WorshipWeb: Braver/Wiser: A Weekly Message of Courage and Compassion

Joyfully Surprised

By Adrian L. H. Graham

Against a backdrop of blue sky and ocean, a line of birds flies past a padlock attached to a fence.

“We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.”
―May Sarton

I spent an entire year brooding over whether and when to come out to my family. I had had a little practice with some close friends in college, and later with a few friends from high school. Looking back on the experience now I can almost laugh at myself, or at least smile: the first few times, I essentially announced (after much beating around the bush) that “Adrian is not straight.” That was the most direct I had ever been in my entire life.

Before we got to that point, one of my friends tried to clue the others in with a metaphor that began something like “Well, there are apple trees, and there are orange trees….” In hindsight, watching them try to figure out what the heck she was talking about was hilarious! But at the time, I could not find my laughter. I was consumed with fear, and all I could think was “What if they reject me?”

In the end, they did not reject me. Sure, there were a few minor bumps here and there (mostly learning experiences for my benefit), but they held me in love and continue to do so to this day. What a blessing.

Coming out to my family might have been one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. We held to “traditional” religious values when it came to culture and social concerns—at least, that was what I was taught. In the end, I realized that my choice was one of life and death, and I needed to let my secret out in order to continue living, and to do so authentically.

My friends stuck with me through that entire year of brooding. It was hard, and I was scared, and they held me in love. I’m not sure I could have faced the challenge without them; we did it together. Today, I continue to be joyfully surprised by my mere existence. And I am forever grateful to them, and ever mindful of how I offer my presence to others.

God of compassion and companionship and presence, be with us always and draw near to us in times of fear and uncertainty. Teach us to hold one another gently and in abundant love. Show us the ways we can nurture authenticity, wholeness, and peace in ourselves and in one another.

About the Author

Adrian L. H. Graham

Adrian L. H. Graham (he/him) is a lover of human culture, especially as manifested through food, music, language, and religious expression. Considering himself a “Uvangelist,” he serves as Director of Congregational Engagement at the UU Congregation of Rockville (MD) and as Secretary of the UUA...


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