Heather Newell is a guest writer whose voice we’re honored to share. You can read more about Heather in her bio at the end of the piece.
I spent over a third of my twenties living, breathing, and working in Rwanda, the small East African country known for its delicious Arabica coffee and the horrific 1994 genocide. Dubbed the “land of a thousand hills” Rwanda is inexpressibly stunning with its ornate, rolling green tea plots, bean fields, and banana plantations.
The beginnings of my life in Rwanda took place in an Eastern rural village that valued fresh milk, fat goats, Sunday visits to family, and most prominently, God. The United States Peace Corps decided I would be a good fit for this community as an English Secondary School teacher.
More than a culmination of projects and classroom lessons, my life in Rwanda probed me in pursuit of self-identity as I re-visited questions of my sexual orientation. Despite an unshakeable knowing of who I was since a young girl, I was too fearful to live authentically as a gay woman. I spent years of layered, internal resistance to “being gay” and hence, ignoring and denying that I might have been born differently than my friends, neighbors, and much of the population of our world.
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.
I keep making this one mistake in providing spiritual direction. Weirdly, it’s the same mistake a lot of us make when dealing with people on the other side of a hot-button issue, like faith and sexuality.
In my first meeting with a new client, I inevitably ask, “What brings you to spiritual direction?” This question has as many answers as there are people. One person may need more shape or direction to her prayer life. Another may be struggling to hear God’s will. Whatever the case, most people have a “presenting issue” to bring to spiritual direction, and it comes out here.
At this point, I assume we’ll work through the issue for a few months, maybe even a year, get it squared away, and then go deeper into this person’s walk with the Lord.
You’ve spotted the mistake, right?
Justin Barringer is a guest writer whose voice we’re honored to share. You can read more about Justin in his bio at the end of the piece.
Today as I was frantically trying to finish up some writing for a major project I had the TV on the in the background and Facebook open in another window. I was switching among the coverage of the American presidential inauguration, the commentary of my social media friends, and the document I needed to complete. I felt like I needed to say something because I have seen so many well-meaning Christian friends (and perhaps a few with less beneficent intentions) offer up words of apparent comfort but that have come across as mere aphorisms at best and as disdainful toward marginalized and frightened people at worst. Here is what I wrote.