Let’s start with your story.
I’m the firstborn of two high school sweethearts, and I have one younger brother. I grew up as a military kid moving every 6 months to 2 years until high school, when my dad retired from the Navy and we settled in Colorado Springs.
I went to Wheaton College in Illinois where I majored in psychology but made it through by being a part of the theater group, a collection of earnest and authentic misfits who gave me space to breathe despite the strict evangelical mold that Wheaton is a beacon for. I met Chris Estoll and we got married the summer between our junior and senior years, then worked for Young Life until we started having babies (those 3 large man-children who sometimes accompany me to Left Hand!). Nicholas, Daniel and Jonathan were all born within 3.5 years, and I stayed home with them for a decade before deciding to go back to school to be a nurse.
Nursing school at Regis and then later working as a labor and delivery nurse at Avista was really the first time in my life that I was outside of the protected world of evangelical church community and home. The two-sentence version of this season of my life is that I met a woman at work, fell in love, realized I was gay, got a divorce and came out to the world in one tumultuous, disconcerting, lightning bolt of an awakening. It was terrible and terrifying, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but I’m grateful for the life that brings me to the other side of it and the person I am today because of walking through it.
What special skills, talents or expertise are you willing to share with our community?
I had the privilege of sitting and listening to Jen and Paula dreaming up Left Hand for a long time before we even knew its name. Right after I came out, Jen told me about Highlands Church and I started going every week, and soon met Paula there.
It was at Highlands where I first heard our Ethos, and listening to the sermons there helped me to re-write the messages I grew up with about who was welcome in church and how much of myself was acceptable to God. I spent many Sundays there with tears streaming down my face as I began to heal places I didn’t even have words to describe yet; it’s not an understatement to say that Highlands saved me during that time. And then, meeting in Jen’s living room once a month or so and dreaming and talking and listening to this idea of Left Hand take shape.
When they asked me to be a part of the LC that was forming, my first instinct was NO – I had no idea how I could be of value in that role and to be honest it scared me. But I loved this little seed that we were watering and I wanted to be a part of helping it grow. I am grateful that I have been able to be a part of forming Left Hand in some small way, and helping to shape the vision of a church that loves me for who I am. Despite the hard and scary parts, I’m still glad I said YES – I want so passionately for people to know that God loves them, and that there can be safe places for EVERYONE to breathe in that life-giving message.
What role does your faith play in your life during difficult times?
Growing up as I did, the daughter of two preacher’s kids, faith was as natural as breathing. Because we moved so often, our main (and sometimes only) community was the church. Everything in our family life revolved around this, and I have never known a time when my faith in God was not central in every decision or activity.
To say that the thought of being gay rocked my world is an understatement – the church I grew up in taught me that a person had to choose; you could be gay or you could love Jesus, but you couldn’t do both. I’m not sure I could have survived the process of coming out if I hadn’t had Highlands and later Left Hand. I couldn’t keep living the way I had been but I couldn’t imagine living without Jesus. Through Left Hand I have a place where I can learn and grow in my faith with a community of people who love God and love me, and I am reminded every day that I belong to God and that nothing can change that.
What do your days look like under the stay at home orders?
My days during stay at home look very much like they did before stay at home, but with a fine layer of anxiety frosting the top!
I have continued to work full time at the hospital as the ever-changing pandemic has unfolded, and I have continued my schooling to become a midwife. The boys have been home more, which means lots of video games and grumbling when the video games turn off, but also some sweet times of talking together and lots of baked goods. 🙂
The brothers are lucky to have each other, and despite the normal bickering really prefer each other’s company. One thing that I am proud of during this time is that I have built a pergola in my backyard! Lots of help from friends with that one, but an accomplishment nonetheless!
How are you staying connected to your loved ones and community?
I have a love-hate relationship with Zoom because I feel so grateful to be able to still see my people and talk to their faces even though we are apart so much with the pandemic, but I so desperately miss being in the same space and TOUCHING PEOPLE. I do appreciate how we are all getting creative with connection the best we can, but I have to say that it’s a pale shadow. I am going to need an unlimited snuggle couch situation at your earliest convenience.
Christy’s profile is part of an on-going blog series aimed to help Left Hand members get to know each other better. Over the next few weeks we will be profiling the volunteer members of our Leadership Council.