The Journey from Fear to Fearlessness
on the Saturday before Christmas, I received a call from Jeff Montgomery offering me the position of West Michigan Field Organizer for Triangle Foundation. I am sure this is one of the best Christmas presents I’ve ever received! Now, almost a year later, I’m snug as a bug in my new Grand Rapids office with volunteers coming and going daily.
What a privilege it is for me to work with the other LGBT organizations in West Michigan; to be available to victims of anti-LGBT violence, harassment, and discrimination; to be a resource for local students and organizations; and to help raise awareness of the policy issues that affect this community.
A few weeks ago, I had two students from a local Bible college come to my office to interview me. They had chosen to study the LGBT community for their presentation on marginalized populations. These students came to the meeting with many questions, a desire to understand, and great kindness. One of my volunteers and I met with these students for two hours answering their questions and providing information. The students were nervous about the reception they would receive from their classmates. We talked about how the anxiety and fear they might feel during their presentation was a taste of what it’s like to be gay in West Michigan EXCEPT … they got to go back to their lives after that hour was over.
For their presentation, the students introduced an LGBT vocabulary, talked about the coming out process, shed a new light on old Bible verses, spoke of discrimination and violence, and then ended with the Anne Lamott quote “You know you’ve created God in your own image when God hates the same people you do.”
After the presentation, I received a long email from one of the students. Some of the statements from that email included:
“We were all nervous but we just prayed about it and knew that what we were saying needed to be shared because it’s the truth. So we did it … you could have heard a pin drop."The class had so many questions that everyone stayed for 45 more minutes after class had ended. The debriefing email to me continued with this amazing statement:
“My group gathered afterwards and we all shared with each other that we knew what we had done was right … now I find myself filled with this passion for the GLBT community and in a way this assignment became personal and in a way it was my 'coming out.'”
The message became more important than the feelings. They pushed right past their fear into fearlessness.
THIS HOLIDAY SEASON . . .
I am sure that the bravery and compassion of these students will be this year’s best Christmas present!