This is for the wounded, for the queer alumnus who left her chapter and is broken all over again to hear of InterVarsity’s employment policy. This is for the questioning student who suddenly doesn’t feel safe in his chapter. This is for the queer staff person who is hanging on for dear life for the sake of his students. This is for the ally staff who can’t afford to lose a job right now, let alone a passion, but who needs the job anyway to care for her family.
This is for the wounded ones.
I am hardly one to be writing this, since I’m wounded myself. But sometimes, it’s others who have similar wounds who can give the most hope. So I’m writing to you, telling you what I wish someone would tell me.
Dear, beloved wounded one.
Come into this space. It’s a safe space. Really, truly safe – you aren’t being judged and there’s no pressure to be something different. You’re not just allowed in and tolerated; you’re wanted for all of who you are. Sit down on the couch or curl up on the old chair in the corner. Lay flat out on the floor if you need to. You are welcome here. You are wanted here.
You may feel angry, furious, bitter.
Maybe you are grieving, wailing, and mourning all kinds of loss. Maybe you are scared and running for your life. You might be broken open and raw. Maybe you cry till your whole chest hurts and you think your heart might fall out. Maybe you’re numb and can’t feel anything, not even the good things.
Maybe you feel guilty for being you, for your queer sexuality or for your straight cis privilege. I have felt all these things.
Whatever you feel – all the hundreds of things you feel – that is okay.
There’s no right or wrong thing to feel. Your grief is legitimate. Your anger is valid. Your hurt is real. Don’t let others tell you that it’s not a big deal, just get over it already. You, and all your complex emotions, are welcome here.
Maybe, unlike me, you’re not a feeler but a thinker.
That’s okay too.
If everyone around you is weeping and yelling and you simply can’t keep your head from spinning, if the thoughts just keep coming and coming – well, it might not be comfortable, but it’s okay. The thoughts, the what if’s, the should-have-could-haves, the logical arguments you have back and forth in your head – these are all welcome here.
About the guilt, though, for a minute – you do not need to feel guilt for who you are.
You are loved, brave, strong; and maybe you mess up, but at your core you are exactly who you are meant to be.
Whatever it is – your queerness, your closeted-ness, your fear, the things you screamed and wish you could take back, the things you didn’t scream and wish you had – you can let the guilt go.
You’re not made the wrong way and you’re not bringing this mess upon yourself. You are perfectly loved. No exceptions.
While we’re talking about things we can let go of, let’s talk about the expectations others have for us. For starters, integrity is in the eyes of God, not in the eyes of anyone else.
You do what you are called to do, and don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t have integrity.
Even if things are tenuous right now between you and God, even if you have different beliefs than a year ago, even if you’re confused, I believe that you still have integrity. Sometimes integrity means playing by the empire’s rules, and sometimes it doesn’t.
And another burden you can let go of – it’s okay if you can’t go to church or other Christian events right now. I don’t go to church very much, either. I’m taking a break from being a good Christian and waiting for God to appear again in ways that aren’t overlaid with triggering language or memories.
One thing I’d hope for you, though, is that you surround yourself with people.
Surround yourself with people who listen, who love, who don’t judge, who welcome you unconditionally. They’re out there, I promise.
I found some of them and those relationships and precious words are saving me, giving me life. If you are weeping or can’t think of anything positive to say or don’t want to bother people with your problems – reach out anyway. Let your guard down with people who have proved themselves to be safe.
Let them hand you kleenex or wine, listen to your ranting, or sit in silence when there are no more words. Let them offer comfort food or groceries or rainbow-colored flowers; it’s okay to let them in.
Most of all, friend, I want you to be able to know this deep down in your soul: You are not alone. I am here, we are here, and somewhere God is also here. You are not alone, and you’re never going to be left alone. We can make it through this together.
You are lovable and loved, accepted and welcomed and wanted. And finally, I am so, so proud of you. You are making it through. You are strong, you are brave, and you inspire me. I’m proud of you.
Wounded one, your battle wounds are going to heal over someday and become scars. It might seem impossible right now, but I promise, someday they will heal. Those scars, when you see them, might bring a sharp stab of pain or a dull ache.
But they also will remind you of how brave you are, how much you’ve come through, how strong we can be when we have others alongside us.
And repeat this to yourself now, whisper it out loud; I’ll say it with you:
I am not alone.
Love and peace,
Former Global Programs Coordinator at InterVarsity Christian Fellowship