Since leaving my former church, I have found myself listening more carefully to my neighbors.

After saying a resounding YES to officiating the wedding of two beloved friends of mine, it is as if wax has been removed from my ears and blinders removed from my eyes. My heart feels open and soft and beats with love and compassion for those who have been pushed away from the church for being who they are.

My friends in the LGBTQ+ community.

I see you.

I see your parents.

I see your pain. It's as if I can feel it in my own bones, right down to the marrow. I ache with you.

So damn much pain. Pain inflicted on beautiful human beings made fully in the image of their Creator. Pain inflicted by people of faith. People with good hearts, and good intentions. I see you, too.

Recently, I had the privilege of doing the funeral of a beloved gay man from our community, who was even more beloved as a celebrity drag queen.

Officiating this funeral was one of the most holy days of my life.

As I honored Jim, as I honored Ruby, as I spoke about God and Jesus and Love to a room full of beloved neighbors, some dressed in drag, my heart almost broke in two. There were tears, there was laughter, there was holy quiet.

Afterward, person after person had a story of being rejected -- by their families, by the church, by their community. Stories about growing up in the church and eventually reading the writing on the wall and knowing that they would never be fully accepted in their faith community, and so they (wisely) left.

But many still feel a tug toward the Divine.

And I told them that the Divine feels a constant tug toward them, too, in all their gorgeous diversity, in their beauty, in their fullness, in their humanness.

Listen friends, it is time to stop inflicting pain on our neighbors. Stop using human beings as political pawns. Religious punching bags.

It is time to kick down walls that divide, that keep people out of communities of faith.

It is time to see each other, listen to each other, celebrate each other.

Can we just stop breaking each other's hearts?

Can we, for the love of God?