Reflections on Being Human
I am a sinner. I am a saint. I am human. Or in the words of Willie Nelson I am among the, “deceivers, and believers, and old in-betweeners. That seem to have no place to go” (1975). It’s been a over a week since I officially told my story (of #metoo, harassment, and being a gay ally, ex-evangelical, Latina, academic in Trump’s America) out loud into the ether. It went broad and wide to places that my eyes can’t even perceive. The return from my veritas or my truth was reverberating. I started a butterfly effect of authentic storytelling and over 105 people wrote me personally or publicly. The stories I heard made me feel connected, loved, known, and deeply saddened. Each night I would sit at my computer and read another 10 to 13 truth teller’s words and I would cry. Bawl cry.
Some experienced my same story at the same college in a little cove in Appalachia that taught of Jesus. Others experienced it later when they went into the workplace as teachers, nurses, and business owners. Many wrote to say “they saw me.” They watched me experience all my pain and they were young 20 somethings back then that didn’t know what to do. They instead locked doors and watched out for themselves, they changed their faith, they walked away, they fell in love with who they wanted to rather than who the patriarchy told them to, they hated college and never wanted to return, they went to counseling to try and heal, and they cried to Jesus, “Is this what you meant?”
I responded to each life, each human, with the best kind of warmth and love and acceptance I could muster. I tried to say what I wanted said to me, “What the fuck?”
“I am sorry.”
“I wish I would have known.''
“How can I help now?”
“I support you.”
“Thank you for telling me.”
“You can always talk to me.”
“I accept you.”
“Your story is safe with me.”
“I am always available.”
“What do you need?”
“Wow, I am so proud of you for being you!”
“Look at you telling the truth...proud”
Others wrote to say, “Thank you.” They were the gay allies, the LGBQT community, the females who experienced harassment, the Hispanics who felt shame, the African American community who felt like their lives did not matter, the religious who didn’t know what to do, and the un-religious who had no where to go. Then there were the old in-betweeners-- the ones like me that heard a story long ago of a Jewish man with dark skin and dark hair from Galilee who said, “We are all equal. We are sinners. We are saints. We are humans. And if you follow me, I will show you the way.” The old in-betweeners didn’t have answers. Instead, they have a strange and mysterious song they hear against the background noise of life that plays a distinct melody. The old in-betweeners look around for a place to fit in: bars, churches, communities, schools, workplaces, spiritual retreat centers and they never quite find what they are looking for. Every place has a series of text from a refrain, but no one plays the full song. So they travel around like my Bohemian ancestors going from land to land wondering of another way. They become plankton wanderers floating in societal sea of shouts, fake news, detention centers, deep harassment, bullying, warming, fires, hurricanes, refugees, and suffering. They look up on the hill to little white churches that are saying and doing nothing and wonder, “Is this what Jesus meant?” “Is this what Jesus came to say?”
Well, being the Bohemain descendant and Latina loudmouth that I am, I scream a resounding, “NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” This is not what Jesus came to say.
So, when “Church people” continue to ask me why do you talk about LGBQT rights, women’s rights, minority rights, immigration, climate, and harassment all at the same time. They say, ‘We were with you until you brought in immigration. We were with you until you talked about transgender people. We were with you until you told us fake news about climate. These issues have nothing to do with you. Or the harassment you experienced at your college and workplace'.
“Well, actually they do”, I respond with veritas. Because Jesus he was all about esse quam videri-- being rather seeming. He wanted people, every single human, to be rather than to seem. He didn’t ask for much...only for our full real authentic lives lived out together.
Therefore, when the church in Trump’s America asks people to seem rather than to be or tells people they don’t belong, than I will keep speaking. I have something to say. When the Church and Christian colleges that claim to be leaders in Christ-centered education make covenants about how they will live their lives and then make conscious choices to not live that way, then I indeed, I have something to say. If you are going to be religious, really Judea-Christian religious-- then break up with your live-in girlfriend, stop getting divorces, be honest with student’s transcripts, don’t have extramarital affairs, stop smoking marijuana in public or private, stop gossiping about other faculty members, stop bullying women, stand up for your LGBQT students when they tell you are being harassed, and be rather than seem. Or be like the rest of us, the old in-betweeners. Be like the mess-ups, the fuck-ups, and the ones who have no where to go.
Because the world needs the old in-betweeners-- the ones that are tired of the religious right, Trump’s rhetoric that is hurtful to everyone besides angry white men, and the ones that have more questions than answers. So here we are. Reach out to us when you need us. We come from a wide gamut of backgrounds, current faiths, and experiences. We don’t have all the words, but somehow we have each heard a melody.
Much love world,
Melissa B. Wilson
Stephen Bradford Long
PS- If you would like formal help from a counselor or healer both Jenny Schmerhorn and Becca Wineka are open to taking new clients. Contact them directly for appointments.