Almost four years ago at the ripe old age of 49, I became a daily walker. Lest you think otherwise, I can assure you that I learned how to walk when I was less than a year old, and I’ve been walking along through life ever since. I’m not talking about that type of walking, the type we all participate in as we go through our days … walking from our bedrooms to our kitchens, from our kitchens to our restrooms, from our restrooms to our cars, from our cars to our desks, from our desks to our water coolers. I’m talking about the type of walking I engage in for one solitary purpose … walking.
My daily walks began as a necessary task following being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, but they quickly became much more than a means to lower my blood sugar and improve my health. Within a matter of a few short weeks, my walks took on a life of their own: they became my time to think, to decompress, to pray, to just breathe and celebrate being alive.
Growing up in a conservative Baptist church in the South, I heard more than my fair share of sermons that referenced Matthew 7:13-14 from the King James Version of God’s Word. “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”
If I had a nickel for each time in my life someone has quoted those verses to me and encouraged me to “walk the straight and narrow,” I’d be a very rich gal. And if had a penny for each time guilt and shame consumed me when I heard that phrase, I’d be wealthy enough to feed all the hungry children in the world … guilt and shame because I knew at a young age that I was definitely not “straight,” and I was terrified that I was on the path that “leadeth to destruction.”
It took literally decades for me to finally be able to tell the truth about my sexuality. In fact, August 30, 2013 marks one year since my tear-filled admission to a friend in my office. That day was the beginning of becoming who God created me to be, and I now live as an openly gay woman.
Though I’m not in a relationship, I am living as me … the real me … no more pretending and no more hiding. It’s been a struggle at times, especially in regard to my faith, but I’m learning more and more each day just how much God loves me. My faith was rocked to its very core as I dealt with the reactions of certain people I associated with in the church, and I stopped attending for several months. I’ve recently started looking for a new church, and my faith is growing and deepening to a level far beyond what I ever imagined it could.
Every evening when I get home from work, I eat dinner and head out for a walk with my dachshund, Oliver. We’ve met a lot of different people as we walk along the trail across the street from my house … young, old, male, female, black, white, tall, short, rich, poor, talkative, quiet, straight, gay, chubby, skinny. For all of their differences, however, there is something every single one of those folks has in common. They are all walking. But even in their commonality of walking, no two of them walk exactly the same way. Some walk slowly, and some walk fast. Some walk with family or friends, and some walk alone. Some walk with a canine companion, and some push a baby in a stroller. Some walk for hours, and some walk just a short time. Some walk without stopping, and some take rest breaks periodically. Some listen to music, and some prefer silence. All of the walkers on the trail are the same in many ways, and yet they are all so very different as well.
It’s been very hot and humid for the last few days here in the Midwest, so my faithful wiener dog and I have been walking after the sun dips below the western horizon when the air is a little cooler and less steamy. A couple of weeks ago, someone I met last year on the trail asked me if I was still “walking the straight and narrow,” and I haven’t been able to get the person’s question out of my head. My brilliant answer that evening was, “Ummm … well … ummm … well … I guess so … ummm … I hope so.”
I haven’t run into the lady since the night she posed the question, but when I see her again, this time my answer will be very different. I will say simply, “About that question you asked me … I’m walking the gay and narrow, my friend … I’m finally walking the gay and narrow, and I’m walking it hand-in-hand with God.”