2017 #GCNConf Reflection by Elyse Kitrakis — “The Inspiration to Move Forward”

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A Guest Post by Elyse Kitrakis

Elyse Kitrakis recently attended the Gay Christian Network Conference, and was kind enough to share a reflection here on Where She Is.

I attended my first GCN conference in 2017, although I was not new to the Gay Christian Network. I have been out as a gay Christian woman for more than 20 years, but it took more than the first 40 years of my life to reconcile my faith and my sexual orientation. As many in my age bracket did, I married, a Greek man I met in my church, in an effort to overcome and “pray away the gay.”

For the 10 years that my marriage lasted, I remained faithful to God and my husband, desperately endeavoring to fulfill my understanding of what a good Christian housewife was supposed to be. All the while, my secret heart was tearing me apart, to the point where I ended up believing I would be better to God if I were dead. I would have never committed suicide because, after all, what kind of testimony would that have been to this wonderful God I claimed to have a personal relationship with. However, I did begin to pray every day to die, and often I would lie down and try to will my heart to just stop beating.

Thankfully, God did not answer those prayers, and after much internal resistance from my fundamentalist, evangelical upbringing, the Holy Spirit began to re-educate me and shed new light on old scriptures that I had been interpreting the same way for years.  Once I was set free from the bondage of a fear-based faith, my life became full, and my faith has grown these last 20 years to be more inclusive and less judgmental. In 2004, I became more politically involved, recognizing the important role we, the people of God, must play in the governance of God’s world and the care for the things God cares about.

Following the November 2016 election, I came to the GCN conference emotionally and spiritually drained and devastated.  I am still whirling at how intelligent, Christian people who I know personally could have come to the conclusion that it was, somehow, God’s will that they should vote for someone so morally bankrupt as our new president. For the last couple of months, mine was a life out of balance, in need of God’s touch and a new infusion of God’s spirit. I got what I needed and hoped for at the conference.

The highlight of the conference for me was hearing and meeting Bishop Gene Robinson. His keynote speech and the Q&A later in the day provided me with the inspiration to keep battling the darkness with God’s love. He provided both spiritual tools to stay strong and political tools to be effective. In his keynote speech, he said we know how this will end. “God wins. Love wins. We can suffer all kinds of setbacks and still keep working, because we know how it’s going to end.” Some of us will die before we get there, but we will all get there. He emphasized that “the big payoff for being a Christian is that you know there are things that are worse than death—like not living your life is worse than death—and if you’re not afraid of death, there is no limit to what you can do, and what God can do through you.”

His final words will stay with me in the days ahead as I endeavor to maneuver this new political landscape.

“I tell people, I am not optimistic about the future, but I am hopeful.  Because you see, optimism depends upon the goodness of human beings, and hope depends upon the goodness of God, and there is nothing surer than that.”

I pray God will help me remain focused on God’s goodness as I strive to stand up for the least of these in this new world, seeking always to help the poor, the hungry, the sick, and the marginalized.

 

Index of 2017 GCN Conference Content on Christian Feminism Today

Introduction to the #GCNConf Series
Introduction to GCN WomenConnect Featured Speaker Rev. Janet Edwards, Ph.D.
Interview with Rev. Janet Edwards, Part 1
Interview with Rev. Janet Edwards, Part 2
Interview with Rev. Jan Edwards, Part 3
Reflection by Jennifer Kane — “A Most Inspiring Story”
Reflection by Elyse Kitrakis — “The Inspiration to Move Forward”

© 2017 by Elyse Kitrakis and Christian Feminism Today

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Elyse Kitrakis
“Once I was lost, but now I am found.” Lost in a faith that was hijacked by fundamentalism and fueled by fear. Found by the capacious, all inclusive love of Christ that brings freedom, not to sin, but to wrestle honestly and openly with the tough questions of faith that aren’t always as black and white as we would like them to be. A semi-retired city worker of 17 years, Elyse is a Deacon (currently not serving) at Greenfield Presbyterian church in Berkley, Michigan, and chairs a Presbytery of Detroit Social Justice group called, “All God’s Children” (aka – That All May Freely Serve - Michigan). She has a book in the works and engages in a fair amount of dialogue on social media ever since the political campaign of the November 2016 election began. When not involved in social justice work, Elyse rides a motorcycle with a women’s group called the Motor Maids, and enjoys her two cats, Meeko and Hemingway. She also drives for Uber part time, to help keep the wolves from the door.

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