After church this morning, I was talking with a woman I don't know well. I can't even remember the context of what she was saying at this point. She asked how I was, and why I almost passed out at choir practice on Thursday (it's fine), and I said something about being slightly stressed..."job stuff, family stuff...you know." Her response was pretty much "you're 30! Of course you're stressed! You've got a career you're trying to focus on, you've got friends and a social life and a family of origin you're trying to balance, you've probably got a young man you're interested in who's taking ALL of your attention, and God knows THAT'S distracting at your age...or maybe it's a hot young woman who's turning you on, I don't know anything about you and your sexuality, needless to say..." and she kept talking.
And guys. This poor woman. She was so confused. Because as soon as she said that, tears started rolling down my face -- in the middle of the very over-crowded lobby, the tears just ran.down.my.face.
Because language matters. Because she caught herself using that one non-inclusive word and chose to back up and make it right. Because even though it took time, even though she didn't know anything, even though it wasn't even relevant to the conversation at that point, even though to many, many people it would not have mattered, it mattered. It mattered so much that I cried, and I confused her, and I hugged her, and I had a moment where I felt ALL THE THINGS in the lobby at church.
She didn't know, of course, that I got in an argument with someone close to me yesterday that left me feeling wrong, and silent, and weak. She didn't know, of course, that last night I went to bed nauseated on all the things I did not, could not say. She did not know the way that not saying these things is hurting me, and the way that saying them could potentially hurt me more. She had no idea that I had come out to my sister two days before, and a friend the morning before, and the ways that this feels authentic and right and true. She did not know the ways that I am discovering comfortable in my skin for the first time in some ways, or the ways that I cannot stop smiling when I talk about some topics I previously completely avoided.
She does not know the joy and excitement and honesty and truth I feel in my heart when I let this part of my being float to the surface, and the way I feel like this shows in my person.
But mostly, she had no idea the way that simply changing that pronoun made her safe. She had no idea that changing that pronoun to name my way of loving would make my face drip into a puddle of tears, and let my heart unharden itself. To her, I'm sure, she was just...well she was just talking after church.
But to me? Today? Well....it was everything.