During my third-grade year, Cabbage Patch Kid fever swept the country. Little girls (mainly) couldn’t get enough of these dolls with their hard faces and soft bodies. Each doll came with an official birth certificate with a name, and date and time of birth—details you could only discover when you purchased the doll and opened the package.
I remember when they released the first little boy Cabbage Patch Kid. I met him on a shelf at Kmart. He had curly, blond hair and (literally) rosy cheeks. He wore light brown overalls fringed with red. I didn’t know his name, but I had to have him.
In those days, Kmart had a layaway program—a bulwark against instant gratification. Basically, such a program allowed a person to set aside something they wanted to buy until they had sufficient funds to make the purchase. So, my eight-year old self marched the doll to the layaway department at the back of the store. And there he sat and waited for five months as I did extra chores for my parents and grandparents. With each window I cleaned, each floor I swept, each leaf I raked, I inched closer to him.
The other day I was chatting with some friends about the topic of LGBT+ people serving in ministry roles within the church, both on a volunteer level and in a leadership-type role, and of course that got me thinking about my own personal ministry roles and experiences. Almost all of my ministry experience came from the time when I was still closeted, only out to a handful of people; the only ministry experience I have since coming out is my role with LOVEboldly.
John Backman is a guest writer whose voice we’re honored to share. You can read more about John in his bio at the end of the piece.
You never expect one comment to upend your whole life.
It happened to me last month in a conversation with a wise elder. I was describing my ideal approach to spiritual direction—to all my human interactions, really—in which I am so locked into the other person that I forget about myself. My wise friend agreed the ideal was pretty good as far as it went.
Then, in a voice so soft I could barely hear it, she dropped the question: “Where is John in all this?”
My conscious mind drew a blank. My unconscious mind saw it for what it was: a golden opportunity to unload decades of repressed schmutz.