Jackie Hill Perry seems to use as many creative outlets as possible to share her story and the gospel. She’s a poet, an artist, an author, a teacher and speaker, an influencer, and a wife and mom. She inspires so many daily through her social media and in her fearless proclamation of the Word in unique ways. I have followed along with Jackie for a few years now, but this book is by far my favorite of her pieces of work.
Gay Girl, Good God is broken into three parts. Who she was, who she became, and then practical help for those caught in the struggle as well as fresh perspective of the reality of same sex attraction as God sees it, and therefore as absolute truth. We follow Jackie through her life as she points out key events that helped shaped her into who she is, but she never fails to highlight that none of these things are to blame for her attractions, but sin entering into the world is. Jackie speaks of her life and her story, but only as it fits into God’s. His story is central and He is the main character of hers. The major themes of this book are redemption, identity, and endurance.
Jackie speaks with the authority, creativity, and sharpness of a poet. She uses her words to paint pictures that hold the attention of her readers. She speaks the truth in a fresh way that makes you ponder and chew on it. She shares her story boldly in Gay Girl, Good God, but she shares God’s even bolder. This book is for everyone. Whether you struggle with same sex attraction or want to love someone better who does, this book is for you. No matter your personal sin struggles, you can relate to the battle of sin and flesh that takes place in every believers story.
Jackie does what has not been done before, or at least not done well. She calls sin what it is. Instead of holding same sex attraction above the others, and making it untouchable, she calls it by it’s name. A struggle with identity and a refusal to bow before Jesus. The body of Christ desperately needs this message, especially right now. We are given the label “hateful” towards those who have made homosexuality their identity, and how could we deny it when we are struggling to love those who have been born again and still struggle as outcasts in our own churches? Jackie’s perfect marriage of storytelling and practical, life giving content makes this one of the greatest and most useful resources for the church today. She and those who identify with her story are living proof that we serve a good, good God.
The great thing about hope is that no matter how dark the story, no matter how lifeless, the hope part of it never has a thing to do with me. It motivates me to share when I am aware of God’s role in all this. Hope is brought no matter how messy or dark my situation simply in the fact that I am able to say “God is the hope of my heart.” Sharing hope, just like sharing everything else as a believer does not depend on me. This is such a moving notion. I am free to share boldly. To give the goriest of details. To bring all my hurt, and pain, and questions. I am free to do this because I know that God will not fail and that is where my hope lies. When I speak my hope, my faith strengthens. When I speak hope, the truth is reaffirmed in me. When I speak hope, I know that I am not alone in any of this. I need to share because it not only gives hope away, but it makes it stronger in me. Hope is my anchor, and anchors can be thrown. To give it away is the wisest thing I can do. For both my sake and the sake of others. Hope won’t let go, of this I am sure.
How perfectly timed the Lord pulls the deepest things from us. And how painful they have the potential to be. If I share my burdens with my sisters in Christ, my burden is cut in half. But if I keep it locked inside with the key of shame turned, I am only hurting myself. It’s a severe misconception (one that I have long believed) that those who love us most will get tired of our stories. That they’ll one day tell us that they disapprove or are exhausted with the changes. Those are the isolating lies that keep me from so many I love on a daily basis. But these lies are built so that I will lack community. Lack belonging. Lack care. These lies are built so that I will keep myself closed off in my safe cage with fear as the barricade. Do you know what is the only thing that will be able to break me out? Sharing. Sharing my burden so that the weight is no longer all mine, so that my sentence is cut in half. Sharing releases me. It heals me when I confess these deep things. And it is met with love by God’s people every time.
What if a lot of the sharing we do is just noise? As an introvert, small talk can be very draining and tedious for me. But it is still something I have learned to do well in order to be friendly, positive, and open. But what if we aren’t leaving the zone of small talk? Think of when you’re talking on the phone with a friend you haven’t spoken to in a few months. The first fifteen or so minutes will usually be filled with talk that you would share with a new friend or perfect stranger, talk about the weather, updates on exciting new things, and things of that nature. But once you get past that, you begin to dig into the deeper stuff. The stuff that is hurting, the stuff that isn’t pretty. That is the stuff that creates true and lasting CONNECTION. How can we be intentional with getting there more? Instead of so much small talk, more big talk. Deep talk. Talk that will leave people better than we found them. That’s my goal. So sure, if small talk is the avenue I can take in order to make people feel warm and welcome, I will take it. But my goal is big talk. Talk of the heart, of pain and fears. Talk of God and of truth. Big talk is the goal. Sharing mutually and deeply is what heals.
He comforts us so that we can comfort others. That is my why. I truly believe nothing is wasted in this life. No trial, no heartache, no fear. Nothing is wasted UNTIL we decide once He gets us over the mountain, to keep what we’ve learned to ourselves. It becomes a waste when we decide, for whatever reason, that our story does not deserve to be shared. It can be for millions of reasons. Maybe it uncomfortable. Maybe it’s sticky and painful and hard to tell. Maybe it falls in the opposite category and it’s simply “too small”, or not impactful enough. We believe these lies over and over again about why it is better to keep our experiences to ourselves. But we don’t realize what a waste it is. God will have His glory regardless, but what a beautiful thing to be able to create the avenue in which He is glorified. Through US! God does not comfort or love or change us for nothing. He does it out of His overflowing heart of love for us, and then He calls us to share with others. Not out of obligation or to pay Him back (as if we ever could), but simply because we want to make His name great through what He’s done in us. Exalt him. Tell of how He has loved you. Share the ways in which He has comforted you. His work is never insignificant.
Learning to love again.
Mi Casa Uptown teaches us how to love our neighbor even when we don’t feel like it. Even when it hurts to do so. The world sees no need to be in the lives of their neighbors. Current culture does not put value on this, but Jesus’ people should.
The idea of investing in a hometown community with my whole life is just that – an idea. Just look Rich, I grew up in a predominantly Hispanic area. But unlike our author, I was not a part of the community. I was born and raised in Miami, FL. The “bodegas”, Spanish language, and entire culture (music, food, and gatherings) are very important to the Hispanic community in Miami. But not so much to me. I was stuck in the “not Spanish enough” category that those who belong to the parents of immigrants can be labeled as.
Sadly, the same things that unify people who belong to a culture are also the very same things that disqualify everyone else. My response to being treated as not enough was to put distance between myself and them altogether in order to self protect. This turned into a vicious cycle that fueled my hurt. I knew my neighbors in passing, but I can’t say I ever had a real relationship with them while growing up. If I’m being honest, I’ve never had a connection to my culture and that has been my excuse when it comes to isolation from my neighbors. So what was proposed in this book was radical living from my perception. I tried to avoid judgement about not being enough by staying far away from my neighbors, but this book challenged me to learn how to be in community with those around me.
God used this book to reveal to me the places in my heart that grew resentful because of feeling like I was discluded. This book motivated me to create community where I am with my neighbors. It also opened my eyes to the struggles that immigrants face trying to assimilate into American culture in a way that I have never seen before. When you are able to walk in the shoes of others, you begin to see the reasoning behind the actions. In community is the only place where a foreigner believes they can feel safe and accepted. IT is our job as believers to welcome both the foreigner and outcast.
Belief is such a crazy thing. It’s commonly understood that belief happens when we allow our emotions to lead us instead of the facts. But my faith in Jesus says otherwise. My faith in Jesus says to believe in the truth, even if all seen things are against it, because he is ultimate truth no matter what my emotions say. It’s this crazy paradox, belief. It means letting my desires and will be dictated by what I believe to be true. Belief is the foundation I’m firmly panted on. That when everything else fails, my belief in my Maker will be the thing that stood firm. Belief is what determines my emotions, not the other way around. I am who I am because I believe. And I believe who He says I am, who He says I will be, and who He has created me to be. I believe Him, and that is why I can say that I have a hope that is firm and secure. Not in my emotions, but in the truth that Jesus is who He says he is, and therefore I am who He says I am. My emotions fall away in the face of belief in truth. And Jesus is truth. He’s the only truth there is.