new life

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.

the end of a silence

I was wondering when the appropriate time to write this blog would come, and with the recent death of Jadin Bell, I’ve decided it is time enough.

the preface

For several years I have kept a journal, and that practice eventually gave birth to this blog. From the start, it has been my desire to openly discuss the trials and joys of my life, finding beauty in the ashes, strength in the fear, and clarity in the confusion. My purpose in doing so is to encourage you who also live with ashes, fear, and confusion. It has been a process of exposing, healing, and ultimately seeing God redeem the irredeemable. I pray frequently that through sharing my story, others—all one hundred of you who will read this—will also be emboldened to open up and feel the freedom I have experienced and the grace I have been shown by my friends, family, and God.

the kicker

I am gay. I do not “struggle” with homosexuality, but that has not always been the case.

the life story

For a general framework of my life, see this post, written before I went to college my freshman year.

a. childhood

I was born in Manchester, New Hampshire. My mum is a pastor and my dad is an editor of theology books used in higher Christian academics—early Christianity, mainly. I have an older sister, two years and a half my senior. She began ballet dancing at five or six and has never stopped. That same year my parents put a violin in my hands and I have never stopped playing.

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fresh abloom

The bedroom I left in late December of this past year was grey.  In a reactionist swerve away from the key lime pie green of middle school, Dad and I covered the walls with an adult ashen grey—the shade of embers found in the heart of a fire that is just beginning to die.  With my new wall-mounted bookshelves and IKEA furniture, it looked like the bedroom of someone who wants a PhD in something eventually.  I really liked it, so the room stayed like that throughout high school.

But there was little color or light.  The only window in the room faced away from the sun.  It opened out underneath the deck.  After reading Jonathan Safran Foer and listening to an art prof who said “Forms and colors can speak directly to human emotion.  Does this red square speak to you?  Any hands?” I began to see how color can speak to my spirit and alter the emotions I have about present life as well as memories of the past.

Going to school in Seattle, I became well aware of how color, or rather, the lack of color can compound my depression, something I have quietly dealt with since middle school.  For me, depression is greyness: being void of emotion.  And if there are emotions, they are sadness and self-loathing.  They occasionally leave me numb.  And there I was, standing on a hill in Seattle, surrounded by grey clouds.  It could feel like the earth was reaching to dip me into those clouds and swirl me in them like a stick of lint-flavored cotton candy.

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