Meg Baatz was first drawn towards God as a preteen. “I used to be actually insecure and simply stuffed with disgrace and guilt, and looking for which means,” she says, however she knew “Jesus was there simply loving me precisely as I used to be.”
Years later, whereas serving as a Bible research chief in a campus ministry, Baatz says her “religion and sexuality journey collided” as she grew to become extra aware of emotions of attraction to different girls.
For Baatz, prayer has been key in her private discipleship as she holds to biblical convictions on sexuality whereas figuring out with and ministering within the LGBT group. Baatz’s continuous sense of God’s trustworthy, loving presence has characterised her ministry through Posture Shift (which equips church leaders to succeed in and look after LGBT people) and Kaleidoscope (a ministry targeted on serving to sexual minorities discover religion in Jesus).
What position has prayer performed in your life as you’ve navigated discipleship and your sexuality?
Generally we are able to have a really slim view of prayer—that it’s sitting alone in your room with a Bible open, which is nice. However while you learn within the Scriptures to “pray with out ceasing,” I consider prayer extra as this place the place I’m conscious of the presence of God round me, and I’m additionally prepared to interact in relationship with God. It’s in that place the place I really feel most seen and recognized and upheld as an individual.
It’s actually solely in prayer that I’m seen in full by these infinite eyes that aren’t fooled by any sort of filters or lens or opinions of me that may obscure the entire fact about myself. It’s on this nearness that it’s not possible for me to cover, or to deceive God into considering that I’m somebody that I’m not. Nevertheless it’s additionally this place the place I’ve nothing to show or faux.
Prayer has proven me that God isn’t bowled over; God truly is leaning in to my life and my story with compassion, curiosity, and dedication to attract out his good picture in me. This acceptance has been the one steady and ample consolation for me all through my life. With individuals, there’s at all times this worry: What are individuals going to consider me? Are individuals going to reject me? However in prayer, God already is aware of and sees all of me. There’s nothing I can say, do, be, or introduce into our relationship that can trigger Jesus to be ashamed of me.
Is that one thing you felt even early in your prayer life, or one thing that you just needed to develop into?
I actually felt that early on. One thing that stood out to me was a youth chief who mainly stated, “God already is aware of all the pieces about you, but loves you fully. He additionally desires to truly hear about your life from you.” So prayer isn’t simply, Okay, I exist in a state of being recognized. It’s that God desires me to actively inform him about myself—whilst he already is aware of all the pieces about me. That was true for the awkward, unpopular, 12-year-old me, and for the 17-year-old me determining sexuality, and it’s true now. Even once I’m not constant in prayer, prayer is constantly there for me as a result of God is current and close to; I can at all times enter into that nearness.
You’ve had a wealthy background of discipling different Christians who expertise same-sex attraction or determine as LGBTQ. How would you describe your method to ministry?
I didn’t come into discipling LGBTQ or same-sex-attracted individuals as an elder or knowledgeable—I’ve solely ever simply been a peer. After I began out in full-time ministry, my method was knowledgeable by just a few various things. One was my social work training, which taught me that there’s a lot of energy in lively listening. A few of it was my evangelism abilities that I realized in my highschool youth group. And a few of it was my very own expertise of Jesus’ love for me, together with how I associated to him in my sexuality. My method to discipleship is, in a approach, my effort to recreate with one other particular person a dim reflection of the identical acceptance, belief, and honesty I really feel once I’m with God.
Virtually, this appears to be like like providing house for mates to simply course of their lives, and I try this partly by placing my very own emotions or motives on the again burner in an effort to maximize the house the place they will merely be seen and totally often called revered of their story. Doing this provides them house to contemplate God’s love for them; this unconditional love and presence serves as a baseline.
What method or posture towards prayer have you ever discovered useful as you disciple or evangelize others?
My posture in prayer has primarily targeted on monitoring my very own emotional course of as I method relationships with friends—each those that determine as Christians and people who don’t. That might appear to be asking God, What do you need to say to me by means of this interplay? The main focus is on how God is looking for to rework me and my very own coronary heart within the context of that relationship.
I want this went with out saying, however my relationship with a peer not often has to do with speaking about another person’s sexual behaviors or ideas. I say “I want this went with out saying” as a result of discipleship with LGBTQ or same-sex-attracted individuals can typically be oversimplified and hyperfocused on “Are you giving into lust?” Christians can inadvertently hypersexualize the discipleship of those friends moderately than treating discipleship as holistic.
In prayer, I attempt to deal with what sort of presence I’m bringing to others as they’re processing their life. So, an instance of that could be, Wow, this particular person’s story has lots of household rejection and church rejection. What do I do with that? Am I damaged by that? What’s my duty to them and to my church?
Or, I bear in mind when the Pulse nightclub bloodbath occurred, I advised God, I really feel actually numb and apathetic. Are you able to break my coronary heart over these misplaced lives? It may be one thing like, I really feel envy towards a pal who’s in a romantic relationship. Now what? Or, I had a pal who got here out to me as nonbinary, and in my non-public time of prayer I confessed to God that I felt lots of discomfort and worry round that. I requested, God, how do you need to humble me and remodel me by means of understanding this fellow image-bearer who has this story?
After I focus by myself course of in prayer, it offers others house to mature in their very own course of with God and of their prayer life. Hopefully they discover in me a relationship that isn’t distracting them from dependence on God however is definitely giving them house to do this. And hopefully I’m additionally modeling that. On the finish of the day, God’s work by means of my evangelism and discipleship goes to be a mirrored image of the extent of honesty that I convey into my private occasions of prayer.
What classes may different Christians find out about a lifetime of prayer and discipleship from fellow believers who expertise same-sex attraction?
When your lived expertise of relationships is sophisticated, and the extent to which you’re recognized and beloved at all times appears to hit a ceiling, what attracts you to lean into prayer? The LGBTQ and same-sex-attracted believers I do know who’re thriving are those that have come to know prayer as a sanctuary of tender intimacy with Christ. What their souls have discovered just isn’t one other accountability group, technique of habits administration, or a non secular stock; they’ve uncovered a secret haven of acquainted embrace.
Sure, prayer will be highly effective to assist kind out circumstances, temptations, and conflicts, however that occurs not by means of an mental trade however by means of a tangible expression of intimacy with God.
Intimacy is difficult for LGBTQ or same-sex-attracted believers. With the relationships they’re most naturally drawn to, the warning is to watch out or keep away. And in group, they continually have their guard up, assessing who’s protected to share their lives with and who they will belief. However with Jesus, there may be pure and easy relaxation.
We are able to’t ever get “too shut” to Jesus. We can’t be betrayed by him. We are able to’t be exiled from him for expressing ourselves too strongly or too actually. Burdens like loneliness, temptation, and rejection change into movable mountains—anthills, even—while you’re unencumbered within the arms of Jesus. I hope for my opposite-sex-attracted siblings in Christ to unearth this similar intimacy with Jesus by means of prayer.
If the Lord stated, “Meg, I’ll grant you that the church will be completely different in a technique inside ten years,” what would you ask for?
I might need to see the church cease attempting to have the dialog about sexuality at this very excessive, public degree that’s on the web, that’s very politically tainted and divided, and as an alternative convey that down into addressing sexuality on the extent of my neighbor, my member of the family, my peer—it doesn’t matter what different individuals consider me diving into that relationship.
That’s precisely what prayer helps us do. After we are distracted from prayer, we attempt to have interaction with all the pieces in entrance of us—the opinions and voices and organizational positioning, and so forth.
We have to get away from that and as an alternative lean into this quiet place of prayer—this place the place I’m residing out my course of, my relational engagement, and presence earlier than the eyes of God who sees the motives of my coronary heart.
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