My self-made closet

Kim Rig­gins lives in Smyrna with her two in­cred­i­bly spoiled dogs and an un­healthy ob­ses­sion with Star Wars.

GA Voice - - OUT SPOKEN - By Kim Rig­gins

I used to have a bumper sticker on my car that read “Work Harder: Mil­lions on Wel­fare De­pend on You.” When I put that sticker on my car, I had a good job. I had a com­fort­able van­tage point from which to cast my stones. Some time later, I found my­self laid off and strug­gling. It’s funny how things work out.

When I be­came a Chris­tian at 18, I had strong opin­ions about ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity. I took it as my mis­sion to show gay peo­ple the “way” to Christ. What I told them was all the things I be­lieved about it. To be a Chris­tian, you could not be gay. Be­ing gay was a choice. I was fer­vent in both my evan­ge­lism and in my prayer. It never occurred to me why this is­sue was so im­por­tant to me or why it weighed so heav­ily on my mind. I was a “good” Chris­tian. I played the gui­tar in my church’s praise band. I was part of the chil­dren’s min­istry lead­er­ship. But I felt there was some­thing I wasn’t do­ing; some­thing I was ne­glect­ing. As it turns out, the thing I was ne­glect­ing was my own house and my own at­ti­tude.

When I re­al­ized I was a les­bian, I cried for about three days. I knew what I stood to lose, which was ev­ery­thing that was im­por­tant to me. What would peo­ple think? What would my fam­ily say? I al­ready knew what God thought. I’d been telling ev­ery­one what God thought about it for years. So, I kept it a se­cret and begged God to change me. God was silent. I be­came an­gry. He wouldn’t change me, yet He hated me for be­ing this way? I had no one I could turn to. I had

“When I re­al­ized I was a les­bian, I cried for about three days. I knew what I stood to lose, which was ev­ery­thing that was im­por­tant to me. What would peo­ple think? What would my fam­ily say?”

been so vo­cal about my opin­ions on the mat­ter, how could I sud­denly come out and ad­mit that I was gay my­self? I wasn’t able to hide it for very long. I was asked to leave my church and ev­ery­thing I loved. Friends and fam­ily aban­doned me.

I was dev­as­tated, and I stayed that way for many years. Then, a friend of mine came through town and we had lunch. I con­fessed ev­ery­thing. This is what she had to say:

“If some­one told you, ‘I think God hates me,’ what would you say to them?”

“I would tell them that that is ridicu­lous. God loves us all,” I replied, and she sim­ply smiled at me. That was it. It was a hard jour­ney to reach such a sim­ple con­clu­sion.

“God loves you.” It’s a cliché, but this time, I was hear­ing it with dif­fer­ent ears and a dif­fer­ent mind. I be­lieved it that day for the first time in a long time. I did not come out of the closet so much as I crawled out of it, bro­ken and alone. It was a closet I built with my own hands out of piety. I for­got that God is in the busi­ness of lov­ing peo­ple. Some­times, He is in the busi­ness of tough love. I begged God to change me and He did. He cut away the anger and filled the re­sult­ing void with hope. He cut away the ar­ro­gance and filled me with the un­der­stand­ing that the most im­por­tant thing to God is peo­ple, not dogma.

“Who­ever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sis­ter is a liar. For who­ever does not love their brother and sis­ter, whom they have seen, can­not love God, whom they have not seen.” 1 John 4:20.

De­cem­ber 25, 2015

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