I cried through quite a lot of The Greatest Showman.
I cried, because it was putting words and music to something that I’ve been struggling with for a while.
I often feel empathy for characters in a story, but I rarely get quite this pulled in and feel that what I’m seeing and hearing is SO MUCH my life – metaphorically of course – I’ve never been in the circus. There’s still time I guess…
Because here was a story about belonging and welcome and outcasts finding a family. It was also about rejection and appearances and fulfillment.
But beyond that the words Never Enough rang in my ears like a gong, a wake up call to what I knew I had been feeling for the last eighteen months or so. Because yes that’s how I’d been feeling. That I would never be enough for some of the people and institutions in my life. In my sexuality and who I was, being talked about and examined and discussed as an “issue”, for some all they would ever see was the issue; all they would ever see was a rebellious, questioning, mistaken, deceived bisexual who needs to sit down and be quiet.
To some I will never be enough.
My singleness (and desperate loneliness) is not enough for them to even allow me to fulfill my calling as someone who leads people to worship God – even though before I came out, I was encouraged in it and those people met God; would they have preferred I continue to lie? To some even stopping me (and people like me) from being in leadership or teaching – even when we are single and so not “sinning” – will never be enough, they want my silence as well. To some, even my silence is never enough, I need to “go somewhere else”. To some, even being out of sight is never enough, I need to “pray away the gay”. To some, even changing orientation would never be enough – I need to say there is no such thing as orientation or being gay, but that everyone is straight and anything else is deliberate rebellion or demon possession. To some, even this deeply abusive and hateful path is never enough – I need to not exist. Yes, you can see why my mental health has taken a tumble. The last few examples are of course extremes and only a very small minority of people would go there… and yet, those two words still ring.
My loyalty and service for nearly forty years is not enough to give any benefit of the doubt. The positive fruit I’ve grown and shown was not enough to allow any latitude or leeway. The Wisdom, truths & teaching I’ve shared and given is not enough to treat my words on affirming theology with equal weight. The reality of my story and experience was not enough to truly weigh the bad fruit of non-affirming theology – in fact it was too much for some and I, like many LGBT people, am gaslighted into denying my own experience of love and that experience being relegated only to lust and selfish desire.
But you know what made me cry more…. that a rejected, marginalised, outcast group didn’t care that they would never be enough for the pharisees of their day. That they stood and said, This is Me and I’m not going to be put in a corner or silenced or hidden away or pushed to the edges. And that they found a place of welcome and acceptance – and that for me and so many others that’s exactly what the church should be. And that it’s not.
And yet… There is Hope. Hope in the Year of Hell. Hope in my life of hopelessness, despair and rejection. Because my life is not about those people for whom I am never enough. My life is me being able to say, “This is Me” and the people in my life who shout back in celebration, “That’s great! And this is Me! Let’s travel on this road together.”
Thank God for those who see me, who see the person I am and love that person. Who see not just the utilitarian use I can be (Worship leader, brew maker, tithe giver, Messy church leader, Singer, Youth Leader…), who don’t just want me around for what I can do for them, but for who I can be. I’ve let those people down this last year.
Because I’ve let the voices of the people for whom I will never be enough drown out the ones who want me to just be me. I’ve let those who have turned their backs block out the vision of those who want to embrace. I’ve let those who want to control and manipulate and let unbridled order dominate be front and centre rather than those who want to participate and co-operate and question and discover together. No More!
I’m sorry to you who have stood, supported and held me for not shouting your names in gratitude. I’m sorry I’ve let the Never Enough people drag me down while you’ve all been trying to lift me up. I’m sorry that I’ve been so exhausted from fighting to be able to do what God calls me to that I haven’t actually been pulling my weight and bloody doing what God calls me to.
No More! I’m done with it.
So here I am, this is me. True Bard, Devoted Lover, Loyal Friend. Jesus Follower, Worship Leader, Empath. Feminist, Comfortadore, Bisexual, Homo-romantic. And a hundred other things.
To you for whom I am Never Enough – You don’t want my voice, my heart, my mind, my questioning, my wisdom, my leadership, my example, my humour, my very self? You won’t get it. You won’t get my money, my bum on your seat, my enthusiasm, my devotion, my talent or my company. I actually don’t want a bar of your bible-worshipping, authoritarian, exclusionary cult. I’m done with it.
To you who celebrate our “This is Me” together? Thank you. I’ve got your back. You get my company, my wit, my wisdom, my sometimes incompetence, my small stature, my fierceness, my gratitude and my devotion. You get me. And I hope I get you. The whole of you.