“Letter to Myself”- Bradley E. Schmeling

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Oh Brad, I want to tell you everything! But that would ruin the next decades and give us more certainty than is helpful for a white guy. Trust me that there will be ironies and victories that you can’t imagine now. 
What I really want to do is thank you. I still need the memories of that coming-out self; the way you totally embraced the moment, body and spirit. You pierced your ear and wore a rainbow ring necklace to synod assembly. One year, you went to gay bars after the Wednesday evening Lenten service every week. Although it didn’t happen very often, you worried that people might think you were straight.
The holy fire of those days is still being tended deep within me. I’m left with mostly joyful memories and still delight in remembering some of the stories that never need to be outlined at the Monday morning Bible study. The pain, uncertainty, and fear of those days has long complexified. It’s not forgotten but has forged a deeper self.
The cynic might say that it was simply a youthful rush of identity, a burst of liberating energy to “be me.” That’s wrong. It was the power of resurrection that surged from deep within the matrix of God’s creative love in every cell of my body. It was incarnation in time, spirit and erotic flesh; one body, fabulous members.
That power of resurrection came also from letting go of so many expectations and plans for a future in the church. If you remember, in 1992 coming out probably meant not having a second call. In seminary, so many had such hopes for you, and then they said, “You’ve thrown it all away.” However, you very consciously decided that being faithful was more important than remaining on a privileged roster.
I need your integrity still. Without sharing all the details of God’s future liberating work, I’m living in another time when giving up privilege is the requirement for life, this time not just for me but for people of color in this country and for the earth itself. I need you to remind me that resurrection is the promised outcome to letting go, sacrificing, dying. 
You are my teacher. I need to remember that you didn’t really know how to take next steps, but you did. Some of those steps were exactly right; some weren’t. I need to remember now that the wrong steps were often precisely the ones that made us turn a new direction. Remember that you can trust this sometimes painful journey, because the power of God at work in and around us.
You, young Brad (now “Bradley” after a silly attempt to sound more grown up), still love and laugh and dream within “older” Bradley.  You give me hope, and I need you to meet me in this moment. You remind me that the promise of resurrection is more real than confusion, fear, and the uncharted path. You, deep within, are the voice of Spirit. Thank you! 
With love and hope from the future,

Bradley Schmeling (he, him) serves as the senior pastor at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, St. Paul, MN.  He’s married to Proclaimer Pastor Darin Easler, and they live in Minneapolis.

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