OK, honestly, I feel a little silly standing in my garden holding a sign. The first time I did it, my sign read, “YOU are a blessing, not a burden.” I would have been glad to give that message to anyone since that has been the core of my ministry for the last 30 years. People doubt themselves, they don’t recognize their God-given value, they forget (or never heard) that they are beloved children of God. I feel called to remind them who they are in God’s eyes.
That particular sign was aimed specifically at the LGBT community and especially the Trans community who heard our President say that trans people should no longer serve in the military because they are a burden to the system.
Since the suicide rate among trans people is already higher than any other demographic in our country (about 40% have attempted), I don’t want anyone to be tipped into despair or self-loathing by careless or mean-spirited words.
Instead, I would like trans people – and all people – to know
- YOU are a blessing.
- YOU are created in the image of God.
- YOU are loved and lovable.
- YOU are of great value.
- The world needs YOU, your gifts, and your outlook.
So I stood in my garden, held my sign, and posted it on social media. My intent was to share this positive message of love and affirmation as widely as possible. Maybe those simple words gave someone hope or reminded someone of their importance.
On Sunday I received an email with another sign from a military veteran in my congregation. This one states, “I stand with transgender service members.” Approximately 15,000 transgender active, reserve, and Guard troops may be discharged because of an upcoming ban on transgender people serving in the military. This veteran was requesting that everyone spread a message of support for these courageous members who voluntarily serve in our military.
I printed out that sign, stood with it in my garden and again posted it publically. I wish the signs weren’t necessary. I wish it was obvious that all of God’s people are of equal and eternal value.
But we are living in a time with an abundance of negativity and hate.
It’s time for more signs.
People of faith need to act. It isn’t enough to simply believe something. We need to speak our faith and then live it. A few weeks ago, I wrote about words that should never be spoken because of the harm they can do.
But the opposite is also true. Some words absolutely need to be said out loud. Words against racism and exclusion. Words supporting compassion and welcome. We need speak God’s love out loud, with our words and our actions. And if that means I need to stand in my garden holding a sign that proclaims God’s love and my support for all of God’s people, I will do that – over and over again.
I hope my sign and my words will speak to someone who needs to hear they are not alone. I hope they will remind all of us to treat one another with respect and consideration.