Shadows can be a very dangerous place. The shadows of the dark night on the streets of an given city breed places of mischief, crime, and secrecy. And the shadows don’t stop there. Often times we have shadows that spill over into our lives. Our shadows hide much more. Like the wounds and scars of life we don’t want to talk about; the pain and frustration of shattered dreams we try to ignore; and far too often the shadows can be a place of hiding of our true selves.
I have known shadows. I have known what it’s like to be the only Black person in a sea of non-Black faces and feel pushed into the shadows whether I wanted to be there or not. I have known the shadows of being a female in family of male privilege where my words and presence are perpetually secondary to those with a fallace. I also know what it’s like to be a same-gender loving person in a conservative family, a bigoted city, and a closed minded world. But above all, for me the shadows have been a place to deny, hide, and decipher the fact that I am a person of faith who happens to be a same-gender loving person well.
Now for some this may not seem like such an issue. But when you are raised in a traditional Black Baptist household and have spent your entire life surrounded and inundated with a Christian message that seems welcoming to everyone but you, a life in the shadows can often be the safest place to reside. The good news about this story is that after many years trying to reconcile faith and identity, I came to a much healthier understanding of myself and a clearer understanding of what being a follower of Christ REALLY means. See there is not real argument in the Christian faith against the LGBTQIIAA community...not really. After years of study in college and graduate school and on my own, what I have discovered is that I am loved by a God who not only already knew who I would be before I was born, but actually created me to be this stocky, Black, good-looking, same-gender loving person. And that I am in no way an accident, a freak of nature, a mistake, or an abomination. I am now in a place of loving me because I am able to see myself the way God sees me, perfect. And no this doesn’t mean I don’t have flaws, because I do. What it simply means is that my flaws are not in my gender identity or sexual orientation. I cannot tell you the freedom that brings!!!
And once I was able to get free, it became much easier to help others get free as well. As the pastor of JUDAH Fellowship Christian Church on the Northside, I have made it my life’s work to teach, preach, and live an authentic gospel message that promotes radical love and extravagant grace. At JUDAH, we open our doors freely and willingly to be a place of refuge, hope, and light to those in need. We are not just open but also affirming. Our ministry is predicated on the theology that when Jesus says “whosoever” is welcome to the gift of salvation that that really means exactly that. There is no condemning or separation between Black and White, Gay or Straight, Trans or Cisgender. There is no “gay agenda”. Only a love agenda that seeks to live out the gospel in such a way that people are healed, set free, and delivered from their own shadows.
My healing from the shadows produced hope, peace and a determination to help others. My prayer is that if you too need to be free of your shadows that you find the warmth and grace that leads you to health and wholeness in the brightness of life. Dear one, GET FREE!