God sits in my kitchen sometimes. Well, not in mykitchen – in the kitchen of my childhood home, a ‘90s bungalow with white appliances, paisley chairs, and prairie muntins on the windows. Sometimes he’s doing the dishes, sometimes he’s making dinner, sometimes he’s just sitting, larger than life, in thin air. But he’s always perfectly at home there, as if his entire job, his natural state, is just to sit in my kitchen.
The first time it happened, I was a missionary. I was consumed by inadequacy and convinced I was always falling short, and one night I prayed to know if my efforts were acceptable to God. I dreamed I was two years old again, sitting at the small wooden child’s table in the corner of the dining nook, busily coloring a picture while God made dinner. I picked up my masterpiece and ran eagerly into the kitchen.
“Look Daddy, I drew a picture of us!” It was one of those scratchy, scribbled children’s scrawls, with spidery overlong legs and arms poking out from a head/body. A disaster, by any objective artistic criteria.
“I love it!” God beamed, “It’s beautiful.” He hung it proudly on the white fridge, and I stared up at it, equally proud. It never even occurred to me to doubt his assessment, or to feel anything other than his genuine pride for me. I woke up crying.
The second time was different. Kerry and I were emailing over a blog post, and she said, “I used to think if I had a gay child, I would leave the church. Zero questions asked. But I was a gay child.” It was a question I had been wrestling with myself: I would be able to forgive myself for leaving to protect a spouse, or a child, but myself? Why didn’t my own pain matter that much? Why couldn’t I validate my own need to leave?
That night, God sat in my kitchen again. I was 13, too old for this house, but I walked in the back door like it was how I came home from school every day. God sat, larger than life, superimposed on the kitchen sink, like he did every day. It was a normal afternoon, but my heart was pounding. I had something to tell him. “Dad…I think I’m bisexual.”
God swept me straight up in his arms, bundled me into his being that thrummed with protective love. Without even hesitating, we went out to the car and drove away. The bishop called, and God told him that no, he could not speak to me, because we weren’t coming back.
God left the church with me that day. In a single night, 13-year-old me came home from school day after day, happy and safe, knowing that who I was was okay, knowing that God would be sitting in my kitchen, happy to see me, without a word of blame or guilt for what I had become. And the worries of whether or not to leave the church, whether or not to ever come back, weren’t even on my mind, because they weren’t mine to handle. I came out to God, and God left the church with me.
I woke up crying.