Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Word "Gay"

I'm not sure exactly how to approach this issue, but it is something I am deeply concerned about. Please bear with me as I think out loud.

I have noticed something troubling over the last year or so, and I've seen it bubble up in a more pointed way recently in regards to events which took place over the last week or so. Maybe you've noticed it, too, or maybe you haven't. Regardless, I've decided to talk about it, recognizing that some people may not like me for it in turn. That's okay. I still want to say something.

Why is it that every time someone dares to say, "God loves gay people," or "Here are some ideas on how we can better understand and minister to gay people," five thousand Catholic SJW's descend upon the comment section, the blogosphere, the whatever, to remind us all that we shouldn't stake our identity on who we are attracted to?

Now, let me say, very quickly, before anyone accuses me of thinking otherwise, that I don't believe anyone should stake their identity on who they're attracted to. (Point of note: I don't believe anyone should stake their identity on, really, anything besides the love of God which is the source of our identity.) And yet, sometimes, I call myself "gay."

I try to use it sparingly, when relevant and appropriate. I don't go around meeting new people and saying, "Hi! I'm Tori, and I'm gay." I find that my state of life causes the word to confuse many people, and to open up conversations I don't necessarily want to have with people I don't know very well -- I have a boyfriend, and when that's combined with "I'm gay," you can bet people are confused. I get that. Sometimes it confuses me, too. In fact, I've made a point of not mentioning it much on my own blog, because I don't want to be pigeonholed or questioned relentlessly.

But, that's okay. I'll say something today. I don't know how much more I'll say after this post, how often I'll bring it up, or if I'll ever bring it up again. But today, I'll talk. Because I'm worried.

There are -- it seems, many -- people in the Catholic internet world who believe that referring to myself as "gay" is the same as declaring that at the very core of my identity being attracted to women is who I am. I cannot even begin to fathom the connection here; it is such a mighty leap. Adjectives don't necessarily denote identity. No one would say, "Oh, you call yourself blonde? That's horrible; you should think more of yourself than your hair color." No one would say, "Oh, you call yourself left-handed? That isn't a healthy way to view your identity." Yet the responses to someone calling himself or herself "gay" are all but identical.

Why are we so uncomfortable with this adjective? What do people think it means?

Well, I have some ideas. I know some people have expressed concern to me that for people who experience same-sex attractions to refer to ourselves as "gay" means identifying ourselves by our sin. This is, very simply, not true (or fair). It is a long-held Catholic position that being attracted to the same sex is not a sin -- and even if it's acted upon, the sin is in the action, not the attraction. "Well, okay," some people say, "but calling yourself gay is associating yourself with a gay lifestyle." How? In what way? In what way is a description of who a person is attracted to connected to their individual activities? I don't understand.

And in what way, dare I ask, is "same-sex attracted" any different?

I have, actually, a suggestion: why not ask these people what they mean when they say "I'm gay"? It is simply imprudent to assume every gay Catholic living a chaste life who calls themselves "gay" does so for some heinous or unhealthy reason.

In the world we live in today, to be "gay," if you ask most people, very simply means to be "attracted to the same sex."

And as someone attracted to the same sex, let me share with you my experience of seeing this constant debate regurgitated over and over again:

It is exhausting. And I worry that we're losing opportunities to win souls as a result.

I can't speak for anyone else, but I know many of my friends who are also attracted to the same sex feel the same way:

Every time I see something about stepping up our game in ministering to and being compassionate to and understanding the LGBT community, I experience a serious overdose of hope! People suffer, many through their entire lives, for fear of what their family, friends, and Jesus would think of their secret attraction to others of the same sex. And here comes a message of hope! Jesus LOVES you! Jesus WANTS you! Jesus is not disgusted by or afraid of you!

And then, almost immediately every time, that hope is crushed, or at least, forgotten -- because I become irritated that yet again a conversation about helping people has turned into a conversation about what the people we are supposed to be helping should call themselves.

Why are we so worried about it? I know it sounds rhetorical, but I'm serious. Why are so many Catholics so worried about the word "gay"? What is it about an adjective that concerns you so much about people, about the future?

Help me understand. Because I don't.

And if you'll help me understand how you're thinking about this, it may help me better communicate to others who feel the same way as you what my experiences are and my perspective on them.

Monday, August 17, 2015

He sings to me

I'm a sucker for old hymns. I think they're beautiful, and cut straight to he heart of theology and salvation and the richness of a relationship with Jesus Christ.

I love old hymns because I can't put into words how much Jesus really means to me. I love Him so much, guys. I wish I could love Him more. I hurt Him, I break His heart, I insult Him, I spit in His face, I pierce His heart; but every time, just as He did 2,000 years ago at Calvary, He submits Himself to it all in order to claim me for His own and redeem me from my brokenness. He takes everything I am, everything I have, and turns it toward my good, toward Himself, toward the endless aching yearning restlessness which is His desire for my affection.

I can stumble over these words all I want, but they'll never be as beautiful as:

"Heart of my own heart, whatever befall, still be my Vision, O Ruler of all."

"Perverse and foolish, oft I strayed. But yet, in love, He sought me, and on His shoulder gently laid, and home rejoicing brought me."

"Jesus sought me when a stranger, wand'ring from the fold of God; He to reacue me from danger interposed His precious blood."


I fully realize that these lyrics hold a special significance for me that they may not hold for you. God speaks to each of us in our own "language," so to speak, and my language is beautiful music.

And God's language is Jesus Christ. His Living Word. He sings to me because speaking isn't exactly my forte. He sang to me in the dawn of creation, in the Incarnation within Mary's womb, in the life He lived and the love He bore, from the pillar as the whips and claws of my sin and wretchedness left Him shredded and torn, and He sang to me from the cross, from the grave, and in the Resurrection.

And sometimes, there are no words -- just music. Just the beautiful rhythm of His concern and care for me.

And I really just can't get over it.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

For The People Who Pray For Me

This is going to be one of those annoying, personal, intimate, mushy posts, so, fair warning.

The other night, as I got all snugly cozy in my bed, I realized for the first time in a long time that I'm actually happy with where I am in life right now. It's been a long, long time since I've felt overall content with everything in my life; in fact, I'm not sure I've ever felt this way before.

I know a lot of it has to do with my new med combination. I know a lot of it has to do with so many things working out for me lately (I say that and remember a thousand errands I need to run immediately lest things cease working in my favor). I know a lot of it can be contributed to a lot of things. But I know, more than anything, this victory belongs to Jesus and His grace.

And I know a lot of the grace in my life is the direct result of the intercession of so many friends whose prayers for me are known and unknown. And for that, I am so, so thankful.

Several years ago, as I've briefly alluded to on this blog in previous posts, I was in a very dark and scary place mentally, emotionally, and especially spiritually. And I know several people were praying for me. And I know those prayers were what assured me the grace to overcome that period in my life.

Even more recently, in these past two years my anxiety became all but unmanageable, and while I deeply appreciate the friends who held tight and stayed close during some pretty crazy stuff, I even more deeply appreciate their prayers and encouragement in Christ.

My life is good, and my God is a good God to me. I've said that on occasion through the years, but it's rare that I've been able to say it and genuinely mean it, like I do right now.

Satan has been after me lately. I know this. Perhaps I sound crazy, and that's okay, but I'm familiar with spiritual warfare and I know that's what is happening in my life right now. And I know I'll be okay, because I have Jesus and His Holy Spirit providing me the grace and protection I need whenever I desire it and ask for it with a humble heart ready to receive. And so much of that is due to the graces of what I'm sure have been thousands if not millions of prayers for me.

When I've been weak (which is always), when I've been afraid (which is always), when I've been unable (which is always), and even when I've been unwilling, people have prayed for me. And I've needed that and I still need that. It is refreshing and a great blessing when I ask people to pray for me and many of them say, "I already do everyday." I'm glad to have friends who know how weak I am so they know how desperately in need of God I am.

I'm embarrassed I haven't thought of this before, but I'm going to commit to making it a daily priority to say a special prayer "for the people who pray for me." I can never repay you all for the great gift you've given me, but God can, and He will, a thousand times over. May your cup overflow and your days be filled with the radiance of His tender love and mercy.

Thank you so much for being my friends.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

5 Things I Don't Mind To Be Called As A Pro-Life Activist

There's a lot of talk of us dirty, horrible, #theliteralworst pro-lifers these days, and people are coming up with all kinds of fun names for us! I think they're supposed to be insulting, but nonetheless, here are five "alternatives" to "pro-life" I really don't mind being called (not to mention, have trouble finding 'offensive'):

1. Pro-Birth
This one's a favorite of mine, because I am pro-birth. I think everyone should have a birthday. I freakin' love birthdays. They're the best!

I am a firm believer that every human being should experience this "right of passage" from life in the womb to life as a member of society, so to speak. This passage from special, singular care to being snuggled and pinched and adored for our chubby little cheeks and ten little toes. Birth is amazing. I am very pro-birth.

2. Anti-choice
Let's be honest and just admit that this means "against the choice to have an abortion." I am against that choice.

Now, you could say "Oh, but it gives the impression that we're against ALL choices." No it doesn't. Literally everyone who hears this term in context knows exactly what it means. We are against the choice to kill little humans. Duh.

3. Pro-fetus
I am undoubtedly pro-fetus, if by this you mean I think they're amazing, awe-inspiring, beautiful, and deserve to live and exist. I am very pro-fetus, pro-baby, pro-child, pro-adolescent, pro-woman, and pro-man, not to mention pro-the-elderly. People are fantastic. Humans are great. Yay for humans at all stages of development!

4. Anti-abortion
Uh-derrrrrrrr. I'm pro-life. I'm against abortion. Alternatively, you could say I am anti-abortion. Duh.

5. Extremist
As the fabulous folks at Secular Pro-Life would say, "Call me an extremist, but I think dismemberment is wrong."

To be completely honest, I think we need more extremists, and I'm not talking about the kind who kill abortionists in their churches or bomb abortion facilities. That's not activism; that's using an ideology you don't personally hold (um, it's called pro-life; that kind of prohibits intentional killing) to carry out violent fantasies. Nothing about that is healthy or sane, or pro-life.

What I'm talking about is our desperate need for more people to take the issue of pro-life activism seriously. Talk about abortion. Don't hide from the fact that it kills humans. Don't make exceptions as if some babies are more worthy of life than others. Be brave enough to engage others in rational, charitable discussion. Don't let it consume your life, but do let it become a priority.

Babies are dying. And if abortion is ever going to be made illegal, it's peaceful extremists who are going to get the job done. I would be honored to be counted among them.