Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the
Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
I remember the moment the #MeToo movement came on my radar. I was cruising Facebook late one night and saw a post from one of my oldest and dearest. She wrote only: #MeToo. The hollow of my throat went hot. My cheeks flushed. I heard a shushing in my ears while my heart pounded. I remember the cold of my fingers against my lips as I stared at the screen. I typed in a comment: You are so brave. I love you.
It’s not that the truth of this particular friend’s me too was a surprise; I know her story well. It was the boldness of saying it out loud like that, in public like that, the boldness of claiming her history and taking a stand to say, time’s up. It took me 24 hours to post my own #MeToo and I did it with shaking hands. It’s not because I’m too timid to share myself; it’s because our #MeToo moments have taught us about fear, have taught us about silence, have taught us about shame. The time for all that is up.
Lines from the end of Alice Walker’s poem, “Each one, pull one,” loop in my mind.
I returned to faith as an adult in a very progressive – especially for middle America – Methodist church. I didn’t, at first, even know it was a Methodist church. After hiding in the crowd for a few weeks, I stayed after Sunday worship for an event called “Coffee with the Pastor.” So scared was I to be seen, to let myself be known and to learn whether this was a safe place, my hands shook enough that coffee sloshed down over my wrist. They won me though. They won me with their firm stance on LGBTQ inclusion and advocacy, their talk of prevenient grace, their women at the pulpit, their propensity for deep philosophical conversation. They won me with their boldness in declaring the all-encompassing love of Christ.
And now I’m here, the work of the United Methodist Church shaping my daily life, and I wonder. I wonder at how viscerally afraid I was to come back to church. And at how much that particular community changed my life. I wonder at all the amazing, progressive, Christ-followers I have found around the country and here in my new hometown. But, I also wonder in confusion that a Special Session will meet next year – in the home city of that very church that brought me to United Methodism – to decide if the Church will honor all people or just some. At the failure of Amendment 1 of the UM Constitution. Was that community that embraced and led me to Light the future? Or a growing, blessed rogue?
This links together – the silence, the shame, the shaking. The #MeToo moments that have taught us fear, the churches that have told us we didn’t belong. I’m over it. Maybe you are too. Time’s up.
In a poem with so many layers it’s unfair to quote just a piece, the Alice Walker lines that sing through me are these: “Each one pull one back into the sun… All of us must live/Or none.”
Prayers for peace and gratitude and connection as we move toward the glorious warmth of summer.
This post was written for inclusion in the June 2018 Columbia District Newsletter for the Oregon-Idaho Conference of The United Methodist Church.