A couple of years ago, my hair started to change color. I would have welcomed this new reality if the result was a George Clooney salt n’ pepper look. Alas, my body decided that a series of randomly placed circles of white hair were more stylish.
I begged to differ.
Shortly after this radical hair metamorphosis, I remember standing in the shower and asking God if I should dye my hair to match its natural color. As the warm water rolled down my naked self, God (as he often does) poured out his own question in response:
Andy, can you accept this?
And my immediate response was: No. No, Lord, I cannot accept this thing that will draw attention to me and invite whispering and laughter behind my back. But later, when I cooled off, I realized it was less of a question and more of a request.
Andy, accept this as from me.
For most of my life, I hid the fact that I was gay. Sure, I told a trusted person here and there, but mostly I kept it to myself and that was fine by me. As far as I was concerned, the less people who knew the better. I didn’t need people whispering and laughing behind my back when I came into a room.“It seems the Lord has a soft spot for the blemished.”
Yet, now the Lord was inviting me to leave my hair circles uncovered—to live in the world as a spotted son of God. This made me reflect on the story of Jacob in Genesis 30 when he selects the spotted sheep from his father-in-law’s flock and God prospers him through the choice. It seems the Lord has a soft spot for the blemished.
Andy, can you accept your body as from me?
I have survived for many years as a gay person in the church. In my youth, the church could not accept the direction of my body’s attractions and invited me on a journey to change them. But some spots are not so easily rubbed off. Then the church pivoted and encouraged me not to change my spots, but to hide them—to remain celibate and quiet, serving faithfully as a single man in God’s kingdom. More recently, many churches have pivoted again, now inviting me to take pride in my spots and embrace them and all that comes with them.“I feel stretched thin across a continuum of expectations with such a wide-variety of opinions on what faithful living looks like for me as a gay person.”
Of course, this is an oversimplification of the experience of a gay person in the church these last few decades, but I share it for effect. I feel stretched thin across a continuum of expectations with such a wide-variety of opinions on what faithful living looks like for me as a gay person. More often than not, however, I hear nothing at all—just the collective silence of a church that wishes this would all go away.
And I wish that too. More often than I care to admit.
But some sheep can’t change or hide or embrace their spots. Some are just getting used to the idea they have spots at all, and that these spots are theirs.
Andy, can you accept this as from me?
I can, with your help Lord. I can welcome these spots as a sign that you have chosen me to be in your flock—that you have given me a unique body that is imperfect and dying, but beautiful nonetheless. I accept your broken Body and that I am caught up in it to eternal life where one day I will receive a new, transformed body. But, for now, you indwell this body of mine with its spots and attractions and inclinations. I accept that it is your divine gift to me. I accept that it is me.
Help me live holy and wholly in it.