At some point, it is inevitable that someone will ask me why I left my position as a pastor to become a full time chef (taking a 66% pay cut in the process).
It is often the when current ministry comes up that people ask — such as when I preach at a local church, officiate a wedding, etc.
The most recent question came from one of my supervisors at work just this week.
Each time I am asked I have to decide how I will answer the question. I can avoid it (“it was just time” or “it’s complicated”), give some kind of generic answer (“burn out”), blame the church (“they were jerks”), or be honest about what happened.
Depending on the person, I tend towards either avoidance/generic answer or just being totally open. If I don’t know the person well, I am likely to go with the avoidance/generic answer — in some ways it is nobody’s business. But when I know the person pretty well (as in this case), I find more and more I am simply going with the honest explanation. So I say something like, “I slept with someone I wasn’t supposed to. A friend who was a member of the congregation. That is a no-no in the church world. Oh yeah, and it was with a guy — so that is a double no-no…. and so here I am.”
There is risk in that approach, but I am finding that simply being honest about who I am is really the best approach.
The risk is both in the confession (“I was involved in a sexual scandal which was my fault”) and the acknowledgment that I am gay. We still live in a world where homophobia and bias against LGBT folks is not limited to the church. Homophobia and discrimination are real. And in the uber-macho environment of the commercial kitchen, this is still very true.
But I have no interest in pretending to be something I am not. I don’t where it on my sleeve or advertise it — again, my sexual orientation is pretty much no one’s business — but I also am not ashamed of it or feel I need to hide it.
Almost always the response is one of grace and gratefulness that I trusted them enough to tell them the truth.
That was the case here. And it was a nice moment of grace. And I think it probably made our friendship closer. Personal revelation tends to do that.
And it continually astonishes me how much more grace I experience outside the church, than inside it.
But I will take grace wherever I can find it these days.