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I need to warn you, reader, that I’m pissed off, so of course, I’m putting my energy into writing.

What am I pissed off about you might be asking? (answers by gesturing around)

Yeah. That.

Every day, I open Twitter to get caught up on the news and start my day pissed off reading the headlines. This cannot be the world we’re living in. I’m a little bit in denial sometimes because this can’t be right…right?

We should know by now this isn’t anything new. It makes perfect sense if you look back at the history of the United States. Even though it shouldn’t baffle anyone at this point, but it’s just as devastating.

The other day, I was listening to a playlist based on related artists to one of my favorite bands and a song came on that stopped me in my tracks. I had heard it a few times in the past, but this time I actually stopped what I was doing and listened to the lyrics. They perfectly described something I’ve dreamed about and craved for minority communities, especially because I fall at the intersection of some of these communities myself.

I knew
When you told me you don’t wanna go home tonight
And you tried to just shrug it off when I asked you why
Somebody hurt you
Somebody hurt you
But you’re here by my side

As I do, I got a little obsessed and quickly dove down the rabbit hole on this song. I started watching the music video, live performances, and interviews. I read articles and blogposts about the song. I knew this was a life changing song—and I immediately sent it to a friend isn’t this song amazing!?

And I knew
‘Cause I can recall when I was the one in your seat
I still got the scars and they occasionally bleed
‘Cause somebody hurt me
Somebody hurt me
But I’m staying alive

It’s not helpful to be pissed off at the world though, so let me narrow my pissed offness a bit.

I’m a Christ follower. I’ve been a Christian almost my entire life and I was raised in a conservative Christian denomination. As previous blog posts state, I’ve also talked about my relationship with the church over the years. To be honest, I’m still struggling with that relationship and here’s why: too many people I love have walked away from their Christian communities or denominations because of how they’ve been treated and the dissonance of experiencing Jesus in the building and among the relationships with people who call themselves Jesus followers. Some have walked away for a period of time and returned. Others have left permanently. So why are people leaving a place that should be one of the last places people should leave?

And I can tell
When you get nervous
You think being yourself means being unworthy
And it’s hard to love with a heart that’s hurting
But if you want to go out dancing

The majority of Christian denominations probably have some tagline or belief that “all are welcome here” or “you belong here,” when in reality there should be an asterisk after such a statement. Because we know not all are welcome. It’s a great statement. It’s hopeful. It’s open. But I think for the most part it’s a lie. The reason it’s a lie is because of the people making the difficult decision to walk out the door without the intention of returning. You probably know someone who has left—or maybe that person is you. And one community that is particularly not welcome is the LGBTQIA+ community.

Right now
It’s like you’re carrying all the weight of your past
I could tell all your bruises, yellow, dark blue, and black
But baby a bruise is, only your body
Tryna keep you intact

What pisses me off is that the Christian community or denomination will have conditions of membership for an LGBTQIA+ person such as celibacy, permanent singleness or even worse—conversion therapy. So this message of “come as you are” or “all are welcome here” isn’t actually true, if there are conditions. Not in the least. It’s ironic to me where Biblical marriage (usually is defined between a man and woman) is put so high on a pedestal and purity culture is ingrained into our brains from a young age, yet it seems like once a month, news hits of a male pastor/clergy/worship leader stepping down because an affair or abuse was made public. It’s the hypocrisy for me.

I also think of people who belong to the childless community who are consistently asked when they’re going to have a child, not thinking about whether the couple can have a child or if they want a child. I think about the single community that is often taken advantage of because of their availability of time, while also feeling so left out because of the pressure of not being in a relationship or marriage. I think about those that belong to the divorce community and how ostracizing it can be and how so often the lack of care they are provided, especially when too often the message is that you should stay with the person who abused them or neglected them or cheated on them or or or or. I think of the generational divides in church communities and racial divides, where it’s expected to “become like us” instead of learning from one another.  

I can imagine the loneliness, frustration and heartache that is felt. I know the loneliness, frustration and heartache that is felt. Church days can be some of the loneliest days for any of the above mentioned people.

So right now
I think we should go get drunk on cheap wine
I think we should hop on the purple line
‘Cause maybe our purpose
Is to never give up when we’re on the right track

The Christian community can say that it has created these safe spaces where someone can come as they are and they will find a place of belonging, but I really question the validity of that. Unless the people who need safe spaces deem said space is safe, than yes—shout it from the mountaintops. Otherwise, work still has to be done. I know I’ve been naïve in thinking that I was helping to create a safe space for people in my church community, when in reality it wasn’t. Were we trying? Absolutely. Did we miss the mark? Absolutely. Do we keep trying? Absolutely.

I know a place
I know a place we can go
Where everyone gonna lay down their weapon
Lay down their weapon
Just give me trust and watch what’ll happen

My relationship with church, I think, will always be complicated. Community is the infrastructure of how the early church in Acts was so successful. So what happens when that community that’s so necessary for someone’s spiritual/physical/emotional/mental health, becomes unsafe or toxic and when faced with the opportunity to adjust, learn, or change, that community digs its heels in to remain stagnant, irrelevant and unchanged? The obvious answer would be to leave that community. And sometimes that absolutely is the step that needs to be taken. But what about the other answer–the answer to stay?

‘Cause I know
I know a place we can run
Where everyone gonna lay down their weapon
Lay down their weapon
Don’t you be afraid of love and affection
Just lay down your weapon

I was listening to a podcast recently and the featured guest said something that made me write what they said down. This guest was talking about keeping his masculine pronouns because he wants to stay and disrupt the understanding of masculinity. And that made me think a lot about my role as a Christian and my belonging to a Christian community.

They will try to make you unhappy
Don’t let them
They will try to tell you you’re not free
Don’t listen
I, I know a place where you don’t need protection
Even if it’s only in my imagination

Over the last decade, a lot has been made clear to me, about the world we live in. I was once afraid to speak up about certain things (taboo topics, if you will) because one, I didn’t want to say something incorrect and I felt like maybe I was the only one who felt that way about the certain thing. And while at first, I followed those rules, because hello I’m a first-born and how else does one function—I had to ask myself “at what cost?”

Even if our skin and our gods looks different
I believe all human life is significant
I throw my arms open wide in resistance
He’s not my leader, even if he’s my president
*

There is cost for the status quo. There is a cost for not speaking up when something’s wrong. The cost tends to affect people who have already lost so much. I’m tired of seeing loved ones being beaten down and left to fend for themselves. I’m tired of the rhetoric that certain lives matter more than others. But I’m not here to just write about how mad I am because who wants to read more of that? So is there a solution? Well I have to have hope that there is and it starts with me.

‘Cause I know
I know a place we can go
Where everyone gonna lay down their weapon
Lay down their weapon
Just give me trust and watch what’ll happen

I think the complication of my relationship with the Christian community is holding in one hand “there is good here” and holding in the other “change needs to happen.” I commit to fighting to create space for people to fall in love with Jesus. I’m determined to stay and disrupt. I want to build a place that’s authentic and real, where people, no matter their race, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, or relationship status are accepted and celebrated for who they are.

I know a place we can run
Where everyone gonna lay down their weapon
Lay down their weapon
Don’t you be afraid of love and affection
Just lay down your weapon

If anything has been proven to me through these last few years, besides how awfully tough it has been, is how Jesus’ example of accepting and celebrating people for who they were is all I see in the Bible. Story after story. He met them where they were and their lives were changed. Why wouldn’t I run fast in that direction of loving people? Why wouldn’t I risk, even though I don’t think it should be a risk, to say what needs to be said?

The place that is safe, I hope it’s me. My home, my inbox, my DM’s, my text messages, my presence. And I will continuously work to be safe. I hope you see Jesus in me. I hope you see a different example than what you’ve experienced before. I hope you know how loved you are. Just as you are.

Maybe one day, a church community will actually be a place where you’re fully accepted just as you are, if it isn’t already. And if it’s not a church community specifically, I hope you find a community where you are cherished and know that you belong.


Song: I Know a Place
Album: About U
Released: December 2016
Written and Performed by MUNA

Read about the song here

*These lyrics aren’t part of the original or recorded song. They come from the live video below, but I think they’re powerful and needed to be included!


MUNA – I Know a Place (Live from Honda Stage)
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