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New marriage law

I am a proud graduate of Brainerd High School (BHS). I am also a proud evangelical Christian.

After graduating from BHS, I moved around to several major cities from St. Paul to Denver. When I moved, I traveled light, taking only a few books, a suitcase of clothes, and some basic kitchen supplies. (I look forward to the days when I can tell my grandkids about those years, when everything I owned fit in the trunk of my car!)

What I carried most dearly through my travels were my rural Midwestern values. Right living. Patience. Simplicity. Generosity. Hard work. Integrity.

These were the values I grew up with, having been raised by a hundred diligent church grandmas, farmers, and friends who were close as extended family. These were folks who knew how to take faith seriously and applied it to their every decision and hope for the future. These were the folks who had survived the worst of the Great Depression, the world wars, drought, farming crises, polio, the Cold War, hunger, loss, and age… they weren’t afraid to let God challenge them because they had faced down difficult challenges every day of their lives. They survived a lot of changes by trusting that God was in charge.

A favorite verse was always Jeremiah 29:11, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Through the mouth of this fiery prophet, God tells the Israelites to put down roots, plant gardens, and trust Him even in the midst of a difficult exile. That must have taken some serious trust and courage by the Israelites.

I took my lessons from these tough rural church grandmas and grandpas to heart, striving to live as truly as they did into Christ’s commandments for love, integrity, and right living. An important element in righteous living and integrity that they taught me is humility. Humility is the capacity to recognize when God is working in our lives even through perceived challenges and difficulties.

I know a lot of my Christian brothers and sisters are struggling right now with Minnesota’s new marriage law. Things seem to be changing rapidly and in directions we don’t know how to handle.

But God works through fear, change, and humbleness. Let’s talk to one another. Let’s reach out to our neighbors in love. Let’s connect in trust through these changes like Peter walking on the water toward Jesus. Walking on water also took a lot of courage on Peter’s part, when it would have been much easier to hide from the storm at the bottom of the boat, trembling with fear and anger!

I’ve known John Ward since I was in eighth grade. While I never had him in class, I always knew I could expect a kind smile and nod from him. He has been a good friend to my folks and I count him among my church family. I love this about growing up in Brainerd – I had a rare chance to really get to know my representative as a person.

In hashing out debates and opinions on the marriage law, let’s not forget John as a person. He’s our friend and community member. I have voted for him every year because I know him and trust him. I am saddened to read so many of my Christian brothers’ and sisters’ comments in the Dispatch, as they seem to forget that these political issues are touching real people’s lives. And if we forget one another’s humanity – as real and complex neighbors – have we not also forgotten that essential Christian truth: That God, Himself, came down to Earth to be human? To be one of our neighbors? To remind us of the essential value of loving one another through and despite our very messy humanness?

And so, as a person of faith raised and shaped by my extended family of Brainerd, I trust Rep. John Ward as my friend and neighbor. I trust God to have worked through John in his vote on Thursday. I trust God to be moving and challenging us to see Christ in one another in new ways. And, ultimately, I trust God to be moving through the hearts, loves, marriages, and families of my gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender neighbors.

Come, Brainerd – let’s get out of the boat and stop fearing the waves.