Friday, November 29, 2013

Episode 18: Thanksgiving: Klaskins-Style (aka in celebration of the abnormal)

I never wanted to be different.

Growing up I was a bit on the "stocky" side and I had a few early run-ins with bullies who made fun of me for my less-than-slender, childhood frame.  From these encounters, the message was clear: don't be different. Look like everyone else. It's easier that way.

And so for awhile, I tried my best to "blend in," to find "normal," to be someone unworthy of observation.

Praise God adolescence is only a phase; thank the Lord that the sting of a bully's taunt grows faint with time. Because now different seems pretty darn great. 

Yesterday, I gathered at a Thanksgiving table with my partner of many years, Sarah Nichole Klaassen. We're a same sex family within a world that sometimes feels so very heteronormative...

Different? Yep. 
 Hard to blend in? Absolutely. 
 Just where I want to be?  100 %, hands down, without a doubt, for sure. 

The meal we shared with two members of our wonderful family--Hannah Klaassen and Jason Gerig--was meat free and made from scratch.  No Butterball, no Pillsbury, no birds.

We won't go shopping today, won't make a purchase. But we will gather with friends, sing carols, be together. Give thanks.

Different? Yep. 
Hard to blend in? Absolutely. 
Just where I want to be?  100 %, hands down, without a doubt, for sure.
If I could offer a message to my 13-year-old self, it would be this: don't try so hard to fit-in kiddo.

Because In the end, it's the different ones, the crazy ones, the a-little-less-than-all-there ones, who will bring you joy, laugh with you at holiday tables, who will be your heroes. 


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Episode 17: A Lament (Who will give us wings?)

Recently, I found myself face-to-face with someone who had a problem with me.  Those are his words, not mine--he had a "problem" with my "lifestyle."

Sometimes it's hard to be gay y'all.  That's pretty much all there is to it.

Most days I don't even think about it--the fact that my family makes some folks uncomfortable. No, normally I get up, I pick out a sassy dress and a pair of empowering, make-this-world-a-better-place shoes, and I live a startlingly beautiful, sacred, simple life.  On any given Tuesday, the odds are that I won't even think about the fact that my existence, my mere presence in the world, makes some folks uncomfortable. 

But then there are days like today--days when someone says something harsh, something mean, something unexpected--and I am reminded that sometimes, sometimes it's hard to be gay; it's hard to be different; it's so incredibly difficult to be the person others blame for their discomfort, their hatred, their anxiety.

This blog is often a place for rejoicing, for celebrating, for giving thanks and praise but luckily, thank the Lord, there is also room in this life we lead for lament. Praise our sweet Jesus that I walk within a tradition, I follow in the footsteps, of those who knew what it was to weep, to cry, to feel that physical ache from deep within your chest and wreck yourself with the world's brokenness.

And so tonight, my friends, I lament. My heart aches for the places in our world that are filled with fear; my tears fall for those who have no space in their world for me and for those whose families look even a little bit like mine.

Tomorrow morning I will once again offer this world a genuine, from the heart, show-my-dimples-in-all-their-glory, smile. My heart will mend itself.  I will put on a pair of leather boots that, and I truly mean this y'all, will remind me, with every single step, that I am capable of taking over this world with nothing but love, affirmation, and an open, transparent heart. But tonight, on this night, my heart breaks for our world that is oh-so-broken sometimes, that is so far away from where it could be. Tonight, my loves, I lament.

My insides are turned inside out...I shudder from head to foot...“Who will give me wings,” I ask—“wings like a dove?”
-from Psalm 55 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Episode 16: God bless the souls that shook up mine...

Two weeks ago, six college students piled into a Chevy Tahoe (a vehicle we would affectionately name Patsy), and with me--their trusty college chaplain--as their driver, made their way to Nashville.

My mission was simple: help these students answer their call, nudge them in the direction of a divine "yes."

You see, each of these young men and women--they feel called to be teachers and preachers and healers, bringers of the good news and repairers of the breach.  They are beginning to think about their vocation, about their mission and they're drawn toward theological education.

The Spirit is pulling them toward ministry in its many forms and so I did what anybody would do in this amazing, awe-inspiring situation...

I took them to the place and introduced them to the people who taught me what ministry means, who helped me discern my own call, the place that gave me roots in prophetic witness and nurtured my growth as pastor and teacher, servant and partner.

It was good to be back at Vanderbilt Divinity School.  New faces are there, different coffee hour treats, but the energy, the drive, the promise of making this world better, the commitment to seeking change, loving God, and doing justice.....well, some things never change.

On the way home from Nashville, in between the kind of sharing and laughter that only happens on long car trips with incredible 18 to 22 year olds, a song by the Milk Carton Kids came on the radio and a string of lyrics attached themselves to my heart.

God bless the souls that shook up mine they sang.


God bless Vanderbilt Divinity School.  God bless the Disciples Divinity House. God bless the incredible Westminster College students who feel called to give and love and serve, to shake up this world.

God bless the souls that shook up mine.