at work in all of you. I’ve experienced the richness of His favor through your love and prayer and support. I’ve felt your strength and marveled at your courage. I pray each of you a bounty of blessings for so vividly conveying the majesty of our God’s miraculous love and light.

Holding every one of you forever in my heart,


You showed up and this echo chamber became a resonant garden.

(Tomorrow: The Strength You Have)

Postscript: "Pride Parade" on Youtube

Cuboid Master asked if I'd post Friday's PFLAG/Welcoming Church "Pride Parade" video on Youtube so she could share it. Here's the link for any of you interested in posting it at your place or sending it family and friends:

Pride Parade


Cuboid Master said...

Thank you for the gift of this loving home!

Tim said...

Oh, CM, the joy and pleasure have been mine. As they say, "a house is known by the company it keeps." You and everyone else here has made this the loving place it is. I just get to set the table!

Blessings and joy,

Anonymous said...

You've done so much from behind you monitor, and been a beacon in a cloudy atmosphere.

In order to avoid mushy, I'll go with cheesy instead:

I'm thinking of "Thank You" by Ray Boltz (I think?)

'nuff said...

Mary Beth said...

This is my first time here...I will be back!

Tim said...

Jake, I didn't know this song and now--well, I don't know what to say. I dropped a few tears while listening to it, first in gratitude for your gift to me and then because it reminded me so much of my parents (my dad especially). It's just how it works, isn't it? Someone gives to us, we give to others, and they pass it on. Heaven indeed will be one giant exchange of "thank-you's." I return one to you, Jake. I'm so glad you gave.

Mary Beth, welcome! It's great to meet you. I look forward to you becoming a part of this little band of very lovely, sincere folks following their Savior. Please feel free to comment, question, respond, etc., when moved to do so. We're all just learning from one another here and loving each other while we do!

Blessings to you both,

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful look back--congratulations and Happy Anniversary!

I've heard it said that you can tell the size of your Christianity by the size of your table and who is welcome at it. You bring out that understanding in your hospitality here and with the faithfulness with which you feed all who visit.

I think I've learned something about the Great Banquet of God just by visiting you here, Tim. Thank you so much for enriching my life.

Tim said...

Missy, hearing from you adds so much to the day, as you've been among the true "vets" here. Your guidance and wisdom and laughter helped shape this place, and I can't thank you enough.

I thank you for enriching my life, as a sister, friend, example, and scholar.