This profile is part of an on-going series to help the members of our funky, fully affirming little church continue to get to know each other.
Five Questions For Gwen
We ask all of our profile subjects to answer a common five questions about their life, their faith, and what led them to Left Hand.
- Tell Us Your Story:
I’m from Minnesota, and lived there until my husband’s job brought us to Boulder County five years ago. The move to Colorado definitely challenged me. I miss lakes, proper cold weather, being able to go outside in January without sunscreen, and simply knowing all the unspoken cultural rules. But on a more serious note, the move also came at a time when I was actively wrestling with my faith, yet couldn’t quite grant myself permission to find an affirming church.
I grew up in conservative evangelical churches, where any other flavor of Christianity is considered not Christian at all. I came out as bisexual as a teenager, and left the church; there wasn’t room to be queer and Christian. Still, my faith kept asserting itself. And when I began dating my now-husband, I found myself back in an evangelical, non-affirming church. I loved the community, and they loved me–or at least the parts of me that I was willing to share with them–but I had to compartmentalize my concerns about the church’s stance on LGBTQ+ folks and women in leadership.
In our haste to find community in Colorado, we joined yet another evangelical, non-affirming church. As a woman married to a man, I am assumed hetero. I recognize the privilege in that, especially in a conservative church environment, and admit I did not feel safe being out. At best, I would have had a narrative of “ex-gay” presumed upon me; at worst, I may have lost my ability to volunteer in various capacities. But remaining closeted within my church was also extremely isolating, and assumptions that I was hetero meant I was privy to some unsettling comments and conversations about LGBTQ+ folks. The church hosted an ex-gay speaker, which turned out to be a prelude to doubling-down on its non-affirming stance. Though I had never become a member, learning that my friends within the church community had literally signed off on these policies was painful. And even so, it’s possible I might have still stayed out of inertia; but in staying, I would have been granting tacit approval of their policies, and there was one more external force that came into play.
Isn’t it amazing how we can be willing to tolerate things for ourselves that we would never accept for those we love? My husband and I do not have kids of our own, but absolutely love hosting exchange students. They become family during their time with us, and their presence and perspective in our lives allows us to learn, grow, and love better. We had some indications that an exchange student we were hosting might be questioning their sexual orientation. We talked openly and positively at home about LGBTQ+ friends, media, human rights, and politics, and we felt an obligation to tell them that many churches in the US, including the church we regularly attended, were not affirming. Hosting a teen who speaks English as a second language requires direct phrases and avoiding nuance, which in this situation had a secondary benefit: I needed to hear those words coming out of my mouth in no uncertain terms. I was willing to protect my exchange kiddo from an interpretation of scripture that I did not believe and found damaging, and a community that would never accept and love them fully. But why wasn’t I willing to do that for myself?
Which brings me here, to Left Hand. Even in my short time here, the community has given me a sense of being home, both in terms of my faith and in feeling more at ease in Colorado.
- What Talents Or Expertise Are You Willing To Share With Us?
I love to learn new things, and I am willing to lend a hand wherever my help may be needed. It follows that I’m enthusiastically terrible at a lot of things and decent at a few things. I shouldn’t play mandolin in public, or be tasked with event photography or cooking for a crowd. However, I’m pretty handy with a sewing machine and art & craft supplies. I sing, do some voiceover and audio editing, and I’m a solid meeting facilitator and graphic recorder.
I will also happily talk your ear off if you’re curious about hosting an exchange student!
- What Role Does Faith Play In Your Life During Difficult Times?
Faith will never stop being something I wrestle with, but I always find joy, peace, and rest in knowing that God is, God loves me, and God has a purpose for me on this strange and lovely planet.
- What Do Your Days Look Like During COVID?
Weirdly, life is not that different than pre-COVID! I was already working remotely from home, and have been very thankful to be able to continue working. My language tutoring was already online, and all my other classes and activities simply shifted to at home/online. Our exchange student had to go home early this year due to the pandemic, but we’ve enjoyed talking and cooking together over video. I am continuing to learn German, with the goal of being as fluent as possible by the time I’m able to travel again and visit our exchange kiddos.
Church community has always been important to me, and having the opportunity to connect with the Left Hand community online has been absolutely vital.
- How Are You Staying Connected To Your Loved Ones?
So many video calls and greeting cards!
Help Us Get To Know More Left Handers
Gwen’s profile is part of an on-going blog series aimed to help Left Hand Church members get to know each other better. If you are interested in nominating someone to be profiled, please send their name and email to email@example.com.