Thursday, August 29, 2013

Self-Narratives (John 5:5-6)

One person there had been sick for thirty-eight years. Jesus, who knew this person had been sick for a long time said, "Do you want to be healed?"
John 5:5-6

Self Portrait - Vexed by Liz Canning
As the lame man lay beside the pool of healing - yet helpless to get into the pool - so am I caged by my own self-narrative. I cannot go anywhere my narrative does not allow. This is not necessarily a lament, after all, I have a life's investment in my self-narrative. I want people to know it. I want to be known by it.

The story I tell myself about myself helps to create who I am in this world. Simply put, we are who we say we are. Like a blanket of protection, I snuggle deep within my self-narrative. Any challenges to our self-narratives are often difficult for us to grasp. When other's tell us something different from what we tell ourselves it throws us out of sorts. Those who have taken part in an intervention on either side, know how difficult the conversations around self-narratives are.

Jesus' questioning the lame man is such a challenge. The man's narrative is "Thirty-eight years and still lame." He is a victim of the capriciousness of life. Before he is a person, he is a cripple. Before he is a child of the universe, he is a child of bad luck.

Gender and sexual diverse persons are suspect to victim narratives. Depending upon our particular journey we may experience ourselves as children of fear before we are children of courage; as children of disgrace before we are children of God. When derogatory epitaphs as faggot, dyke, tranny, freak are aimed at us we know ourselves as children of scorn before we know ourselves as children of love.

It is easy to self-identify as victim. Easy to wrap the sufferer's blanket around us for whatever comfort it grants.

Jesus speaks to us: "Do you want to be healed?" Do we want to be identified as something other than shame? Wouldn't we rather be called beautiful instead of repugnant? Wonderful instead of disgusting? Awesome instead of filthy?

Do we want to be healed?

This simple question reminds us that while detractors will continue to make us the targets of slander and anger, we do not have to be victimized. We do not have to agree with the labels used against us. We do not have to assess our expression of love through the filters of hetero-centric hate.

Do I want to be healed? Yes I do! And with this "yes" I must let go of the bitterness, the wounds, the frustrations, and the disappointments, that while a part of my story, do not need to define the core theme of my narrative. Even though queer, we are children of the cosmos, not some accident of poor genetics. Even though queer, we are children of God, not sinners doomed to judgment. Even though wounded, ours is the gift of wholeness and affirmation.

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