January has been hard on me. There’s been SO much good happening, and I’ve also had so much stress and heartbreak. I’m learning what it is to allow both of these things to live in tension with one another. I feel like I’m often tempted to just swing to one side or the other. Either things are good, or things are just terrible. And that’s not how life is. Life is often a mix of both. Good and bad. Beautiful and heartbreaking. Chaotic and serene. That’s where I’m at.
I just got back from the Q Christian Fellowship National Conference (that’s the new name of the Gay Christian Network). It was so wonderful. So many fantastic and inspirational speakers. So many helpful workshops, one of which gave me the courage to talk to my therapist about starting meds. So many amazing people I got to meet.
And on top of all this, I got to give a workshop entitled “Bridges over Battle Lines.” And can I be really honest? I didn’t think it was that good. I got started late because the projector wasn’t working. The group activity I had planned went too long. I didn’t get thru all my points. I ran over my time limit. Some moments were good, but overall, I walked away feeling like it wasn’t my best.
And for someone like me, if it’s not your best work (especially if speaking) it feels like your absolute worst. And the lie tells me that I am what I create, and thus, I felt like the absolute worst.
I packed up my bag, left the room to attend my friend’s workshop on bisexuality in singleness and marriage, and before I could even get out the door, there was a person who stopped me.
“I have really bad ADD, and this was the first presentation that kept my attention the entire time. I felt so seen, I feel like I got tons of practical info. Thank you. It was so good.”
A few steps later, a young woman told me that the presentation was good for her because her family back home doesn’t understand her at all and she feels like she has some tools to bridge the gap they have.
What is interesting, to me at least, is that in the moment I couldn’t receive those words of encouragement. I was too much in my feelings of self-critique to hear that something I made, something I did, something I said positively impacted someone.
The final morning of the conference, after we all circled up and prayed as a community, and found out that Q Christian would be held in Chicago next year, a woman walked up to me and said, “Thank you for your workshop. I feel like my dad, and I have some tools to help navigate our relationship better.” Then a deeper voice next to her said, “Yeah, we’ve already had a productive conversation already and we I think we’re going to understand each other better going forward.”
A father was standing right next to his daughter, really wanted to understand her. And sitting through my talk helped them strengthen their relationship. How incredible is that?
When I was sitting on the plane on the way home, I recounted the number of people who said that the podcast had been such an integral part of their coming out processes over the past few months. I thought about the people who said that the YouTube channel had given them the language they needed to talk to their family about inclusive theology.
Slowly, it hit me: “People are looking at you, Kevin.” And I’m not saying that to toot my own horn or to boost my ego but as a reminder that something as simple as putting together words on a blog, a conversation on a podcast, explaining theology in basic terms… it helps. It is helping actual people out there.
And even when it’s not my best, look what God can do with it! Even when I feel super sad and don’t have the energy to put creative work out there as much as I’d like, what I do bring is enough. What I have the capacity to create is enough. Who I am is enough.People are watching you... keep showing up. Click To Tweet
The same goes for you, dear friend. People are watching you! Everyone’s watching you from some angle. Whether it is in real life or whether it is your online presence, people are looking at you. And if you can bring your full self into whatever space you enter, physical or digital, you bring a gift to the world. Your presence of authenticity sets other people free to be their most authentic self.
You give someone hope. You have no idea how much you matter to someone else so don’t ever think for one single second that you don’t matter. The Body of Christ needs you. The movement needs you. Do not stop showing up. Take a break when you need to, but keep showing up because it matters to people.
Today, I’m sitting here writing this, feeling so grateful for the people I’ve encountered this past weekend, the old friends I got to reconnect with, the beers shared, the tears cried, and for the joyful, abundant life that spaces like Q Christian Fellowship help foster and encourage. I’m thankful that I get to participate in the way I do, and I can’t wait for more in this coming year.