Dabbles in a Minority Position

I've not had many experiences in being a minority. I'm white. I grew up in an affluent neighborhood. I was privately educated. My only real minority experience came from being a female who loved ministry in a church environment that preferred its ladies demure and supportive of male leadership as God-ordained and superior. But other than that, especially in my conservative church as an untitled minister (that darn vagina sure caused problems), I've never been on the receiving end of church rejection. I played by all the rules and reinforced them later as a leader. 
As I've sifted through my faith after my husband got fired from ministry, a lot of my traditional church values have been through the fire of loss, trauma and a desire to not tolerate anything that doesn't ring true in my spirit, regardless of the way I was taught to view everything. 
This process has turned me into a Christian who has much more progressive leanings than how I was raised to see God, the world and the Bible. I'm really, really happy about it. It feels like coming home. When I stopped going to church to tune into myself and to undo some of the messaging of who I was taught God is versus who I knew in my heart He was, I didn't know if I would ever go back. It started to feel irrelevant to my life (which was a HUGE turnaround from not knowing who I was outside of the church community). I no longer cared about church squabbles and politics. I wanted to be a citizen of the world, to know it, to love it, to participate in it, rather than shutting myself off from it because we're "so different" and it might sully me in some way. Embracing my humanity and the world we live in has been such a freeing and healthy thing for me.
To my great joy and surprise, I have found a faith community that supports and encourages my spiritual process. Rather than needing to translate the messages I was hearing on Sunday so I could maintain healthy boundaries and not wallow in shame and duty, I found a community that values what I value and challenges me to go further with it. It has blown me away. I cried the whole way home the first time I attended my new church. I couldn't believe something this good actually existed. Turns out, you don't have to be conservative in order to follow, love and value the messages of Jesus. It's been so healing and beautiful for me (and for Macy, who attends with me). 
This morning, I was watching Bruce Jenner's courageous interview with Diane Sawyer. (You should watch it. It's on Hulu). And as he told his story of hiding his transgender identity all his life out of fear of hurting the people he loved, I realized that I too am in a fear dilemma. While I'm happy to be a gay-loving, peaceful, simple living, advocate and believer in Jesus, I am running the risk of being ousted by "my own." I experienced a taste of this after I posted a simple article about Christians serving the gay community by providing wedding services when asked. I'm afraid that by following my heart and my faith and my true spiritual self I will be rejected by my people. My ministry comrades, my family, my childhood friends who have spent years totally "getting me" might misjudge me, label me, disrespect or patronize me. I've never really been on the receiving end of this. I always hung out in environments where I was the majority. It's scary and a little sad not feeling accepted for something that deeply matters to you. 
I'm learning the danger of labeling myself and others. As I happily label myself "progressive," that term might lead others to think they already know where I'm coming from based on assumptions of what it means to be a progressive. Likewise, I think my more conservative friends felt called out by some of the articles I've shared online, making them feel misunderstood or labeled in a negative way. I really want to create an online space that's safe. I sometimes unfriend people on Facebook for that reason, because dialogue requires a certain level of respect and human decency that not everyone is ready to give online. I feel an obligation to tend to my safe space by eliminating threatening people from that conversation if they can't be respectful of others. 
My faith process is so sacred to me and while I'm excited to share things on here, I am also not in a position where I feel comfortable defending myself or having to prove the validity of my convictions. My values are valid because they are true to my heart and because I really try to live by them. There are a lot of reasons and relationships and stories that have contributed to that process for me. And I like to tell my story when I feel safe and compelled to do so. But I do not owe anyone anything nor am I an expert on anything but myself. There are resources written by true experts on any number of religious and political positions. I've used them and everyone should read and explore any issue or faith position they want to learn more about. 
It's a new power shift for me to run the risk of being rejected on my home turf. It's helping me identify with what it must be like to be a minority. I know my experience is so small in comparison to true, live-long minorities and I fear by even using the term "minority", I'm dishonoring all the pain, grief and violence experienced by minorities that I'll never really understand. I guess I want to say, you never know when you're in a power position, if your life might lead you down a path that inverts that power. I'm learning so much from this experience. I'm reminded that I am valid and that I am "the least of these". I'm not better than anyone else, ANYONE else. But I'm also okay and I'm good. There is a place for me at the table. I have so much to learn. And I'm honored to be learning. I feel it is one of life's greatest privileges. 
I spent a lot of my life believing that conservative values were the only way to follow Jesus. That I needed to tune out my culture and my own evil heart, or at least beat it into submission, in order to be a Christian. When we find we can no longer do that, most of us walk away from faith entirely. And let's face it: we're leaving in droves and we're not looking back. What I have joyfully and humbly discovered through blind luck and beautiful friends, is that I no longer have to choose between my heart for people and my heart for God. That by tuning into my culture, my humanity and the stories of the people all around me, my faith is becoming deeper. I'm finding myself in the Bruce Jenner's and Eric Garner's. And my heart breaks. A lot. But my faith in God is not easily threatened. Being asked to prove its validity is still painful, frightening and very triggering for me. I'm learning to decline proving myself. I don't have to do that. What I do have to do is be true to the spirit within me that tells me: I matter. Kindness matters. God loves me. And because of those things, so does every single living, breathing person on this planet. And I refuse to tell them otherwise.