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Have any shaming experience(s) been redeemed in a way that you now consider a blessing in your life? If so, how?
My husband and I were shamed by our former church community and by family members who disagreed with our support of our daughter. But it was nothing like what LGBTQ people have had to endure. The biggest blessing of that shaming was to experience the smallest part of what the community goes through. I count it an honor to have experienced even the smallest part of that shame.
The other blessing of that shaming is that it's pushed me to redouble my efforts as a radical advocate. Because if I have experienced shame as a grown woman with resources and a supportive partner and children, how much worse is it to endure that abuse of shame when you're young and have far less experience, and fewer options. So it has made me all the fiercer to defend this community from bullies in family or church.
Being told that "we lock people like you up" and being equated to be a pedophile and other bizarre nuances based on ignorance, forced me to develop a strong sense of resilience.
Realising that what was being said publicly and in the media was not true and damaging. Initially it made me angry, but it made me explore strategies to counter what was happening.
As a christian I needed to do my homework. While resources during the 1970's and 80's were limited I discovered a range of materials that showed me that I could make a difference.
When I was in my twenties I sensed that marriage was not an option. I also dismissed the sense that God was possibly calling me to an inclusive ministry but ..... little did I recognise that God was preparing me for something even greater. When I was 53 I discovered GCN.
Through that community God made it clear I was being prepared for this moment and at my first conference, 2008 in Anaheim, God called me into ministry with the LGBTQ community.
I now lead an online-inclusive Facebook group for nearly 2500 Salvation Army members and friends.
My church community uses me as an advisor around things LGBTQ. I have access to senior leadership in our church at the highest level and am often asked for input on resources and procedures.
I now have the most awesome range of friends whom I love dearly and have been there for me as much as I try to be there for them.
I don't know if any of the shaming experiences in my life have been redeemed in the same sense that I used to think of it. I'm not exactly thankful for the struggles I've had to go through, but rather I am thankful that God made me resilient enough to survive those moments. God made me strong and bold and creative, and it was because of those things that I was able to keep going.
And when I look back at those season of my life that were heavy with shame, I give thanks that I was resilient enough to overcome, that the Spirit was present even in the moments when I could not see it at all.
Laura Beth Buchleiter
Nothing from our journey is without worth. I say that as a victim of sexual, emotional and spiritual abuse. While I would never wish the experience of shame - which is, at its core, one form of emotional or spiritual abuse - on anyone, my experience with it has deepened the level of empathy I am able to reach. It’s not the calling of every victim to become an advocate or to walk with others. It is mine. Answering that call would not be possible if I had not been where I have been.
I have concluded that good theology and leadership bear good fruit. In other words, my coming out and also serving as a pastor has produced good fruit such as deeper solidarity with people of all sorts who suffer, and more openness and vulnerability with people in my life, including my congregation.
Only glimpses of redemption. Being ordained as a deacon after being disfellowshipped by my previous church was certainly a beautiful moment. But honestly, it is difficult to still feel the pangs of bitterness about the previous church and the friendships lost.
The first boyfriend I had at the age of 27 often made me feel ashamed that I had sexual boundaries because it showed that I was repressing my sexuality and was ashamed of being gay. This not only affected the dynamic of the relationship negatively but also made the idea sex very stressful for me. In retrospect, I do appreciate him because without him my conservative ideas about sex may not have gone unchallenged, and they needed to be challenged.
I used to think that I needed to buffer my personality, hide my authenticity, and keep my gender expressions tucked in a closet. But having spent transformative years in therapy has not only taught me to be fearless in the way I shine, but they also taught me to embrace God’s design of my personhood. And now, after all those arduous years and endless tears, I love that I can freely call myself a bisexual, Latinx person with a brown over-the-shoulder bag (I take her with me everywhere I go)! I love that I get to promote a deep and profound version of love within the world. I love that my authentic expressions of gender gives permission for others to do and be the same...authentic. I still find myself in disbelief and overwhelmed with joy that God never wanted me to shutdown my personality, but created for the sole purpose of shining.