A week ago the former worship leader & musician, now theologian, broadcaster and writer, Vicky Beeching, came out. It made news nationally, with interviews on several major news networks on both TV and radio. It was front page news in national newspapers.
Vicky was the first person who coached me as a writer. For several months three or four years ago, we went through a series of hour long Skype sessions and e-mail conversations concerning writing, blogging and the direction of my own writing. It led to me setting up the self-hosted blog I have today. We’ve had several face to face, e-mail and social media conversations since.
She played a major part in my writing journey.
Her coming out was one of the bravest things I’ve ever seen. And it taught me some important lessons both about courage, and about discovering our identity.
I’ve been struggling a lot with calling, identity, and courage this year. Indeed, my ‘One Word’ for 2014 is courage. Right now I’m in the midst of a period of self-examination and prayer. I’m asking difficult questions about my identity, calling, and have felt God calling me out to make some decisions about my own path – career, writing, relationships, lots of things.
I’ve been battling myself for several months, and I’ve been taking steps to make progress.
But fully embracing my identity will require courage. It will require faith. And for me to trust in who God made me.
Which is precisely what Vicky did in great measure this week.
And it came through a decision to embrace a major part of her identity.
In one of the many interviews she’s done since she came out, Vicky said herself that our sexuality should never define our identity. And I agree completely. Defining ourselves by our sexuality, or anything outside of God’s view of us, is always a bad move.
Our identity should be grounded in Christ, and what God says about our inherent value and worth as we are. But at the same time, our sexuality is part of our identity. And when we feel pressurised or in fear of admitting a part of who we are, as Vicky admitted she was for years, then it’s difficult to embrace our identity fully.
That’s one of many reasons this was such a courageous act.
And why else was this courageous?
Well, much of Vicky’s income comes from song royalties which she already lost through announcing she was pro-equal marriage. Her announcement is likely to lead to more. Then there is the fear, which she outlined in her TV interview, that many of her Christian friends may now rethink their relationship with her.
And then of course there’s the inevitable online abuse, both in blog posts and social media, and the fear that in coming out there would be rejection by many she loved, and a part of her identity would almost be invalidated by this.
Some of these fears have proved founded. There’s been much vitriol and attack on Vicky’s decision on social media and in the blogosphere – some of which I’ve read, and which must have been painful to read.
Fortunately, some fears have been unfounded too. Vicky has said her parents were amazing about her coming out (she told them at Easter). And despite disagreeing with her theologically, they didn’t try to change her or deny the truth of who she was. Vicky made clear they said they loved her as she was, just the same. On top of this many, many people have spoken out publicly & online in support of Vicky, myself included.
But the most inspiring impact of this decision is the fruit of it. One of Vicky’s stated aims in coming out so publicly was that others would feel free to be honest about their sexuality, and she would be able to be a voice for those in the LGBT community, especially Christians, who felt they haven’t had anyone to speak for them.
And this has happened.
Many, many LGBT Christians have come out since Vicky’s announcement – and said they were directly inspired to do so by Vicky herself. And many from the LGBT community have felt able to share their story with her, and she in turn has been able to provide support.
The courage Vicky showed in being honest about part of her identity, has been rewarded.
Fruits Of Courage
One of the biggest fruits of Vicky’s courage though, has been in in herself. As Vicky said herself on Twitter the next day, the night after she came out she got the best nights sleep she has had in years, having been finally able to be honest about her sexuality, a key part of her identity.
Because when we own the full truth of who we are, and courageously embrace it, then we are free. (you can tweet that)
We are liberated.
And we are able to embrace fully what God has for us, walk without a limp along the journey we were made for.
I hope I can be as courageous and open about my true identity – both with others, God and myself – as Vicky has been in the last week. She’s an inspiration to me, and to us all, of courage, and of being honest about our true identity.
Are you willing to be courageous about who you really are? To confront the truth of yourself and embrace it?
Have you been afraid to, for any reason?
If you’re struggling to be courageous about a part of your identity – whether it’s your sexuality, your calling, your weaknesses, your gifts, or any part of your identity, then look at Vicky’s example (the interview is here
and the video of her first TV interview, where she shows great courage in the face criticism, is below).
I hope you’re inspired by her as I have been. I’m sure you will be.
None of us have to be alone in this journey. Even if we feel we have no one, there’s people we can call. If we’re lucky to have trusted friends, confide in them and ask them to support you. If not, or you are afraid to tell anyone, there’s some links to people to call confidentially below. If you’re in a good church, ask your pastor. Or you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll help you any way I can.
We should all be free to embrace our identity fully. And not feel any fear in doing so.
Take that step today. You’re not alone.
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Here’s Vicky’s TV Interview About Coming Out:
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Hi, I’m James. I live near London. I’m a fan of good food, comic-book movies, & books. I love to write, and I coach other writers & creative people. Thank you for being part of my community. read more...