Here’s the thing:
If you scroll through my instagram from the last five months, I can guarantee that you will see happy, uplifting posts. Rarely digging below the surface. Rarely touching on issues of the heart.
Social media has this way of covering up all the darkness in our life. It’s simple; we apply filters to the pictures and in turn, filter our lives of anything that doesn’t match our aesthetic.
Online we are scarcely honest with others, let alone ourselves. It is not something that gets shared. It doesn’t get the likes. Instead we write pretty poetic words and hide behind the screen.
I’m breaking that. I am going to be really truthful in the post. I hope you’ll stick around.
This past semester was the hardest group of months I have ever faced.
I had just returned from a fantastic summer working at a camp with the most amazing kids and fellow staff members. God was integrated into every aspect of my day and I was feeling so close to him.
Then I arrived back to school. My college is a Christian liberal arts school. It is wonderful. I honestly thank my university for the ways that it has grown me the past three years.
But things got tricky. I was in withdrawal from the community that I had over the summer but was also tired of the lying that had taken hold of my heart. I had been working for years on the idea of reconciling myself and my faith and I finally felt like I had achieved that.
So, in October, I came out. I posted on Facebook that I was unveiling the masks in my life. That there was a facet of my identity that had been hidden for far too long.
I am a Christian
and I am gay.
I thought freedom awaited me after revealing that truth.
But instead, I got messages that told me I was an abomination. Telling me I would burn in hell. That my opinion on this matter was not as equally valid as others. That people like me, who held the belief that our identity could be multifaceted, were underdeveloped.
I held a strong front. I interacted with those who openly stated their defiance to my claim and I tried to do that cordially. I met with peers, I excused their naivety and ignorance– the hurtful statements that they made and the ways that they dismissed my hurt.
I met with leaders of my school. The president of student life, of the college, of Student Government. I wanted to know how my peers could be acting in these ways, how they could be so isolating, and how my university could stand by while this all occurred.
My college did an okay job at starting discourse. There were public conversations on the changing of the covenant language to be more minority inclusive (especially in the area of LGBTQA+ youth). Professors gave talks. But still, the student voice felt muffled.
and I pushed others away because I couldn’t stand the feeling of not being heard or seen or valid.
We were throwing ourselves against an iceberg and it didn’t seem to ever move.
You can only throw yourself into something before the isolation and the pain of your breaking point is met.
I was diagnosed with severe depression before Christmas and started medication early January.
There is a stigma around medication that makes me cringe. There is a stigma that makes me want to pull my hair, scream into the void, and flush my medication down the drain.
But, I have an imbalance in my brain. The medication allows the proper amount of serotonin to be produced. It allows me to swing my legs over the side of my bed. It allows me to go to class, to get back into the conversations, to actually empathize and care about other people.
Medication is not bad. It does not zombify all people. Instead, my medication allows me to fight back against my depression. To fully embrace the person I know I am inside.
I’ve been praying this past week for God to break me.
That may seem drastic and insane and crazy but let me tell you why it needed to happen.
I started praying this prayer because I had built up myself into some sort of hard-hearted pirate who didn’t need anything underneath her feet but the pedestal I had built myself. I started praying this prayer because I needed God to break me down and then to build me up from bone, to make breath enter me so that I will come to life and know that He is God (Ezekiel 37:5).
And I am not sure yet how much I will break. I am not sure in what ways this play out. But I know that He is the source of my strength and I want to be able to stand only because it is on the rock of His salvation.
This past semester was hard and testing and trying. But without it, I doubt I would have been able to stand up so tall today and talk about love and reconciliation and prayer.
We need to love each other so much right now. With hate and darkness and not-knowing surrounding the United States right now, we need to love each other fiercely.
Because as Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. said “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”