To the women in the pew in front of me,
I am sorry.
I see the pain in each of your eyes. I see the comfort you give one another, just like the comfort my husband and I give one another when we are hurt. The silent squeeze of the arm, the sigh, the wrapping around of the other’s back as you sit because you can’t bring yourself to stand as we all are - singing in hope of unity for us all one day.
I do not know you...but, I can guess some of your story. I bet you have been hurt, battered, traumatized...from something that looked so similar to this. To what we are doing here. Church. Hurt by people that looked similar to this. People who said you were filthy and unacceptable. People who said you were unclean.
I stand here and I am able to have hope in this thing that looks sort of like church. I was hurt too, but...not like you. I was told I at least had hope. I could do the right things - I could obey the rules and regulations that were made. But, you were brave - you were the one that stayed true to yourself, but yet we rejected that truth. I rejected that truth.
I was in. I was safe.
I told you you couldn’t live like that and be a child of God. God’s children only interact with their genitals in a monogamous relationship with someone of the opposite sex. And you definitely couldn’t continue walking in it. Maybe you’d be partially accepted if you were working on changing. But staying as you are? That just wouldn’t do.
I was the leader who told you “No.” I was the one who told you you were inherently sinful & unclean when being inherently sinful & unredeemable was what I feared the most. I told myself I had found hope, something to redeem myself. But, you couldn’t have found that and still act the same. My sins were different than your sins. Your sins...they were weightier than mine. I didn’t see!! I didn’t know. Oh, how I wish I knew!
I wish I could have accepted you, loved you as you are. But my eyes were blind.
Can you ever forgive me? Forgive us?
No, I don’t know you. I’ve never met you. I’m not even talking to you right now. But, I was the leader in your church that rejected you - told you to confess and pray for God to change your heart. You were the one that was afraid to tell me because of the answer I would give - you were the one that wouldn’t even step near my church because you knew there was no way you could ever find acceptance here.
Please forgive me.
You are beautiful. Loved. Perfect.
I thank you for being here & being brave. I am here with you. I stand with you. You are seen. And you are good.