So, I just spent a week in the rainforest of Costa Rica contemplating and processing my fears and anxieties about speaking my Truth and shining my unique Light in the world as I work on finishing my book, Divinely Queer: My Journey to Spirituality through Sexuality. I was surrounded by inspiring women who are walking their own path to do the same and they reflected back to me the message that I have received and felt in my Spirit many times and that is that I have everything I need inside of me to do the work I came into this world to do, that my message is one the world needs, and that it will literally save lives. Hearing their words brought such strong emotion that I immediately recognized as Validation Tears - my verification from the Universe that what I’m experiencing is Divine and the Truth. It also brought fear, overwhelm, and anxiety about how to effectively engage people in my message, how to reach those who are needing to hear my story and my words, and how to overcome those who will try to extinguish my Light.
The human part of me wants to turn the other cheek, to choose not to engage with the negative energy and simply focus on the positive energy in my life and in the world. But the Divine part of me is being summoned to answer the Call of the Universe. I feel so much conflict as I experience these two aspects of myself. There is a constant struggle between the Calling I feel and the Fear I feel about stepping into it. However, I’m noticing that the Universe will lead me if I pay attention.
Yesterday, as I was on my way to the airport in Orlando for the final leg of my trip home, I received a text message from my cousin about a church in my community that he attended as a young person. I’ve been to a couple of services at this church and although I have absolutely loved the music and delivery of the service, I have struggled with the exclusivity of their messages along with the knowledge I have of my cousin’s experience there. As a young person, he had been quite involved with their youth ministry. However, when he came out about his sexuality, he was told it was unacceptable and their approach was to pray the gay away. That was well over 20 years ago and so, when I attended a couple of recent services, I tried to let that just be context information and let myself be open to the idea that perhaps, they have changed their stance.
Midnight service on Christmas Eve is my favorite part of the holiday and our church was not having one, so I went in search of one to attend. It just so happened that this church was having such a service. Knowing how much I enjoyed the musical worship at this church, I was excited to attend. They did not disappoint. The service opened with Drummer Boy and when they struck those drums, it was like my whole heart opened up and I was immediately in tears, experiencing that Divine communication and connection with God. The message of the service was a pretty standard Christmas Eve message and as we left the sanctuary, I felt so energized and inspired and in the Christmas Spirit. I remember saying to my husband, Ethan, with excitement, “We need to be doing this at OUR church! The music, the production, it was SO amazing and inspiring!”
As I was going on about how awesome it was and he and I were talking about how this could look at our own church in terms of welcoming in a younger community, I noticed some pamphlets on one of the counters as we were leaving the lobby. Out of curiosity, I picked them up and was immediately in tears again, but this time out of anger, hurt, and frustration. The pamphlets, although not specifically about sexual or gender identity, had the logo for Focus on the Family displayed on the cover. Focus on the Family is an uber conservative religious organization that is anti-LGBT, supports conversion therapy, and is categorized as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
I was so angry to see that this church, that was clearly doing a bang up job of engaging young people was also almost certainly, based on the source of their pamphlets, preaching self-loathing and hate to any young people who may be exploring or navigating their sexual and/or gender identity. I was overcome with conflicting emotions. I felt equal parts moved and compelled to take some kind of action that would communicate to these young people that what they’re being told is not the Truth and terrified about the kind of push back or objection I might experience from those who are preaching this rhetoric under the guise of “God’s love.” It felt like such a huge, overwhelming endeavor to raise my voice, fearful that it might be shouted down.
I processed this experience with my book coach and even explored the idea of sending a friendly email to the pastor to inquire about what their current perspective is on supporting kids who are exploring their identities and maybe even invite him to a conversation. I felt so much anxiety just thinking about it and in the end, I never sent the email. The human part of me had won. I had stayed in the fear rather than stepping into the faith that God will lead me and support me.
Fast forward about 6 weeks and I receive this text message from my cousin with a screenshot of a workshop this church is offering to “girls (by birth) ages 12-16.” The workshop is “for those struggling with the thoughts that they are Trans - Bi - Gay or other” and their purpose is to “help your girl be unashamed of her true sexual identity given to her by God at birth.” The language in the event description makes it clear that, despite having the audacity to name the workshop “UNASHAMED IDENTITY WORKSHOP”, they will be teaching these young girls that anything outside of heterosexual and cisgender identity is unacceptable to God.
My heart sank as I took in this information and anxiety rushed into my body. There it was again, this conflict between knowing this was the Universe calling my name again and feeling completely overwhelmed and fearful about how to engage. As I waited for my flight to board, I prayed to God for guidance about how to engage in this situation and finding the courage to do so. It’s obvious I’m supposed to, and even though the human part of me wants to avoid the conflict with every fiber of my being, the Divinity in me knows that this is what I came into the world to do.
So, I arrive in Detroit and I request a Lyft ride from the airport to my home. The driver is an older white gentleman who seemed nice. We quickly got into small talk about how long he’d been driving with Lyft and what brought him to Michigan after living almost his whole life in Tennessee. He openly shared that he was drawn here by the opportunity for ministry. I immediately thought ‘Oh, man...here we go.’ as I recognized that this was the Universe at work. I felt the temptation to change the subject or even pull back my energy altogether, rooted in the fear that this guy was “one of those Christians.” However, I also recognized the Universe giving me an opportunity to practice, to engage in the conversation I’ve been fearing.
So, I cautiously proceeded with the conversation, asking round about questions about the ministry work he was doing and if he did his work through a local church. His answers were still pretty vague and I couldn’t get a good feel for what “kind” of Christian he was. At some point, he shifted the focus to me, asking about the photo in my Lyft profile in which I was standing against the backdrop of a conference I had attended. I explained to him that my work was teaching people about gender and sexuality. I shared with him that I was actually returning from a writing retreat as I’m writing a book about my own journey to spirituality through sexuality.
At this point I was feeling the momentum of taking the leap, of “going there” and so I went right into how I have come to understand that despite being told that I was unworthy of God’s love because of who I am, God’s love is for everyone and we all have direct access to God. His response when I mentioned what had happened to me was “I’m sorry that happened to you,” which, at first I still found myself questioning in terms of what exactly he might have meant by that. However, he then shared with me that his son is a drag queen and is also gay and shared that with him at a very young age, and that he has always loved and supported him. Needless to say, I felt my anxiety about putting myself out there melt away and a sense of gratitude and awe settle in as I recognized this opportunity, this test of sorts, for me to step into my Purpose. To answer the Call.
We talked the entire ride home about our beliefs and when we arrived to my home, I let him know that it felt like the Universe had arranged this conversation as a test for me. I thanked him for showing up and giving me the opportunity to take a leap of faith. As I locked my front door behind me and settled in for the night, I recognized that the Universe has been calling my name for so long. This was yet another Call, another opportunity to step into my Purpose. It was also an opportunity for me to test the Universe and to find that when you answer the Call of the Universe, the Universe will see to it that everything goes as planned. I’m also learning that when you don’t answer the Call, the Universe will keep calling your name.
Divinely Queer will be available for purchase soon!
Jennifer Miracle-Best is an author and speaker whose Calling is to help victims of spiritual violence find healing.