I don’t remember its beginning. I can only point to memories that trace its presence throughout my life. These memories return in phrases most of the time.
“You’re a risk.”
“You’re just not praying hard enough.”
"Well, you had to have done something wrong.”
“Be off campus by noon tomorrow.”
These phrases cut to the core of my being – they shamed me, named me. As they were spoken over me, I bowed my head to receive them. I decided, “If this is what people think of me, then this must be what I am.” I walked slow, heavy-footed – each step leading me further away from Love. I thought it – self-hate – had won.
Then I met Bonnie. She was my therapist. I was her patient. Self-hate led me to Bonnie’s mental health facility, but she was determined that it would not leave me there.
“Jasmine, my daughter graduated from a Christian university. She got her degree in theology, she is gay – and she’s getting married to her partner this summer. I believe you can flourish and have a life full of love and freedom, but you have to believe it for yourself. You’ve been taught to hate yourself – it’s time to learn how to love.”
This reframing, renaming, opened me to receive what Bonnie had offered me – a welcome to be wholly and fully myself. It is in this same spirit that we – my beautiful friends and I – present You Are Welcome Here.
For those who suffer for being who they are, you are welcome here.
For those who long to find someone who understands, you are welcome here.
For those who have been led by self-hate for too long, you are welcome here.
For those who yearn to gain what has been lost, you are welcome here.
For those who weep;
For those who writhe in pain;
For those who long to be loved for exactly who they are;
You Are Welcome Here.
Let us begin anew – together.