Posted by: Renee | July 16, 2011

By our wounds we are healed

by Renee Sappington

I went to see the Breach of Peace exhibit a few weeks before seeing the Incompatible With Christian Teaching documentary last month.  Both experiences left me humbled and wondering “how much am I willing to risk to make the world a better place for ALL people?”  Perhaps the discomfort of that question is why it’s taken me so long to write a blog after watching the film.  I wish I knew I would have been a Freedom Rider or that if I were clergy I’d be willing to defy church laws that are inconsistent with God’s laws, but I’m not even sure I would have had the courage to share my testimony with my partner a few years ago at the MS Methodist Annual Conference had I realized beforehand what the fallout would be like for us and others.  But I didn’t see it coming, and when it came it changed me.   

Over four years ago a friend of mine killed himself.  Despite my background and degrees in psychology, I had no inkling what that kind of loss would do to me.   Had I known, I’m not sure I would have had it in me to let him into my life and my heart like I did.   But to love is to risk.

Did you ever think about how in the Easter story when Jesus appeared to Thomas and the other disciples, that the resurrected Jesus, with a body that could now pass through walls and vanish in a moment, still had the wounds from his crucifixion?   Seems even our God can’t, or won’t, erase our wounds – to erase them would be to erase part of us, part of who we are and who we will become.  

Who we will become…such a promising yet sometimes painful process.  I don’t know why it took experiencing the after effects of our testimony to make me give up my place of comfortable silence and, with tears streaming down my face and a knot in my stomach, sing “Have Thine Own Way, Lord”  when I knew God was calling me to  speak out for full inclusion of LGBT persons in our churches.  On that note, I so appreciated the point in the film where the typical question: “Can you be Christian and be gay” is replaced with “Can you be Christian and still close your doors to any group of people?”  I also don’t know why it took feeling the sting of rejection and realization that some would indeed prefer to close the doors on us or at least banish us to the back of the church with the “don’t ask, don’t tell” mindset – why it took feeling that for me to look more fully at our churches’ history of closing its doors to other groups as well.  Nor do I know why it took my friend’s suicide to make the statistics for LGBT youth suicides really matter to me. 

What I do know is that through these wounds God has worked –  my eyes are more open, my heart expanding, and my soul aching for a world where no one is left to question whether they are a beloved child of God and have a valuable place in our churches, our families, and our society.   What I do know is that the pain I’ve known in the past four years is what motivates me the most to keep dreaming. 

(Please allow me to say that at this point in my life I don’t believe ANY of our wounds, or Jesus’ wounds, are part of a Divine Plan – I see them all as tragic consequences of a world that has bought into a much lesser plan, and I’m thankful for a God that can take those wounds and bring healing in ways we didn’t even know we needed.)



  1. Thank you for always being willing to share your truth. Courage is not the absence of fear, it is the willingness to walk through it in spite of the fear. You my friend, are courageous and real. Love you!

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