An Open Letter to The Crossing Church

Your pastor and I both preached in my hometown on homecoming weekend about Jesus on Sunday, October 13, 2019. We did our best to share a message of compassion and hope to the people God entrusted to us at our two different churches across town from each other. My sermon was about the story of Jesus’ miracle turning water into wine. Your sermon was about Jesus’ view of people who are the “T” of LGBTQ. You were warned that the sermon was risky because it is a topic avoided by most preachers.

I watched the video of the sermon. The risk of preaching is that what we say from the pulpit will be heard and interpreted a thousand different ways. What was heard may be different than what was said or different than what was intended. Yet, what I heard was ultimately harmful.

I heard the preacher say that transgender people will not get beat up at The Crossing. They will not get called names. The preacher said that as Christians we need to treat transgender people with compassion. Yet, compassion is more than promising not to bully, physically abuse, and harass someone, right?

The preacher also said that if someone is transgender, then they need to make a choice: to follow Jesus or to follow culture. The preacher says that being transgender is a choice influenced by a sexually promiscuous culture. For the preacher, transgender identity is not of God.

He says this is the Biblical view and that Christians need to submit to Biblical authority over and above culture. He gives the example of slavery, saying that culture supported it for a long time. He forgets to mention that the Bible was the authority used to defend slavery. He forgets that Christians used the Bible to defend their God-given right to own slaves.

I am concerned for my hometown of Columbia, Missouri. The Crossing Church is an important community partner, doing great things (eliminating medical debt for hundreds of families). Yet, The Crossing’s message about transgender people is not reflective of Jesus’ love. The thing is, what the preacher said was a spiritually abusive interpretation of the Bible. And that is not Christian compassion.

Church, we can do better than to say to a whole population of people “you can come here and we won’t call you names or beat you up.” Is that really what Jesus would do?

Church, let’s do better. Jesus loves LGBTQ people a whole, whole lot. And Jesus would never ask us to choose between loving God or loving ourselves. I am a Christian Minister, pastor of a church and a preacher. I preach Jesus and Jesus loves LGBTQ people just as they are…beautiful, beloved, and created good.

World Mental Health Day Prayer

God who created the heart and the mind, heaven and earth, in the beginning of creation You said it was good.

But what about when “good” no longer describes how we feel?

What about the times when we feel bad, low, lost, alone, anxious, scared, hurt, sad, depleted, hollow, dull, lifeless, listless, haunted, depressed, worthless, and nothingness?

Are we still part of Your good creation, even then?

Hear us when we cry out “What is good in us when there is mental illness?”

Come near to us in our time of trouble. Do not let us go. Do not take Your Spirit from us. Save us.

Help us find life again.

Hold us close to Your heart and whisper to us once more that we are good, that we are more than our mental illness, that we are made in Your image.

God of wholeness, we give thanks that You love us even when we do not love ourselves.

God of hope, we give thanks for our minds and our hearts. We are good and we are whole because we belong to You. Now and forever. Amen.

Invisible Hurricanes

Living on the east coast of Florida as a new bride in 2006, and then as a new mom in 2009, I paid extra close attention to any mention of a hurricane brewing offshore. We happily moved in 2014 back to the Midwest before any big ones hit our coastal home.

Yet, I’ve realized that hurricanes are all around us and they don’t care what coast you live on. Actually, the kind of hurricane I’m thinking about doesn’t really care where you live or that you live.

Hurricanes in the brain happen when thoughts get caught up in a death-bound spiral. Ever heard of a tropical depression? The process of a tropical storm turning into a category one hurricane reminds me of what it’s like to go from mild to moderate depression.

It’s when the hurricane categories skyrocket up and hit level five that severe depression can be deadly. The brain seems to have its own inner weather system.

As the loved one of those living with serious depression, sometimes all we can do is watch for signals telling us it’s time to evacuate our home. It’s time to go get help. Sandbags are not enough.

But how do you really know what will happen next? The track of the hurricane changes rapidly and can lose steam or strengthen or overnight.

You can go to bed with a tropical storm and wake up in the eye of a category three or four or five hurricane.

I wonder if there is a scientific method for tracking the brain’s weather system, a way to clearly communicate the level of depressive activity and level of risk for suicide. I wonder how lives might be saved if we knew the hurricane in the brain was coming. We could gather all the supplies. We could evacuate and get out alive.

We need more research on the brain. We need more mental health resources. We need more tools to help keep us and our loved ones alive. We need to do more to prevent suicide. We can start by teaching our children the warning signs and how to track the storm.

For my family, it’s after the storm. And we are safe. This time. We know that so many do not survive. And one death is one too many.

I thought I could move away from the hurricanes. I didn’t realize they were with me all along. Invisible hurricanes are all around us.

I am learning how to trust my own weather radar system. I am learning how to not be afraid of the storm. I am learning how to watch for it and how to prepare to survive.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255