Six months ago yesterday, thanks largely to the vigorous encouragement of a friend, I posted the end of a silence on this blog. Nota bene: read that before continuing. After clicking “Publish” (and after sharing the link on Facebook and Twitter) I ran out of my dorm room and screamed loudly. The scream didn’t really mean “I feel free” or “I’m scared shitless” so much as it meant “A lot of life is happening in this moment and screaming is the only way I know how to acknowledge that.” A girl walking down the hallway paused for a brief look in my direction and then kept walking, unfazed. Extreme expressions of emotion aren’t exactly out of character for me.
That moment was the culmination of a lot of anxiety, fear, hope, and prayer.
In my Dostoevsky class last year, discussion often turned to the topic of visibility—truly seeing and truly being seen. It is when we are completely visible to someone (Father Zosima’s “guilty before all and for all”) that we are most human. Being loved by others for our talents and strengths is easy, but when we make visible our imperfections, struggles, shortcomings, and fears, we become open to the possibility of receiving a taste of unconditional love—the kind of love that casts out our fears and humbles us because we know it is not deserved. This love doesn’t say that you’re perfect the way you are; it knows you are imperfect but allows you to experience wholeness. Although God constantly radiates this love, I’m not able to feel, know, and receive it always, which is why allowing myself to be visible to others, the body of Christ, is so important to me. It helps me understand the power of God’s love.
Although I certainly felt visible when I posted my story online—indeed, almost naked—I didn’t need to post it for that reason. My family, friends, and professors spent so many hours listening to me and loving me before I even thought about sharing my story online. The reason I shared my story online was in the first sentence of the post. The profound loneliness and hurt carried by some gay teenagers drives them to suicide. In my post I mentioned Jadin Bell, the 15-year-old who hanged himself in an elementary school’s playground. Every so often another incident is reported by the news. A young person—typically a guy in his mid teens—commits suicide. The news reports reveal that cause was probably the years of bullying the kid endured for his or her homosexuality. Friends say, “When he walked into a room he always lit it up,” “If you were having a bad day, she would take the time to ask you and listen to you and let you know that you are loved.”
This is for you: You are loved. Stick around because it does get better.
This is for you: Go sit with that person at lunch tomorrow.
This is for you: Love your child even when you don’t understand them.
This is for you: Don’t be afraid to talk to someone. Be visible.
This is for you: Stand up for the bullied. It hurts some people more than we know.
This is for you: God loves you.
This is for you: Loving someone else might just mean listening to them. If you think that loving someone like a Christian means first and foremost showing them the error of their ways, realize that it’s possible that the only thing she thinks about is all of the ways she is disgusting. Find out how she’s beautiful. Tell her.
This is for you: You’ve made it through a lot. Maybe it’s time to share your story.
I came to regret the name I chose for that blog post six months ago. It seems a bit dramatic at times. But it isn’t. Silence breeds loneliness can breed death. The end of a silence is the birth of a new life.
Thank you, too.
Really deep Sam! Especially about unconditional loving of another person regardless of his / her flaws, shortcomings, fault etc. Your thoughts have resonated with my thoughts about it. These days one tends to see everywhere how people leave each other for good, had there been revealed any weakness, shortcoming, poverty of any sort…. It is so true and so enlightening to read your words about the true unconditional love. After all, our parents don’t stop loving us for our misbehaviour, rebellion and other sorts of faults. So should we show our love to all people, even in their worst moments of shame and failure. That is the only way to help that person to rise from ashes and resurrect his will to fight through and find his Godly nature in the end, despite the deep slide into the dark. The rise is even more magnificent as one digs himself out from the deep ditch. Love unconditionally no matter what! Deepest thanks from the bottom of my heart, Sam, for your post!