In the book, Facing the Music, Jennifer Knapp tells her own story beginning with the birth of her and her twin sister all the way to the nearly ending career as a musician. During her childhood, she tells of her experiences and feelings growing up in a broken home where she only sees her loving birth mother on occasion, her father is emotionally absent, and her step-mother is jealous and persistently berates her and how her passion for music and writing was the only thing that kept her sane. While in college, she tells of how she fell into a cycle of alcoholism and meaningless sex out of self-harm, but then how she met a Christian dorm-mate and became a Christian herself in college. God became an integral part of her life when it came to healing and finding meaning in it all as well as starting her career as a musician. Along the way, she met many Christian people and learned a lot about her faith good and bad. Because she surrounded herself predominately with Christians, her life became stricken with fear and anxiety when she fell head-over-heals in love, realized she is lesbian, and needed to eventually come out of the closet in order to live life to the full.
She describes in her book that coming out was like losing everything, but gaining everything. Being in Contemporary Christian Music (CCM), she lost many of her fans as well as some close friends. Jennifer tells of her struggles and how she remained a Christian but also true to herself and the way God made her throughout it all. “My entire adult life had been all about pleasing other people, all about jumping onto the next lily pad that God seemed to put in front of me. It seemed like a thousand years since I had a dream of my own. Now, there was nothing and everything all at the same time.” (p. 197).
After reading this book, I contemplated the main argument of the book which I believe is to be who you are, love yourself for who you are, and do what you love regardless of anyone else’s opinion. And, don’t let anyone else tell you what God’s plan is for your life. Only you can know what that is. If Jennifer wanted me to get one idea from this book, it would be that love and hope are the only things that matter. She discusses how the best of Christianity taught her that love is of utmost importance, and that if the stories of Jesus taught her one thing, it was how best to love. At one point in her book, she talks about how it isn’t who you love, but how you love that matters. “I believed that no matter who we are, who we love, it is how we love that matters.” (p. 185). She also discusses how the struggle isn’t against being gay, but rather it is against how one is treated for being gay. Also, it wasn’t until she allowed herself to come out and love the woman God brought into her life that she discovered how great love is and how sacred. “Good, God-fearing Christians are supposed to struggle against homosexuality and feel the turmoil of the Holy Spirit. As a woman, I was supposed to want to pray it away, change, be straight, submit to a man, and have babies. I was afraid because, the truth of it was, I didn’t want any of that. I didn’t struggle to accept my sexual orientation, I struggled against the embarrassment that my nature was not what others insisted it should have been. In fact, it wasn’t until I met my proper soul mate that sacred love even began to make sense…Love is sacred. Love is love.” (p. 248).
My favorite part of the book is where she writes this segment (pp 104-105):
“On any given Sunday, I’d find myself immersed in a church culture obsessed with how imperfect or lacking we are as human spirits. The conversations always seemed to center around how broken humanity is, how distant from the imperfection of Christ we all are, and how laborious and frightening it can be to continue to aspire to the seemingly unattainable sinlessness required of the Christian disciple. At times it left me wandering why I even bothered imagining that I could renew my life if all I could ever be was one misstep away from spiritual disaster…None of us are immune from precariously trying to balance our primal and cognitive needs. We have sex drives and hunger, greed and compassion. Strangely, along the way we usually manage to mix our own experiences with shame and insecurity that threaten to overpower our sense of emotional well-being. If we’re lucky, we will discover what it is within us that helps us press on…Between the rational and the spiritual, I felt like I was finding my peaceable footing with my own peculiarities. In my own life, I was eager to move beyond the Christian idea of flawed humanity and get on with living life to the full. If we are what we are–that is, inescapably human–then part of my responsibility is to learn how to honor myself and others along the way. From a Christian perspective, if Christ’s sacrifice was to represent how my sinful nature (read: human nature) is reconciled with God’s perfect holiness, then why should I be afraid to acknowledge my true self? I was free to be loved for who I was and wanted to live that way. I didn’t want to live under a cloud of shame for being, as it turns out, only human. The best of what Christianity would ever teach me was that even on my darkest days, no matter what condition I was in, I was a person made to be loved.”
I think this is a great read for gay Christians who have been spiritually abused by their church and peers. Jennifer’s life story provides encouragement and strength and lets us know that we are not alone and lets us know that life is better when you are true to yourself regardless of the spiritual attacks we may endure. Some Christians have strict guidelines and impose what they believe a Christian ought to be on others. Christians attack other Christians on many different grounds whether it be taking the Creation story literally or not and other silly things. Stay true to yourself and grow in your own walk with God. Love as God loves us, and that is all that really matters.