|Rev. Drew Stever, they/he|
I had top surgery four years ago.
It was three months after the US presidential election and four months after I came out as transgender.
I gathered the required letters from all my doctors. I was approved for a surgery that would drastically improve my well-being.
This was in a time when “gender-affirming surgeries” were still considered to be “cosmetic” by many major insurance companies. Thankfully, my insurance covered over half of the bill.
But I was still responsible for over $6,000.
I am not Beyonce, nor am I Lizzo. I could not afford even $1,000.
I was frantic. I did not want the hospital to come after me because I could not pay a bill for something that I needed.
A mentor of mine suggested I do something that sounded so simple, but in practice, felt so uncomfortable: ask for help.
“Tell your story,” they said. Be vulnerable.
I mulled it over for a while and quickly decided I didn’t have any other option. I danced the Carlton dance from Fresh Prince (badly.) I lip-synced to Whitney Houston (badly.) I got coffee with people I love, but hadn’t seen in a long time. I asked for help.
My people are not executives, nor are they international royalty.
Support came in amounts of 5, 10, and 100 dollars. They came from all over the world.
Slowly, we made our goal of over $6,000.
There was no capital campaign. There was no major celebrity spokesperson. There was no feature on the news.
Everything I needed was right in front of me – in my relationships.
Dear Church: Everything we need is right in front of us.
Who we know. Who we love. Who we spend our time with.
The scarcity mentality of the church is one that is rooted in the inability to be creative. It is rooted in empire, white supremacy, heteronormativity, capitalism and ableism.
We have come to believe that we are alone in our own liberation from that which separates us from God – be it depression, addiction, privilege, racism, internalized homo-/transphobia, anxiety. You name it. We believe we have to do this ourselves.
Author and activist adrienne marie brown writes, “E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G—is connected. The soil needs rain, organic matter, air, worms and life in order to do what it needs to do to give and receive life. Each element is an essential component…Nature teaches us that our work has to be nuanced and steadfast. And more than anything, that we need each other—at our highest natural glory—in order to get free,” (Emergent Strategy).
To think that we are alone is to think something that is entirely false. It is to think something that goes against all of God’s creation.
The future of the church is not one that is rooted in “pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps,” but rather, a church, a people that takes off our boots and says, “Hey. I have a huge blister and it’s been there for a while. Could you take a look at it?”
It is risking the challenge of being vulnerable about our deepest needs as a community and as people.
What would happen if we just believed that we had everything we could possibly need right in front of us?
Image Description: A Photo of Drew’s eye and the ELM logo with the words: Future Church
Rev. Drew Stever(they/he) serves as Lead Pastor at Hope Lutheran Church in Hollywood, California. Drew likes to take strolls – not too fast, and not too slow. He is a novice front yard bird watcher and is a big fan of Mary Oliver.