Memories of God #6
Back in 2006, early fall, I started feeling what I've come to call "nudges" from God. A nagging feeling. (Yes, I worship a God who sometimes nags.) I remember praying one night, "Okay, I hear you whispering, but I'm too dense to get it. I'm afraid I'm going to need something more dramatic than the 'still-small-voice' thing."
At the end of November, I found myself spending 6 nights in the hospital due to a clogged artery on my heart. (At first, no one was calling it a heart attack, but since then most visits to doctors have included a discussion about my heart attack, so maybe I had a heart attack. Or the difference between what I had and an heart attack is too slim to matter.) I remember sitting in my hospital gown and saying, "Okay, this is dramatic. But---WHAT?"
(I pause to note that I'm not entirely sure that God sent me a heart attack to get my attention. At the same time, I've suffered so little for this heart disease, that I recognize an awful lot of grace in it and therefore can't help but look for God in it. But maybe that's another discussion about God sending good and/or evil and probably not well suited to a blog post.)
The "WHAT?" is still unfolding, still an ongoing journey, even now, 3 years later.
But as I pondered my life and its hazards in the hospital, I realized that two separate friends had recently defined me as a gay, Christian artist/writer. Not precisely in those words, but it became clear that is how they see me. I pouted over that, as I really just want to be a writer or an aritst, sans labels. I pout that only straight white men get to be writers or artists. Everyone else gets adjectives: woman writer, black artist, gay author, Christian musician. Etc.
Around the same time, I received page proofs for two different stories that had been accepted for publication. One story was a sort of a fictional memoir, with me as the first-person narrator (it is based upon dreams I have of my parents visiting me in my present circumstances, even though both are dead). It was accepted by Windhover: A Journal of Christian Literature. The other, a short-short story about a man who reframes some family history into "just so" myths. It was accepted for an anthology called Charmed Lives: Gay Spirit in Storytelling. I couldn't help but notice a trend.
So over the last 3 years, I've made some effort to own my adjectives. Gay and Christian. I believe being more "out" as both has led me to some interesting places. Whether or not God is directly involved in these things, from heart attack to finding reward in being open about the two biggest adjectives in my life, I am thankful for the journey. In all things, give thanks, St. Paul said. It's hard to give thanks for a heart attack, but I'm thankful for the redemption for it. I always find God working hard at redeeming these awful things.
There's much mystery involved with where God is leading me, but I believe God to be active. I'm in a cloudy time right now, as if God is nudging me again. I'm hopeful I can discern some direction without another hospital stay. I'm trying to pay closer attention.
At the very least, I'm no longer asking for something dramatic to get my attention.