As a shame-filled 20-something, I would recite the New International Version of Philippians 1:20 as my prayer for perfection: "I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death."
Slowly, as my perceived sins made their way to the surface, I worked incredibly hard to perform my way into pleasing God; to toil for a shameless life.Â I was certain that if I left the parts of self called 'sins' behind, thereby achieving a shameless life, God would be pleased with me.Â Then and only then could Christ be "exalted in my body".Â I didnâ€™t realize it then, but I was suffocating from the notion that love was earned and value was achieved.
I started emptying my life of anything I thought would be offensive to God.Â I disguised my femininity behind walls of paranoia and tales of machismo and labeled any expression of sexuality as despicable to God.Â I left my secret boyfriend of the time by following an escape route from Colorado to New York City.Â Surely my 'same-sex attractions' wouldnâ€™t follow me there, I erroneously thought.
Shame was burgeoning throughout my body like a viral disease because I thought my version of 'God is Love' and gender nonconformity were inherently damaged.Â But while I tried to smite out the authenticity that produced my shame, I was in fact compounding my shame.Â In fact, the more intensely I embraced shame, the more convinced I was paying an appropriate penance unto God.Â Needless to say, I was fixing the wrong mechanism with the wrong remedy.
Many of us have a deep heart, attuned sensitivity, and a strong pull to keep those close to us satisfied.Â We want to please them so that we will not lose their love.Â Relationships feel like a tap dance, whereby love is only felt if flowers are thrown onto the stage and our loved ones shout, "Encore!"Â When in reality, we are experiencing a fraudulent version of love. Â
It is easy for many of us to feel like we are a dry sponge cake that can only be enjoyed if we cover ourselves with an enticing, delectable frosting.Â But let us not forget the intention of our creator!
For me, Pride is a season of exalting God by cherishing the craftsmanship of my wonderful and intended design.Â Pride is a season of letting the truth of Godâ€™s creativity have its way through my authenticity, giving me cause to celebrate the I AM that I am.Â My body cannot be shame-free if it denies Godâ€™s instructions for its very own functioning.
Yes, we want to please those around us, even those who hurt us.Â But true love cannot exist when our loved ones and neighbors only see and know our performances.Â They cannot love a cake by only tasting its frosting.
True love only exists when others experience and connect to the authentic, God-created essence of your being.
During Pride we have an opportunity to allow God to be exalted through our own unique expressions of authenticity, including how we love and our gender expressions.Â To be shameless, or to "have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death," means that I must feel unconditionally beloved while expressing my true self.Â This is that type of self-acceptance I "eagerly expect and hope" for all of us. Â
And this, to me, is the purest reason for Pride:Â I am not ashamed of my authenticity, especially because dropping my performance is the only route to fully loving - even fully loving myself.Â Now that takes "sufficient courage," and that is the premise of Pride we are called to emulate, express, and embrace. Â Â
Walk with courage, for you are already and inherently enough.
- Are you blocking your ability to bond and know love because you are trying to earn the love of others by performing?
- Can you trust that loving yourself is the foundation of and centerpiece to loving others? If so, what parts of yourself must you embrace more full-heartedly?
- Spend time envisioning a version of Pride whereby you are called to courageously emulate, express, and embrace Godâ€™s version of authenticity encoded into your being. With this in mind, how might this change the way you show up in relationships?
Isaac Archuleta is the Interim Executive Director of Q Christian Fellowship.Â He holds a Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. He has been featured on National Public Radio (NPR), contributes to The Huffington Post, and hosts weekend seminars for couples, individuals, and religious parents of children in the LGBTQIA community.Â He lives in Denver, CO.
Reprinted with permission from Kyle Franklin, Programs ManagerÂ Q Christian Fellowship. Many thanks!Â Â
June 28, 2018.
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