Later, when Mark was at the library and Piper was practicing in the apartment (with no irate Garrett this time), I was eating some toast. I stood in the doorway of the kitchen, leaning against the frame, watching Piper’s hands move over the strings, moving his bow faster than seemed possible. When he’d finished one of his pieces, I asked, “Why do you like playing at church?”
“Why not?” he asked back, looking up at me, bowing a few random notes, sounding like the first phrase of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.
“Well, I mean, it’s nothing like the pieces you play for orchestra.”
“Oh, I see what you’re saying. Yeah, I mean, worship songs aren’t symphonies; hymns aren’t concertos. But, I don’t know, I think it’s a nice break from all of this crazy hard, crazy amazing music. It’s nice to play just for the sake of playing. It’s nice to play to serve others. And it’s nice to play in order to worship. That’s a new experience that I’ve never had and it’s turning out to be really cool. I like the people I play with and…” He was thinking at this point, stretching his arms out in front of him, holding his violin up propped between his shoulder and his chin. “My entire life seems to be music. And it’s nice to have a part of it that’s not graded.”
“Does your worship team know you’re gay?”
He played a small run. “Uh, yeah. I told them a couple weeks after I started playing with them. But I don’t think it ever really comes as a surprise when I come out to people. I try to just be who I am all the time. I’m not trying to hide from anyone.”
“Has that caused any issues?”
“My being who I am?”
“Your being gay and in a position of leadership in the church?”
“I wouldn’t say I’m in a position of leadership exactly. I’m more on par with the ushers and greeters than the pastors, but no, it’s not caused any issues. Mostly because I don’t try and stir up trouble.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“I could be totally wrong here, Matt, but by your questions it sounds as though you want me to tell you about how the entire church body sat down and had a big discussion about homosexuality and the church with me standing in some spotlight, and then at the end of it all, everybody voted and it was decided that I would be allowed to serve on worship staff. Nothing happened like that. There was an announcement one Sunday that they were looking for some more musicians; I went to an informational meeting; I went to an audition; I met with the music pastor, and I was in. There wasn’t some great screening process. There’s been no church split: people have not left because I play on Sundays.”
I felt like he was snubbing me a little bit. “I just thought that maybe,” I said, trying to backpedal but be defensive at the same time (yeah, try and work that one out), “some people on your staff might have an issue with it.”
“With ‘it’? Oh Matt… I don’t go around my church, sticking an interrogation lamp in people’s faces and screaming, ‘I’m gay! Do you think homosexuality is a sin?!’ I don’t want to cause dissention.”
“But how can you-”
“Matt, stop. Think about this. What is it you’re searching for? What answers do you want? You’ve got these huge questions that a lot of Christians have very concrete and stubborn answers to. This is what they believe and they’re not straying from it, thank you very much. But you can’t just go around asking people questions, waiting to see if they’re on your team or not. Is that really what’s most important to you? Is it more important for you to be right or for you to be loving? Think on that.” He nodded emphatically, and started playing again.
Well, of course it’s more important to be loving, Kevin. I know the right answer to that question, at least. But isn’t it ok to want to be right also?
I need you. I don’t know how to love people who want to change me, who will tell me that I’m wrong and that ‘don’t worry, Jesus can help you.’ I don’t want help. I don’t need help. I just need you to love me the way I am. Stop trying to fix me. I’m not broken.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
A bit more
Sometimes I steal things directly from my life without citing. Is that plagiarism?