Letter to Myself: Cari States-Codding

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Hey, kid.  
If you met me, you wouldn’t recognize me. Right now, a lot of who I am isn’t OK with you. And that’s OK.  
You should feel safe and loved expanding into who you are, instead of squishing  yourself into the box of who you’re allowed to be. You’re the teen who puts on dresses for church, and feels anxious and disgusting instead of beautiful and radiant. You’re the teen with the long hair, who uses it as a cover against the world instead of using it as an expression of yourself. If you cover yourself enough, maybe no one will notice that there’s something wrong with you. Maybe God will notice you trying, and maybe that’ll be enough. Maybe you’ll be strong enough to endure and overcome this trial.  
But guess what? You’ve got it all wrong. God can’t fix you because there isn’t anything wrong with you. You are wonderfully, fearfully, beautifully, intentionally, and lovingly made. Right now, you’re still hoping that you’ll grow out of your queerness and be normal. Normal requires a reference point, but there’s no reference point for someone who is divinely created. It sounds impossible now but, in a few years, you’ll discover a whole new side of God,  and you’ll find yourself unwillingly back on the road to ordained ministry. Except, this time, a pastor won’t be telling you that church leadership of any kind isn’t your place because you are a girl. No, this time a pastor will be telling you that you have a gift, and you are a person who needs to use and share this gift.  
You’ll find a way out of fundamentalism, but it’s not going to be easy. Years later, there will be instances that will trigger you and you’ll once again be that kid without agency, who thought that being themselves and serving God were diametrically opposed, wondering if God’s mercy and love were really meant for you. 
Read the books of Mark and Luke. Look at that Jesus with your own eyes, the Jesus of love, of healing, of compassion, and of sassiness. Look at what God has to say to you. Contrary to what you’ve been told, having an understanding of the Bible that doesn’t align with church views isn’t you choosing how you view God. It’s not a bastardization of who God is; it’s a spiritual connection and revelation of who God is for you. Having a different understanding does not mean you have a wrong understanding. 
Remember those nights when you’d fall asleep, praying that God would make you who he needed you to be? Remember how you felt that those prayers were never answered? That’s because God already had made you who you needed to be, and she already had plenty of plans for you.  
You are loved, you are loved, you are loved. And, my dear, you are more than enough for God and for me.  
You’ve got this, and I’m proud of you. 
With love,  

Cari States-Codding(they/them or she/her) lives in Philadelphia with their husband, cat, and dog, all of whom are very supportive of a third-year seminarian. Cari is in the process of earning an MDiv, seeking ordination into Word and Service in the ELCA. When not reading about queer theology or disability theology, they can be found playing Dungeons and Dragons, watching a variety of Star Trek series, or at a dog park. Cari is on a continual quest to figure out where she fits in this big, hectic world of ours, and they hope that they never delude themself into thinking that they have a complete answer.

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