Danger - and Opportunity
by Lori Heine
MOTIVATIONAL speakers are fond of telling us that the Chinese word for “crisis” combines two characters: one representing “danger” and the other “opportunity.” There’s some truth in that, though those who really know Chinese say the logic of their written language is not that cut-and-dried. Oh, well…it does sound motivational. And in a deeper sense, it’s true that there is often danger in opportunity, and opportunity in danger. As we greet a new year, LGBT Christians face a world bursting with both.
Every year, we win more allies. More of us come out, and we discover that many people love us anyway. But being out also exposes us to hate. There is opportunity to be accepted and appreciated as ourselves – who we really are. Yet, there is danger from those who turn their fears against us – not because of who we are, but because of the scary phantoms in their minds that get projected onto us.
Do we run and hide, or do we step forward into the sunlight and embrace the future? The danger will not go away, at least not entirely. Not for a long time, and maybe not ever. If we are to move into a bright future, we must do so unafraid. We can’t let the shadows catch us.
Gradually, many of those who used to be enemies are turning into friends. Because we are honest about who we are, they see that we’re not monsters. They can hate and fear phantoms, but real, flesh-and-blood people, with loving hearts, will be loved back by all whose hearts aren’t made of stone and whose minds are not closed against us. Thank God, that means most people. As we shine the light on the shadows, they dispel – and danger increasingly turns into opportunity.
There are those, too, who want to keep us afraid. They’ve done little to help us, and their support is fickle. But they do their utmost to make us feel they are our only friends, and that we’re dependent on their friendship. They tell us we can trust no one but them, but they are wrong. Just as we have won new allies, we will win many more.
True friends don’t try to hold us back, and they don’t try to make us fearful. If a pastor or a political candidate who opposed us once supports us today, why should our self-appointed “only friends” tell us we mustn’t forgive them? Before we accepted ourselves, some of us believed things about “those people” – LGBT people who were out then – we’d be ashamed to admit to now. People may come to our side more quickly if they know that, instead of holding against them the words they said in the past, we forgive them.
Christians do forgive, because we believe in a God who forgives and who grants a fresh start to anyone who wants one. Is there a risk in that? It’s one God is willing to take. Can we do any less?
There may be a greater danger in trusting those who try to hold us back and keep us captive to fear and old resentments. We can get nowhere worth going by running and hiding. We can only get there by stepping forward and embracing the future. In this New Year of danger and opportunity, we can overcome the danger by refusing to let it stop us. And we can make the most of every opportunity that comes our way.
© 2012 Lori Heine
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