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It Gets Your Own Kind of Better

Ada

It’s been a year since we began writing the blog we now call Queering the Kindom. Thank you for being with us. However long you’ve been with us, we’re honored that you’re here.

We set out to share what we’ve learned in marriage, love, and friendship to give a glimpse of what a queer Christian relationship can look like. It’s hard to combat any narrative without a new one, and the narrative we set out to combat was that a queer and partnered life could not be righteous and fruitful. The narrative we set out to proclaim is that queer individuals who live in obedience to their God-given identity are a delight to that giving God.

We hope that Queering the Kindom has helped you on your journey. If it has, we encourage you to share the blog with your loved ones. Today, I want to tell a story to those who may have just come out, either on National Coming Out Day or otherwise, or to those for whom coming out is not yet an option.

Fourteen years ago, my family and I came to Maine for the first time. We drove halfway across the country, and I had loaded up my MP3 player with terrible music, and my brother had loaded up his pockets with packets of jam he’d taken from a restaurant outside of Philadelphia. Maine was where my brother picked wild blueberries for us, cupped them in his hand, and spilled them down the hillside when he tripped over the rocks that fold up like waves. I hope that some of those became new blueberry bushes.

I came out to my parents not long after that trip. Maine was in the rearview, high school ahead of me, endless as the prairie, as a night too warm for sleeping. It was my brother, when he grew a little older and wiser, who told me that our mother always loved us. And it was I who added that she often showed that poorly but the best that she knew how. It’s important that the word “and” be included between the clauses.

It’s a cultural thing, my friends and I commiserate late at night, that our elders believe they know what’s best for us, so they act on that presupposition, or they act against our “no no no no no” until we cave and say, meekly, “okay, yes,” because that keeps the peace better than expressing our agency does. They do it because they love us.

Zora, who grew up lobstering on a noisy boat and grew up white, didn’t have that experience, and there’s very little guesswork with her. I love that.

And so my relationship with my parents has been this faltering walk on a rocky ledge for many years.

This week, they came back to Maine for the first time since that first time. We last saw each other for Christmas in Illinois. That visit wasn’t easy, but I had given Zora a list of things to do to be a good Chinese daughter-in-law and she did them well.

Now they were here because I met and married a woman from Maine and we moved here. The morning before Zora joined us, we go up the hill overlooking the bay. “Do you remember the last time we were here?” my mother asks. “You must be cold. Go get your coat from the car.”

“I’m not cold.”

My wife grew up across that bay.

Now as we talk about buying a home, they side with my wife: “Yes, get a duplex. We’ll be your first renters. Or we’ll pay you in childcare.”

The last morning we were together, my mother says to me she wished she knew that Zora had recently been sick. “I would’ve brought more of the medicine I’ve been taking.” She gives the rest to Zora nonetheless.

“You should keep it, ma. Zora and I can always buy more when we get back to town.”

“What kind of mother would I be if I let my own daughter suffer while I was well?” She adds, “After all, she is my daughter now.”

Then: “I made dumplings for Zora. She’s going to like them, so I made two full bags.” We spend many minutes rearranging the freezer to accommodate the dumplings. I risk a loaf of bread that should’ve stayed put.

Zora drives to the nearest ATM early one morning to withdraw cash for lobsters. It had rained all weekend, and no one thought to bring umbrellas, but somehow we stay warm enough. We buy the lobsters at the co-op and cook them that night. Zora and my mother go down to the dock together to fetch water for cooking.

Zora takes the medicine every day. When my parents left, we went home and ate dumplings.

I don’t know how to end this story. Some of it feels like a fairy tale, of which I feel undeserving. How would I even begin to tell this to that kid who left Maine in the rearview fourteen years ago, who looked across the bay, perhaps over the streets where her someday-wife was riding her bike, singing along to terrible music, coming home from a long day of lobstering?

One day, her someday-wife will also have her best wishes presupposed by the people she calls ma and ba and they will call it love and they will call her their daughter. And it will be imperfect and worthy. One day, we will stand in the busy intersection of cultural misunderstandings and humbling relearnings and we will hold one another’s umbrellas.

One day, it will get better, the way spring never comes gradually, but always all of a sudden – the way you watch for the sunrise but forget the right-before. It will get better, and it will take all the moments before. It will take the longest days and the sleeplessness, and it will take the anger and misunderstanding and the exile and the loneliness. It will take you making it through this.

It will not get the same kind of better, but it will get a uniquely-you kind of better because of the uniquely-you way you will interface with a giving God. My own kind of better includes a second chance to live and review the ways in which I imperfectly express love with my family. I cannot write a better story than the one I get to co-author with the Holy Spirit. Neither can you. It gets your own kind of better.

And you will take your story from up on the mountaintop and bring it running to the ones you love most, your hands cupped to keep it inside, and an act of God will tumble that story of grace down the side of the hill, and in some places, that grace will take root, and in some places, that grace will bear fruit, and so on, and so on, and so on.

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