Sometimes we end up in complicated situations, because people are complicated. In these times, there are no clearly laid out paths. We have to figure out a way to live that works best for us. We make the best choices we can with the wisdom we have.
Perhaps this seems obvious, but you’d be surprised. Sometimes people freeze up and lose all semblance of common sense when they encounter a situation they’ve never imagined or a person extremely different than them.
I’m thinking first of myself when I was younger and more naive. I’m imagining myself as a fifteen year old kid, a good boy, a purist, radical evangelical Christian who feels guilty if he misses a day of Bible reading. I’m thinking of how I would have acted and what I might have said if I’d met….a gay man. A drag queen. A person with Major Depression. A person who hears voices. A person who has been abused. A person who has been the abuser! Corrupt church politics. Homeless people. People with infectious diseases. Buddhists. Post-Christians. Transgendered individuals. Immigrants. People who work at Starbucks.
As a very young and sheltered boy, I perceived the world in black and white terms and assumed there were a few simple answers that could be applied to all of life’s challenges and all the world’s many different types of people. Read your Bible more. Pray more. Go to church more. Don’t drink alcohol. Whatever you do, don’t have sex. I’m sure I said and did many rude and insensitive things to people who were different than me in the ignorance of my youth.
Now as I’m writing, I’m thinking of all the people I’ve met in my journey. I’ve heard so many stories from so many different back grounds and heard about so many different kinds of challenges and traumas that people have faced and overcome. I look at them all and I understand that there is not a solitary means of overcoming challenges and living well that can be used by all people. Every person has had to improvise at some point.
I think of my own life and my own challenges. Some I brought on myself, others I didn’t expect. Most that don’t have a solution clearly laid out. What do I do with my sexuality? Especially being a Christian? Especially being married? Especially being a father? What do I do with the Christian church, them being the way that they are? What do I do with the Queer community, them also being the way that they are, and me being in the middle of them both?
People lead complicated lives, and I am no different. Any given source of wisdom will only be useful for a certain group of people. If you’re outside that group, sometimes you gotta improvise. Use good sense. Pray and pray and pray really hard and ask advice from people you trust. In the end, make a decision you can live with. Take responsibility for that decision. Most things won’t destroy you and in most cases, you’re not alone in your situation. People have an unyielding hunger for community and, if you persist in the work of searching for and building community, there is community out there for you, no matter how complicated you see yourself.