When I “came out” clearly in my support of gay ordination and marriage, I was serving as pastor of a conservative, small town church in South Texas. Mind you, I never trumpeted my views from the pulpit. I never used this issue – or any other – as a litmus test to determine the faithful. I abhor fundamentalism.
However, this article circulated widely on the internet. A couple mornings later, one of my favorite members of that church walked into my office with a stricken look on his face.
‘Krin,” he said, “I read your article. I think what’s hardest for me is that even though I disagree with you strongly, I have already grown to love you as a friend. Now, somehow, I have to put those extremes together in my head and heart.”
He smiled ruefully and shook my hand. We remain friends to this day.
The truth hurts, especially when it’s rooted in love.
Our country’s recent elections were the most rancorous I’ve experienced. I heard truths that hurt PRECISELY because they came from people I love. I’m not naïve. I’ve always known that the cultural fault lines in our country zig-zag through my circle of family and friends. Until now, I’ve delighted in the dialogue that has marked these relationships. I like to think I’ve grown from them.
But there was something brutally naked about this latest election cycle. It pulled back the cloaks from ALL OF US. I’m afraid it has underscored our divisions rather than offer a healing path forward.
Why does this hurt more than ever? Because with some of my closest relationships, it’s like living in different worlds. We don’t speak each other’s languages. There are niceties, politeness, but no real connection at the deepest level of our world views. Agreeing to disagree feels like drifting apart.
I struggled to find an analogy, and what came to mind – oddly – is a scene from my youth. I share it with this qualification: I love my father deeply, and I know he loves me.
I was always an avid reader, far more attuned to the humanities than math or science. This confounded my Dad, a successful corporate career man, who would have loved to groom his son for a place in the business world.
One night I was reading The Country of the Blind, a brilliant short story by H.G. Wells. I don’t recall the exact passage that enraptured me, but it gave me wings! I had to share it with someone.
I made my way to Dad’s office. He was seated in front of a ledger and his adding machine, intent on complicated problems.
“Dad,” I said, “you’ve got to read this!”
He looked up, distracted, took the paperback from my hand, then speed read the page I pointed out.
“That’s good writing,” he said, his eyes straying back to his calculations. “Thanks for sharing it.”
Even as a young man, I felt the fissure. What did I know of elegant algorithms or the intoxicating air of high finance? What did he know of the power that words have to transport us into realms of imagination?
And yet, there is love, and it remains…
I took the book back, touched him on the shoulder, returned to my room.
Such true words. The fissure is real, painful and feels like there is no way to engage that doesn’t drive people apart farther. Maybe in a little time people will move from their polarized positions of fear of the unknown and start to talk again. I can only hope.